The best port of call for me was Yokosuka (yo-koo-suh-kuh). I finally got to Japan, where I had wanted to go since the day I joined the Navy. I bought a set of dinnerware and some other small stuff but my main purchase was a car. There was an agency on the base where service personnel could order an American car to be picked up at the factory upon our return to the states. The prices were a lot lower than from a stateside dealer because we were buying directly from the factory, which couldn’t be done inside the U. S. I had been saving up for the deposit for many weeks, ever since I heard about the program. I ordered a 1966 Rambler American sedan, at that time considered a compact but the size of today’s mid-size cars. I joined a group tour going to Kamakura, to see the giant Buddha, to Odawara, to see a “donjon” (a feudal castle), to Sagami, with the beautiful beaches, and to Lake Hakone, where we took a cable car across an extinct volcanic crater. It was a wonderful three days.
Yokosuka also had a district serving the same clientele as Rizal Boulevard in Olongapo but the Japanese operated with more style and artistry. The bars had spiffy facades and artsy neon signage. It was only when you read what the signs said that you realized what the chief business on the street was. There was the “Shitkicker Bar,” featuring country & western music with a Japanese accent, for example.
There were also the tatoo parlors, as on Rizal, but something I saw only in Yokosuka were the “up one flight” VD clinics. Another difference in Yokosuka from Hong Kong or Olongapo was the racial segregation. Certain bars and bawdy houses catered to black U. S. servicemen and others only to whites. Once a girl had worked in a bar for blacks she could never work in a bar for whites. Prejudice was an ingrained part of Japanese culture and it was readily extended to black Americans.
We were supposed to get a port call in Australia but, to the great disappointment of the crew, it was cancelled because of operational demands of the air war over Viet Nam. The liberty ports were a great experience but they were few and brief. The at-sea operational periods were long and arduous.