Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Wings ’97 — Atsugi air show

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — August 13, 1997

Naval Air Facility Atsugi competed with a typhoon while presenting its 42nd annual air show the last weekend in June. Wings ‘97 was NAF Atsugi’s “Friendship Day,” one of the events held by American military bases in Japan during the summer to socialize with our Japanese hosts. Eighty aircraft were on display and 125 booths sold food and souvenirs.

Because of Typhoon Peter threatening us Saturday night, the crowd this year was only half of last year’s 300,000. Saturday’s military air show performance was canceled due to overcast skies; the civilian stunt planes performed low-level acrobatics. All airplanes were placed in hangars and all booths dismantled just before the rain began falling. A few spurts of rain and gusts of wind throughout the night were all we got of a typhoon.  Sunday’s clear blue sky and hot sunshine provided perfect air show weather. (more…)

Underway with USS Independence

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — July 16, 1997

From USS Boxer (LHD 4), a new ship on its first deployment, I went to USS Independence (CV 62), the oldest ship in the Navy. Too large to tie up at the pier the Boxer had used a week earlier, it anchored several miles off the coast of downtown Singapore.

USS Independence (more…)

Singapore and Thailand — On USS Boxer

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — June 4, 1997

I never in my life thought I’d get to Singapore and Thailand, but the opportunity presented itself when we scheduled a trip to meet USS Boxer. Three of us flew seven hours from Yokota Air Force Base to Singapore on a DC-8 contracted by the Air Force to carry cargo and passengers.

From the air the Singapore coastline appeared as a carpet of green trees and shrubs, with occasional bare spots of red earth showing through. Meandering streams contained brown/green water. We flew over a downtown with clusters of multi-story buildings, an industrial section with more red dirt, and large patches of scraped red earth being turned into housing developments.

Singapore Island, 80 miles north of the Equator, is located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Its average daily high temperature is ninety degrees and average low seventy degrees. (more…)

Around the World in Eleven Days

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — 10 December 1997

With the arrival of October, it was time for an annual conference in Spain. Unlike last year when I flew over the United States twice, this time I went entirely around the world. On the way, I stopped in Washington D.C. for four days.

Timing was perfect to attend the dedication of the Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial. The $24.5 million memorial was carved out of the hillside behind the 65-year-old retaining wall at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. (more…)

Women Are Veterans, Too — WIMSA groundbreaking

Friday, February 29th, 2008

WIMSA Memorial

Originally published in the Clear Lake Courier — August 30, 1995

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial was held June 22 at the main entrance to Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington D.C. I was one of 5500 there to listen to President Clinton and 15 other speakers. This was the largest single gathering of military women in our nation’s history.

The short, interesting and well-presented speeches kept the 90-minute ceremony moving rapidly. The speaker who seemed to be enjoyed the most was 94-year-old Anne Pedersen Freeman, a World War I veteran. She joined the Navy when she graduated from high school in 1918, and was assigned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She stated, “I don’t remember exactly what we did but we typed, typed, and typed and made six copies of everything.” She is pleased to see the opportunities grow for women to serve their country: “When I served, women didn’t have the right to vote.” (more…)

Typhoon of Steel — My visit to Okinawa

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — 15 October 1997

During a recent trip to Okinawa, I toured several sites from the World War II battle for Okinawa. Known by the Japanese as “Typhoon of Steel,” the battle lasted almost ninety days, killing more than 12,500 Americans and 244,000 Japanese. The only land battle fought on Japanese soil during WWII and the costliest one in the Pacific, it destroyed all the cultural assets the Okinawans had labored for centuries to create. (more…)

On Top of Mount Fuji

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Mount Fuji

This trail up Mount Fuji is steeper than it looks!

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — 7 October 1998

One year ago was my first attempt to climb Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain. A dormant volcano that reaches almost 13,000 feet above sea level, Fuji is the most frequently climbed mountain in the world. Climbers begin at the Fifth station (8000 feet) and follow a steep rocky trail with numerous switchbacks to the Tenth station at the summit.

Last year I reached the Ninth station (11,000 feet). Zero visibility and cold rain and wind took away my motivation to continue climbing. This summer I was undecided about trying again, until I heard the chapel youth group needed chaperones for an overnight trip. Spending the night on the mountain would be more interesting than last year’s up-and-down journey. (more…)

Climbing Mount Fuju

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — 3 September 1997

Mount Fuji, at 12,388 feet above sea level, is the highest and most famous mountain in Japan. Climbing it is a popular sport for residents and visitors alike. Many Japanese climb annually as a religious pilgrimage, spending the night on the mountain to watch the sun rise. The climbing season consists of July and August–and even in early July, it’s possible to run into sleet near the top.

The climb begins at the Fifth station, a typical tourist collection of shops and restaurants, located 7700 feet above sea level and shortly below the tree line. When the temperature is 80 degrees at the base of the mountain, it can be expected to be 60 degrees at the Fifth station and 40 degrees at the summit. (more…)

Mount Pinatubo Eruption — An interview with a survivor

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in Clear Lake Courier — 16 December 1998

Mount Pinatubo is a volcano fifty miles north of Manila on the Philippine island of Luzon. Dormant for 600 years, it was classified inactive until it erupted in 1991.Monitoring and observation in early June showed significant enough changes that public warnings were issued of an impending eruption. Authorities evacuated 60,000 people from the mountain slopes and surrounding area, as well as 18,000 military personnel and dependents from nearby Clark Air Base.

The first eruption sent a mushroom cloud high into the air Wednesday, June 12. Explosions and earthquakes continued for days. (more…)

Japanese Zero Pilots

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in Clear Lake Courier — 29 July 1998

Lieutenant Yoshio Shiga of the Japanese Imperial Navy commanded one of the Zero fighter squadrons that attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He is now 84 years old and the owner of a Tokyo company that makes security systems for military and law enforcement organizations.

When my boss and I visited him, Shiga told us the aircrews had trained for the Pearl Harbor mission without knowing their destination. His reaction at learning they would attack the United States was, “This is impossible. This is crazy.” When he flew over Hawaii, it was so pretty he hated to drop any bombs. (more…)