For Bob: I stumbled across your name and website on a website by
Bill Bayless, who was in the Air Force stationed on Okinawa for about
five years, beginning in September 1963. I was a second lieutenant,
fresh out of AFROTC, assigned to Naha Air Base as the assistant IO
(Information Officer), from July ’63 to August ’64. Fred Meurer was the
IO. My original quest in writing to you was to recall the name of
the Air Force major who ran AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio and Television
Service) during that period. He smoked a pipe. At one time, he started a
show patterned after The Tonight Show, called Okinawa After Hours (I
think). His sidekick was a staff sergeant named Don Sturgis. There was
also a blonde dependent wife who was also on the show. But, looking at
this nostalgia, bringing back memories of my great tour on Okinawa,
turned this into a fun thing.
got a kick out of Bill’s recollection that AFRTS played essentially
dirge music for 30 days after the Kennedy assassination, while KSBK
played top 40. I was there then. General Douglas Macarthur died a few
months later, and we were all relieved that the mourning period lasted
only a couple of days. Wasn’t Kyoshi Kabira the owner or GM of KSBK?
whole inquiry was prompted by an email exchange with Fred Forte, whom I
had never met, but with whom I have a lot in common. I never got
assigned to AFRTS Okinawa, but later was deputy chief of AFTN, the
Thailand network. Fred was chief of AFRTS Okinawa in ’61 and for a few
years before that. Maybe you knew him.
spent every Thursday at the Okinawa Morning star, working with two
airmen from Naha, putting out the base newspaper. A1C Martin Lamp was
editor and my job was mostly proofreading. We would send a line back to
be reset, and it would have another error in the correction. My closest
call had to do with a story about a new cargo extraction method being
developed for the C-130, involving a pallet extracted by parachute,
called the “slingshot drop.” The substitution of an i for an o (caught
in the last proof) could have had major repercussions.
earliest recollection of a major news event was when the Midori Maru
capsized. Our base directed the rescue mission, and we had a lot of the
survivors in our mess hall that night. There were four Air Force people
on that ship, heading back to their radar site. I remember trying to
verify their identity for the American press. The PAO for USCAR, Al
Liosnoff, demanded that I give him the names and accused me of being
uncooperative. All I was trying to do was verify the information before
passing it on to him. That took an extra hour or so. He called Maj. Gen.
A.P. Clark, our division commander, and the next thing I knew I was the
subject of an investigation. I came out exonerated, but I’ll never
forget that S.O.B.
note that you now practice law in Texas. I became a lawyer three years
ago, at age 60, and practice in Tulsa.
you help me remember that guy who ran the radio-TV station?
For Bill: I remember This Week on Okinawa and that I enjoyed it very
much. I remember Jerry Heaster at the Morning Star. (I sent him a note
about 1982 when I was administrator of the Southwestern Power
Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, asking if he was the same
person I knew from Okinawa. He affirmed.) Also, John Servites and Bob
Prosser. I was there when “Small Paul” Caraway was USCAR. I also
remember the general you mentioned, Lt. Gen. Watson, who replaced him. I
escorted eight U.S. dependents and eight Ryukyuan Boy Scouts (of
America) and their leader from Okinawa to the National Jamboree in
Valley Forge. I got pneumonia and missed most of the events. I was
released from the hospital just in time to escort everyone back. We
visited General Watson upon our return. I had also taken permissive TDY
to serve as a staff member at Camp White Beach for the Boy Scout summer
For Jerry: I sometimes cannot remember why I enter a room, but
somehow, in the cobwebs of my mind, I remember that your son’s name is
Typhoon Rowdy. Why can’t I remember the name of the AFRTS OIC?