Memories of a journey to the land of the rising sun
April 10, 2017
51 years ago I boarded a plane bound for the far east, I was just out of high school and only married a few days earlier, so when I said goodbye to my son last night our conversation about his flight today to Japan resurrected a number of memories from my journey to manhood…….
In 1964 the aircraft I flew on did not have the range of today’s airplanes, so when my son told me it was a non-stop flight from here in Dallas to Tokyo I was surprised. My flight left Travis air force base in California and only flew as far as Honolulu before refueling. Being right before Christmas the airport was decked out with Christmas trees and lights everywhere. Feeling totally alone for the first time and apprehensive as to what to expect when I arrived on Okinawa I was not enjoying my surroundings.
As I sit here and type this today thinking about my son taking off in less than an hour two memories of my trip rise to the surface. One was as the plane was approaching Okinawa and I looked out the planes window I wondered how this oversized airplane could land on an island that looked to be only a mile wide. But as we all know perspective is everything and as we descended and the runway at Kadena air force base came into view I could see it was closer to 4 miles across.
My second strongest memory today was after I was processed and assigned my company the drive to the remote Northern base at Henoko depot opened the eyes of that fresh out of school boy. The way people lived and worked streamed by as the old bus ate up the miles. From the terraced rice paddies and homes alien in their construction to the hundreds of people I passed dressed differently than I expected.
Now with these couple memories bubbling to the surface I think about my son, in his own way, traveling similar footsteps on his journey to the far East. He has decided to open his mind to a culture that at its root is very alien to our own. He will see, smell and experience things he never has but like myself will retain them for the rest of his life. And now as I sit here typing I hear a jet overhead, and even knowing it is not his I can dream it is him taking that first step on the adventure that awaits him.
God speed my son
and take it from one who knows
let nothing pass you by
savor every minute
so you like myself will have those memories
for the rest of your life.