Tension Over Okinawa Bases Mars the Mourning of a Decorated U.S. Airman

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U.S. Navy photo

Mark “Smitty” Smith, center in black helmet, lowers two crewmen and a stretcher during a combat rescue mission in Afghanistan last year. Smith was killed in a training accident in Okinawa, Japan, last week

If you can find a quicker way to alienate your friends and allies than berating them for crashing a rescue helicopter that took part in a massive earthquake-and-tsunami relief operation just two years ago; and in which a well-liked and highly respected crewman (a war hero, in fact) was killed, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters and a host of grieving friends; and all the while expressing little regard for the loss of life or the risks taken — well, the Japanese government may want to hear from you.

The U.S. Air Force held a somber memorial service this week for Technical Sergeant Mark Smith, who was killed in the Aug. 5 crash of a Pave Hawk search-and-rescue helicopter. Three other crewmen were injured in the accident, which took place during a training mission on the island of Okinawa.

The cause of the accident is under investigation and training flights have been suspended. The helicopter went down in rugged terrain inside a Marine Corps training range. No Japanese citizens were injured, though smoke from the crash was visible from a nearby town.

(MORE: As Tokyo Cozies Up to Washington, Tensions Flare Over U.S. Military in Okinawa)

It’s understandable the crash would cause concern. Okinawa is a small island, densely populated and packed with U.S. bases. Helicopters and warplanes crisscross the island and operate close offshore. Local residents have been fighting the recent deployment of Marine Corps V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which have a spotty safety record, and want the crowded Futenma air base moved off the island.

But the wreckage of the Pave Hawk had barely cooled before Japanese officials were lashing the U.S. military — and by extension, the crew.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima said the crash had “shocked” local residents and angrily demanded that U.S. authorities explain the cause and take measures to prevent it from happening again.

“The insecure feelings of the people of Okinawa prefecture are growing all the stronger. Aircraft could crash onto private residences,” Nakaima said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama met with State Department officials in Washington and afterward said he had “lodged a strong protest” over the accident — although exactly what he was protesting was unclear.

Even Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who says he wants to strengthen the U.S.-Japan security alliance, lectured the Americans: “It is important that the safety of local people comes first. We would like to ask the U.S. side to give utmost consideration to safety.”

(MORE: U.S. Troops in Japan Told to Put a Cork in It)

Lost in the outrage was any mention that an airman had died in the accident and that three others were injured.

“I was appalled by the total absence of any expression of condolence in public pronouncements and media coverage immediately following the accident,” says one U.S. official in Japan.

He says it was a “typical” post-mishap reaction by Japanese government officials, meant to keep public emotions in check.

“That means pointing an angry and demanding finger at the U.S. government and military for endangering, scaring or disturbing Japanese citizens,” he says. “We investigate these things automatically, professionally and thoroughly, and the Japanese government knows it. But they feel compelled by their political culture to poke the U.S. in the chest about it.”

Making matters worse, Smith was a well-regarded veteran of two deployments to Afghanistan. A dramatic photo of Smith and the crew of his Pave Hawk helicopter rescuing a wounded soldier during a combat mission became a viral hit in the military community; Smith and his crew were later decorated for that mission.

Of more direct relevance in Japan, Smith’s unit, the 33rd Rescue Squadron, based at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, spent a month flying search-and-rescue missions in the immediate aftermath of the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. The unit is credited with saving at least one life, delivering tons of food and supplies, and evacuating sick and injured people. Twice the unit was driven back while attempting to conduct close reconnaissance of the stricken nuclear power plant in Fukushima — once by dangerous winter weather, and the other by high radiation.

The timing may have contributed to the official reaction. The Abe administration is trying to ease through — or push through, depending on one’s perspective — a final deal on relocating the Futenma air base to another location on Okinawa. That’s something local officials have long opposed, and last week’s crash won’t make things easier.

(MORE: Why Okinawa Won’t Be Celebrating if 4,700 U.S. Marines Move to Guam)

“The government is really afraid that this accident will make replacing the Futenma facility and basing the Osprey on Okinawa even harder, so they sought to allay concerns among the locals,” says Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University in Tokyo.

Still, if the reaction by Japanese leaders has seemed hardheaded, that of ordinary citizens has been much different.

A Facebook page was set up by Japanese supporters of the U.S. military and received hundreds of posts expressing sympathy and condolences. The e-mail account of the Kadena Air Base’s public-affairs office was inundated with messages of support, and thousands of Twitter messages were sent to U.S. forces throughout Japan, says Cody Chiles, a Kadena spokesman.

In one representative post, Okinawa resident Satomi Te wrote, “For you who died at such a young age in the line of duty, I offer my condolences, and to your family. Thank you again for your rigorous training every day, and for being at the Great East Japan Earthquake.”

Perhaps the message got through. Over the weekend, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera appeared on Japanese television to point out that a member of the U.S. military — Japan’s friend and ally for more than six decades — had lost his life far from home and deserved the condolences of the Japanese people.

Training flights for the 33rd Rescue Squadron resume today.

MORE: The Identity Crisis That Lurks Behind Japan’s Right-Wing Rhetoric

82 comments
strahlsund
strahlsund

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NEW - http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x131y1f LAWYER WANTED !!!

NEW - http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x134nnl LAWYER WANTED !!!


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REPUBLICAN PARTY (scammers that make look great anyone or anything and regardless of ugliness or perversion = support for democratic party or zionism) AND DEMOCRATS (extremist ZIONIST party) ARE ONE PARTY SYSTEM (self elected democracy = zionist totalitarianism = prison state) WHILE DAVID DUKE $(pukes) ARE USED TO FORTIFY THIS ONE PARTY HOMOBAMAISOSAMA SYSTEM WITH ADDITIONAL BETRAYAL(need more proofs = your genocide).


ZIONISM = REPRESENTS FOREIGN(multiculturalism) AND NOT NATIVE WHITE POPULATION IN OUR COUNTRIES. ZIONISM EQUALS TO TERRORIST ORGANISATION(not  only because of favoring non whites vs even native whites , but further due to traditional use of terrorism to forcefully rehabilitate CHRISTIAN WHITES - worldwide). United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted on November 10, 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), " that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination". The resolution was revoked by Resolution 46/86 on December 16, 1991(revoked by father from G. W. BUSH who also created 911).


BECAUSE COMMUNIST http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p16WzrihsTg = ZIONIST = LIBERAL(produced by Zionism and communism to promote homosexuality/race mixing/pedophilia/anti Christianity) = HOMOSEXUAL = RACE MIXER = PEDOPHILE = BESTIALIST = ANTICHRIST(anti Christian & satanist) = ANARCHIST(anti civilisation) !!!


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NOT HUMAN RIGHTS COURTS OR ORGANIZATIONS, BUT ORGANIZERS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITES AND SPONSORS OF BOGUS "MULTICULTURALISM" $$$ CLAIMS(false claims while whites are trully persecuted) AT EXPENSE OF PERSECUTED WHITES !!!


WHY TO ACCEPT LIABILITIES FOR CRIMES COMMITTED WHEN WE CAN SIMPLY ASSASSINATE OUR VICTIMS(YOU) THANKS TO HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS AND FREE PRESS/MEDIA(most severe CENSORSHIP OF GENOCIDE in entire history of human kind) !!


MY YOUTUBE user Avsec Bostjan WAS HIJACKED (since March 07th, 2012, I am not allowed to log in) BY US GOV. WHILE PRIMARY E-MAIL & BLOGS WERE SHUT DOWN FOR THE SAKE OF CENSORSHIP REGARDING ABDUCTIONS/ MK-ULTRA/ FORCED BRAIN IMPLANTS/ HUMAN EXPERIMENTATION/ BLACKLISTING/ FORCEFUL UNEMPLOYMENT AND ASSASSINATIONS !! ALL AGAINST WHITES (under "NAZI" lie).


AND BY THE WAY...THE DAY YOU HAVE CELEBRATED BIN LADEN'S DEATH, YOU HAVE CELEBREATED THE DEATH OF THE LAST WITTNESS OF 9/11(your own death) - HE WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD TESTIFY PER WHAT HAPPENED ON 9/11(who financed and assited Al-Qaeda) AND HE HAD TO BE KILLED AT ALL COSTS !!! IT WAS A OBAMA'S KILL MISSION(he held a granate in his hands - a LIE !!!) !!! IT IS FUNNY HOW USA IS ISSUING A THREAT WARNINGS TO THE WORLD ABOUT AL-QAEDA(created by US gov) WHEN THE BIGGEST THREAT TO THE WORLD IS UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ALONE(that is exactly why warnings and government paranoia). US = GOVERN THE WORLD WITH ANARCHY AND CRIME !!! SEMPER FI !!! THERE IS EVEN SOMETHING HUMAN ABOUT AL-QAEDA WHEN COMPARING WITH YOU THE UNITED STATES OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH !!! YOU CAN TALK ALL YOU WANT ABOUT EX SOVIET UNION' GULAGS WHEREV 50 MILLION WHITES HAVE PARISHED, BUT YOU ARE 10 x TIMES WORSE(again and exactly why you talk about one so much) !!! YOU ARE THE WORST OF THE WORST AND IT'S TIME FOR THE WORLD TO SET YOU IN A TRASH BIN OF THE HISTORY !!! YOU ARE A REAL THREAT FOR HUMANITY AND THERE IS NOTHING HUMAN ABOUT YOU !!! YOU ARE FINISHED !!!


OBAMA IN BERLIN: "I COMEEE TO YOU AS A CITIZEN OF THE WORRRLDDD.... I AM UNLIKE ANY OTHER PRESIDENT BEFORE.... WORLD LOOOOK AT THE BERLIN... WORLD LOOK AT THE BERLIN.... SOVIET TANKS..."  DO ME A FAVOR AND REMOVE FROM YOUR BANKNOTES "IN GOD WE TRUST" AND HAVE ONE REPLACED WITH "SATAN WE TRUST" !!! PEOPLE WILL BE GRATEFUL TO YOU(for the truth and even if only once in your entire history) !!!


Therefore why to condemn HOMOSEXUALITY AS MENTAL DISEASE ONLY when it is obvious that one was produced parallel with race mixing, anti Christianity, pedophilia, bestiality and even satanism movements by communists/zionists/liberals !!?? Instead, it is time for the world to acknowledge that zionism/communism/liberalism are ultimate evil anarchist movements(anti civilization) and as such, the most severe mental diseases that we were forced to face throughout the history !!!


MEET ME https://www.facebook.com/loki.nagrind

David Ellery
David Ellery

Mars for marrs is not a good look; that said the chopper is a neat piece of kit - and is there to protect the Japanese. Situation is a little volatile given Chinese aggressive stance on the South China Sea and the ongoing paranoid, lunatic and dangerous recalcitrance of the puppet masters pulling the strings in North Korea. Call me a cynic but I suspect that China uses NK to further its own agenda.... a two handed shell game. I am also very sorry for the brave serviceman who lost his life and for his family. ``There is no greater love than this than laying down your life for your friends''.

AlexLaBruno
AlexLaBruno

Good, well-written story. 


Kudos, Time

MonicaCMesa
MonicaCMesa

How to earn 300 us dollar per day its unbelievable but its work Hope to see you around here more often.== >w­w­w.B­a­r­2­9.ℂ­o­m

anti-government
anti-government

Bring our troops home now!

There is no good reason for US troops to be based all around the world. Having troops ready to go into action immediately only makes it more likely that the USA will continue to be embroiled in foreign wars.

We are the world's leading bombers, who have killed far more civilians with bombs than every other nation and terrorist group in world history.. We keep our soldiers and sailors based all over the world, allegedly to serve US interests. But are US interests really served by a state of constant war?

Stop US imperialism!.

Lal Pacha
Lal Pacha

Locatioan, Afghanistan (Noristan) state/City

محاسب يحيى حافظ الصارف
محاسب يحيى حافظ الصارف

محاسب يحيى حافظ الصارف # _ network news | America and Al-Qaeda .. Supported one against Egypt The position is not without its novelty black .. Put the United States, an oasis of democracy as they claim, her hand in the hands of two organizations which promise to a symbol of terrorism in the world, namely al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the goal is to hit the will of the Egyptian revolution which was launched in June 30, to complete the demands and goals of the January 25 revolution is glorious, and taken America and its allies terrorists positions inciting against Egypt and its revolution, with the encouragement of violence and help the forces of evil to spread panic in throughout Mahrosa .. At a time when the Egyptians realized the fact that the American policy, and objectives that are in the export of terrorism and violence to Egypt منذ 6 دقائق

AttilaBorborygmi
AttilaBorborygmi

Spitzer disingenuously left out all the other reasons why the Okinawans might not want the troops there.

Whatanotion
Whatanotion

The Sorrows of Empire by C. Johnson explains multiple abuses that are done under the guise of having a beneficial military base at places like OKinawa.  From rapes to cultural destruction the bases destroy from the inside out.

Bill Fernandez
Bill Fernandez

Yeah, helicopters fall out of the sky all the time.

Shelley Farrell
Shelley Farrell

yes... anyone who has ever been stationed on Okinawa know the reality of these issues, and the real pig-headedness of the Japanese govt officials regarding the military on the island. Crazy weird... and... LOTS of Chinese agitators! The general populace is VERY welcoming. A fact you rarely read about.

ryumomo
ryumomo

I just learned that Mr. Smith was a great hero for Japanese people. I'm very sorry about his loss. My sincere condolences to his family.

Kurlis
Kurlis

I think perhaps Japan should defend itself and not rely on the United States.

De Heuer
De Heuer

hey. where s optimus prime??

Mariam Naguib
Mariam Naguib

تم تجميع فديوهات تدين الارهابين الاخوان وترجمة عنوان الفديو مجهود كبير أخذ وقت كبير ،، أرجو ان تقوموا بنشرها وكوبي وبست في كل المواقع الاجنيه كن ايجابي 1- القيادي الإخواني وليد خطاب: سنغرق الشوارع "بالدم".. وضباط الشرطة والجيش ليس لهم عندنا دية Muslim Brotherhood leader Walid Khatab says "The streets would sink in blood and the police and army are of no value to us http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm887hVNM-A ==================================== 2- أحد أنصار مرسي يهدد "بحرق البلاد" بعد القبض عليه في "النهضة" A Morsi supporter threatenes to burn the country after being arrested at Al Nahda sit in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g49VlsGtd0 ================================= 3- مقاومة الإخوان أثناء فض اعتصام رابعة العدوية Muslims Brotherhood resisting police during the disengagement of the sit in at Rab3a al Adaweya http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO3Rh3OdDOg ======================================= 4- الأسلحة التي تم ضبطها أثناء فض اعتصامي "رابعة" و"النهضة" Weapons that have been seized during the disengagement of the sit in at Al Nahda http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owIS8IqiRek ====================================== 5- الأمن يعثر على نعش مملوء بالذخيرة ومسدسات خرطوش في "النهضة Security found a coffin filled with ammunition, pistols, cartridges at Al Nahda sit in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIAX41kLkdY =========================================== 6- الاخوان يحرقون الخيم و ممتلكاتهم قبل فض اعتصامهم Brotherhood burning tents and belongings before Disengagement their sit-in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdkb0XfYrJ0 ========================================= 7- أعمال عنف ومهاجمة منشآت حكومية بمصر Violence and attacks of government installations in Egypt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkGn7h_eeuY ======================================== 8- .. إضرام النار في كنيسة بالمنيا A fire set on in a church in Minya http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRNq3KCSmhw ======================================= 9- استخراج أكثر من 20 جثة مقتولة من أسفل منصة رابعة العدوية More than 20 dead bodies found under Rab3a Al Adaweya platform http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1paxyysbOBc ==================================== 10- عناصر الإخوان يشعلون الحرائق في القاهرة Brotherhood elements ignite fires in Cairohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REZv5E4bFvk ==================================== 11- الإخوان يقطعون شارع جامعة الدول العربية وملثمون يطلقون أعيرة نارية Muslims Brotherhood cut Game3et Al Dewal Street and the masked men fire shots http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTTTNpgsRKY ================================ 12- الإخوان يقطعون شارع جامعة الدول العربية وملثمون يطلقون أعيرة نارية Muslims Brotherhood cut Game3et Al Dewal Street and the masked men fire shots http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JdL9lPU9mw ================================= 13- الشرطة تضبط كمية كبيرة من الأسلحة والرصاص الحي بإعتصام النهضة Police seized a large quantity of weapons and live ammunition at Al Nahda sit in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lROCtr2hyNU ========================================= 14- مشاهد مقتل ضباط قسم كرداسة على يد عناصر من الإخوان Scenes of the killing os Kerdasa Department officers by members of the Muslim Brotherhood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljuk2WH3iYE ===================================== 15- فيديو سحل وقتل سائق التاكسي من قبل مؤيدي الرئيس المعزول بالأسكندرية Dragging and killing of a taxi driver by supporters of the outsed president in Alexandria http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VYsU9goF74 ===================================== 16- معتصمو رابعة يضرمون النار بمسجد رابعة العدوية قبل مغادرتهم Protesters setting fire at Rabaa Al Adaweya mosque before departure http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsLd6GOI7yg&feature=share ======================================= 17- شاهد غرفة الإعدام بالمستشفى الميدانى وحبل المشنقة فى رابعة العدوية Field execution chamber and the gallows at the hospital at Rabaa Al Adaweya http://videoyoum7.com/?p=218865 ======================================= 18- فضيحــــــــه عالميـــــه يقوم ببثها التليفزيون المصرى لجماعه الاخوان المسلمين وشاهد ماذا فعلوا Worldwide scandal broadcasted by the Egyptian television of the Muslim Brotherhood and watch what they did http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfoWLuro-X8&feature=share ======================================= 19- حاول الاخوان قتل مصورين اثناء تصويرهم استخدام الاخوان للرشاشات Muslims Brotherhood tried to kill photographers while being filmed using their gunshttps://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=544233678957492

Tyler Durdan
Tyler Durdan

Yeah I'm sad that he cannot rape the local population any more... Perhaps it's time to rethink our foreign policy?

Marzouk Elsharkawy
Marzouk Elsharkawy

What do you call a group .. (((armed))) ..Group infringe on people and public and private enterprises?? ... Group, killing civilians and police and army??.. Attacking the group and the burning of churches??... Group attacked the police departments and provincial buildings and neighborhoods and councils are burning?? ... Group assaults on shops and cars are burning?? ... Trade group and taken religion as a cover to gain power and rule?? Is there a label for this group but it's a group ((((terrorist)))) This is the Muslim Brotherhood ... This is the group that came out of the Egyptian people to get rid of them in 06/30/2013 .. this group is trying to Egypt demolition and sabotage ... This group is now protected by Obama (America) sponsor of terrorism in the world with their associates, France, Germany, Ecuador, Turkey and Denmark and Qatar ... This group is the (New Middle East Project)

John Stone
John Stone

I'll tell you who cares,,!! WE DO..!!! rag head,,!!!

Kelly Conlan Dickson
Kelly Conlan Dickson

So, the people have no right to think that having flying helicopters near their resident is a danger to them, because an Airman died? Ugh... What?

Steve Finnerty
Steve Finnerty

park the airbase next to your house, see if you get itchy when they start dropping from the sky. 'war hero' always makes me cringe.

ucheharpers
ucheharpers

I dont see anything wrong with what the Japanese did in demanding explanation to the incident while getting assurances that it would not happen again. The US military already has a bad record with the Japanese population with incidence of rape which the reporter conveniently left out. If you are going to fly dangerous military aircraft around a community you should at least be considerate and remorseful should accidents happen. Its time this reporter gets down from his high horse and note that this kind of inconsiderate and selfish reports that do not care about other countries is what makes the US been hated. I have no problem with the US military but this selfish and reporter

My condolence to the family of the soldier, it wasn't his fault the accident happened.May God give them the fortitude t bear the loss.

Edwin Magdaluyo
Edwin Magdaluyo

"it is foolish and wrong to mourned the men who died rather we thank God they live.

Stuart Morle
Stuart Morle

Mars?? hahahahahhahahahaha! what moron wrote that and what bigger moron didn't spot it? buffoons!

Harold Yeo
Harold Yeo

Condolences to those who lost their life

Ly Le Tran Nguyen
Ly Le Tran Nguyen

Okinawa bases had a similar situation in the Philippines [1980s-1990]. I should leave if I am not welcome.

Raju Ahamed
Raju Ahamed

Deprived Of Nirvana Or Salvation In The Thereafter

IceToes
IceToes

@ryumomo It's beautiful that some heroes get to be loved by more than one nation, isn't it?

IceToes
IceToes

@Kurlis Japan is bound to have only defensive forces, per its constitution. It was even a hot issue that they have deployed military medical personnel to Iraq and other places since their military is very tightly reserved. The conservatives are making noise more frequently about changing it, and the rise in chest pounding and rhetoric is making a lot of Asia nervous. A lot of Japan's Western allies are getting nervous, too. Check some history about the last time Japan had a full military force and a nationalist government...

Noliving2
Noliving2

@ucheharpers Those aircraft are no more dangerous than your commercial airlines that fly people across the world and Japan.  You really don't see anything wrong with the tone that was used in demanding an explanation to the incident and assurances that it would not happened again immediately after the incident happen?  You do know that the US military crime rate is lower than the Japanese crime rate in Japan.

ryumomo
ryumomo

@IceToes @ryumomo Yes, it is. 

I don't want to let his death disregarded in the dispute over the US bases in Okinawa. What I heard through the Japanese media were that a US military man was killed in an aircraft crash in the US base and the outrage followed in Okinawa. I presume the accident occurred in the middle of the training, which actually helped us after the 2011 disaster. I felt really sad after reading this article. I took an immediate action to leave a comment here and spread this story among my friends.

Sergeant Mark Smith should never be forgotten among us Japanese. He deserves our respect.

Kurlis
Kurlis

@IceToes @Kurlis Yes, I know.  My father fought the Japanese in Okinawa.   It's not conservatives, but Japanese leftists who disdain the US presence in Japan and agitate for their departure.