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Soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35 work to construct a second shower unit near the Ono Civic Center in Higashi Matsushima, Japan. The units contain 12 showers and six sinks.
Soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35 work to construct a second shower unit near the Ono Civic Center in Higashi Matsushima, Japan. The units contain 12 showers and six sinks. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
Soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35 work to construct a second shower unit near the Ono Civic Center in Higashi Matsushima, Japan. The units contain 12 showers and six sinks.
Soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35 work to construct a second shower unit near the Ono Civic Center in Higashi Matsushima, Japan. The units contain 12 showers and six sinks. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
A displaced resident of the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, holds up an Air Force sweatshirt and camouflage pants among boxes of clothing donated by people at Misawa Air Base and other relief organizations.
A displaced resident of the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, holds up an Air Force sweatshirt and camouflage pants among boxes of clothing donated by people at Misawa Air Base and other relief organizations. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
Airman 1st Class Cody Hoover (seated) and Staff Sgt. Alvin Pablo, from the 374th Civil Engineering Squadron on Yokota Air Base, fill a flexible water container with about 2,000 gallons of water, which will be used for shower stations set up by soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35 for displaced residents living at the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan. Pablo said they transport about 20,000 gallons of water to the site each day.
Airman 1st Class Cody Hoover (seated) and Staff Sgt. Alvin Pablo, from the 374th Civil Engineering Squadron on Yokota Air Base, fill a flexible water container with about 2,000 gallons of water, which will be used for shower stations set up by soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35 for displaced residents living at the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan. Pablo said they transport about 20,000 gallons of water to the site each day. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
Nobuko Toyokawa, 59, a displaced resident living at the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, talks about her shower in a tent set up soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35. The Army constructed two shower tents holding 24 showers and 12 sinks total.
Nobuko Toyokawa, 59, a displaced resident living at the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, talks about her shower in a tent set up soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35. The Army constructed two shower tents holding 24 showers and 12 sinks total. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
Kiroko Abe, 42, (left) and Yukari Kaimura, 39, displaced residents living at the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, look at the shower facilities set up by soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35. The Army constructed two shower tents holding 24 showers and 12 sinks total.
Kiroko Abe, 42, (left) and Yukari Kaimura, 39, displaced residents living at the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, look at the shower facilities set up by soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35. The Army constructed two shower tents holding 24 showers and 12 sinks total. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
Displaced residents from the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, talk with soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35, who spent the afternoon constructing two shower units for the residents.
Displaced residents from the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, talk with soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35, who spent the afternoon constructing two shower units for the residents. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
A displaced resident of the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, waits for a shower in a shower tent set up soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35. The Army constructed two shower tents holding 24 showers and 12 sinks total.
A displaced resident of the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, waits for a shower in a shower tent set up soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35. The Army constructed two shower tents holding 24 showers and 12 sinks total. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
Staff Sgt. Jason Schriner, 28, assists a displaced resident living at the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, with operating the shower. Soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35 constructed two shower tents holding 24 showers and 12 sinks total.
Staff Sgt. Jason Schriner, 28, assists a displaced resident living at the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, with operating the shower. Soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35 constructed two shower tents holding 24 showers and 12 sinks total. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
Morgue workers look on as soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35 work to construct a shower tent near the Ono Civic Center in Higashimatsushima, Japan.
Morgue workers look on as soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35 work to construct a shower tent near the Ono Civic Center in Higashimatsushima, Japan. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
Soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35, along with Japan Self-Defense Force troops, work to dig a trench for run-off water from the shower units they set up near the Ono Civic Center in Higashimatsushima, Japan.
Soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35, along with Japan Self-Defense Force troops, work to dig a trench for run-off water from the shower units they set up near the Ono Civic Center in Higashimatsushima, Japan. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)
An airman looks on as morgue workers, police officers and Japan Self-Defense Force troops bring a body to a morge. Soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35, along with a few airmen from the 374th Civil Engineering Squadron from Yokota Air Base, established two shower stations near the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, which also borders a morgue.
An airman looks on as morgue workers, police officers and Japan Self-Defense Force troops bring a body to a morge. Soldiers from Logistics Task Force 35, along with a few airmen from the 374th Civil Engineering Squadron from Yokota Air Base, established two shower stations near the Ono Civic Center shelter in Higashimatsushima, Japan, which also borders a morgue. (Nathan A. Bailey/Stars and Stripes)

HIGASHIMATSUSHIMA, Japan — “Japan Army no good, water cold,” said the naked man as he stood in a tent clutching a towel sheepishly, covering himself.

Little did the tsunami survivor know the U.S. Army had actually provided the shower block he was attempting to use at the Ono Civic Center, or that the problem was simply that he wasn’t turning the shower lever far enough to get hot water to come out.

The American soldiers who were trying to get to the bottom of the problem didn’t speak Japanese, but with the help of an English-speaking Japanese soldier, the scrubbing soon commenced.

The U.S. troops, which recently moved north from Sendai Airport, are based alongside thousands of personnel from Japan’s 6th Division of the North Eastern Army near a sports arena in Ishinomaki City. The U.S. military’s Logistics Task Force 35 will have 160 personnel by the end of the week, officials said Thursday.

“Our assistance at Sendai Airport was complete, and the majority of our school clearance and kerosene distribution was up here,” said Lt. Col. Stacy Townsend, 43, of Dawson Springs, Ky, who commands the task force. “Being here makes us more responsive to help the Japanese.”

The soldiers — along with a few airmen helping with water distribution and Marines who are operating the heavy equipment — are delivering relief supplies to evacuation centers, clearing tsunami debris in Ishinomaki and setting up the showers.

So far, the soldiers have constructed four sets of male and female showers at evacuation centers and they will soon add two more, Townsend said.

The shower units include 3,000 gallon water supplies, generators that heat the water, and separate areas for males and females to shower in 12-stall blocks.

Master Sgt. Gloria Porter, 45, of Rocky Mountain, N.C., said the Japanese bring their own soap, towels and other accessories when they come to bathe.

“They like taking a bath daily,” she said. “They are very adamant about staying clean. If we don’t open on time they get a little antsy.”

To please their customers, the U.S. troops make sure the shower blocks are sparkling clean before they open for business, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

When the showers are open, there are at least three U.S. soldiers on site, two males and a female, to make sure things go smoothly, said Porter, who also set up shower blocks in Baghdad from 2003 to 2004.

One of the bathers, Nobuko Toyokawa, 59, who is living on the upper floor of a house that was flooded in the tsunami, has had three showers in the American facilities since the tsunami. Before the Americans came, she was washing herself with a cloth dipped in boiled water, she said.

“Japanese people are accustomed to washing themselves in a bathtub, so a shower isn’t ideal but it is still nice,” she said.

Another bather, Takeshi Kato, 38, said he needed a shower after working all day in a fish factory and riding a bicycle home.

Kato, with a week’s growth of stubble on his chin and decked out in a coon-skin cap he found in a basket of relief supplies, warmly shook the hands of the soldiers.

“You can tell after they take the shower that they are relieved and so happy,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Schriner, 28, of Inglewood, Calif. “It brightens up their day.”

Elena Sugiyama contributed to this report.

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