We moved to Okinawa in May 1953. Dear Ole Dad was assigned to Kadena AFB in May of 1952, but there was no base housing at the time – so we had to wait a year before we could join him. The War (the last one we actually won) had only been over for 7 years or so.
The house we moved into was completed in May 1953. We were the first occupants.
I have some very fond memories of living in that house. One of them I’ll share with you this morning is, skating down the ‘Olympic certified course.’ From just outside the front door it dropped down to the sidewalk, then around around the “hairpin turn” to the right. If I made it that far, there was another right-hand turn at the end of the block. More often than not, the 6-G turn at the end of ‘the drop’ from the front door, shed one or both of my skates. Those skates were the kind that you used a key to clamp on. And the clamps didn’t really hold that well – at least not through 6-G turns!
In 1973 I had a trip through Kadena as a C-141A pilot – 20 years after we lived in that house. I remember standing out in front of that hose, alone with my memories.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the “Olympic Skating Course” – it was NOT! LOL! Then I was struck with how nice it looked – and proud of having lived there at one time.
Recently I joined a few sites on FaceBook (FB) that are geared toward “Military Brats,” one of them “OkinawaBrats on Facebook.” I wrote a post on it one morning, including a picture of our house. And it wasn’t long before I received this picture:
I just stared at it for quite a while – all sorts of memories and emotions floating back – not least of all, ‘gratitude’ – for the man who took the picture for me. A “small” gesture I suppose, but one that means so much. Thank you Jim K.! Your thoughtfulness is deeply appreciated…
I lived on Stearley Heights also. I will ask my mom if she knows the address. We moved there in 1959. I remember a large hill with a giant boulder in the middle of the housing tract. I was very young (3-6 years old). I do remember a wonderful back yard which was also a large hill with lots of trees. My father was a recon pilot. We had a live in maid named Kimiko. Our neighbors were the Frenchs.
I lived in Stearley Hgt’s in 1954-56- I was 6- 7 ; my father was an AF Special Weapons officer…. our house was number 2386, and it probably backed up to the same rocky outcrop Cindy above describes. As a a young boy I and my friends explored every inch of the boondocks that surrounded Stearley height’s.. the shallow caves in that big rock, the partially destroyed Japanese bunkers,- (I remember that rock as a mountain, though today in pictures it is anything but.) Often Okinawan kids crept thru thru the fence from the village and we would visit, exchanging American and Japanese candies- though none of us could understand a word of each other’s language. All the kids could walk to the elementary school, and the PX was a bike ride away. I remember on certain evenings listening to the music that waft over the hill in front of our house from an Okinawan village tea house, just outside the base. If the wind was just right it was almost like I was there. ….There was the night that all the neighbors kids were invited to the only house that had a TV to watch the first broadcast of AFN television (no other families brought TV’s from the states because we had been told before leaving there were no stations- AFN came a year later while we were there.) I have a lot of B/W photo’s my parents took- perhaps this will inspire me to scan and post some in the future……… this was a lot of fun- reliving a wonderful time of my childhood. I’d be happy to share my many other Okinawan memories—-
we lived in stearley heights..2116 S.H.??? in 65-66..dad was stationed at Kadena AB..Detachment 8, 20th weather sqaudron / navigator….I attended M&K primary school 2nd / 3rd grade.. ..i want to go back to okinawa 50 yrs later to revist..it was so primative back then….i want my brothers to go with me but i was the oldest of 3 ..my brothers were younger and dont have as much interest in returning…….i remember our maid- Yashi, typhoons conditions, mushi-mushi, habu mongoose fights , kadena carnival, steely boys, benjo ditches, keystone – olympic theaters, kadena officers, club- pool, hagerstrom pool, suicide cliffs, ishikawa beach, far north end of the island, okuma, 30 mph max speed limit, sagos, hibiscus, and humidity, hibachi pots, shi-shi dogs, sugar cane fields, rice patties, kobe beef, koza city , bars and blatant prostitution, & slot cars……prior to on base housing we lived on a giant hill (ft. bucker area??) attended sukiran elementary,……. so many, many fond memories !!!
My mom and I where some of the first wave of dependents that went to Okinawa in 1952, via a troop carrier. Base housing wasn’t finished yet when we arrived. My dad was the was the Staff Judge Advocate. I can’t remember the address, but we were on the back of a cul de sac with a hill behind us. After we moved in, the powers that be decided to survey to put up a memorial for the surrender of Okinawa. It was found to be located where our toilet sat, so the memorial was moved to the grassy circle on the cul de sac. Last night I learned that my Grandson will be heading to Kadena next year. It sure brings back memories.
We came in ’53 also and on the Gen. A.E. Anderson, SFO to Yokohama where we met my Dad, and I think all 4 of us then sailed on to Naha. I was just 5 when we left SFO and so, those are my 1st vivid memories. I’ve said many times that the ship was wonderful because my older brother found a Boy Scout friend aboard and they busied with “gimp” — while my Mom was busy with cards and “ladies’ talk” and drink. Together, those things made me a “free soul”. We lived at 1817 (???) Stearley Heights and the hill behind the house was as you recall it also. There were lots of dug-in the hillside graves and I am now ashamed that we went into them as I think they were sacred sites. When we were leaving to come back to the States, there was a (girl) friend in the neighborhood that was very, very upset that I was leaving, and I’ve always wondered if we should ever cross paths again !
Now, isn’t this “something?!” 70 years ago – to find someone who lived on the same street, halfway around the world. I went to 2nd and 3rd grade at Kadena then. I don’t remember any of my friends by name anymore, but there was one kid I hung with. I remember he had a bike and would let m,e ride it – for patches! I collected patches and would trade a patch for 15 minutes or so on that bike. My Dad was the Commissaary Officer there…
I lived there at the same time. I was 7 and remember the caves behind the houses where we were never supposed to go, but of course we did. Can’t remember any names but there were a bunch of us.
During the time we were there ’53 to ’57, I think 3 typhoons may have hit Okinawa but one was a whopper and/or a super typhoon and which I think was likely “Emma”. My brother and I were told to “be ready” and were huddled up in one room for sleeping and when we awakened, there was water surrounding our bunks and a clear bright sky overhead. The wind had taken the roof off entirely and that would have been something as the roof was tile and thus, heavy. Whatever the damage, we kids thought it was all pretty exciting and “neat”.
One thing that has stuck in my mind and lingers about Okinawa is that I was taken to an old school for 1st grade. This wasn’t fun right to start for me because in the previous year(s), I had a boy-san that would hand-deliver and pedal me on his bike to nursery school or kindergarten — whichever it was. The ride was terrific but once inside for schooling, I can only recall them giving us bottom-less cups or orange-pineapple juice. If I simply smell that same drink .. my mind wisks me right back to an uncomfortable quonset hut interior.
Also, on what I think was the first day at that First Grade school, there was a hush and maybe a loud speaker announcement that a base plane had crashed. My Dad was a pilot and that news was awful awful awful without some specifics about who or what was involved. I recall being scolded for not paying attention in class there and I am sure it was for the worry of my father !
I meant to mention that there was a “Gen. A.E. Anderson” group that held get-together meetings in various places all over the U.S. and they welcomed all: comm. and non-comm. sailors and passengers, dependents, etc. I was determined to go to one but LIFE intervened and I was just unable. I think my ties to the group were in the early 1990s but because we had babies-in-diapers then and just no extra cash to support such a trip, I could not go. I know that I tried later to find any of those previous organizers but without success.