A Japanese Coast Guard helicopter, similar to the one in this undated photo, rescued three US Marines swept out to sea while snorkeling off Okinawa on Saturday, October 30, 2021. (Coast Guard Japanese)
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – A group of Okinawa-based Marines were rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard after being sucked into the sea while snorkeling, coast guard officials said.
The incident began shortly before 3:25 p.m. on Saturday just off Sosu Beach in Kunigami Village on the northeastern tip of Okinawa, a spokesperson for the 11th regional headquarters of the United States of America told Stars and Stripes on Thursday. coast guard.
Five Marines from Camp Schwab were snorkeling when three were washed ashore, the spokesperson said. The Marines were pulled out of the ocean about two hours later and turned over to the US military, he said.
“I’m so glad they didn’t lose their lives,” another spokesperson for the Nakagusuku Coast Guard Bureau told Stars and Stripes on Thursday. It is customary in Japan for some government officials to speak to the media on condition of anonymity.
The five Marines were seen swimming and diving earlier in the afternoon by a group of Japanese camping nearby, Nakagusuku spokesman said. Two Marines disembarked and turned to see the others being swept away. The most likely culprit was a reverse current, he said.
The three Marines, wearing wetsuits and snorkels, called for help and the campers called emergency services, the spokesperson said. He had no identifying information for any of the service members.
The trio were spotted around 5:10 p.m. and rescued 11 minutes later by an MH977 AgustaWestland helicopter, the headquarters spokesperson said. He landed at the nearby fishing port of Ada, where they were picked up by the Marine Corps.
Marine Corps Installations Pacific did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.
“It is always good to check the weather and the terrain before going out and watch out for reverse currents,” Nakagusuku spokesman said. “Also, never approach the water alone.”