9th AVRS - Louis Amari

I'm about to give it a go, but I'm going to begin from the start of my enlistment. I enlisted in Sept of 1950, mostly to avoid being drafted into the Army, although I wanted to do my part for the war. I spent only one month in basic training at Lackland Air Base, in Texas. After that they sent me to Edwards AFB in Cal. I didn't realize what a great place that was at the time, but I did see some great aircraft. At any rate, they needed mechanics, cooks, and air policemen. An aptitude test said that I would make a mechanic, because I knew the difference between a wrench and a screw driver. The bad part was that it was the desert. The good thing was that it was only 100 miles from L.A. After two years there, I got my orders to ship out. I only knew that I was going to the Far East. I got a 35 day furlough, and headed home to N.J. I hitch-hiked all the way across the U.S. It took 5 days. I reunited with my girlfriend, we had a break up, and before the month was over we were married. Two days after we were married, I was back on the road hitching back to California. I had to be at Camp Stoneman by a certain date. Somehow, a Parks AFB sticks in my head. I may have gone there, I forget. I still didn't know where I was going. I don't think we found out until we were on board the USS Billy Mitchell, and well on our way to Okinawa. What a rotten trip that was. I remember we landed at White Beach, and I was amazed at all the junk, like landing crafts all rusted and piled up on the beach. I was told that it was left over from the battle of Okinawa. I remember being loaded on a GMC 6x6 and being trucked inland. I viewed my surroundings, I thought, what a hellhole this is. After we got to the 9th, we had to bunk in the day room for a couple of days I was finally assigned to permanant barracks. It was one of the ones closest to the latrine. I see by all of the photos of the area before I got there, it was a mess. Thanks to all you guys for cleaning it up for me. I also was assigned to the bus section as my duty. All along the way, I met some great guys.

After a while, some of the guys took me on my first trip to one of the villages. It was the village of Tobaru. I couldn't believe that people lived that way. They couldn't live without charcoal. Thay even had charcoal irons I can still see those old men heading for the rice paddies with those honey buckets on there shoulders. The smell would knock you over. Each village had their own diesel generator so they could have some light for a couple of hours. Although they lived in poverty, they were honorable people. I never had anything stolen from me, even though there were times when I was an easy mark, being somewhat less than sober. Don't forget, beer and saki was easy to get. I don't remember how much yen beer cost, but saki was about 30 cents a bottle. I couldn't drink that stuff straight. It was too potent for me. Some of those old soldiers could drink that it like water.
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As far as shortages, I don't remember needing anything except money. Being married, most of my money went home. I thought the food was good. Maybe I just got used to it. We had house boys to take care of the barracks. Laundry women to do the laundry. They used to put so much starch in your suntans, you could hardly walk in them. We didn't have to pull any K.P. There were Okinawan kitchen workers. For a while, they had Okinawans on guard duty. That ended when we got a new base commander. God! How I hated guard duty. It wasn't so bad when you had to guard a lighted area, but when you had to walk around one of those B-29's, that was something else. It couldn't have been any darker. We were not trained combatants. We had that pea shooter of a rifle, the M-1 carbine. I don't think that thing could kill a squirrel. We qualified on a thousand inch range. I guess the enemy had to be a thousand inches away or less.

All in all, my tour over there wasn't that bad, except for the mosquitoes, the rats, the VD, the crabs, the jock itch, the atheletes foot, The fungus, the heat and the humidity, the mud during the rainy season, the dust during the dry season, and whatever else. All that is over-shadowed by the terrific friends that I made. How everyone was so willing to help one another. If I had to do it over, I wouldn't change too much.

I do remember the PX and how those girls could work those beaded adding machines. The restaurant that served a pretty good steak, when I could afford one. The McChord theater was a good place to kill time. I think it cost 25 cents to see a movie, and who could forget those tricycle taxi's. What a thrill ride they were. There are things too numerous to mention, but memorable just the same.

Finally, my tour ended, and I was put on another ship. I don't remember which one. We landed in San francisco. Thirteen days later, I got on a comercial airline, A TWA constellation, and flew to Idlewild Airport ( now Kennedy) where I was picked up by my wife. The funny thing is that my wife and familly could hardly understand a thing I was saying. It seems that there was some Japanese mixed in with my English. A habit that was hard to break.

I spent the last six months of my enlistment on Hunter AFB in Savanna, Ga. After my discharge I went home to begin my carreer, and my familly life, which, by the way, turned out to be really good. But that's another story.

Lou Amari

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