U.S.-Japan exercise: Planned cooperation, unplanned reptile
OYANOHARA TRAINING AREA, KUMOMOTO, Japan — The bilateral U.S.-Japan exercise now going on high in these mountains was humming along last week generally trouble free until a U.S infantry soldier made a territorial reptile really, really angry Friday.
The snake of unknown variety — perhaps disgruntled because his usually peaceful hillside meadow world was being stirred and tossed like a Caesar salad — sunk his considerable fangs into the forearm of Spc. Gene Cedar, 25.
Then all that “humming along” turned into to a unit of shouting infantrymen.
In six minutes flat, Cedar’s brothers-in-arms from Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii, had Cedar sprawled on his back and ready for transport — except there wasn’t a military vehicle in sight. Fortunately, a group of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers drove by, stopped, loaded Cedar into their spacious vehicle and whisked the Nebraska native to a local hospital.
“Yes sir. I feel fine now, just a little hungry,” Cedar said a few hours later, back at Oyanohara Barracks, standing outside the medical clinic, pulling on a Marlboro Light and pressing an ice pack to the spot where the snake’s fangs had entered his arm.
“They had a doctor at the hospital look at it, and he just didn’t know if it was poisonous or not but he was thinking it might not be,” he added.
But the snake’s bite may have made up in shock value whatever it may have lacked in venom: Cedar was unconscious while being removed from the field.
“Do you remember being carried by your buddies down the gravel road?” he was asked.
“No sir. I sure don’t. I just don’t remember too much of it.”
Said Capt. Tommy Cordone, Alpha Company commander, “There a lot of things we’re all doing right, and doing very well, as we work with the Japanese units. They are excellent, and very meticulous. But the snake bite, of course, wasn’t planned.
“But what happened made me feel good. I saw how my unit will react in an emergency, and the whole episode is symbolic of the reason the exercise is bilateral,” he added. “Once he was moved down to the road, our medic checked him and had a venom antidote. Then the Japanese arrived, and they were great to help too. He’s going to be just fine.”
As opposed, perhaps, to the snake: The exercise raising all the ruckus on his hillside is to run through Nov. 10.