Oki Marines commemorate earthquake anniversary

Maj. Gen. Peter J. Talleri, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations Pacific, along with the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band, has visited Oshima Island, Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture to help commemorate the two-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster, March 11th.

Just days after the disaster two years ago, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and other Marines of III MEF and MCIPAC, based in Okinawa, arrived on Oshima Island, and in the Tohoku region to assist in the recovery efforts, and the strong relationship between the Marines and the people of Oshima has continued ever since. Talleri was to meet with Kesennuma Mayor Shigeru Sugawara and other city officials in Kesennuma City, prior to attending the official memorial ceremony.

Talleri then attended the Kesennuma City memorial. Later, members of the III MEF band performed a concert as part of a separate memorial ceremony on Oshima Island in the Oshima Elementary School. Oshima school children and community members, as well as gospel singer Haruna Kinoshita who served as a volunteer on the island after the disaster, accompanied the band for a couple of songs.

During the band’s performance, Talleri and leaders of the Oshima community spoke to the assembled audience regarding the Marine Corps’ continued commitment to the relationship that has been established over the past two years with the people of Oshima and Kesennuma City.

In January, MCIPAC hosted dozens of children from Oshima as part of the second annual youth cultural exchange program in Okinawa. The exchange program was created in 2011 immediately following the 3-11 earthquake and tsunami to give children from Oshima a stress-free environment to relax in during the summer, while their home communities recovered from the aftermath. This year’s visit focused on the Japanese and American children sharing their diverse cultures and learning from each other.

A third exchange program is scheduled for August of this year.

This will be Talleri’s second visit to Oshima Island. A reciprocal visit was conducted in Jan 2012 by Marine leadership, which can be found at: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/82434/31st-meu-marines-return-site-oshima-island-disaster-assistance