Professor Gray enlightened us with:
> In 1959 I was assigned to the US Army Signal Depot in Okinawa. I got
> my uniform all spruced up and answered all of the questions from the
> examining board correctly and won "soldier of the month". There were
> three awards. One was a new Army Green uniform, which would have cost
> me about half a month's pay out of my pocket. When I joined the Army in
> 1957 they issued us one OD uniform and one green one. We were supposed
> to buy the second green one ourselves. We got black shoes,
> but we had to dye the brown boots black ourselves.
> Another piece of the award was a three-minute phone call to the United
> States -- which at the time would cost about US$36.00 (over a third of a
> month's pay). As I recall it was handled by RCA Globecom from a phone
> booth in Sukiran to Tulsa, OK. It was full duplex, so we didn't have to
> do the "over" thing. I called my wife, who had just borne our first
> son. I learned that he had been born via a Red Cross "health and
> welfare" telegram, since my wife couldn't afford to call me. I'm glad
> that the troops today have multiple methods of communicating, but in
> 1958-59 I was severely restricted. My wife wrote every day, but we only
> had that one single phone conversation in my 15 months overseas. At $12
> a minute, we could buy a lot of stamps.
> The final part of the award was a trip to the northern part of Okinawaka
> (on the general's helicopter) to have a look at the tropospheric scatter
> radio site that was being installed. My memory is clouded by the fog of
> time, but I think it was Philco doing the installation. Since I was a
> radio repairman I got the "grand tour" of the whole site. The
> helicopter ride was something special as well, since they were not
> nearly as ubiquitous as they are today.
As of 1987 (when I left Okinawa) the tropospheric scatter radio systems
were still in use. There were two satellite stations (not sure if that
has changed any) as well as sub-sea cable off the island. Also, the US
Air Force had installed a telephone system that was available for
personal use though out the island. This include family housing and
single enlisted housing (barracks). It was at that time about $15.00 a
month and calls to the US were about 0.45 per minute.
One last note, I too went before the board as a NCO. Just before I went
before them it they drop the main award, a back seat ride in a Air Force
F15 around the island. Now that would have been a blast.