Marine killed by blast on Okinawa is ID’d
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Marine killed in an explosion in the Central Training Area on Tuesday has been identified as Staff Sgt. John H. Roy III, 32, of Muscogee, Ga.
According to a Marine Corps release, Roy was killed and a sailor and another Marine were injured about 11:15 a.m. on Demolition Range 3 when a World War II-era shell exploded while being prepared for disposal.
The two injured servicemembers were taken to the U.S. Naval Hospital on Camp Lester. Their names and conditions were not released. The three servicemembers were part of an explosive ordnance disposal team.
"Explosive ordnance teams risk their lives on a daily basis to ensure the safety of the Okinawa people," said Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Douglas Powell. "The U.S. military and the Okinawan people recognize and sincerely appreciate the efforts of the U.S. and Japanese EOD experts."
The range has been used for disposal of unexploded ordnance since before reversion and is used by U.S. and Japanese units to conduct demolition training, the release said.
"The distance between the demolition range and the nearest civilian population is more than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), well beyond the blast radius of the demolitions used on that range," the release stated. "At no time was the local Okinawan public in danger."
Okinawa officials, however, expressed concern.
"It is very regrettable that the life of a Marine was lost and another was seriously injured and a sailor was wounded in the accident," Nago Mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro said in a released statement. "We ask the military to release the cause of the accident and fully implement safety procedures to never let an accident such as this happen again."
Okinawa’s prefectural government also joined in offering condolences.
"We were saddened by the news that one precious life was lost in the accident. We would like to offer our deepest condolences to the victim and his family," said the spokesman, Susumu Matayoshi, chief of the military affairs office.
He said that the prefectural government is seeking detailed information on the accident through the Ministry of Defense.
According to the Marine release, the incident remains under investigation. Marine officials did not respond to questions concerning whether training on the range will be suspended pending the results of the investigation.
No information was available concerning plans for a memorial for Roy.
Roy, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, was assigned to Headquarters and Services Battalion, Marine Corps Base Butler. He joined the Corps in June 1994 and began his tour on Okinawa in February 2006. He was promoted to staff sergeant in July 2006 and served as an EOD technician in Iraq for nearly seven months in 2008.
"The command mourns the loss of Staff Sgt. Roy and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family," said Col. Frank Simonds, commanding officer of Roy’s battalion. "He was an integral member of our unit and his contributions will be sorely missed."
Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this story.