Our base was located on the outskirts of Chia Yi, and there was a military bus that made frequent runs to the city. Oger and I made our first trip in. The place was like a beehive. The streets were as busy at ten at night as ten in the day. It was hard to walk without bumping into someone. There were eleven million people on Tiawan. There were food vendors everwhere. The Chinese food looked and smell great, but I was person who ate nothing unless I knew what was in it and who made it. The Chinesse people have a great fondness for dogmeat.
We heard that there was an American embassy office in town with American servicemen there. There was a bar that they frequented and we decided to pay them a visit. We became friends with them and they gave us a pass to the American Embassy Base exchange store. There was a liquor store there that let us buy thirty bottles of whiskey a month. We used this privelege to supply the certain people with a bottle of whiskey a month. The list included the cooks, Air Policemen, and Supply Sergeants. We kept a bottle for ourselves. Several times, our minor indescretions were overlooked and we were well fed.
There was a girl that worked at the bar who could speak good English and we became friends. She informed me that she had a child by a Japenese soldier and was working to save money so one day she could see him again. As far as I knew, she never went out with anyone and I respected her for it. One evening, she and I were having a drink and talking, One of the Air Force sergeants, who had been there for quite some time, told me that he was going to get me drunk and take her home. This was right up my alley so I relunctly let him buy me a few drinks. When I had enough, I went back to the base. The next time I saw the sergeant, he informed me that after buying her drinks for half the night, she still refused to go out. I thanked him for his his buying me those drinks and then I told him why she wouldn't go.
I went there twice one by bus. One of the time, I was standing on a sidewalk watching a Chinese farmer with his water buffalo pulling a huge load up a small incline. About half way up, the water buffalo dropped dead. The farmer unhitched the animal from the cart and by himself, starting pulling the cart up the hill and leaving the dead animal where he laid. I could not believe that this small person was capable of pulling such a load. Other pedestrians just walked by him as if it were an everyday occurance.
One time I had to go to Tianan AFB to pick up a pool table from the Base Service Club. From Chia Yi to Tianan was about thirty miles apart, but the streets were so congested that it took me about two hours. I did have a little fun while drivin; at least I thought that it was funny. When I came to an entersection, I would blow my airhorn scareing the people causing them to lay flat on the ground. When I got to the Service Club to pick up the table, I found out that it was apart with no cloth and I had no help in loading it. I came for it and I was going to take it back. With a little maneuvering, I was able to get it loaded. I was also able to scrounge games, books, basket balls base ball gloves and balls, and a few other things. I mentioned that we had no mattresses and she contacted the supply sergeant who gav e me as many as I could load on the truck. When I got back, there were a lot of happy troops. I did not have enough mattresses for everyone, but I promised them that I could get more.
Three days later, Oger, anothe airman, and I drove down with two trucks and brought to get the the mattresses that we needed. We stayed overnight a a Chinese hotel. I wanted to take a bath and I was shown to a room with a small bath tub filled with soapy water. I put my feet in the water and I sat down on the foot of the tub. My weight caused the tub to raise up and I was sitting on the floor with water p;ouring out over me onto the floor. The floor was made of thick woven hemp mats and they were soaked. I sat there with the tub in the air and couldn't figure out how to crawl out of the tub. There was no one around to help me. I finally was able to plant my feet on the floor and raise my butt up and let the tub down. I got back to our room and told Oger what happend. A few minutes later, I hear a lot of women screaming and I didn't need to know Chinese to understand what they were saying.
One day, Oger decided to go to town. He was supposed to return by the time to refuel the evening shift. He never showed up and I had to do the refueling for him. This meant that I had to work to four in the morning. The First Sergeant had been keeping a close eye on the both of us just in case we screwed up. At eight the next morning, he came looking for Oger. I told him that he had gone to pick up some supplies. Oger never showed up for two days and I had to make up some whoppers to keep the sergeant from finding out that he was AWOL. In the mean time, I had to do all the refueling for three days with being only to sleep from four until six in the morning. I was exhausted and was about ready to give up when at six that night, I heard a voice calling my name. It was Oger peeking around the corner. He had been downtown staying with a bar girl and drinking all that time. He wanted to know if he were in trouble. I told him that not yet but the First Sergeant had been looking for him. I told him that he was going to work for me for two shifts so I could get some rest.
The fighter squadron had a sign by pilot's tent saying China or bust. One night when the planes were landing, one of the pilots landed across the runways. Evidently, his instruments were faulty. His plane was demolished, but he was not hurt. The plane was hauled into the hanger for inspection to determine the cause of instrument failure. That night, I made a big sign saying "Looks like you busted" and put next to the wreckage. The next morning, when the inspection team saw the sign, there was a lot of laughter.
We had been there for thirty days making it sixty days total and we were anxious to know when our replacemets were coming. . Every day the first Sergeant would read some names of personnel whose replacement had come. Our names were never mentioned.
After being in Tiawan for sixty days, we were entitled to have a week off and go on leave. We could go to Hong Kong, Australia, or back to our home base. My tour of duty in Japan was soon coming to an end and I chose to go back to Yokota to make sure that I was going back to the US on time.
When I saw the personnel lerk in charge of records at Yokota, I was assured that I would not miss my reassignment to the States. I then could relax and have a few days to unwind. I decided to go to the Service Club to see what I could scrounge for the men at Chia Yi. I was given four boxes of new paperback books to take back.
The Marine Corp have a cake cutting ceremony every year on the birthday of the Marine Corp. It is a very formal service and every marine is in full dressed uniform. They were holding this ceremony in the mess tent. A special person holds the sword on a pillow. I was chosen to be that person. The Office in Charge marches to the pillow and performs a special ritual of taking the sword and cutting the cake. A piece of cake is given to each guest. I was really thrilled to have the honor to participate.
The First Sergeant kept promising Oger and me that our replacement orders would soon be coming. One night we were on a bus going to town when he told us that one of us had received orders to go back to our base. Oger had had enough. He told him that if there were no orders for one of us that he was going to punch his lights out. The next morning we went to see him and my orders to return to Yokota was there. Oger and I had one last drink and we said farwell for we knew that we would never see each other again.
The next day a plane landed to take us back. It was a four engine C-130 with one engine not operating. The crew chief said not to worry because this plane can fly with only two engines, We were on our way. When we got to Tachikawa and was circling to land, the landing gear would not come down. We all got nervous, but the crew chief informed us that this was common for at high altitude the hydraulic fluid thickens and takes a while to thin out for the gear to come down. We circled the field for half an hour and the gear came down. I was finally out of Tiawan and glad to be back. The Chinese never did attack.
When I got back to Yokota, I had to start making preparations to return to the States. A special order came down stating that any one who had been frozen in rank for five years could ask to be transferred to another field. here was openings for Bomb Navigation Mechanics. One had to take a four month course at Lowery AFB, Denver, Colorado. I thought why not for there was no future for me refueling asircraft so I applied and I was accepted.
There was a squadron dance party being planned and some of us volunteered to help decorate. My good friend Oscar brought his Japanese girl friend to help. He had met her while I was in Tiawan. He informed me that they planned to be married. I was really pleased for him for I knew that he would make a terrific husband and he deserved someone who would love him.
The day came for me to leave and with a heavy heart, left my friends of many years and I knew that I would probably never see them again. I had to stay at a base not to far from Yokota that served as a gathering point for all military personnel who were returning to the States. I had forgotten something and I called Oscar and he brought it to me. We chatted for a while and we said our goodbyes. We never saw each other again. He was a special friend of mine. He never drank or smoked. A few days later I was on an aircraft and headed for San Francisco and on to Denver to begin a new chapter in my life. We had a four hour lay over at Wake Island for refueling and to stretch our legs. I was glad when the plane touched down and knew that I had arrived safely. On to Lowry AFB!