We started our northern work in Jan. of 1959.

We were to transport bulldozers by landing craft probably 35 to 40 miles up the east coast. Someone had the wrong information about our destination and on the first trip we proceeded south around the island and then north on the west side of the island. We came in for a landing right past le-shima island where the Ernie Pyle memorial is. We landed on the west side on a nice beach that turned out to be an R&R location for officers. It was near the present site of Okuma Beach which now looks like a pretty nice place.

Turns out we were on the wrong side of the island and the landing craft had departed and it was evening. The next day the LCU had returned but a storm had moved in and the tide was out so when they tried to land they messed up the props and rudder. They could still operate but with difficulty. When they finally came in and we got loaded the plan was to go around the northern tip and land at Ada. The waves were so high that they were breaking over the front of that flat bottomed craft and a Naval ship was called to escort us as they feared we might lose it. Finally we got around the northern tip and the craft was so beat that they decided to return to the original port for repairs.

After two weeks we tried again and what was a three day trip before was completed in about four hours.

After we landed we ran the tractors along the side of the river bed until we were able to get out and on the road. These pictures were taken at a later time when we returned to the village to improve the road out of the valley. They only had land access when it was dry. In the Ada Valley picture the road we improved is on the right. When we hit shale while making deeper cuts we were able to use that to line the roads. The soil is reddish clay and extremely slippery when wet. We made our camp inland several miles in the middle of nowhere. Our mission was two-fold. Initially, we made rough roads through the hills that were only negotiable by jeep when it was dry. These were primarily training areas. Then we improved some of the existing roads to give the local people better access to their village.

Initially we only had what we could carry on the bull dozers. We set up the tent and had c-rations and iodine tablets for the creek water.

In a few days some trucks arrived with the labor platoon and material to make tent decks. Eventually we had a mess tent, chapel, several 8 man tents and a water point about two miles away. There were showers there and that is where we could fill our water buffalos (Tank carts) with purified water. In the water point picture fore ground are the shacks where some Okinawa families lived, they did our laundry. Before the material arrived for the tent decks we had torrential rains and even with deep ditches around the tent we were getting flooded. We had our gear piled on one end of our cots and pulled the other ends together so we could sit there and play cards.


I'm pretty sure that Gene will be sending more of his story. While we wait for that though, let's take a look at his photos!
You can see it as a Slide Show - once the Slide Show starts, just sit back; the page will turn automatically (like magic!) every 10 seconds.

...or if you prefer to go through the photos, one-by-one at your own pace click [HERE] .

ClickOkinawa.com - 2009
S.A. Mick McClary - Kichigai-no Design
P.O. Box 6245, Great Falls, MT 59406