YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, WA – Tensions are high between the United States and Japan after the closing ceremony of Rising Thunder 13 was ruined by a disgruntled Navy veteran of World War II.
The exercise, conducted by the 3rd Stryker Brigade and the Japanese Army each year, teaches soldiers how to communicate intricate combat and maneuver tasks to a foreign nation using nothing but hand signals and poorly drawn symbols in the dirt. It is hailed as one of the premier military partnership events in the Pacific region.
"We were all standing in formation, yelling 'Banzai' over and over again to thank our American hosts for their generosity in helping us rebuild our military skills after they bombed us back to the stone age in 1945, when we heard a high pitched whine across the parade field," recalled Japanese Lt. Honda Toyota.
"At first no one paid any attention, but eventually the noise grew louder, and I saw an elderly man wearing what appeared to be an ancient naval enlisted uniform riding an electric wheelchair pass in front of the podium where General Subaru Mitsubishi was giving his speech," the officer said.
Witnesses told reporters the man attached a large pole to the back of his wheelchair, with a flag that read 'Dec. 7, 1941. Never Forget!' Local security forces then tackled the man and proceeded to taze him repeatedly before throwing him into the back of a police car and driving away.
Although the incident threw an uncomfortable pall over the closing ceremony, the Japanese were still adamant that the annual training was a success.
"I am very glad to be working with the Americans. After hearing my grandfather speak about the horrors he had seen during the Chinese War of Aggression in 1937, I vowed to do all I could to better myself as a soldier. This training will allow me to honor his memory and increase my professional abilities," said Private Suzuki Kawasaki.
"The cultural exchange was valuable for both nations," Kawasaki told reporters through a translator. "The American soldiers were very excited to learn about our Military Comfort Women, and several have already expressed their desire to implement the program in their own formations. Additionally, almost three hundred Japanese soldiers have begun the American habit of 'dipping' tobacco, which we have been assured increases combat alertness, fights tooth decay, and releases a sexual pheromone that makes a man irresistible to women."
After the ceremony, authorities identified the elderly protestor as Leroy Wilkins, of Spokane WA. A former Naval Petty Officer, Wilkins is a Pearl Harbor survivor who saw action at the Battles of Midway and the Coral Sea before being honorably discharged, after an explosion from a Japanese torpedo paralyzed him from the waist down.
While American staff officers were furious at the disruption to what had been an otherwise lucrative commendation producing international event, many U.S. soldiers found humor in the situation.
"The closing ceremony was funny as hell!" declared Specialist Marcus Waltrip, who also serves as his unit historian. "Some old guy zoomed up in a wheelchair and ruined the Japanese general's speech. I hope they don't hammer him too bad though, since the old man was clearly nuts, talking something about Pearl Harbor, whatever the hell that is."
"Everyone remembers 9/11, but not this guy. He thought that September 11th was on December 7th, 1941. What a crazy bastard," he added.