Soldiers and Airmen assembled on the doorstep of the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, beginning August 27th and stayed until September 3rd. Service members came to the depot for USARPAC's Medical Exercise 2012 commonly referred to as MEDEX 12.
MEDEX 12 is a USARPAC multi-component, joint service, bi-lateral exercise that demonstrates the United States lasting commitment and partnership to Japan by showcasing USARPAC's mass casualty capabilities during a significant event that could pose a serious medical crisis.
The "Samurai" Soldiers of the 35th CSSB were tasked to provide service and support to everyone, including Department of Defense civilians in response to a natural disaster. 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, Command Sgt. Maj., 35th CSSB, explained that preparation began months ago . 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 Lt. Col. Ritter, the Battalion Commander, and I preach it every day. It's what the "Samurai" spirit is all about and we truly believe in taking care of people," said Joshua.
One particular unit, the 325th Combat Support Hospital, traveled more than 6,000 miles from Independence, Mo. to Sagami Depot. They came here focused on the mission setting up a combat support hospital by honing their skills by providing medical services to 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, 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 would really could not perform to par." Said Laver.
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. Wiercinskiski, 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 received a request by Japanese Ground Self Defense Force to facilitate a combat life saver course. To make the training more realistic they needed additional equipment.
"Literally within hours they, the 35th, secured everything we required so that critical mission essential tasks could be conducted with our host nation neighbors," said Boyd.
Maj. Gen Wiercinski took a look at the operations for MEDEX 12 and was very pleased with the team work displayed between both the Americans and Japanese. During an interview he talked about how the exercise demonstrates the strength of the U.S. and Japan's relationship to the region highlighting the morale of the Soldiers.
"If you walk out there and take a look at who's doing the work, it's the best Soldiers in the world they're dedicated and they're morale is high," explained Wiercinski.
Although the key teamwork between the 35th CSSB and participating units remain visible at the upper echelon, where the rubber meets the road is when Soldiers like Spc. Steven Boyd, 325th CSH, have truly been impacted by the support.
"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 here and without it would be difficult," explained Boyd.