U.S. commander in Pacific steps down

Kyodo

Retiring U.S. Navy Adm. Robert Willard, who oversaw the Operation Tomodachi disaster relief effort, stepped down Friday as head of the U.S. Pacific Command.

At a ceremony in Hawaii, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised Willard as “an extraordinary leader” who helped “Japan, a true friend, to stand back up and stand back strongly after they had been knocked down.”

Adm. Samuel Locklear replaced Willard on Friday.