Okinawa's Manzo-mo dive spot.

Okinawa's Manzo-mo dive spot. (WikiMedia Commons)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Marine Corps has identified the sailor who died Monday during an apparent diving mishap at a popular Okinawan diving spot as Petty Officer 1st Class Jorge NoriegaSuarez.

NoriegaSuarez, a married father of one, was a fleet Marine force corpsman and advance X-ray technician assigned to the 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, the Marine Corps said in a statement Wednesday.

The “3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, is deeply saddened and shocked by the death of [Petty Officer 1st Class] NoriegaSuarez,” 3rd Medical Battalion commander Capt. Jason Darby said in the statement. “He was a model sailor, a father, and a valued member of every command he was assigned to.”

NoriegaSuarez was from Barranquilla, Colombia, the statement said. He enlisted in the Navy on July 13, 2004. During his career, he received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and was previously stationed at Navy Branch Health Clinic Whiting Field, Pensacola, Fla., Marine Air Group 26, Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan.

He died about 10 a.m. Monday at Mermaid Grotto in Manzo-Mo, Okinawa. Mermaid Grotto is a popular diving spot for locals and Americans. The interior pools teem with colorful tropical fish and are protected by overarching rock formations.

Marine officials said they continue to investigate the cause of death but believe it to have been an accident.

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Grafenwoehr, Germany, for Stars and Stripes since 2024. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Okinawa, Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the news organization. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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