A Stooges Moment

Even though there were only two of us involved, I’m pretty sure this qualifies. I probably should have posted this one first, but I didn’t remember it until now.

When I first arrived in Okinawa (Jan. 1976) the navy was in the stages of moving the Naval Air Station from Naha (The capaital of Okinawa) to an expansion area at Kadena Air Base.

Kadena Air Base 1

Aerial view of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.

Got to NAS Naha a little late and was pretty worn out from the flight and stuff, so after getting to my assigned place, I went directly to bed. Sometime in the early morning hours I experienced my first earthquake. It wasn’t a very strong one as far as these things go. In fact, I thought someone was shaking the rack just to screw with me, except no-one was there when I woke up.

I went down to the lounge and found several other guys there, all having either been up during the quake or woken by it. Since we were up, and there happened to a pool table there, some of the guys wanted to play, but … while there was a pool table, there weren’t any cues. Not to be deterred, someone unscrewed the handle from a broom, and they used that to play. (Worked pretty well, too.)

But that’s not what this story is about. Since I had to spend a week or so there before being transferred to my final duty station at the Awase transmitter site, they (those in charge) had to find things for me and the others in the temp barracks to do. Me and another guy … we’ll cal him Frank … were assigned the job of going through some old quonset huts, dragging all of the old, useless crap out of them, and sorting that crap into piles of varying degrees of uselessness. (Or something like that.)

Naha quonset

Typical quonset hut.

It was typical make-work, of course, and while moving some of the larger things was physically demanding, it wasn’t really all that hard from a decision making standpoint. Pretty much everything in there was useless, and we didn’t find any desks with secret compartments containing long-lost riches, treasure maps, or coded messages, much as we were hoping otherwise. 😦 What little furniture we did find was so rotted it would probably have been dangerous to attempt using.

Around noon or so we had a couple of them emptied and sorted into three piles:

  • Dangerously useless junk

  • Questionably useless junk

  • Intriguing junk that we wished we had a private storage area of our own to hide it in and go through more thoroughly later but couldn’t and didn’t.

Since it was around lunch time, and since we had found nothing worth sitting on and didn’t feel like sitting on the ground, we improvised. Frank found an old two-by-six about eight feet long and I found an old crate about two feet high and the same wide, and sturdy enough to support our weight. We balanced the board across the box and each sat on one end. (I’m guessing you can see where this is going, but I’m going to finish the story, anyway.)

While we were eating, an officer appeared from around the corner of one of the huts and was coming our way. Not being idiots, Frank and I looked at each other and nodded our agreement to rise at the same time. HOWEVER, I decided to put my sandwich down before getting up and Frank didn’t. He got up immediately. I, of course, went to the ground and rolled off the end of the board. (I did manage to save my sandwich.)

When that happened, the other end of the board rose with Frank and must have struck a nerve just right or something (so he claimed afterward) because he sank back down onto the board. But, since I was no longer on the other end, it kept on sinking to the ground, and he rolled off the other end.

The officer had reached us by the time we were scrambling to get back up, but he was laughing too hard to say “As you were.” and just kinda waved us off.

As unlikely as it sounds, this really did happen to me.

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R. S. Leergaard

US Navy veteran and writer of stories. Blogger of things.

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