Memorial service set for Kadena Airman

  • Published
  • By 353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs
A memorial service in honor of 2nd Lt. Stephen Smith is scheduled for 3 p.m. April 15 at Chapel Three here.

"Our group is heavyhearted over the tragic loss of our fellow Air Commando, Lt "Smitty" Smith of our maintenance squadron," said Col. Robert Toth, 353rd Special Operations Group commander. "Although heavyhearted, we are comforted knowing his final days were filled with excitement over a recent visit with his son Andru, pride in his career, and a spirit that uplifted all who knew him. We extend our deepest sympathy to his parents,
siblings, son, extended family and friends. His short time with us was nothing but positive, he will be missed."

The 28-year-old lieutenant, a maintenance officer with the 353rd Maintenance Squadron, was found dead the morning of April 11 near Cape Hedo, Okinawa, after going missing the previous day.

The Airman was snorkeling with friends near Cape Hedo. When they all returned to shore, his friends noticed Lieutenant Smith had not come out of the water. His friends searched for him, but were unable to locate him. They immediately called officials at Kadena to alert them of the situation.

The Japan Coast Guard, Kadena's 33rd Rescue Squadron, supported by members of the 31st Rescue Squadron, 17th Special Operations Squadron and 320th Special Tactics Squadron conducted search and rescue operations for more than nine hours April 10 until the operation was postponed because of darkness.

Search and rescue operations began at 6 a.m. April 11, and Lieutenant Smith's body was found in the water about 8 a.m.

The cause of death is currently under investigation.