Another Airman recovered, one remains missing

  • Published
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
A combined U.S. Air Force and Japanese search team recovered one of the two Airmen still missing after being swept out to sea from the northwest coast of Okinawa Oct. 5.

U.S. Air Force personnel discovered the Airman close to the shore, about 1.5 miles south of the presumed incident location.

The body of Senior Master Sgt. James Swartz was recovered Oct. 5, by the Japanese Coast Guard, Robins Air Force Base officials announced. Swartz was the aerospace propulsion superintendent with the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing at Robins AFB, Georgia.

The missing were Master Sgt. Daniel Paschal, an aerospace propulsion craftsman with the 116th ACW, and Staff Sgt. Joshua Schoenhoff, an instrument and flight control systems specialist with the 461st Air Control Wing at Robins AFB.

The name of the Airman recovered Oct. 7, is pending until next-of-kin notification.

"Our hearts go out to the 116th and 461st members and their families during this time of loss and unknown outcomes," said Col. Kevin Clotfelter, the 116th ACW commander. "Please keep your thoughts and prayers of support directed toward all those affected."

The three Airmen were TDY at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and were visiting the northwest coast of the island when the incident occurred.

"We share in the sorrow felt by these Airmen's loved ones," said Col. Henry Cyr, the 461st ACW commander. "We will do all that we can to work through this tragedy together."

HH-60G Pave Hawks from Kadena AB and the Japanese Coast Guard searched for more than 24 hours from Oct. 5 to Oct. 6, for the missing Airmen. Rough seas with 10-15 foot waves complicated rescue efforts, causing a suspension of operations between sunset Oct. 6 and sunrise Oct. 7.

"Team Kadena's thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the Airmen involved in this tragic incident," said Col. Thomas Torkelson, the 18th Wing vice commander. "This event touches every member of the Air Force family."

Air- and sea-based search operations for the final missing Airman ended for the evening at sunset, and are planned to begin at sunrise Oct. 8. Shore-based searches will continue late into the evening Oct. 7, to capitalize on calmer seas and low tide.