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Bud's Beat

By: Bud Pisarek, Loomis News Correspondent
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The whole world watches Japan in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the island nation on March 10. At first it was reported as an 8.9 quake, then upgraded to a 9.0. Aftershocks and more damage from the tsunami followed. Television photos were unbelievable. Lives in the thousands were lost as people were swept away. Tens of millions of dollars in property damages is expected. I lived in Japan for over a year as a member of the United States Occupation Forces. Our team landed in Yokohama just after the World War II conflict ended. The devastation I saw due to the air bombings was tremendous. Yokohama, Tokyo and cities like Osaka and Kobe lay in ruin. I wondered at the time how these people could survive. They did. My assignment was to provide R&R – rest and recreation – for servicemen returning to the states from their duties in the Pacific theater. Our headquarters were in the beautiful city of Kyoto. It was the former capitol of Japan. The U.S. decided not to bomb there and instead spared it from ruin because of its history and beauty. The cities of Kobe and Osaka, near Kyoto, because of their heavy weapon-producing factories, received a preponderance of the dense bombing. Part of our mission was to employ as many Japanese citizens as possible to give them income and to help restore their economy. I met many people and witnessed a transformation of devastation and despair into one of hope and resolve. After returning to the States and resuming a civilian life, I kept a close watch on my newfound friends. They continued to amaze me. The news of the recent quake was hard to believe and my heart sank just thinking of the dark days ahead for those whose lives will be so highly changed. Because of what I saw and witnessed decades ago, I feel confident their character and resolve will endure.