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NCU-37 Sobe, Okinawa .. circa 1957
Photos courtesy    Richard Carlson CTR1 USN Ret
Please scrolldown. Click-on each photo to enlarge.


The joint Army, Navy and Air Force station as seen in the picture, sat on a hillside overlooking Buckner Bay
(background). The barracks are center and to the right. The main gate is to the right. The operations building
is to the left outside of the picture. Rhombic antenna array can be seen beyond the barracks on the right. The
highway in front of the base, connected (to the left) to Route 58 which came down the western coast of
Okinawa to reach Kadena Circle, Kadena Air Force Base, Naha and further south.

APO 331, U.S.A.S.A. Field Station
San Francisco, California

Above is the Enlisted Men’s Open Mess Snack Bar Menu from the 3’d US ASA Field Station (Sobe) called the Tsu Shin Tai.

APO 331, U.S.A.S.A. Field Station
San Francisco, California

Above is the 1957 Christmas Menu

Bob Hope’s USO Show - Okinawa - 1957
Bob Hope brought his USO show to Okinawa, as part of the Far East Christmas tour in 1957. With him were
regulars; Jerry Colonna, bandleader Les Brown and his band of renowned, and columnist Hedda Hopper.
The attention was focused upon his “guests”. Jayne Mansfield, and her husband, the former Mr. Universe,
Mickey Hargitay. Knowing full well, I’d probably never ever get to see this famous personality again in my
lifetime., I made it a point to attend the show.

It was being held at the gym at the Sukiran Army/Marine Base, down the road a few miles, from my base.
To be certain I got a good seat, I arrived some 4 hours early, and occupied a coveted place in line, right
at the glass doors. I would be one of the first dozen or so, to get in, and knowing this, would be assured a
front row seat, if not second row. The crowds grew as the time approached for us to be let into the massive
gym. Finally - the attendants were unlocking the doors. As luck would have it, the glass doors next to the
doors I was standing in front of, were unlocked and opened first. In horror, I saw dozens of people, run for
the coveted front row seats. Our doors were then opened, and I sort of moved along with this mass of
humanity, who by now had worked themselves up to a very disagreeable crowd of irate people. I think I
could have lifted my feet off the floor and been easily carried along by the rush of people. It was not a place
to fall down. I managed to get a seat, 10 rows from the front. It wasn’t too bad, and I felt like I had a seat that
would afford me an opportunity to take some excellent colored slides photos of the stars from Hollywood.

I do not recall much of the show. Erin O’Brian came out to sing songs. The newspaper clippings state that
her name was Erin O’Brian. Hope’s spoofing with his buddy Jerry Colonna was hilarious. Hedda Hopper,
wearing her unfashionable but trademark large hats, quipped with Hope for a few minutes. Reading Hope’s
book, he reveals that he and Hedda never saw eye to eye. Hope didn’t want Hedda along, but Hedda,
being Hedda, went anyway. It must have been a stressful tour for all concerned.

Everyone wanted to see Jayne Mansfield, the very buxom, sexy lady of the silver screen. Her entrance is one
never to be forgotten. Dressed in a skin tight, but tasteful one piece dress, she waited off to the right of the
stage, while Hope told some jokes, and then introduced Jayne Mansfield, in his own personal style - “and
here she is ladies and gentlemen - direct from Hollywood - the one - the only, Jayne Mansfield. Right here!!”
At this point, Les Brown’s band began to play a very racy bump and grind number ala burlesque, to which
Ms. Mansfield walked up about 10 steps to the platform (stage) and then, in perfect step to the grinding of
the horn, and the beating of the drum, she actually bumped and jiggled all across the stage to Hope, to the
hoopla and cries of the audience. The roar was deafening. Screaming and whistles. Flash bulbs popping
everywhere. People on their feet- yelling. Hope, as only Hope can, positioned Jayne sideways to the
audience, to be certain that everyone got a good look at her buxom body and then said to the audience, “and
wait till Chrysler sees THIS model” (referring to the ‘57 Chrysler which had some really pronounced curves).
The audience reacted to his sly remark with whoops and hollers and wild abandon. I don’t recall now what
Jayne did except stand there, but I think it was enough, because everyone was horse by the time the show
ended. I used up all of my film - most of it on Jayne.

The show was to move to Japan to Itazuke Air Base, then to Yokohama, Japan, Korea, and back to the states.

When I received orders to transfer to the states in May of 1958, I flew up to Tokyo and boarded a military
flight to California via Wake Island, and Honolulu, Hawaii. While at Wake Island, those of us on the bus
that took time to eat, were bused over to the chow hall, but not before we were shown the now famous pool
in which Jayne Mansfield, wearing only a mink bikini, swam for a few brief moments. She had put the Wake
Island swimming hole on the map. I took slides of this now famous swimming hole.

Sometime during the 12 month tour, the U.S.Air Force got its signals crossed and put Okinawa under a false
air defense alert for an hour. The 50th Air Force said an alert signaled by a training group in the Pacific
was mistakenly transmitted to Okinawa and the island went on yellow alert -- “an air raid is probable.”
People ran for air raid shelters, antiaircraft crews went on duty, and soldiers mustered at the arms lockers
before headquarters called of the alert. I remember the day it happened. I was not on watch. I was in the
barracks, at the Sobe Base, getting ready to go to Kadena Air Force Base for liberty. Our base (SOBE) sat high
on a hill overlooking Buckner Bay.

A sprawling tri-service communications station, sat 450 miles West of the island of Formosa (Taiwan);
East some 6700 miles from California, and North some 950 miles from the very strategic nation of the
Philippines. In the bay, were countless numbers of military craft and ships, as part of a war exercise.
When the alarm sounded, we expected the Russians, or worse, the Chinese, to come flying in and drop
nuclear bombs on us. It was a harrowing experience. There was very little organization in the barracks.
We sort of stood around and waited to be “nuked”, as I recall. I did some last minute prosaic, totally
mundane things - like wrapping all of my personal things in plastic bags, (as if plastic would survive a
nuclear bomb), and clearly marking everything with my name, rate and ID number. I don’t know why - I
just did it. I sat in my room and looked out the window, expecting to see hoards of planes come over
the horizon and bomb the military ships in the bay and Kadena Air Force Base. On this absolutely clear
cloudless day military aircraft were streaming off the Kadena Air Force Base runway. I thought of the
movie From Here to Eternity, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. About 20 minutes or so later, word
came down the line, that it was a false alarm. We didn’t understand much more than that, until the next
day’s newspaper, when the little article (above) made its way to the bottom of the paper on some back page.
It seemed so insignificant back there - like it really didn’t matter at all. It appears that the military
conducting a “training exercise” on the ships in the bay, were sending air defense alert messages as part
of the drill. One of the messages got transmitted to the island. THAT sent everyone into a state of war
readiness alert. Following the all clear - I unpacked all of my wrapped possessions, repacked my lockers,
took my camera, and went on liberty to Kadena Air Force Base. I more than likely had dinner at the
Enlisted Men’s Club (New York Steak Dinners were going for $1.70 at the time), then took in a movie on base.
Not much of a “war story”, but it scared the bee-jabbers out of me at the time.

Dick Carlson CTR1 (USN Retired)

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