On 26 Feb 2005, we finally pulled into Yoko, a day that Romy and I had been counting down to since the first Guam stop. We were here finally! It was cold and snowy. I had duty the first night in, but I found a way off the boat. They were looking for volunteers to leave the boat and go stand shore patrol watches. It was basically my job to rotate with two other dudes from the carrier that was stationed out there. We would stand at either end of this crosswalk that led from base on one side, to “The Honch” on the other. The Honch was a bar district with all kinds of bars for every kind of taste. There was a hip-hip club, a rocker bar, a surfer joint, etc. The next night I got a chance to hit a couple of them, but I was very concerned with keeping my nose clean so as not to fuck up my upcoming augment. I was leaving in a few days…
I got off SP duty at 3am Sunday morning and went back to the boat. I gave the peacoat that I had borrowed back to the person it belonged to and crashes, still freezing my ass off. It was cold that night. I saw Dallas completely lose his shit right in front of me, right at the crosswalk. I just remember seeing how hard working a crew of Japanese road construction workers was. What an industrious people, the Japanese. It’s no wonder their empire has grown to as large as it has, enough to belie that small nature of their tiny, beautiful island.
I’d never been so excited to get on a plane as when we piled ourselves and all of our shit onto a bus that was to take us to Tokyo’s Narita airport and bring us back home. We spent Monday and Tuesday painting in ERF, but all I could do is just stare at the bulkheads, wishing it was time to leave. I’d never been so anxious in my life.
It was nice to see Cranky again, he gave me my keys and gave me the lowdown on what was up with my car and all my shit. He also told me that Rook was back at his place, and that there was a spare bedroom that I could use. The augment crew was Dallas, Doctor, me, Romy, Pips and a bunch of coners. Pips and Romy were set to go to dive school, so me and Doctor were going to hang out. It turned out that I hung out with Rook a lot, and my two soon-to-be roommates, Hokie and Gamecock.
As we were barreling down the freeway towards Narita, I was just taking in the breadth and depth of Tokyo. It’s amazing. Look at pictures sometime, or go to Google Earth. Tokyo is like no other city in the world. In the Sates we have a central, downtown are to our cities. Tokyo has random clusters of huge skyscrapers scattered all over the city. Imagine taking all the skyscrapers in NYC and scattering them throughout the whole Twin Cities metro area…that’s Tokyo, Japan.
We got about 10 miles up the freeway, I’m daydreaming and I glance over at Romy. He’s got a shit-eating grin on his face.
Me: “What? (beat) This is awesome, right?”
Romy: “Do you realize that this is the farthest we’ve ever been from the boat since we reported to it?”
It dawned on me, since August 2003, when we both reported (about a year and a half) we had never gotten farther away from the boat than about 10 miles. It was the best feeling I’d had up to that point in the Navy…