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News > RAPCON chief deploys in support of Operation TOMODACHI
RAPCON chief deploys in support of Operation TOMODACHI

Posted 5/16/2011   Updated 5/16/2011 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Bryan Swink
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

5/16/2011 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Servicemembers from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, sprung into action to help in the relief efforts when tragedy struck Japan in late March.

The installation's close proximity to Japan allowed aid to be delivered quickly to those in need.

Chief Master Sgt. Samuel D'Urso, 305th Operations Support Squadron Radar Approach Control chief controller, was one of numerous servicemembers brought to JBPHH to provide reach-back capability to forward deployers.

The notification for a RAPCON specialist arrived at the 305th Air Mobility Wing Friday, March 18. By Monday the tasking was official; by Tuesday D'Urso was in Hawaii supporting Operation TOMODACHI.

He deployed to Hickam Airfield to support the 613th Air Operations Center. The chief acted as a middleman between the forward troops operating in Japan and the Air and Space Operations Center commander at the joint base.

"The main responsibilities I had were working out airspace issues for the various relief efforts as well as monitoring the progress of the nuclear reactor," said D'Urso.

He also produced kneeboards for pilots, a portable e-map with a leg strap, to provide them a depiction of what the radioactive plume would look like based on wind conditions for six-hour periods. D'Urso, with help from 613th AOC members, declassified the information on maps on a daily basis so pilots could carry them while circumventing the hazardous area. The AOC team produced real-time supplemental updates on the plumes if there were any updates or wind shifts.

"It was very rewarding knowing we were trying to help the Japanese people who were devastated by two natural disasters," the chief said.

D'Urso, although originally tasked to deploy for 30 days or longer, returned to the east coast after less than 20 days following the JBPHH servicemembers redeployment.

"It is evident, through the Chief's readiness to deploy in support of Japanese relief operations, his commitment to the mission is outmatched only by his compassion for a nation in need, and in that, he epitomizes the finest qualities of a military leader," said Capt. Scott Rosenbloom, 305th OSS Airfield Operations Flight operations officer.

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