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GI’s, civilians ordered to take special training

Date Posted: 2010-03-25

Concerned over a rash of incidents involving drinking, driving and service personnel, the senior military officer on Okinawa has ordered all soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines to undergo special training this week on how to behave.

“I need leaders at all echelons in all the services to continue to reinforce what the vast majority do well as forward serving ambassadors of America,” said the Okinawa Area Coordinator, Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling after meeting with senior military commanders on Okinawa to discuss measures to prevent future incidents.
Three incidents in less than a week, all involving sailors and marines drinking and driving, then getting into accidents, led to the three-star general’s order for the educational review for all service members and civilian employees this week. Additionally, Robling has directed a comprehensive internal examination, coordinated between all the services, of policies and procedures that govern conduct and discipline on and off duty. The internal examination of policies and procedures will make recommendations to the general, who is the III Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general as well as Okinawa Area Coordinator.

Two alcohol-involved incidents Sunday came atop a hit-and-run accident by a drunken sailor on Route 329 near Camp Schwab March 15th. One of the Sunday accidents was a hit-and-run by a Marine sergeant, who struck a car about 8:10 a.m. in the Akamichi area off Route 75. The 30-year-old sergeant, driving a Y-plate vehicle, struck the rear end of a taxi that had stopped to wait for a passenger, then fled the scene. The hit-and-run took place near a police station and officers heard the cars collide and found the sergeant and his car 300 meters from the scene. Uruma City Police arrested him on the spot. The taxi driver was not injured, but his vehicle’s back bumper was damaged.

The second incident involved a 24-year-old woman Marine. Okinawa City Police say the Marine had been parked at a pay parking area about 1:43 a.m. when she crashed into a wall of the parking lot. A security guard saw the crash and called police, who came and tried talking to the Marine. After police asked her to stop the car, she reached out and grabbed the policeman’s necktie and pulled it, declaring “I have done nothing wrong.” Police disagreed and arrested her.

A sailor assigned to a Seabees Mobile Construction Battalion at Camp Shields is being detained after the military Humvee she’s believed to have been driving crashed into the rear end of a vehicle belonging to an Okinawa man, injuring one of his two sons in the car, on Monday, March 15th. The vehicle slammed into the civilian vehicle, and then fled the scene. A witness notified police, who located the Humvee about 12 kilometers from the scene on Route 329 near Camp Schwab.

The female sailor believed now to be the driver was picked up as she walked along the road wearing shorts and sandals. Police say she had been drinking. At first, local police did not think the woman was the military vehicle driver. The U.S. Navy has now taken her into custody, but not arrested her. Local police say the sailor has already confessed to them that “I was drunk, and yes, I did escape after I hit a car.” She is also suspected of having stolen the Humvee.

Lt. Gen. Robling says, “My goal is to reduce incidents and accidents to the greatest extent possible while enhancing the strong relationship we have with the Okinawa people.” He publicly said the U.S. military and its commanders take very seriously all incidents and allegations involving misconduct by service members, especially those that impact the host nation community.

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