Moving from Tent City to Barracks
This is another Army life story . For the last four months we were living at a camp in Japan called Camp McNair . It was located at the base of Mt. Fuji. It consisted of 440 twelve-man squad tents and several Quonset buildings as mess halls. The streets were bulldozed into the mountainside. They looked like steps.
We were to move to a camp called Camp Wittington. This camp would have permanent barracks. Ahhh! What a joy to live in a place that somewhat resembled civilian life. We would have bunks with mattresses and white sheets .
The kitchen crew and equipment were to leave early and rendezvous at a predetermined place and serve lunch. After packing everything, we left camp and were on our way. The driver and mess sergeant were oriented as to the route to take and the place to meet our men. An interesting fact as that in Japan at that time, there were no road signs to guide you on your way.
We started out going down the winding road of the mountain. We were enjoying the scenery , when our driver saw a beer hall as we called them. The driver drove into the drive and stopped. We all got out and had a beer. We also purchased three one-liter bottles of good old Nippon beer for future consumption. These bottles were stored in the field range. We were off again. Quite awhile later I was concerned that we should be at the location where we were to serve lunch. The driver said, "Don't worry about it." At this time he already knew we were lost. As we drove on, the scenery was changing from rural to bigger villages. We met a military police Jeep coming toward us. It went past us and made a quick U -turn and passed us again. The MP stopped us and inquired, "It looks like you guys are lost." The driver said, "How could you tell?" The MP looked at the markings on the truck bumper. It read 143 B24. "We don't have any units around here with that identification. Where are you going?" Our driver told him that we were to meet our unit at this certain place and serve them lunch. The MP smiled and with a chuckle declared, "If you stay on this road you will end up in Yokihama. Turn around and follow me. I will take you to this rendezvous place." We followed him for an hour. Then we saw our unit waiting for us. The battery commander was pacing back and forth. He was very angry . He approached our truck and began the interrogation. "Where were you? You're an hour and a half late." "We were lost, Sir" , was the reply. "Ohhh-no, Sir," we weren't drinking. The battery commander wanted to know where the hot coffee was. With all the hills and bad roads the water sloshed out of the pot and put the fire unit out. The BC again asserted, "I still think you guys were drinking." Again came the same answer, "Oh no, Sir." I guess we couldn't convince him. He climbed into the truck and began looking for evidence and couldn't find any until he opened the door of one of the field ranges. The three bottles of Nippon beer rolled out and fell on the truck floor. They broke open with glass shattering and foam all over . The BC had found what he had suspected all along. The order was," Clean up this mess, feed the men, and we will talk about this later."
I looked at my Corporal stripes and wondered if I should rip them off or wait until later. I decided to wait. We followed the convoy this time, to be sure that we didn't get lost again.
We arrived at our new home, Camp Wittington, some time later. Like I said in the beginning of this story , it sure felt great to live in a building again. We almost felt human again. As for the drinking and late incident, we never heard another word about it. And yes, I still had my corporal stripes.