By Dave Dennis / Kadena – 498th TMG (1968/69)
This is the time of year when we get to thinking back on old memories and “the good times” of our stint in the USAF and our Christmas’ past.
I was at Kadena AB in ’68 and ’69. Christmas time had come around again. This could have been a good time or a sad time depending on what frame of mind you were in.
The base commander had a contest as to which outfit could come up with the best holiday display at their individual squadron headquarters. Well some of our group got together and decided to build a sleigh and eight reindeer to set out front of the barracks. They took an old ringer washing machine and used the agitator, gearbox and motor out of it to make the legs of the reindeer swing back and forth with all the legs connected together by cable. This whole display was about 30 foot long. The sleigh was bright red and big enough to sit down in.
That first set of reindeer looked more like fat little pigs than magnificent regal reindeer. This just wouldn’t do! Rendition #2 had all new reindeer with legs swinging and great looking majestic reindeer! The only glitch we had was that by the time they got all this together, it was one day “after” the judging was completed.
Someone came up with a Santa Suit from heaven knows where and candy canes were supplied by the box full. The off-duty married guys, with kids back in the states, manned the sleigh from 1000 hours to 2200 hours. The military people that had families on Okinawa would bring their families to the MACE squadron barracks so their children could talk to Santa and get a piece of candy for Christmas. This made the families happy and our guys got to experience a little bit of the Christmas spirit through this display. We had families there that were from every service branch. It didn’t matter if you were Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard or civilian; everybody was welcome.
Leave it to a group of military service members, they will make the best of any situation.
Here is hoping that you have a joyous Christmas Season and may you be able to hug all the children this Christmas. Remember our guys in uniform.
PS: We were told by the base commander that we would have won the contest “hands-down” if we could have finished on time.