‘Dear Heroes’: Navy officers, DODEA teachers help rescue Japanese hiker injured on rough trail
Stars and Stripes May 10, 2023
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A group of seven Americans, including two Navy officers and two teachers affiliated with this base south of Tokyo, helped rescue an injured hiker off a rough mountain trail last month.
The Americans were hiking near Mount Hinokiboramaru in Kanagawa prefecture April 15 when they stopped to take photos near a riverbed, said one of the hikers, Ikego Elementary School special education teacher Barbara Garner.
The group noticed several items, including a backpack and a shirt, at their feet. After searching around, they discovered a Japanese man with a severe injury to the top of his head, Garner told Stars and Stripes on May 3.
“He looked up really slow at me and I could see that he had this huge gash on his face and his face was covered with blood,” she said.
The group immediately sent two people to the trailhead to look for help while the remaining hikers used an emergency blanket and umbrellas to stave off hypothermia in the injured man.
“We had no [phone] reception, but luckily we were close enough to the visitors station that my friend Marilyn and I decided to run back and find help,” Lt. Ashley Bossier told Stars and Stripes in a May 3 email.
The other hikers in the group were Lt. Annie McCarthy, a physical therapist at Naval Hospital Yokosuka, substitute teacher Kat Glans and Kinnick High School teacher Charles Strobino.
Bossier, an occupational therapist at the hospital, and her friend Marilyn Voight, who was visiting Japan, alerted authorities at the visitor center. After several hours, a rescue team made its way up the trail and assisted with the evacuation.
The injured man was in his 60s and from Kawasaki, a spokesman for the Matsuda Police Station told Stars and Stripes on May 8.
The spokesman declined to identify the injured man by name but said he had only a vague recollection of the incident and police were unable to determine what happened prior to his injury.
Police are unaware of the injured man’s status following his treatment at a local hospital, the spokesman said. Officers were “very thankful” to the American hikers for their actions that day, he added.
“This was a scary incident. We were traveling light and had few resources to deal with such a traumatic injury,” hiker Martin Lewis said in a May 3 email. “So, we did the best we could with what we had.”
After camping nearby and completing their hike, the group returned to find a note on one of their cars from the visitor center.
“Dear Heroes, thank you for reporting the injured person on the course for Mt. Hinokiboramaru,” read the note in English and Japanese. “He was rescued by the Mountain Rescue Squad.”
Garner, Bossier and Lewis all agreed that either fate or divine intervention seemed to be at play.
“Everyone helped in their own way, and I couldn’t help but feel like we were meant to be on the mountain that day,” Bossier said. “I don’t really believe in that sort of thing, but it did feel very meant-to-be, I can’t deny it.”