Okinawa group offers rides for those who have been drinking
December 31, 2003
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Saving lives and careers: That’s the goal of the Airmen Against Drunk Driving organization on Kadena Air Base.
The group does that and more by offering free rides to anyone who has been drinking, anywhere on the island, at any time, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeanna Rogers, AADD representative.
The two-year-old organization keeps at least two people on call at all times, Rogers said.
On Friday and Saturday nights, she said, volunteers staff an office at Kadena’s Vehicle Dispatch from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. The volunteers, who always travel in pairs, use their own vehicles to drive to wherever individuals need rides and return them safely to base. The program has 565 volunteers.
The safe-ride-home offer is available to “all SOFA status personnel that work or reside on Kadena Air Base,” Rogers said.
To get a ride, one must call the Command Post, which contacts the AADD volunteers, Rogers said. Callers then must say where they are, what they’re wearing and, if they choose, their name.
The program is strictly confidential, Rogers said. All trips are recorded, but drivers never request riders’ identification or rank, she added.
“We don’t want to deter anyone from using the program,” Rogers said. “There are no repercussions.”
She said the AADD volunteers have made as few as five trips and as many as 30 in one weekend. As of Monday, Rogers said, the organization had made 1,588 “saves” since the program’s inception. A “save” is getting a passenger home safely.
With New Year’s Eve, she said, “I hope to be very busy. If not, we pray there are no DUIs [driving under the influence] or alcohol-related incidents.”
For a free AADD ride back to Kadena, call 634-2233. From off base, call 938-1111, then 634-2233.
Personnel assigned to Torii Station also have options to get home. All soldiers are given an “Arrive Alive” card when they first report to the base, said Tim Dougherty, 10th Area Support Group public affairs officer. The card is printed in both Japanese and English, so a soldier needing transportation back to base can give it to a taxi driver. The cards have directions to the base.
Once on base, the driver is to take the soldier to the Provost Marshal’s Office, which will pay the cab fare. The individual then will be released to his or her barracks, no strings attached — other than eventually reimbursing the Army for the cab fare, Dougherty said.
The Marine Corps runs a similar program, in which Marines can take any cab back to their barracks from anywhere off base, said Kim Newberry, Single Marine Program manager. The duty office will pay the cab fare, which the Marine will have to repay.
All three programs are available year-round.