Sumo’s Plans

Sumo before RR
Sumo Sitting on Our Blast Wall

Tuesday, February 4, 1969

My work on Hill 65 was done.  I mailed my last letter to Jenny before the Admin run left.  She had written me a letter regarding my reference to taking a cab from MCAS El Toro to Laguna Beach.  Jenny was excited and wanted to pick me up in person.  It wasn’t about the cost . . . she was looking forward to participating in my homecoming.  I promised to call her as soon as I arrived and would wait for her outside the front gate at the Dry Cleaners.

After serving lunch, Sumo and I hung out in the mess deck as dinner was cooking.  We had prepared beef stew, and the ingredients for fresh biscuits were measured and ready in the bakery.

Sumo was waiting for his orders.  He had arrived on the hill one year ago. *  The best case scenario for him was to be stationed at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.  His wife spoke only Japanese, and Oahu had a significant population of Japanese Americans.  He thought it would be easier for her to assimilate in that environment.

Regardless of where he was stationed, his plans were to finish his enlistment and return to Japan.  His parents lived in Flint, Michigan, but he felt there was too much racial intolerance to bring his wife into that situation.

Sumo had gotten into some trouble at MCAS Iwakuni.  The laws in Japan allowed a 16-year-old girl to be married.  However, the US military required a Commander’s permission for marriage to a Japanese citizen.  Even though his wife’s family approved, the Commander said no.  They got married anyway, and Sumo lost his chance for promotion to Sergeant . . . a month later he received orders to Vietnam.  Remarkably, Sumo was not bitter about the outcome.  He reasoned the orders would have come one way or another.

The next best option for duty was on the West Coast.  He promised he would keep in touch, and maybe someday our wives could meet.

* See previous blog, “SUMO” February 4, 1968

Next Edition:  Reb’s Scheme

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