YOKOSUKA, Japan – Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift awarded Commander in Chief, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Fleet Vice Adm. Yasushi Matsushita the Legion of Merit aboard the flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) May 20, 2013.
Swift presented the Legion of Merit, degree of officer, on behalf of the President of the United States to Matsushita for exceptionally meritorious service as the commander of JMSDF’s Fleet Escort Force from July 2010 to July 2012.
“It’s my pleasure to welcome Admiral Matsushita here to recognize his past performance. He has shown the way for all of us how to be effective and efficient commanders,” said Swift. “This award recognizes the strong relationship that the Kaijo Jettai (JMSDF) and the 7th Fleet enjoy today. I absolutely view Admiral Matsushita as my peer, my equal, as we lead our fleets and this award should be an inspiration for us all, whether we wear a U.S. Navy uniform or a Kaijo Jettai uniform.”
The event was attended by both U.S. 7th Fleet Command Task Force (CTF) Commanders and their JMSDF counterparts as well as Japanese media.
Matsushita’s efforts achieved an unprecedented level of mutual cooperation as evidenced after the disastrous earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. Matsushita formulated a plan for both the United States Navy and the JMSDF to respond and deliver life-sustaining supplies to stranded civilians. He was the driving force behind operation Tomodachi’s success as his efforts enabled a seamless bilateral response to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
“I am still rooted with the emotion for being awarded from Vice Admiral Swift. He is my counterpart and great friend,” said Matsushita. “This is not only my achievement but the achievement of Vice Adm. Swift and all the 7th Fleet CTF Commanders and their staffs and my staffs. They were all a great help to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The Legion of Merit, first awarded in 1942, is a United States Armed Forces military award issued both to United States military personnel and to military and political figures of foreign governments. The decoration is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.