CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — For the second time this month, a U.S. servicemember on Okinawa has died in an apparent drowning or diving accident, highlighting the dangers associated with Okinawa's most popular leisure activities.

In this most recent incident, a Marine with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, was pronounced dead Saturday after apparently drowning at approximately 3:40 p.m. off Maeda Point, Marine officials said in a statement.

The name of the Marine is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification.

It is unclear if the Marine was diving, snorkeling, swimming, or taking part in some other water activity. Maeda Point features coastal rock formations and reefs that have become synonymous with Okinawa and diving. It is located on Okinawa's west coast, not far from Mermaid Grotto in Manzo-Mo, where Petty Officer 1st Class Jorge NoriegaSuarez, a fleet Marine force corpsman and advance X-ray technician assigned to the 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, died on Oct. 10 in an apparent diving accident.

Though relatively rare, drowning and fatal diving incidents do occur on Okinawa and in the seas surrounding other Pacific military installations. It remains unclear if officials will take steps to restrict the activities going forward.

"The thoughts and prayers of the entire command are with the Marine’s family, friends and unit service members," the statement said. "An official investigation into the exact cause of death has been initiated and no additional details of the incident are available at this time."

An investigation is also under way into the circumstances surrounding NoriegaSuarez's death. The results of that investigation have not yet been released.

author picture
Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now