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NSGA Hanza, Okinawa - circa 1975-1976
Images and narrative from Tom Shirley

Please scroll down for the 7 photos and narrative.

"Brushes With Greatness on Okinawa"

The theme of Okinawa's Expo '75 was the oceans, and focused on oceanographic technologies,
marine life, and oceanic cultures. On opening day I loaded up the car with my wife Rhoda, our girls
Linda and Caryn, and Sonda Willborn, daughter of my pal GYSGT Harry Willborn.

Author James A. Michener was the Expo 75 keynote speaker, and as a big fan of Michener I
attended the Expo mainly to see him and to get his autograph on my copy of his book, The Drifters.
Following his speech I stalked him as he departed the podium. Id practiced being real suave while
saying, Mr. Michener, I greatly admire your work, will you sign my book? But when I actually
approached him I nervously croaked out something like, Mitner Munster meenie miney moe?
For a moment he appeared ready to fend off an attack by a crazed fan, but I guess he saw I was
harmless and he signed the book.

Ray Charles performed on Okinawa December 1975. Rhoda and I went early, to get good seats, and
as we arrived Ray was giving an interview with an AFRTS mobile unit; I managed to get a few pictures
as he exited the unit, and a few more during his performance.

The Grass Roots performed on Okinawa September 1976. Id never been a fan but must say,
as they played all their hits they sounded just like their recordings.

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