US Army North supports voluntary return of military dependents from Japan into Denver International Airport

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Eligible family members, who voluntarily departed Japan, will arrive at Denver International Airport starting today aboard chartered military flights. The airlift to Denver becomes the third U.S. arrival location for these flights after Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Travis Air Force Base which has had flights arriving since Saturday. The arriving families and pets will be met by military representatives from U.S. Army – North, who will help assist with follow-on arrangements that could include logistical support and other support requirements.

As President Obama said, the current situation does not call for an evacuation (March 17, 2011). However, as a prudent precaution the Department of Defense is providing eligible family members of DoD personnel an opportunity to voluntarily depart Japan. Authorized departure is a voluntary program whereby US Government employees and eligible dependents that are stationed abroad are permitted to depart a foreign area at government expense. There is no established priority for departures except that consideration is given to those closest in proximity to the threat and those with medical conditions that warrant earliest departure. These flights will continue for the foreseeable future to accommodate the needs of our service member’s families. Several families may choose to stay in Japan.

Currently, the U.S. military continues to support the Government of Japan/JSDF in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations following a 9.0 earthquake and devastating tsunami. Leaders at the highest level of the Government of Japan and the United States have led an incredible, watchful effort since the tragedy occurred to determine how best to continue to provide critical support to the Government of Japan while taking care of DoD personnel and their families, which is always a top priority.

Although some families may choose to depart Japan, our military service members remain to continue the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. We remain fully committed to this mission and our longtime friends in Japan.

Media are invited to cover the arrival and interview returning family members as they arrive at the Denver International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma international Airport and Travis Air Force Base. For more information on this operation please contact Standing Joint Force Headquarters, LTC Mike Durham at DIA 719-684-3006 or the U.S. Army – North Public Affairs Office at 210-845-9693.

For more on Operation Pacific Passage and useful information for returning family members visit the U.S. Northern Command web site: