Okinawa Memories Part 4

Unit party

I can’t remember what the occasion was, but the Colonel decided to have a unit party. He wanted it to be special and asked several members of the unit to get involved. Being in the 526th Intelligence Detachment meant that we had our own little compound, in a small ravine behind the Hospital. The compound was fenced. Just outside the fence we had our own “club” which was a restaurant and a bar. The entire unit was on separate rations so that they could buy their meals where ever they wanted. This made the club viable, since most of the unit eight there often. Around the club and the entire compound, for that matter, were several acres of mowed grass. One function of the grassy area was to keep the cobra snakes away. They did not like to expose themselves to predators and the hot sun by crawling through the short grass. The Colonel wanted to hold this party outside the club on the grass, so we went to work to create a suitable environment for a patio party. One of the career Sergeants was from Hawaii but his father and mother had emigrated from Okinawa and he had many relatives who still lived in Okinawa. He made a great intelligence agent because of this. He and I became friends and he got involved in the party plans. One of his relatives owned land up north where there was a small river which had large rounded boulders, we wanted, to use to landscape our patio area.

Primative sketch of how awning was made. Main rope seemed to spiral around pole as it was pulled tight by secondary ropes. Note the parachute material in the sculpture photo, represented here by lined polygons.

He requisitioned a 2 ½ ton truck and we drove up to the stream but our truck was just a regular highway truck so his uncle told us to pile into his army surplus 2 ½ ton all wheel drive truck, with a winch, and off we went up the river to get rocks. Using the winch, we pulled large boulders up skids into the back of the truck. When we got back to the road, where our truck was, we transferred the rocks and brought them back to our unit. His uncle also had a saw mill where he cut up huge mahogany logs from the Philippine Islands. He had some log ends that were about 4 feet long and 3 feet in diameter which the Sergeant wanted him to cut into rectangular cubes that could be used in landscaping our patio, but when they tried to grip the short logs with the saw mill equipment it proved to be impossible. They were too short. The mill owner wishing to please us ordered his men to use a long log cut to the desired dimensions and then cut into short pieces. I remember thinking that this was not called for because it cost him quite a bit and what we were doing was not that important.

Marcia posing for me on a side street in Kadena, Okinawa. The main street looked a little better than this.

Since the sun was very hot, we needed some shade for our party. I suggested a design I had seen an architectural student build at the University of Washington for an outdoor art exhibit.  It required a large utility pole and lots of rope. The Colonel approved the idea and requisitioned a utility pole which was promptly delivered and set into the ground at the proper place. See the drawing I made to give an idea how this was built. Once the rope was attached we cut up an old parachute and hung the cloth to the rope making large shaded areas.

This is the extravagent sculpture we made it was well over 6 feet tall.

My wife, Marcia, was also involved. I don’t remember how it happened but she and I got permission to build a large sculpture out of scrap iron from the military salvage yard. She was to do the design and I was to do the welding. We got the welding equipment from the motor pool. We took a large truck to the scrap metal yard and loaded up whatever we wanted. It was great fun because there were all kinds of interesting things such as large, 2 ½ inch diameter bolts that made great dumb bells. And 2 or 3 inch diameter ball bearings. As you will see from the sculpture we had quite a variety of scrap to work with. I was not a very good welder. Pieces kept breaking loose so we put it in a truck and took it to a military welding shop where a welder, using an arch welder, added several welds at strategic places. The sculpture was a center piece of the party display. I was using a gas torch and really didn’t know what I was doing. The crazy thing about this whole event is that there was a $20 per person charge to attend, Marcia and I felt we couldn’t afford it so we didn’t attend the party! We were sure that there would be a lot of drinking so we didn’t feel we were missing much. We had fun and the Colonel was very pleased with our contribution.

 

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