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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Aircraft debris that washed up on a beach about six miles from Misawa Air Base belongs to a U.S. F-16 fighter jet that crashed in the Pacific Ocean almost three years ago, base officials said Wednesday.

A 62-year-old Japanese man found the large aircraft fragment while on his morning walk Sunday and turned it over to Misawa police, said a Misawa police spokesman.

The part is from the forward, right-hand portion of the canopy assembly — which encloses the cockpit — measures 23.5 inches by 78 inches, said Capt. Miki Gilloon, Misawa base spokeswoman, in a written response to a Stripes query. The piece bore identifying information used to trace it to the 35th Fighter Wing aircraft. The F-16 crashed in the Pacific Ocean near Draughon Range April 3, 2001, Gilloon said. The pilot, 1st Lt. Mark Hadley, ejected safely and was rescued.

The wrecked plane’s crash site is about 6.2 miles north of the beach where the debris washed up, reported the Too Nippo newspaper. The debris was found near Shiogame, in northern Misawa city about 1,980 feet from Highway 338, according to news reports.

Local officials already have turned over the part to Misawa Air Base for disposal by the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office, Gilloon said.

She said about 80 percent of the wrecked jet has been recovered. Two small pieces of aircraft caught in a fishing net last June also were traced to the downed plane, according to Too Nippo.

Since April 1989, 10 F-16 fighter jets from Misawa have crashed — two in the Pacific Ocean. The most recent was in April 2002, when one wrecked in the Sea of Japan off Aomori Prefecture in northeastern Japan.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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