Kadena members rescue kayakers

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

What was supposed to be just another fishing trip out on the beautiful Okinawan sea, unexpectedly turned into a life-saving day for two Kadena Air Base members. 

Recently, Staff Sgt. Kyle Kemble, an asset evaluator, and GS-11 employee Brandon Yoneda, an air terminal operations duty officer, both members of the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, saved four Japanese locals who found themselves in danger after their kayak flipped over half a mile off the coast of Cape Zanpa on June 13, 2021. 

"We left Kadena Marina to go fishing around seven o’clock in the morning and headed towards Cape Zanpa,” explained Yoneda. “Once we were around Cape Zanpa, Kemble saw something floating in the water, so I drove the boat that way and as we got closer we realized there were people in the water. They were all holding onto each other with a little cooler in the middle and only two of them were wearing life jackets.”

Once Kemble and Yoneda realized the severity of the situation, their instincts kicked in to help the stranded kayakers. 

“I called Kadena Marina to request for help and to report that we had found four people in the water,” Yoneda said. “Meanwhile, Kemble hoisted them over the side of the boat.”

Shortly after calling Kadena Marina, Japanese search and rescue personnel escorted the group to Toya Port where there was a large group of people waiting for them. 

“As soon as we brought them on shore there was a fire truck, ambulance and a large crowd of people just looking at us,” Yoneda said. “It was kind of crazy because I didn’t realize it was that big of a thing.”

Despite not being able to communicate much with the kayakers due to the language barrier and shocked state they found them in, Yoneda and Kemble made sure they were in good health.

“Once we got done with being interviewed, I asked the police officers and rescue workers if the kayakers were alright and they were,” said Kemble. “The rescue workers told us that the kayakers had been out in the water for 30 minutes before we got there, so they were definitely exhausted by the time we helped them.”

Yoneda also offered words of advice for members who want to go out and enjoy water activities in Okinawa. 

“People should always check the sea conditions and be aware of their surroundings because the water conditions can change quickly — one moment the water can be flat and then the next it can be really choppy,” he said. 

Reflecting back on the events of the day, both Yoneda and Kemble were grateful that they were able to save the kayaker’s lives. 

“I feel thankful we found them,” Kemble said. “It could have been a lot worse, but we just happened to be at the right place at the right time and everything went well.”