Richard Thomas (second from right) met with Japanese dignitaries in front of the U.S. Air Force C-130, outfitted with aluminum pens for the Hog Lift.
The 1960 Hog Lift to Yamanashi, Japan
Richard Thomas was an Iowa farmer stationed with the U.S. Air Force Tokyo when, in 1959, typhoons devastated Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan's most important livestock-producing region. Thomas responded to the disaster with an unprecedented idea--he suggested airlifting hogs from Iowa to Japan, convincing farmers to donate breeding stock and the U.S. government to back his idea. His efforts led to restoration of livestock herds in Japan while engaging Iowa farmers in a humanitarian effort that ultimately healed lingering wounds between former World War II enemies. Thomas, an unsung hero, was a catalyst for international diplomacy; his ability to rally support for an innovative solution to a crisis helped alleviate post-war food shortages in Japan while creating a lasting trade relationship and legacy of peace.
Lowell Milken Center
Exploring Unsung Heroes in History