Humans need each other. To begin with, we could not exist without others bringing us into this world. Of course, we understand this and why our parents are so vital to us. What takes place beyond our conception and the nurturing that parents provide is that as we grow, so does our need for others. I have shared the story below many times because it so strongly emphasizes that our need for each other as humans never goes away. And, when we meet and serve each other’s needs, our regard for each other grows more important.
On Okinawa, the war was over, but many Japanese Soldiers remained alive and well while living in very elaborate caves. The potential for danger was a problem that had to be resolved, and while doing so, I met three Japanese soldiers who became my “best friends.” I was part of a squad that drove into the hills near Naha, the largest city in Okinawa. We had two prisoners with us that we would send into caves to convince anyone inside that the war was over and that the best thing they should do was lay down their arms and come out. They would be safe and cared for—proof of which was provided by the two sent into the cave.
If they did not come out, we would proceed to blow up the entrance to the cave. But in this case, three soldiers came out with the two we sent in. From the looks on their faces, it was clear the three thought they would be killed. At that moment, the Sargent yelled out, “Ogulnick! Take the prisoners to the compound.” We had arrived in a ½ ton truck, so it meant he wanted me to drive and take them to the compound. I had never driven anything before, but boy did I want to. I had no intention of telling the Sargent that “I could not drive.” If I faced a typhoon and other life-threatening experiences, then I could drive a truck, no problem.
I got into the driver’s side and immediately began to read the metal instruction plate placed on the dash. The three prisoners and guard climbed into the back of the truck. I got the motor turned on, and with pure fear and excitement, I began the task of heading downhill in one of the many gears. The truck responded in a series of jerks, and the four in the back immediately fell to the floor, holding on for dear life. All this while I began my first ever experience as a driver of a vehicle. (Story continues next week.) Sy