By Maria Dumanlang, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – City of Yokosuka mayor, Yuto Yoshida recognized six U.S. service members at Yokosuka City Hall Jan. 16 for their heroic efforts to aid passengers of a vehicle accident that took place on New Year’s Eve.
Two Sailors and four Marines utilized their military training and took quick action after a vehicle carrying a family of five fell from a fifth floor parking garage and landed upside down near Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka’s Womble Gate. While three adults were killed in the accident, the Sailors and Marines, were able to help free and rescue two young boys ages 11, and 16, from the wreckage. The boys are recovering in a local hospital.
Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Garrett Osborne of Navy Munitions Command was the first person to arrive at the accident, and with the help of Japanese locals, helped free the younger boy from the vehicle. Culinary Specialist 2nd Class DeRhon Finch, of USS McCampbell (DDG 85), arrived a few minutes later and saw Osborne and eight others trying to flip over the vehicle. Finch ran back toward the base and found four Marines on liberty. The Marines, Lance Cpl. James Flores, Lance Cpl. Manaure Arellano, Lance Cpl. Raheem Gillim, and Pfc. Jacob Boerner, are assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. Upon arriving at the scene, the Marines help flip over the vehicle so that the older boy could be freed.
Though the tragic accident has left the community in shock, Mayor Yoshida said that the quick response of the servicemen was a silver lining.
“Although this December 31st incident was tragic,” Yoshida said, addressing the service members “as part of the community, you helped rescue the people who were involved in the accident.”
“This gives us strong confidence that this community is working,” added Yoshida.
The Chief of the Yokosuka Fire Department stated that the immediate action of the service members and local residents was instrumental in rescuing the two boys.
“Thank you again for the devotion and the courageous act during the incident,” stated Yoshida.
Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), Capt. Jeffrey Kim thanked the mayor for honoring the Sailors and Marines.
“For them, it was a very natural reaction to help people in the community,” said Kim. “I would also like to point out that U.S. Navy Sailors who are members of this community helped, but we also had visiting Marines who instantly reacted as if this was already their home community.”
All of the military members expressed humility in receiving the honor from the Mayor, as well as a strong sense of responsibility to help those in need.
“I felt that I needed to do something,” said Pfc. James Flores. “I couldn’t just stand there and watch. Something needed to be done and I did what I needed to do.”
The service members expressed concern and well wishes for the recovery of the two boys and agreed that the incident has further taught them to be grateful, and to appreciate life and those around you.
“Hold your loved ones a little closer,” said Osborne.
FLEACT Yokosuka provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed naval forces, 83 tenant commands, and 24,000 military and civilian personnel.