Japanese in the Legion

Former legionnaire Saito served many years in 2REP where he got his nickname "Banzaï". He was apparently wounded during the fire fight in which he was eventually abducted. I imagine former repmen on the board happened to meet him.
My thoughts are with him, since he's now in 'a world of shit'.

Peter Lyderik

Hyper Active Member
Japanese missing in Iraq is ex-French Legionnaire

PARIS, May 13 (AFP) - Akihiko Saito, the Japanese security agent missing in Iraq and possibly kidnapped, was for more than 20 years one of just a few dozen Japanese nationals in France's storied 7,500-strong Foreign Legion.

"Things are rather clear for the Japanese, as it was for Saito. They join to be Legionnaires, not for economic or political reasons," said the Legion's spokesman, Major Christian Rascle.

"He was extremely nice, someone who you could really trust," Saito's countryman and fellow Legionnaire Michio Hoshimizu told reporters in the south-eastern French town of Orange.

"He's a strong guy, physically and mentally," Hoshimizu said of Saito, a

44-year-old Tokyo native working for a British security firm who was believed to have been abducted Sunday after an ambush in western Iraq.

Ansar al-Sunna, a group with links to Al-Qaeda, said it had kidnapped Saito but Japan said Thursday it was still unsure of his true fate. Saito's employer, Hart Security, said he might have been killed.

Hoshimizu, a 32-year-old staff sergeant, was apparently the only one of about 40 Japanese nationals currently in the French Foreign Legion who knew Saito, who left the elite unit in January after 21 years of service.

The Legion, created in 1831 by King Louis Philippe, is composed entirely of volunteers between the ages of 18 and 40, of any nationality - and with or without proper means of identification. Many join to escape their pasts.

Once a Legionnaire has joined the unit, which is part of the French army, he can take on an assumed name if he wishes, and thus enjoys total anonymity until he decides to reveal his true identity.

According to the Foreign Legion's website, members hail from some 140 countries, but less than seven percent come from the Far East.

Rascle, who knew Saito, said he was a "true Legionnaire: very straightforward, very disciplined, devoted body and soul to the Legion".

"He didn't want to get married while he was a Legionnaire because he thought you couldn't do both things at once. He was a good guy," the commander noted.

Rascle said the Asian Legionnaires - many of whom serve as parachutists because of their relatively small size - were "good little soldiers, very devoted, nice, very disciplined and always smiling.

Hoshimizu said he first met Saito in 1991, when he started his own training, and then again in 2002.

"He was well-liked by everyone," Hoshimizu said. "Everyone always said, 'What a great guy'."

"With 20 years of experience in the Legion behind him, that could help him to overcome what he's going through right now," Hoshimizu added.

According to Japanese news reports, Saito is single and has a house in the southern French port of Marseille.

Although he was also a veteran of his national army, Saito has no known links with some 600 Japanese forces carrying out a reconstruction mission in southern Iraq.

"The Legion has neither the impulse nor the means to keep in touch with former members. That's the reason why it doesn't have any information about Akihiko Saito's presence in Iraq," the French defence ministry said.

Peter Lyderik

Hyper Active Member


Former comrade expresses shockat Saito's abduction by militants

ORANGE, France (Kyodo) A Japanese member of the French Foreign Legion on Thursday expressed shock at the news that one of his former comrades has reportedly been taken captive by an Islamic militant group in Iraq.

"I am shocked. Why him? I am worried," Michio Yoshimizu, 32, chief sergeant with the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment based here, told the Japanese media.

Former legionnaire Akihiko Saito, 44, is thought to have been captured earlier this week by the Ansar al-Sunnah Army while he and his coworkers at Hart Security Ltd. were returning to Baghdad after unloading materials at a U.S. military base in Al Assad, about 180 km west of Baghdad.

"He is a kind and reliable person. His reputation was excellent," Yoshimizu said of Saito.

Yoshimizu said he had heard that Saito was leaving the Legion, though he did not know that he was going to Iraq. "This is only my guess, but he may have wanted to test himself or wanted a new challenge," he said.

Yoshimizu said that he and Saito had exchanged information about work from time to time, and described Saito as a "charismatic figure."

He also said that the British security firm where Saito works is well-known in the Legion, adding that he believes other legionnaires have worked at the firm.

Saito joined the French Foreign Legion in 1983 after leaving the Ground Self-Defense Force. He served in the legion for 21 years.

Yoshimizu, a native of Esashi, Iwate Prefecture, joined the Legion in 1991 after graduating from high school. He has been deployed to Cambodia and other countries.

Peter Lyderik

Hyper Active Member
America's hired guns: A pot of gold or death

Agence France-Presse
THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2005

BAGHDAD Day rates peaking at $1,000 quickly turned post-Saddam Hussein Iraq into a modern gold rush for private security firms, but a growing number of hired guns are paying the price in blood.

In the latest incident to shake the industry, a Japanese citizen and former member of the French Foreign Legion who was working for a British security firm was believed to have been captured by Ansar al-Sunna, one of the most feared Islamist militant groups operating in Iraq.

Akihiko Saito was discovered to be missing during a fierce firefight that broke out when his convoy was ambushed on a perilous supply route west of Baghdad. Several were killed and others wounded among the convoy's security staff and Ansar al-Sunna later posted pictures of Saito's identity card, saying they were holding him.

Few details were available on the incident, but security sources said Saito and his colleagues were probably on an escort mission of the kind that has been widely outsourced by the U.S. military in Iraq.

According to the Interior Ministry, there may be 50,000 private security contractors in the war-torn country.

Estimates vary on the proportion of foreigners, but with anything between 12,000 and 20,000 men, they are the U.S.-led coalition's second largest armed contingent, easily outnumbering British troops.

Although none of them are supposed to be involved in combat operations, a recent string of deadly attacks by insurgents has highlighted the dangers encountered by Iraq's military freelancers.

Two U.S. security guards working for CTU Consulting were killed when a car bomb struck their convoy on a busy central Baghdad street Saturday. A South African working for Erynis was shot and killed in an ambush in northern Iraq four days earlier.

Six U.S. citizens employed by the Blackwater Security Consulting firm and two Filipino guards were among 11 killed when a Bulgarian commercial helicopter was shot down on April 21 north of Baghdad.

Scores also met a brutal end on Baghdad's notorious airport road, a 12-kilometer, or eight-mile, ride known for being the deadliest stretch in Iraq.

According to Iraq Coalition Casualties, an independent Web site that tracks deaths in the war-torn country, 234 foreign contractors have been killed and accounted for since the March 2003 invasion.

But several sources in the private security industry admit that many deadly attacks probably have remained unreported. "We get internal reports and there are often deaths that don't make it in the media," said one source, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It's an industry that doesn't communicate and secrecy is one of the reasons we're here."

Unprecedented outsourcing has allowed the U.S. military to ease the pressure on troops already stretched by several wars and is seen as a way of keeping body bags away from the public eye.

"If you don't get shot on the airport road or a busy area but instead die in an ambush on an open supply route in a remote corner of northern or western Iraq, there's a good chance the news won't come out," the industry source added.

The huge contingent of foreign security guards is a ragtag army of former elite troops, retired police officers, mercenaries with shadowy track records and soldiers who served in Iraq and ditched the uniform after being rotated out to quadruple their wages.

Their presence has been a bone of contention for Iraqi officials.

In one of the last decrees issued by the former top U.S. administrator, L. Paul Bremer 3rd, in June 2004, private security contractors working with the Americans and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government were granted immunity from prosecution.

Bremer himself was protected by private security rather than the U.S. military and much of Iraq's infrastructure and institutions depends on these firms.

There are no accurate figures on how much of Iraq's multibillion dollar aid package is siphoned directly into security. However, the price tag is likely to be high.

Gregg Nivala, an official working out of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq said, for example, that $2 million of the $9 million budgeted to exhume a mass grave in the southern Muthanna Province would be paid to a private security firm to guard the diggers.


We got 3 Japanese in our compagine. 2 caporals and 1 sergeant. And they have a bit of probs with French but they are good guys not too traumatized like we say in here.
I know personally 1 of them and we get along well.


Top Member
i served wi yuishi and sato they are good mates any one wi info get in touch sato did the cpl stage wi me he got pissed on garde so we all did his stint


Top Member
Patrick Hervier said:
Former legionnaire Saito served many years in 2REP where he got his nickname "Banzaï". He was apparently wounded during the fire fight in which he was eventually abducted. I imagine former repmen on the board happened to meet him.
My thoughts are with him, since he's now in 'a world of shit'.
Pat they called him banzai co,s we had a pearl harbour night in the rep he run round the foyer shouting tora tora tora he is a good man AND A WELL THOUGHT OF LEGIONAIR HE DONE TAHITI TO THEN PM,SYUSHI WAS IN MY INSTRUCTINON **** if they get killed i hope the arab sons o allah die slow and painfull :mad:
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Joseph Cosgrove

Pat they called him banzai co,s we had a pearl harbour night in the rep he run round the foyer shouting tora tora tora he is a good man AND A WELL THOUGHT OF LEGIONAIR HE DONE TAHITI TO THEN PM,SYUSHI WAS IN MY INSTRUCTINON **** if they get killed i hope the arab sons o allah die slow and painfull :mad:
Flash, Saito, 1st Cie 2 REP?, there was only one. We went to Maillet le camp with the 1 st Cie. He was Sgt de Semaine, don't know what the regulars made of him shouting Banzai at corvee quartier.
I did my "Gestapo" interview in Saito's old office. There were drawings he did and some other memorabilia from his time in the legion on the walls. The Adjutant who did my interview had been close friends with Saito and told me about him and what a great soldier and great guy he was. He reminded me that even the best and most competent soldiers can fall in battle and that we have to think deeply about our choices and accept that death is inevitable, one way or another. If you are unwilling to take the risks, don't join.


Actual or Former Legionnaire
Saito was in my team in Iraq as I've already posted elsewhere on this board. When I was on leave he volunteered for a mission out of Abu Ghraib warehouse. His convoy got bumped on the road up to Hit and he was killed at the scene. Excellent bloke. RIP. M


Actual or Former Legionnaire
When the convoy got bumped Saito's low pro was immobilised, he and another expat took cover in a garage on the E side of the road with incoming fire from a berm on the West side. As they attempted to exfil Saito was hit in the back of the head by a cut off group on the East side. The video posted showed sporadic eye movement from the vestiges of his brain stem. The other expat held up a taxi at gunpoint and drove back to Baggers.
Subsequently the terrs posted Saito's ID's on line and concocted a story that he had been kidnapped.

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