Okinawa, 1966 - 1967

I entered the U.S. Air Force shortly after graduating from Franklin & Marshall College in 1964.  After 3 months at Officer Candidate School in San Antonio, TX and a year studying Meteorology at Texas A&M University I received my first assignment to Naha Air Base on Okinawa as a weather forecaster. 

 Naha AB was the smaller of the two main USAF facilities on Okinawa at the time, the larger being Kadena AB.  Naha AB was located in the southern portion of the island next to the city of Naha, which is the capitol and the largest city on Okinawa.  Naha AB had several missions when I was stationed there.  It provided the air defense of the island, was home to a C-130 air transport wing,  hosted a number U.S. Navy aircraft, and was the civilian air terminal for Okinawa.

Okinawa is the largest island in the Ryukyu chain, an archipelago stretching between Japan and Taiwan.  Although Okinawa has its own unique culture and the population is ethnically neither Chinese nor Japanese, the island has been dominated throughout its history by either China or Japan.  For most of its modern history Okinawa was under the control of Japan.  The culmination of that control was the Battle of Okinawa in World War II, which resulted in the Ryukyu Islands coming under the administration of the U.S.  This administration lasted from the end of the war until the early 1970s, when the islands were once more made part of Japan. 

It was during the later years of the US administration, in 1966 and 1967, that I was assigned to Okinawa.  I am some what ashamed that during the time I was on the island I really didn't learn a great deal about the culture and history of this place and these people.  Like most military personnel I spent the bulk of my time on the Air Base, and had little contact with the native population.  I hope some day to re-visit Okinawa, as it is a beautiful sub-tropical island and the people are among the most friendly and hospitable in all of Asia.

Like many of the pictures on this site, those on this and other pages of my stay in Okinawa were taken on a 35mm camera to slide stock (Ektachrome or Kodachrome).  These slides were stored for years in a projector cassette, and picked up a lot of dust particles.  Also the color in the slides, especially the Kodachrome ones, deteriorated with time.  In the late 90s I started to scan the slides onto my computer.  I tried to fix a few of the slides images using PhotoShop, but it was too time consuming and I gave up.  So most of the pictures posted here, and on the linked pages, are shown in the state they were in when scanned.
Naha and Vicinty

Here are some scenes in and around the city of Naha, the capitol of the Ryukyus.

The Naminoue Shrine is a Shinto temple in Naha overlooking the East China Sea.  It appeared to be used primarily for weddings, and was one of the most picturesque locations in the city.
Naminoue Shrine

Naminoue Shrine
 Like nearly every other building on Okinawa it had to be rebuilt after the WW II battle.  Virtually every significant structure on the island was destroyed during the battle.  The shrine has apparently been once more re-built since these pictures were taken.
On the day I took the pictures below a wedding was taking place at the shrine. 

Entrance to Naminoue Shrine

Temple at the Naminoue Shrine

Wedding Party After Ceremony

Wedding Party Departing the Shrine

Bride Departing the Shrine

Bride and Attendants

Presumably the Parents of the Bride Departing the Shrine

The Naminoue area of Naha, at this time, was in stark contrast to serene appearance of the shrine and its immediate surroundings.  Naminoue was the bar district of Naha serving the U.S. military with bars,  prostitutes and sex shows (although prostitution was illegal in Okinawa and Japan). 
Evenings the streets of Naminoue were filled with drunken soldiers and sailors.  Little of this was evident during the day.  On the left and right are a couple of shots of the streets of Naminoue during the day.

Monument Next to the Naminoue Shrine
On the left and below is a monument, to what I never knew, next to the Naminoue Shrine.

Monument Next to the Naminoue Shrine

School Children at the Monument

The Naminoue Shrine was located on a precipice overlooking the East China Sea.  Below was swimming area used by Okinawa children, and what appeared to be a small boat rental business.  I believe today this area has been converted into a large public beach.  This must be a man-made beach, as there was no evidence of sand along this shoreline when I was on Okinawa.  Just volcanic rock and coral reefs.

Shack Below the Naminoue Shrine

Rental Boats

School Girls on the Coral Reef

Boys Swimming on the Coral Reef

Boat Rental House
Tomari was the civilian port at the time I was on the island.  This served the local fishing fleet and commercial freighters.  At the time, the larger port on Okinawa, Naha Port, was located south of here and served the U.S. Military and was administered by the U.S. Army. 

Repairing a Fishing Trawler

Tomari Port

Fishing Trawlers on the Hard

Old and New in Tomari Port

Small Freighter in Tomari Port

Marine Railway in Tomari Port