Iwakuni imposes curfew after arrests
Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station Marines and sailors have been restricted to base or to their off-base quarters from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.
Base Commander Col. David Darrah ordered the restriction Tuesday following recent arrests, including one early Tuesday morning, involving Iwakuni servicemembers. Darrah took the action after Japanese officials petitioned base officials early Tuesday.
“We want to prevent any incidents from happening,” said Fumitoshi Yoshiga, Iwakuni City’s Base Affairs Section department manager. “It is not our purpose to keep servicemembers from getting off the base.”
Darrah set no date to lift the restriction.
“This is not intended to be a permanent curfew, but its duration is undetermined at this time,” said Iwakuni’s Command Sgt. Maj. David Allison. The curfew begins at 10 p.m. “because it is modeled on the curfew system used in South Korea, and it seems to work pretty good there.” U.S. Forces Korea troops must be on base, or in their homes, by 1 a.m.
The sergeant major called the arrests “an extreme embarrassment. ... That’s what this is about. Over the past few months we’ve had some incidents occur. And what this has done is raise some concerns about our Marines and sailors who are out on liberty, and their conduct, which causes some problems here in the local community.”
Allison said the curfew also is an attempt to preserve the effective and amicable working relationship the base enjoys with Iwakuni City and Yamaguchi Prefecture officials.
“If this means we have to impose some restrictions on our own folks, then that’s what we’re going to do,” he said, “[try] to curtail some of this stuff, and let it cool off a little bit.”
Servicemembers who violate the curfew, which is being enforced by the air station’s military security officers, will face disciplinary actions, Allison said.
Breaking the curfew could be treated as a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he said, but disciplinary measures most likely will vary widely in severity.
Most violators will receive penalties from their unit commanders. However, those involved in serious incidents — embarrassing themselves and the air station — likely will receive stiff punishment from Darrah, officials said.
The curfew applies to all Iwakuni Marines and sailors, the officials said, including the large majority not involved in any disturbances — a blanket restriction that drew mixed reactions from base servicemembers.
“I’m seeing both sides of this situation, and in one sense you can see that it is something that had to be done,” said Sgt. Rebekah Rainer, an administrative clerk attached to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “If I was in the CO’s shoes, I could see why this order was created.
“On the other hand, I’m 26 years old, and I’ve made the choice to be here — doing a good job and serving my country. I know that most Marines don’t get into trouble. I just wish there were some other way to handle the problem.”
Lance Cpl. Lori Stuever, 19, also an administrative clerk from the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, said the curfew teaches servicemembers a few lessons — and they’re all good ones.
“Of course, no one will really like it,” she said. “But now is not the time to be causing problems. Those of us who do not break rules and become involved in incidents have to keep an even closer eye on our fellow Marines. We have to remember that we are the guests here.”
Among recent Iwakuni servicemembers Japanese police have accused of crimes:
• Lance Cpl. Lester E. Son, 20, was arrested Tuesday morning. He is accused of breaking into an off-base home and stealing more than $2,000 in cash and goods from a 52-year-old Japanese woman. A local resident caught Son, who is with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. He remained in police custody Wednesday.
• Cpl. Todd M. Heaney, 25, from Marine Aircraft Logistics Squadron 12, was arrested Jan. 11. He is accused of stealing almost $5,000 in car parts from a local dealer in September. Local police said a second Marine is being questioned in connection with the case but remained free as of Wednesday. Base officials have declined to comment, but police said both Marines confessed to the theft.
• Pfc. William E. McIntosh, 22, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, has been in Japanese police custody since Nov. 21, when he was indicted on charges of attempted rape resulting in bodily injury. Japanese police say McIntosh tried to rape a 53-year-old Japanese woman early Aug. 1. McIntosh was to stand trial in Japanese court beginning Thursday.
On Okinawa, a Liberty Buddy plan is in effect for all Marines ranks E-3 and below. The junior Marines must sign out with at least one other Marine whenever leaving their bases.
Marines in South Korea must obey the U.S. Forces Korea curfew policy, officials said. In addition to a 1 a.m. curfew, a buddy-rule system requires servicemembers to — as the name suggests — take at least one buddy along when they venture off base.
The Iwakuni installation had no curfew before Tuesday, said spokeswoman Staff Sgt. Brenda Varnadore.
Stuever, the administrative clerk, said Wednesday the curfew hadn’t yet generated much discussion among servicemembers. “But you know people will always be having these conversations about topics like this,” she said. “But since this just happened, I haven’t noticed it being a big deal yet.
“If they think about it, the curfew could have been a whole lot worse.”
Exceptions to new curfew
1. Requests for specific exemptions may be submitted in writing to servicemembers’ commanding officers. No requests for blanket exemptions will be accepted.
2. Active-duty servicemembers officially signed out on leave may enter and leave the base between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. if beginning or returning from leave outside the local area. Those on leave and remaining in the local area are subject to the curfew.
3. Servicemembers may enter and leave the base between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. to perform official duties when the unit command duty officer establishes advance notice with the Provost Marshal’s Office.
4. Servicemembers leaving or returning from temporary additional duty between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. must show their orders for such duty to leave or enter the base.
5. Servicemembers participating in Marine Corps Community Services programs and activities are exempt from the curfew.
— Source: Iwakuni MCAS Order 1050.5, Jan. 13, 2004, Section 5
Other liberty policy restrictions
The liberty policy at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station is largely unchanged since it started several years ago, although some minor tweaking took place during the last three or four years. The curfew ordered Tuesday is the most significant added restriction.
Staff Sgt. Brenda Varnadore, base spokeswoman, said that before the new curfew Iwakuni’s Liberty Policy included the following measures:
• Marines and sailors in grades E-3 and below must be accompanied by a liberty buddy when off base. The requirement for a liberty buddy applies after working hours, including those for shift workers, and on weekends and during special liberty hours. Liberty buddies must check out together, stay together and return together. Switching liberty buddies is prohibited.
• All Marines and sailors in grades E-3 and below must check out with their respective duty noncommissioned officer by signing out in the unit liberty log book. Each unit log book will list at a minimum the servicemember’s name, rank, time out, time of return and destination.
• Civilian clothing will be worn. It is to be in good taste and not in conflict with accepted attire of the host country. Marines and sailors will set an example of neatness by their appearance. As general guidance, civilian clothes should reflect the style, fit and neatness of the Service “C” uniform. Clothing which has been altered, cut or otherwise worn in a manner to present an abbreviated covering, or sexually provocative appearance, is prohibited. Specifically prohibited are articles of clothing that expose the midriff and clothing obviously tattered or soiled.
— Source: Iwakuni MCAS spokeswoman Staff Sgt. Brenda Varnadore