Tag Archives: Japan

Fred Remembers-Part 15

2 Dec

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

I remember that at both Tachikawa and Johnson, I rode a bus about 45 minutes to get from the housing area  to Narimasu High School, which was in Grant Heights, which was in a housing area in Tokyo.  It was about a 750 student school complex that went all the way from 5thgrade through 12thgrade.  Even the high school portion was about 500 students, so it was a pretty good-sized school.  (The entire Grand Heights area was demolished by the Japanese for the 1968 summer Olympics).

 


Narimasu High School

 

It was an interesting situation there, especially going to school in Japan.  I remember several experiences with earthquakes.  We never received any damage, but I remember how the chandeliers in our room would sway.  I remember one time during one of the Baccalaureate services I was attending, and my Dad was preaching, that we had an earthquake.  The whole building was moving around and shaking.  One of the guys accused my Dad of being an “earthshaking” preacher.

In the Fall of 1955, a young airman started and led a Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF) that met every Sunday evening in the base Chapel.  I decided to join this group.  I soon recognized that four or five of the teens were different from the rest:  they had purpose; were happy and helpful; and they did not curse or tell off-color jokes.  In fact, they were the real Christians in the group.  I wanted to be like them.

About the same time, my father brought home a book he found in a book store in Tokyo.  The book was Letters to Young Churches by J. B. Phillips.  It was, in fact, a contemporary translation of Paul’s New Testament letters.  As I read the book – for the first time in my life God’s Word came alive to me.

 

 

These two events:  the few real believers in the CYF, and the modern translation of Paul’s letters, together with the testimony of both my parents, who were strong believers, combined to lead me to commit my life to Christ.

 

Chaplain and Mrs. Charles Wills

 

As stated in the previous blog, in the summer of 1956, my Dad was transferred from Tachi to Johnson AB, on the opposite side of Tokyo.  Johnson AB did not have a CYF, so I started one.  The first meeting was myself and my younger sister, Emily.  Within a month or so, we were averaging over 20 teens attending, out of 28 who lived on the base.

In late summer of 1956, the CYF group from several military bases in the Tokyo area met for a retreat at a resort near the foot of Mount Fujiyama (affectionately known an Mt. Fuji).  The two events I remember from the retreat are: (1) I preached my first sermon (about 20 minutes long), and (2) I climbed Mt. Fuji (12,395 feet above sea level).

 

 

The climb over loose rocks and large boulders was somewhat difficult.  To aid the climb we purchased poles about 6 feet long and octagonal in shape.  At each of the 10 stations along the trail, for a few cents, we had the poles marked with a wood burned stamp that gave the altitude and the name of the station.   A few of the stations, including the top station, also sold small flags to attach to the pole.  We started the climb in the evening and stopped at a shelter after midnight.  We got up very early so we would arrive at the top before sunrise.  I still remember that the sunrise at the top was fantastic!

 

Fred’s sister, Emily, adds

Yes, I did do a hike up Mt. Fuji, and I remember that Fred was with the group. (Actually I climbed it twice) .  Great fun, and good exercise.

Emily still has her hiking stick – here is a picture of it, with stamps and flags

 

Emily’s hiking stick – Mt. Fuji

 

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

 

JUDYJudy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years
Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing.
Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.
After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.
She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins.
She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

Fred Remembers-Part 13

18 Nov

SUNDAY MEMORIES

 Judy Wills

 

Shortly after we were settled in Danville, Dad took off for Japan.  We waited patiently, expecting it to be a long wait (for us to join him in Japan); however, one of the serendipities was that the powers-that-be on the Air Force Base in Tokyo had arranged to alleviate the housing shortage by allowing selected people to actually build a small house on the property just adjacent to the base.  It was leased property, and we could build the house and then sell it when we left, to somebody else who would eventually then sell it to the Japanese.

So, I believe it was for about $3,300 Dad built, or had built, a three-bedroom, single bath house – no garage.

 

Charles at the back of the house

Front of the house

It was done sometime in either April or May of 1955.  So instead of having an 18-month wait, we had a much shorter wait.  In early May, we got on a ship in Oakland, California, and 21 days later, arrived in Yokohama, Japan.  That was an interesting trip, itself (more on this later).

We enjoyed the little house there in Tachikawa AFB, in Japan.  We lived on base in one of 10 or 12 small houses on the edge of the base, right next to a Sentry Dog training area.

Charles wrote:   While waiting for the house to be built, I lived in the BOQ, of course, which had the advantage of being close to the Officers Club where I took all my meals. The food there was excellent and cheap. The club dues were something like $2.00 per month, and for that we received one dinner per month free!  The Tachi O’Club was also famous for “Smily” and his orchestra which was also very good.

 

 

Credit Google Search and Fiveprime

 

Dad had the 1955 Chevy shipped over to Japan.  He had to drive on the left side, like the British. After less than one year, a taxi company offered to pay full price for the car.  If it had been plain black and standard transmission, they would have paid double the price offered.

After Dad sold the Chevy to the taxi company, Dad bought a second-hand 1950 Buick  station wagon “Woody” – with wood on the sides.  It was a bucket of bolts, and we didn’t travel in it very much.  Most of our trips were made by train.

We had a lot of interesting experiences in Japan.  In the time before we got there, Dad had discovered that one of the things the Japanese had done was a lot of construction.  A 2-3 hour trip of about 50 miles away in the mountains west of Tokyo, they were building a dam, called the Ogochi Dam.  At that time, I think, it was about the fifth or sixth largest dam in the world.  We could go out there on an excursion on Saturday or Sunday and watch them build it. It was an adventure just to drive out there, because the roads were in terrible shape, with huge potholes, some that would almost swallow up a whole car.  But we usually made it out there safely, and enjoyed the scenery en route. The drive and the dam were quite spectacular.

 

Photo credit wikipedia

 

Charles wrote:  Tachikawa was a lovely assignment. The religious program was full and satisfying.  We were comfortable in our little home and on base.  We were close enough to downtown Tokyo to get there by rail or to drive there on avenues K or L.  We drove down Japan Highway #1 to Oiso for a day at the beach and on another occasion drove to the Gohra hot springs area where we enjoyed the baths, and our children could climb Mount Fuji.  We drove north to the resort city of Karuizawa, on wretched roads, to see our daughter Emily enjoy a stay with friends there.  Our favorite drive on a Sunday afternoon was to see the Ogochi dam, following a winding river road in the mountains.  For a trip in winter time we took the Romantic Railroad to Nikko and enjoyed several days on the ski slopes with a chaplain friend and his family.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

JUDYJudy is living in Central Florida with her retired U.S. Air Force husband of 50+ years. Born in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in the Southwestern United States.She met her husband at their church, where he was attending the university in her town. After college and seminary, he entered the Air Force, and their adventures began.They lived in eight of our United States, and spent six years in Europe, where their oldest daughter was born. She was a stay-at-home mom for many years
Judy has always been involved with music, both playing the piano and singing.
Always interested in exercise, she was an aerobic dancing instructor, as well as a piano teacher for many years, and continues to faithfully exercise at home.
After moving to Central Florida, she served as a church secretary for nearly nine years.Her main hobby at this point in time is scanning pictures and 35mm slides into the computer. She also enjoys scrapbooking.
She and her husband have two married daughters and four grandchildren, including grandtwins.
She and her husband enjoy the Disney parks as often as possible.

How We Met~Part 2

12 Oct

SUNDAY MEMORIES

JUDY

Let me add a bit of Fred’s history here. He is the oldest of four children in his family.

His father had been in World War 2 as a Chaplain, after being through seminary and pastorate. When the Army Air Corps decided to break apart and the Air Force became its own entity, his dad went with the AF rather than Army. So the family moved around quite a bit – not only in the States, but also had a tour in Italy after the war.

When Fred was in high school, his dad was sent to Japan.

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The family followed, but it took a while. The year they moved, Fred went to three different high schools! (In his public school years, he went to 23 different schools!) They started in Panama City, Florida, then moved to Danville, California (near Walnut Creek) for a while, then on to Japan. He was ticked that the California school he was in – San Ramon Valley Union High School – which was supposed to be top-of-the-line at that time, didn’t offer either Latin or advanced Algebra – both of which he’d studied in Florida. The California schools also didn’t want to let him take upper-level American history (a junior course, and he was just a sophomore), saying that he couldn’t possibly be ready for that class. His father convinced them to let him take a test to measure his level – and he aced the test! In any case, they were there only a few months before the move to Japan.

Fred’s sisters told me later that he went straight from age 12 to 20! He apparently got serious about his studies and girls just fell by the wayside! I guess it was a good thing, since he was Valedictorian of his high school graduating class in Japan! None of that moving around stunted his brain power, it seems. He actually said it was an education within itself, and he was grateful for that opportunity.

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Because of his grade average, he had applied to – and been accepted by and had a line number for – four universities: Purdue, Florida State, the University of Illinois, and Washington State. He just hadn’t made his choice yet.

Fred had always had a bit of a problem with hay fever, but it got worse while he was in Japan. He was talking with the librarian in his high school on Johnson AFB, Japan, one day. She was from Albuquerque, and she suggested that the dry climate in New Mexico might actually be good for his hay fever. So, late in June that year, he applied for admission to the University of New Mexico – and was accepted.

And that’s how he came to be in Albuquerque. God just brought him there for us to meet. Isn’t it amazing how God works things out?

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.     Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

You’re in the Navy~Part 9

25 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

Navy

 

Back on the Hector, the ship headed west, and after an uneventful week at sea, our first stop on the way to Japan was Honolulu, Hawaii, to refuel the ship and to spend a few days enjoying that beautiful tropical paradise.  1Honolulu was everything the travel brochures advertise it to be.  That was a marvelous time, with swimming, snorkeling, surfing, touring, and an occasional wonderful and delicious evening luau, with lots of pretty hula dancers.

 Then it was another week at sea before we arrived at our destination, Sasebo, Japan, where, for the next six months, we were scheduled to swing around a buoy in the harbor, servicing any Pacific fleet Navy ship needing2 the type of repairs not extensive enough to require a shipyard.  The USS Jason (AR-8), the sister ship we were relieving, had her steam up and was ready to head back to California when we arrived.  There was a brief “Changing of the Guard” ceremony, then the Jason was gone, and we began the work for which the ship had been designed.

My duty on the Hector, while it was on station in Japan, was as a diesel engine mechanic.  This task kept me busy repairing and overhauling the 3many boat engines used by the ship, as well as boat duty.  Since we were tied up to a buoy in Sasebo harbor, anyone needing to leave the ship to go anywhere (ship to ship, or ship to shore) had to go by boat.  There was the Captain’s Gig, used by the Captain and the other ship’s officers, and the Liberty Launches, used to transport the ship’s enlisted personnel and for every other task know to man.  The three-man crew for each boat consisted of a Boatswain’s mate, a Quartermaster and an Engineman.  This meant the ship had to supply enough three-man crews to man all the boats the ship might have in the water at any one time, and still maintain adequate shipboard operations.

When ships would tie up alongside the Hector for repairs, our ship’s boats would normally provide transportation for their personnel, as well as our own.  Since the four-ship destroyer squadrons usually traveled together, we could sometimes have as many as eight ships tied up alongside at one time.  As might be expected, this kept us very busy with boat runs, transporting people, equipment and supplies to and from the ship and the base, 24/7.  One big surprise at Sasebo, during our stay there, was the day the Fleet Tug USS Tawasa (ATF-92) came along side the Hector, and there was my high school friend, Jim, from Albuquerque.  We had a great visit and both remarked what a small world it was, that we should run into each other on the other side of the world from where we had first become friends.

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                                                            —–To Be Continued—–

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