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Kadena teams with local agencies to eliminate UXO hazard

  • Published
  • By Maj. John Hutcheson
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Partnering with a host of local government agencies, Kadena Air Base explosive ordnance disposal specialists removed an unexploded World War II-era munition found near Kadena Air Base's Gate 4 around 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning. The munition, a warhead from an American-made High Velocity Aircraft Rocket, was discovered during construction activities Aug. 6 near the fence line bordering Highway 58 in Kadena Town. 

18th Wing officials worked closely with Kadena Town authorities and local police to conduct the operation safely and quickly to minimize the impact to off-base residents. During the removal operation, a 415-foot (126-meters) safety cordon was established around the site, affecting sections of Highway 58 and some residential areas in Mizugama Ward, Kadena Town. Local police evacuated residents whose homes were inside the cordon and stopped traffic on the highway while 18th Wing officials secured on-base areas during the operation. 

EOD specialists used a special bomb containment vessel equipped with a mechanical arm to remove the 35-pound UXO from the hole where it was discovered. Once the munition was removed from the site and placed in the vessel, EOD Airmen transported it down the Kadena runway to an explosive ordinance range at the Kadena Munitions Storage Area. Local police briefly stopped traffic on Highway 74 around 10:30 a.m. while the vehicle carrying the munition passed under the road and into the Munitions Storage Area. The UXO was safely disposed of at the range around 11 a.m. 

The operation required close coordination and numerous planning meetings between the 18th Wing and local government agencies. Base experts from EOD, Security Forces and Public Affairs worked with local town authorities, including police, fire and highway management to ensure the disposal operation went off without a hitch. 

"This operation went extremely smoothly as a result of the great partnership between Kadena Air Base and all of the local agencies involved, " said Col. Kelly Fletcher, 18th Mission Support Group commander. "The event was carefully planned, and I am grateful for the support and cooperation that we received from local officials to conduct this operation safely." 

As a result of fierce fighting here during World War II, unexploded ordnance is a fact of life on Okinawa. Base EOD personnel respond to UXO's on an almost daily basis according to Master Sgt. Douglas Moore, non-commissioned officer in charge of the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron's Explosive Ordnance Flight. 

"As one of the largest fighting forces, we have a host of technological equipment and technical data to aid in mitigating UXO hazards," said Sergeant Moore. "Every action is planned to the nth degree and every member of the team has the authority to bring up safety concerns or halt operations if safety factors become an issue."