Danger in the sky—Osprey drops canteen over sleeping suburb

Danger in the sky—Osprey drops canteen over sleeping suburb

Investigators examining the scene around 12:45 p.m. on November 24 in Nodake, Ginowan City.

November 25, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


Okinawa Prefecture—On November 24, an MV-22 Osprey belonging to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma dropped a stainless-steel water bottle mid-flight, which landed on a residential area in Nodake, Ginowan City. The canteen, obliterated from the impact of the fall, no longer retained its original shape. Residents were shocked and terrified by the possibility of the item striking a person. However, it was business as usual for the U.S. military, which continued its flight exercises on November 24. Such accidents have plagued Okinawa from before its reversion to Japan and past promises of “preventing recurrence” have proved to be an empty one. Residents voiced their outrage at the disregard for their lives.


Just after 6:00 p.m. on November 23, a loud bang echoed through the residential area of Nodake 2-chome, Ginowan City. A metal water bottle hit the ground, bounced, and landed on the porch of a nearby home. The bottom of the bottle burst, and the sides were severely dented. Pieces of the canteen were found scattered on the street.


The scene, located about 200 meters from Futenma Air Station, is a quiet suburban area where residents enjoy strolls and children play outdoors on weekends.


The resident noticed the object in front of her front door when she arrived home around 11:00 p.m. The crumpled canteen still held some water and had a sticker on the outside, which the resident found unusual. She deduced it originated from a foreign county and likely fell from the sky based on its appearance, and immediately contacted a city councilor she knew.


The next day, despite it being a Japanese national holiday (Labor Day), the U.S. military continued to fly aircraft well past 10:00 p.m. (one plane landed at Futenma Airfield at 10:20 p.m.), the cut-off time stipulated in the Japan-U.S. aircraft noise abatement agreement.


“We would’ve had a big problem if the canteen had struck a civilian passerby or car,” said the resident. The city councilor who arrived at the scene the following day expressed relief, commenting, “It was a large canteen, so I’m really glad no one was hurt.”


The quiet suburb was thrown into chaos as police and news reporters swarmed the scene on the morning of November 24.


The resident on the scene pleaded, “I want a proper investigation so that something like this will never happen again.” Meanwhile, large CH-53E transport helicopters and Ospreys continued to fly overhead.


(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)


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