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Japan-Duty Marines Speak Out!
Feedback, Stories, Comments, etc.

 
From: "Cameron, Charles" <ccameron@state.pa.us>
January 6, 2000
 

Dick - I just visited your write-up at The Sayonara Marines-Japan 1950s. Great write up.  Succinct but very informative and well done.

Brings back a lot of memories having first visited Japan (Kobe and Sasebo) during stops on the way to join the First Marine Division via Inchon in early 54.  During my tour with the First Marine Division I was first able to pull and R&R in Japan (via Camp Fisher outside of Kyoto) where I spent my R&R in Kobe.

Later during my tour I reenlisted for duty at Camp Fisher and took a two week leave to Kobe Japan as part of my reenlistment incentive. After I left Korea with the last element of the First Marine Division around May, 55 (they went home and I to Japan) I reported in to Camp Fisher only to find out it was being decommissioned (Dummy me - the only reason for Fisher was an R&R center for the 1st MarDiv).  So I was reassigned to Marine Barrack Atsugi.  Great duty - the land of the 360 to 1 exchange. And, Atsugi being centrally located I was able to visit Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Kamakura, Fuji, and so on. I still have a picture of a young Marine sergeant and a beautiful Japanese gal in a kimono that I sneak a peek at from time to time when the wife is not looking.

When I left Japan a couple years later I had the privilige of flying home across the Pacific in a commercial prop-job, A lot different than do the same a few times years later in jet aircraft. Thanks for reviving some pleasant memories.

Regards,
Chuck Cameron
Major, USMC Retired
Mustang Officer




From: "Thomas Mix" <t.mix@worldnet.att.net>
Iwakuni Dead Man
January 7, 2000
 

No, itís not what it sounds like. Back in about 1956-57 or so, I was an aircraft mechanic with MARS-17 at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. We had a variety of aircraft, one of which was an AD-6. This aircraft was a Douglas built Attack plane with a tail wheel. Had a 14-foot, four-bladed prop driven by an engine producing almost 3,000-horse power. When standing near the aircraft at full power you could FEEL that sound in your very bones, it was that powerful. (The engine was an R3350. Air wingers understand this technical talk; grunts will just have to roll their eyes and keep reading.) The spaces required for aircraft maintenance and parking in the MARS-17 area was crowded, so the high power turn up spot (dead man) was next to the road that ran between Wing Side and Main Side. Not too far from the VMR-152 nose docks. The dead man had a ring in the concrete to chain down the ADís for full power turn-up, and there was a high, blast deflector fence behind made from welded planks of Marston Matting. But the blast fence was not built wide enough, and us mechs quickly found out that if we parked the AD at an angle, part of the blast of wind at full power went past the side of the blast fence and would literally knock over people on bicycles and move small vehicles passing by on the road. The Japanese on bicycles  learned real quick to stop when they saw an AD turning up. Marines usually just rolled right on into the wind blast. (Probably grunts.)

Now, most of you remember that old homily, ďCorporals are sly and crafty and bear watching at all times.Ē One Saturday morning this other Cpl. and I parked and chained down an AD on the dead man. It had rained the night before and there was standing water lying on the concrete apron. It was the other Cpl.ís turn to run up the engine so he was in the cockpit and I stood on the ground by the wing with a clipboard. Made me look important. He had the engine warmed up and was beginning to use the check list when I saw a jeep approaching coming from Wing side. Canvas top was up with open sides. I got his attention and on signal he gave that engine full power. The powerful blast of wind lifted all that water lying on the concrete in one huge, splattering sheet and soaked the driver and the inside of the jeep. Almost ripped the top off the jeep. Spectacular!

Unfortunately,-- the driver was a LtCol. I saw him drive to the hanger and storm inside. I knew we were in trouble and sure enough shortly here came the Maintenance NCOIC with fire in his eyes. He gave the signal to shut down the engine, stood us both by the wing and let us have it with both barrels. In those days MSgt.ís must have went to some kind of school for a$$-chewing because he was good! By the time he was done our hair and dungaree jackets were smoking. He had us get a tug and reposition the AD on the dead man and warned us (again!) about watching for passing traffic on the road. That was the end of some of our fun, but Iím willing to bet others later discovered the same possibility and used it on other unsuspecting travelers on the road between Wing and Main Side.

Semper Fi
Tom Mix




From: Rocky Kemp <FlyinRock@yahoo.com>
January 8, 2000

Set foot on Japanese soil Dec 1954, got back aboard ship and got off again at Inchon in a blizzard! K-3 for a few months, then back to Japan at Atsugi NAS with VMJ-1. Stayed at Atsugi until mid July '56. Did a lot of travel in Japan, learned to speak enough Nihongo I could travel into the small villages out in the boonies and was comfortable. Skied up in the mountains and spent a lot of time in Yokohama. Played with a country western band and we got booked at a lot of USAF/USA clubs so we did a lot of travel and got paid for it! Sure enjoyed my time there. Over 15 years later I ended up training a lot of pilots from Japan and the language came back quickly. What fun! I still stay in contact with some of them and it has been almost 45 years since I left Japan! Any Marines out there who were at East Side during 1955-56 and with VMJ-1 in particular. Would like to hear from any of you.
Joto desu. Kiutsuketi Marines and Semper Fi
Rocky Kemp
Sgt, Aerial Photo, Rifle -&- Pistol Team
 

I'll have to keep checking to see if any of my old shipmates show up. There are a number of them whom I have often wondered about. Have found a few via different searches. Gunny, If I'm not mistaken, you alerted us to the care and feeding of Keech some time back? I have been in touch with Joan Spann and I'll be damned if he isn't now in the same cell with my brother in San Luis Obispo!!
She forwarded some of Dicks writing to me and the man is one helluva writer. I've been writing for publications since the 70's and have met many of the guys who make their living as scribes. Keech writes better than 90% of them. Was I mistaken about this? Please let me know before I run off at the mouth any more than necessary.
 

Last year I went in for a flight physical in a small town in
west central Washington at the suggestion of a local pilot. Was I ever surprised to find the Doc was a fomer Marine Pilot and had been flying photo recon in F-4's!!
We knew many of the same people. He was pretty junior then and my contemporaries were all the senior people. Thru him I was able to find a few people. He also reminded me of the Marine Corps Aerial Recon Association (MCARA) and I renewed my membership. They are always looking for more members and could use a little plug if you haven't already. email to Jerry O'Brien <reconsec@earthlink.com> for information.
 

Gunny-- Odd that I served with a GySgt Ghuzman who was captured the same time Keech was. Ghuzman said he couldn't recollect Keech but there were so many captured at the same time. Louie Ghuzman is/was legendary in Marine Aerial Recon and I first served with him in K-3. I joined on my 17th birthday in '53 and got out in '61 after a pissing contest with a LtCol who knew my old man. The guy was also responsible for firing my mother from the px when he found out who she was. I also had a run in with him when I was a DI 58-59
and he was the Bn XO. Dad retired on 30 and on his advice finally hung it up. I literally grew up in the Corps. Sold papers at MCRD in the early 40's when I was only about 7. Used to sit on the bleachers and listen to the lectures for the boots. Got to the point where some of the instructors would say... "Jeezzzus H. Christ on a crutch....a 7 year old kid knows the answer to that! GET OVER HERE KID!" and of course I could answer the question! And at Sea School, they took me in as their mascot and taught me to field strip an M-1. Then they would set up new guys and bet them a 7 year old kid could beat them field stripping and reassembling an M-1 blindfolded. They won lots of money on me!!
I even acted as Regimental Commander at an NCO parade for Dad's retirement at MCRD while I was on the field. He and the CG were old shipmates and Dad requested the whole deal. My eyes still get wet when I remember giving the command ..."PASS IN REVIEW". I was a pre-"acting" Sgt at the time. So, my brother who is in prison with Keech also grew up in the Corps but never saw any active duty.
 

Best regards and Semper Fi
Rocky  1439323

 


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