Air Force

Page 6

 

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I was visiting my friend Schultz in his room when he asked me if I wanted to take a ride with him on his motorcycle. I said "why not" and off we rode toward Tachikawa. We cruised evey street in town before I asked him what he was looking for. He calmy said that he was looking for four Black men who had jumped him the night before. He was not able to whip all four so he left town. He said that he figured that we could whip them. Shultz was a big man and I was much older than I. He had been in WW11 and seen a lot of action. In his heyday, he was a powerful  person. He was always joking how he could put me down with one arm. I always laughed it off, but one day I took him up on it. He was sitting on his bed and when he got up I had him on the floor before he knew what happened. He  looked a little stunned at what I had done. I told my friend that I would never had been able to do that when he was younger. We both laughed and had a drink.

As I mentioned before, the little town of Fussa had several bars. It was outside the main gate and was where everyone caught the train to Tachikawa. These bars were mostly filled with red necks and hillbilly whites. No one ever looked for trouble and neither did they run from it. One night several drunk Blacks got off the train and decided that they were going to have a drink in one of the bars. One of them olpened the door and shouted that they were going to whip ever white man there. He got hit so hard in the mouth that he went thirty feet backwards and hit the ground on  his back. Three of the white men walked out and told the other three to pick him up and take him to the base and never open this door again.

I was sitting in one of the bars on a Sunday afternoon alone having a drink with one of the bar girls when in walked two Black men with their drunk Japanese friend. There was no worse combination than this. The drunk Japanese man would always cause trouble.When I saw them, I quietly picked up a beer bottle and put it on the seat beside me. If they were going to come at me, I was going to break the bottle and let them have it in the mouth. The bar girl looked at me and I told her not to worry. I was not going to start anything. The two men stood at the bar looking at me and they began walking toward my table. I grasped the bottle and was ready for them. When they got to my table, one of them asked if they could sit down with us. I said they certainly could and offered to buy them a drink. If I had said no, there would have been a fight and someone would have been seriously injured. They said thanks, got up, and walked out. I would seem that all we did was drink and fight, but there were other things to keep us busy.

I was on duty one night as the Sergeant of Arms.The Sergeant of Arms duty is for a Non-commissioned Officer to be in charge at night when the First Sergeant is not on duty. The Duty Officer got the bright idea that he and I should inspect all of the bars in the area to make sure that there was no trouble. We had no authority to do so and this was the last thing that wanted to do, but off we went. We inspected the bars in Fussa and there was no sign of any trouble and I thought that we we would go back to the base. He had other ideas for he wanted to inspect the bars in the next town which was in the Black section. I did not know what to expect, but I did know if  there were going to be trouble, we were going to be on the short end of the stick. We went into the bars and they was hardly any light and I was unable to see if any one was there. I do remember that these bars were much quieter than the White bars. The next day some of my friends told me that they had seen me and asked if had I seen them. I told them that I had seen them, but did not want to let the Duty Officer know this.

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Some like to look in garbage cans; others like to "putter" a round

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After I was there for about a year, I bought a vey used 1948 Ford, but it was still in good running conditions. My friends and I would take several trips around the area. We were only twenty-five miles from Tokyo. Cals and I decided to drive down one day and tour the city. There was a main highway and it was easy  driving.Tokyo was not only the most expensive cities in the world, but the noisiest. It seemed as if every car horn in the city was honking at the same time. We found a place to park and we hired two rickisha drivers to pedal us a round. Tokyo is a beautiful city and has a history of hundreds of years. We spent about an hour touring and when we were through, we were shocked at the price. It almost broke us.

On the way out of the city, I tried to climb a small hill and there wasn't enough power to climb it. I had to turn around and back up. Every person on the street was wondering what this crazy American was doing. I was able to go forward the est of the way becaus the terrain was much flatter. I missed the main road back and had to drive through every city back to the base. One of the cities was so crowded that I was barely was able to get through. When I go back, I had the problem fixed with the engine.

There was an American citizen who had a recording company in Tokyo. He would re-record a lot of American musicians and sell the records under his label. I got to know him and if I heard some one who I thought had a potential musical career, I would recommend them to him. There were two airmen in my squadron who used to entertain us at the base service club. They played guitars and would rewrite favorite songs to make them a comedy . Their theme song was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". I  drove to Tokyo to tell my friend about them. I do not know if he ever saw them, but the now famous Geezenslaw Brothers' acts are identical to these two airmen's acts and they have the same theme song. On the way to see him, I had to drive under the Tokyo Tower that was under construction at the time.

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Cals and I Sitting with Emperor of Japan

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Tokyo Tower, the largest free standing steel structure in the world

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Ugh! Being pulled up a hill, I felt sorry for him

At four o'clock in the morning in the early days of October, 1958, I was awaken by my First Sergeant and given a list of names of airmen to awaken and told to get their full field packs and be ready for a shipment to a confidential location. Within minutes, everyone was in full gear and ready to go. We stood there waiting for two hours before a  bus finally picked us up and took us to Tachikawa East to board a plane. We sat in the terminal until two o'clock in the afternoon waiting forthe plane to transport us to the secret base. We were not allowed to know anything about our destination. When we were in the air, a captain read us the message. China was threating Quemoy Island again and the forces on Tiawan need to beefed up. We were to set up operations to support  two squadrons of fighter aircraft. We were being sent to different Tiawan air bases and use their runways. We were to be rotated every thirty days.

The location of the city, I forget its name, was on the Southern part of the island. We landed abourt eight that night and were driven to the base in a military bus. On the way, to the base the street was lined with Chinese giving us the thumbs up. My friend Ouger was on the bus with us. He had nineteen years in the service and had only three stripes. I never inquired why he had only three but I could easily have guessed. When we got off the bus at the base, he was really mad. He asked if I had seen those slant-eyed sob's giving us the finger. He said that he gave it right back to them. I told him that they had thumbs up which meant that we were number one. We were told that we were to sleep in a former hotel. Oger and I made a dash for the fourth floor and picked a room with two beds. We were both done in and ready for bed. Oger made a run for his bed and landed on his back. There was a loud groan and I asked what was the matter. Under the sheet were wooden boards.

A few minutes later, two officers spotted our room with the beds and decided that they wanted the rooms. We gladly gave it to .them and hunted for a room with bukn beds and mattresses. We thought that we were going to stay in the hotel permanently, but the next morning we had to put up tents for us to stay. The hotel would be the officers' quarters. This was one of the worst tours of duty that I had in the Air Force. I was hot and humid. I had only been there for a few days when I broke out with heat rash all around my groin area. I could barely walk an I used to lay naked on my back to rest. I was given some corn starch to put on kit, but it was of little help. I finally used calamine lotion and when I put it on I would be dancing all over the place because it felt like I was on fire.After about three days, the lotion worked and I was fine. We had to have mosquito netting around our beds to protect us from mosquitoes and for snakes. Cobras were common. One time, when I stop my truck at the refueling pumps to load up, I saw Cobra that I had just ran over.

The pilots would fly over the straits and never saw any Chinese planes. One of the pilots was bragging that he was waiting for one to show up. I just thought that he was an idiot.  I did get to se my first Flying Tiger aircraft. There were five of them on the base.

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P-40 Flying Tiger Aircraft

 

We  were warned not to drink the water unless it had been purified or boiled. The only other drinks we had was beer. I tasted my first beer and it was awful, but after drinking a few, I got used to the taste. I also became a beer drinker. I soon learned that the people of Tiawan felt that their island was being occupied by the Chinese and they resented it. Almost everything was imported from the United States or Japan. It was common to see a three wheel vehicle made in Japan with an Edsel car front end on it.

After looking back on my time at this base was an experience which I remember but am not very proud. Oger and I were in upstairs bar having a drink when two bar girls came over and asked us to buy them one. As a courtesy, we bought them one and as always, it was nothing more than cold tea. One of the girls gulped her drink down and asked for another. I resented this and I told her so. Oger convinced me to buy her another drink. This one went down as fas as the first one and she asked for another one. I told her no and she started calling me cheap. Oger said he would buy it for her, but I told him no. She called me cheap again and I told her I was not cheap. She immediately called me cheap again and I got mad and I said "Damn, you, I am not cheap" and I picked her up over my head and went toward the window as if I were going to throw her through it. Other bar patrons begged me to put her down. She started crying and said that I was not cheap and apologized. I have always been very slow to get angry. It takes a lot to me angry and I get over it very quickly. I put her down and bought her a drink and all was OK until five airmen from the fighter squadron came running up the stairs shouting for everyone to move for they were the "Fightin' 27". They pushed their way to the bar and was talking real loud how tough they were. I got up from the table and Oger asked me where was I going. I told him that I was going to see how tough these loudmouths were. I walked over to them and I told them in a loud voice that was from the "Fightin' 40th" They looked at me and invited me to have a drink. So much for the "Fightin' 27th". I went back to the base and went to sleep.

We were there for thirty days and were waiting for replacements so we could go back to our base. Orders came for Oger and me to be transferred to another base at  Chia Yi, near Tiapei, the capitol of Tiawan. We were furious. All the others were being replaced as promised but we were no only extended, but ewere being sent to another base. It did no good to rant and rave, we were going.

When we got to Chia Yi, we found ourselves in the midst of a another buildup. The men and equipment had just arrived and tents and bedding had just been fisnished put in place. Oger and I were the only two fuel truck drivers there and our vehicles had to have mechanical work done to them. We were introduced to the commanding officer. Then, we met our First Sergeant. If there ever was more of a looser, I have not met him. I believe that this place was created for his former officers to get rid of him. He was a living symbol that God makes mistakes. When, He made man and gave them rectums, he made one hole too many, and he was it. I do not hate, but I do despise. He showed us to our tent and we set up our gear. The bunks were typical military steel bunks, but we had no mattresses. There were none on the base. We put a folded blanket on the springs and layed down to rest. About that time, this so called First Sergant informed us that we had to move to another tent. There was no reason other than he wanted us to be closer to his tent.

Oger and I got busy and set up our office and thanks to our Chinese counterparts, we had our vehicles in running order. There was also a Squad of Marines who were there for combat duty, if needed. We soon made friends with them and they were a great bunch of men. We wouild hang-out with them more than the airmen. I asked them how they likeed being a part of the Navy. They told me that the Marines were to the Navy as a handle is to a peepot; you're attached to it, but glad that you are not in it.  The 26th Fighter Squadron from the Phillipines were assigned to our base. The planes would fly in shifts. One man could handle the refueling for a a shift. We would trade off each week.

Sometimes, when I had get something from Chinese supply warehouse, I would have a few minutes to spare and I had a chance to talk with them. One of them asked me how long that I had been in the service, I told him eight years. He pointed to one and said that he had been in the Chinese army for forty years. Also, almost every able bodied man on the island was in the service. One time, I asked if I could have a drink of water. I was given a cup of boiling water. The temperture was ninty degrees and when I looked at the hot water, I was told that hot water in the summer would cool you off better than cold water. It was flat tasting, but it did the trick.

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