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Bob and Lain Shaffer's Website

Bob and Okino Erabu Shima

Bob's Experience on Okino Erabu Island, South of Japan

Many of the girls on the island called me oobii-megane-san (pronounced "oh-bee-may-gahn-a-san") which loosely translated means: big guy, wearing glasses, who is out-of-bounds yet friendly. The United States military men were basically "off limits" to the people who lived on the island during this time period, except for some who needed to associate with the military because of their jobs or position.

I was on the island for about a year from September 1958 to September 1959, a young man of about 19 years. My work there involved operating the high frequency single-side-band radio system for communications with other stations that were on the chain of defense that extended across Canada, down the Aleutian Islands, down through the Pacific into the Phillipines--sometimes called the "Dew Line".

When I was not on-duty, I could take pictures and sightsee around the four mile wide, nine mile long, island—with certain limitations—one end of the island was particularly Communist controlled and very antagonistic toward the Americans. We were not supposed to go to Wadomari. But, that left plenty of island to explore.

On the map, you can see where I was stationed: on the top of a large hill, in what is now the center of Oyama Park-- just above where it says CHINA TOWN (which was pronounced "cheena town"). The villagers called it "Cheena-cho".