U.S. Navy Memories Part Three: Temporary Additional Duty to Japan in 1969

Map of Japan

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Temporary Additional Duty to Japan: Aug. 69 - Jan. 70

In U.S. Navy Memories Part Three, I recall my temporary additional duty (TAD) to Japan in 1969. What began as a promised and expected 90 day TAD to the island of Kyushu, Japan, turned into a five month stay which I thought would never end. In this hub, I remember my work, living, and off-duty experiences.

Hakata Army Base in Japan

Picture taken in 1963.  My barracks on Hakata Army Base during TAD
Picture taken in 1963. My barracks on Hakata Army Base during TAD | Source

Getting Used to My TAD to Hakata, Japan

Toward the end of August of 1969, co-worker Bob and I boarded a flight from Sungshan Airport in Taipei to Hakata Army Base. Hakata was located on the island of Kyushu, Japan, just across the bay from the city of Fukuoka.

After arriving on base, we were shown to our barracks in the old Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ.) Our rooms definitely weren't as good as the ones we had at Shulinkou. Aside from a small cot, we had a night stand and a small chest for our uniforms and clothes. Without any houseboys, we were expected to clean our own rooms and get our uniforms and clothes cleaned.

Shortly after checking into our barracks, we were ordered to report to the mess hall around 3:30 p.m. for dinner and then bus transit to our working area on the other side of the base.

The Hakata "chow hall" had Army cooks and the food was definitely inferior to what we were accustomed to getting at Shulinkou.

Following a 15 minute bus ride, we arrived at our working site. Once again, I was translating Chinese and working shift work which was on a worse schedule that what I had on Taiwan. We were all expected to work a rotating 1-1-1-56 schedule. This entailed starting with an eve watch from 1600-0000 on day one, and then having a day watch from 0800-1600 on day two. Finally, we were on a mid watch from 0000-0800 on the third day followed by 56 hours of off-duty time.

Since the schedule was tiring and rotating, my days off during the week were always changing. I tried taking a beginning Japanese class offered in the evening on base, but had to drop it because I was missing a lot of classes due to my work schedule.

Off-Duty Club in Saitozaki, Japan

The Shamrock Club in Saitozaki, Japan
The Shamrock Club in Saitozaki, Japan | Source

Diversions in Saitozaki, Japan

Bair maids in the Dragon Bar in Saitozaki
Bair maids in the Dragon Bar in Saitozaki | Source

Ferry Boat from Saitozaki to Fukuoka

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Off-Duty Diversions

When on off-duty, we had the choice of amusing ourselves on base or going off base and roaming the nearby bar town of Saitozaki. We also had the option of taking a ferry across the bay to the city of Fukuoka.

Actually, there was less to do on base than there was at Shulinkou on Taiwan. The NCO club on base only served drinks and food and had slot machines. There weren't any bands, and no Japanese women were brought on to the base for dancing and companionship.

Fortunately, there were tackle football games on every Saturday afternoon during the fall. All of the armed services had a six or seven man team, and I can remember seeing some exciting games between the Army and Air Force teams.

Due to being bored on base, I spent a lot of my off-duty free time off base. The closest and most convenient place to go was a small bar town called Saitozaki a short taxi ride from the base. Saitozaki, however, could not compete with Taipei for a number of reasons. First, Saitozaki was very small and only had a few restaurants and maybe 10 bars and clubs. Second, although the bar maids could speak English, they were much older and not as attractive as the Chinese and Taiwanese women. And third, since I couldn't speak and understand much Japanese, I couldn't enjoy myself the same way I did in Taipei.

Maybe once a month, I would go with Bob and other shipmates to Fukuoka when I was on break for 56 hours. We usually visited a few night clubs there, but it felt awkward for me because the Japanese couldn't speak English and guys were dancing with guys and girls with girls.

Fukuoka Today

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Fukuoka, Japan Today

Preparing to Return to Taiwan

By the end of November of 1969, I had had my fill of Japan and was ready to go back to Taiwan. The problem was that the command at Shulinkou didn't have anyone to replace me at Hakata. There obviously weren't any volunteers to replace me in Japan because Thanksgiving and the end of the year holidays were coming up.

My last two months at Hakata were some of the longest days of mu life. I finally could see the light at the end of the tunnel and my way out of Japan around the middle of January. My replacement had finally arrived, and I was busy training him to do my job.

Around January 24, 1970, two of my shipmates who were also TAD from Shulinkou and I left Hakata. After a six to eight hour transit at Tachikawa Air Force Base in the Tokyo area, we all boarded a flight back to Taiwan after a short stop at Okinawa.

Upon touching down at Sungshan Airport, I was so happy that I almost kissed the ground after deplaning. I now had only five weeks to wind up my tour at Shulinkou and enjoy Taiwan, Taipei, and its nightlife which I had sorely missed for five months.

© 2015 Paul Richard Kuehn

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Comments 4 comments

Au fait profile image

Au fait 21 months ago from North Texas

It's so good of you to share these memories with all of us here on HP and all of your other readers too.

I have some tapes I made when I talked to my uncles about 15 years ago about their service during WWII. My uncles have since died and I have been remiss in getting those tapes transferred to disc before they are damaged from age beyond salvaging.

Learning about things from people who actually lived during certain times is so much more interesting, I think. Very much enjoyed your memories and I know they must be highly valued by your children and eventually grandchildren when they're old enough to appreciate them.

Voted up, AI, pinned to Awesome HubPages, and shared on HP.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 21 months ago from New York

I agree with Aufait. Most people have no idea what kind of life many soldiers live on their tour of duty. Of course for most of us foreign countries are well, foreign.

Your tour took you to places I'll never see and your glimpses into the people there are certainly interesting.

Vote up, useful, and interesting.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 21 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Au fait, I would be very interested in reading about your uncles' recollections of their WWII service time. I certainly hope my service memories are appreciated by my children and grandchildren. I'm happy you liked this hub and thank you greatly for the votes, pinning, and sharing on HP.


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Paul Kuehn 21 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Mary, I'm glad you found this hub interesting and useful. As you can see, servicemen can live some unusual lives during their foreign tours of duty. Thank you very much for the votes.

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    Paul Richard Kuehn (Paul Kuehn)687 Followers
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    Paul served in the U.S. Navy 1967-1971. He was stationed in Illinois, California, Texas, and on bases in Taiwan, Japan, and Maryland.



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