Special Forces' first Ie Shima parachute drop since October misses zone
TORII STATION, Okinawa — Five soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group missed the drop zone on Ie Shima on Tuesday in the first training mishap since parachute drops resumed following an October accident.
The soldiers landed about 300 meters outside the drop zone on the island off Okinawa’s northwest shore, according to Vanessa Lee, spokeswoman for the Army’s 10th Area Support Group at Torii Station.
“It is unknown at this time why the soldiers missed the drop zone,” she said in a news release.
Lee said the unit is investigating the mishap’s cause.
“There were no injuries to either civilian or military personnel during the jump,” she said. “There was minor damage to a tobacco field located adjacent to the drop zone.”
The five soldiers were part of an eight-member team that made the jump at 11 a.m. Lee said the farmer who owns the field would be compensated for any damage.
“The Army will ensure that this process is done as quickly as possible,” she said.
All parachute training over the Ie Shima Auxiliary Airfield, which is maintained by a small contingent of Marines, was halted following an Oct. 25 incident involving the dropping of a 166-pound bundle on a farmer’s field just outside the airfield.
No one was injured in that incident, but it frightened island residents and prompted the Ie Shima Town Council to pass a resolution demanding the cessation of all airdrop missions.
The target area later was moved farther from the island’s inhabited area; U.S. military personnel resumed parachute training in December. Cargo drops resumed in March.
Parachute training was moved to Ie Shima following the closing of the Yomitan Auxiliary Airfield near Torii Station in accordance with the 1996 plan adopted by the bilateral Special Action Committee on Okinawa. The SACO plan, as it’s called, called for the return of 21 percent of the base property used by U.S. forces on Okinawa.