In Feb., 1965 we headed for Japan. We all (6 of us) drove cross country from Louisiana to San Francisco in our 1964 Chevy Impalla. We stopped in Salt Lake City to spend some time with my parents' families. After a week in Salt Lake City, we stopped in Portola, California to visit my Uncle Ken and Aunt ZoeRae. We then stopped in Chico, California to see my Cousin Barbara. When we got to San Francisco, we put our car on a boat and headed to the Airport. We caught a plane and off we went, non-stop to Tokyo.
Arriving in Tokyo was a really experience. We landed at night and took a military bus to Tachikawa AFB. When we got to the base, we checked into the Visitors Quarters and hit the sack. When we woke up the next morning, it really hit. We went accross the street to eat breakfast at the Base Snack bar. Got cereal and immediatly knew I wasn't in Kansas anymore. They had "reconstituted milk" which was absolutely the worst tasting thing that I every had. I didn't drink milk for nearly 3 years after that. The exception was once when my uncle, Jack,
Our first home in Japan was out the back gate in a "paddy house". We lived there for a couple of months before dad got on base housing at Showa AFS. After about 1 year, we moved onto Tachikawa, AFB.
I attended Yamato High School from March, 1966 to June 1967. Since, all of the kids in the school were all BRATs. It was easy to fit in.
In June, I had my first experience climbing Mt. Fuji. Dan and I went up with the kids from our LDS branch. It was a lot of fun and spending the night on the mountain let us have a view that was really awsome. Everyone should view a sunrise from the top of Mount Fuji. The Japanese had a saying, "only a fool would miss the opportunity to climb Mt. Fuji, but a bigger fool would climb it twice." I climbed it 4 times.
Summer in Hawaii
The summer between my junior and senior years was unbelievable. John Reinhart, Paul Wecker, and I volunteered to help supervise a bunch of Boy Scouts on a trip to Hawaii. We caught a naval troop transport from Yokohama to Honolulu. After a wild trip on the boat, we got to Hawaii. The original plan was that the we were to return to Japan on the same ship ater a 2 week layover. But right after we arrived the ship was recalled to Vietnam. We found ourselves stranded with the Boy Scouts. We had 2 adults with us. Because we were BRATs, we were able to get quarters at Pearl Harbor. Each morning we had to catch a shuttle bus from Pearl to Hickam Air base's terminal to check our space available status. After 1 week, a C-141 was able to take all of the Scouts, my brother Dan, Paul's brother, David, and the 2 adults leaders. Paul, John, and I were left behind. The only money that we had was what was left of the $50 each of us brought. We spent the summer at the beach.
Finally, just before school was to begin, we were able to get a ride on an "Old Shakey" that was ferrying engines to Tachi. Now that was a ride. The plane shook so bad that we'd watch the engines bounce into the air and it looked like they'd crash through the floor of the plane. When we got to Wake Island, we had a couple of hours to kill and spent the time exploring the island. We got back to the terminal and boarded the plane for the trip to Japan. After taxiing out to the runway, the pilot ran the engines up for a couple of minutes and then suddenly we taxied back to the terminal. When we got out of the plane, it was covered in oil. It had blown an engine. We had to wait for them to unload one of the engines we were ferrying to Japan and swap it with the blown engine, load the blown engine on the plane and then load us aboard again.
Off we went for the rest of the flight. When we landed at Tachi and got off the plane, it was covered in oil again.
Yamato High School and College
The high school was located out a back gate at Yamato Air Station. We rode a bus each day. The school was really progressive and had a modified block schedule. We only had to be at the school when we had class. It as basically run like a college.
My junior year at Yamato was pretty much a bust. Not only did I move to a new school, but I also missed a month of school. I wasn't able to keep up. But the kids were great and I liked my classes.
During my senior year, I registered for the Draft. At the time draftees were given numbers from 1 to 365. The numbers were randomly drawn. The only way that you could avoid the draft was to get a IIS (College) deferment. My number was 23.
Life After High School
With my low grades and my low draft number (23), I didn't expect to avoid the draft for long, I enrolled in the University of Maryland College Park program that was offered at the Base Education Office. Sort of figured I'd take some classes until my number was called. After my low grades my junior and senior year (I had a 3.9 gpa my freshman and sophmore years), I was surprised to discover that college classes were pretty easy. I needed to take some science classes (chem and biology) that weren't offered through the U of Maryland. I enrolled at Sophia University in Tokyo. For 2 years I took classes at both places. My interest was in Asian Philosophy. When dad was transferred back to the states, I transferred to the University of Utah.
The two years after I graduated from High School turned out to be the best 2 years of my life. I thoroughly enjoyed Japan, doing things that most BRATs and visitors to that country never got a chance to do. My best friend, Greg MacKeen and I were into photography and spent a lot of time taking pictures. I spent most of my time in Tokyo and Shinjuku. For the first year, I earned most of my money teaching English to Japanese students. After Greg left in JUne of 1968, I stayed and worked at the Officer's Club at Tachi. One day a friend and I heard that NHK was looking for Americans to be in a travel films showing the night life in Tokyo. We worked at that for about 2 months. The director approache us to be extras in a movie being made about the Ruso-Japanese War. We got to get "killed" dozens of times.
For some reason, more college age kids were starting to stay in Japan rather than return to the states. Gen. Daughtry allowed us to open a Collegiate club in an old firehouse. We painted it and decorated it, using old army blankets and grey general purpose paint.
Finally, in August of 1969, dad was transferred back to the states. We stopped for 2 weeks in Hawaii before continuing to San Francisco. In San Francisco, My siblings and I caught a train to Salt Lake City while my parents picked up our car, an old VW bug, and drove.