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.
Getting away from the chow and having a cookout with friends 1949 – Hokkaido, Japan.
Camping out in Hokkaido 1949
WELCOME TO JAPAN:
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.
Got that promotion to Staff Sergeant 1949 – pre Korean War
Sergeant Graham-Hokkaido Japan in front of the barracks 1949.
Nice barracks on Hokkaido, Japan
Doing wash Hokkaido, Japan
HEADED FOR JAPAN. I knew a mistake was being made by our dear American Government. The Defense Department was ordering the Army to leave the Korean Peninsula with only 500 troops left behind for the South Korean Army. The 7th Infantry was being sent to Hokkaido which is the northern island of the Japanese Empire.
This note indicates that I left Korea on 5 January 1949 and was headed for Japan. Some of the people I was leaving behind were restless too. These pictures sent to me by S. K. Dong, the minister of the church in Seoul tells the story better than I can.
The caption on back of this pictures was Bro Dong’s handwriting indicating the Yun Sun Oh was remaining faithful in attendance at the church. The soldier in uniform was one of the 500 troops left behind.
I was pleased that Yun Sun Oh had remained faithful. In February 1949 I had settled in my routine duties as a clerk typist at Division Headquarters on Hokkaido.
The back of this picture notes the Captain in the picture as C. W. Miller who was a Chaplain with the U. S. Army and was very helpful after the American troops left. Number 2 is S. K. Dong and number 3 is Choong More Ung – brother Dong’s son. Number 4 is Sister Kang whose husband had died 8 years prior to this picture. The others shown were baptized by the Captain on October 31, 1948 in Pusan due to the unrest of the people knowing what was going to happen after the American Troops left South Korea.
Hokkaido was very cold that winter. That gear I have on it not truly winter gear. I couldn’t stay out in that weather very long. We did not know then that we would have to fight in colder weather with this type of gear in about a year.
My friend, Bob Cordry “enjoying” the cold weather with me.
Our office space was nice and warm. It was a pentagon shaped building and the G-3 section had one half of the 1/5th side of this pentagon building. We could communicate better than before. Sargent Wetzel was not on my case as much because he had no privacy to berate me and others. I was waiting for warm weather to come so I could explore the island more.