Okinawa-Based U.S. Airman Found Dead, Is Fourth Kadena Air Base Member to Die in Past Year

An American airman based at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, has been found dead in his home, making him the fourth person assigned to the installation to die in less than a year.

The service member's name and unit has not yet been released, but Stars and Stripes reported he was assigned to the 18th Wing and was found dead Monday at his residence outside the base.

A statement released by officials at the Kadena Air Base said: "Details surrounding the death are under investigation… The 18th Wing's priority is notifying the Airman's family members and ensuring members of the affected unit are directed to the appropriate helping agencies as needed."

At least three other Kadena-based airmen have also died in the past year, Stars and Stripes noted. With more than 20,000 American service members, their families and Japanese employees living and working at the base, Kadena is the largest and most active U.S. Air Force installation in the region.

The most recent other death was discovered on June 16, when the body of an unnamed 353rd Special Operations Group member was found in an off-base residence. Officials are still investigating the death, and no further information as to the circumstances has been provided.

The first death of the year was reported on January 20. Airman 1st Class Jimmy Casillas, who also belonged to the 353rd Special Operations Group, was found dead in his on-base home. The computer networking specialist's cause of death has not been released.

Casillas died just days after a Japanese worker was killed in a vehicle collision on a construction site at Kadena. The man was crushed between two pieces of Caterpillar heavy equipment while crews worked to demolish an old elementary school.

Last August, a fourth U.S. airman based at Kadena was found dead in his residence outside the facility. Like the two other dead men, Technical Sergeant Don Sardin, 37, belonged to the 353rd Special Operations Group. The Chicagoan's cause of death was not released, but base officials said they did not suspect foul play.

Authorities at the Kadena Air Base are also struggling with allegations of inaction over reported child sexual abuse, according to the Associated Press. In February, it was reported that a 13-year-old boy had been assaulting younger girls on the base, with at least 10 accusations eventually leveled. Families of the victims complained that Kadena officials had been too slow to respond to their complaints.

Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, airman, found dead
This May 15, 2017 picture shows a U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter aircraft taxiing at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. -/AFP/Getty