I spent 15 months in South Korea during the Korean conflict, from October 1950 through December 1951. US Air Force personnel serving in South Korea during the Korean War were authorized an occasional 3-day pass to Japan, for the dual purposes of R&R (variously referred to as rest and recuperation, rest and relaxation, rest and recreation and other variations, some naughty, of the letters R & R).
This is the story of how I extended an R&R pass from three days to seven days. We were authorized multiple passes depending on mission requirements, but I was restricted to only one—my first was also my last.
The reason for that restriction was as follows:
My request for an R&R in the summer of 1951 was approved. My unit had a vintage (early 1930s) C-47 cargo plane which was used for a daily “milk run” between Taegu, South Korea and Itazuke Air Base near the southern city of Fukuoka, Japan. The aircraft was used to move supplies and personnel, including round-trip flights for those who were authorized a 3-day pass for R&R.
The C-47 was configured to carry 15 passengers in addition to crew and cargo—it departed Taegu in late afternoon daily, remained at Itazuke overnight and departed early the next day for the return flight to Taegu. Persons needing transportation to Korea were required to report no later than 0700 to sign up for the trip. Those who, luckily, were among the first 15 persons in line returned to Korea—those who needed the flight and were not among the first 15 in line were unlucky—their orders were stamped TNA (Transportation Not Available) and they were told to try again the following morning. It was a popular flight, and people were turned away every day because of the 15-passenger limitation.
The reader can probably see this one coming—if any person, reasonably
intelligent and perceptive (there were a few of us), had no burning desire to return to Korea, for whatever reason, that person simply waited, watched and counted until 15 others were in the line before joining it, and then had their orders stamped TNA, thereby legitimately gaining an additional day to be spent in “shopping and sight-seeing” in one of Japan’s largest cities during the post-World War II period of occupation by US military forces.
There were two of us on R&R from my unit, and through manipulation of the sign-up line we extended our stay in Japan—we were still there on the seventh day. However, seven was not our lucky number—when we presented our papers to be stamped NTA on the seventh day, we were told that our commanding officer had called—his orders were: Do not leave the terminal—remain there all day and overnight. Being model members of the US military, we followed his orders and languished in the terminal throughout a long day and an even longer night, and we were, predictably, the first two people in line the next day—we made the flight. On our return to Taegu we were verbally censured and threatened with every punitive action conceivable—except another R&R.
Oh, well. It was nice while it lasted.
I’ll get back to you later with more details on the subject of post-war military-occupied Japan.