Iwakuni Remembered: by Walt Daskam, Capt., USMC (Ret.) 0161/0160May 9 2007 at 7:28 AM
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by Walt Daskam, Capt., USMC (Ret.) 0161/0160 Walt Daskam, Capt., USMC (Ret.) 0161/0160
I arrived in Yokahama aboard USS Gen. J.C. Breckinridge on December 12, 1956. Iwakuni-bound Marines were billeted over the weekend on the USS "Never Sail" in Yokohama. An infamous name was assigned to Atsugi, Lee Harvey Oswald.
Arriving in Iwakuni, I was assigned to the unit post office across the field in the MAG-12/MWHG area. As an aside to this message, while I'm in the "MAG-12 area," I must mention the Group S-4's daughter became the first female Special Agent in the FBI. The then TSgt. Ray Brooks was the NCOIC, followed by Walt New, and myself. The Postal Officers during my tour (2 1/2 yrs.) were CWO George Hunter, Capt. Jack Romanack and a non-postal type Captain Cliff (can't recall his last name). The MCPC was Walter Perkins, followed by Ben Vinson, Matthew George (Machine Gun) Johnson and Willy Adams. The Superintendents of Mail were Ed Whitten and Shorty Hughes. Over in the unit when I arrived were Brooks, Jim Mizner, Walt Woodis, Paul J. Clark, Henry Walton and myself. Over in the main office were Harry Roberts as "Chief Brownie" (office clerk), Elmer Kress as Finance NCOIC, Bill Maloof in Directory, followed by Charley Dewey. Little Bobby Wilkins and Bob Corcoran rounded out the Finance section. Mitch Michaud and Bob Wagner (Atsugi)were also there. All of the above except Clark, Woodis, Maloof and Kress stayed for retirement. The office was more or less, the "class the stars fell on," as myself, Roberts, Dewey, New, Corcoran, Whitten and Orville Riley, who was up north at either Oppama or Atsugi became Mustangs. Oh yes, Leroy Williams was there. I think he may have been the youngest Marine at retirement (19 and 6 at only 34 years of age...and he had a young Audie Murphy-type face). Must've had a cousin as his recruiter. It was choice duty. One Marine made the remark that the States was only good for a leave. With 360 Yen to the Dollar, a big bottle of Asahi beer for only 250 Yen, a full steak dinner for 5-600 Yen, he probably was right. The postal crew even had their own club on the "beach," The Bar New York.
We had a Sergeant in WSSD (supply) who used to sing country and western music at the E-Club. The next time I saw his face and name was on the cover of Life Magazine as a wounded gunner lying on the chopper's deck along with several other wounded Marines in RVN.
It was "Mecca" for Marines from my hometown of Stamford, CT...at one time there was 16 of us, including Dick Molgano, who used to greet all the Marine Corps Exhange shoppers. Then, he became an announcer on the Far East Network.
Writing this message really brings back some good memories. I am grateful to have kept in touch with many of the above listed names, and lament at those who are no longer with us: Brooks, Walton, New, Johnson, Adams, Hunter, Perkins, Vinson, Hughes, Molgano, et al.
From Iwakuni, I was fortunate to head for Yuma, where we took over Vincent AFB. There, I met Lenard (Frosty) Forsberg, Joe Cook, Val Bruner, Ken Bona, Joe Kratz, and more. That's another chapter. You know, looking back at several "chapters" of my career, I should've stayed for a full 30 years. Using the name of an old book/movie...it was truly: THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES! Esprit de Corps remains with us forever, even having second and perhaps longer careers in other fields. Those of us who have attended our reunions know what I mean. If you haven't attended, be sure to attend the fourth, next year in Charleston, SC.