02 Feb 89 Thursday
Pulled in to White Beach, Okinawa today, about 5-10 miles from Futenma. The ship was at the pier around 0630, Mooch and I finally jumped ship around 0900 off the forward brow. I went directly to the phones. Passed a payphone first, but there was about 25 people in line and no time limit on calls. So I went to the USO phone center and got on the list to call. Boils down to me sitting there for 6 1/2 hours and never getting out. Around noon I was nowhere close so I went to get a soda and watch a softball game. There was beer for everyone and 6 hours of liberty. The line for the small PX was 2 hours, too long. Went back to the phone center around 1315, finally got a phone at 1500 but couldn't get connected off the base. A Chaplain took us to another phone, but a young Marine had 20 minutes of problems to work through and it was time to return to the boat. I did get to read most of The Umpire Strikes Back while I waited. I also missed the CO, Buzz, Tom, V-8 and Flash, from our HMLA-369 deployment to Futenma. They flew over to say hi, the rest of the squadron is coming in from the PI tomorrow. Anyway 6 hours of the ship is 6 hours. Best news we got is that Injun may rejoin us soon, which means that the family is doing better. We've been praying for them.
Okinawa, my first steps on real foreign soil, was unremarkable. White Beach is isolated, saw less than 20 Navy personnel and about 15 Japanese workers. The land was hilly and rugged, and looks inviting for about 4-5 days. "The Rock" is a very appropriate nickname from what I could discern. The best news was mail call, I got several letters. I expected more, and they said that there is still a shitload of mail to be sorted. 160 days.
Sunset on the Duluth.