Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Okinawa Memories = Work and Play Hard

Okinawa Memories
Work Hard and Play Hard
Work hard and play hard was the motto of the U.S. military on Okinawa during the Vietnam War era of the 60's and 70's. The small Japanese island of Okinawa that was only 13 miles long and about five miles wide was the preparation point for a lot of people who would go on to the war in Vietnam. So time was very very precious. The military worked hard and played hard. We DOD teachers teaching the children on Okinawa adopted this motto as our own. We worked hard and played hard too. When not teaching we were busy exploring the Japanese culture of Okinawa and preparing plans for our next trip around southeast Asia from the "hardship tour" on Okinawa. Another way to spend time was by hanging out at the Officer's Clubs on the island. Above is an old photo of the Castle Terrace Club which was right next door to BOQ #400. This club had a live band five nights a week so a lot of socializing went on at the Castle Terrace Club. That's where I learned to skip sweet alcoholic drinks like grasshoppers and drink straight scotch and water.
This is yours truly returning to her one room efficiency in BOQ #400 after a busy day of teaching first graders at Sukiran (now called Zukiran) Elementary. This photo must have been taken in January or February when it is cold and rainy on the island because I'm decked out in a raincoat.. Colder being a relative term for Okinawa has a climate similar to northern Florida---mainly hot and humid with the threat of summer hurricanes except the hurricanes are called typhoons in the Pacific Ocean.

And here is a memory I won't ever forget. One weekend someone got the bright idea to put a bar on one of the BOQ's wheeled moving carts, build up the cart with wooden boxes and turn it into a "floating BOQ bar". We rolled it from room to room on a floor and pushed it onto the elevator to switch floors. We would roll it to someone's door, then knock, when the person behind the door answered his/her door that person was required to serve drinks to the folks standing around the bar outside their room. LOL! In this photo I'm standing outside my door between two communications command officers, John and Bob. The famous floating bar had just arrived across the hall at the residence of a Green Beret. Remember Barry Sadler's song The Ballad of the Green Berets? "Fighting soldiers from the sky, fearless men who jump and die".

That song was in my head just now but I couldn't remember all the lyrics so I searched and found this link for the lyrics of the song. Believe it or not I found it under scout songs. Oh, my gosh! Here's the link:

This Green Beret was a nice guy who was dating another teacher from my school, Sukiran Elementary. I think she taught fifth grade. I don't remember her name or his name but I do remember that I learned later from someone that this Green Beret captain did go on to Vietnam where he was severely injured in battle with a head wound. I don't know if he recovered from it or not. Now don't get me started on the Vietnam War and all the wonderful young men and women we lost for a civil war that couldn't possibly be won by U.S. intervention in it. I'm not going to dwell on the bad times but the good times.

Come back tomorrow and I'll share with you a photo I took of Betsy and Jerry with their daughter Patricia last Thursday. Patricia Plunkett is now a DOD high school math and chem teacher in Turkey. And she doesn't live in a one room BOQ but in a huge house that is so big I think she said she had to buy extra furniture to furnish it. The times are still a changing I guess.


Reader Wil said...

Good post about a piece of your life and your world! Thanks for sharing!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Joann: My, you were a wild one back then. Very interesting story about that time in your life.

Reader Wil said...

Thanks for the visit! There is also a breed of cows called Frisians. Both cows and horses are bred by the people from Friesland.
The doggie in my header lives in Australia with my daughter and her family. He is sooo sweet! Again thanks for the visit!

June said...

Oh, Joann! Your adventures!

Denise said...

Joann, I think you've lived an exciting life. Have you ever been back? Or ever thought of going back?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this photo of Castle Terrace Club. My parents were stationed on Okinawa during the 60's and I remember having lunch at this club with my mother when I was nine, probably around 1965. I am typing up some notes they wrote from that time and they mention hosting a reception for a visiting dignitary at the club. I didn't go to school at Sukiran; I went to Machinato, Mercy, and Naha Wheel Elementary schools. The two latter schools were mostly Quonsett huts! Ugh!
Best Regards, Mark Osborne

Anonymous said...

i found a menu to the Castle Terrace Club for April 1958 in some of the old family stuff.. My father was stationed at Naha in the late 50's. Fun to read your memories. Tori