HomeNewsArticle Display

Friendship Cities celebrate growing relationship at DAFB

Hiroo Kikuchi, Iwanuma City mayor, presents Col. Matthew Jones, 436th Airlift Wing vice commander, with a plaque Oct. 23, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Kikuchi and several other representatives of Iwanuma, Japan, visited Dover, their “friendship city,” to thank the community who helped them during a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated the northern coast of Japan in 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Hiroo Kikuchi, Iwanuma City mayor, presents Col. Matthew Jones, 436th Airlift Wing vice commander, with a plaque Oct. 23, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Kikuchi and several other representatives of Iwanuma, Japan, visited Dover, their “friendship city,” to thank the community who helped them during a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated the northern coast of Japan in 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Delegates from Iwanuma, Japan, pose alongside members of Team Dover for a group photo Oct. 23, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Since 2004, the city of Dover has had a friendship with the Miyagi Prefecture that began when Team Dover started hosting an annual visit of middle school students from Iwanuma.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Delegates from Iwanuma City, Japan, pose alongside members of Team Dover for a group photo Oct. 23, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Since 2004, the city of Dover has had a friendship with the Miyagi Prefecture that began when Team Dover started hosting an annual visit of middle school students from Iwanuma City.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Hiroo Kikuchi, Iwanuma City mayor, and Col. Matthew Jones, 436th Airlift Wing vice commander, talk during a brief Oct. 23, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Members from Iwanuma, Japan, met with 436th AW leadership for a tour of Dover AFB to exemplify the growing bond between the “sister cities”. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Hiroo Kikuchi, Iwanuma City mayor, and Col. Matthew Jones, 436th Airlift Wing vice commander, talk during a brief Oct. 23, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Members from Iwanuma, Japan, met with 436th AW leadership for a tour of Dover AFB to exemplify the growing bond between the “friendship cities”. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Hiroo Kikuchi, Iwanuma City mayor, speaks with Senior Airman Alex Yang, 3rd Airlift Squadron loadmaster, during a tour of a C-17 Globemaster III Oct. 23, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. During Operation Tomodachi in 2011, Dover C-17s airlifted humanitarian aid to the Miyagi Prefecture, the state in which Iwanuma resides, which fortified the friendship between the two states that still exists today. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Hiroo Kikuchi, Iwanuma City mayor, speaks with Senior Airman Alex Yang, 3rd Airlift Squadron loadmaster, during a tour of a C-17 Globemaster III Oct. 23, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. During Operation Tomodachi in 2011, Dover C-17s airlifted humanitarian aid to the Miyagi Prefecture, the state in which Iwanuma resides, which fortified the friendship between the two states that still exists today. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Representatives from Iwanuma City, Japan, visited Dover AFB and the city of Dover Oct. 23, 2018, to pay their respects to the community who offered support during a natural disaster in 2011.

Iwanuma City, located in the Miyagi Prefecture, and Dover are considered to be “friendship cities,” a relationship that encourages both cultural and commercial ties. While this isn’t the first time Dover’s friends from Japan have visited, the annual meet and greet continues to grow and improve the cities’ relationship.

“The visit was very beneficial,” said Capt. Andrew Beasley, 3rd Airlift Squadron instructor pilot. “We were able to show Iwanuma's mayor the capabilities of Dover AFB, up close. He and his team were briefed on the capabilities of our base by wing leadership and introduced to both the C-17 Globemaster III and the C-5M Super Galaxy.”

This introduction to Dover AFB’s heavy airlift capabilities was not only “up close,” but personal as well.

In the spring of 2011, the northern coast of Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a major tsunami. More than 15,000 residents were killed, more than 250,000 buildings were ruined and three nuclear reactors were destroyed. Team Dover Airmen were tasked as a part of Operation Tomodachi to help with search and rescue efforts and to deliver more than 70,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies to those affected by the natural disaster.

The citizens of Iwanuma City and the Miyagi Prefecture continue to express their gratitude for the support they received during Operation Tomodachi.

“Many of our citizens in Iwanuma City believe that operation Tomodachi was a very important part of our recovery and they are very thankful for that,” said Hiroo Kikuchi, Iwanuma City mayor.

The Miyagi Prefecture and Delaware have been “sister states” for more than 20 years. Prior to Operation Tomodachi, the city of Dover has hosted annual visits of middle school students from Iwanuma City. Since the 2011 disaster, the bond between the two cities has flourished and continues to grow with each annual visit.

“The friendship city relationship pays dividends to our local community,” Beasley said. “It helps to develop commerce at the small-business level and has socially connected countless U.S. and Japanese residents that otherwise would have never met.”