Richard M. Tsuda

Part 2. On Station

After our first deployment to Shemya, which was only for several weeks, we returned to Wright-Patterson AFB and split into two crews. Our tour of duty became ninety days on Shemya, ninety days at home. Hangar Two became our new home away from home. We were kept busy setting up shelving against the wall of the hangar to store our supplies. We were also kept busy setting up the mockups in the shop area, which was directly below the officers' quarters. Across the hangar from the shop/officers' quarters were the contractors' quarters on the first floor and the enlisteds' quarters above them. Each of the quarters areas had their own day room where we congregated to talk or play cards, etc. The enlisteds' day room had a refrigerator which was always stocked with food, and a coffee pot that never stopped brewing coffee. We soon developed a routine that seemed to be the most beneficial to all the crew, especially since most of our missions were at night. We would sleep in, sometimes even past noon. If we had any shop or aircraft work, that would have priority. After supper, we would play basketball or volleyball, while some involved themselves making ceramics. We would then go to "midnight chow", which served a breakfast type meal. After eating, we would go to the movies. By the time we got back to our quarters, it was usually 0200 hours. Should the klaxon sound, we would, of course, scramble down to the aircraft. One of the ground crew would be nice enough to gather up food from either the mess hall (time permitting) or from the refrigerator in the enlisteds' quarters. One night, while watching the movie, "Breakfast At Tiffany", a sign was flashed on the theater wall -- "Hangar Two Personnel Report To Duty". One of our navigators, who had forgotten his glasses, was seated way up front of the theater and did not see the sign. After the movie, he wondered why he was the only military person among contractor personnel on the metro van heading back to the hangar. He finally asked, "Where was everyone?" The contractors told him that the aircraft had taken off on a mission. He did not believe them so when they got back to the hangar, he got off the van, ran to the entrance door and peeked in to see if the aircraft was there or not. The look on his face when he saw that the hangar was void of the aircraft: priceless!

At the beginning, all of our spare parts were contained in a multitude of boxes. All we had was an inventory sheet indicating in which box a particular part could be found. It took hours, at times, to find a component so a repair to an important equipment could be made. There was a group of dexion shelving lined up against the back of our hangar. When time permitted, I began to unpack all the parts, locate them on a particular section of the shelves, and mark each location. This project, although tedious, gave me something to do and helped pass the time away. After weeks of work, I was approaching the last few unopened boxes. One day, the klaxon sounded and a mad scramble was made to get the aircraft ready. It seems that we were so pressed for time, the pilot decided to start the engines while the aircraft was still in the hangar, blowing all the components off the shelves and making a generous mess of the inventory. What fun it was to get those parts back in order! But what else was there to do on Shemya? Go golfing?

R. Tsuda
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