First Night in Okinawa

In 1996 I was new to the United States Air Force and just arrived in Okinawa a little after 11 PM, when I walked off the plane and met my sponsor for the first time. On the way driving back to base he was driving like a madman. He was cutting through traffic just to get stuck at the next stop light. This kept me on the edge of my seat for the duration of the drive, but I would learn not much longer after that, that is how people drive there.’, ‘After we got to base he took me to get some food from the dining facility and then to the dorms. After getting some food he took me to the dorms and showed me my room. It was literally a 10 foot by 10 foot by 10 foot room which I referred to as a closet. I mean shit, prison cells are bigger than this and I’m supposed to be serving my country. Anyway, I started unpacking my clothes when I heard somebody beating on my door. I had no idea who that could have been since the one and only person I knew there was my sponsor. I opened the door and there were 4 guys standing there. This short, but muscular guy, (whom I learned later his name was Joe) asked me, “Are you the new guy?” I said, “Yes.” He asked me, “Are you drunk?” I said, “No, I just got here and I’m not old enough to drink.” Then another one (whom I learned later everybody called, “Doughboy”) threw his car keys at me and said, “Good you can drive.” The other two’s names were Jarrod and Nate. After I informed him I didn’t have a Japanese driver’s license he said, “That’s ok, You’ll probably drive better than they do here anyway.” As we were walking out to the car Doughboy asked me if I knew how to drive a standard transmission car. I told him I did, but I don’t think it mattered. I would have been getting a crash course anyway. Then I walked around to the Nissan Skyline (Paul Newman edition) and before I could get in, the group told me the steering wheel was on the other side of the car. So I walked around the car and got in to drive.

As we were driving down the road there were 4 drunken guys in the car stuffing more beer in their pockets and continuously drinking as we were driving down the road. The drunken guys were attempting to give me directions of where we were going and telling me how to drive the car from the back seat. Once we managed to get to the Kadena air base USO, after stalling the car twice and making a couple wrong turns, we started walking out the gate. Once we got out the gate they were telling me about a curfew that is between 12 AM – 6 AM. They told me you’re not supposed to be in the gate 2 area between those times. Then they told me as long as you stay out until 6 AM that you can’t get caught. I decided this wasn’t such a good idea and I was getting tired from the long plan ride. I decided to walk back while they all went out and partied. I figured I wasn’t old enough to drink anyway, so I figured I couldn’t even get into the bar with them.

Without even thinking the situation through, I decided to walk back to the base. I got back on base before the curfew started and started walking down the street in the direction I came from. I made it a block when I noticed a cop car. I decided to ask them for directions because they may know a faster way back. I then had to explain the situation to the security police before they told me to hop in the car and they would give me a ride. The problem was I didn’t know what dorm I was staying in. So they drove me around for a while until we found the dorm. Now don’t forget I haven’t met my boss yet, I haven’t found out where I work yet, and the only person I know is my sponsor and I had no idea how to get a hold of him. After I made it back to the dorms I went back to my room and fell asleep.