United States Navy Memories Part Three: Temporary Additional Duty to Japan in 1969
Map of Japan
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 that I thought would never end. In this article, I remember my work, living, and off-duty experiences.
Getting Used to My TAD to Hakata, Japan
Toward the end of August 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 weren't as good as the ones we had at Shulinkou, Taiwan. Aside from a small cot, we had a nightstand and a small chest for our uniforms and clothes. Without any house boys, we were expected to clean our 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 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 than what I had in 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 liberty or 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.
Hakata Army Base in Japan
When on off-duty, we had the choice of amusing ourselves on the 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.
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 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 many reasons. First, Saitozaki was very small and only had a few restaurants and maybe 10 bars and clubs. Second, although the barmaids 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 nightclubs there, but it felt awkward for me because the Japanese couldn't speak English and guys were dancing with guys and girls with girls.
Off-Duty Club in Saitozaki, Japan
Diversions in Saitozaki, Japan
Ferry Boat from Saitozaki to Fukuoka
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 with at Hakata. There 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 my 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 that I had sorely missed for five months.
Fukuoka, Japan Today
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Paul Richard Kuehn