After Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis was convicted in Japan of negligent driving following a medical emergency during which he lost control of his car, wife Brittany Alkonis said the treatment she and her family received from the Department of Defense (DoD) was “unimaginable.”
(Video: Fox News)
Lt. Alkonis is stationed at Yokosuka Naval Base when he was overcome with acute mountain sickness (also known as “altitude sickness”) while driving down Mt. Fuji. As a result, he was involved in an accident that tragically killed two people. In October 2021, he was found guilty by Japanese courts of a crime and imprisoned.
“As we were driving down the mountain, he was mid-conversation with my daughter and he just blacked out,” Brittany told “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Pete Hegseth on Sunday. “My daughter tried to wake him. It did not work. We were in a car accident. That did not wake him at all. He never hit the brake.”
While horrible, Brittany argues it wasn’t a crime.
“He was convicted of negligent driving resulting in death or injury, but a medical emergency like a heart attack, a stroke, a seizure, that is not a crime in America, and it is also not a crime in Japan…” Brittany said. “He should not be in jail right now.”
The DoD, an emotional Brittany said, “abandoned” her husband.
After prying the case from the DoD’s hands, she is cautiously hoping that will change.
“I think the big hurdle that we had for quite some time was that the case was in the hands of DoD, and they were not going to step in,” she said. “They told me their job is to protect Japan and the alliance, and I cannot assume that what’s in my husband’s best interest is in the Navy’s and the alliance’s best interest.”
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, have now directly involved themselves in the case., as have both the President and the Vice President.
“President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris have both spoken to the [Japanese] prime minister about this… I was able to speak with Rahm Emanuel this week,” Brittany said. “He took that time out during a very busy week with Japan, and he said that he’s cautiously optimistic that they’ve found a way forward.”
Ahead of President Biden’s meeting with Prime Minister Kishida today, I joined @SenMikeLee and @michaelgwaltz requesting the expedited transfer of Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis to the United States from Japan. The Alkonis family has waited long enough. It's time to #BringRidgeHome. pic.twitter.com/7o2Lywqs11
— Rep. Cammack Press Office (@RepKatCammack) January 13, 2023
The story, hit a nerve with Hegseth.
“I’m, struck by what you said about DoD,” he said. “That the alliance, the status of the alliance, is more important than your husband, a Navy lieutenant, serving his country.”
“We’re supposed to have the backs of our troops. That is what DoD is supposed to do,” he continued. “I can’t imagine how betrayed you must feel.”
“That is the reason for the tears today,” Brittany agreed. “It is unimaginable. You dedicate a decade of your life to serving your country and they have abandoned my husband and our family.”
On Twitter, Brittany has started a “Bring Ridge Home” hashtag, and is receiving support from some noteable people.
On December 22, Senator Mike Lee (R – Utah) tweeted, “I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for standing with the family of Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis.”
“As Lt. Alkonis sits in a Japanese prison on the eve of Christmas,” he continued, “we cannot leave his family wondering how they will feed themselves or keep a roof over their heads.”
I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for standing with the family of Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis. As Lt. Alkonis sits in a Japanese prison on the eve of Christmas, we cannot leave his family wondering how they will feed themselves or keep a roof over their heads. #BringRidgeHome pic.twitter.com/XcMEougFhA
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) December 22, 2022
On Sunday, the Senator tweeted from his personal account, “The Alkonis case isn’t complicated. It should’ve been resolved months ago. This video shows the grief of a U.S. Navy officer wrongly imprisoned in Japan who feels abandoned by DOD and the foreign country he was assigned to protect.”
The Alkonis case isn’t complicated. It should’ve been resolved months ago. This video shows the grief of a U.S. Navy officer wrongly imprisoned in Japan who feels abandoned by DOD and the foreign country he was assigned to protect. #BringRidgeHome https://t.co/eqRUi3EbYH
— Mike Lee (@BasedMikeLee) January 15, 2023
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