Strange sights in Japan

From Bob Stubbs, of Lima



Editor’s note: Bob Stubbs served in the Korean War from 1951-‘52.

I was taken in to the Army in early January 1951. There were 28 from the Lima area left early that morning on a bus to Toledo for a physical and sworn in the Army.

From Toledo we were put on a train headed for Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.

Upon completion of basic training some went in different facilities around the U.S. for specialized schools, others were assigned to the infantry and were sent to Korea.

Fortunately, I was sent to San Antonio, Texas, to be trained as a medic. The students with the best grades were sent on to leadership school.

When we were finished with leadership school they sent six of us to Fort Mead, Maryland, to open another school to train medics. I was one of those six.

After we got the school set up we started receiving students, before this Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio was the only school in the U.S. to train medics.

The personnel sent to Fort Mead were instructors at the school. In addition to being an instructor they needed a mailman. I got that job. They also needed a physical training instructor. I also got that job.

The mailroom was in a small room inside the day room which had a ping pong table and since I spent quite a bit of time there I would be challenged for a game of ping pong quite often.

I noticed that all the medics that I knew that had not been to Korea were being sent. Knowing this I thought I would also get a clerk MOS added to my medic MOS and avoid being sent to Korea. I was sleeping in a nice clean warm bed and eating good food in a nice dining room and to me that seemed better than eating and sleeping in a fox hole in the winter time with people shooting at you trying to end your life.

And I also knew that when one of your guys got shot it was your job to go get him and try to keep him alive until he could get back to a MASH unit. And while you were doing all this that guy that shot your buddy was probably waiting with his loaded weapon for a medic to show up so he could pick him off.

Well the captain was a nice guy and I was visiting with him one evening and asked him if he would sign for me to get a clerk MOS and he agreed. so I got the paperwork and he signed it.

About as soon as my new MOS went through the computers I was notified to report to Pittsburg, California, to be sent overseas.

I was on the ship for 11 days thinking every day that I never again would see my family. I got married about two months before entering the military.

By the way, our ship had a surgeon on board and there was a man on a freighter that had an attack of appendicitis. The ship he was on was headed to the U.S. and we were going to Japan but we had passed each other a day earlier so they turned both ships around and we met to get the patient.

We ran cables from our ship to theirs, sent a transfer basket on the cables, they placed the patient in the basket and we brought him aboard our ship where he had the surgery. Of course he ended up in Japan with us.

When we got to Japan they started issuing us winter clothing, M1 rifles etc., the kind of things you need for battle. This gave me concern, of course.

But the next day they called out about 10 names, mine being one that would stay in Japan, assigned to a military hospital there.

I was sent to a hospital in Kobe and my clerk MOS got me an office job. My job was mainly sending out daily reports on all the patients to the Pentagon, Tokyo General Hospital and our own filing records, which I was in charge of.

We were very fortunate to have a really great chef. When a supply ship came in the hospital had first choice to get the food the chef wanted and he did us well. The chef got to be one of my clerk friends and I ate good!

But that didn’t last very long because we got word that they were going to close that hospital.

Soon I was advised that I would be going to another hospital near Yokohama which was about 400 miles north of Kobe. I got on a train in Kobe and about three days later I arrived in Yokohama. I took a train that had sleeper cars, but the bunks were only about 5 feet long which of course was too short for most GIs.

The hospital near Yokohama had been where they trained Japanese officers, it was a good facility with swimming pool, gymnasium with tennis courts, bus service to Yokohama and train service to everywhere in Japan.

This was about a 700-bed hospital and was close to an airfield so we usually got patients in from Korea six to eight hours after they were wounded.

We had buses made by Superior Coach in Lima that we could remove the seats and place wheel-less stretchers in there and haul up to 28 patients from the airfield to our hospital.

While I was stationed there we had a sizable earthquake and a large hole appeared and there was another underground completely stocked with beds, linens everything they would need. We had no idea it was there. They even had several motorcycles stored underground.

As you could imagine we saw some terrible sights we will never forget and the worst ones never made it back even to the hospital.

Don’t ever forget what these soldiers gave up for us. War is hell.

By the way, I retired from Superior Coach where I was a salesman and later a regional sales manager for funeral coaches and ambulances and later was transferred to school buses.


From Bob Stubbs, of Lima

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