TOKYO, Japan —  U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. William B. Hinkley and members of the 374th Maintenance Squadron at Yokota Air Base in Japan were recently recognized by the U.S. Secretary for Energy Henry Chu for their efforts following an earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March of 2011.

Hinkley, a Turner native, worked with two teams of airmen around the clock from March 25 to March 27  to design and retrofit water pumps that were used to augment the cooling systems of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and it’s damaged reactors.

In an effort to help cool the plant the pumps were provided by the United States but upon arrival in Japan it was discovered they were not designed to connect to the Japanese water hoses.  

Hinkley’s squadron designed and created the necessary adapters,  pressure valves, flanges and other pieces so Japanese crews could use the pumps to augment the power plant’s cooling systems.

On March 25, 2012 Chu visited Japan, meeting with Hinkley and the other airmen  of his squadron at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo in order to thank them for their efforts during, Operation Tomodachi, the recovery effort following the great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami March 11, 2011.

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