Apogama, or Mermaid Grotto, is a popular diving spot among locals and servicemembers on Okinawa known for interior pools filled with colorful and tropical fish. AYA ICHIHASHI/STARS AND STRIPES
Apogama, or Mermaid Grotto, is a popular diving spot among locals and servicemembers on Okinawa known for interior pools filled with colorful and tropical fish. AYA ICHIHASHI/STARS AND STRIPES

Okinawa servicemember rescued by Japanese Coast Guard at popular swimming spot

by Carlos M. Vazquez II and Aya Ichihashi
Stars and Stripes

ONNA, Okinawa — A Japanese coast guard helicopter rescued a U.S. servicemember swept out to sea Saturday while swimming at Apogama, a popular but sometimes dangerous diving and swimming spot also known as Mermaid Grotto.

A caller told emergency responders at 2 p.m. that a group of four U.S. servicemembers were pulled away from shore, said Katsuyuki Miyazato, a spokesman for 11th Regional Coast Guard in Naha.

“We immediately dispatched an AW-139 helicopter and one patrol boat to rescue [them],” he said, adding that three of the swimmers returned the 100 yards to shore on their own.

The helicopter airlifted the remaining 20-year-old from the water back to the coast guard’s base station in Naha.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.586460

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