The yard grew and the card file created by Yamamoto was perfect. Each item in the yard had its place and condition noted. Also our equipment grew to a forklift, cherry picker crane and a truck. We had become a big yard that held all kinds of “stuff” ultimately to be shipped back to the States, used locally or disposed of. The pacific was our dumping grounds.
The day came when the four of us discussed our returning home. Ohara was a street car conductor in Tokyo before the war and looked forward to returning home. Kato was an actor, also from Tokyo and wanted to return. Yamamoto was the senior of the group and had been a bank officer from Hiroshima. He lost his whole family to the bomb and desired to remain on Okinawa. There was nothing for him to return to. I wrote letters on each of their behalf supporting that their wishes be fulfilled. In my ignorance and youth the thought of remaining in touch with them never came up. To this day am sorry for that.
My company captain (the one that administered the GED exam) offered to arrange for me to go to Radar School in the Philippines which meant a year plus of schooling and upon graduation becoming a 2ndLieutenant. At the same time I was given a time to return home and civilian life. I choose to return home to Chicago and my family. Under the captain’s influence I looked forward to beginning my formal education. I had no idea as to what that would be. The thoughts of me being a student actually excited me.
When the day came for me to leave Okinawa and the military I met with my three dear friends. It was a sad experience I will never forget as I will never forget them. We had become family and it was painful to say good bye. We all hugged and cried at our parting. They had contributed to my becoming a man, and as I was to discover, a leader. Yamamoto was my primary teacher, but Kato and Ohara also taught me what relationship, respect and regard meant. We truly and deeply had this for each other. Consider our history together and that throughout my whole experience on Okinawa they became my closest and dearest friends. How blessed to have them in my life even to this day.
When I reflect on this experience I see that from the moment I saw them with their hands over their heads I felt empathy and sadness for them. They really believed they would be killed when they walked out of that cave. What happened was a friendship I hope they carried with them throughout their lives. I certainly have.
We meet and become———–Becoming what we know not———And why becoming.
I allow you in————takes courage to allow this———–Yet, what other course?
You give me your self———–Do I know what this gift means?——–Not until I know.
Friendship, a true gift———–Rare to be given freely———–Never take lightly. Sy