Summer on Okinawa was always a fun time for our family. Summer meant lots of free time to explore our surroundings and see just what is there for young boys to do. Our favorite pastime was to explore the boonies. We would spend countless hours running around and seeing where the trails led, or making our own trails. This really came in handy one afternoon.
Being around military all the time, we had had several occasions to have C rations. For those of you who have not had the pleasure to eat C rations, let me explain. The C ration is a food pack that was developed for the military for meals in the field. Today they are known as MRE, meals ready to eat. The MRE is in pouches while the old C ration came in cans. As kids, we loved them. It was like eating a gourmet meal.
The Marines would do survival training in the boonies that we played in. One day while we were out, we saw a small group of Marines setting up a make shift camp. What caught our eye were the cases of C rations that were being hidden in the tall grass. The men went to great lengths to conceal their treasure before going out on maneuvers. This was just too tempting for five young boys.
After the coast was clear, we crept into the grass and each grabbed a case. We backed out quietly and then made off with our treasure. Crystal cave was our destination. It was a cave that was not far from where we were. We spent a few minutes to examine the goods to see what we had. Now, it has been around 35 years and I can’t remember exactly what the meals were, but I do remember the excitement that came over all of us. There were cigarettes and gum in every box! We knew that we had to get more!
Silently we made it back to the make shift camp and grabbed another load and returned it to the cave. There was still several more cases left so one more trip would do the trick. We would have all the C rations to ourselves! On the last trip, we could hear the Marines returning to camp. We knew we had to hurry. Three cases, all that’s left. As we were backing out after grabbing the loot, a shout came from across the way “Drop it!”
Five boys turned around to see eight to ten Marines bearing down fast. We dropped the load and started to run. Surely they would not chase after us. Then we heard one exclaim “they took all of them! Get ‘um!” well, that is when we knew it was on. We had pissed off the Marines and we were running for our lives. Through the boonies, five boys being chased by a mob of angry trained Marines. And we were keeping ahead! “Split up!” my brother yelled. Three went one way and my brother and I went another.
We took the Marines on a guided tour of the boonies for about 20 minutes, and then they started to catch up. We knew we had to do something fast if we were going to get away. “The wall! We have to get to the wall!” I gasped. We made our way to what we called the wall. It was the back side of Futenma housing area. Okinawa is a coral formation and that’s what the wall is, a coral formation that goes straight up for about 80 to 90 feet then turns out on it self. Donnie went up first and I was close behind. As he got closer to the top he tracked off to the right where the formation still went straight. At this point the Marines were at the bottom cussing like sailors. I didn’t think I had time to track to the right so I just went for it. Straight up. I was hanging on out over the edge when I felt my brother reach down and grab my arm from above. He pulled me up and we looked over the Marines were down at the bottom looking up. Cursing, yelling and throwing anything they could get their hands on. We knew we had won. We laid down and taunted them from a safe distance. Laughing, calling them names, and spitting. I know not very nice, but hey, we’re kids.
Later that afternoon we met up with our partners in crime and they had escaped as well through a place we called hells hole (that’s a whole other story!). During the weeks ahead, we would meet up at crystal cave and partake in a feast of C rations.
I always find myself smiling as I reflect back on our adventure that summer day. There we were, five young boys going against all those Marines. Against all the odds, and we survived. I often wonder what story those Marines told of the events that occurred that day. I shudder at the thought of what they had to eat because their rations were absconded by a small group of youths.