Airman stabbed to death near Yokota remembered in emotional ceremony
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — An airman who died in an off-base stabbing last week was honored with a ceremony hosted Friday by fellow Security Forces members at the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo.
Master Sgt. Nicholas Vollweiler, 35, was pronounced dead at a hospital after being stabbed with a knife at his home just outside Yokota’s east gate in the city of Tachikawa.
A woman identifying herself as Aria Saito, 27, an office worker from Tokyo’s Koto ward, was arrested and charged in the killing.
Comrades from the 374th Security Forces Squadron and other members of the Yokota community gathered at the base’s Friendship Chapel to pay their respects during a ceremony that was broadcast to family members back in the United States.
A photograph of Vollweiler in his camouflage uniform was displayed along with an image of him with his dog, a Belgian Malinois named Jimmy.
“Before he came to Yokota he was a dog handler,” said Chief Master Sgt. Paul Rodgers, his supervisor and friend. “He adopted his last military working dog.”
Jimmy will attend his master’s funeral back in the States and will be adopted by Vollweiler’s family members, Rodgers said.
Those at the service heard about the fallen airman’s service record, which featured multiple deployments and humanitarian missions in Asia, Europe and the Middle East since he enlisted in 2001.
“His efforts downrange … [included] conducting 11 high-value raids, recovering 3,228 pounds of buried mortars from local insurgents, [being a] key breach team member in capturing a Baghdad sniper and providing critical evidence by locating a hidden vehicle used to assassinate an Iraqi leader,” 374th Airlift Wing chaplain Capt. Michael McDonald told those in attendance.
An emotional Rodgers recalled speaking to his friend about riding motorcycles through the Japanese mountains and getting tattoos.
“We talked about going down to Kichijoji (a Tokyo neighborhood) and maybe getting some ink done,” he said.
Security Forces Squadron commander Maj. Michael Cheatham said he hoped Vollweiler’s family could take comfort in knowing that they are part of a large military and law enforcement family.
Vollweiler’s duty assignments included Japan, Korea, Italy, Hawaii and New Jersey. He received the Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal and the Air Force Achievement Medal.
At Yokota, he served as the Security Forces Squadron’s chief of standards and evaluation.
Vollweiler is survived by his parents, Bernard and Laura, wife Deena, and two brothers.