Japanese Blizzard

by Daniel L. Haulman

Operation Name: Japanese Blizzard
Location: Japan
Date: February 3, 1963
Emergency: Heavy snow cut off Japanese cities from fresh food supplies.
Organizations: 315th Air Division and 815th Troop Carrier Squadron
Airlifted: Four tons of food.
Aircraft Used: C–130 (one)

When heavy snow blocked highways, railroads, and airport runways in western Honshu, Japan, during late January, residents of isolated communities such as Kanazawa, Toyama, and Niigata went without fresh food for more than a week. Learning of the plight of their countrymen, the people of Ibaragi prefecture, a farming region in central Honshu, gathered more than four tons of fresh vegetables for the snowbound communities. On February 1, Japanese government officials asked the 315th Air Division, which operated U.S. military transport planes in Japan, to deliver the food to the disaster area.

On February 3, an 815th Troop Carrier Squadron C–130 crew under the command of Lt. Col. William H. Lewis airlifted the food from Tachikawa AB near Tokyo to Komatsu. Flying slowly at an altitude of 800 feet, the crew dropped bundles of vegetables over Komatsu’s airport. As the food descended, about 60 Japanese officials and workers lined the snow-covered runways waiting to retrieve it for delivery to the snowbound communities.

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