MISAWA, Japan (March 16, 2011) Crew members from Patrol Squadron 4 unload gear upon their arrival at Naval Air Facility Misawa. The squadron has temporarily repositioned in Misawa so it can better expedite relief efforts in Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devon Dow)

MISAWA, Japan - More than 70 crewmembers of Patrol Squadron 4, currently on deployment in Okinawa, Japan, arrived at Naval Air Facility Misawa (NAFM), March 16, to better assist with Japanese relief efforts.

The squadron repositioned their relief efforts in the wake of the recent 9.0-magnitude earthquake that triggered a massive tsunami on Japan’s eastern seaboard.

The Hawaii-based squadron initially provided its efforts from Kadena Air Base, but the transition to NAFM will increase the Squadron’s time on site and reduce time in transit. They will provide two aircraft and four combat aircrews rotating daily from NAFM, providing search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The repositioning, according to Cmdr. Kevin Long, executive officer of Patrol Squadron 4, could not have come soon enough.

“This is where we need to be,” he said. “Being on site for longer periods of time will allow us to do a more thorough search. Transiting from Kadena to the devastated areas required a total of six hours en route, coming here will dramatically decrease that.”

Long said he and his crew are prepared and ready for the missions ahead and are looking forward to cooperating with NAFM as they combine their resources to aid Japan’s recovery efforts in any way possible. “Our guys are ready on arrival,” he added. “We are bringing a lot of support and are willing to provide assistance where needed.”

Lt. Matty Welch, a pilot assigned to Patrol Squadron 4, flew on one of the search-and-rescue missions when the squadron was operating from Kadena Air Base. He said he is happy they are in Misawa because from what he saw, the increased time on site they will gain from being in Misawa is needed.

“It is hard to describe the destruction,” he said. “Being here is going to be a huge benefit for us. “We are looking forward to the missions we will conduct out of NAFM and helping with the relief efforts from this vantage point.”

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