Body found near beach may be missing Marine
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A body believed to be that of a 29-year-old Marine who was swept out to sea while snorkeling was found near an Okinawa beach Wednesday afternoon.
An Okinawa police spokesman said the body was discovered about 200 feet offshore in an area just west of Maeda Point, where the Marine was reported missing Sunday after being overcome by strong waves as the weather rapidly deteriorated.
The police spokesman said a group of Marines found the body floating near the surface at 1:40 p.m., but it was not clear Thursday if they were part of an official search party or an informal group of the missing Marine’s friends acting on their own.
Marine officials Thursday afternoon said little about the recovery in a news release.
"The identification process is ongoing at this time," the release said. "Until positive identification and next of kin notification procedures are completed, further information concerning the body that was recovered cannot be released."
The name of the missing Marine has not been officially released.
Okinawa officials Thursday said they believed the body recovered Wednesday was the missing Marine and said he was assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing on Camp Foster.
The area along Okinawa’s midwestern coast is a popular spot for water sports. According to statements from Okinawa police and military officials, the Marine was snorkeling with a 20-year-old Marine when the weather worsened. The younger Marine managed to swim to shore, but his friend disappeared under the waves.
The pair had been snorkeling about 300 feet offshore, a spokesman for the Japan Coast Guard said.
Although popular, the Maeda Point area in Onna Village is considered dangerous because water conditions can change rapidly, posing risks to inexperienced swimmers. Four people have died while swimming or diving in waters off Onna so far this year.
Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.