A NIGHT TO REMEMBER–HAKATA BAY KYUSHU, JAPAN

SAILING ON HAKATA BAY WITH THE VILLAGE ON THE OTHER SIDE.

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It was late one evening on May 1, 1953. I was asleep in my barracks at Brady Air Base  Kyushu, Japan. The Air Police  awaken me and ask if I had a sailboat.  After a short discussion; we went to the ramp near the radio shop were the sailboat was normally tied up. When we arrived at the dock, an airman was standing there half-clothed, shivering and soaked with water. It appears he and two of his friends, wanted to go to  the village of Gonnasu across the bay  to see their girl friends.

Since they had no experience with sailing,the men decided to take my sailboat and  paddle  across the bay, They docked between two junkies (coal barges) sitting in the harbor  outside the village.

Realizing they were only fifty yards or less from the outside entrance where screaming protesters stood yelling “Yankees go home”; the men became frightened and remained in the boat covering themselves with the sails.   One of the men fearful of his life decided to leave and quietly slipped into the water to swim back to the dock where they started.

This was( May Day), a  Communist holiday, and the cold war was in effect. The air base had closed down for security reasons while protesters blocked the entrance.  Many Japanese disliked  the American armed forces because the U.S.  still occupied Japan at that time.     Machine guns were set up inside  the perimeter of the base in the event someone tried to enter and sabotage our planes.

Because I owned the boat, The Air Police asked me to go after it and bring the other two men back.. Not having any choice, I took the shivering airman along with a row boat docked nearby and quietly paddled across the bay to where the sailboat was anchored. Fortunately, the fog was so heavy we were able to get close enough without the protestors seeing us.

We approached the sailboat and the two terrified men slipped from under the sails and transferred to the rowboat. I quietly crawled into the sailboat and waited while the men using a rope tied to mast towed me far enough away from the dock so I could safely,safely set sail and cross the bay back to the base.  

When we arrived back, at the dock; the three men were put under guard and I went back to my barracks. The next day I met with the Squadron Commander to to decide what punishment the men would receive.To avoid a lot of paperwork and knowing the men were safe and had actually punished themselves with fear of harm or possibly death, we had them stay at attention for 20 minutes in the hot sun until their clothes were soaked with sweat.

Later that day the men arrived at my barracks with a case of beer as a thanks for not having them brought up on charges. I gave the beer to my buddies. The Armistice was signed and three months later  the war was over. It wasn’t until later when it dawned on me,how  two dangerous hours  out of  46 months of service in the  armed forces
can make a deference in one’s life

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