NAF Misawa commander patrols bar district
August 24, 2005
MISAWA, Japan — All the ingredients were there: Payday week, end of an exercise, a near full moon and a weekend summer festival outside the gate.
Capt. Wayne Radloff thought it was time he paid his sailors a visit — in the wee hours of Sunday morning in Misawa’s downtown bar district.
“Sometimes I just get a feeling,” said the commander of Naval Air Facility Misawa, where about 1,200 sailors are assigned. “I don’t schedule it, and I’m doing it independent of everyone else that’s out there. I usually go out about once a month.”
With Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Perkins, a master-at-arms, at his side, Radloff hit the streets after midnight Saturday for one of his town patrols. His routine usually includes a stop at the Tohoku Enlisted Club to check on sailors there before heading off base to walk by the bars where Americans typically congregate — and sometimes get into trouble.
Dressed in his khakis, the captain turned heads everywhere he went, from the enlisted club lobby to the poorly lit alleyways downtown. At the enlisted club, a young man in civilian clothes signed a “shhh!” when Radloff walked in and immediately disappeared with his buddy.
Radloff insists his mission isn’t to discourage fun or make his sailors feel guilty for drinking. But he is serious about responsible behavior and for some, “I want to put the fear of God in them” and get them to think twice about acting recklessly or breaking a law, he said.
“It’s important to know where your people are, what they’re doing,” he said. “They need to see you, and they need to know you’re serious about responsible drinking.”
Radloff and Perkins headed out the main gate around 2 a.m., meandering through alleyways and side streets still littered with debris from the Misawa Summer Festival earlier.
Among the bars on their walk-by list were Red Dawgs, Garos, J-Draw and The Vault.
“It’s not that they’re bad bars,” Radloff said, “it’s just these are areas where people congregate.”
While in uniform, Radloff won’t go inside a drinking establishment unless invited by the manager or owner.
Along the way, he ran into barhopping servicemembers. He recognized several, stopped and talked with them for a few minutes, asked them how their night was going. If they were drinking, he told them to be safe and asked if they had a driver.
On White Pole Road, Radloff and Perkins passed the 35th Fighter Wing town patrol, a group consisting of two armed law-enforcement officers from 35th Security Forces Squadron and three volunteers from 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
Security Forces Tech. Sgt. Christopher Pichner said it was a busy night so far for law enforcement.
“A lot of alcohol-related incidents,” including a domestic physical altercation, underage drinking and a bicycle theft, he said. The wing’s town patrol is conducted, he added, to assess the bar scene and make sure “everyone’s playing nice with one another and making contact with the (bar) managers, making sure they’re OK, we’re OK.”
Despite the lunar cycle — Radloff swears a full moon alters behavior — it was a quiet night for the Navy.
“Tonight was a good night,” he said, as he and Perkins wrapped up the evening close to 4 a.m. Radloff typically ends his town patrols with a walk-through of the Navy barracks and Café Mokuteki.
“I still get concerned,” he said. “People are going to make some poor decisions tonight. We’re not giving away Navy Achievement Medals between 2 and 4 in the morning.”