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Chatan residents irritated over dropped military flare

Date Posted: 2006-09-01

Nobody was injured and only a small patch of grass was burned, but Chatan Town Assembly members are angry that a flare fell from a fighter jet and landed in their town.

Kadena Air Base officials confirmed that an F-15 fighter aircraft released the flare, but said the cause of it dropping from the aircraft was unknown. The flare fell to the ground on the U.S. Army’s fuel tank farm near the approach to the airbase runway. Witnesses said a “fire like ball” fired from the plane just as it was landing. Officials say the flare landed just off Highway 58, on military property.

Chatan officials say its citizens observed the same fighter jet flying over the area several hours later, despite protests there be an investigation and inspection as to what happened. They say the plane was one of two in a formation landing at Kadena after nearby training exercises. The Chatan Assembly members say they’ll file a protest with the Defense Facilities Administration Bureau over the incident.

For its part, Kadena officials told the Japanese Self Defense Force Naha District that “it is to be regretting that the flare was shot by mistake.” Kadena officials told Okinawa Prefecture “It just happened. It was a small careless accident by the pilot before landing, when the plane was on final approach for landing.”

Colonel Jeff Kennedy told officials he has directed the flight squadrons to check their safety procedures again and again, stressing safety is paramount. Kadena Town and Chatan Town are sending written protests, asking “how did it happen?” and “why isn’t safety being completely taught?”

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