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A staff sergeant has received nonjudicial punishment in connection with a Jan. 8 bomb-threat note, while two students who admitted to leaving similar notes in Yokota Middle School on March 29 are facing possible expulsion from base, officials said Thursday.

The staff sergeant’s punishment was ordered during a March 24 Article 15 hearing for penning the note found on a parked car near wing headquarters.

A member of the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the sergeant was reduced in rank to senior airman and given 45 days of extra duty and a reprimand, said Maj. Brandon Hart, the 374th Airlift Wing deputy staff judge advocate.

The former staff sergeant remains at Yokota, officials said, declining to release the airman’s name, motive or other details about the incident.

The middle school students “are being charged, so to speak, with having committed a bomb threat or hoax,” said Col. Mark Correll, the 374th Mission Support Group commander. “The wing commander has the investigation report. He’s reading it and evaluating what he’s going to do.”

The range of punitive action available to the wing commander includes community service, temporary loss of commissary and base exchange shopping privileges and — the most severe — disbarment from base.

The students confessed after being questioned, Correll said.

Between Jan. 13 and March 29, three bomb scares surfaced at the schools, each prompting an evacuation of students and faculty. No explosives were found.

Though two of the four bomb-threat cases are almost resolved, investigations into the two high school scares — Jan. 13 and March 26 — remain open, but “we don’t have anyone canvassing the high school right now,” Correll said. “If something comes up along the way, certainly we’ll go back.”

Tech. Sgt. Todd Simmons, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Security Forces Investigations, said law enforcement will continue to take any bomb threat or hoax seriously.

“It takes four hours just to respond and another 10 to 20 just for the initial investigation,” he said. “It causes the wing to lose lots of money.”

If the two students tied to the middle school threats are expelled from base, they would forfeit SOFA status and have 30 days to leave Japan, apply for a visa as a foreign national or be considered an illegal alien, Correll said.

Law enforcement officials are asking anyone with information about the bomb threats to call security forces at DSN 225-7025. Callers may remain anonymous.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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