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Story ID:5435
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Local Legend
Location:Kadena Okinawa
Person:Fred, Jimmy & Paul
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“Hey wait a minute! Slow down a minute, Fred. What is that?” Jimmy alerted me.

“Oh yeah,” came from Paul in the back seat. “I see what you’re talking about.”

I braked to a sudden stop as I too could see something wasn’t right. We were traveling on a paved highway, one of the few on the island, on our way to the bomb storage areas. We were passing the rear of Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa.

It was a moonlit night in the summer of 1954 and we could see the end of the Kadena flight line from the road. Between the road and the end of the flight line lay a hayfield. On the other side of the hayfield were some old dugout individual hangars for WWII Japanese fighter planes. The Japanese hid their planes from the sky in this way. There was a low dirt bank rising up from the field. The bank had been dug out in several places, concrete floors and walls poured inside where they had been dug out, and the fighter planes pushed back inside so they could not be seen except from the side facing the openings on the ground.

Behind the old fighter dugouts, there was a high chain link fence marking the boundary of Kadena Air Force Base. In front of the aircraft dugouts, we could plainly see a lantern moving around. The lantern looked like any ordinary kerosene lantern. It looked as if someone was walking past the front of the old fighter bunkers with the lantern. The part that had captured Jimmy’s attention was that there was no visible body carrying that lantern. It appeared as though it were moving around by itself. We knew that was not possible.

We sat there in the parked jeep for several minutes, watching the mysterious moving lantern. We could not come up with any reasonable explanation. We had used up too much time and we had to move on. We were supposed to be at the bomb storage areas where others were waiting for us.

We were Air Force Air Police and this night were assigned security duty within area #1 and area #2 of the 546th Ammo Supply Squadron Depot in Okinawa. The main base area where we lived was next to a village more than twelve miles from the bomb areas we controlled. They were huge in size, being at that time, one of the four largest bomb storage dumps in the world. There were three areas, the smallest being adjacent to the main base with a ridge between them. Another area, Bolo Point, was added weeks later. Bolo Point was an abandoned WWII Japanese airfield and bombs were stored on the old aircraft parking revetments.

When Jimmy, Paul, and I got off duty the next morning, we discussed what he had seen. We decided we were going to go back and try to determine what was going on. We discussed it with our supervisor and he agreed to let us leave the next night for the bomb areas a little early so we could investigate.

There was a full moon the following night and we had our flashlights with us. When we arrived at the same place, we could again see the mysterious lantern moving around. We left the jeep and began walking through the hayfield toward the light. Visibility was excellent and we made good time through the hayfield.

As we got closer, all three of us had the sensation of our hair rising on the back of our necks and chills running up and down our spines. The closer it got, the worse the feeling became. No one was willing to back out and we walked on. As we came near the area, the lantern suddenly vanished. Where did it go, we wondered? It could not have moved around by itself, and it could not have just vanished like that, but that is just what it did.

We searched the area where we had seen the light moving. As we walked through the hayfield, we left a plainly visible path where the tall grasses had been flattened as we stepped on them. Yet we could find no place where anyone walking around with that lantern had trampled any grass at all. It was as if it was never disturbed by anything.

By this time, we were all pretty spooked. We had the chills with our hair standing up. We knew not why, but decided it best for us to leave the area. Okinawa, on a hot summer night, is not a place one normally feels chills but we all three had them. We beat a hasty retreat for our jeep.

When we returned to the jeep, we turned to take another look. There was the lantern moving slowly in front of the old fighter bunkers. We decided to leave it that way and went on to the bomb areas.

Inquiries of the natives never brought us any information at all. They either denied any knowledge of such a thing or, if they admitted to having seen it, they refused to contemplate what it could be or the explanation of it.


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