ATSUGI, KANAGAWA, Japan –
For one Army Reserve chemical company, a worldwide pandemic, numerous government quarantine policies and a deployment to a place last assigned to since WWII, could not stop them from making U.S. Army history and winning the Army Reserve’s best chemical company in 2021.
The 340th Chemical Company was deployed in late 2020 to Naval Air Facility Atsugi and assigned to U.S. Army Aviation Battalion-Japan in order to conduct Joint and bilateral training exercises and provide real-world support to the joint force with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response capabilities.
“All the restrictions and mandates of the pandemic made our mission seem impossible,” said Capt. Scott Severance, company commander. “The 340th has conducted numerous missions and also provided support in Orient Shield to strengthen our alliances with our bilateral partners during training. You made history and made a difference.”
The 340th conducted aircraft decontamination exercises, joint decontamination of military working dogs and bilateral training with the JGSDF’s Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Radiological units, which used the training to help prepare them to respond to potential contingencies during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"This deployment cannot be compared to any typical deployment as the company overcome several unprecedented challenges with a team that is unique in its diversity. These citizen Soldiers did not come from one single Army post. They came from all across America and some who have ties to countries around the world," said Lt. Col. Michael S. Omodt, U.S. Army Aviation Battalion-Japan commander.
This deployment will mark the first time U.S. Army Japan has ever received, staged, and integrated a reserve chemical company, according to Omodt.
During Orient Shield 21-2, the largest U.S. Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force bilateral field training exercise in Japan, the 340th also responded to a simulated mass casualty chemical attack with the JGSDF, which helped strengthened U.S. Army and JGSDF interoperability and demonstrated both forces commitments to the U.S.-Japan alliance.
“The best part of the deployment was being the first chemical unit to implement years of training and experience with the nation of Japan,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Hunt, Squad Leader and Houston native. “Being able to share tactics, techniques and utilize each other’s experience to incorporate them into each other’s procedures to enhance our capabilities.”
During the nine-month deployment, the Soldiers of the 340th continued to pursue excellence in their professional and personal lives by conducting and excelling at Soldier tasks and battle drills, marksmanship, physical training and also civilian education.
Due to the unique location of their deployment, they were also able to immerse themselves into Japanese culture and some of the Soldiers even had the opportunity to climb to the summit of Mt. Fuji, which is the tallest mountain in Japan.
That determination along with support and guidance from leaders of USAAB-J and USARJ allowed the 340th to excel during their deployment and be awarded the prestigious Maj. Gen. William L. Sibert Award for Excellence making them the best chemical company in the Army Reserve in 2021.
The annual Sibert award program is designed to provide deserving recognition for excellence in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, while instilling pride and reinforcing the essential elements of mission readiness, leadership, discipline, unit training, safety, reenlistment, maintenance and organizational excellence.
“We took command in February 2020 and in less than nine months, with new personnel, equipment and mission requirements, the unit came together rapidly to deploy to support the mission in Japan,” Severance said.
Seventy-five years after the 340th Chemical Company cased its colors in Japan, they again leave an everlasting mark in the land of the rising sun, demonstrating their capabilities and determination to their mission in supporting USARJ as the best chemical company in the Army Reserve.