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Okinawa City streets somber on long GI payday weekend

Date Posted: 2008-02-21

It was a long President’s holiday weekend, and a payday weekend to boot, but Okinawa City businesses found themselves with far fewer American customers than normal, and those that were out were in a low key mood.

Many service members avoided the off-base communities throughout the weekend, only a week after a U.S. Marine was arrested on suspicion of raping a young teenager after picking her up at Koza Music Town. Gate 2 Street, normally packed on a payday weekend, was nearly deserted, and those that were skipping peoples’ questions about their thoughts on Staff Sergeant Tyrone Hadnott’s actions. “It’s very serious, so we don’t want to comment” was the common answer.

Others expressed shock over the incident, and said “we are very angry for him. Because of just one person, we all look bad in the eyes of the local people.” “It doesn’t make sense,” quipped another. Some GI’s were concerned the incident would bring mass punishments upon them in the form of base restrictions, and said “We are all upset and we need education on morals and keeping good relations with the locals.”

“We just came to Okinawa to have a good time,” one serviceman said. “We are young and want to make friends with locals.” Virtually all military personnel who were talking were agreeing Japanese were offended, and noting “Of course, the guy who raped the girl should be tried in court. We hate this guy. He is the lowest American.” Many insisted “he should get anything the Japanese court says. We don’t need this kind of American around, because we are proud to be normal Americans.”

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