FedEx returns Japan's lost items


FedEx Express makes four very special deliveries containing personal items lost at sea after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami of March, 2011

FedEx returns Japan's lost items
FedEx returns Japans lost items
June 29, 2012

FedEx Express has made four special deliveries containing personal items lost at sea after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

Most tsunami debris washing up along the west coast of the United States can’t be traced back to any particular owner.

But Alaskan residents who found a soccer ball, basketball, volleyball and a buoy cleverly used clues on the items to track down their owners.

Signed by the young owner’s classmates after he relocated to another city, the soccer ball was able to be returned after media coverage alerted the family,
however their wishes for a private handoff was respected.

A local Japanese TV station identified the young woman who owned the volleyball even though it was only marked with her first name.

Current team members at Kesen Junior High School in Rikuzentakata were honoured to receive the basketball on the school’s behalf.

Meanwhile, the yellow buoy was recognised as part of a sign which hung outside Miura Sakiko’s restaurant in the town of Minamisanriku-cho, which was destroyed in the disaster.

Employees at the FedEx Anchorage hub in the US played a key planning role.

FedEx CaptainTerry Bull and Anchorage-based First Officer John Hillyer took a personal interest in returning the items.

Hillyer, who was stationed in Japan in the military, speaks Japanese and often flies there, wanted to help.

The day the earthquake struck, Captain Bull was in a hotel room at Narita International Airport about 180 miles from the epicenter.

"I could quickly tell this earthquake was much stronger than any of the other ones I had experienced before in Japan," Bull says.

"The violent intensity of the prolonged jolts was pretty scary, and I began to worry about the people because this was a powerful earthquake."

Anchorage Hub Operations Senior Manager James Brewer says it took a lot of coordination to collecti the items from the remote shores of Alaska and arrange the
international logistics.

"We knew these items were important to their owners, and we had our FedEx team in Japan make personal contact to arrange the final delivery,"
Brewer says.


Hilllyer and Bull secured the precious cargo carefully in the jump seats of a FedEx B777 for the flight from Anchorage, Alaska to Narita, Japan.

"I recognise the impact this event has had on the families and communities," Hillyer says. "Many lost their loved ones and all of their possessions.

"It’s not every day that you lose everything, and then FedEx shows up with something you believed was gone forever."


Normally FedEx pilots only fly packages to airports, but both Hillyer and Bull carried each item in their hands.

"I’m proud to be part of a company that understands the history of these personal possessions and treated them with such respect,"
Hillyer says.


"I understand the significance that this tragedy had on the country. These deliveries are priceless to the families and the people of Japan. It was my honour to help."

"As the first items that can be traced back to their owners in Japan, they are symbols of hope," Brewer adds.

"The hope that what was lost can be found and the hope that was destroyed can be rebuilt. All of us at FedEx feel privileged to return them."

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