A possible rip current swept three US Marines out to sea during a snorkeling exercise, and the Japanese Coast Guard rescued them this past Saturday.
The New York Post reported that the threesome was at Sosu Beach in Okinawa. The rough ocean water took the group out around 3:25 p.m., and it was two hours before their rescue.
On Thursday, a Nakagusuku Coast Guard Office spokesperson told Stars and Stripes about the incident, telling the newspaper they were glad the Marines from Camp Schwab did not die.
“It is always good to check the weather and terrain before going out and be careful of rip currents,” another spokesman said. “Moreover, never go near water alone.”
Rip Current Nearly Drowns Marines
When two Marines reached shore, they realized the others were in the current. A Japanese camping group witnessed the episode and called for help.
An MH977 AgustaWestland helicopter found the three Marines around 5:10 p.m. and took them back to nearby Ada fishing port. Soon after, other Marines delivered them back to Camp Schwab.
The condition of the three is not known.
Marines, Japanese Trade Helping Moments
Recently, both Americans and Japanese came to the rescue of each other.
Last year, another Marine rescued a Japanese woman caught in another Okinawa rip current.
Marine Staff Sgt. Billy Dixson was awarded a medal for the rescue, according to Stars and Stripes. He said he was glad to be “physically capable at that time to assist her.”
In 2017, four Marines en route from Okinawa to a Toyko New Year’s Eve celebration helped a Japanese family of five. The family drove off five stories off a parking deck and landed upside down, crunching the vehicle.
The Marines saw eight local residents and two US Sailors working to recover the family inside and joined in to help.
“We were running as fast as we could,” said Lance Cpl. James H. Flores, from West, Texas. “We just started to go toward the crowd. At that point, we just headed straight over there and saw the accident, and immediately we did what we could to help.”
The Marines said it was instinct that drove them to help the car’s occupants.
After helping the victims out of the car, they used lifesaving skills to help those bleeding, unconscious, or in shock. They even traveled to the hospital with some of the victims. Later, officials awarded the group Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and the Yokosuka mayor personally thanked the group.
Both countries train for search and rescue operations off Japan. They commit to exercises if pilots or passengers are involved in plane accidents.
Recently, the groups had an April exercise to practice and refine communications between various organizations for emergencies.