Marines put halt to all water-related activates on Okinawa

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From Stripes.com

Marines put halt to all water-related activates on Okinawa

by: Chiyomi Sumida | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: October 31, 2016

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Marine Corps has identified the second Okinawa service member to die this month in an apparent drowning or diving accident off the southern island prefecture.

The Marine Corps also announced Monday it is putting a moratorium on all water-related activates on the island, and will conduct a safety stand-down on recreational water-safety activities and measures to ensure the well-being of servicemembers and their families.

Sgt. Aubrey D. Williams, of Illinois, served as a UH-1 helicopter crew chief for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Aircraft 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, a Marine Corps statement said. He was deployed to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa.

It was unclear if Williams, who enlisted in 2012, was diving, snorkeling, swimming or taking part in some other water activity during Sunday’s accident off Maeda Point.

The Marine Corps said an investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of death, and no further information, including Williams’ age or hometown, would be released until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification.

“HMLA-469 is deeply saddened by Sgt. Williams’ passing,” Lt. Col. Robert J. Weingart, HMLA-469 commander, said in the statement. “He was a devoted husband and father, as well as a mentor to the Marines around him. The entire squadron mourns his loss.”

Maeda Point features coastal rock formations and reefs that have become synonymous with Okinawa and diving. It is on Okinawa’s west coast, not far from Mermaid Grotto in Manzo-Mo, where Petty Officer 1st Class Jorge NoriegaSuarez, a fleet Marine force corpsman and advance X-ray technician assigned to the 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, died on Oct. 10 in an apparent diving accident. An investigation is pending.

No date has been set for when the moratorium on water-related activities will be lifted, though a “comprehensive plan is being developed” and the Marine Corps “will release more information as soon as possible,” a message to Stars and Stripes said.

sumida.chiyomi@stripes.com