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Marine Corps Bans All Water Activities On Okinawa After Second Marine Drowns In A Month

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Hernan Vidana)

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The Marine Corps has banned all water-related activities on Okinawa after the second Marine in a month drowned.

“III MEF is currently conducting a moratorium on water related activities; and will conduct safety stand-down on recreational water safety activities and measures to ensure the well-being of our service members, their families, and the communities with which we interact,” III Marine Expeditionary Force spokeswoman 2nd Lt. Jacky Chow said, according to Marine Corps Times.

The Marine Corps has not issued a timeline as to when the ban might be lifted, but the service is working on a plan to minimize drownings in the future.

Sgt. Aubrey D. Williams, who joined in 2012 and served in Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 as part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, died Saturday near Maeda Point, a popular snorkeling and diving destination on Okinawa. It’s unknown what activity he was participating in, whether diving or snorkeling, but an investigation is currently underway to get to the bottom of exactly what happened, Stars and Stripes reports.

During his time with the Marine Corps, Williams earned a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Korean Defense Service Medal and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.

“HMLA-469 is deeply saddened by Sgt. Williams’ passing,” Marine Corps Lt. Col. Robert J. Weingart, HMLA-469 commander said in a statement. “He was a devoted husband and father, as well as a mentor to the Marines around him. The entire squadron mourns his loss.”

Williams has left behind a wife and three children.

Three servicemembers have died in October on Okinawa. One of those servicemembers died Sunday–just a day after Williams’ fatal accident. The name of that Marine who died Sunday is being withheld until next of kin can be notified.

The other servicemember, Petty Officer 1st Class Jorge Noriega Suarez, a corpsman, died in a diving mishap Oct. 10.

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