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Almost a Squat
Charley was from Oklahoma, and though he didn’t look it, had some American Indian ancestry, or so he claimed… sure didn’t have the high cheekbones of an Elizabeth Warren, for sure, but was rather round-faced. It had fallen his lot to spend 18 months with Marine Barracks, Naha (Okinawa… before we gave it back to Japan), where we were guarding special weapons for the Navy (or so they told us… never saw one of the things). This duty was terminally boring… I mean Boooring! Four on, eight off, day on, day off. Posts were manned by Pvts and PFCs, Lance Corporals and E-3 Corporals stood Corporal of the Guard, and Corporals were section leaders and stood Sgt of the Guard watches.
The Barracks (six Quonset huts, actually) were in the NE quadrant of the Naval Air Facility, which was on Naha Air Force Base, and the area we guarded was on a small island (Senaga Shima… you can find it on Google Earth), off the SE corner of the airstrip. The only access to the island was via one of two causeways across the tidal flats. Because of the nature of the weapons we were guarding, (Nukes?), the area around the magazines (think ‘Storage Wars’… low building, with roll-up garage doors along one side) had some serious lightning protection. There were six or eight vertical columns, made of steel pipe, inside the compound. These things were easily fifty or sixty feet tall, smooth, no ladder rungs, no nothin’… just well casing pipe, welded together and set in concrete, and other than our guard tower, the AUW shop (Atomic Underwater Weapons… first clue we might be guarding nukes), and the magazine, there was nothing else inside that compound, and certainly no ladders taller than a step ladder on the little island.
I was out checking posts one fine day, and happened to look up… there, just a few feet from the top of one of these monster ‘lightning arrestors’ was a Coke bottle… tied to the arrestor with a rope and a hangman’s noose. Since it was highly unlikely that the Squids that worked in the AUW shop would have done anything that required leaving their air-conditioning and breaking a sweat, it was a near certainty that one of our guys was involved.
Since this little ‘joke’ didn’t affect security, there was really no reason to get the Guard Chief, the Guard Officer, or the Barracks CO involved… and the bottle continued to hang there… in fact, for quite a few months… it was still there when I left in 1962 for DI school at MCRD SD.
Not being members of the 3rdMarDiv, we were transported on the Navy’s dime, which meant that instead of a two week trip aboard ship with a replacement draft, we got to fly back to CONUS at the end of our tour… and usually, the off-duty Sgt of the Guard would drive the guy with orders up to Kadena’s passenger terminal. It fell my lot to see Charley off… and on the way up the island in a gray USN ’58 Chevy pickup, I told him… “Teeples… I KNOW you KNOW how that d-mn Coke bottle got up there! So, what’s the story?” Sez he, “pretty simple, D-ck (I allowed that untoward familiarity, even though it was Pfc to Cpl)… “I took off my boots and socks, used a piece of rope like a climbing belt, and climbed up there… no problem.”
Charley also seemed to have a little more money than most of his peers… and he had a Moped… probably all of 50CC… but it was enough. Girl friends were easy enough to find, but ’round-eyed’ girl friends were another story. Charley had one… and would haul her around on his moped in Naha. She was also married to an Army SSGT (or so he claimed), and she worked as a waitress in a coffee shop on the second floor of a commercial building on Kokusai Hon Dori (think that means “Main Street”). This was one a’them intellectual coffee places… fifty cents a cup, and they played American records… e.g., Kingston Trio.
It was popular with Okinawan businessmen, especially since the waitress were mostly ‘exotic’… meaning round-eyes with big b-obs who would do ‘the bunny dip’… and Charley’s GF collected more tips than any of her co-workers, likely due to her mammary endowments.
Who knows… Charley may live just down the road from Grit’s establishment? I think he was from OKC… (For the younger set… ‘the bunny dip’ was the way waitresses in Playboy clubs would sort of bend at the knee, almost a squat, rather than bend over to serve yer sarsaparilla… or so I’ve heard…)
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