57th anniversary memorial ceremony for US military jet crash into Miyamori Elementary School
July 1, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
Fifty-seven years have passed since June 30, 1959, when a U.S. F-100 fighter, which was poorly maintained from Kadena Air Base, crashed into Miyamori Elementary School in Ishikawa City (currently Uruma City).
The Ishikawa and Miyamori 630 Association and the bereaved family association held the 57th anniversary memorial ceremony on June 30 at the school. Participants paid their respects to the 18 victims. They had a moment of silence at around 10:40 a.m., which was the time when the aircraft crashed. About 100 bereaved family members, people who were pupils at time of the crash, and local residents attended. Prior to the ceremony, the school’s student association held a ceremony to pay tribute to the memory of the victims.
Representing the students, 11 year-old Karen Igei who chimed a peace bell, said, “I want the victims to rest in peace.” During the ceremony, U.S. military aircraft generating loud noise flew over the pupils taking part.
Seventy-nine-year-old Hideko Iha who lost her mother because the fighter also crashed into her house, took part in the ceremony. Iha said, “I pray every year for a lasting peace that will not let such a tragedy happen again.”
Haru Arakaki who lost her son due to injuries from the accident, offered incense sticks. Arakaki tearfully said, “I came here to pray and I want you to watch out for us.”
Yoshimori Uema who lost his brother, represents the bereaved family association. Uema said, “I think you would have become a fine business person if you did not die. We lost invaluable lives. The accident happened because of the existence of military bases in Okinawa.” Referring to the large number of accidents involving F-100 fighter that continued to be deployed in Okinawa even after the accident, Uema said, “After the accident, I heard that there were fighters loaded with nuclear warheads. It was ridiculous.”
Masaharu Kudaka, the head of the Ishikawa and Miyamori 630 Association said, “It was the biggest crash since the war. We need to firmly recognize how serious and grave the crash was.”
(English translation by T&CT)
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