Jack "Shorty" Knight

1950s Recollections

Jack "Shorty" Knight
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 3:52 PM
I landed on Okinawa on Easter Monday, 1950, and was assigned to the 8112th Signal Company, which was in a typhoon-proof barracks. The next day, I was transferred to the 579th Signal Depot Company. The barracks were quonset huts on the the China Sea, below the Machinato Air Strip. Our work area was actually on the Air Strip.
After the Korean War started in June, we were responsible for maintenance of radio equipments from the bombers which took off twice daily from Kadena. The fighters were at Naha, and joined the bombers after their take-off from Kadena.
When a typhoon was close, we would put 2-1/2 ton trucks on each side of every quonset hut, and attach cables to their winches, to keep the quonset huts from becoming airborne. We would then play pinochle for three days, until the typhoon blew itself out. We would have stocked up on beer, whiskey, and food, before the typhoon.
I had the MOS of a High Speed Intercept Radio Operator, but, due to a problem with a security clearance, I worked as a clerk in the maintenance office of the 579th.
I thank God every day that I never had to go to Korea, since casualties were very high among the troops that did go from Okinawa. I remember a lot from my almost two years on Okinawa - if you want to hear more, let me know.
Jack (Shorty) Knight
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 5:30 PM
Hello, Jack!
Great to hear from you and I thank you for visiting ClickOkinawa.com!
John, I would love to hear/read more about your time on Okinawa and promise to savor every word.
I've told my readers so many times how much I envy those who had the good fortune to be on Okinawa prior to Reversion. I think that the "old" Okinawan way of life, so simple, would have been terrific! I know that things must have been awfully austere and a very hard living for both the natives and for you who were stationed on island.
I, too, am glad,John, that you didn't get to Korea - you just never know how things might have turned out.
I salute you, sir, for your service to our magnificent country!
Kindest regards - and excited to read more about your experiences.

Jack "Shorty" Knight
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 11:57 AM
As stated previously, [See first message from Shorty Knight, Nov 21, 06, below] I landed on Okinawa on Easter Monday, 1950. The 579th formed a softball team. We only had 120 men in the Company, but we won the island softball championship in 1950, and we were second in 1951, losing to Kadena Air Force Base in the final game.

I remember my Commanding Officer's name - Captain Miller. He lived in a residence which sat on a hill directly above the softball field. He and the other officers would sit out on chairs and watch the games.

We had two pitchers - One was a Native American who we called "Chief", and his last name was Imotachy, or something like than. The other pitcher was a man named Roy Snyder. They were both very good. They were also both very heavy drinkers, as were most of the men in the 579th. With Canadian Club, and V.O. selling for $ 2.00 a fifth, that was what just about everyone drank. The only time we drank beer, was when we came down to the living area, after work.

I will send more, when I have the time.

Jack Knight

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 8:27 PM
Hello, again, Jack! May I, too, call you Shorty?
Wonderful to hear from you again!
Your account of the guys sitting "on a hill direectly above the softball field" reminds me of my house on Kadena in the late 1980s. I lived in Stearly Heights, in a single family unit that had been just newly renovated. I loved that house! When I was stationed on Okinawa in the early 1970s, as a Buck Sergeant (E-4) I used to drool over those houses in Stearly Heights. But, in those days they were WAY out of my league as it was "Officer Country." Well, as good fortune (and some hard work) would have it, when I went back to Okinawa in 1986 I was a captain and - yup, I was eligible for Stearly Heights! Although I hadn't changed much - my commission never did go to my head and I'm still damned proud of having worked my way up to Master Sergeant - the one thing that I did do as an officer was to hold out for a house in Stearly!

I lived off base, on the Yomitan Peninsula for 2 years just waiting to get into base housing and when we finally made it our first house was on Bong Drive, very close to the USO and Kadena Gate 2. It was one of those concrete houses with the tile roof, a strange room at the back - long and narrow, with glass sliding doors along one wall - that everyone called "the bowling alley" and a big yard. Well, we weren't there very long though before they threw us out so that that house could be renovated. It really pissed me off to have to move but then I found out that they were moving me to a house that had just finished being renovated. It was terrific - even better than the Bong Drive house. Oh, yeah.... about the ball field. My back yard at the new house wasn't very big - it was only maybe 15-16 feet from the back door to the crest of a hill that overlooked a softball field! Debb, the kids and I would set up lawn chairs in our own backyard and watch the games. It was like having our own box seats! Anyway.... your comment reminded me of that great old house.

I hope that some of my readers will see your account and will recognize the names that you've mentioned. Wouldn't it be great if this li'l ol' MailBag could facilitate a reunion!

With your permission, I'll add an e-mail hyperlink with your story so that others may contact you directly. On the other hand, I can certainly understand if you do not want your e-mail address exposed here. You can be certain that if anyone contacts me about your messages I'll forward it to you and you can contact them back if you so choose.

Hey, my friend, it's great "talking" with you here. I'll patiently await the next installment of your memories of Okinawa!

With Kindest personal regards,

Saturday, August 4, 2007
Hi, Jack!
I was just reading through some of my letters and came across our conversation - http://members.tripod.com/mickmc/JKnight.html
It occus to me to check in with you and say that I hope all is well. A bit slow here in Montana. In fact, so slow today that I'm getting caught up with a lot ofmy e-mail and updating some parts of the website.
Drop me a line some time, Jack, just to bring me up to date. I've enjoyed our correspondence and like to keep in touch.
Later, my friend!

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