KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – All airmen stationed at or visiting Kadena Air Base will be under a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. until further notice beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, interim 18th Wing Commander Col. Jeff Kennedy said Wednesday.

Kennedy said he began mulling over the move after a spate of alcohol-related incidents this past weekend, including assault, drunken driving and unlawful entry, that involved Kadena airmen.

He called the measure temporary but declined to set an end date, saying, “It will depend on how people react.”

The curfew is being imposed over the concern irresponsible drinking among airmen could affect mission readiness, Kennedy said. He also plans to re-emphasize the “wingman” concept, which encourages airmen to watch out for their friends.

The curfew will affect more than 7,000 airmen, who were to be briefed on it Thursday afternoon.

Kennedy and Command Chief Master Sgt. Clinton Camac are to lead discussions with sergeants next week detailing their role in managing their junior airmen.

Kennedy acknowledged that although he’ll be base commander just 10 days, he’s still responsible for preempting any potentially serious incidents during that time.

He said that before proceeding with the planned curfew, he discussed it with incoming wing commander Brig. Gen. Harold Moulton and Fifth Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright. Kennedy said he also spoke about the idea with every group commander earlier this week and gained unanimous support.

The curfew temporarily suspends the Kadena liberty card program, which began in July shortly after a spate of alcohol-related crimes and incidents.

Base officials have not suggested any changes to the program, which restricts mostly junior airmen to base from midnight to 5 a.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends.

The liberty card program replaced an approximately two-week curfew on all Kadena airmen and civilians.

Base officials excluded civilians this time around. “We want to focus on the behavior of the blue-suit airmen,” Kennedy said.

Base commanders can restrict civilians but have less authority over them than over servicemembers, 5th Air Force Staff Judge Advocate Col. Edmund S. Bloom said earlier this week.

“It has to be a narrowly drawn set of prohibitions” for civilians, he said. “If there is specific conduct that is aggravating the relationships between the two countries,” then a commander can restrict that conduct.

The Kadena curfew will be the second curfew enacted within the U.S. Forces Japan theater during the past month. Yokosuka Naval Base imposed a curfew on servicemembers and civilians Jan. 5 after a sailor was arrested as a suspect in the murder of a 56-year-old Japanese woman.

Restrictions on civilians since have been dropped but the servicemember curfew remains.

Some sailors at Yokosuka have publicly questioned the perceived “group punishment.” Kennedy acknowledged that some personnel also likely would be upset about imposing a curfew on every Kadena airman when only a minority causes trouble.

“Ninety-nine percent act responsibly,” he said. “Less than one percent don’t get it. If somebody could tell me in advance who would go out and misbehave, I’d gladly (impose the curfew) on those people. But they can’t.”

Restrictions follow unruly weekend

OKINAWA CITY, Okinawa — Kadena Air Base’s planned curfew is being imposed following an unusually busy weekend involving airmen for both military and Okinawa prefecture police, base officials said.

An airman who climbed up on a house rooftop in Okinawa City on Saturday remains in custody, an Okinawa police spokesman said Wednesday.

Airman 1st Class David Scott Meanner, 24, has been accused of trespassing, the spokesman said.

Residents told police that at about 6:40 a.m., they saw a stranger walking on their roof in Okinawa City’s Sonda district, a bar district near Kadena Air Base’s Gate 2.

The man fled the rooftop and ran up to the third floor of a nearby building. Meanner was arrested five minutes later on that building’s second floor, police said. He denied the charge and told police investigators he had been lost, the spokesman said.

Meanner’s breath-alcohol test at the time detected 0.89 milligrams of alcohol, or about a 0.18 blood-alcohol concentration, according to police.

Police sent the charges to the Naha District Public Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday, which may opt to formally charge Meanner. In Japan, police can hold a suspect for up to 20 days without charges.

Other incidents last weekend include the following:

At 4:15 a.m. Saturday, a military courtesy patrol found an airman lying unconscious after a fight outside of Good Times Bar on Gate Two Street, according to Air Force reports. Witnesses told the patrol that about 20 people were fighting. The airman was transported to U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa and later released.At 7:45 a.m. Saturday, an airman and a Marine fought outside the First Chance/Last Chance Bar on Gate Two Street, according to Air Force reports. The two were sent to the hospital and later released.At 4 a.m. Sunday, a Kadena family member was detained at Gate Two for underage drinking.At 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Camp Foster military police detained a drunken airman after he broke into a residence at the South Island Mansion Apartments in Okinawa City, according to Air Force reports. The airman entered another servicemember’s apartment, then broke his keys off in the door lock of a second apartment before finding his own apartment, reports said.— Erik Slavin (Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.)

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up