TSUIKI BY THE SEA

by Howard Weston

Most of us finished our 100 mission tour and departed for some stateside assignment. When I found myself being sent to the 51st M&S Group (Maintenance & Supply) located at Tsuiki, Japan, I thought I was being discriminated against. Little did I know that it would be the best non-combat duty for a single, 25 year old 1st Balloon. I knew thing, were looking up when a 'boy-san' named junior met my flight and carried my chute back to Ops - a duty he Performed conscientiously for the next five months.

The periodic as well as most of the major maintenance on all the F-86s in the Far East was done at Tsuiki. I believe there were only three of us to fly the test hops as the aircraft came out of the shop. One of those turned out to be a fellow '52B classmate, Ed Hepner. The 335th FIS where I had flown my combat tour, had only been equipped with F-86A and E model Sabres. Now I was flying the F model as well. These were aircraft that had been with the 335th Squadron, as well as several of the South African squadron planes (No. 2 Sq., SAAF), that I remember as being some of the newest and best of the aircraft in Korea. A recent review of my old form 5, shows that I was getting about twenty-five flights a month, including a ritual ferry flight to one of the Korean bases to qualify for that month's combat pay. (Some things never change in the boondoggle world!) Also, about once a month, there was a ferry flight to Tachikawa for some reason that I forget. So we went from permanent R&R at Tsulki to TDY R&R in Tokyo. As I recall, the test flights all lasted at least one hour. But as soon as it was obvious that everything was working correctly, you were pretty much on your own to do such rewarding exercises as 'bouncing' the F 84s from Itazuke.

Many of the readers undoubtably got to Tsulki on occasional ferry flights, either delivering or picking up aircraft. I am sum there am many who have fond memories of the local bistro appropriately named the "Sabre Dancer". in order to protect the 'innocent', I won't go into further detail regarding the Tsuki social scene. But suffice to say, I felt terrific pressure to entertain all the visiting 'firemen' in from Korea, with complete disregard for my own health and well being. It was a great life from March 195 3 to June 195 3. But then it was back to reality, which ended up to be Tyndall AFB, FL, to my dismay.


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