Corps Names 3rd Troop to Drown on Okinawa in a Month

FILE - Wave watchers witness the dangers of getting too close too soon after a typhoon passed near Maeda Point two days before. (Air Force/Ed Dunn)
FILE - Wave watchers witness the dangers of getting too close too soon after a typhoon passed near Maeda Point two days before. (Air Force/Ed Dunn)

The Marine Corps has publicly identified a service member who died in an apparent off-duty drowning accident on Okinawa, the third such death in October.

Lance Cpl. Sebastian Borja-Diaz died Oct. 30 after an apparent drowning accident at Maeda Point in Onna Village, within Okinawa's Kunigami district, III Marine Expeditionary Force spokeswoman 2nd Lt. Jacky Chow said in an announcement.

Borja-Diaz was a motor vehicle operator for 3rd Transportation Support Battalion out of Combat Logistics Regiment 3, based at Camp Foster on Okinawa. He had enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 2015 and previously served at the U.S. Army Training Center at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Chow said.

"3rd TSB is deeply saddened by Lance Corporal Borja-Diaz passing," Lt. Col. Andre Ingram, commanding officer of 3rd TSB, said in a statement. "He was devoted to his job and his fellow Marines and worked diligently to set an example to be emulated by them. The entire unit mourns his loss."

Chow said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of Borja-Diaz's death.

III MEF, which oversees Marine units in the Pacific, declared a temporary moratorium on all water-related activities after Borja-Diaz's death, which was the third apparent drowning of a service member stationed on Okinawa in a month and the second in two days.

On Oct. 29, a Marine assigned to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Sgt. Aubrey Williams, was pronounced dead after an apparent drowning accident also at Maeda Point, a popular off-duty snorkeling and diving location.

Williams was a UH-1 Huey helicopter crew chief for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 out of Camp Pendleton, California. He had been deployed to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing on Okinawa at the time of his drowning.

On Oct. 10, a Navy corpsman, Petty Officer 1st Class Jorge NoriegaSuarez, died in what appears to be a diving accident at another popular Okinawa recreation spot: Mermaid's Grotto near Cape Manzamo.

NoriegaSuarez, an advanced X-Ray technician, was assigned to 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group.

All three deaths are under investigation by the Marine Corps. The III MEF ban on water activities will continue for the remainder of the week, Chow said in a news release.

"III MEF is currently conducting a moratorium on water related activities this week; 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," she said.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@HopeSeck.

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