MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Three civilian employees who work aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and a Japanese local received an Appreciation Award from the director of the Iwakuni Police Station, Dec. 25, 2014.
Thomas Cooper, a network operations specialist with S-6, Tomoko Tengyoku, a Japanese contractor, Kyozo Kawamoto, a Master Labor Contract employee with the Army Corps of Engineers, and a local resident received the award for saving a Japanese civilian from a wild boar, Nov. 23, 2014, in a residential neighborhood in Iwakuni City.
Cooper explained that on the evening of November 23, after arriving home with his wife, Tengyoku, they witnessed a roughly 230 lb. wild boar charge at a man walking down the street.
“We first noticed my neighbor (the Japanese local) standing on a wall waving at a man who was wearing headphones,” said Cooper. “Shortly after, what I originally thought was a small bear, ran from a woman’s yard and knocked the man down.”
After getting the man to the ground, the boar, which Cooper said was rare to see in their neighborhood, proceeded to “basically eat him.”
“It started gnawing on his right thigh and was throwing this man around like a rag doll,” explained Cooper. “After seeing that, I immediately got out of the car and started finding sticks, rocks; pretty much anything I could throw at the boar.”
While Cooper frantically tried to divert the boar’s attention, Kawamoto engaged by banging a shovel on the ground and Tengyoku stayed in the vehicle to call the ambulance and the Iwakuni City police.
According to Tengyoku, the attack lasted for approximately two minutes until she became worried and started blaring the horn on the car.
“The mix of the shovel banging and the horn blaring is what eventually scared the boar back into the yard it had come from,” said Cooper.
Although the boar ceased his attack on the Japanese local and retreated back to the yard, Cooper said there was nothing to keep the boar from returning for a second attack.
“The boar originally broke down the fence to get in the yard so it returning to the yard did not mean we were safe,” said Cooper. “So before we attended to the victim, I quickly moved my car in front of the fence opening in order to trap it.”
After imprisoning the boar, Cooper, Tengyoku and Kawamoto went to aid the injured man.
“He was pretty banged up,” said Cooper. “The boar bit off a good chunk of his leg, tusked him above his eye, bit his head and actually bit off one of his fingers, which the doctors were able to reattach.”
During the short time it took for the ambulance to get to the attack site, Cooper made sure to keep the man up and awake despite the pain.
“I’m no doctor but I am aware of the dangers of head injuries,” said Cooper. “I wanted to keep the man awake through any means necessary because if he had a concussion and fell asleep, he could fall into a coma with no guarantee of waking up.”
The ambulance and police responded swiftly and took over the scene, taking care of the victim and the boar.
“The (Japanese civilian) is doing very well,” said Cooper. “We went to visit him in the hospital and he actually believes what happened was lucky. Not the fact that he got attacked but that it happened in a place and during a time that people would be around. He has a pretty great outlook on the entire thing.”
To their surprise, Cooper, Tengyoku and Kawamoto received an award for their heroic efforts from the Iwakuni City Police Chief on Christmas day.
“We were not expecting to be awarded for what we had done,” said Cooper. “We did what we had to do and saved a man from more severe injuries or, possibly, death. That was enough.”