Loran Yarns

An Early Christmas Present

By Jack Morrison

For Christmas 1968, Santa left me orders for Iwo Jima Loran. My first isolated tour at Port Clarence Loran had ended just a little over three short years ago. I was going back to the Pacific, but much further south. My first view of the black pearl of the pacific as Iwo was know back then was from the Air America flight from Fuchu Air Base. It didn’t look too bad, nice blue ocean, green island and black sand.

Winter had just ended and it was a nice balmy 100 degrees or so on the runway, I did not want to consider what it was like in summer.  I soon discovered that only the movie hall in what was the old Loran A station and the Loran C timer room had any semblance of air conditioning. What had been the air conditioners had been slowly consumed by the ever-present hydrogen sulfide from the bubbling sulfur pits on the island.

The station had been without air conditioning in the berthing areas and mess deck for over two years. The necessary SSMR’s (Shore Station Maintenance Request) had been submitted but the funds were not available. When the Air Force had departed about 18 months earlier, the window air conditioners they had left behind (old but better than nothing) had been carefully relocated to the station. They worked to some extent but required a great deal of maintenance and added to the station electrical load. The availability of spare parts was also an issue, to put it plainly there were none.

Several months later --

Now tradition had it that a district commander, shortly after assuming command would visit all the stations in the district, even the widely spread out 14th District. Of course this was helped by the low prices in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, etc and the fact Christmas was only eight weeks away. A message arrived early in October that the District Commander would be aboard for Admirals Inspection and request mast later in the month.

I cannot remember who came up with the idea in the beginning, but it spread like a wild fire. Why not ask the Admiral for the funds to fix the air conditioning at request mast. It didn’t take long before just about the entire crew had submitted the required request chit for Admirals mast. The CO, needless to say, was a little concerned on how this would be received but having been passed over for advancement, he knew he was on the way out and had nothing left to lose.

Soon the day had arrived, the inspection was over, and word was passed for those desiring Admirals mast to muster outside the cabin. Now when the aide saw the length of the line, he asked some questions, finding out that everyone wanted to see the Admiral for the same reason. He disappeared into the cabin. Returning a few minutes later he said that "the Admiral would talk with a couple of the men about the problem." How the representatives were selected I cannot recall, but into the cabin they went. When the came out some ten minutes later all they could say was that the Admiral seemed concerned.

Shortly after the mast(s) the inspection party left. As required, we monitored the circuit that the aircraft was using, the conversation went something like this:

"Kama Seya Radio CG 6---- Airborne from Iwo Jima enroute Fuchu at this time."

"CCG 6---- Kama Seya Roger any further"

"Kama Seya CG 6---- Yes the admiral wants a phone patch to D14 Chief of Staff ASAP"

Soon --

"This is Honolulu admiral."

"Captain I just left Iwo – they have been without aair conditioning for almost three years – that is intolerable – I want you to go down to E and tell them to get a crew out here on the next log flight to repair the air conditioners – no excuses!"

"Yes Admiral"

Later --

"Admiral I talked with E, he says that the units are beyond repair and must be replaced."

"Find the money and the buy what is needed but get it out there on that log flight."

Later --

"Admiral we located the units but they cannot fit on a C 130, we’re working the problem out – can we have a couple more days?"

"Yes three more  do it!"

About seven or eight days later we received a message from Fuchu advising that two large Air Force cargo planes were on the way.Aircraft enroute Iwo mission not stated.

A couple of hours later, the mystery airplanes landed. The cargo, two complete roof top air conditioning units, a mobile crane to hoist them to the roof and a crew to install them. The crew chief commented that they had been brought out from stateside for an unknown mission and upon arrival given the air conditioning units.

Installation was accomplished in a couple of days, the planes and crews left and Iwo had air conditioning once again. Of course about Thanksgiving they were turned off The outside temperature was down in the low 80’s and high 70’s,

Winter had arrived.

 

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