On The Road Again
My final overseas tour was to US Army Japan beginning in January 1989. I was told not to worry about field duty but to get enrolled in college courses to finish my degree. Two weeks into my tour and my first college class I received a phone call to come over to Camp Zama to be issued my field gear for a 30 day Corps level exercise called North Wind 89. I soon found myself on a plane flying from Hanada airport to the northern island of Hokkaido. As we travelled across the snowy countryside headed for a Japanese Self Defense Army installation for a moment I felt like I was back in Colorado.
My job was that of a dispatcher/shuttle driver responsible for taking troops from and to the airport or training areas, as directed. My available vehicles were an Isuzu van or a Mitsubishi 4-wheel drive vehicle. One of my first dispatches was to pick up an SF A-team and transport them to the rifle range over an unpaved surface resembling a tank trail back in Colorado.
As we were bouncing along the snow covered single lane road you could hear the guys talking and joking back and forth as the captain casually asked “sergeant how long have you been in Japan”? It was a seemingly innocent question clearly meant to pass time and relieve the boredom of the ride.
My answer wasn’t at all what he expected as I replied, “Two weeks sir”.
Everything went quiet, no joking, talking or breathing for that matter. All one could hear was the springs creaking as we hit bump after bump. Finally he ventured another question, “Where were you before Japan?” Without missing a beat I replied, “Fort Carson”. There seemed to be this huge sigh of relief as everyone continued their conversations again as if nothing had happened. I can still remember walking through the snow from the Base Exchange back to the barracks eating an ice cream bar and wishing I was still in Colorado. On the way out Green Beret Sergeant Kengo Duffy gave me the keepsake (pictured above). True story – The Real Truckmaster!