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Hideaki Akaiwa

This guy is named Hideaki Akaiwa. He is 43 years old, and has an office job just outside the port city of Ishinomaki in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture. He also has one of the most inspirational stories I’ve read about in my life.

It’s Friday, March 11, and Hideaki is doing work at his desk. It’s 2:45, and he has no idea that in about a minute, one of the top five earthquakes in recorded human history is about to devastate Japan, sending tsunami waves of 40.5 meters crashing into Ishinomaki. Torrents of water will sweep the city, pushing cars around, flooding buildings, and causing widespread panic. In a matter of minutes, Ishinomaki goes from being a city to a lake, 10 foot deep in water. Hideaki’s wife is somewhere in the middle of that lake. They’ve been married for just over 20 years.

Instead of running away and waiting for assistance from the army and other social services, Hideaki dons a wetsuit and scuba gear and rushes into the torrential currents, swimming around cars, chunks of wood, and twisted shards of metal that used to be houses. At this point, it’s pitch black, but he somehow manages to navigate underwater to his house. He finds his wife trapped in an upstairs room of their house, panicking, with only a small amount of air left, and manages to pull her to safety.

He’s not done though. After rescuing his wife, he finds out that his elderly mother is unaccounted for in any rescue shelter, so he puts on the scuba gear and goes out to look for her. Four days later, he finds her in the upper levels of a house and manages to rescue her also.

For a week after the tsunami hit, he continued to help out with the relief effort, looking for survivors and assisting in the relief effort.

What a badass.

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