Misawa squadron on lockdown following car crash
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — In the latest curfew crackdown on the U.S. military, a squadron at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan has been restricted to post following a late-night car crash earlier this month, the Air Force confirmed Monday.
Members of the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron who live on base are barred from leaving the facility and those in off-base housing can only travel to work and back home following a direct order from U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander and Lt. Gen. Sam Angelella, Misawa spokeswoman Staff Sgt. Jess Lockoski wrote Monday in a statement to Stars and Stripes.
The unit, which is comprised of about 240 airmen, was also briefly ordered to work 12-hour shifts after an airman’s car hit the side of a Japanese home near the air base around 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, according to Lockoski and earlier reports by Japanese authorities.
The Misawa incident came on the heels of various off-base crimes and alcohol-related incidents committed by U.S. servicemembers, including the alleged gang-rape of a Japanese woman by two sailors on Okinawa in mid-October. In an effort to ease tensions with the Japanese public, U.S. military commanders have imposed curfews and increasingly strict liberty rules in an effort to stamp out such activity.
“The 35th LRS’s specific restrictions will continue until the squadron commander deems it unnecessary,” Lockoski said.
Mandatory 12-hour duty shifts for members of the unit were canceled on Dec. 8, and the squadron has since returned to its normal work schedule, she said.
“There was only one reported incident involving airmen from the 35th Fighter Wing last week, however in support of [U.S. Forces Japan] intentions to promote good order and discipline, the wing has made efforts to correct and prevent misconduct,” Lockoski wrote in the statement.
Japanese police in Hachinohe city near the base said the airman’s car missed a curve before colliding with the wall of the home. The wreck damaged a telephone pole, and debris from the wall broke a window in the house, they said.
At the time, no driver was found at the scene, police said. Lockoski said an airman has since admitted to driving the vehicle and the case is still being investigated by Japanese authorities.
She said the Air Force does not know if alcohol was involved.
In addition to the alleged rape, other servicemembers have been accused of trespassing, vandalism and bodily injury.
The spate of bad behavior angered many Okinawans and demands from Tokyo that U.S. military commanders rein in servicemembers.