After the move to Honshu, I was able to visit Ibaracki Christian College and meet a nephew of my aunt Zelma’s. Aunt Zelma and uncle Ray Lawyer had been missionaries to Africa in the 1920’s. Ray was killed in a tragic accident after about 3 years in Northern Rhodesia. Her nephew by marriage, Virgil Lawyer was an instructor at Ibaracki Christian College and my mother Bess told me that I should go visit them if I could. I met a very nice and hospitable couple there and spent a few days visiting the area.
After we moved to Sendai in early 1950 there seemed to be an uneasy feeling among our senior staff about the conditions in South Korea. I was still privy of most of the secret and top secret stuff since I did a lot of the typing from Col. Hampton. I do not recall anything that was said or communicated between the officers in our G-3 section that would indicate the coming disaster in South Korea.
I was anticipating being sent home on rotation in the summer of 1950 since I had signed up for three year enlistment in 1947. Usually the Army would send the soldier home about two months before the enlistment was up. Mine was up on October 9, 1950.
I was accomplishing what I joined the Army for. I wanted to save enough money to go to college. I was sending about $100.00 a month to my parents and putting $50.00 a month in a Bank of American account since I did not spend a lot of money beyond necessities.
June 25, 1950 came around and all of my plans were suddenly disrupted. The North Koreans invaded South Korea. President Truman extended all enlistments for one year and re started the draft. The United Nations was suddenly at war with the North Koreans.
Hokkaido was an interesting place to explore on weekends. There were a lot of interesting trails and me and some of my friends utilized these to get away from the normal mess chow and do a little camp fire cooking.
Food just seemed better away from camp. We rarely saw native Japanese using these trails. I suspect that they used them to get to their job during the week and were not interested in hiking them on week-ends. The two fellows in the left picture were both married with wife’s back home and were not too interested in going into towns to party.
This was the summer of 1949 and in never did get hot at the northern island like it did in Korea or Southern Japan. That was a very calm part of the occupation that I enjoyed. I was somewhat tired of being a clerk typist in the G-3 section and when a job description was put out to the GI community that they were needing a radio disc jock I thought that I would apply for the job. The Captain who handled the radio asked me to come in for an interview. He also gave me a test using a recording apparatus and played my voice back. His conclusion was that I had too much of a southern drawl to be doing radio work.
The summer on Hokkaido did not last long. Sapporo was the capital of this Northern Japan area. There had been some Russians who had fled from Russia to Sapporo, Hokkaido and they started some Russian Language Classes with one of the men of the community conducting the lessons. I enrolled in this course and enjoyed interacting with this gentleman. I did not retain much Russian but it did keep the boredom down somewhat.
Another way that I was able to break the boredom was working at night in the NCO Club. This club was for the Higher Ranked Sergeants and then there was the Commissioned Officer’s Club. I was the bookkeeper and enjoyed doing this job, mainly at night and this did not interfere with my other military duties.
I felt somewhat isolated on Hokkaido in spite of this other activity. Probably this island atmosphere was the cause or it may have been the length of time I was away from the states.
The Japanese occupation in 1949 was more plush than the Korean occupation the year previously in several ways. We had more room in our barracks. A little more privacy. There were some disadvantages. We had to do our own washing. They would not allow natives on base to help us out there.
I also was awarded the rocker strip to my insignia which meant that I was now a Staff Sergeant. It was great to see summer coming to the island of Hokkaido. I could start exploring the island with some of my buddies.
On weekends most of the fellows would go into town but a few of us had no interest in drinking and meeting up with the geishas. We could take hikes up into the mountains for about 3 hours, cook our lunch over a camp fire and hike back.
I was getting a little home sick but felt that I could make it into 1950 without much trouble and make my rotation back to the good old USA. My enlistment would be up on October 9, 1950. Don’t miss the change in plans in future chapters.