Japanese sergeant major uses body to shield soldiers from volcanic debris, gets killed himself
Fearless hero saved lives in exchange for his own during recent Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane eruption.
Volcanic eruptions in Japan have claimed the lives of people before, sometimes inescapably, and sometimes because they should’ve evacuated instead of staying to take pictures. But other times when Mother Nature rears her terrifying head, there just isn’t enough time to react.
A Japan Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF) unit was carrying out ski training on the snowy slopes of Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane in Gunma Prefecture on 23 January when it erupted, spewing out projectile rocks at blinding speeds.
▼ Incredible places of beauty,
snowy mountains can be also extremely deadly.
Sergeant Major Takayuki Izawa and his soldiers immediately took refuge in a small grove of trees while rocks continued raining down from the sky. Seeing that the leaves of trees did little to cushion debris impact, Izawa used his body as a shield to protect his comrades.
A rock that would have hurtled straight into the group struck Izawa squarely in the back instead, critically injuring the sergeant major. It wasn’t long before help arrived, but the wound was grave and he was heard saying that his lungs hurt.
Izawa then suffered cardiac arrest and passed away while being transported to a hospital.
▼ The heartbreaking news, presented here
in this tweet, shocked netizens.
According to his friends, Izawa worked in JGSDF for over 20 years before retiring five years ago to study to be a chiropractic in Aomori Prefecture. It seemed he couldn’t stay away from the duties of protecting his nation for long though, as he decided to re-enlist in 2017.
His teacher described the sergeant major as a very motivated and passionate student, while others thought of him as a person who was always smiling, putting everyone around him at ease.
Japanese netizens were greatly saddened by the passing of a brave hero who placed his comrades’ safety before his:
“I’ll pray for his soul. To the comrades he fought to protect, please live life to your fullest. The Self-Defence Force is the pride of Japan.”
“It’s really noble to sacrifice your life to save others. The JGSDF just lost one of their most outstanding soldiers. I’ll pray for you, may you rest in peace.”
“My heart burns with pride knowing that our people are protected by someone as great as him.”
Soldiers of the JGSDF undergo intense training to protect Japan, a duty that Sergeant Major Takayuki Izawa carried out to the best of his ability. His presence will not only be missed by those he sought to protect, but by everyone he shared his life with.