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I've created this page so that we can all enjoy the stories that so many people have experienced on Okinawa. Got a story of your own ya wanna share? After you've read these, please take a while to reminisce, write it down and e-mail it to me! If you have scanned pics that go with your story then e-mail that too!
Now, read and enjoy!!

Thanks for mailing me, Darrell!!
I'd love to help out with your project and am certain that I could if only I were still on island! *sigh*
Short of that though, I'll post your request in my "Mail Bag" and hopefully someone who is in a position to help will see it and respond.
Best of luck in your worthy endeavor! *hearty handshake*
Please come around to one of the Okinawa pages again soon!

Visitor: Valerie A. Niemela
Reference: By way of looking for a place I'd been
Location: Oklahoma city
Web Info:
Date: Sat, Apr 25, 1998 at 10:29:51 (EDT)
Comments: I was station at Kadena AFB from 86-90. It was wonderful to see the sights again. Thankyou.
Hi, Valerie!!!
So, we were on island at the same time!! My second tour there was from 1986 to October of 1990! Where did you work, live and play?
Hey, thank you for checking out the Okinawa web site and for taking time to "sign in!"
Have a great, safe and fun summer!!!

From: Valerie Niemela[]
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 1998 10:54 AM
Subject: The Rock
Thank you again for the get web site. I was a spit sucker at Kadena's dental clinic. I was Dr (HB) Smith assistant for most of my tour. I really loved it over their. I lived off base my whole tour. Gushikawa City. I can't forget those beaches.
What I'd give for some of the great food over their. Its just not the same here.
I'm now living in Oklahoma City. Its okay.. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your pictures. It brought back alot of fun memories. Thanks again.
Hi again!!
I could be way wrong but your name rings a familiar bell. I didn't get to know many of the dental folks but Dr. Barry McDonald was my next door neighbor (actually downstairs neighbor in Aza-oki Yomitan-son) and we got to know Dr. Mark and Linda Giesel quite well.
I was "P.A. McClary" across the street at the Primary Care Clinic. If you were ever over there you might remember that one of my exam rooms was called "The Montana Room" and I had a "mini-museum" of Montana stuff in there. Rubbed elbows a lot with dental folks during Medical Red Flag.
Oh well... maybe it's just my "old man" memory waning! Nice to hear from you again, Valerie!
Oklahoma City isn't too bad!! I lived in Midwest City a long time ago. Dad was stationed at Tinker.

received e-mail:
From: P&J[]
Sent: Sunday, April 05, 1998 10:06 AM
Subject: your web page
Just found your site and I think it is fantastic! My family was stationed on Okinawa for three years and loved it. Thank you for putting together such a wonderful reminder of our visit to this beautiful island. We will visit your site over and over. We will also link our web page to yours so that others can learn about this wonderful place.
The Rivera Family
Thank you very much!! I'm happy that you came by the site and that you got out of it what I have hoped that visitors will...
Thanks too, for the link! I appreciate it. You didn't leave the URL for your website though!! *hint, hint* I'd like to repay your kindness by visiting yours too!!
Happy Surfing!!

Visitor: Jon Yim
Reference: poof!!! I just kinda showed up!!!
Location: San Diego, CA
WebSite: Jon's Page O' Kewlness In San Diego
Web Info: Jon's kewl life on & off the Internet!
Date: Sun, Apr 05, 1998 at 05:46:55 (EDT)
Comments: Mick! Nice page!! I was an Army brat myself, my family was on-island from 1972-75. My dad (a retired Army MSC colonel) was XO of the Army Medical Materiel Agency operations at old Machinato Service Area (MSA -- now Cp. Kinser).
We lived in Rycom Plaza, near the FEN studios. I attended & graduated from Kubasaki HS in 1975. I also worked at FEN as a work-study & as a member of the station's Explorer Post. Returned to the island in 1982 as a Navy Journalist assigned to FEN (talk about returning to the scene of the accident) after my previous tour at FEN-Tokyo (1979-82). It was a blast to work at home again until my PCS to Pearl Harbor in 1984!! Retired as an E6 in 1993 (peace is hell); currently work in production operations at KUSI-TV, an independent news station. Just as a suggestion, ya oughta put the URLs to the Kubasaki & Kadena HS official websites & alumni homepages.
Onward & upward!! Jon
Hi ya Jon!!
Thanks loads for visiting the website! Looks like we overlapped at least once on island. I was there 1972-75 also and lived in the Machinato housing in 74-75. 0I didn't get back though till 1986, so we missed there!
That is indeed ironic (or is it really?) that you should end up back at FEN-O as a reporter!! What I mean by "or is it really?" is - don't you think that first experience guided you into that career and then, the assignment to Okinawa again...well, that IS kool!
Well, Jon... you gave yourself away!! *grin* You didn't look at ALL of the pages there or you would have seen:
"Welcome to Kadena High School"
"Kadena High School Alumni Association" and
"Kubasaki High Alumni Home Page"
on my "Military" page of the Okinawa website:
But, hey!! I know the site is big and I'm hoping you would have planned to come back for more later anyway!! You'd have found it!
Jon, once again, thanks for coming by and for taking time out to sign in. And of course, please DO come back once in a while. I plan to always be addin' something!!
I'll surf by your San Diego Kewl Page too!!
Cya L8r!!

First, I just want to say I love your site. It brought me back (I'm a military brat - born in Camp LeJeune, N.C. raised in the military). My father was in the Marine Corps for 20 years and retired in 1984. My father was stationed in Okinawa from 1978 to 1983. We lived on Makiminato Base and I went to Makiminato Middle School during those years. A friend of mine who is now in the Marine Corps said he did not recognize the name Makiminato, so it got my curiosity up. I decided to search the web to see if I could find out what might have happened to my former home (and I still do consider it home, it was some of the best years in my life). The majority of my life, before 1983, was spent in Japan or surrounding areas and even though I have been in the States for 15 years now, I still feel like this is not my true home. Luckily I still have ties to Japan since my mother is japanese and she keeps in touch with her family. Incidently, my father was born and raised in Belt, Montana. I was wondering if you have any information on what happened to Makiminato? Just curious - for old times sake.
Jeanerette, Louisiana
My Goodness - what similarities in our families....
You're a Marine Corps brat! - I'm an Air Force brat.
You lived in Makiminato - so did I!
My two sons were born at "Camp Kue" (Kuwae) hospital which is now Camp Lester U.S. Naval Hospital. Actually the place is run jointly now by the Navy and Air Force. Maybe the reason your friend didn't recognize Makiminato - just a guess, but maybe he (she) was there when it was called "Machinato" I think that was a "lazy" English way of pronouncing it. Anyway, I lived at 171 Buchanon in "Machinato" housing back in 1974-75. My second son was born while living there. I remember the school but never paid much attention since my kids were just babies. I DO remember the commissary there though. Well, Angie, I returned to Okinawa in 1986 and, of course, went to see the places I'd lived in the early 70's. I found our old house in Awase and was kinda sad when I got to Makiminato.... that whole area was given back to the Okinawans some years earlier and most of the houses had been torn down and the land returned to sugar cane. Now some of the houses were preserved and were being used by the landowners. Many of the old Army housing units there stood abandoned and deteriorating. It was like a ghost-town and I recall the spooky feeling I felt as I got out of my van and walked through the yards, peered through the broken glass windows and, in one case went through an open door into a long-ago abandoned home. There was still a tag outside the door - "Gunnery Sergeant Walker." I still get a li'l chill when I think of it now. I remember walking through that house, thinking of the many, many American military families who had lived, loved, laughed and cried in those rooms. My old house was gone.
Angie, I too love Okinawa and will never be truely happy unless I can go again! What I would really like is to be able to live there again. Unfortunately, Okinawa and its economy have grown like crazy and it is far too expensive. But... I know that I SHALL return to that peaceful land of beauty again - if only for a visit. Thank you, Angie for taking the time to mail me and for visiting one of my websites. I don't know how long ago you were on the pages - I've fairly recently begun my "Memoires" and will soon be getting into the "Machinato Era." Watch for additions!! *grin* That's me... never pass up an opportunity to promote my pages!!! HehHehHeh!!!!! It is truely a pleasure to have read your comments and I love being able to reply to you.
So..... Belt, Montana, huh? That's another amazing similarity! Belt is about 20 miles to the east of my town, Great Falls! I'm a "transplant" though, having been born in Plattsburgh, New York - WAY upstate in the Adirondack Mountains and on Lake Champlain. Raised al over and then I put my own 20 years in. So, I picked Montana back in 72 and finally settled back here after I retired in 1990. Angie, this has been a fun message and I hope to hear from you again!! Meanwhile, say "HiSai" to your family on island!! 'bye!
3-29-98: Konichiwa Mick!
I emailed your reply to my brother and he was just as heartbroken as I was to hear of what became of Makiminato. We would occasionnaly entertain the thought of returning there and reliving old memories. I do not know the name of the street we lived on but I do remember that our house number was 1415. We lived about two blocks away from school in front of the big hill/rock called habu hill. It's funny the things I remember. I can pretty much draw a map (without the street names) of the whole base. I lived there between the ages of 8 to 12 so my friends and I did alot of walking on the base. I spent most of my time at the youth center and the skating rink located by the commissary. Also I got my first military ID card at the age of ten so I also spent alot my time at PX. I also remember alot about the surrounding areas outside of the base. My friends and I used to slip out of the holes in the fence and go off base and spend our yen that was transferred from american money (250 yen to the dollar at the time)at the Tokyu hotel. The hotel also had alot of nice shops. We would also walk to Naha to the big Mall called Dinaha. After I got my ID card there was no stopping me. My friends and I would often take the shuttle bus that went from base to base and went shopping. Our favorite places were Camp Butler (it had a great PX and movie theater) and of course Kadena (the best place to shop). I also visited Kuwae alot because it was home for my family and I for four months until we could get into base housing. And the real truth about my familiarity with the areas outside of the base is because we often missed the last shuttle bus at 5:00 pm and found ourselves walking home. Eventually one of the parents would figure out we had missed the bus and go out looking for us. Those times were alot differnt than now. I would kill my son if he ever pulled that on me! I have lost touch with all of my friends that I had over there. Although we did keep in touch for along time after we were all transferred to the States. Especially one of my friends, Leanne Collins. When the dreaded day came that we could no longer stay in Okinawa and my father had exhausted all of his extentions and was being stationed to El Toro, Califronia, my friend Leanne's father, Tom Collins (I'm not kidding), was also being stationed there at the same time. So we got to stay together for a while longer. The funny thing about moving to the states were all of the american channels we got (not just channel 8). I can say that living in Okinawa let me live through alot of cultures that alot of people will never get to see in a life time and I an thankful for that. All of my friends, except one, were half and half. Terri (half Thai), Leanne (half japanese, like me), Verna (half phillipino), Patricia (half Korean). They all had american fathers in the military.
I also called my father after I got your email and told him everything. He was in shock about Makiminato, but pleased that there was a website out there like yours (I gave him the address) and started reminicing about the good 'ole days, as a matter of fact, I bet he's on your website right now. My parents have been entertaining the thought of moving to Japan when my father retires again. He is an engineer for an international diving company. He just got back from Scotland (six weeks on and six weeks off). He travels just as much now as he did in the military (and he thought those days were over with). My mother misses her country and her family misses her. We have been in the states 15 years and she has gone to see her family a couple of times. But it is not the same. And you know what? I understand how she feels.
Thanks for the conversation and the information. Keep in touch, I love hearing stories about that wonderful time when Makiminato was a great place for families.
Well, lemme see if maybe someone can help out here:
Are there any readers who are still on island who'd be willing to trek into the old Maki housing area and see if 1415 is still there?
As I recall, eight years ago anyway, there were still some of the old houses standing. If so, please contact Angie and let her know. I bet she'd even love to have a photo, heart-breaking as it might be, of her old house and the school, PX and other buildings she might recognize. I know she'd love ya for it!! *smilin'*

e-mail her: Angie

This message was received 3-7-98. There was no greeting and no name was given:

I was stationed on Torii Station in 1990-1993. I have since lost touch with some of the Okinawan secuirty guards that work for the 10th ASG Provost Marshal. Any assistance you could provide would be deeply appreciated. My e-mail address is Thank you.

Send me your own story!!

Dear Mick,
Recently you sent me an E-mail about your Okinawa site on the webb. You said that you found my E-address (i believe) in the A.F. Locator or flight Eng pages. You said I might find your web site to be of interest to me.
I really dont know where to start when it comes to telling you what an excellant and informative net site you have created. I am impressed in more ways than I can express in words.
You have captured the essence of the Island and its people in a way that only a person who has lived there as you and I have, can appreciate. I have been visiting the site for several days since you told me about it and I still go back and re visit and each time I see something new or something I over looked the first time.
I must admit I still have your Big Sky site to explore, but I will because if it is as well thouht out as the Okinawa site I'm sure it is good.
Mick I have some vivid and fond memories of Okinawa and if you would be interested in them I would share them with you. When I was on the island I soon learned that their was lot more to offer than the bar towns of Nama Nuhie and Koza.I was an an avid explorer and photographer of just about any thing on the island. Most of my photos however were in B/W, but I do have them in an album titled Okinawa.
My tour there was prior to and at the time of Pres J.F.K.'s Assasination and into the following spring. Every one says one remembers where they were on that fateful day and I can tell you that I was Scuba diving on my first night dive to upgrade from novice to senior diver with the Naha Coral Kings Scuba club.
My wanderings around the Island were endless and I made a lot of pictures met a lot of people and eventully got to the point where I could carry on an almost intelligent conversation in Okinawan dialect.I didn't realize that I spoke a dialect untill my wife and I hosted a Japanese exchange student for a year from Kyoto Japan. Whom by the way won musical scholarships out of high school and is now attending college at the Uni. Of Ar Conway, 30 miles from us . She has become our Japanese daughter,We have visited her family in Kyoto and we have fond memories of that as well.
Mick I could go on and on with this but I do not want to drag it out any more than I already have(I can be very verbose if I allow myself to ). I do want you to know that I like your site and the music in the background is condusive to enhance the experince of the visit. Did I detect the sound a gentle surf on a beach in the background music of the first page of your site or was that my imagination.?
I will soon be adding my name to your guest book but I wanted to say more than that space would probably allow. I would welcome your reply to this if you are of a mind to do so. (domo aregetto go ziemas--Tomodachi)
Gerald R.R.Paulsen (Gerry)

Send me your own story!!

Thanks for the info on the web site. I went and browsed some this morning.
I was stationed at Kadena with the 33rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron as a pararescue specialist (E-6) from 1981 to 1983. I enjoyed my tour there. I have been to most of the places you have photographed including the Northern Training Area. We used to do scuba jumps off of White Beach. Man what a memory blast. Thanks for making my day.

I appreciate the opportunity to perhaps come across someone I was stationed with, in Okinawa and all those other "beautiful" places we were sent.
After so many years, it is somewhat difficult, but I do have some memories. I was just barely 18 years old, and before boot camp, I had never really been away from home for long, so the experince was not altogether pleasant. I joke today(because she is my wife now), but those many years ago, I received a "Dear John" letter almost immediately upon my arrival in Okinawa. I kiddingly say that I was the only GI to have a Dear John letter arrive at my permanent assignment before I did!
I was attached to the 18th TAC Fighter Wing, in the 418th MMS, and we handled the munitions for the F105's there. We all assisited with the 400MMS on the SAC side of the base, loading the B-52's, when they came to Kadena because of bad weather in the Phillipines. We had the longest runways, because the KC-135's were there, and all those big planes, loaded with fuel and munitions, took almost all the runway to take off.
As I am thinking about this time in my life, many visions and memories are being recalled. It was at the time of the biggest build-up in Viet Nam, and we all pulled TDY's in Southeast Asia. It was exciting and scary at the same time. We got to see some of the most beautiful scenery, most of which was horribly scarred by the war. The memories of the oppressive heat, humidity, poor living conditions, and more, are more than I want to discuss right now. My High School graduating class of 1964, had the first casualties of Viet Nam. Four dead, several others wounded and crippled. Personally, I was very lucky. There was death and destruction all around me, on several occasions, but I never received a scratch. I often wonder why.
I remember Gate 2 Street, Goya, Four Corners(some friends and I were witness to a "mob" hit on a Pachinko parlor there; it was bombed!) Koza, New Koza, where we hung around alot, Back Gate, Highway One, Inbu Beach, Moon Beach, Naha and more. My pictures are stored away , as we are moving soon, but I may just pull some out for old time's sake. I often wonder what happened to those people who survived, and we lost touch with.
Thanks for the wake up call. Maybe I will write more later.

...and Richard did write more...

If you think anyone would be interested in what I had to say, go ahead and use it. I can tell more, but it will take some review of old photos, etc., to get me started.
I was in Barracks 717. We shared it with the 15th TAC Recon Wing FMS. They were flying RF101's, then RF4's later. All the ammo guys, EOD, weapons and missile guys were together. I worked on the flight line on the "Black Pad" most of the time, but we all had time in the other areas, especially in the storage areas in the boonies. I got to see Ie Shima and the Ernie Pyle Memorial, as we often went there to clear the bomb range.
We use to bet money with the new guys on the NFL game of the week. It took them awhile to find out that the game was taped a week earlier! All of us suffered that fate when we were new("jeeps"). It was funny to see shows broadcast in Japanese; we would turn down the sound and turn on the simulcasts on AFRS, for the English. I will never forgot seeing the Lone Ranger, when I was in Japan, and Tonto calling him Kemo-sabe-san.
There have obviously been many changes in 30 years. I hope for the Ryukians it is all for the better.
More later,

Hi Mick!!
I've been looking at your pictures and story of the big town of Koza and gate 2 and B C street, as I look at them I realize it sure has changed since I was there, everything looks modern and not as dirty and slumy as it did when I was there. Plus we were never allowed to eat downtown at all, I remember the open fish markets, the fish laying out in the sun and the maggots on them and the people buying them, the people stopping and squatting and relieving them selves in the street and throwing their water out the windows. I remember the game rooms but they were so small for me at 6 foot to get into and I remember the strip bars and the guys standing outside shouting!!SHOW!SHOW! number1 momma san!!I often look back and laugh at all the stuff we did and seen!! I remember going out gate 2 and walking to the street that goes across gate 2 and going left and there was a pearl shop that I bought my wife one there as an engagement ring till I could afford a diamond!! And I bought Noritake china which we still have from a shop on that street!!but I can't remember the name of it!!All those crazy taxi drivers and how they drove and you wondered if you were gonna make it back to the gate!!thats probably why they put in the walkways to protect all the drunk airmen!!HA!!
I explored the island and went to suicide cliff! I think it was on the north side of the island, I'll have to get out my stuff and look, its been a long time since I did that. I remember all the hotels and entertainment that was there and all the fun we had with that, taking guys downtown and telling the girls that they were Okinawa cherry boys and than they weren't!!HA!! I was there when the B-52 crashed and almost went into downtown and the protest that caused, I was on the ramp on the wall when it blew and knock me off of it, I saw the tail go straight up in the air and the gunner jump out before it crashed, he got out just after mach 1, and survived I think the rest was killed and died later from burns!!I remember riding those buses to the flight line from up on the hill and the squadron was 4252 if I remember right and we had girls doing out laundry and shoes and cleaning our rooms and stuff!!
Well thats enough for now and I'll look for some of my stuff and write some later if I remember anything else or if you jog my memory any more, I had forgot about BC street until you jog it!HA! take care

More Letters

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Koza Yaki Pottery Go to Nakamura House Faces of Okinawa
Hands Around Kadena Nago Jyo Southeast Botanical Garden
Peek at the military side Potpourri Odds & Ends

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