By Sgt. 1st Class Howard Reed, 10th Regional Support GroupSeptember 4, 2012
SAGAMI DEPOT, Sagamihara, Japan (Sept. 4, 2012) -- Soldiers from the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion gathered together last week to support more than 200 active, Reserve and Guard personnel who were taking part in U.S. Army Pacific's 2012 Medical Exercise.
Running from Aug. 27 to Sept. 3, MEDEX 12 is a multi-component, joint service, bi-lateral exercise that demonstrates the U.S. commitment and partnership with Japan by showcasing, U.S. Army Pacific's, or USARPAC's, mass casualty capabilities during a significant event which could pose a serious medical crisis.
The "Samurai" Soldiers of the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, or CSSB, were tasked to provide service and support in response to a natural disaster such as the 2011 tsunami catastrophe. During the exercise the units established a combat support hospital as well as the transportation and treatment of mass casualties.
The 35th CSSB was slated to provide just about every logistical need of the participating units to include lodging, meals, transportation, postal and finance services, medical and religious related services.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ron J. Joshua, 35th CSSB, explained that MEDEX 12 preparation began months ago. He said the unit's strength lies within each Soldier by providing the best service and support to anyone visiting Sagami Depot for any USARPAC exercise.
"It's what we do, we provide the best life support and Lieutenant Colonel [Joseph] Ritter, the battalion commander, and I preach it every day," Joshua said. "It's what the Samurai spirit is all about and we truly believe in taking care of people."
The 325th Combat Support Hospital, traveled more than 6,000 miles from Independence, Mo., to Sagami Depot where they established an 84-bed combat hospital to showcase their ability to treat mass casualties.
Maj. William Laver, assistant chief nurse, 325th CSH, said upon arriving they discovered they were in need of additional supplies and the 35th CSSB team was on hand to assist.
"It's great to know they have our back," said Laver. "If we were here cold trying to obtain a few things we need on our own, it would take away from our initiatives and goals, we really could not perform to par."
The exercise has high visibility for USARPAC and the region. Throughout the event the Joint Visitor's Bureau was extremely busy hosting everyone from Japanese media to senior military leadership like Maj. Gen. Naoya Eguchi, chief of staff, Japan Eastern Army and Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, commanding general, USARPAC.
Maj. Heather Boyd, chief nurse, 325th CSH, said while the unit was setting up its hospital facilities at Sagami, the unit was requested by Japanese Ground Self Defense Force to conduct a combat life-saver course.
"Literally within hours, the 35th, secured everything we required so that critical mission-essential tasks could be conducted with our host nation neighbors," said Boyd. "It's a good feeling knowing you can be in another country and have some things to make our morale better, especially waking up and going to bed with good chow and having things to do for non-duty hours. It's a good team effort," explained Boyd.
Wiercinski took a look at the operations for MEDEX 12 and was very pleased with the team work displayed between the Americans and Japanese. During an interview, the general said the exercise demonstrated the strength of the U.S. and Japan's relationship to the region by highlighting the morale of the Soldiers.