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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Base leaders here are sending a message to the military community: Stop drinking and driving or face some serious consequences.

Col. David Stilwell, commander of the 35th Fighter Wing, warned during his Friday radio call-in show that he’s considering “more extreme measures” if incidents continue. That could include implementing what he called the “Korean approach,” referring to the U.S. Forces Korea policy of not allowing junior-ranking servicemembers to drive.

Friday’s announcement followed a June 20 incident in which a Misawa-based airman first class was accused of drinking and driving off base. Japanese police confirmed Friday that an airman is under investigation for drunken driving and being involved in a collision. Police declined to release additional details, citing an investigation.

Even as Stilwell was addressing the community, a staff sergeant was facing military court-martial on charges that he fled the scene after crashing his car while driving home after a night of drinking outside the base in late February. The trial was to continue Saturday.

In a phone interview Friday afternoon, Stilwell said “we have to think of more creative ways to handle these issues.”

“Negative things like this do not help build strong U.S-Japan relations,” Stilwell said.

Base officials could not say Friday how many drinking-and-driving incidents had been recorded at Misawa this year.


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