Okinawa (Part X)

May 24

Where we lived and worked . . . 

[So, by now I suppose you’re wondering what we really did there? WWII had been over for 25 years – why did we still have so many troops on Okinawa?  Well, for one thing, when you stay that long you become part of the local economy . . . ]

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[The shot above and the shot below are taken at the end of the entrance/exit to USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion, where we communication guys worked.  Looking up the street (top) you can see the headquarters campus for the United States Army for all of Okinawa.  Well down the street in the other direction is Fort Jiro.  And when I saw this again, I now realize I mislabeled it some previous blog.  Anyway, Fort Jiro was a local private enterprise that we knew mostly as the bakery (1st floor).  Also on the street in both directions were local businesses that basically existed to serve the Army’s presence here.  Hence, our presence, while not desired by the locals, created jobs . . . ]

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[The street closer to our entrance gate . . . ]

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[Typical of what you’ll find immediately outside of any U.S. military base anywhere in the world – the ubiquitos pawn shop.  Our communications center is just off this photo to the right.  GI’s are usually very young, aren’t making a lot of money, don’t know how to manage their money, so every month they come up short of cash before pay day so hock their guitar, trumpet, gold watch, whatever, and then “buy” it back on payday . . . ]

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[The work place – up the hill to the guard post, show your ID, and then down into the complex . . . ]

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[But first, a little shopping on our strip.  At an art gallery, with Wayne and Redlands, whom you’ve met in previous posts . . . ]

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[They would expect you to barter in the local economy.  I never did, made me feel uncomfortable.  I’m not sure if Redlands did here, but both sides seem happy with the result . . . ]

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[Home, James!  Ye ole Daihatsu provided yeoman’s service while we were there.  I’m not sure how we got his artwork in the car – let alone both him and Wayne.  But if we had encountered hunger after our shopping, we could have gone next door for a pizza . . . ]

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[Back on the street that basically paralleled our military area – that’s family housing on the left . . . ]

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[And here a shot into the military family housing area . . . ]

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[And here looking past the family housing down into the area where the barracks were, and kind of center right specifically our area . . . ]

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[Our Sukiran base area from on high . . . ]

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[This is Fort Buckner, the communications center where our guys worked, from an adjacent hillside outside the compound.  The big white ball housed our satellite dish. Satellite communications were in its infancy then (wow, does that make me feel old) and was used mainly as a backup system.  Most of the communications then were by tropospheric scatter (basically bouncing communications waves off “the sky”) or by undersea cables.  We could call home, unlike most overseas GI’s, because we had the means.  It was technically “illegal,” but it was generally ignored if you didn’t abuse it.  I called home maybe 3 – 4 times in two years.  And then it was like Radar on M*A*SH – by a relay system.  You’d “call” Hawaii, have them patch you through to San Francisco, and then have them pass you through to, in my case, the Pentagon because my folks lived in Arlington, Virginia.  You knew it was OK to do then, because the receiving person in the Pentagon actually had to telephone dial my folks . . . ]

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[Panning further left, the Daihatsu from which I walked up to this position for photo ops.  Right in the center is the building where I worked, right below the water reservoir above.  On the left is the guard post we saw streetside from a previous photo.  This also is the road home to our barracks . . . ]

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[The satellite ball positions us as we go down the hill . . . ]

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[Preceding further down the road to our barracks, I stopped about halfway down for this shot into our neighborhood . . . ]

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[And turning right before the barracks to our commercial area.   You can see Fort Jiro up on the right . . . ]

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[There’s our NCO Club.  I actually didn’t go there very often, applying the Woody Allen principle that I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member . . . ]

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[And our two USASTRATCOM barracks . . . ]

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[From our PX area to our upper barracks mid-center . . . ]

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[The same barracks with the communications logo on the sign . . . ]

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[Again, our personal supplies and entertainment area.  Judging by the looks of the grass, this is the late in the year dry period . . . ]

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[Familiar sights and sounds again – “Top of the Rock” on top of the hill . . . ]

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[Looking across other barracks, through the sports area, to the East China Sea . . . ]

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[The movie theater is center right, and a storm is coming at us . . . ]

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[A telephoto shot taken through our room’s window to the water . . . ]

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[And this appears to be a drive through the neighborhood.  Places I seldom went, because I seldom needed to . . . ]

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[Obviously family housing from a different vantage . . . ]

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[I think this is the main army complex . . . ]

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[Most have been a weekend, or a holiday . . . or a typhoon – no one’s around?]

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[Even Minnesota Street is vacant . . . ]

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[Just to make it easier for you to read the street name . . . ]

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[And, as the sign says, United States Army Headquarters Ryukyu Island.  The natural lighting makes it look pretty impressive . . . ]

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[Back through the deserted neighborhoods . . . ]

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[May as well go to “the site.”  “The site” is what we called the workplace.  Microwave towers were used for intra-island communications . . . ]

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[Taken from up near the guard post apparently – Fort Buckner, a/k/a, “the site” . . . ]

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[And another microwave tower shot . . . ]

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[The main island headquarters from our site . . . ]

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[There’s are guard booth entrance . . . ]

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[The work place – you may enter that door only if you have a top secret crypto clearance – or were going to clean the bathrooms . . . ]

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A frog in a well does not know the great sea.  ~  Japanese idiom

Up Next:  Okinawa

2 thoughts on “Okinawa (Part X)

  1. I just viewed all your fantastic photo’s that you took of Okinawa in the 1970. Brought back so many Memories. I was there also in the 1970’s and worked in Communications on the Island. I was discharged in 1972 , rank E-5, Sergeant. I personally want again to THANK YOU for the MEMORIES.

    Like

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