Hansen Marines, local community take part in Operation Eye Catch
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Kin Town community leaders and Camp Hansen Marines worked with the Traffic Safety Association to raise awareness against drunk driving July 1 in front of Gate 1 at Camp Hansen.
The event was part of Operation Eye Catch, a traffic safety campaign with the mission to raise awareness against and eradicate drunk driving. The campaign started with an opening ceremony, which included remarks from the camp commander, Ishikawa Police chief, a Traffic Safety Association chairperson and the Kin Town mayor before “Eliminate Drunk Driving” flyers were handed out.
The Marine Corps is working alongside Okinawa residents on the issue of drunk driving, which affects the shared community, according to Col. Sean M. McBride, the commanding officer of III Marine Expeditionary Forces Headquarters Group, III MEF, and Camp Hansen commander. The campaign and cooperation with the local community will prove beneficial.
“Raising awareness against drunk driving is a team effort,” said McBride, a Butte, Montana, native. “We’re going to take care of our Kin Town neighbors and they’re going to take care of us.”
In 2013, the number of car accidents due to drunk driving was more than twice the number of Japan’s national average, according to Okinawa Prefectural Police. The number of arrests due to drinking and driving was more than four times the national average.
“Okinawa prefecture was ranked as worst in terms of drunk driving (in Japan), that is 24 years in a row,” said Hajime Nakama, the mayor of Kin Town. “In order to rid drunk driving from our society, each of us must strongly recognize that it is an evil crime that can cause tremendous misery and sorrow.”
The Marine Corps offers many opportunities to prevent drunk driving, according to Sgt. Joshua J. Martino, the sergeant of the guard with Camp Hansen camp guard.
“You see signs around the base reminding Marines, airmen, sailors and whoever may be out here, not to drink and drive,” said Martino, a Carson City, Nevada, native. “Then there are events like this that go on, and we (remind personnel about) it during weekly safety briefs not to drink and drive.”
“Okinawa and the U.S. Marine Corps both take drunk driving seriously,” said McBride. “We’re doing the same thing.”
With Kin Town community leaders, Camp Hansen Marines and the Traffic Safety Association working together in Operation Eye Catch, they hope to get the message across about the dangers of drunk driving, according to McBride.
“It might only reach one person, it might reach ten, but that’s one person whose eyes have been opened,” said Martino.