ASA Chitose Association Inc.

(Stories, anecdotes, jokes...)

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Tales



Overseas
By Don Edgers

  added June 5, 2016 I finally arrived at what was to be my home for 26-months, the 12th USASA Field Station located at Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan. As we newbies came onto our base by bus, we drove past an unoccupied three story concrete building. A sign on it read, "Kuma Station – Hibachi Hall – Test Center Laboratory Housing – 768 Brave Men – We accepted it – Tho we don’t understand it." It seemed the cement structure that was meant to be our barracks didn’t have a required heating system needed in the very frigid winter temperatures of the northern Japanese island, meaning we had to be billeted in Quonset Huts built soon after WWII


My home from 63-64 Hibachi Hall (Renamed Higuma Hall)

  We troops were assigned to, what were called ‘Tricks’ (work groups living together in the Quonsets) which worked in rotating shifts – Days, Swings, Mids. These shifts were for six days on with two days off. After two days off, the tricks would change shifts, work six on, two off, change shift, etc. This work schedule could seriously mess with one’s mental time clock, and the strain drove some guys to drink way more seriously in order to cope with the mind-numbing schedule. I don’t know of many sober guys who really got the hang of it. Fortunately, I managed to get assigned to a permanent day shift. Several guys I worked and lived with became functional alcoholics who influenced my decision to not follow in their dysfunctional footsteps


My home in 1962

   Soon after starting my job, I was told of a week-long snow & ice festival in the large nearby city of Sapporo. Using the information supplied to me by my working companions, I learned how to travel by bus and how to read Japanese signs of what I needed to know. It reminded me of when I took the bus to downtown Seattle when I was in second grade. Because of the festival, the bus was jammed and I spent the entire hour-long ride standing.


Downtown Sapporo Japan

   I’m about 5’10”, but seemed to be a head taller than most Japanese. When I got off the bus, I looked around the throngs of people to see if there were any Americans I could talk to. There wasn’t another white person to be seen in the thousands of people in attendance, so I got busy looking at the giant ice and snow sculptures covering several blocks in the city.


Sapporo Snow Festival

   Within 45 minutes of arriving at the festival, a black-uniformed male stopped in front of me and started a conversation in English that would change the course of my life. “Excuse me,” said the uniformed boy/man, “may I speak with you in English?” Extending his hand, he continued, “My name is Kadzuo Yamamoto, or Yama. Would you let me buy you a cup of coffee and practice my English with you?” As it appeared he was sincere and I was becoming cold, I accepted his invitation. Making our way through the crowd, Yama took me about three blocks to the Sapporo Grand Hotel, the only Western-style hotel in the city. The ground-floor of the hotel had a crowded restaurant where we managed to get a table for two. I discovered my coffee companion was only a year younger than me, and was a medical student at the nearby Hokudai University (University of Hokkaido). There were several students in his medical classes that were interested in practicing their English conversation skills and Yama was a sort of recruiter for his classmates to find an American to practice with. “Would you be interested in meeting with us next week? We will pay for your bus fare.” Geez, how easy would that be? I agreed to meet him at the bus terminal and meet with his friends. A week later, I was met at the Sapporo Bus Depot by Yama and another student named Nishi Yakamori. We caught a streetcar to Hokudai and walked to the medical school’s well-worn wooden building and to a lecture classroom. I was greeted by over 40, mostly male, uniformed-students who applauded as I walked into the room. Strangely, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the experience and treated it like a dream. As Yama introduced me, I asked myself, ‘Is this experience really happening?’ Similar to today’s Press Conferences, each student introduced themselves and proceeded to ask a question. I remember two of the questions: “Do you have lots of Indians in the United states?” and “Is it true that Americans don’t take baths?” Some of the questioners weren’t very proficient in their English, so Yama or Nishi acted as translators. After the Q&A session, I was treated to a meal and a couple of beers at a beer hall, and given remuneration for bus fare. I also was invited to come back the next week, if I wanted to. Primed with such an exhilarating experience, I agreed. The next week’s get-together attracted a few more curious students who asked more questions. After they had drained my brain, Yama thanked me and asked the gathering if they would like to continue our English meetings, only with the purpose of learning spoken American English and being able to understand and speak it well enough to possibly become interns in American military hospitals. About half of the group raised their hands. Then I was asked if I would agree to become their teacher? In exchange, they would pay my expenses and teach me about their culture. Yama, Nishi and I spent quite a bit of time brainstorming ideas of how to run the class. Besides vocabulary, they wanted colloquialisms and common expressions they might encounter in medical settings. And, would I type up the lessons so everybody in the class could have a copy? I started feeling panicky, but reasoned this would give me inroads to Japanese society that most other Americans would never have – and Iwould be able to improve my typing. At first, virtually all of my off duty time was spent typing lessons four at a time by using carbon paper. Forty copies accompanied me to the next meeting at the university’s lecture hall. About 35 students plus a university medical professor greeted me, and I became a teacher (‘sensei’ in Japanese). The class decided to call our assembly the Ducks’ Club, because my first name, Donald, was associated with Donald Duck.



Future MD's forming the Duck's Club

From that first encounter a group of about 20 future doctors met with me every week for about a year and then about 10-15 who continued with me until my military service tour was completed. The classes were held in a lecture room at the University of Hokkaido, with post-meetings at a beer hall or coffee house. This wonderful experience took root in my mind, and I resolved that upon returning to civilian life, I would complete my education and become a teacher.


Ducks on a field trip to Dr. Kodama’s Ainu Museum

   Besides the Ducks, another group of university students, studying to be medical researchers, asked me to teach them for a year. One of their professors, a medical doctor, paid me to make editorial, English grammar and punctuation corrections on a manuscript for a book he was having published. Our military post commander received a request from a city manager or mayor of the southern port city of Hakodate asking if it would it be possible for a soldier who was teaching English to be sent to their city to teach English phrases, pronunciation, etc. to various schools, businesses and institutions. A call went out to the few of us who performed such classes off Post to report to the commander and state our qualifications in order to do Temporary Duty (TDY) for this mission. I was a shoe-in because of my experience and also because I had a slide-show of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair – my home city. All my expenses were paid, and I spent a week teaching in all levels of schools (where I also made several hours of audio tapes), English Speaking Societies, department stores, and even a hospital. I also met aTrappist monk (the ones that take a vow of silence) who was the only one who could negotiate with those on the outside-world. It just so happened that this monk was the only one of his order who was Caucasian, and he spoke a form of English called “Brooklynese” i.e. he was from Brooklyn. Fortunately, I had a roommate on post that was from Brooklyn, so understanding him was easy. All of these experiences solidified my desire to return to college and become a teacher. I then became a teacher for thirty years.


Teaching ladies at an English Speaking Society gathering.



GI Families Living Off Base
By Roy VanOrder
added November 30, 2013  I was recruited by ASA in July of 56 after HS. and took basic at Ft Dix NJ. Then off to Ft Devens where I was offered air conditioning and refrigeration repair or cryptography. When I asked what Cryptography was all about they would only say it had to do with codes and it was classified, so naturally I took it.

I was sent off to Camp Gordon GA for crypto school and while there the post became Ft Gordon. I received orders for Germany in Nov but got pneumonia, along with a few hundred other guys, so I missed my port call. This allowed me to go home for Christmas. While home for my two week leave I married my high school sweet heart on Dec 30th and we both returned to Augusta Ga. After I received my port call for Japan she returned home and waited for me to tell her it was OK to come over to Japan.

I went to Ft Lewis to await a troop ship which departed in March of 57 from Seattle. I and a couple of thousand of my closest friends boarded the General Mann for a fun filled two weeks to Yokahama. We could actually smell Japan before we saw land. After arriving at Oje Camp I got orders for Korea, but was able to swap them with a guy who had orders for Chitose. He was also married and did not want to spend three years away from his wife. I on the other hand, wanted to bring mine to Japan.

About six months after I left my wife, she arrived in Chitose in June of 57. We lived in a small apartment on number 5 street of the rising sun. right next to the airbase, and a stream running next to our place. There were two other American families on our street who we got to know real well. Our wives shopped together and learned their way around the town and the air base. One was an ASAer like us, and the other was an Air Force Lt.
The apartment had a large space heater in the small living room that was gravity fed by a 55 gal drum of diesel fuel in front of the house. The kitchen was about the size of a closet with one propane burner, small refrigerator and a cold water sink. You had to build a coal fire in a split 55 gal drum to heat year water for a shower. Needless to say it took hours to get the fire up and the water hot. Our next door neighbors were in the same house as us, so they shared the same water tank, In order to make it worthwhile we would take turns building the fire and then as one took a quick shower they would bang on the wall and the others would take theirs. After a year we moved to a larger house with all the creature comforts of a hot water tank, range, and big refrigerator. but the same space heater. It was at this time that our daughter was due, and like Keith she was born in the base infirmary on Aug 8th of 58. After our daughter was born we moved first, to a Quonset hut on the air base, and then to new quarters at the 12th. All the time we were in Japan we had house maids to do the laundry and clean house. But, when we moved to the new quarters we hired a live in maid to help with our new daughter.

While over there we took in all the festivals such as the Cherry Blossom,and Snow Fest in Sapporo, along with the Shrine and Oban festivals. We really enjoyed our time there, and the friends we made.
We left by plane in 59 and traveled to California via Wake Island and Hawaii. We actually had to return to Wake because of engine problems just before the point of no return. Not fun.

I reenlisted and went to Electronic Warfare Equipment Repair school at Ft Monmouth and then did a tour in Sinop Turkey and a TDY to Africa before I got out in 62. After which I worked for several Electronics firms who had DoD black contracts. During this time I used my GI Bill and got at BA, two Masters, one MBA one MEd and a PhD. Finally retired in 2006 from Lockheed radar in Syracuse NY and then did several years of consulting until I got too old. Now my wife Toni (57yrs of marriage) and I volunteer for the COPD support group which we started several yeas ago.
The ASA proved us both with memories we will never forget, as well as a future we would probably never have had.

 


A Little Nervous
by Cliff Lee Maloney

     Added August 10, 2012   My name is Clif Lee Maloney, son of Edward Thomas Maloney and Anna Ruth [Morriss] Maloney. My father:  Edward Thomas Maloney died February 13, 1966 and my mother passed October 7, 2004. Both are buried in/at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, TX.
     My dad served in Korea and following the conflict, was assigned to Chitose AFB.  From what I was told, he received his field commission to Warrant Officer at some point in Korea or upon arrival in Japan from either MSgt or Senior MSgt to that of Chief Warrant Officer I (CWO1). At some point in his progression he transferred from the US Army to the US Army Air Corps to the US Air Force.  He was a Special Weapons/EOD specialist with an aviation rating of some kind.
     In 1955 my mother and I traveled, via troop ship, from San Diego to Yokohama, Japan to be with my dad (I have the ship manifest). I can remember my mother and I becoming very seasick.  On one occasion she had me in some sort of dog-collar harness going down the stairs – the ship rolled and the two of us landed at the bottom in a heap – she sprained her ankle.  I can remember seeing my dad at the dock in Yokohama waving to us as we landed.  We went to some restaurant shortly after.  (Afterthought:  as we were waiting for our berthing assignments (in San Diego), I can remember watching “Dagwood and Blondie” on a black-and-white TV sitting on top of a top-mounted compressor refrigerator in some sort of a kitchenette-attired holding cell ).
     We were to be stationed at Chitose AFB. The rest of this story is snippets of memory without dates (sorry):
-          I attended Kindergarten through 3rd grade at and within the Sapporo Independent School District,  I can remember winning the ”apple-dunk” contest. Also – we didn’t have a new-fangled record player……so I would look  forward to my turn to “crank” the turn-table to play the next record.
-          My dad took me to my first “Armed Forces Day” celebration in 1956
-          My dad’s closest friends were Sgt. Joe Gilstrap and Lt. Neil A. Graf.  The Gilstraps ended up in San Angelo, TX where Joe was instrumental in creating the Corps of Engineers Dam there……I have lost complete track of the Grafs. A couple of other good family friends were Tom and Vy (Violet?) Banfield (I don’t remember his rank – possibly Lt. Col.
-          I have a picture (somewhere) of me sitting in the nose cone of Lt. Graf’s F-86 (about 1957).  I remember putting on his helmet and “talking” with the tower.  Lt. Graf (a closet wood cutter) created a plaque for me with a set of his wings on it with the following:  “To Clif Lee Maloney – in hopes that someday he may wear a pair like these”.  I went into the Army during ‘Nam, but I got my “wings” as a private pilot in the 70s.  I still have the plaque.
-          My dad was (as I remember it) head of the operation to get rid of all the bombs and ammunition left over after the Korean War (at least that’s was told to me).  He took me and my Mom out to the Wakanai <spelling?> Flats (northern Hokkaido?) with Lt Graf and we saw one of the bombs being blown up.
-          We lived in a 2-story duplex (brick, I think) with a steam plant maybe 200 yards in the distance behind the house. One day dad brought home a vary large Wakanai crab that a fisherman had given him.  He put it in a large pot to “cook”. A few minutes later, while I was in the living room playing, I heard a blood-curdling scream from my mother!  The crab, not quite boiled and dead, was trying to get out of the pot!  Quite a scene!
-          Lt. Graf’s son and I would play with Japanese beetles in the back yard. We would stir them up and get them to fight each other.  We would also play “war” at these mounds.
-          I remember “learning” to ski (actually my dad would pull me through the snow with a rope). I have video (somewhere) of my dad sinking to his crotch trying to  pull me through the snow.
-          We had a house girl (Hideko).  Once, on a dare, I climbed through a window at the steam plant to get a better look at the inside and accidentally grabbed hold of a steam pipe and burned the palm of my hand.  I remember running back to the duplex and, my parents not at home at the time, poor Hideko chased me ‘round and ‘round the dining table with a stick of butter.  She’s also the first to teach me about human anatomy (another story for another time, perhaps) - remember I was 6-7 at the time.
-          Hideko took me to a Saturday morning matinee at the base theater. As I recall it was 10 cents.    The first movie I ever saw was Disney’s “Bambi”.  In Japanese with English subtitles!
-          I remember listening to the “Green Hornet”, “Superman”,  the “Lone Ranger and many other radio shows as we did not have TV at the time.
-          On some weekends, we partnered up with either Lt. Graf’s family or the Banfields and made a trek to some nearby lake or river. Don’t know the circumstances, but that’s when I first shot a handgun – a .45 caliber!  At the same outing I actually caught a fish with a rock tied to a string from a cane pole!
-          I can remember the Officer’s club with the bowling alley in the back.  After a few “Shirley Temples” me and my dad would go to the alley and he would throw a few balls.  Stories are told of him throwing the ball so hard that the pin boys would scatter at the mere mention of his name.  He won several tournaments.
-          My mom and dad were great at golf.  Several tournaments were won by both between 1956 and 1959.
-          We would leave Japan in 1958 or 1959 en route to Griffis AFB, Rome, NY.  We departed from Tokyo (I think) on a JAL C-47 with wooden seats and, as we boarded, were given a seat bottom, a seat back, and a box lunch.  The seat-back was to double as a life preserver. I don’t remember much after that until we got to Honolulu.  I remember being yelled at by my dad as I tried to climb a coconut tree outside the terminal.  After that experience – all is stateside.
     After Japan we were stationed at Griffis AFB, (NY) for a short time then Bergstrom AFB in Austin TX.  In 1960 we were transferred to Oxford, England to an RAF base there.  Shortly after arrival, the Berlin wall went up, my dad was sent to Bonn, Germany and me and my mom were repatriated back to Bergstrom. Supposedly my dad was in charge of all of the nukes in storage at Bonn with the aircraft somewhere else.
     In early 1963, dad came home and we were transferred to Hill AFB where dad had some high position with the Minuteman Missile project.  He (we) retired in 1964 and moved to Austin.
     My dad served in the US military from 16 June 1941 until 31 July 1964 – a fine career!  Started out as a grunt but ended up as a CWO3 (at retirement).  Medaled heavily during WWII and highly regarded by many.
     During my basic training in Fort Lewis WA in 1970, I had a 3-day pass during which I visited our old friends, the Banfields, in Tacoma WA. I’ve lost touch with them since. I’m hoping that someone on this site will remember him (or any of the names mentioned) and offer an anecdote or two.
Thanks for listening. I remain:
Clif Lee Maloney
Son of Edward Thomas Maloney



    Added  July 27, 2012   I am Sgt. Jerry Martin’s son, Patrick.  My fondest memories are of Chitose and Sapporo.  My school buds were Billy White and Paul Miller.  In 1966, I took my little brother Mike to the movies.  We took the bus from Chit. 1 to Chit.3 and watched the movie.  I cannot remember anything about the movie, but the bus ride home is embeded in my mind and has never left.  We had a burger and coke at the snack bar, and then went out in the snow to wait for the last bus home.  It came, but it was headed for the MARS station first.  We got on the bus and, aside from the papasan,we were the only people on the bus.  We could have waited for the bus to come back, but it was so very cold that we hopped on the bus for the ride.  This is where my story takes a rather weird turn.  We were getting near the MARS station when, suddenly, the bus was filled with a foggy blue light.  The light was so thick, we couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces.  My little brother seemed absolutely giddy, laughing hysterically.  I opened a window on the bus and looked up;  the blue light was so intense, but there was no noise from a helicopter or plane...just the sound of the bus.  I could see the pine trees that lined that road, but nothing else.  We were standing up and playing with the light and the papasan yelled at us to sit down.  I know, for myself, that this was not normal, not military, not of this earth. I believed then as I believe now, that it was extraterrestial. I told my mom, Lillian Martin, but she thought that I was being silly.  Now, this was well before movies were made about aliens and the blue light.  It was palpable light, I felt like it was communicating with me, keeping me calm.  Now, as an old 58 years, I have the benefit of a computer.  I have unearthed some astounding facts.
       My father, Sgt. Jerry Martin, was the club manager for all 3 clubs on Kuma Station.  He arrived at Kuma Station in 1964 and was there about six months before my mother and we three boys flew over.  This is in regard to our flight and a really weird fact that I discovered some months ago. I googled “UFO incidents over Hokkaido in 1965”, and one report really jumped out.  We left Travis Field for Japan in Feb. 1965.  We first flew to Anchorage for fuel and de-icing. We were on a 4 prop. Flying Tiger.  We then flew on to Tachikawa. The report stated that the pilots of a Flying Tiger passenger flight viewed a UFO enroute to Tachikawa from Anchorage.  We were on that flight.  I remember seeing lights out the window...my mom and brothers were asleep, so I never said anything.  After more research, I found a Japanese commander of the Chitose airbase filed several reports regarding UFO’s over Chitose.  Apparently, there have been many more reports of this nature.
 
 OFFICIAL REPORT:  11 February 1965 : Between Anchorage and Tachikawa AFB, Pacific  Flying Tiger incident. Radar visual confirmation. three red oval objects visible out cabin window, paced aircraft for 30 minutes, 200 feet to 1000 feet diameter, 5-mile distance.  Objects were tracked by radar and sighted visually.  Three red oval objects, about 600 feet across, were observed by four experienced male military witnesses on the ocean for 30 minutes. No sound was heard
.

     
Squat Jump Record
                By Howard Fenton (1962)                      

 added June 2011 Around 1962 the Northern Isle Sportsman's Club took some pieces of old scrapped Quonset huts and built a cabin in the hunting area in the mountains southeast of Chitose. It was very primitive to say the least and our latrine was a slit trench
out behind the cabin. One cold dark night, one of the hunters, whose name I won't mention, was out using the facility while contemplating the beauty of the stars in the clear cold skies. Unknown to him, a large dog from a nearby farm snuckup behind him, stuck its nose down near the place of business and gave a loud sniff. Our noble nimrod gave out with a loud yell and set height and distance records for the squat jump that still stand today.
Howard Fenton Chitose 60-64


 The Great Chitose Fire
by Ron Dakin (1954) 

  My name is Ron Dakin and I was the Morse Trick Chief on the day shift when the fire occurred in the Operations Building on December 29, 1954.1 was sitting at my console at the front of the Morse room. The room was comprised of Morse operators on both sides of the room and the language group was in the rear on the left hand side.

Some of the guys on duty that day included Sgt.'s Richard Seidenspinner, Harold South and Glenn Ralston. At the end of the room were two large swinging doors that opened into a hallway. Across the hallway was the door to the Comm. Center where Sgt. Ayala and his men were working behind closed doors. The first thing I remember was looking up and seeing the door to the Comm. Center opening and Sgt. Ayala and his men were all trying to get through the door at one time. Behind them was a sheet of flames. It all happened so fast, I can only remember people running all over the place, looking for fire extinguishers and trying to battle the fire from the hallway. It was a losing battle, the flames spread so quickly we had to evacuate the area and eventually the building.

As the fire swept over the Operations building, fire trucks from the Japanese fire department and from the Air Force fire department stationed at Chitose I, began to arrive. They were immediately informed that they could not enter the compound for obvious security reasons. The fire fighting would be left up to those of us who had security clearances. Sgt. Pete Reganato who was off that day remembers getting out of the shower in his Quonset hut and seeing a large plume of black smoke coming from the direction of the Operations building. Some one ran into his barracks and informed everyone to report to the orderly room to help fight the fire. Our fire engine would not start due to the extreme cold and we had to build a fire around the fire hydrant to get the water to flow. Fire hoses were hooked up and we went into the compound and began to fight the fire. It was bitterly cold, snow was up to our knees and the water dripping from the hoses saturated our clothes and turned to ice. Several senior NCO's including SFC's Eccelston (Tiny as we called him), Kapps, and MSGT. Howard were directing our efforts. It soon became apparent that there was no way we were going to save the building.

Because of the severe cold, along with the water that accumulated and froze on our clothing, we were rotated back to the mess hall from time to time where we were supplied with dry OG's and waterproof field pants. The mess sergeant, SFC Sargent and his chief cook Sgt Shorty Richardson had prepared several vats of hot soup, which we were only too happy to get.

There was no way to save the building and we spent the next few days out in the field around the Operations building, picking papers out of the snow.

On New Years Day, January 1, 1955 we were loaded onto Globemasters at Chitose I and flown to Kamiseya Naval Base near Yokohama, where we would spend the next several months until a new Operations building could be constructed.

The time at Kamiseya was highlighted by the great Navy chow. It was hard to imagine how well the Navy fed their troops where steak and eggs for Sunday brunch was not uncommon.

The cause of the fire was determined to have been caused when one of the men in the Comm. Center accidentally kicked a box of thermite grenades stored there for the purpose of destroying equipment in the event of an emergency. A request by our CO, Major Ben McKibben, to replace the outdated thermite grenades had been ignored. However, his replacement in August of 1954, Maj. John T. Horton, was relieved of duty as CO due to the accident and resulting fire.

Finally a new Operations building was constructed and we were finally going back to Chitose. It was like a homecoming when we arrived. The troops that stayed behind greeted us like long lost friends and many a celebration went on in the EM and NCO clubs.

(I, Jim Brock, would have been on duty that day except for the fact that I was in Tokyo on R&R along with Jim Striplin. We had reported in to Oji Camp, HQ ASAPAC, on TDY and signed out on a 7 day leave, at the end of which we signed into Oji Camp and awaited transportation back to Chitose on TDY status. Great Deal !!!. While on leave a friend of mine who was stationed at Oji Camp met us one night at the R & R hotel and told us that Chitose had burned. That was all he knew. His recommendation was that we not return to Oji Camp until our leave was up, because they might send us back early. We didn't, needless to say.

However, we did worry about the loss of our personal effects in the fire when 8612 DU burned. When we arrived back at Chitose we found of course that only the Ops Bldg burned. We had the extreme pleasure of cleaning up the mess. The building was 80% destroyed. The water that was poured on it pooled in the building and froze solid. Paper was through out the ice and the equipment had ice all through it. We took the equipment out and a bull dozer dug a large hole out by the ball field and we buried everything of metal in it, after hammering it totally useless and unrecognizable. We cleaned all the classified paper out of the ice and burned it. I had the job of running a jack hammer for the duration of the job. Finally we dug a foundation for the new building. It was another Quonset that coupled up with the one shown in the left side of the compound. The ground around the building had thawed due to the fire and the water that was poured over the building that did not remain in the building soaked into the ground around it. The bulldozer that was used to dig the foundation only bounced the blade off the frozen ground. I ran the jackhammer to cut the granite like soil so that the dozer could get a start into the ground. Finally we got it done.

I reported to Kamiseya in mid January and stayed until ordered out to do the site survey for a new station on Kyushu, to become FS Hakata.

Five Minutes After the Fire Started

View from the Company Area                                   Comm Center After the Fire
The Photos were obtained by Bill Reich from the INSCOM Chief Historian

  


More “Fifties” Stuff

Jack “Spider” Valentine – Trick 4 VI – ’57-’59 (988)

added July 8 2007 I read “Jack” DeBolt/Bowen’s exploits and memories with great interest. – Jack, you have the best memory I have ever seen anywhere, and it was very interesting to read what happened after I left. We never had the benefit of the “barracks” so the Quonsets were all we knew and actually I liked them, since you could put a case of beer out of a window in the winter and have cold beer whenever you wanted it. You could also go on top of the Quonset and put snow down the pipe into the shower, but you had to be able to run very fast if you did it. It was funny to see the corners of the beer cases start to appear in the spring as the snow melted, exposing long forgotten cases of beer. There weren’t as many of us “Russian talkers” as there were diddyboppers, but outside of “Ops” it did not matter. My two very best friends were John Krueger, (who I have maintained contact with), and Vince Carney, who I can’t find. – “Krueg” was a true athlete, from Iron Mountain Michigan , an outstanding “Ski-Jumper” and an outstanding basketball player. “Carney” on the other hand, was a “drag-racer” with a “duck-tail” haircut from Eerie, Pennsylvania , and was as much like “The Fonz” as anybody I ever met. I liked him at once. Carney went on a “health kick” and worked up to 2,000 sit-ups in one session. He was about 5’ 6” and was tough as a nail. If you were going to Chitose late at night, Carney was the one to go with. Jack DeBolt mentioned the chow. – I remember we used to get off of a mid-watch and there would be scrambled eggs and general “breakfast food.” The CO used to have “training” in the theater where we would go and he would talk to all of us and ask if there were any questions. One time a guy named Phillips from our trick, stood up and told the Colonel that we were tired of having breakfast when we got off work and needed to have real food. We thought he was nuts and since we were sitting next to him, we got low in the seats. Lo-and-behold in a couple of days we started getting real food when we got off of the mid-watch, like steak and potatoes. Phillips was from Missouri and he and Carney bunked in the same room and used to “pick” at each other. Krueg and I had to step in a couple of times. - - There are so many guys and things that I don’t remember and I wish I did. Since we could not talk about much when we got home, I kind of put that time way back in my mind and I wish I had not.    




Japanese Singing Lessons
By Dick Taaffe 58-60
  Once during the summer of 59 several of us from trick 2 went up to "the Lake" for a day of R &R. By and by it began to rain and since we had no shelter we gathered up all of our beer and headed to a tent that was down the beach from where we were drinking.  We did not know if there was anyone in the tent but we did know that it would be dry and since we had an ample supply of beer we assumed we would be welcomed. As we burst through the front door we were greeted by several members of the Japanese defense force who were also at the lake for some meeting or something. After attempting to explain what we were doing one of us noticed that the lowest ranking Japanese was about a colonel!  As we were all P.F.C.'s or Sp 4's we saluted and offered our beer which was accepted with pleasure.
By and by, as it got drunker in the tent, a Japanese enlisted man came to the tent and announced that they were about to return to Chitose in a Japanese six bye.  It then dawned on us that we had no way back to Chitose and ask for a ride with the Japanese enlisted guys.  As we rode along the road to Chitose we began to sing songs and the Japanese joined in for, as I recall, they seemed to know the English words to "Old Black Joe." As I had more than my share of beer I suggested that I teach them a song in English called "Let's Remember Pearl Harbor".  The Japanese, being fast learners, were singing the song very loudly and in English by the time we got "home" to Chitose.
 

The Spider and the Singer
Jack "Spider" Valentine - ('57 - '59) Trick 4 VI 988

Don Williams used to drop by our Quonset from time to time and "jam" a little with us total amateurs. We always had a good time. One time he came by and sat on a bunk with us and we played guitars while he sang 8 or 10 songs. He was just so very good, we could not figure out why he was there and why he was not in Nashville recording. Anyway, he allowed me to record the songs on my trusty little recorder. We were finished and we were just talking when somebody came in who I believe was Phillips. I turned on the recorder and said, "Do you believe this guy here sang this song?" He said, there is no way he sang that song, that had to come off of the radio." About that time, Don started singing harmony with the recording, and the guy's mouth fell open and he was totally speechless. My memories of Don are that he was a gracious gentleman. with a gracious smile and I still love to hear him sing!!

Jack -


 
   BEER SOFTBALL  
or What a bunch of GI's Will do for Athletic Recreation
By John Krueger (1959)

added June 24 2007  During the summer of '59 someone at Chitose II decided we needed to organize a softball game for some recreation and healthy competition.  The idea was to mix a favorite recreational pastime--drinking beer--with the competitive game of softball.
 
The rules were really simple.  Regular softball rules were to be followed.  Another activity and set of rules were added to make it more interesting and challenging.  Every position on the softball diamond, including the left and right batters boxes, were to have four or five open bottles of Becks or Heinekens at them.  Before a batter or base runner could run or before any fielder could throw the ball when a runner was stealing or running out a grounder, a bottle of beer had to be chugged by the runner before running and the fielder before throwing.  Simple.  Here's an example of how it works.  Let's assume the bases are loaded and a ground ball is hit to the shortstop.  All three baserunners have to run, but they all have to drink a bottle of beer before they can move.  The batter must drink a bottle before he can run to first base.  When the shortstop has the ball in his glove, he must reach down grab a bottle, chug it before he can throw the ball.
 
Preparations for the game had to be made carefully and surreptitiously.  It was decided to have the game on a Sunday when there were few company officers and NCO's around.  Next, a couple of beer coolers were set up on the field.  Finally, we needed lots of beer.  Softball equipment was checked out, and we were set to go.
 
Uniforms for the day were fatigues.  Some of the more worrisome participants donned a poncho over their fatigues.  They didn't want to get any beer or other substances on their uniforms.
 
Once the game got underway, some of the Japanese army guys across the road watched as we, the ambassadors of goodwill, proceeded to play the craziest game of softball I've ever been involved in.  We made more substitutions than they do in major league baseball.  I scored one run (four bottles of beer), and then I went out for a substitution.  Have you ever tried to run from third base to home after drinking four bottles of beer in the last few minutes?  The guys in the ponchos made use of them in a way I won't go into.
 
I can't remember when the OD got wind of our little recreational activity.  It's funny how none of us knew that there was anything wrong with a little softball game like ours.  Furthermore, nobody had planned or organized it.  Nothing further happened to anyone.  It was a hilarious topic of conversation for days after that though.
 


Skiing in Chitose
added June 17 2007                                            
By John Krueger Trick 4 '58                                                  
 
During the winter of '58, after the new theater, special services building, etc. were built, a small group of us from Trick 4 decided to check out skis and go skiing outside the post somewhere.  Some of the guys in the group were:  Jack Valentine (Atlanta), Ed Carney (Erie, PA), Gordy Sund (Moon, OR), and Steve Rennacker (Pleasant Hill, CA).  I'm not sure of the others.  They were all from cities or areas where snow was rare, and here I was from the Upper Pennisula of Michigan (Yes, I'm a Yooper).  There aren't any real hills right outside Chitose 2, so we snapped on our skis while we were on a seldom-used road.  Having been raised on skis, snowshoes, and skates, I took off down the road.  After a hundred feet or so down the road, I stopped to look back and see how the others were doing.  It was a sight to behold.  Arms. legs, skis, and ski poles were flailing in all directions.  We were on ground that was almost flat.  I began to wonder what would happen when we found a hill.
 
After a short distance we found a little hump about 15-20 feet high that would have to serve the purpose for now.  We packed the snow up to the top side stepping or scissoring up the hump.  The real fun part was about to begin.  I went down to break a trail for the rest, and stood and watched the rest of the guys came down gracefully gliding over the glistening snow--not!  They all began to look like abomidable snowmen after a while.  That was our only skiing adventure in Chitose.  We all had a ball.

The General
added 6/01/2007                   Jack (Spider) Valentine – Trick 4 VI 57-59                                  

I believe it was early ‘59 we got word that a General was coming to Chitose for an IG inspection. I was in charge of VI at that time, and was told I would have to greet the General and talk about the section to him, since he liked to talk with enlisted men. This was around the time we were changing to “Greens” and since I was getting out in a few months, I did not want to buy greens just for the General’s visit. I had a friend back in Georgia who was in the reserves, so I contacted him and he mailed me a set of “greens.” I got the patches on it just in time. The General came through, don’t remember his name, but he was a “3-star.” I greeted him with a crisp salute and we spent about a minute and a half together with me mostly saying, “Yes Sir!” and “Thank you sir!” – He was a nice guy, but I am not real sure he even looked at the floors we had spent so much time cleaning. - - Part of this time we had a young Lieutenant named Murphy in charge of our section. Lt. Murphy, (“Murph”), did not speak Russian, so to agitate him, we would write our log entries every day, from one shift to the next, in Russian. I don’t think he liked it very much, but we told him it was to “practice.”


added 5/30/2007 Recollections of My ASA Experiences. 1960-1963
By Albert ‘Jack’ DeBolt/Bowen

I graduated from High School in January of 1960, taking an “Early Out” in order to enlist in the Army. I had auditioned for the Army Band and was all set to go to Basic then return toSouthern California to play in the 6th Army Band, then stationed at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, CA. It was only when the recruiter told me that when I came back to L. A.  I would be able to live at home and commute to “work” on the Post, that the promised assignment started to sound dull to me. He took note of my disinterest and then began a presentation about an organization within the Army that he couldn’t talk about to most recruits, but that because of “my test scores, I was a prime candidate”. It was a secret outfit. The training was long and difficult, and it required the skills that few recruits seemed to bring to the service. Beyond that he couldn’t go into much detail. I recall the term “SPY” being in some of his sentences, but not the context of the word.
Needless to say, to a seventeen-year-old who wanted to “see the world” this sounded pretty exciting. So I said “Choice, NotChance” and signed up for the ASA.
 
We traveled up to Fort Ord for Basic Training February 8th, on the Southern Pacific Railroad. I had ridden several trains before but this was my first experience in a Pullman berth. Next morning we off loaded at Salinas and Bused to the Fort. Basic was not all that big a deal. We did have several Hungarian Refugees who had enlisted in the Army as a way to get back to shooting at Russians who had devastated their country in the 1956 Revolution. They had real motivation for their rifle training and took Basic very seriously. There were five of us destined for ASA service who took a bit more cavalier attitude. Having just left High School, following orders was routine for me, but I had a few problems responding quite as quickly as the D.I. would have liked. Because of my Band Experience (and big mouth) I found myself beating the Bass Drum for the Cadence as the company marched everywhere.

  In Mid-April we completed BCT and I got orders to go to Fort Devens, MA, for ASA training. I and one other guy, Bill Helms, decided we would ride the train across country to use up the travel days allocated for the trip. We survived the L.A. to Chicago part of the ride on the Santa Fe RR and then from Chicago to Albany on a NYC train. From Albany NY to Boston the Train was a Budd Car. A Self-propelled railcar that rocked and rolled and took every switch and connection as though it were headed off the rails. We survived that journey to arrive and find that we would have to take another Budd car out to Ayer to get to the Fort.  Arrival and processing found me headed to DiddyBop School (058) and F-Company of the ASA training regiment. Bill Helms was last seen heading off to Crypto repair school…I think at Ft Gordon GA or Ft Monmouth NJ. If anyone knows anything about this guy, drop me a line. I have always wondered where he landed!

   I plugged away at code practice stumbling between 12 and 15 wpm for awhile, and then they diverted several of us to NM school (059). I liked it a lot better. We still had to do code, but not as much and in a much more casual arrangement. I got very good at recognizing various types of communications systems when I heard them…a skill that was to make my life a bit more comfortable later in my service. I finished second in my class of 25, and that paved the way for my choice of duty stations.

   I am sure that many of you had the same situation when you completed your initial MOS training. In our class they came in with 25 slots for duty assignments. We had 10 in Germany, 5 in England, 5 in Turkey, and 5 in Japan. Selection was made on the basis of class standing. I chose Japan, which made some of the guys further down the list heave a sigh of relief, thinking that a German slot would be my choice. Frankly I took the Japanese assignment because I wanted to go home to California before going overseas and this way the Army would pay for the trip. Besides I had a number of Nisei friends at home and thought that going to Japan would be “Interesting”! Visions of Geishas and exotic Tokyo filled my 18 year old mind as I headed West at the end of 1960.

PART 2- RECOLLECTIONS OF MY ASA EXPERIENCES, 1960-1963

Following a dull Christmas Leave in L.A. , I headed for Travis AFB in Central California for travel to my duty station. I flew on a Flying Tigers Airlines Super Constellation via Hawaii and Wake Island to Tachikawa AFB in Japan . Like most of you I spent several days at the Kishine Barracks waiting for transportation to Chitose. While several of the guys from my Fort Devens Company showed up while I was at Kishine, I was the only one designated for air travel north. The rest of the group went by train. I was put on a C-46 Commando (Air America ) for the rather uncomfortable ride north. In Chitose I was housed in a transient barracks (again) on Chitose 1 and waited until the rail-travelers caught up with me before the Post would begin ‘processing’ us . I was assigned to Trick One and put in a four-man room in a Quonset hut near the Orderly Room at Chitose #3. My roommates at the time were an “old-guy” Ted Hetman who worked in the Comm Center , Lou Cook an ornery guy who was new to ASA but had been in the service before. He was a DiddyBopper, as was Reuben Stroud who is a member of this organization, and I have talked with him several times at reunions. The CO was Captain Teal and the First Sgt. Was Harold Rumery. We did our best to stay out of the orderly room and away from the company staff, preferring to work closer with the Trick Leaders in our Operations sections.

  Out at Operations my Trick Chief was SFC Tom Brennan with SFC ‘Slick’ Mefford as his Assistant. ‘Slick’ Mefford took over the Trick One Echo Section when SFC Brennan went home. Two of the Room Leaders in Room 7 that I worked for in that early period were Tom Lambert and Charlie Sassaman. Both were Spec 5’s and one-termers (as opposed to lifers). Lambert was great guy and really helped me make the adjustment to living in the Chitose environment. Sassaman was a genuine Smart-Ass who loved to call me Norman at every possible moment. But he was Smart about the work we were doing and as a result of my following his example I learned more about the folks we were interested in at that time than I would have in ten times the time by myself.

 A few other names of guys who some of you may recall. John Gunkle was on our trick. He seemed to spend a lot of his time in the NCO club doing PR stuff, but he was around when he was needed. Jim Burke in Room 9 and PJ Smith in Rm 8 ran pretty tight ships in their respective areas. Operators were many, but a few names come thru. Dennis-Stretch- Snodgrass, Dennis Hawthorne, Bill Shelly and Larry Moesby all were friends and co-workers at some time during my tour. The Grand Wizard of this whole section was Howard Fenton. I don’t think SFC Fenton said 3 words to me during my whole tour in Chitose, until I made a classic blunder on the job and he let me know how disappointed he was in my mistake. Lucky for me it was work-related so I can’t embarrass myself again by describing it here.

PART 3 Recollections of my ASA Experiences 1960-1963

  I have a few strong memories of stuff that went on at Operations during my tour, but as you all know most of that should be left unsaid. I will say that the time period around October of 1962 was a very tense time for me personally as well as for the ASA folks at Chitose. Back when I enlisted I took the language proficiency test for Spanish. I passed both parts with a “Fair” performance level. Well shortly after arriving in Japan my MOS was changed from 059.10 to 059.1668. I had to go to Post Headquarters to find someone who could explain what that meant. I was told that I was a qualified (barely) Spanish translator. I heard no more about that until October of 1962 when the Cuban Missile Crisis exploded on the scene. Those of you who were there at the time recall the tension on the job, but I got a message from our CO, Lt John Gordy to be ready to ‘ship-out’ for an unknown destination if and when a second order for alert was issued. I was packed up and ready as the thought of bailing out of another snowy winter in Chitose to go sit on Miami Beach to listen to the local radio stations sounded pretty good to me. Well, Things calmed down before I had the chance to go anywhere, and my big chance to be a hero faded quickly. If  JFK had only held that Blockade for a few more days I might have made the trip!!

One other Operations related story. In the spring of 1962 promotions for E-5 seemed to be coming very quickly. I had less than 6 months in grade as an E-4 to get that Spec-5 Stripe. At the same time we took the Pro-Pay tests. For those not involved in that annual event, the troops took an MOS-based Skills test that was supposed to define your skill level in your primary MOS. It was a multiple choice test of a hundred or so questions. Now I am not real smart…but I am very test-wise. I do well on those types of tests. A couple of the old-timers leaned on me pretty hard about how well they were going to do, and how a Norman like me didn’t stand much of a chance for the extra cash awarded to those who made the cut-off score. I didn’t say much, but pretty much maxed the test and beat the guy who had needled me by a dozen points AND got a P-2 award, I think that amounted to $60 a month at the time. After the results came back and were posted some of the old-guys quit picking on me as much!! 

   It really is hard to talk about the level of pay we received then, compared to what a GI makes today. I was thrilled to make E-5 and get that $180 a month plus the $60 that came with the P-2.  I can’t imagine trying to live on that today!!

One of the benefits I used while at Chitose was to be able to check out a vehicle (usually a ¾ ton weapons carrier) from the Motor Pool for “Recreational Purposes”. LT Jerry Hardiman was in charge of the Motor Pool. He always gave me a pep talk about taking good care of the truck and not drinking while I drove, etc. This happened several times during my two year stay. I would apply in advance for a shift break of 4 days, then beg some c-rations from the Special Services folks and two or three of my friends would take off, usually down the coast to Tomakomai or Muroran. We saw a lot of the beaches and followed side roads until they ran out of road. We got to see a lot of the countryside (within a hundred miles or so of the Post). We would fish a bit and drink a lot. It was a real nice way to get away from the pressure that seemed to follow us on the job.

Do any of you recall the day that a JAL airliner landed on the old runway out in the Antenna Field. Apparently the Pilot made a bad choice when lining up for landing and picked the runway that was several miles from the real Chitose Airport.. They off loaded all the passengers and cargo and flew the empty plane out of that runway, narrowly missing a couple of our Rhombic Antennas that happened to be set in that area. I don’t have a date for that, but it was a DC-7 Aircraft so it had to be in the Pre-Jet era.(1961 I think)

   One of the funnier incidents that I recall was the day that Soviet Astronaut Yuri Gargarin visited Sapporo. Naturally he landed at Chitose, and every Spook in the Western World was there to greet him. It was just like a scene in the Spy vs Spy pages of Mad Magazine. Russians were photographing Americans who in turn were photographing other Russians. And then there was a bunch of G Is in the middle photographing everything!

I came home on leave in the summer of 1962, using MATS flights. I got bumped off a flight at Midway on the way to the states, so I got to spend about a day and a half greeting Gooney-Birds while I waited for the next aircraft going my way. The return flight was no problem and I returned to duty in August of ‘62 ready to finish out the year.

About that time we moved into the new Barracks Hibachi or Higumi Hall, whatever it was called. They altered out address at that time. We became the 11 USASA Operations Company… The DiddyBoppers were in the 12th USASA Operations Company and the other MOS’s seemed to be divided between the two. LT John Gordy was our CO and the First Sgt  was Donald Wilcoxsen. I recall that Sgt Wilcoxsen had an old Dodge or Desoto that he sold to Slick Mefford , and it seemed to break down, or fail to start more often that it should, but I can’t remember how the dispute over it was resolved. I do remember it was a good chuckle when we would ride the bus out to Operations and pass the Dodge as sat by the side of the road…broken again !

  Anyone remember P.I.P. Alerts? When we would draw our weapons from the Arms Room and load onto trucks and buses to ride out to Operations and form a defensive perimeter around the place. My one memory of those events was of a fellow on Trick One, George Peddy. George was a slight fellow. He must have weighed less than 120 pounds and about 5ft 5 or so. All of the bigger guys carried carbines or pistols or even M1’s,  then there was George, the guy assigned to carry the Browning 30 caliber machine gun. We never did know who was supposed to carry the tripod for George’s gun… as far as we knew it remained in the Arms Room for each ‘Alert’. So if George was going to fire that heavy S O B, he would have had to John Wayne the thing, and he could barely lift it!

 
Part 4, Recollections of My ASA Experiences, 1960-1963
OK I will try to wrap up the memories here.  Some shorter Observations-

When we lived in the Quonset Huts (before the new Barracks was done, It was a bit of an ordeal to make it from the street (bus stop or taxi drop-off) to the barracks through the snow. Paths were packed hard, and so long as you stayed on them there was no problem. However, sometimes due to a temporary loss of balance or sense of direction someone would stumble off the path into the deep snow beside the path. If that person was protected by enough “anti-freeze” until his friends could rescue him things were fine, but now and then someone just disappeared for several hours and came into the Quonset looking really blue around the edges. This was the result of falling off the path any laying in the deep snow until they regained enough ‘balance’ to be able to make it into the barracks.

I find it amazing to see Suntory’s and Tory’s Whiskey on sale in some of the major Liquor outlets here in Louisville. The prices are pretty high. My memories of Tories tend to be that it is a “less than premium” brand. If I recall Tories with a little Grape drink or Orange went for about 50 yen at the time (a little over a dime). At age 18 I was no expert in the quality of booze, just the results!

That leads to an interesting experience I had upon returning to the States. I was less than 17 and a half when I enlisted. I was 20 and a half when I got out. After drinking with the guys for a couple of years in Japan, it was a weird feeling to be carded in the States and denied service because I was “Underage”!

Shift Work- The constant rotation of the Trick through the 24 hour work day was another interesting experience. Working 6 day shifts-2 days off- then 6 Swing Shifts-2 days off and then 6 Midnight Shifts and (we called it) a 4 day break kept us hopping. That shift rotation, plus having to relate much of what we were doing to GMT or Zulu Time really did a lot to disorient us from the regular day-worker on the Post. I looked forward to the long break between the Midnight Shift and Day Shift work periods.

Food- The late night meal served to the Midnight Shift before they went to work, and the breakfast that the Swing Shift got when they got off work was the one meal I seldom missed during the work-week. Chow was pretty good, especially once we got into the new Barracks. The Mess Hall was much more comfortable and seemed ‘cleaner’ to me. I have a couple of the Holiday menus from 1961-62 to remind me of how much they tried to make the holiday food special for the troops.

  We often ate at small restaurants in town. I don’t recall the names of all the dishes, but the usual Suki-Yaki and YakiTori was on the list. During the summer we would buy roasted ears of corn from street venders who dipped the corn in a teriyaki sauce before handing over the ear to us. That always was some good eating…Just like the county fair food here in Indiana!

Winter- Both winters I was there we spent some time at the Winter Festival in Sapporo. The snow and ice sculptures were fantastic. Each year when they Festival rolls around I look forward to some TV coverage of the event..

Coming to Japan from Southern California caused me some adjustment problems with the climate. I arrived early in January and spent most of my first month there in uniform, until I could afford some warm civilian clothes.

Riding the Army buses between Chitose 1 and Chitose 3 and out to Operations took on a new feeling in winter.  Chains were mounted on all the buses so speeds were reduced and it seemed to take forever to get wherever we were going.
OK that’s about it for what I can recall. Thanks for letting me ramble on. Anyone who can add to or perhaps correct an error from these notes is welcome to join in

PART 5, Recollections of my ASA Experiences, 1960-1963
 Military Tidbits from the early 1960’s.-

We wore low-quarter shoes to work in Operations with either khaki’s (summer only) or fatigues. Combat boots were discouraged, but were worn now and then. The black boot soles caused nasty black marks on the light colored floor in the Operations building and that meant someone would have to “erase” the black marks…so you didn't see many guys wearing boots.

The Khaki summer uniform usually meant long pants and a short sleeved shirt when the weather got warm. Long Sleeved shirts were worn also. Only a few of the guys would wear the “tropical” shorts pants with the khaki uniform.  Dennis Hawthorne (Trick 1-059), a “Large” kid, liked to wear that outfit, but looked like an outsized member of the “Our Gang” comedy group when he did. I don't think I ever put on those long socks that were part of that uniform.

 

The winter uniforms were either fatigues, or the locally issued woolen "OG" uniform. I never understood why they were called "OG" as they were an old shade of Brown, like the Pre-1960's Ike Jacket uniforms. They were comfortable though.

Did any of you keep “track of” the people and places of interest that we paid a lot of attention to while on the job? I know a couple of guys who kept National Geographic Maps of some areas with location notes and comments even though it was against the rules at the time. I often wonder if any books have been published since the change in world events of the 1990’s have opened a lot of formerly closed doors. Reading the "Brotherhood of War Series" answered that question partially for me.

  Somehow I got selected to be the duty driver for the Operations shift during one of the May Day strikes. I had to drive a ¾ ton out to “Flake” to carry the site operators to work and bring in the off-shift guys. It would have been no big deal, except the JN who went off the job just before I took his truck took his trip ticket with him, and I had none…and didn't care, thinking it was no big deal. Well, on the way back from the DF site I was checked out by an MP car. The guys must have thought I had stolen the truck as they wouldn't let me move it for about 30 minutes, while they checked with everyone about why I was doing what I was doing. The end result cost me my drivers license for 30 days (driving without papers) and a chuckle from 1st Sgt Wilcoxsen who thought the whole thing was pretty funny!

 


"Dying contests and War."

by Steve Gardner (66-69)

On one of my off days, I drove up to Badger's Alley in Sapporo. Wandering through, I came upon a store selling counterfeit guns. Being a "gun-nut" I looked at them all and bought a .38 snubby. I also bought the shells and the stick'um caps for it.
These things felt like real and with the caps they sound real. I returned to post to my room.   I unpacked everything, assembled the gun and loaded it.   While sitting in my room admiring my new purchase, I heard Frank Berta enter his room next door. Getting up, I entered his room, walked up to him, shoved the snubby out in front of me and said, "Frank, I've had enough out of you!"   BLAM - BLAM. Frank turned white and grabbed his gut.   Looking down at his white T-Shirt he sees two black smoke rings.   Pulling the neck of his T-Shirt out to look inside, he sees nothing wrong. Looking back up at me he says, "Let me see that!" I gave it to him and we moved to the window for better light. While admiring the snubby [very similar to the ones we had in Commo] we see Redshaw and Johnson walking toward the Hq. Co. building from Post Hq. Frank throws open the window and yells, "Hey Red!" Red looks up just as Frank shoots him.   BLAM - BLAM Redshaw throws up his arms and falls back on the ground, dead. Johnson drops to his knees, shakes Redshaw and says, "Red...Red, speak to me Red."  Red doesn't move.   Looking up at us he yells, "Berta, what did you do?" Unbeknownst to us, the First Shirt was looking out his window at this time.   I am told he damn near castrated himself jumping over his desk to call the MPs.
 By this time Frank & I are hanging from the window sill laughing so hard we can't get a breath.   Redshaw starts
laughing, which starts Johnson laughing in relief.   As they get up the First Shirt realizes he's been "had" and hangs up.
Within the next month I took a LOT of folks up to that store in Badger's Alley.
Thereby starting the running Hq. "Dying contests and War."
But that's another story.


GI GIN

By Ron Dakin (54-55)

The winter of 54/55 was no different from any other on Hokkaido, snow, freezing temperatures, snow, freezing
temperatures, etc. This winter, however, the boys stationed at Field Station 8612 were alone. The 1st Cavalry had moved out and the NPR (Japanese National Police Reserve)had moved into their quarters. As a result, there were no support troops stationed at Chitose II, including no medical facilities. If you got sick, you had to travel over to the air base at Chitose I. To compensate for the lack of on-site medical aid, 2 corpsmen were assigned from Tokyo to take care of the less serious medical needs. A dispensary was set up inside the 8612 compound and the 2 corpsmen dispensed APC tablets and tended to minor cuts and scratches. The more serious medical problems were referred to the Air Force medical facility at Chitose I. The weather being what it was, there were the usual cases of colds and flu that year, the method of treatment consisting of a supply of APC tablets and a bottle of cough medicine, the cough medicine being Terpen Hydrate and Codeine, otherwise known as GI Gin. It seems this method of treatment became quite popular. In order to receive the cough medicine, all you had to do was go into the dispensary with your little brown bottle and the corpsmen would gladly provide you with a refill. Most of the men assigned to 8612 were not familiar with the narcotic, Codeine. Back then the choice drug was alcohol. The drug craze, such as had been the case in Viet Nam, had not yet begun. The men knew that when they had a cold and took their cough medicine, they felt much better, even if the cough didn’t go away. And even after the cough went away, they felt better, as long as they had their medicine. Back down in Tokyo, who was supplying the corpsmen, they began to wonder why so many men stationed in Chitose were constantly ill. This was based upon the consumption of cough medicine (GI Gin) being consumed up north. Around February, a group of medical personnel came up from Tokyo to investigate the problem. It turns out there was no epidemic, only a couple of corpsmen who were dispensing cough medicine at the drop of a hat. If you entered the Operations Building, it was not uncommon to see operators sitting at their work stations with a cup of coffee, a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of GI Gin. You have to remember, none of these people realized that their cough medicine was a strong narcotic. It was not long after the medical team from Tokyo left that the 2 corpsmen were transferred out of 8612. And with them went the supply of cough medicine.Their replacements, having been thoroughly briefed by Tokyo, made it nearly impossible to receive a prescription of cough medicine, and if you did receive one, you could be sure it would be the only one you ’d receive for the rest of the season.

As a post mark, it should be known that many of those who became attached to their little brown bottles of cough medicine, had some disquieting days after those 2 friendly corpsmen left Chitose



Fishing in Chitose
By Chuck Huckabee (62-63)

The most popular fishing waters for those at Chitose was by far  Shikotsu-ko. Horomon Reservoir, specifically the uppermost dam, which had a nice population of good sized "nijimasu", or  rainbow trout. There were a series of dams on that stream, but the one most  accessable and the one we used to fish was the uppermost. A long drive up a rough one-way logging road. Always hoped we didn't meet a loaded run-a-way coming the other way. I did occassionally see one off the road and spilled down the mountain side. On later trips they had begun to regulate the travel up and down with radios.

Another spot, also around the coast east of Tomakomai, was Batei-ko (Horseshoe Lake). More difficult to get to in those days, and not as often visited by the folks at Chitose; or from any other place for that matter. A group of us, which included Dave Potter, Jim Thomas, John Ryan, John Long, Charlie Poe, myself and probably a couple of others that I have forgotten, went there for a week once about 1962 or 63 and we saw on one but a Japanese forest ranger the whole time. Of course at that time we had to pack up the last mile or so. I understand that later a road was cut into the lake and it became infested with tourists. It sure was nice while it lasted.

We used to also fish the rivers around Chitose - Especially a place we called "Number 4 Dam". I'm not sure which stream it impounded; maybe the Chitose River??


 
 

A Georgia Boy, Lost in a Foreign Land

ByJack Valentine – (Spider) (1957)

 

I came out of “Basic” in Fort Jackson, S.C. in December of 1956, and went up to Fort Devens Mass. In the middle of winter. The plane laned in Boston , and since I did not have a clue where Fort Devens was, I got in a cab and told him to take me to Fort Devens .” He told me to settle down and take a nap and off we went and $30 later, there we were.

After a few tests, and learning how to drink 3.2 beer from a pitcher, they told me I could go to Language school in Monterey California or I could go to “Cook School” in Arkansas. – All I really heard was “Monterey California.” – Six months later, I am on a ship steaming to Yokohama, with a short stop in Adak Alaska, assignment HQ,Tokyo.

I fell in with the wrong crowd and they convince me that I needed to go to Chitose and not stay in Tokyo . I pulled few strings and changed assignments with a guy from Troy, NY and was soon on a train to Chitose! – I never looked back – I enjoyed 8612 and met some of the greatest guys on the planet.

I had not been there long when the “great snow of ‘57” showed up and naturally I was on duty and since I was the rookie, they sent me out in the dead of night to wake up some truck drivers. The snow was driving down in sheets, power was out and it was the darkest dark I had ever been in. I not only did not know where the motor-pool was, I did not know where I was or how to get back to where I had been! I bumped into a building and went in. Well either I was in Heaven or I was in the Chapel, I did not know which.

This Georgia boy had never seen so much snow, and you have not lived if you have  never turned over in a chesai cab, get out set it back on it’s wheels and go on your way. – I eventually evolved into trick-chief of trick 4 in VI. Visiting this site has brought back a flood of memories, and I will never forget, John Krueger , Ed Carney, Gordon Sund, Larry Sherman, Lt. Murphy, (Murph), - and all the other guys from the “Trick 4 Bar Hoppers.” – (I still think we had the best basketball team on post).

added June 23 2007

 
At the end of the article "A Georgia Boy, Lost in a Foreign Land," Jack Valentine mentioned the fact that Trick 4 had a good basketball team.  We did have a good team.  We beat everybody that season.  I was a member of that team.  This was the first year after the new gym was built.
 
The reason we had such a good team can be summed by a guy who I think was named Tucker.  He was a very special guy.  He was from Louisiana (I think he played some for LSU), stood 6'4", never smoked or drank to my knowledge, and dominated the backboards completely.  He was also a really nice guy.  Anyway, for anyone who has played basketball the key to being able to fast break is to be able to get the defensive rebounds.  With Tucker under the basket getting all the rebounds, it seemed like all we did was fast break.  Most of the time we had six or seven players.  One night we only had five.  Picture this, Tucker getting almost all the rebounds and firing the outlet passes to one of us, and away we went running full tilt down the floor over and over again.  As you know, smoking, drinking, and sitting on our butts in operations is not conducive to athletic conditioning.  With no substitutes available, the continuous running took its toll.  Later in the game I began to see pink and purple spots before my eyes.  If it hadn't been for timeouts and ends of quarters, I think I would have passed out.  In high school I could run forever, not anymore. 
 
Tucker from Louisiana, if you're out there, I'd like to hear from you.
 
SP4 John Krueger 
Trick 4
jrkrueger@charter.net
 

"No Need to Know"

By Jim Burris (1956)

Early in November of 1956, I was sent TDY along with a group of 3 ditty boppers and a DF man to Wakkanai. (Actually I think it was Soya Misake because I never saw a town in the five months I was there, but I could very easily see Sakhalin across the strait.). As an SP-2 and the ranking army man in the group, and since we were housed with an Air Force unit under the command of a Captain (his name escapes me), I was afforded the privileges of the Officers’ Mess. This came as quite a shock after 2 ½ years of army chow halls. The table had neat white linen tablecloth, and your order was taken by a houseboy complete with white apron and towel over the forearm. The only other person who ever joined me was this Captain. For all I know he may have been the only officer there. The quality of the fare was equal to anything you could get in the finest restaurant today. There was also an Officers’ Club outside the gate. It amounted to a folding card table beside a pot-bellied stove in the back of an Ainu run little “general store”.

After the snow got so deep you no longer needed the snorkel jacket to get from the living quarters to the little operations shack, movement back and forth from one to the other got a lot easier. One day in either January or February, I don’t recall exactly, there came a knock on the operations door. I slid the little steel window open, and as I blocked visual access to the internal workings of the shack, I could see the Captain’s head over the shoulder of a rather large important looking gentleman who introduced himself as house representative somebody (don’t remember his name now) from Montana. He said he would like to come in and see the operation. In my finest ASA training I responded, “With all due respect Mr. Somebody, I don’t feel that you have the need to know what goes on here.” This apparently amused the Captain to the point that he had to shove his fist in his mouth to keep from laughing out loud. When I finally decided to wrap up my end of the daily operations, I went back down to the living quarters area. As I entered the area, the Captain was waiting for me. He laughed as he slapped me on the back. He said he had never seen that happen before and it made his day. He invited me down to the Officers’ Club for a beer. Three quarts of Nippon later we called it a night.  

GOING TO CHITOSETOWN HALF TANKED
by Dick Ott (1954)

  IN SUMMER OF '54, FIELD STATION 8612 FOR SOME REASON RECEIVED TWO BRAND NEW GM 6X6 TRUCKS TO REPLACE OUR OLD, WORN REOS.(For you young folks REO was a make of truck). IT WAS BETTER THAN RECEIVING A LOAD OF GREEN EGGS PACKED IN '47....

  THE FIRST TO TOWN WAS TO TAKE THE JAPANESE WORKER HOME THAT EVENING. THE NEXT THE DRIVER STATED THAT THE TRUCK BOUNCED "FUNNY" ON THE RUTTED, BUMPY ROAD BETWEEN THE POST & TOWN..

  THEN WE GOT THE NOTICE: "DO NOT, DO NOT FILL THE FUEL TANKS OVER HALF" PLACARDS WERE PLACED ON THE DASHBOARDS. SOMEONE FOUND OUT, IN KOREA, THAT THE MOUNTING STRAPS, SUPPORTING THE FUEL TANKS, WOULD SNAP UNDER STRESS ON ROUGH ROADS. AND, THE ROAD TO CHITOSETOWN WAS A REAL ROUGH ONE WE DID NOT LOSE ANY TANKS

Hosting Our New Neighbors
by Dick Ott (1954) 

   In the Summer of '54 after the 7th Cav moved out, the Japanese Self Defense Forces moved into Chitose II and took over all facilities outside the fences surrounding Field Station 8612. What should we do to welcome our new neighbors, throw a BBQ, a beer and saki party? We finally settled on an afternoon soft ball game with beer. We had seen their troops playing softball across the road so an inviatation was delivered.
   One beautiful Saturday afternoon, we made preparations. Two trucks led by a jeep of officers, passed through our gate as our MPs saluted them, and drove to the field adjacent to the ham shack across the road from the motor pool. Introductions were made and beer was served. "PLAY BALL" shouted Capt. Mac Stevenson, our ops officer. Our shoeless Bob Fussel, from Tenn. led the toss of the fixed coin; we wanted to be sure that the Japanese would have the first chance at bat. Everyone took their positions on the field with Henry Blount on the mound.
   Off goes the first pitch; a strike. The second throw was a hit. But the batter threw the bat, jumped into the air yelling EEETAIIII, EEETAIIII! The ball was caught and thrown back to the catcher. The Japanese team ran over to the catcher to examine the ball; passing it around and slapping it against their hands. It was a regulations softball, but to them it was a hardball. They showed us their ball, a tennis ball. After a discussion, and another can of refreshments, we all agreed to use the tennis ball, after all this was just an exhibition game and supposed to be neighborly. Boy, could they hit.
   When it became our turn to bat, Dud Weatherby, our Louieville slugger, stepped to the plate. Slam went the ball, the tennis ball flew through the sky almost to the antenna field fence. After it became 6-0 in the first inning, we decided to just bunt the ball. Even then it was difficult to keep it within the limits of the outfield. After two innings we had our first international negotiations meeting. We came to an agreement; the Japanese would pitch our softball and we would pitch their tennis ball.
   It was a great game. Everyone had a fun time. At the end of the nineth, we all turned to our scorekeeper,  Mac Stevenson, for the final score. He was having so much fun and a few beers that he had lost the score somewhere in the seventh inning. But all in attendance agreed that it was a great game and we became good friends. That is until the day, some weeks later when one of the Japanese attached his radio antenna to one of the legs of  our slooping V ham antenna terminated next to his quonset hut for better reception. Our BC-610 blew his radio across his room. We even had a warning sign at the termination; "DANGER-50 OHMS" of course in English.

Chitose Blacksmith Saves Iceflow
by Dick Ott
(1954)

   Twas a dark and stormy night in the summer of '54. When all was quiet in the guard tower, overlooking iceflow, out beyond the antenna field. Then as a big bang...No, it was not the lightning and the guard did not shoot himself in the leg. A small metal cam, the size of two cigarette packs broke loose, into two pieces, in the iceflow dome...The flow had melted and did not know north east from south west.
   We determined that it would take two weeks for Tokyo to figure out what we needed to get back into operation, then four weeks to get the part shipped from the states. Then the storm broke and a light bulb went off in someone's head. He only had a light bulb in there and not much else. Into a sock went the two parts. The next morning, at first light, we headed thru the deep mud on the road to the little village of Chitose. Drove thru the muddy alleys and into the village blacksmith's little house. He had done welding repairs to some bucket-a-day water heaters for some dependents with his inverted half water filled wash tubs containing carbide with a hose to his torch.
   He looked at the two parts, we removed from the sock. We showed him how they fitted together...ahhh so!!, ahh so!! "no can weld". He noticed our sorrowful looks, "No, No, I can not weld" I makie new." Outside he had a junk pile looking like parts from many toyopets. He selected a piece and brought it into his little shop at the rear of his house. He carefully measured the broken pieces, in the dim light, and sketched it all on a small piece of rice paper. Then it was placed into his metal lathe powered by a belt from the rear wheel of his motor bike...in one hour, he had made a perfect duplicate of the broken cam. "How much?" We asked. He wrote down on the sketch paper "1,500" ($5) Thank goodness, we had enough to pay him, plus another 1,500 which he would not accept. We took his sketch with us, security, and back into the power wagon, thru the muddy streets of Chitose and out the rutted, muddy road to Chitose II. Back at iceflow, the group was still attempting to explain to Tokyo the part that they needed as we walked in.
   At 14 hrs, that very same day, iceflow was flowing smoothl; Thanks to the light bulb in the head and the Chitose Blacksmith.

Chitose As I Saw It
by John Steele 
 (1950-51)

  In January 1949, after just turning 15 years of age in December 1948, I enlisted in the US Army. When I was just about half way through basic training at Fort Ord California, I was called out of the bleachers where I was receiving extensive training in the use of machine guns, mortar and flame throwers ( by watching some one else demonstrate how they worked) and I knew I was busted for being underage. The MP that came to get me, once I was in the jeep, never answered any questions I asked. I can assure you that I was one nervous young fellow. Driving me into the warehouse area, the MP curtly told me to get out and go in "that" door. Since it was the only opening in the side where we stopped, even I couldn't screw up. No other doors, windows or bodies to be seen, I just knew that this was the end and I was soon to be shot. When I opened the door and peered inside, I saw eight or nine other young men sitting in the large room, saying nothing. They just looked at me and then down or up or just anywhere, other then to look at me again. This gave me my first clue that others were in my same situation, and a thought, somewhat comforting, that perhaps something interesting was going to come out of this. I took a seat like the others and waited for who knew what or who. We must have sat like that for a lifetime in complete silence, when the only other door into the room opened and a Major walked in and assumed a position behind this little podium, not saying anything, just looking at us. After a rather long pause, he spoke. "Men" he said ( oh yea, I'm a man!)" you have been called here today for an opportunity that not many get. If you accept, you will, in the next year be trained and screened to join a most elite organization. What you will be doing is secret, what it is called is a secret, and you may not ask any questions about it. One thing I can tell you, is that if there is anything you have withheld from the
Army when you joined, it will come to light as you will be investigated back to your birth. Sooo if anyone here has something that he would rather not come to light, he may leave now. Transportation is waiting outside the door, and you will be returned to your platoon - no questions asked by anyone". He then left the room and in the next five minutes, all but three of us left. Times were tough in those days and a lot of young men came to the Army as a lesser of two evils. What
possessed me to remain I'll never know. We were taken to a different building, remained there for three days (all our possessions were delivered to us there - never went back to our organizations from whence we left) and in three days, one at a time, we departed to catch a train. I got off the train in Agusta Georgia and transportation was waiting to take me to Camp Gorden. What happened to that great secret organization I had volunteered for? As far as I could tell, I was just another young GI going through radio school. No one said anything to or about my being different from anyone else. What a drag. I figured that by now I would have secret signs and handshakes to identify my self to those others like me. Oh well, such is life. It was fall after graduation from radio school, when I got orders to Carlisle Barracks Pa. and no one had heard of the place, that I began to believe that, just maybe, this was going to be fun. This was also when I first heard about the ASA and what it stood for. Forgot all about my fraudulent enlistment and the concern of the background investigation disclosing my under age status until I was informed that I had received my TS clearance. Still don't understand how that came about, but not my problem. I learned some neat stuff there and upon completion, was ordered to Vint Hill Farms, Virginia for yet a bit more training. From there, on to Two Rock Ranch California and an airplane ride to Tokyo Japan. That's where some Sgt tried to stick me on a train that would take me to the docks for further transportation via ship to Korea and an infantry platoon already in action. Thank God for another Sgt I wasn't even aware of, that brought to the attention of some Lt standing around what our orders read and I was put on a truck for transport to Tokyo.

The Tokyo Arsenal
by John Steele (1950-51)
I received a story about another guy that passed through the Tokyo Arsenal, in route to Chitose, and the story was quite a bit different then the one I am about to tell. The fact that he was a SNCO, where as I was a low of the low PVT, might
have something to do with the divergence of experiences, but I figured that everyone that made that trip wasn't a SNCO and therefore our story should be shared. I remember the Arsenal as being a concrete structure, over ridden by a permeating odor of mildew. Bare mattress and loud speakers that blared messages that I never understood. There were ten or twelve of us in a squad bay and we were given liberty to wander around Tokyo for a few days, awaiting further orders. As these orders came, sending one or two guys off to different destinations at a time, the feeling of being left behind grew. There was that old dark cloud that was to hang over me for another 8 years, before I finally corrected the birth date on my records. No music, no linen, no waitresses in the mess hall. Try tin trays, food slopped on by some guy with hairy arms and tattoos. Smelly mattresses (the source of a lot of the mildew smell) and not a friendly face to be seen. Departing there was the high light of my life and the experience quite a bit different then the description given in the other story. I was given an envelope with my orders and direction (with transportation layed on) to the rail line that took me to Hokkaido.
                                                                           

  Chitose
by John Steele (1950-51)

  Don't remember how or why, but I got off the train in Sapporo instead of Chitose and hooked a ride to the base in an old Japanese truck. The driver seemed to know where I was going (found out later that there weren't too many GIs around the area in those days) and dropped me at what must have been the gate to the base. No one there. From that point, I just looked for the biggest building I could see and headed for it. It was the old Japanese HQ building, and what turned out to be my new home. As I entered the building, I heard laughing and turned into an office that had no description as to what lay behind the open door. What I found was five or six guys, all in tee shirts, smoking and playing poker. One of them must have been expecting me, for he held out his hand for my orders, identified himself as the first shirt, and with a vague wave of his hand introduced me to Lt somebody or the other. I guess that this was the famous Lt Reynolds, as the time was about right and that was the name Miles Miller referred to as the CO. As far as memory serves me, that was the last contact with either of these two men. The first shirt directed someone in that room to show me where I would sleep and take me up to my work space on the top floor. This is where I was to spend many hours on a steel chair (boy did my but hurt) beating the hell out of a Mill. I lived in a two man room and experienced what it was to have a "house boy". A Japanese fellow that went by the handle of "Sgt" He told me he was a ex-Kamikaze pilot that never flew his mission. So what, I was young and believed him. Then one day, it got better! Seems like my records showed that I had a talent that leaned toward what was going on out at Ice Flow. (See how they brain washed me. Even today I wouldn't say what I did) Sgt Leroy Jakabson ( aka one punch jake ) took me out to "Ice Flow" and became my illustrious leader for the remainder of my time at Chitose and was my friend until I shipped out to Korea in early 1951 or 52 (I think). What a great place Chitose was!!! These are some of the things I remember that made my memories. Never having to stand an inspection or formation. No liberty cards or gate guard to show it to (until the 45th came just before I left) and no one caring where you went, or when you got back, as long as you showed up for your shift. One wild night of war games. Didn't learn a damn thing, but it was fun throwing firecrackers at each other. Taking the shotgun from the sleeping Japanese that was supposed to be guarding us out at Ice Flow, and keeping it until he had to come and ask for it back. Never slept again. Crab races over a white sheet of paper up on the top floor. Had to pick you own crab, and the wager was a dollar a head. Seems like we were always getting crabs. Using the weasel to pull two to four guys on skies hung out on comm. wire.With six others, taking a military cargo sled (have no idea where we got it) down along, steep slope, thereby reaching speeds exceeding the speed of light, beforebeing dumped in about four feet of snow.The scandal of a Pvt named Brown, who had a different slant on sex.When two of us junior fellows, got the duty to raise the flag one morning. Findingthe door locked and about two steps up, the other fellow whipped out his 45 andwith one shot, hit the lock. The flag went up and no one asked what happened.The night the NCO club burned down and we lost one of our senior NCO while he
tried to save the Japanese fire guard.The day Gen Ridgeways plane landed and we played host to the Asst Sec of Def.
Seems I heard something like "eat the banana Anna" but it was for sure all in my mind.I am sure that in time I will remember other things, but overall, I hope thisbrings back memories of the days gone by. Would love to hear other stories of the time and I hope my personal information wasn't to boring.
Respectfully John Steele Pvt Pfc Cpl Sgt Cpl and then no longer RA but USMC



First POV??? 
From Miles Miller  (1950-52)

  The very first POV to arrive at the 51st SSD was mine. I had it in Tokyo and, like many others, I was TDY to Chitose [arrived Feb 12, 1950, departed Jan 1952] since the TOE did not include a cryptographer, which I was. In order to ship it I sold it to Lt Reynolds, our commander, for $1, and he shipped it up. Even though the roads were gravel and bumpy then, it was a treat to have. Many adventures ensued, too lengthy to include here. Eventually I got hard up for money to support my lady in Chitose and sold it to M/Sgt Ness [who always had plenty]. Later he sold it to Don Stoops, who had it overpainted dark blue from the earlier white. I owned that 1941 Ford Club coupe from 1947 [when I returned to Great Falls AFB, MT, from Adak] until 1950. It took me to Ft Ord, CA, Vint Hills Farm, VA, Carlisle Barracks, PA, and back across country to Petaluma, thence Oji Camp in Tokyo. It seems in those days hardly anyone owned a POV, they were still hard to get and few had the money.   Miles C. Miller, then S/Sgt and SFC, retired CW3.

Russian Paratroopers (1967)
My contribution to "Bear Tales": By John "Crazy Stick" Chrzastek

As an O58 (A Ops) I was frequently assigned to the Igloo (B Ops). Ninety-nine percent of the time there was nothing going on and it was really tough to stay awake. At that time, the operations end of the Igloo was attached to the back end of the permanent building. This was composed of 4 moving van sized trailers that opened into a common "hall" area. At the end of the hall was a door that lead to a concrete platform and to the left, a Quonset hut. In the Q-hut was the beloved coffee pot. The entire complex was surrounded by the standard double barbed wire fence. The internal complex was lit up thru the night by flood lights that also covered 20-25 feet outside the perimeter. Late in the winter or early spring of 1967 I was working a loooonnngg mid shift. Around 3 AM I headed for the Q-hut and yet another cup of coffee. Half way across the concrete platform, I happened to glance up and froze in my tracks. There, just on the outside edge of external spotlit perimeter, I saw half a dozen faces staring at me. Well, in that instant in time, at that hour of the morning, I decided that the figures, which appeared to be shrouded in white, were Russian paratroopers wearing winter camouflage. I was convinced that I had stumbled on some dastardly first strike plot. I made a mad dash for the Q-hut and let the watch NCO know I saw something outside. By the time we got outside the "paratroopers" were gone and I was feeling mighty stupid. The watch NCO notified the MPs and a minor flap ensued. I had to repeat what I had seen a couple of times. At that point I figured I was headed for a trip down south and maybe a stay in a rubber room. An hour or so later, word filtered back to me that somebody else reported a similar event on the swing shift. Man was I relieved. When I came back on duty the next mid shift, I found out that the MPs had gone out in the daytime and did see signs of activity in the snow so I was in the clear and the whole incident just went away. Many years later, as a fat, dumb, and happy civilian, I was channel surfing the TV and up pops my Russian paratroopers! Turns out, I was seeing a National Geographic special on snow apes -- a sub species of baboons. Their fur was white -- a winter adaptation. These particular apes were photographed on the northern end of Honshu but there's no doubt that that's what I saw on that "first strike" night on Hokaido.

-Crazy Stick
(The nick name came from a mispronunciation of my last name by trick 4's "Gomer", not the paratrooper incident.)

EXTRA EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT...
US Air Force Machineguns Chitose  (1953)

    The following tale was related by Tony Murello.  Tony was with the 506th Strategic Fighter Wing.  In the fall of 1953 the 506th was sent to Chitose AFB on a 90 day TDY deployment.  In October of  '53 an Airman Nun was cleaning the 50 caliber machine guns in the nose section of an F-84 Starfighter when the guns accidentally started firing.  According to Tony, "3 rounds spent in the first hanger.  2 rounds went through the terminal hanger and just missed a First Cav troop as it pased through a window."

Want proof? OK...

"Airman Wessar pointing to bullet holes put in hanger".  (Photo & quotes courtesy of Tony Murello)


Well "Stick" here is you a Bear Tale--
by Clark Halstead (1957-59)

  Some of us guys was sitting in the mess hall one Saturday morning and if you remember the mess hall, there were a lot of windows on the left side and out of the windows you could see a smoke stack that was decorated up like one on a Missippi river steam boat.  We got to talking about it and someone asked  what it was.  An ol boy (I think by the name of Eldrege) got real interested.  Another ol boy from Virginia (I think his name was Pendelton) told him it was a steam boat on the Chitose River that had got stuck there and left. No one thought any more about it as Pendelton could always come up with some explanation of anything and everything. Well, the next morning, as we set lingering over coffee, Elredge walked in and told us he had rode over every road he could find available looking for that steam boat and from that day on, he was called "Steam Boat".         ~Clark Halstead (57-59)

07/08/98

Another nugget from Jacque Crevier: (54-55)
Bear and Lightning Bolt
  I keep thinking of this and it seems it was a contest on post to design something for the "Chitose Confidential" our unit paper and it was designed at that time (54-56), can't remember who did the design but maybe that will "pop" into my head one of these days.  If I recall the lightning bolts signified the same as other ASA stuff, radio waves.  The bear is Kuma Station.  I don't swear to any of this but it is the best of my recollection.  Sure wish I had saved copies of the "Confidential" sure would have been nice all these years later.
~ Jacque Crevier (04/04/98)
OPS Maint. (54-56)

"POP" At the last reunion I found a copy of the Confidential that fully credited the design of the "Bear and Lightning" to Alfred "Dud" Wetherby. Hopefully I will be able to locate the article once again in San Diego. . .. Jacque A Crevier (05/17/03)

Memories of Chitose July 54 - June 56
By Jacque Crevier

  What do I remember of my time in Chitose?... Well, I will try to recall what I can, spurred on by my recent contact
with the Chitose Reunion Group... I remember the long train ride from Tokyo, I remember, the ferry ride across to Hokkaido (a ferry that was destined to sink with the loss of many lives in a typhoon later that year), I remember arriving at Chitose Station with the words of the people at Tokyo Arsenal still on my mind; "When you get to Chitose, don't let the guys from the Cav get hold of you.  We have had guys lost for weeks before we find out where they are".  I remember the long truck ride (well, at least it seemed long) out this dusty, bumpy road to the forlorn looking group of Quonset huts, 8612 DU, the place people at AHS said no one wanted to come to. I remember my first day in the shop, the kid fresh out of school saying; "that's not the way we did it in school", and Sargents Grove and Robertson saying; "but this isn't school" and this being echoed by PFCs Taylor, Bell, (Russ) and O'Sullivan (Don), although O'Sullivan was in the same class at Ft. Monmouth, he got to Chitose a month before me, so he was an "old hand".  I remember MSGT Delvin Snodgrass, what a character, his favorite word was "immigrant" when he meant "ignorant".  I remember watch officer WO "Tippy Toes" Taylor who use to snoop around the shop off shifts until "someone" started leaving charged filter capacitators on the bench which he picked up and got rid of when they discharged in the palm of his hand. I remember the OPS fire of December 1954 (Sorry Duane, I was state-side December of 1956 and I was there for the fire.) and how we moved some operations to the "ham shack (KA9MF)" and to the generator building or wherever we could.  I remember the long hours spent salvaging what could be salvaged and then setting up jamesways and then the "liberated" quonsets were set up, GI and Japanese working side by side, the many hours spent building plywood consoles.  If my memory serves me right, a guy by the name of Dick Holp was company carpenter or something like that and was sort of the carpenter supervisor, how we strung antenna cables, and power cables, etc. and finally we had a "new" OPS building. I remember a couple of "green weenie" incidents that always successfully got the Company personnel's philosophy aligned with OPS.  I remember CWO Ness and his red Chevrolet convertible and his many jo-sans.  I remember CWO Mosure and thinking that he was the most military man I ever met.  And, getting back to the OPS fire, I remember that in the next day or so, a MIG showed up to take a few pictures, made two passes and was gone by the time the Air Force got the F86s in the air he was long gone.  I remember the local Japanese paper reporting that a radar station had burned.  I remember Bob Grove working to get a couple of Ampex bays going and was recommended for some sort of commendation for his effort, always wondered if he got it. I remember how some of us got together, bought a Heath-kit stereo, put it together and put it in the library.  later some guys made a low power transmitter out of a salvaged signal generator and installed it so we could hear the music in the company area.  Well, I guess it wasn't so low powered because a few weeks later a group of locals showed up at the main gate with a DF truck wanting some one's "whatever".  Needless to say that was the end of radio KUMA. I remember spending my first Christmas with the kids at Angel Guardian Orphanage at Kita Hirosima and how the guys all gave on pay day so these kids and others there would have a nice Christmas.  This went on year round but Christmas was special.  If I remember correctly, mary Ott, Disk's wife was the only dependent that was there, no dependent housing was available and I think they lived in town.  She was a great help with this project.  There was a guy named Warren Stowell from the antenna crew that was involved,. I remember  Harold Norrod, who would make sweet rolls that were a welcome sight when you came off mids.  I also remember green eggs, reconstituted milk, slippery cold cuts and the occasional good meal that came out of the mess hall and we all probably remember SOS and Salisbury steak.  We even had 'C' rations one time when the snow got so bad we were isolated for a few days. I remember that, some time in my tour, after the fire, i was made sort of a clerk/typist to help out with the paper work as it pertained to the OPS maintenance a worked with LT Dixon and MSGT Mize.  This was kind of meat as I only worked days and took occasional calls in the shop.  the best part of this was on pay day we always seemed to spend the afternoon at the NCO  club even though we were supposed to be elsewhere.  I  also remember the "Snowflake Theater" and George Beddingfield who kept it running.  I remember that the films (16mm) started showing up in cinemascope and the picture would be all mis-sharpened and george took some wide angle lens (35mm) from special services cameras and got the picture so it was viewable.  If I remember correctly, we even had popcorn, popped in the mess hall.   And then there was the tale of the "sloping V" antenna.  it was put up in the fall for a special job with the Aleutians.  The job didn't materialize until early spring sometime.  The antenna crew and whoever checked it out informed MSGT Snodgrass that the reading didn't look right on one leg.  He said; "FIRE IT UP", so they did and the poor old BC-610 about left the shack.  The 250TH glowed like a bonfire and down it went.  I hear tell that they took a ride out into the area tat was being used by the SDF, and there was a mess hall with smoke coming out of the windows and people running around.  It appears that one of the cooks had an old super het receiver (grounded chassis, of course) and had placed it on one of the stainless steel sink areas with the antenna hooked  up to the "old" wire that so conveniently ran just over the roof top.  When they keyed the transmitter all hell broke loose.   I remember Dick Ott working to get his amateur radio license, as a lot of guys did and when he got it, he picked his call sign "KA9DO" and some other the guys called it "King Arthur's nine drooping oscillators" as the base's station was "KA9MF" or "King Arthur's nine merry fiddlers". I also remember when we got a new company commander, can' remember if it was Major Horton or who, but they decided we all should stand reveille in the snow.  Well, one of the fore mentioned "green weenies" took care of that.  And who could forget 1SGT Comier, or his side kick Jim Swing.  He was a little upset when someone let go a 45 round in the guard house.  it could have been Vern Brigman, one of the Ryans, George Kitrinos, or Cletus Royal.  There was another SFC or MSGT named Billy J Woods.  I can't remember if he was at the company or at OPS, also, Nick Kaps another SFC, NM section.   I remember Howard Anderson, and if I remember correctly, he was involved in the "mill repair" incident that got the Cav all shook up.  I remember Herbie Bickel, the west coast basketball "star" who pulled the backboard stand down and fractured his back and ended up in the hospital in Tokyo for awhile.  I remember William "Bill" Buerkle, power operator, and his ever present pipe, I think he smoked CAPT. Black or something like that.  Even smelled tolerable in the barracks.  I remember Maurice Carlson, the native American guy from St. Cloud, Minn. who wanted to be a teacher.  Often wonder if he got his wish.

  Since I started this, I ran across Jim Brock's page and it, and an e-mail with him has brought back more names and memories, he brought me up to date on news about Harold Norrod and Don Robinson.  The names of SFC Bierbaur (Beer Barrel) of the motor pool, mess SGT R. A. F. Kutnarski, SGT "Shortey" Richardson.  I was also at a loss for the name of the CO before MAJ Horton and he refreshed my memory with MAJ McKibben.  I am also at a loss for the name of the OPS officer.  CAPT Cook comes to mind, who was so insistent on keeping inventory on the stuff in the jamesways after the fire and I got in trouble for putting down SH/IT Paper for you know what.  There are so many names, faces and incidences that have gone to the further neurons in my mind but I am determined to set them down as they re-occur.

[John, feel free to use any, all or none of this rambling discourse and if you or anyone else can help on names, I sure  would appreciate it.~Jacque A. Crevier OPS Maint. (54-56)

 From Hal Fleming:  (1952-54)

  As we all know, "mills" were certainly the most worked pieces of equipment that ASA had in it's inventory.  Used 724-hours per day by sometimes frustrated O58s who saw the machine as an invention of the devil, they were always breaking down.  We had assigned maintenance men responsible for their upkeep, but they could not keep up with demands and were frequently out of parts.  Sometime in the 1952-54 time period someone, somewhere, came up with the idea that the ASA field stations ought to use the existing Army maintenance facilities and send our mills to them when we needed more than organization-level maintenance.  On Hokkaido the facility was operated by the 1st Cav Div in Sapporo and we sent a bunch of mills to them for repair.  Back came a letter charging that there had been obvious neglect and in some cases attempted destruction of government property and that plans were afoot for a formal survey to be conducted which would lead to someone paying for the damage and being courts-martialed. I don't recall the details of how the matter was resolved, but I believe that Major MacKibben, with his smooth southern charm, talked the 1st Cav out of following through with their threat.  I do believe however that by mutual agreement between ASA and the 1st Cav we went back to the prior system. And what about the O58s?  Did they settle their dispute with the infernal machine?  Not that I noticed.

-Hal Fleming, Watch Officer (51)

 
Earthquake of '51
Submitted by John D. Campbell

  Does anyone remember the earthquake we experienced during the winter of '51. I'll never forget it that's for sure. I was working the midnight shift,and half asleep when I heard a loud booming noise,followed by a tremendously loud screech. I had been seated at the time, and when I stood to go to the door to see what was happening, I fell over immediately. In fact, I wound up on my hands and knees trying to get to the door. Once outside the door, I was again knocked to my knees and the screeching noise was deafening. I rode the creast of each roll of the earth's crust with great difficulty. There was a first wave of the quake followed by two other minor tremors. Each time the screeching was deafening. Later, we (others) who experienced the quakes surmised that the screeching was a result of the ice covering cracking during the heaving of the earth's crust. What a night that turned out to be!!

 
The Great Bear Hunt 
Submitted by John D. Campbell
I always thought of myself as a sort of "Great White Hunter" after the hunting experiences I had in the wilds of northern Minnesota. But what I was about to take part in would be the thrill of my lifetime, or so they told me. That's about all they told me. Nothing about the hazards of a bear hunt (Kuma that is!) Nothing about the way in which we would approach the bear or what we would do in case we saw a bear in the flesh! Nothing about where to try to hit the bear in a full charge. No, none of those "little" details. Well, to make a long ordeal short-- We set off to get a bear. With our japanese guide, and five others of us, we had trekked into the woods about 1/4 of a mile, when we came upon the biggest bear I had ever seen. I don't need to tell you he changed my mind, and the man closest to me on my left. We made one bee-line for the truck, and needless to say that ended the hunt for the two of us. Kumas. Who would want a nice 10 foot rug (head to feet)to send home to mom anyway?  

Got a funny story, an explanation on something (like that Bear with the 3 bolts of lightning)?  
  Please send it - just about any kind of format will do..  None of  us are getting any younger...
   Phil Peters
asachitose@aol.com or asachitose@gmail.com