By Lt. j.g. Alejandro Muela, USS Chancellorsville Public Affairs Officer
SAN DIEGO – The crew of USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) assembled Tuesday morning to receive gifts from Japanese citizens aided during Operation Tomodachi.
The gifts, which included origami figures with hand-written personal notes were delivered in appreciation for the ship’s relief efforts following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in March 2011.
The ceremony was made possible by Helping Hands, an organization founded by Masako Sullivan in April 2011, while stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. After witnessing the disaster first-hand, she began spreading the word about the conditions and serving as a bridge between those who needed help and those who could provide it.
“Many other spouses and friends wanted to help but didn’t know how,” said Masako. “I began getting specific lists of needs and then filling those requests.”
Much of the crew was reminded about their participation in Operation Tomodachi as Masako spoke about her organization and just how important the Navy’s efforts had been.
Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Jose Salas recalled volunteering to look for survivors in the blistering cold on Chancellorsville’s bridge wings following the disaster.
“You could see toys, clothes, cars, and abandoned ships just floating around,” said Salas. “We were close enough to the coast to see fires in the mountain and towns completely wiped out.”
Other sailors assigned to Chancellorsville during Operation Tomodachi remembered the crew pitching in to buy out the entire ship’s store and then sending all the merchandise ashore. In all, Chancellorsville assistance involved more than 100 search and relief sorties, 1,000 flight hours, and the delivery of hundreds of tons of relief supplies.