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by Jo Lovejoy
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|"Our house" was also used as Women's Transient Billets. Every female performer with the USO show that came to K-8 airbase stayed at our house. A partition had been installed to separate the dining area space from the living room to accommodate transients. Later that space was allocated to Mrs. Farrar. Some of these USO performers were considerate, some were not. On one occasion a well known troupe came to perform in winter, things weren't going too well this particular day, our stoves were out of fuel, the maid hadn't showed up to clean the house, so all-in-all the place was a mess, circumstances beyond anyone's control. |
At five o'clock in the evening when we got home we found the house upside down, a fire burning in the living room fireplace, with smoke, miles long, backing out. Clothes taken off the clothes line which was inside, piled upon a dirty bamboo bar, two GI's in the house and three of the most inconsiderate show troupe people I have ever come across. We wonder what they expected! Rugs were moved down from other quarters, chairs were made available, tables, and breakfast was served in bed I suppose from the mess hall the next morning. Our bamboo chair which had almost completely collapsed, was seatless. It got cold during the night and the girls wanted to build a fire in the fireplace and there was no wood available so... The flue was closed in the fireplace in the living room, hence the billowing smoke. What a mess!
The things that compensated for the unusual place and circumstances we lived under, was the work we did and the camaraderie that we had with the personnel on base. In addition to the 3d Bomb Wing (which had 3 squadrons: 8th, 13th and 90th), the Navy had a squadron, the Marine Corps had a radar site on the outskirts of the base and there were the Army's AAA Batteries surrounding the base and an Army Engineering group. A total of 7,000 military personnel in or around K-8, with all branches of the services represented.
Social activities were limited. We could eat at the Officers' field mess or in the Officers Club. We could not go off base unless invited and escorted. We did not go to the base theatre and were allowed to go to the NCO club only by invitation and with escort. Library facilities were limited. Sometimes we would go over to the ARC Canteen and have coffee and donuts with the troops.
After working hours, most of the social activities centered around the "mess hall" and "the Club." The many war stories that were told, the Squadron parties, especially the 13th Bomb Squadron's Thursday night parties. There were many of them, and I was fortunate enough to be invited and to be honored to have a "red shirt" of my own. They call themselves the "Grim Reapers." Everything in that squadron was red - from the nose and wing tips of the B-26's they flew to (I've often wondered about this) their pajamas. A very high spirited squadron and a fine group of Air Force personnel.
Since the Club was primarily for crews and headquarters personnel, there were the usual pin-ups posted along the walls. We gals thought it would be nice if they provided us with a corner so that we could have a male pin-up. Needless to say, equality didn't exist then, however, for my birthday, I was presented with a male pin-up painted by a Japanese artist which I hung in my room.
We visited the Navy squadron club facilities and the Marine Corps radar site club facilities from time-to-time, by invitation and escort.
There were many crews who passed in and out of the base after finishing their missions and were happy to be heading home. Then there were those who were shot down and were either reported KIA or MIA. Some are still listed as MIA today. Each and every day we worried and wondered how the night's missions would go. One of the functions of the personnel office was to send follow-up messages on those that were reported shot down or lost (MIA). What was really hard was that you may have just had dinner with some of these crew members the night before. Not easy.
Upon occasion we were invited to the Port of Kunsan. The Port, which was once a very large, important place to the people living in this part of South Korea, was in shambles. Even the Army men who lived there had very little. They did have, however, a wonderful Chinese cook at their mess facility and their food was absolutely wonderful and especially the home made biscuits the cook made especially for us. We felt honored to be invited and jumped at every opportunity. Someone was sent over to K-8 in a jeep to escort us to the port and to bring us back.
Once or twice we were escorted into the City of Kunsan by the Provost Marshal. We toured the area and it was a sight to see. The children running and walking all over the town, not having any idea where to go or what to do, never seeing them with their mothers, not even knowing whether or not they had one alive, was indeed saddening. The City itself was small, but there was very little left, a lot had been bombed out, building frames were still standing, many of the Koreans have made homes inside the frames.
The orphanage there was supported mainly by the US Armed Forces and the Missionaries, and was crowded.
"Orphans and Sponsors"
|On another occasion, in the afternoon, we went into Kunsan again at the invitation of the Provost Marshal, our escort. We stopped to see a Korean show in a theatre. American tunes were being sung in Korean. Later we stopped in a Korean Tea Room, had some tea and fruit, it was a nice quiet place, with one of the Korean girls putting classical records on the phonograph. We sang a few songs together in Japanese. A Korean tea room is supposed to be some of the culture given the Koreans by the Japanese. A tea room is a respectable place, where people go to talk, rest, and relax over a cup of tea. An enlightening experience. |
Just before leaving K-8 in June 1952, we moved from House 210 to another house as more AF Recreational personnel were arriving. My tour ended at the right time and I headed back to Tachikawa and the next experience. Mary Hetherington remained at K-8.
Over the years, I lost track of Mary, but kept in touch with Anita Feinstein Cochran as we became good friends while at K-8. Lillian Lewis remained there for sometime and later through an AF nurse friend was told she was doing duty in Elmendorf, Alaska. As for the other gals, we said sayonara a long time ago. I remained in contact with four other female civilians at Seoul over the years. Two have died that I know of (Helen Lehman and Dottie Weakley McMahon). Lost track of the other two at Seoul. I'm sure that there were other DAFC's at Seoul, K-55, and Taegu and we just lost contact. Anita Feinstein Cochran and I have maintained our friendship all these years.
Returned to the states in 1953 and worked at the Naval Ordnance Lab Test Facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Transferred to the Deputy Directorate for Targets, US Air Force, "Tempo U" in Washington, D.C. in 1954, which later became the Air Force Intelligence Center (AFIC). Some former 3d Bomb Wing personnel assigned in the area crossed my path and even today some contacts are still maintained. Continued working for the US Air Force until 1961 when AFIC became part of the Defense Intelligence Agency and was retired from that organization in August 1987 with 40 years government service.
It was some ride.
|-- Jo Lovejoy |
(one of the "Jills" 1951/1952)