Another time we had a power failure and discovered a couple of natives had climbed down into a manhole and used a chisel to remove the lead covering over the high voltage cable splice. Instead of being satisfied with the lead covering the splice, he decided to go further down the cable, which resulted in getting the shock of his life.
We could use our local generators to supply power but not island power because of the ground short. Thus I arranged with a contact in Post Engineers to obtain two portable generators to be located at the DF building and Operations building. Another official at Post Engineers did not want us to have these units so they stopped the tractor-trailer outside our compound. One group would tell us to take them up and the other, take them back. Finally, CDR Craw came to ascertain what was going on. I suggested we shift the conversation into the barracks parking lot and I would show the driver where he could turn around further up the road. Everyone agreed so I had the driver quickly drop one unit off at the operations building and the other at the D/F building. When they saw us coming back from the D/F building, minus two generators, there were two very upset individuals. They informed my CDR they would be back with personnel to disconnect them and return them to the storage area. At that point, CDR Craw informed them if they tried that, he would have them shot for sabotage.
A Candy Store
The next major project was the construction of a number of Quonset huts within the barracks compound to accommodate the increase in personnel. None of the CTs had ever been involved in such an effort but they learned quickly, on-the-job. Also during this time, the Army was either revising the mission and staffing of many local units or dismantling them. Army policy was to turn in everything in excess of their new Table of
Equipment (TOE) to salvage; guess who was there waiting. I was like a vulture visiting both yards at least once or twice per week with a stake truck. There were times my truck was so overloaded I could only make it up the hill in low gear or be forced to back up. I remember one time I arrived with a load of dishes, cups, etc. from a dismantled unit’s mess hall. I had several people help me to unload it into the garage portion of the maintenance building. After I finished unloading, I went into the garage to ascertain where to store them until needed. What I found was just a small pile of dishes as all the brown baggers heard about this trip and quickly loaded their cars. I was so mad I had the Okinawan security guard close the gate and not let any cars out. Then I went to CDR Craw and told him about it. In short order, most of the stuff was returned to the garage. My efforts at getting any and everything I could from salvage finally caused CDR Craw to ground me again. He did not want another junk yard in our compound. The straw that broke his back was when I returned with two forges and about 150 pounds of coke (coal). He could not see any use whatsoever for this material. About four weeks later he came and informed me he had made a deal to trade these forges for something we could use. When I told him I had already swapped them for some material we really needed, he realized I was making better deals than he and removed my restriction again. These salvage yards where like a candy store and me a kid with unlimited access.
The Army 808th Engineers were located adjacent to our VFW club which was to be dismantled. The policy was they had to turn in all their equipment and supplies that were part of their TOE. They could not turn in any equipment which was not on the list and they had lots of stuff from when they were in Korea. So I made a deal with the XO to come by the next day and pick up a few thousand sheets of plywood, concrete mix, etc with a crew of sailors. During the night, the First Marine Division conducted mid-night small stores on their facility. They jumped the security guards, and cleaned out the place. Therefore, instead of me picking up this material I went with the XO to Tengan and Marine Headquarters to raise hell. I tried to tell the LtCol he would not find any of the stuff but he would not listen. Therefore, we visited all the locations of the division with a Marine jeep escorting us. Of course, they would radio ahead where we were going next. Once the last of the 808th personnel had departed the island, suddenly there were concrete walkways between barracks and many of the Army condemned buildings had new interior paneling.
There were numerous times when individuals would come and offer money if I could get them specific items. One of my old chiefs told me early in my career that cumshaw would not get you into serious trouble providing you did not make money from it. Besides it was a lot of fun arranging convoluted swaps from a variety of units to ensure the two primary units got their item.
During my tour of duty, we experienced many typhoons. However, the granddaddy was EMMA and I was caught outside when it reached its peak. The policy during a Typhoon was for me to put the entire facility on emergency generators because we would lose island power during these storms. Thus, we had three 75KW generators with a sled-attached fuel tank providing about four hours of running. I would go out to the generator shack as we neared the height of the storm and top off all the fuel tanks. This time Ernie Cline volunteered to accompany me. I had installed a lifeline between the barracks and the generator shack but Ernie suddenly lost his grip and went flying across the compound, hit the fence and was pinned there because of the high wind. I tried to go to him and instead went flying outside the compound as we had the gate locked open. I crawled back and got Ernie off the fence and into the generator shack. He was bleeding from so many cuts it was difficult to ascertain how bad he was. Therefore, I untied the lifeline and called the barracks over the intercom to pull him back into the barracks. After ensuring he made it back to the barracks, I proceeded to top off all the fuel tanks. When I tried to work my way back to the barracks, the full force of the storm hit the compound. I was against the wall of the transmitter building afraid to open any door as it just might cause the building to implode. While there, I watched a 6-foot reel of power cable weighing at least 1,000 pounds take off over the pile of salvage material I had accumulated like an aircraft leaving a carrier. Later, people in the barracks did not believe me when I told them until I asked what happened to that reel of cable. I went down into the village of Futema looking for this reel of cable after the storm just in case it could be found. It wasn’t!
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