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Story ID:4236
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Diary/Journal Entry
Location:Tokyo Honshu Japan
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By Fred Wickert

In the mid 1950’s I was stationed in Tokyo, Japan in the New Kaijo Building. The building served as an Air Force Base, housing the support personnel for Armed Forces Far East and the Pacific Air Command. I was a member of the 421st Air Police Squadron, which provided security and law enforcement for several Air Force controlled buildings in the Tokyo Area.

In our squadron was a buck sergeant named Teddy R. Teddy was a wonderful young man. He was a willing worker, always thoughtful of his fellow workers. He dealt with the public courteously and helpfully. He was a good-natured man, not minding if he was the butt of a joke now and then, but never contributing to the embarrassment of anyone else with a joke on them. Teddy was an all around great guy, liked by everyone.

Teddy was also a married man. He had a young wife back in the states. He was in Japan on what was known as an 18 month unaccompanied tour. A month before he shipped from the states, Teddy purchased a new car. Making the payments was not easy at a buck sergeant’s salary, but he wanted to insure that his wife had dependable transportation while he was away. He believed a new car was far less likely to have any problems while he was gone.

Teddy spent most of his free time around the base. He didn’t go to town much and he remained loyal and faithful to his wife. Never did he fool around with any of the Japanese girls. He wrote a letter to his wife nearly every day, and always looked forward to receiving letters from her. I guess one could say that Teddy was a perfect husband.

After a while, Teddy suffered from hemorrhoids. Many of us did. Most of us believed the jeeps contributed to them. They had side curtains on them but no doors, and when it rained or snowed they got wet and very cold in the winter. We could wipe the water pooled in them, or the snow off of them, but the seats held the moisture like a sponge. When one sat on them, well it became very uncomfortable, and when cold, we believed it was contributing to the hemorrhoid factor.

In Teddy’s case, things were worse than average and in the early spring, doctors decided he needed surgery to remove them. The surgery went wrong. Somehow, Teddy was forced to walk bent over at a 45-degree angle and with his feet spread a part for about six weeks. It gave him more trouble than he had before the surgery. He was not able to work for more than a month. Teddy was teased about his circumstances, but accepted it good-naturedly.

Teddy was not back to work for long before we had an emergency blood run. From time to time, a rare type of blood was needed somewhere. It could be at another location in Japan, or in Korea or Okinawa or anywhere else in the pacific that American troops were stationed. Tokyo Army Hospital had a blood bank that often times had types of blood found no where else in the Far east.

When an emergency supply of blood was needed, and Tokyo Army Hospital had it available, it had to be rushed from the hospital to Tachikawa Air base, approximately 20 miles from Tokyo, from where it was flown to wherever it was needed. An Air Police vehicle was dispatched to pick it up at the Army Hospital and transported with haste, to Tachikawa Air Base flight line to a waiting aircraft.

In this case, Teddy R. was assigned the mission. He ran to the jeep and took off for the Army Hospital. He picked up the refrigerated packet of blood and headed the jeep for Tachikawa. When he arrived at the gate they were expecting him and waved him through. He proceeded directly to the flight line where he saw a helicopter waiting for him.

The chopper blades were already turning. He stopped the jeep, jumped out and ran towards the chopper, which began to lift from the ground. A crewman leaned down reaching towards him. When he arrived at the door of the chopper he reached up with the blood pack in his left hand, to the crewman. The crewman took it from his hand. While all of this was going on the chopper continued to rise off the ground. Teddy’s wedding ring caught on the lip of the bottom of the inside of the chopper door.

The chopper pilot, being in a hurry to deliver the blood, continued to quickly raise the chopper off the ground, unaware of Teddy being hooked to the doorway. When the chopper reached nearly 20 feet, the weight of Teddy’s body caused his wedding ring to sever his finger and Teddy fell to the Tarmac.

Teddy was rushed to the base hospital where he recovered in a short time, minus one finger. He recovered from it and was able to return to work much faster than he had from the hemorrhoid surgery. Again, he took his mishap and the teasing in stride.

About two weeks after losing his finger Teddy received a letter from his wife that was to change everything. The letter was an apology because the new car he bought for his wife had been totaled. More than that, it was an apology because she had been sleeping with another man, and it had been her boyfriend driving the car when the accident happened.

Teddy lost it. Until then, nothing was too much for him to handle, but this was the last straw. Suddenly, Teddy R. no longer cared whether his appearance was neat. He no longer cared whether he was doing a good job. He wasn’t rude or surly towards other people, but was no longer as caring or friendly. The ready smile he always had was gone.

Teddy began to go out nights in Tokyo and he began to drink heavily. There was another Military police unit about two blocks away. It was the U.S. Army 519th Military Police Battalion. As luck had it, Teddy had an older brother who was a Master Sergeant and a supervisor of the 519th.

The 519th MP’s were responsible for all law enforcement in the city, off from military installations. They patrolled the streets and the bars and they investigated accidents, handled domestic disturbance calls and so on.

Teddy’s brother put out an order to the men of the 519th. Any time they saw his brother Teddy when he had too much to drink, they were to take Teddy into custody and return him to the Air Police at the New Kaijo Building. When they turned him over to us, we took him to his room and put him to bed.

This happened a number of times, and each time, Teddy became very angry. He got over it when he sobered up, but at the time he was always livid. Somehow he was of the belief that his older brother was violating his rights.

Little by little, with the help of his brother and his friends, Teddy recovered without more serious harm or damage being done. Without the actions and presence of his brother, I doubt it could have been done, but by the time his 18 months were up and he returned to the states, Teddy had stopped drinking, had regained much of his normal self and resolved to pursue a divorce as soon as he returned home.

A very good man came close to being destroyed, but with the love of a brother and the other men who cared about him, he was not. Chalk one up for “brotherly love.”

Photo one - author with jeep in the 421st Air police Sqdrn

Photo two - Bunks in the rooms of the 421st Air Police

Photo three - The New Kaijo Bldg enterance

Photo four - The Old Bankers Club building across the street from the New Kaijo ldg. It housed the Airmans Club and dental offices

Polished Air police equipment, ready for a shift of duty