Copyright by Tom McGoldrick.

1st Printing



1st Printing,

Published by This book is fictional to satisfy the requirements of the times. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the Publisher Copyright, Tom McGoldrick


This book is dedicated to the real cloak and dagger men and women of each and every country, and to those who want to be, whatever their age. There is a bit of the spy and sleuth in each of us. Therefore, we tend to enjoy participating in spy and sleuth actions from the armchair in the safety of our own homes, reading the latest thriller or watching a short version on TV. How much of each is based on actual happenings, and how much on fiction? We often never know in our lifetimes. That is because each world power, in an effort to protect their national security, classifies many actions and seals the lips of the participants. After fifty or more years, when the relevancy seems mundane, the grandchildren of the people who lived through the events sometimes get to read the government accounts made public in print. Much of the sting and agony has passed by that time, and about all the grandchildren can say is "Oh, so that was what Grandpa used to get so upset about." A few years ago, I happened to mention to a co-worker that I had copies of video tapes of the atom bomb testing in the Pacific. She asked if she could see them. Her father had been involved in the Manhattan Project during WW II, and she remembered vividly being moved late at night, lock, stock and barrel from their home in one city and state to another a number of times, without any goodbyes or forwarding addresses. Her comment after viewing the tapes was, "Thank you. I had hoped I would have seen my father in the videos. He spend many months out in the Pacific and came back with badly sunburned arms and face and never talked about his work. I had suspected, and now I know. The video tapes put my mind at ease." All actions by governments are actions by men. Men intend to do the right thing to preserve the way of life of their country without unduly harming others. However, the unduly harming others often gets rationalized as, "It is okay to lose a few lives to save the multitudes." This book is not judgmental. It only tells a story of what might have happened on a Pacific atoll during the last days of the cold war. The book is fictional and any resemblance of characters in the book, events or places to actual is purely coincidental.


TITLE PAGE...............................................................…………........................I DEDICATION & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS......................................…………….II TABLE OF CONTENTS ......................................................…………..............III FOREWORD ..........................................................................…………..........IV Chapter 1- PEACE CORPS ASSIGNMENTS……………………………………9 Chapter 2- VISIT TO VLADIVOSTOK ………………………………….……….15 Chapter 3-CONTRACT ASSIGNMENTS………………………………………. 25 Chapter 4-WELCOME TO THE ISLANDS………………………………………39 Chapter 5-NURSING ON EBEYE..........................................…...………....... 52 Chapter 6-BEACH COMBING................................................…………..........64 Chapter 7-ISLAND OF THE BIG PX......................................…………..........74 Chapter 8-DOLDRUMS AND TYHOONS..............................…………..........93 Chapter 9-MEDICAL SUPPLY TRIP TO GUAM ………………………..…….102 Chapter 10-INCOMING MISSILE............................................….………......131 Chapter 11-WHERE DID THE BLACK BOX GO ?......................…….….….146 Chapter 12-VACATION TO POHNPEI...............................…..……..............150 Chapter 13-DENIABILITY & SECURITY......................................………......167 Chapter 14-THE ADVENTURE IS WINDING DOWN...................………..….174 Chapter 15-IMPLOSION IN THE STRATOSPHERE...................………...... 179 III 4

The author of this book had the opportunity to live for eight years on two Pacific Island atolls and to visit a number of other atolls. An atoll is any number of coral topped islands which form the top rim of a dead volcano. Atolls may be circular, oval, or a combination thereof and might have a central island surrounded by a lagoon with an outer ring of islands like Pohnpei. While living there, the author was immersed in the cultures in a way not available to a tourist. This was because he married girls from Pohnpei and from the Marshall islands and liked to live with the people. It was through relationships established with local people that he was able to not only look on and hear what was happening, but also to participate as an active member of the social groups. Island girls are like butterflies. They are beautiful, full of life, and fly from one flower to another. They do not stay very long with one man. They love their man, but they also love and enjoy other men.

Before traveling and living in the Pacific, the author had read a number of travel and adventure books about the Pacific and had difficulty understanding why certain places kept popping up in the books. Hawaii, Wake Island, and Guam to mention a few. After living in the Pacific, the answer became obvious. There is an awful lot of water and very little land in the Pacific Ocean area. And, the prevailing winds and ocean currents caused large sailing ships to pass by IV

Those few places where there was land. And later, lack of adequate fuel supply for steam ships and for airplanes continued to cause the ships to stop in those lands. During the years of the propeller passenger planes, Wake Island, an open ended atoll, to be the second stop for the transcontinental clippers. The first stop after departure from San Francisco was Hawaii, slightly less than fuel capacity distance, and the second was Wake. On the wall in the Wake Island air terminal is a map showing how the flights fanned out from Wake North and West like a hand to five different destinations in the orient, all within reach of one more tank of fuel. The grand wooden hotel on the island lives on only pictures, however, because it burned down before WW II. We use places as crossroads because they are natural crossroads for the type of conveyance we are using in our journeys. Those crossroad places often have well known fabulous hotels and bars. Some are still interesting tourist attractions today but the real life is as it always was, with the people wherever we are. When we stop and listen to old people tell stories of the past, we can learn a lot about the history of places that is in no history books. It is that history that is


the spice added to the adventure of travel and life in far off place.

During the middle of the nineteenth century, when there were many whalers in the Pacific Ocean, Jaluit Atoll was the center of civilization of what is today the Republic of the Marshall Islands. After W.W.I, Germany took over sovereignty. That lasted until the invasion of the Pacific Atolls and islands by the Imperial Japanese. During the occupation, the Japanese used Jaluit atoll as their headquarters for that area and two of islands were heavily fortified. Other atolls had seaplane bases and land based fighter squadrons. After the Allies conquered the Imperial Japanese, the Pacific Islands were freed and put under the Trust Territory of the Pacific. They were remanded to the protection and care of the United States. In the early 80's, the Marshall Islands chose the republic style of government with the United States similar to Pohnpei, which had a few years earlier chosen a federated style. These choices enabled them to have unlimited free access for their citizens to the US like Puerto Rico residents have. Guam and Saipan chose other styles of government. After the Marshall Islands had chosen their style of government, the only portion of the Trust Territories of the Pacific remaining was Palau. Even today, that area has not chosen a style of independent government. This seemingly quiet and tranquil Pacific backwater, VI

Jaluit Atoll has seen much action during its history. It is the setting for this novel. For those readers who want to find the place on the map, it is located about halfway between Hawaii and Guam, and is almost on the Equator.



Marina was an adventuresome young woman and during her last semester in college responded to a newspaper advertisement about the Peace Corps. The ad and what she had heard about the Peace Corps attracted her. She wanted to do something she felt was worthwhile for a change. She was tired of going to school and studying. A reply to her response came in the mail one month before graduating from college along with an application and a list of presently available postings. The list included Lima Peru. Marina had always been interested in middle and southern American history and had read many books on the Aztecs and Incas and had been horrified by what the Conquistadors had done to those civilizations. She had longed to take a train ride up and over the Andes after seeing a documentary movie of such a trip. The scenery was breath taking. She had also read the archeological account of Brigham Young from Salt Lake City who had finally discovered Machu Picu and she hoped to visit it one day.

So, Marina applied for the assignment in Lima, Peru. Within a month she received notification in the mail of her acceptance to the posting in Lima, Peru for one year and to report to their local office in Detroit, Michigan, where Marina was living with her mother, the week after graduation for indoctrination and information briefings. She was ecstatic. She immediately drove her mother’s car to the address of the Peace Corps office to make sure she wouldn’t be late on the report date. Marina went into the office on the report date full of enthusiasm. At the end of the briefings and administrative processing, Marina received her airline tickets and contact information in Lima.


Marina flew off on her new adventure, her posting to Lima Peru, and her first Peace Corps assignment. She was very excited and fully expected a fantastic adventure. With such a positive attitude, it wasn’t surprising that she found the life there fascinating. She discovered that the Llamas were very intelligent creatures and well suited to their mountain habitat. She saw local people dying the Llama wool in vivid colors and weaving beautifully patterned and colorful clothing to brighten up their drab existence. She found most of the local people to be friendly and they appeared happy. She found the food tolerable, but sanitation somewhere between inadequate and non-existent. Therefore, Marina wasn’t surprised at the high rate of illness among the local people and even more so with the Peace Corps volunteers. Marina learned from another Peace Corps worker who had been there for some time to eat a half dozen seeds from the papaya fruit twice a day to stop the almost constant dysentery. She hated the taste of the seeds but they were effective. She also learned to personally boil all water before drinking, to only eat fresh fruits and vegetables that she herself had pealed, cleaned and cooked, and to thoroughly cook all meats. Doing these things helped her reduce her incidence rate with the dysentery.

The assignment in Peru educated Marina about the plight of the common man and the advantages of the highly socialized systems. She worked patiently giving what limited medical aid she could to the poor people to ease their pain and discomfort. She saw the disparity between the rich people living with all the modern conveniences, luxuries, proper healthy foods, good sanitation and expensive medicines and the poor, who were just existing and producing more children to work for the rich. She also noticed that the poor didn’t complain. Many women and children died in childbirth and most of them didn’t live long anyway. She was learning that quiet acceptance of life is not only the most practical alternative, but is often the only alternative to screaming out in a mad rage and being totally ignored anyway.


Marina wanted to travel a lot in Peru to see the historic sites, but the Peace Corps was adamant that she had to live at the same economic level as the local workers in the clinic to which she was assigned. However, she did get to see Machu Picu one time but that was the extent of her travel. She had money to spend of her own but faced dismissal if caught augmenting her local salary with her own money. A fellow Peace Corps Volunteer had augmented his local salary when he had gone off for a month sight seeing many of the historic cities. The Peace Corps supervisor had visited, found him gone without permission, discovered what he was doing and when the fellow returned, dismissed him from the Peace Corps program and sent him back to the US. The Peace Corps had that rule about the money because they had learned that you couldn’t effectively communicate and work with local people when there is too much of an economic difference in statures. Marina didn’t want a blemish on her work record with the Peace Corps so she adhered to the rules.

Marina dutifully wrote her mother every week describing her activities and what she saw in great detail. And, her mother wrote back every week. The letters were Marina’s lifelines to the other reality. Lima, Peru was just a temporary reality for her. Four months before the end of the assignment, Marina received a newspaper ad from her mother about a medical clinic in the Republic of the Marshall Islands needing American nurses and administrative staff. Marina was excited when she read the ad. Just the thought of being able to live back down at sea level and in a tropical climate was thrilling seemed like a heavenly assignment after the dry and dusty cold thin air with little oxygen in Lima Peru. Oh, she had enjoyed the assignment in Peru even though she hadn’t been able to travel and see what she wanted. But now, she had the opportunity for another adventure in another part of this wonderful planet.

While in Peru, she received a few letters from Bill, a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer she’d met in the Peace Corps classes in Detroit. He got his choice of a posting to Ghana in Africa. 11

He wrote he wasn’t happy living and working in Africa, had made a bad choice, and couldn’t wait to leave there. From Bill's letters, Africa seemed to be an even less glamorous assignment than Lima Peru. So, Marina applied for the job in the Marshall Islands and waited. She was anxious to leave Peru. The assignment had been interesting and educational but she was starting to feel restless and knew she had to move on.

Marina received another letter from Bill just after applying for the job in the Marshall Islands; this time he wrote saying he was quitting the Peace Corps. He wrote that he had just received notice of acceptance with a two-year contract with the Marshallese Government as Hospital Administrator in their clinic on Ebeye. He wrote that he had been getting weary of Ghana and needed a change of work place. He wrote that he had been sending out resumes all over the world to find a job. The job in the Marshall Islands was an advancement from the male nurse positions he had held before and during the Peace Corps assignment. The climate in the Marshall Islands was also far superior to that of his Peace Corps assignment in Ghana. He preferred administrative duties to hands-on with seriously ill or complaining patients. Here was an opportunity to live on a Pacific island. He said he had been in seventh heaven ever since he received the notice that he had been selected for the job on Ebeye Island, Kwajalein Atoll, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. He wrote to Marina of visions of fishing from the shore early in the morning and early in the evening for the tasty lagoon fish he had heard so much about. He could hardly wait to get on the plane to leave Africa and to get to the Marshall Islands. He wrote that he would be in the Marshall Islands by mid-August.

Marina was delighted and wrote him that she also had applied for a job in the Marshall Islands and that maybe they could get together sometime after she got there. She wrote that she was waiting for a response and would write him when she knew for sure she had the job there. Six weeks later, Marina received an acknowledgment letter from the Marshall Islands 12

with a two-year contract to sign and return, a check for travel expenses, and instructions on how to get to Ebeye Island, Kwajalein Atoll, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. Marina immediately wrote Bill another letter telling him that she had gotten the job. That it was at the same place as his job. And the date she would be arriving there. She was glad that there would be someone there she knew and looked forward to seeing Bill again anyway.

In the early summer of 1986 at the same time as Marina applied for and was accepted by the Marshallese Government for the position on Ebeye as assistant hospital administrator, Marina’s ailing grandmother in Vladivostok wrote to her daughter Sonja in Michigan and pleaded for her to send her only granddaughter, Marina, to her so that she could see her just one time before she died. Who could deny an old woman her last wish? Marina was due home from Lima soon and her mother decided to not write to Marina and to wait until she got home to ask her to go visit her grandmother.

Marina flew home to Detroit for a short visit. Upon arrival, her mother showed her the letter from her grandmother and said, “Please take a short trip and visit your grandmother before flying to the Marshall Islands. “ Marina thought this was great. A brief trip to Russia wasn’t a problem as she had two months before she was scheduled to report to work in the Marshall Islands and it would just shorten her vacation in the US. It wasn’t a problem. Anyway, here was another adventure to add to the collection she was starting. She didn’t know anyone else of her classmates or Peace Corps Volunteers who had visited Russia. She already had the adventures of Peru and visiting Machu Picu in her new collection of adventures and was ready to add more. She was thrilled.

Marina’s mother was glad to have her at home but was also a bit apprehensive about her leaving again so soon for another overseas job. The trip to visit her grandmother was ok 13

because it was of short duration. The long trips away bothered her. Her mother just wanted to keep Marina near. Marina's mother wasn’t as old as Bill's mother so Marina wasn’t worried about her dying while she was overseas. But, still, her mother preferred having her live nearby. Her father had died a few years earlier in an industrial accident in the local Dearborn Ford Factory.

After a week at home visiting old friends, shopping, and gorging herself on the unhealthy, rich, American fast foods and tasty freshly grated potato pancakes, a specialty of the local Russian restaurants, she was her normal healthy self again with a certain pleasant roundness to her cheeks and a bit more flesh on her arms and legs. The leanness she had shrunk to while in Peru was gone. She intentionally fattened up a bit. She disliked being too thin as much as being fat. But, she also didn’t like bones sticking out all over. She went to a tailor for nurse’s uniforms and to Wal-Mart shopping for a new wardrobe for the trip to visit grandmother and for the new overseas assignment. She bought two new nylon clothes travel bags to take her authorized weight limit with her on the plane and mailed three boxes of clothes and tennis shoes to herself on Ebeye. The nylon bags weighed far less than the hard shell Samsonite suitcases she had used on her Peru trip thereby giving her more weight for clothing. She suspected that like in Lima, the clothing selection for her would be extremely limited and felt it best to go well prepared.



It was during Marina's visit to Russia to see her grandmother that she first became caught up in the affairs of two world powers and became deeply enmeshed in the seemingly futile race to be winner of the Star Wars. Star Wars was the name given to the race between the superpowers to have missiles capable of shooting down each other's missiles while they were in the stratosphere. It was something like shooting down the Iranian Scud missiles with the ground to air peacekeeper missiles, only way up in the stratosphere. In comparison, it was a leap in technology from throwing rocks at each other to elaborate missile systems traveling at fantastic speeds. Imagine traveling from California to Guam in the Pacific Ocean in about 30 minutes time. By jet plane, the trip takes more than 15 hours.

And so it was that Marina flew to Russia to visit her grandmother. Some of the clothes she took were old school clothes she’d left behind when she went to Lima and she knew they would be too warm for use in the Marshall Islands. Marina's mother bought her the airplane

tickets and Marina flew to Vladivostok. She flew from Detroit to Anchorage to Tokyo and then on to Vladivostok. The flights were uneventful but exciting none-the-less. She was amazed at the minature food portions in the Japanese airline flight meals to Vladivostok. No wonder many Japanese were small, they never got enough food to eat to grow large.

After arrival at the air terminal in Vladivostok, Marina took a cab to the address on her grandmother's letter arriving in the late afternoon, but before dusk. She showed the driver the envelope so that he could read the address. He nodded indicating he knew the address. The building at the address was ancient, unpainted, and drab. Marina asked an old woman walking out the front door by showing the envelope with the return address of her grandmother, 15

if that person, Helga Popovich, lived in that building. The old woman took Marina by the hand and led her to an apartment inside on the ground floor at the back of the building. She knocked on the door and spoke Russian to a woman inside. There was the sound of a wooden chair being slid over a concrete floor and the voice of someone inside. The door opened. A skinny old woman bent over nearly double with arthritis, and with yellow-gray, stringy hair was standing in the doorway. She said, "Welcome, Marina, my granddaughter and come inside.” She hugged Marina and took her hand pulling her inside the room. Marina was shocked to see that grandmother wasn’t the tall, strong, white-haired lady Marina had imagined from pictures her mother had shown her. Helga’s life had taken a turn for the worse in the last few years. Grandmother took Marina inside the apartment. The apartment was decrepit looking. It was a one-room affair; the furniture consisted of a bed, two chairs, a table, a clothes cabinet, and a cooking table with a one-burner gas cooker, and a kitchen cabinet. There were faint traces of paint and many rusty water stains on the walls and ceiling. The furniture was old and beat up. There was no food in the apartment, and grandmother looked like she was in need of proper foods and medicines. To Marina, she looked near death but Marina didn’t want to say that to her.

Marina asked where the bathroom was as she needed to use it and Grandmother took her down the hall. The bathroom was a small room on the ground floor down the hallway and was shared by all six apartments on that floor. It contained a toilet, sink, and shower stall. It looked just as drab and decrepit as Grandmothers room. But, it was functional.

Grandmother was very happy to see her only granddaughter and continued to welcome her with hugs and kisses. She kept holding Marina's hand, stroking it constantly. Marina told grandmother a bit about her trip and how her mother was doing. She removed grandmother's hand tightly clasping her own and opening a bag and reaching in took out, and gave 16

grandmother the large package from her mother. Helga set the package aside, held Marina's hand tightly again. Grandmother didn’t want to let go of Marina’s hand. Helga and Marina sat on the edge of the bed for a while in silence.

Grandmother’s English was poor and she spoke with a heavy accent so Marina had to converse slowly with her and to listen intently and carefully. Marina's mother had refused to speak Russian to Marina and to teach her Russian. She had said, "Marina you will be an American, and not a hated foreigner for not being able to speak English correctly."

After a few minutes, grandmother got up from the bed and went to the apartment door, opening it and said to the neighbors standing patiently and quietly in the hallway, "Come inside, see and visit with my granddaughter." They came inside and stood in the apartment looking at Marina. Helga Popovich proudly said, "This is my beautiful granddaughter Marina from the USA. This is the first time I see her. I wrote my daughter, her mother, to send my granddaughter to visit me and now she is here."

Marina was embarrassed at being the center of attention and without understanding what the people were saying. To help gain composure, Marina said, “I’ll go and buy some coffee, tea, and food.”

Grandmother said "No, give me the money and I will have one of the young neighbor girls do the shopping." Marina gave grandmother a twenty-dollar bill, and all eyes were bright looking at the money. Grandmother gave the money to a young girl with hurried instructions and the girl left.


The eighteen neighbors stayed crowded into the small apartment just staring at Marina. Here was a Russian girl who had grown up in the USA and who was now visiting her grandmother. A few started speaking English. The older women remembered Sonja, Marina's mother, and asked about her. They remarked about Marina's fine clothes and the fact that she was obviously well fed and in good health. They remarked that she must be rich to be able to afford such a trip. She said, "No, I am not rich. My mother bought the airplane ticket from insurance money left over after my father died. Mother received a letter from grandmother begging to see me before she died, and mother told me to make this trip as it was very important." There were nods and mutterings of understanding by the older people in the room.

Several of the teenage neighbor boys and girls got over their initial shyness and timidly started asking Marina questions. "Was she married? Had she finished college? Where was she working now? Did she have a fiancée or boyfriend? Could she sponsor them to come to the USA to go to school or to work? How long was she going to stay? Did she want to go sight seeing around the town? Did she want to go out and meet other Russian young women and men her age?"

Marina answered the questions, and said, "Yes, I would like to go sight seeing around town tomorrow morning." The girl sent shopping returned, and grandmother lit the gas burner to boil water for the coffee. The neighbors politely excused themselves and left to give Marina and her grandmother some time alone. Grandmother opened the package from her daughter and read the letter inside. She cried. She continued crying as she opened the other brightly wrapped small packages inside with the photographs, perfume, and new flower printed soft cotton underwear.


Grandmother said to Marina, "I am so lonely without my daughter, but, it was the best decision I ever made to send Sonja to the USA when the opportunity presented itself. I am so very happy and proud to see that, my daughter has such a fine daughter, my granddaughter, before I die." She gave Marina another hug and a kiss on the forehead and again another long hug. Marina felt grandmother tremble as she hugged Marina the second time. They ate the sparse meal of vegetables, fish, and bread in silence. For grandmother the dinner fare was better than she had been able to have for a long time and thanked her granddaughter for the food. Grandmother and granddaughter went to sleep early, both in the one double bed. It was cold but with the two of them together, Marina found it tolerable.

In the morning, after coffee, bread and butter and strawberry jam, two neighbor teenage girls knocked on the door and asked if she was ready to go sightseeing with them. Marina looked at grandmother who smiled, nodded, and said, "Yes, yes please go with them. They will show you some of the old town and the places where your mother grew up and went to school. I want you to see these things. I am too old and crippled to take you myself. Go now and have a good time. I will have hot coffee and a nice meal waiting when you return." Marina went off with the two teenage girls and the two boys to explore the town where her mother grew up.

The girls and boys took Marina all over the city to see the museums, the bridges, the municipal buildings, the schools, the graveyards, and the port. They traveled by bus and streetcar. Fares were nominal. Everywhere she went people stared at Marina. At first it bothered her, but after a while she just ignored the stares. Marina had tried to bring simple and not flashy clothes because she was a conservative girl, but the style and relative newness of her clothing attracted attention anyway. Marina remarked to her companions about the stares, and they told her to not bother about it, saying, the people were just admiring her 19

clothes. The sight seeing continued at a rapid pace for three days until Marina thought she would drop with exhaustion. On the second day, Ivan, recently graduated from college and employed by the government, joined the group. As they walked, Ivan gave a continuous discourse about things to Marina. Marina found him to be very well informed about the city, politics, and international issues. He was a bit older, had more education and was more involved with things, than the teenage girls and boys in the group. Ivan was a spry and lively curly black haired youth with a sparkle in his black eyes and cheerfulness in his voice. Marina enjoyed being with him. He seemed to have friends everywhere they went. People continuously called out hello to him. On the third day, Ivan said, "Marina, do you want to help your grandmother, and the Russian people?"

Marina said, "Sure."

Ivan asked her again just before the sight seeing was over for the day. Each time she answered, Ivan left the yes answer alone and didn’t elaborate. When they got back to grandmother's apartment the end of the third day of sightseeing, Marina said to Ivan, "You asked me twice if I want to help my grandmother and the Russian people. I answered yes both times, but you have said nothing more. What do you mean by help from me, and by help to my grandmother?"

He said. "Come with me tonight to visit my other friends and you will find out."

After Marina and grandmother finished their evening meal, there was a knock at the door. It was Ivan. He asked Marina, "Are you ready to visit some newly graduated college students like myself".


She said, "Yes". The apartment complex where Ivan took Marina was about five kilometers away. They went by street trolley. The trolley was old and badly in need of paint and varnish but there was no graffiti on it like in the USA and it was obviously very functional. The other passengers were solemn faced but polite older people. The apartment complex they went to was newer than the one grandmother lived in but it too was old, dating from the early 50's. It was drab gray, and architecturally would win no prizes but it was much nicer than the one where grandmother Popovich lived. There was no elevator, only a clean and drab narrow thin marble covered staircase. They went inside an apartment near the back on the fourth floor.

The apartment was filled with young men and women and bubbling with excitement and loud voices. There was a shout of, "Hello Ivan," as they entered and the room became silent.

Ivan said, "Let us all introduce ourselves to Marina." He started introductions by saying, "I am Ivan, an electrical engineer, just graduated from the university, and one year into a job with the government and this is Marina an American whose mother was born and raised here in this town. She is here to visit her grandmother Helga Popovich whom some of you know, and just completed a Peace Corps assignment to Peru. She will soon go on to work in the Marshall Islands." The other young men and women followed his lead and introduced themselves in the same manner, welcomed her, and several indicated that Ivan had already told them about her.

As the introductions were being made, Marina thought, what possibly could these people want from me? She decided to take a chance and ask point blank. "What can I do? What do you want me to do?"


One young man said, “If you will do what you are asked, Helga Popovich will be given medical treatment and good food supplies every month for the rest of her life and perhaps, if you do a really good job, your grandmother could also be given an apartment with her own private bathroom in a newer and better building.”

Again, Marina asked. "What do you want me to do?" Because of her love for her grandmother and the promises of proper medical treatment, better food, and better housing for her grandmother, Marina was interested in pursuing the question.

Finally, one woman in the group spoke up and said, "Marina, you can be an observer and an informant for Russia while working on Peace Corps assignments and at Kwajalein because there is a large US Military base there, and later on who knows what other interesting and more important assignments you might have.” She said, “You are to get and provide telephone directories, office staffing charts, and comments on the moods and morale of the workers and economic conditions wherever you are working."

This didn’t sound like serious spying, and anyway, she couldn’t envision that she would ever gain access to classified data. Marina saw no national threat obtaining and providing the things they had mentioned and, to her, these items were of no value anyway, and were available to anyone. It wasn’t like she would be giving away top-secret plans of strategic missiles or atomic bombs. Therefore, she felt no pangs of conscience about betraying her country, the USA. As for fear of being detected and caught, she thought who would suspect an American born girl from Detroit, Michigan, as having any affiliation with a communist country, much less being a mole for it? So, for the promise of a better and easier life for grandmother, Marina agreed to do what she could. Ivan took Marina back to grandmother's apartment, gave her a hug and a brief kiss on each cheek and said good night. 22

During the following week, Ivan took Marina to the Russian Embassy every morning. The two men they visited in the Russian Embassy were intelligence officers who on previous assignments had worked in Russian Embassy offices in Western Germany, Greece, Turkey, the United States and Mexico. They didn’t tell Marina their names or positions, but did answer Marina's questions about what specific kinds of information they were looking for, possible penalties for having the items in her possession, how the items were to be delivered to her contacts, and whom the initial contacts would be. The two men gave Marina many examples of the items they desired and how these items were obtained and passed to the contacts in other countries. Desired items included telephone directories listing the organizational structure, building numbers, and phone numbers as well as the names of the individuals assigned. It all sounded simple enough with little or no penalty to Marina should she be caught with the items so she said. "Ok, I understand, I think I am ready."

After two weeks in Vladivostoc, Marina said goodbye to grandmother, tearful for both of them. Ivan took her to the airport in a cab, kissing and hugging her, and wishing her a safe and successful journey and venture.

Marina flew back to through Tokyo, Seattle and on to Detroit. She took a cab from the airport to her mother’s home where she was welcomed with enthusiasm as great as grandmother’s had been. Her mother asked how grandmother was and if she had taken many pictures. Marina told her how grandmother was and how she lived and said “I have many pictures but have to take them to Quick Print Photo to have them developed.” They chatted well into the night. Marina’s mother was grateful for Marina’s visit to her mother but was deeply saddened by the difficult life she had in Vladivostoc.


The rest of Marina’s vacation time passed swiftly. Marina visited her friends telling them of her adventures and upcoming job in the Marshall Islands. They were all nicely jealous and happy for her. Most of them already had steady jobs and steady boy friends or husbands and couldn’t even contemplate traveling like Marina so they enjoyed living the adventures through Marina. They all asked her to promise to write frequently and to send pictures. Finally, the vacation was over, the bags were repacked for the nth time and Marina had to make her fair wells to her mother again. Her mother and friends offered to take her to the airport and to wait with her in the lobby until she boarded the flight but she said no as Marina found it just to hard emotionally to do that especially when the flight was delayed repeatedly. It was far easier to just say goodbye at the house, hop in a cab and wave goodbye.

Marina flew from Detroit to San Francisco, to Honolulu, Hawaii and had to stay overnight in the Mailie Court Hotel on Kuhio Avenue down town Waikiki where the Marshallese Government had made reservations for her before boarding Air Marshalls the next morning for the flight through Majuro, the capital, to Kwajalein. The pause in Honolulu was too brief to do anything and she vowed to herself to come back and visit it properly some time later. She did however have time to go out for dinner to a Thai restaurant recommended by the hotel desk clerk two blocks away on a side street. She had a very tasty meal with a very hot green curry spice. She really enjoyed that meal alone and the hot spice made it memorable. Walking back to the hotel she saw the American version of the rickshaw cabs carrying two or more people and being pedaled by strong young men wearing black shorts down over the knee and red and white horizontally striped shirts with sleeves down to the wrist and black bowler hats.



While Marina was visiting her grandmother and finishing her vacation with her mother in Detroit, Bill arrived on Kwajalein from Ames, Iowa. He had stopped enroute from Africa to visit his elderly mother and father for a week who both wished him well, and who both tearfully said to him, "Bill, we will probably die before you came back, so this is the last time we expect to see you."

But, Bill had heard them say that each and every time he left home and just ignored their comments. He gave each a hug and a kiss and took a cab to the airport. He flew through San Francisco to Honolulu, Hawaii. He remained overnight in the Mailie Court Hotel on Kuhio Avenue where the Marshallese Government had made reservations for him, and flew on the Air Marshalls Airline the next day through Majuro, the capital, and on to Kwajalein. He really liked the Mailie Court Hotel, it was a new hotel with 30 some odd floors, a fantastic view of the city from the rooms and an outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi hot tub on the 13th floor. On his one evening in town he walked around downtown Waikiki and ate two slices of pizza at Magoo’s around the corner from the hotel. He had simple tastes and was frugal. Sometimes he was even more frugal than he wanted or intended to be. It had to do with how he had been raised and the value system he had been taught. He thought there was no need to eat a fish dinner at an expensive tourist restaurant when tomorrow he would be where he could catch his own fresh ocean or reef fish and pay nothing or so he thought.

After the smooth flight and landing on Kwajalein and upon disembarking from the plane, Bill felt the balmy trade winds on his cheeks. He was wearing the aviator dark sun glasses, tan wash and wear Docker brand cotton pants, cotton long sleeved white checkered shirt, cotton underwear, white tennis shoes, and white stockings he had been advised to wear, and which became his uniform while he was stationed on Ebeye. The warm winds were delightful and Bill 25

knew the weather was almost the same year round and he was happy he could avoid the biting snow, ice, and hail of Ames, Iowa during the winter times. At first blush, the place was everything Bill had dreamed of. But he hadn’t seen Ebeye yet.

There was the usual hassle of clearing through the military airport with baggage claim, baggage sniff and slobber by the drug searching bloodhounds and reclaim of baggage and the riding of a shuttle (a white step side Chevy commercial delivery van with bench seats) to the pier to catch the boat for the ride to Ebeye. The boat ride was on an old WW II Landing Craft Utility (LSU) with a canvas top and plywood box seats. It was painted a light gray color as if it were still a US Navy vessel.

The ride north alongside the reef was spectacular. Bill looked down over the edge of the reef through the blue and clear water. The water was a deep blue where the water was deep and shaded up to aquamarine and light green near the reef where the water was shallower. He saw many interesting white and yellow mushroom like coral formations, huge brain corals, and many fish he had previously seen only in library books. He saw rainbow runner fish looking something like an elongated rainbow trout, red snappers, bright yellow angel fish, a puffer fish, and one long thin white one with vertical narrow red bands or stripes. He couldn’t wait to get into the water to go snorkeling and see more.

Bill’s Marshallese supervisor, June, was at the pier on Ebeye to greet Bill. There were throngs of people everywhere, not the beautiful golf course image of Kwajalein with only a few people visible. June showed Bill to the clinic and his assigned sleeping apartment in the back of the clinic on the ocean side. Bill thought that at least it was better than his digs in Ghana had been. The apartment was serviceable and cool from the trade winds, giving a constant, cool, humid and salty breeze. He briefed Bill on his duties, who the customers were and what 26

services were to be provided. June said, "Ebeye Island is the residence of about twenty-four thousand Marshallese. Some of these people are either the owners or descendants of those who own Kwajalein Island presently leased to the U.S. Army by the Marshallese Government and are the recipients of the quarterly lease payments. Some of them are also farmers and fishermen who are really residents of outer islands. But, they live here on Ebeye and visit the outer islands to harvest their crops and to fish off the reef when the Army is not conducting missile tests and has not placed the central half of the atoll off limits. Ebeye is the only island in the atoll totally occupied by the Marshallese, which has electricity, and potable water shipped over from Kwajalein when the local catchment runs out. It is close enough to Kwajalein to pick up Armed Forces Network radio and TV broadcasts. Living on Ebeye is a significant improvement in the life styles of many of the local people over that available on the outer islands."

Before dinner that first day, Bill went snorkeling in the lagoon near the Southern end of the island out of the way of the LSU and where the water was pristine and undisturbed by the LSU propeller. Bill noticed several very pretty Marshallese girls walking into the water to swim, fully clothed in their dresses. As he watched, the three young girls swam toward him smiling and laughing and using the breaststroke. They had long black hair and very pretty round faces with bright and sparkling eyes. It was obvious they were interested in Bill. They swam close to where he was standing in the shallow water near the shore, stood up and smiled. Bill stared at them. Their wet clothes molded to their firm post puberty bodies revealing everything. They were gorgeous. They were about five feet tall and just beautiful. Their firm breasts jutted straight out. The coldness of the water had made their nipples hard and the nipples pushed the cloth of the dresses out. They had all the right curves in the right places and were not the least bit self-conscious. They stood and turned to the right and to the left, allowing Bill to ogle them more. But, since the girls looked no more than fifteen, Bill smiled back nervously, and 27

waved without indicating for the girls to come to him, turned away, and walked back to the clinic. The girls were obviously disappointed, but turned away, walked into the deeper water and swam away giggling.

Bill found out from June later, when he asked about the girls he just seen swimming, that local custom dictated girls and women must wear all their clothes when they went swimming. Little kids younger than ten could swim with only their underpants or panties or even with no clothes at all. But, it wasn’t allowed for girls to bare their breasts or to wear swimming suits revealing the area from shoulders down to their knees. Many girls’ breast-fed babies in public, but otherwise, the erotic region wasn’t to be shown in public, at least not intentionally. Anyway, breast-feeding a child was natural and expected. June chuckled as he told Bill "If a woman allows you to fondle her breast, it means she is ready to have sex with you." Bill said, "Thanks for the information." And he thought that there were some strange but interesting customs here.

June continuing educating Bill, "In spite of their apparent prudishness, the local girls are actually quite brazen. They have no difficulty knocking on a man's door after dark for an amorous rendezvous. But, if the girl is still with the man the next morning in the daylight, the man married the girl the night before. If no one sees him with her in the daylight the next morning, they both just had a good time. And, having babies out of wedlock is not frowned on in this society. In fact, having light skinned babies is admired. Having a baby is also proof of fertility, which is a desirable trait for a person available for marriage. Sometimes, the girls only want to get pregnant from the white man to have a light skinned baby and to be the center of attention."


Bill said, "These things are in direct conflict with the moral code I learned in school and while growing up in the US. I am having difficulty accepting the fact that the local rules now apply to me. This is a new freedom with which I am not comfortable yet."

Bill wanted to date some of the local beauties, but figured he had better ask June first what was okay and what wasn’t. He didn’t want to cause offense, and lose his new job right away. He asked June one evening after work, telling him that he understood that there were different customs here than those back in the US, and that he wanted to learn so that he wouldn’t unintentionally give offense to anyone. June said, "You are a good man to say what you have." June said, "There is no dating, and if you are seen walking around the island with a girl, you will be considered married to that girl."

Bill asked, "How can I get with a girl then?"

June said, "That is easy. But you must understand most of the girls over sixteen years old are already married and the best selection is from the unspoiled fourteen to fifteen year olds. To make a connection with a girl, you need only motion with your hand to the girl who is paying you a lot of attention, to come. If she is interested, she will come. You need not tell the girl where you live because she already knows. The girls are watching all the time. The girls make their own selections. Men don’t select girls. Girls select men and they usually make their selections in the morning for that evening's play. The men only accept the selection made by the girls." This was a novel concept for Bill to understand and to accept.

Bill had considerable emotional and mental anguish to get over about the differences in the moral codes and strict laws with severe penalties for sleeping with underage girls. He refrained and thought about it. Each day, he looked longingly at the pretty girls, and they 29

continued with their luring, seductive looks. There were just so many different pretty ones. He didn’t know how he could pick just one. No matter where he was on Ebeye or where he looked, there was another pretty girl standing and smiling at him. Since Bill and Marina had just been friends in the Peace Corps schools and not lovers, Bill had no personal problem with taking on a local girl. But, he just couldn’t decide which one wrongly thinking he had to limit himself to just one.

The clinic in the Marshall Islands was much nicer and cleaner than the one in which he worked in Ghana. But, it wasn’t really clean. The floor was dirty with sand and paper litter, the linoleum tiles in the walking areas were worn through, the paint was peeling, and there were water stains on many ceiling boards. The local workers said the roofs only leaked when it rained and when it wasn't raining, you couldn't find the leaks. The clinic wasn’t air-conditioned and with many patients awaiting the attention of doctors and nurses, the air was often extremely humid and foul smelling. It was a place an American wouldn’t go if he were sick.

Although Bill’s job was administrative, he got directly involved in some of the treatments when the clinic was short staffed. Sometimes the local nurses didn’t come in to work because of family problems. But, they were paid whether they worked or not. Bill saw medical problems that shocked him. Patients came in with dirty, blood soaked bandages which when removed, revealed cavernous wounds oozing green and yellow pus. Cleaning those wounds and treating the infections was foul work. Some were from cuts from machetes or bites on the hands, arms, and legs from coconut spiders or the occasional shark. Others were from improperly lanced boils on the neck and groin. The big black coconut palm spiders with white lines across their back and down their legs gave the most troublesome bites as they left a poison under the skin which itched terribly even after the body had encapsulated it with fat to try and keep it away. The birth defects bothered Bill the most. There were the usual cleft 30

pallets. But the babies’ malformed or missing body extremities because of lingering radiation effects really bothered Bill. He was a kind and caring person. The patients from the outlying islands came by outboard motor boat or by sailboat. To them, the clinic was fantastic because doctors and medicine were available there. There were a few medical technicians, more like medical corpsmen, for the outer islands with a limited supply of medicine and first aid items. Any serious injury required a trip to the clinic to see a doctor. Sick call was every morning. They didn’t use the appointment system. People just came into the clinic needing to see a doctor, the clerk on the counter took their name and medical complaint, and told them to sit down and wait their turn and they were treated when their turn came to see the doctor. And, patients came in at all hours for treatment. Bill found himself rushing around at all times trying to find staff to provide service to the sick and injured.

Bill was amazed at the vast amounts of penicillin and other new and strong medicines given to the medical technicians to take back to the outer islands to be handed out to patients. He was told that the Marshallese government received the medicines from other countries as foreign aid. The medicines sent to the outer islands were being used to treat known cases of sexually transmitted diseases. Syphilis, Gonorrhea and many forms of non-specific were common. It wasn’t anything unusual for people to have combinations of the illnesses at the same time. He was told that by looking at the list of people to whom the medicines were to be given, you could tell who socialized with whom. Sometimes, it was surprising. But, it was also a list of who to avoid for sexual contact.

There was no charge to the patients for the medicine or hospital visits. They had no money anyway. Treatment was sporadic, however, because the supply of medicine wasn’t constant and much of the medicine was far past the expiration date and had little efficacy left. Therefore re-infections were common. Condoms had been given by the foreign countries to 31

aid in controlling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and the clinic tried to give them out. But, the local men refused them because they could feel nothing with them on. Bill was shocked at the high rate of sexually transmitted diseases among the general population. When he remarked about it, he was told that was a legacy of the whalers and sailors of many nations. He was told that the threat of getting or the fact of actually having a sexually transmitted disease didn’t stop social intercourse or even slow it down. The Marshallese customs were for liberal relationships and nothing would change that.

The buildings on the island serving as homes reminded Bill of shantytowns with scrap wood and tin for walls and roofing. Raw sewage and washing machine water discharge ran through narrow dirt ditches to the ocean side and the lagoon side. The island was crowded. It was only one thousand meters at the widest part and maybe three thousand meters long. His supervisor June said, "The poor life Bill saw on Ebeye was far better than the life on the outer islands."

Bill said, "I feel pity and sadness for the Marshallese who consider Ebeye a nice place to live.” But then Bill hadn’t lived on a Marshallese outer Island and had to suffer the boredom and lack of availability of the most basic of necessities of life and didn’t really know how great Ebeye was in comparison.

Going to pristine and clean Kwajalein Island with the country-club style living under control of the army was a pleasant escape from the rigors of Ebeye, and riding the LSU back and forth was an adventure in itself. Bill went to Kwajalein every time he could come up with an excuse to go. Most of the time the LSU was crowded with the Marshallese going to and from work. On their way home, they brought packages of things they had been given, or had taken. The Army had decided it would be better to burn the scrap wooden pallets and plastic 32

55-gallon drums to avoid any possible future problems of complaints of cancer caused by carcinogenic materials in the drums. These items were highly prized by the Marshallese as building materials and as water storage containers for rainwater so they took them from the dump before they were burned. They didn’t consider it stealing because they were going to be destroyed and rationalized that they were saving the Army the trouble of burning the stuff. Residents of Kwajalein Island also bought building materials from the Army to redo the interiors of their BOQ rooms, expand their assigned house trailers and houses. The scraps and other leftovers were available for the Marshallese to have and to take home. Sometimes the materials would be moved from the site where first found to another and later to another, each time closer to the dock. The things were constantly watched and if some American objected, they abandoned the effort to take them to Ebeye but if over a few weeks and several moves no American objected, they felt it safe to liberate the items. Once in a while another Marshallese who coveted an item would remove it from a stash place and hide it in his own hiding place and then there would be howls of anger from the one who had lost the item. The biggest and bulkiest of the items were either taken to Ebeye on fishing boats in the evening at dinner hour, when there were few observers, or in the evening on the LSU when there were few passengers. The LSU drivers chose to look the other way. Their job was to drive the boats and wasn’t to provide security.

Bill preferred trips on the LSU after sunset because the LSU was no longer crowded with workers. One of the LSU's had an engine that was out of synchronization with the other engine. The resultant pulsating vibration was therapeutic when he lay on top of one of the plywood boxes built as seats. Bill found he could get a free forty-five minute total body vibrating massage while looking at the stars of the Southern Constellation and with the cool salty sea breeze gently caressing his body.


Bill found that by having patience and tolerance, he was becoming accepted by the Marshallese. He learned his role was to help the Marshallese to live healthier lives and to provide the medical assistance they needed. He wasn’t there to change their social customs or practices or to tell them they couldn’t have medicines or services. Many of the islanders still used traditional medical remedies and paid witch doctors for their services. But, as long as Bill didn’t openly object to that, he was accepted and that was apparent by the flocks of people coming to him for treatment and the populous in general talking good about him. The Marshallese people were just desperate for medical help and improvement in their general health situation. Bill learned he had to constantly learn about the Marshallese, their customs, and their culture to be able to fit in, and to give good medical service.

Because of Bill's friendly attitude and willingness to learn their ways, the Marshallese people gladly showed Bill how they did things like harvesting, cooking, and using the pulp of the pandannus palm fruit. They used this orange pulp to make jam, to add to pancake flour, to add to flour to make cakes and as pudding. When he asked why they ate it, he got the answer because it was there, it was food and it kept them healthy. Bill did some research and found that the pandannus fruit was rich in vitamins. He learned further that the Marshallese got their oil from the coconuts which they grated and combined with rice and other foods. Fish provided the protein, but there was little fat in the fish. Eating fish and drinking and eating the coconuts resulted in low cholesterol levels. He noted over time that the Marshallese who were the poorest and primarily lived on the outer islands isolated from the heavily salt and sugar-laden snack foots and almost entirely subsisted on local foods were the healthiest with the hardest and brightest white teeth without cavities. But in contrast, those who subsisted almost entirely on the imported, canned, salted meats, and consumed large quantities of candy, had few teeth, glaucoma, and diabetes.


One evening after going to bed in his apartment room in the back of the clinic, there was a light knock on the door. Upon opening it, Bill saw a young, beautiful, bright-eyed Marshallese girl of about eleven years of age. She came in, pushing the door shut behind her. She took Bill's right hand lifting her dress with her other hand, and placed Bill's finger tips directly on her pubic area. She wore no panties. She then placed her other hand onto Bill's penis, and began to gently squeeze. Bill started to become aroused. He felt the girl's skin was smooth and without pubic hair. He could feel her trembling under his fingertips. He told himself this wasn’t happening, and that if it was, he had to stop it immediately. He removed his hand from her pubic area even though the girl tried to keep his hand there. He took her to the front door of the clinic, told her to go home, and told the security guard, “Don't let her in again." He didn’t know if he was more embarrassed, scared, or shocked at what had happened, or what had almost happened.

It was Sunday and June told Bill to go to Kwajalein on Monday and meet Marina, his new assistant and bring her back to Ebeye. Bill was elated at the assignment. He put on a clean version of his uniform and took the 7 A.M. LSU to Kwajalein for a nice breakfast in the snack bar and then took a leisurely walk to the air terminal. The airstrip for Kwajalein Atoll was on Kwajalein. Bill found himself among many other people eagerly awaiting arrival of the flight and to see the people getting off the plane. Bill was dressed and groomed plainly but neatly. His hair was cut short, he was clean shaven in contrast to many Marshallese men who had several days’ growth of beard, and he wore a light tan starched shirt, darker tan trousers, and had reddish brown boat shoes on his feet with white stockings. Some of the American bachelors in the waiting area wore the bright red, orange and green Hawaiian shirts. They were shockingly loud. Bill, being short, had to push his way through the crowd of people to get to the front to see the people getting off the plane. Finally, Bill saw Marina descending the steps from the plane. He thought Marina looked great as she got off the plane. She was 35

wearing a light beige cotton dress and with a straw hat with bright red and yellow flowers in it on her head. Some of her blond hair was sticking out from under the hat and was blowing gently in the breeze. Bill tried to contain his eagerness at her arrival. He thought that she looked just luscious. He called out her name, she saw him, ran to him, and they embraced each other on the tarmac. It was a glamorous arrival welcome. Some of the American bachelors watching the people get off the plane were jealous and saddened. They too were excited seeing this beautiful young girl getting off the plane and were hoping she was unattached and available.

Bill took Marina and her luggage to the marina on the local shuttle bus to wait at the dock for the LSU boat ride to Ebeye. The plane had arrived late so there wasn’t enough time to stop at the snack bar and still catch the next scheduled LSU trip. The boat ride to Ebeye was pleasant and cool with the wind blowing and occasional drops of waves blowing over the passengers. The drops tasted salty and the sensation was pleasant.

There was a second welcome for Marina at the dock on Ebeye. The local women informed of her pending arrival were eagerly waiting to greet her. They were shouting "Yokwe", a Marshallese greeting meaning hello and welcome. Four women had strings of fragrant and brightly colored flowers, which they draped around Marina's neck and placed as crowns on her head. Mary, the Marshallese head nurse of the clinic, took Marina to her assigned lodging. Marina had been assigned half of an old twelve by sixty foot aluminum military house trailer. It was the same type of trailer many families and a few bachelors lived in on Kwajalein. Marina’s half was about 300 square feet of space including a private bathroom. It was simple, but better than what she’d had in Peru.


Marina asked to be left alone to unpack and settle in. But instead went for a swim in the lagoon right away. She had promised her mother she would do that for her immediately upon her arrival there and to telepathically send her pleasant thoughts of the experience. Marina was a Scorpio and could sometimes send thought messages to other receptive people. After Marina finished her swim in the lagoon on the day of arrival, Bill came by to take her for dinner in a restaurant. They walked. There were few cars and in reality, none were needed. The place was too small. The restaurant was plain and functional. The dinner was tasty pan-fried red snapper lightly browned, rice, grated carrot and cabbage salad, and ice tea. It was much fresher and tastier and far cheaper than in any TGIF restaurant in the US.

The next morning, Bill came to the trailer and to walk Marina to the clinic. He’d told her about the clinic at dinner the night before so she wasn’t too surprised when she saw it herself. It was better than the one in Peru. But, she felt it had a long way to go to meet reasonable cleanliness standards. She reasoned they were here to provide some urgently needed medical service to the Marshallese people, and had been hired by the Marshallese government to improve service. Therefore, she must make do with what was available and try to improve it. She believed that to complain too much would be counter-productive. Anyway, she was thrilled at actually being on a Pacific Island. She had thoroughly enjoyed her swim the afternoon before. The water had been warm on top with a nice coolness below the surface. Coolness, but not coldness like the water on the beaches of California washed by the Humboldt Current as another of the Peace Corps volunteers, a surfer, had told her. Marina vowed to go swimming everyday after work. She though she was going to like it here. After all, the assignment was as much for Marina to enjoy as much as it was for the Marshallese to get service from her.


Marina was excited. The people were so much friendlier than in the US or in Peru and many greeted her in English. As she looked around, she saw young pregnant women everywhere, some with babies in arms on or on the hand and some without. It seemed like almost every teenage girl or young woman was pregnant. Later, she found out that the women from the outer islands came to the clinic on Ebeye to give birth where there was a "hospital" and their babies had a better chance of survival than with only midwives on the outer islands. This was what caused there to be a disproportionate number of pregnant girls on Ebeye. In the Marshall Islands, mortality of babies was so high, that children were not named until they had survived one year of life. The first birthday is a big naming event and a celebration that the child is still alive. Most of those babies surviving the first year of life, to lived to be adults.



Marina was a bubbly, outgoing, caring girl who made friends easily. After she was on Ebeye two weeks, the Marshallese women hosted a welcome to the islands party for Marina. This is a traditional event where a selected newcomer to the island is welcomed with songs, dancing, many handicraft gifts, and palm frond baskets heaped with traditional foods. The old women watch, listen, discuss, and decide if the newcomer will be a welcome addition or a troublemaker. The old women are wise and rarely make a mistake and hold such an event for someone who does not fit in well in their community. When the decision is that the person will be a welcome addition, they give that person a welcome party. If not, there is no party, and nothing more is ever said about it. The old women are so secretive about it that the foreigner never knows he or she was considered for acceptance into the Marshallese society. Marina felt both honored and flattered by her welcome to the islands party. Bill hadn’t been invited and wasn’t to be given such a party. There were only women present. She thought the party was a very special nice way to welcome her to Ebeye and was glad she had passed the tests, had been given the party, and was now part of the local society.


During the party, Rita, the wife of Kio, told Marina about a Marshallese Iroij visiting Ebeye one time asking when a certain foreign man, who had lived there for over a year was going to be given the welcome to the islands party. The iroij was told not to ask. Rita said the foreigner hadn’t displayed the social attributes deemed necessary and desirable for someone to be welcomed. He wasn’t shunned, but he wasn’t formally welcomed either. He had been there to assemble an ice plant. He’d brought his motorbike and enjoyed early evening rides in the cool air. One evening, he crashed the bike on a straight a way. There were no chuckholes or rocks in the way to have caused the crash and no other vehicles. He had a badly scraped leg and face and a mild concussion. The foreigner said the last thing he remembered before the crash was that he had seen a beautiful young Marshallese woman in a white dress coming out of nowhere. The locals knew the old ghost witch princess was up to her evil ways again. Before the witch had died many generations before, she had lost her young lover to another girl and in a fit of rage had killed both of them on the reef early one evening. Ever since, a handsome young man would occasionally be found dead on that stretch of beach and no explanation 40

could be found. The islanders hadn’t warned the foreigner to stay away from that section of the island because he hadn’t been welcomed into their midst. He was still a foreigner, and not one of them. That was just the way it was.

Marina enjoyed her welcoming party and the hospitality and open friendliness during the party and afterwards made her feel very comfortable and right at home. Marina made swimming in the sea on the lagoon side of the island late every afternoon after work and until dark a habit, and children and some teenagers swam with her. Marina found the swims very refreshing and invigorating after a long hot and hard day in the humid clinic. While in the cool water, Marina was able to compose and re-focus herself. She found she really needed these cool refreshing breaks and started checking her watch mid-afternoon to see if it was get away time from the clinic yet.

Bill and Marina often went on walks together on Ebeye in the evening after her swim; they usually ate together, and sometimes took trips to Kwajalein together. They socialized with the local people as a twosome and both of them chose to not partake of the sexual freedom the local islanders dabbled in, in spite of the many offers each received. There were a few handsome young men who paid Marina a lot of attention the first few weeks she was on island, and she looked them over closely. She was tempted because they were so very handsome, but like Bill, she quickly found out in the clinic that many of them had sexually transmitted diseases she didn’t want. And, although dry kissing was safe, the local men were too amorous to stop at a kiss. So, she thanked the local men for their compliments but declined their invitations. The local people generally accepted Bill and Marina a couple since they were together most of the time. But, the young girls and young men didn’t lessen their flirtations with each of them.


After Marina had been on Ebeye for three months, Bill told Marina, "I am seriously interested in you. I have not gone out with any of the Marshallese girls and don’t want you to go out with any of the Marshallese men."

Marina said, "Okay, but I will see how the relationship evolves and don't boss me around." Bill agreed, but the very next day got into an argument with Marina about her swimming in the lagoon where all of the young men ogled her and flirted with her. Bill was possessive and jealous. Marina told Bill, “Back off. I will go swimming whenever and wherever I want." Marina continued with her swimming in the lagoon and Bill was sour faced for a week.

The US Army base just a short distance away on Kwajalein was a restricted base and most of the assigned personnel were on unaccompanied tours. Those who could got passes to go to Ebeye on Friday and Saturday nights for drink, dance, song and girls at La Mona Mike’s; away from the ever-watchful eye of the Army did so. The island girls were young, beautiful, very friendly, and eager. It hadn’t been generosity alone that caused the whalers and sailors of by gone days to give island girls lollipops to lure them away from the local men.

Marina occasionally went to La Mona Mike's for a drink about nine p.m. on a Friday or a Saturday night. On these visits, she was approached by and got to know some of the Americans assigned to the base. Marina was one of about twenty, young and beautiful, single, white girls on the atoll. Marina knew it was natural for the off duty young men to try and impress girls with their manliness and the importance of their jobs. That only made her work for the Russians easy. Usually, she didn’t even have to ask questions. The guys just talked and talked. Many of these men were fairly well educated radar technicians, just dying to talk to someone, anyone who could understand and speak English. The Marshallese girls were nice 42

to plug into and would sit for hours politely seeming to listen to what the man said but when asked a question, they had no responses, as they hadn’t understood anything.

Marina found she could make monthly trips to Kwajalein to visit the American dispensary, and purchase a few items in the small grocery store, something like a 7-11 store. She wasn’t authorized to shop on Kwajalein, but some of the clerks thought she was assigned to Kwajalein, and therefore an authorized customer. During her visits, she was struck by the shocking contrast between the squalid living conditions on Ebeye and the pristine golf course country club style living on Kwajalein. Although it was a tightly restricted military base for international travelers on plane flights, who were not allowed off the plane, access by local people, and now she was one, was fairly easy. She could visit from seven a.m. until one a.m. the next morning when the last LSU left for Ebeye. But, overnight stays weren’t allowed.

There were a number of radar sites on the island, and the radar technicians Marina had met at La Mona Mike's offered Marina sight seeing tours the next time she visited Kwajalein. They would do anything to get any pretty young American girl alone in their air-conditioned radar control rooms. And, Marina looked so friendly, and was so easy to talk to that she usually had a flock of guys around her shortly after she arrived on Kwajalein. Something like a pack of young puppies, which just keep hanging around. All the attention was great for her self-esteem. She had never been a wallflower but the extra attention was nice. She had been told by the Russian intelligence officers to get pictures of the instruments in the control rooms for the radars. So, she started carrying her camera on each trip to Kwajalein and the next time she was invited to see the inside of a radar site, she gladly accepted. The guy, named Pat, was so excited that he could get such a pretty young American girl all alone in his work station which he could lock from the inside, that he forgot all rules and regulations about unauthorized access. Pat though he might even be able to get a bit of sex, and even if he wasn’t lucky, he 43

could brag to his buddies that he had been lucky. Marina found the air-conditioned control room to be spacious, cool, and dry. It was nice inside after the hot walk in the humid air from the snack bar. The room was well lit and there were lots of instruments and had a single sleeping cot. Pat said he sometimes napped there when off-duty and hadn’t anything else to do because it was quiet and he had privacy there. Pat showed her what he and two other radar sites did when a missile was coming in from California. Pat said, "The radar signals bouncing back from the missile are recorded and relayed to a computer in the main control room via links to each of the three sites. That computer was able, through triangulation, to pinpoint exactly where the missile was, how fast it was moving, the direction, and even show a radar image, picture, of the missile."

Marina wasn’t about to have sex with Pat in the control room but a little bit of flirting and showing of cleavage and thighs, and a few brief kisses on the cheek kept him totally pliable, and spouting information. She posed just to the side of the instruments and had Pat take pictures until she had pictures of all of the instruments and all interior walls of the room. Then, she said, "Pat, I have to go now to the clinic to get some medicines for Ebeye. Thanks for the tour. I would like to hear more later. See you next time I come over. It sure is nice and cool in this room. Okay?"

Pat, of course said, "Sure, thanks for coming. Bye for now. Come again real soon, ya hear." Pat was a well-mannered Southern boy from Florence, South Carolina.

Marina was enjoying herself in the islands. The skies were clear at night, and the stars shone brightly with magnificent splendor most nights. Occasionally, there was even a shooting star to observe. The icing on the cake was the constant apt attention of so many young men


whistling at her, saying "Hey Beautiful". She had to admit she liked that. Bill looked longingly at her but rarely gave her compliments. He took her for granted most of the time.

Marina learned that the Friday and Saturday night dances at the Yokwe Yuk club on Kwajalein at the Army base were great. There were plenty of young guys and few girls. No girls were wallflowers there. It was great for the ego to be asked by so many men to dance and go for a walk, etc. Marina started going over to Kwajalein late Friday and Saturday afternoons to visit the American nurses in the Army clinic, and then after dinner, to go with them for dancing in the Yokwe Yuk. Bill went with Marina a couple of times, but since he wasn’t a good dancer and couldn’t compete in the handsome category with the tall, burly, lean, technicians, he felt out of place. Bill was short and thin, not skinny, but not stocky. He was just average looking for a short man. Even his voice was an average light tone, almost like a teenager's. He gave up going to the dances and tried to get Marina to stop, but she would have none of his restrictions. After all, they were neither engaged nor married yet. She was still young, and wanted to enjoy what life had to offer. She liked being able to pick the most handsome men to dance with. There seemed to be an unlimited supply of them.

One Friday evening at dinner on Kwajalein, Jane, one of the American nurses told Marina a story about sex for sale by some single young women on Kwajalein. Jane said, "A few of the nurses and enterprising young high school girls found playing with the bachelors on the island to be a lucrative business. They were able to earn and save from five to ten thousand dollars each over two year’s time. It was easy for them to slip in and out of the BOQ buildings located adjacent to the family housing area. One of the high school girls got caught, however, when her parents were going on a permanent change of station move back to the USA. When they were closing their bank account at the local Bank of Guam branch, the manager asked, ‘Is your daughter also leaving, or is she staying?’ They told him, ‘Of course 45

she is going with us, and why did he ask?’ The bank manager asked, ‘Is she going to be closing out her savings account?’ The parents knew nothing of the account, and when the manager showed them the balance they were shocked. Confronted by her parents, the girl said, ‘I was just saving up money to help finance my college education and to get some extra nice clothes, and not to worry because the Army made sure none of the bachelors on Kwajalein had any sexually transmitted diseases, and they all used condoms anyway so there would be no babies. In order to trivialize the matter, the girl told her parents that lots of the other high school girls did it too." Nurse Jane asked Marina, "Do you want to participate in some sex parties to have a good time and to earn some extra money?"

Marina said, "Thanks for the offer to join in but that kind of life style is not to my liking."

Bill's job was easy talking with people and taking trips to Ebeye to meet the plane for incoming supplies or official visitors and making the occasional trip through Honolulu Hawaii to mainland USA. He did help with the patients occasionally but not very often. He let everyone know that wasn’t his job and he didn’t like doing it. It was on these trips to Honolulu that Marina sometimes asked Bill to carry packages to be mailed to her grandmother to avoid the prying eye of the Army in their post office. It was well known when the military on Kwajalein got paranoid that they selectively opened and searched inbound and outbound mail but Bill’s mail incoming and outgoing was left unopened. He was considered a dullard. The trips gave Bill the opportunity to have nice Western food lunch at the snack bar on Kwajalein and to stop and shop in the military store each trip to get some of life's goodies and he enjoyed that. The trips to Honolulu and mainland USA were even better. These trips afforded Bill the chance to talk to people in English. He found that sometimes he really missed being able to just have a simple conversation with someone in English.


It was on one of the many trips to Kwajalein, that Bill met Clif an old ship captain, driving the Army LSU and they hit it off real well. They talked and talked. Clif was a lean blond haired man of about sixty years age. He wore thick bi-focal glasses and his forehead was constantly dripping perspiration onto his glasses. In order to see clearly, Clif frequently took the glasses off, licked both sides of each lens and wiping wiped them with his cotton shirt. He was from New England and appeared to be dour, but once Bill got to know him, he found him to be really friendly and cheerful with New England pessimism shining through. Clif told Bill he had once quit a job with the electric company in New England and sailed his own self built sailboat to the Caribbean. He had worked in the Antarctic for a couple of years, and had also worked for a long time in the Caribbean. Presently he was just driving the LSU between the islands for the Army. He said it was just like driving a bus.

Bill was learning that many of the people at Kwajalein had surprisingly varied and interesting backgrounds. After becoming friends, Bill invited Clif to Ebeye for supper. When Clif asked what he could bring, Bill said iceberg lettuce and tomatoes for a salad. After that, about twice a month, Clif brought Bill and Marina salad goodies. The local food on Ebeye was rice and fish, fish and rice, and sometimes with grated coconut on the rice made into rice balls or they ate canned foreign meats. Real treats on special occasions were the coconut candy balls made from the coconut sap from the tree cooked down to a sticky sweet thick syrup and allowed to air dry to a rock hard consistency and then dampened and dipped in grated coconut. Something like huge jawbreakers. Sometimes, the grated coconut was just mixed into the syrup. Bill and Marina saw many of the Marshallese kids just sucking these coconut candies all the time. They were so big that once they got them in their mouths the only thing they could do was suck and suck until they shrunk down small enough to remove or to close the mouth. They also saw that those same children had badly decayed teeth as a result of the


concentration of sugar on the teeth and lack of brushing with toothpaste. They saw some kids brushing their teeth with pieces of pandannus branches without toothpaste.

As the only foreigners on Ebeye, Bill and Marina were invited as the guests of honor at all social events on the island. They were always given the seats of honor and were served their plates or baskets of food first. The main social events on Ebeye were birthdays, funerals, and welcome to the island parties. There were usually two to four such events every month. This got Bill and Marina directly involved the in the life on the island. Although they didn’t bring food dishes to the parties, they always contributed money during the food preparation time to the party sponsors to assist them in buying the food. They had plenty of opportunities to learn from the local people. Speeches were always first and then the eating began. At these events, many different kinds of fish were served fried, boiled, baked and as sashimi. Big boned with firm white meat, the reef fish were most delectable. Lime juice and a little soy sauce on raw mahi mahi cooks the flesh through a chemical reaction and the result is very tasty. All of the local foods were very colorful and delicious. When the eating was done, it was time to leave and to go home. The people always quickly divided up the remaining food to take home to those who couldn’t attend the fest so that they could enjoy the party too. That is a nice social custom not widely practiced in the world. The rule of thumb for cooking for such an event is to cook enough for three times the number of expected guests. To serve just enough food for the actual attendees is an insult to the guests, and a sign that you are poor, stingy, and selfish. None of the leftover food ever went to waste. Bill and Marina thought that custom to be very nice and considerate of others. Even though they were encouraged to take plates of food home with them to eat later when they got hungry again, they always declined. They were very concerned about food poisoning. Food went bad quickly in the tropics. Food at the parties was generally fresh and posed no health problem but when left to set for a few


hours in the heat, it frequently went bad. The local people had a high level of resistance to bad or slightly bad food and rarely got sick. But, foreigners often got sick after the feasts.

Bill became a highly proficient trader and scrounger for medical supplies from the Army base. The local budget for medical supplies was small, and he really disliked not having enough medical supplies to relieve the pain and suffering. He was often able to get the medicines with expired potency dates for free. It may have had less potency than fresh stock but for Ebeye, less potency was better than no medicine. He also had been successful for a long time in shipping the dead babies over to Kwajalein for an overnight stay in the cold morgue before the flight out to the outer islands for burial, Bill's clinic didn’t have a refrigerated morgue but the American one did. When there was ice available, bodies could be iced down but no dry ice was available on Ebeye. The dry ice was needed for flying the bodies away from Kwajalein Atoll and the American morgue provided it for any bodies they had kept in their morgue. The airlines didn’t like cargo that got the plane wet.

Bill had negotiated an agreement with the American base for some emergency medical services and supplies to be paid for by the Marshallese Government but it didn’t include holding adults in the morgue on Kwajalein. But one day, Bill had a serious problem, an old Marshallese Iroij, king of half of the islands in the atoll, was in a coma in the clinic on Ebeye and was expected to die any minute. Bill arranged for the Army LSU to wait and to transport the Iroij to the Army clinic for the American doctors to treat. Bill sent two nurses with the Iroij to Kwajalein. Upon arrival, the American nurses met the LSU with an ambulance. They checked the patient and said he was already dead that they couldn’t accept him to the clinic or to the morgue, and that the body must be returned to the Ebeye clinic. They radioed Bill on Ebeye, who swore the patient was alive when he was put on the LSU, and that once on the LSU, the patient had been accepted by the Americans to take care of. Reluctantly, the American nurses 49

finally took the dead Iroij to the morgue and Bill arranged to fly him out to Majuro three days later packed in dry ice.

There was considerable discussion about the incident for several weeks afterward. The American medical people firmly believed Bill had slipped one over on them and they were unhappy about it. The Commanding officer, an Army Colonel suspected Bill had pulled a fast one too, but he couldn’t afford to have a political incident. He was a blustery, read faced Irishman from Boston who had married late in life to get his promotion, had no children, and had been unhappy with the present assignment since notified of it a year before arrival at Kwajalein. He had a holier than thou attitude and looked down on the black Marshallese people. The Marshallese people with their dark brown and sometimes sunburned black skin looked like Negroes to him, so he just barely tolerated them. Both the commander before this Irishman from Boston and the one who followed him were kind and thoughtful men who treated the Marshallese like fellow human beings. But there had been one commander some time back who took out his dislike of the Marshallese people even more aggressively than the present one. He was the guy who ordered barbed wire barricades on the north end of the island out on the reef to keep the Marshallese from sneaking onto Kwajalein at low tide which some did occasionally. That isn’t to say that at times the Marshallese didn’t bring wrath down on themselves and rightly so for wrong things they did. But all peoples have good and bad people and sometimes shit just happens.

For several months after that incident, Bill neither asked for medical supplies nor sent patients needing medical emergency treatment to the Army clinic. He made himself scarce and kept off Kwajalein as much as possible. He knew he wasn’t welcome there. Bill did confide later to Clif that he knew the Iroij was dead when he shipped him over but couldn’t admit it because he had no morgue, the plane to Majuro wasn’t coming for three days and by 50

then the body would smell bad, and the plane crew would refuse to fly it to Majuro. The old Iroij had been greatly revered by his people and Bill couldn’t let anything cause an incident in his treatment of him, living or dead.

It was handy to have Clif as a friend because as an LSU boat driver, he could easily shop on Kwajalein for them and get packages of goodies to Ebeye for Marina and Bill. Since the Kwajalein people were not allowed to buy merchandise from the stores and resell any of it to the Marshallese and Clif bought what Marina and Bill wanted in the way of groceries, took them over and gave them to them. They reciprocated by cooking Clif a nice home cooked meal occasionally. Clif always said the grocery items were his contribution to a common dinner at their house. This way they all got what they wanted and Clif avoided penalties.

Clif enjoyed telling Bill stories and Bill enjoyed listening to them. One time Clif told a story about when he had worked on a ship in the Caribbean searching for pieces from the space shuttle Columbia, which blew up upon take off. He said that ship was presently assigned to Kwajalein Atoll under contract as the Department of Energy research vessel for Bikini and the other Northern Marshallese Islands to check on radiation levels. One day he took Bill to the ship and showed him some of the metal pieces from the space shuttle Columbia that had been recovered in the Caribbean. Clif offered Bill a piece as a souvenir but Bill decided against it because he was afraid it might have raised too many questions.

There are no secrets on the islands and everyone was always watching and intensely inquisitive. The CIA could take lessons from the Marshallese about questioning people. Their questions were intrusive, direct, and at times bizarre. For example, when walking down the street, Bill and Marina would be questioned by people they saw as to where they were going, who were they going to see, why were they going, when would they come back, were they 51

taking anything with them, did they know the person they were going to visit wasn’t home and had gone to an outer island and wouldn’t be back for two or more weeks, what did they want to visit the person for, and so on. The Marshallese have a saying they use when they receive a visitor. That saying is what do you want for me. It is used loosely and can also mean from me. At times it is absolutely appropriate when there is an unexpected visit and the visitors just talk and talk but don’t say why they have come.

Bill wasn’t of Russian descent. He was of Scandinavian descent and from an extremely religious family. He wasn’t involved with the Russians other than with Marina who he took to be a beautiful young American trying to help some less fortunate people on this earth. She was a good and capable assistant hospital administrator/nurse. Maybe he was gullible. It didn’t matter. Society accepted them as a couple and included them in all activities on the island. It was a perfect cover even though Marina was the only one who was a spy. Marina corresponded regularly with her mother in Detroit and her grandmother in Vladivostoc sending pictures and telling of her adventures. Her mother was doing fine but missed her daughter.



Running a nursing staff can be both trying and boring in a modern, well-furnished facility. But running a nursing staff was never boring for Marina on Ebeye. The assignment constantly challenged Marina to practice the virtue of patience with prudence, diligence, and fortitude. It also challenged her to make do with little more than her skills to give aid and comfort to the sick, and dying. Serious cases were stabilized and evacuated to hospitals in Honolulu by Air Marshalls or Continental Air Lines. The Army clinic also had a policy of medical evacuation to Honolulu for their own serious cases either by Military C-141 or by Continental Air Lines. Airplane departures were sometimes delayed just to be able to transport extremely sick personnel to the Honolulu hospitals. It was that interface between the clinic and the Army or commercial airlines that the Marshallese had difficult with. They just didn’t follow through with all the details each and every time. This is the area Marina had to be especially careful of and usually just accomplished herself.

The Marshallese didn’t complain about pain very much because they had a very high tolerance to pain. Marina remarked to Bill about seeing them sitting or lying in stoic silence even though they were in great pain. Bill just commented "Of course, by culture they can't cry out in pain. That would be showing weakness." One day two older men brought in a young man of about twenty-five years of age. The young man had a dirty towel wrapped around his right foot and ankle. Upon removing the dirty towel, Marina could see that there was a machete cut across the ankle at least one inch deep. The wound was infected and smelled badly. Green smelly pus oozed out when the sides of the wound were touched. The young man was silent. He didn’t cry out in pain and the pain must have been intense. Marina was told that the Marshallese people, especially those living on the outer islands, learn to not react 53

to pain as there is no relief available to them, and the crying and moaning only brings comments of shush, be quiet from the other people. The young man was quickly taken into a treatment room where the wound was cleaned and dressed. He was given antibiotic medicines and was taken to a bed in one of the wards. His family, comprised of mother, wife and three young children were with him all the time and stayed with him in the ward. His wife with a very large protruding belly was almost nine months pregnant. Both the wife and mother carried palm branch woven baskets containing breadfruit mixed with coconut and pandannus and wrapped in banana leaves and cooked which they called Marshallese cheese, rice balls covered with grated coconut, salted and dried reef fish, and a dozen green drinking coconuts. It looked to Marina as though the young man's family were on a picnic.

Friends and family members tended to the patients personal needs in the clinic and brought in their meals, not nursing staff. The family members and friends just sat and slept on the floor next to the patients. These people always lived in large family groups, and to isolate them from their family was a fate worse than death itself. This disrupted the relative cleanliness of the clinic and made for a lot of noise. But after a while, Marina and Bill realized it was for the best. They couldn’t change it anyway.

Marina became adept at delivering babies in the clinic at all hours of the day and night. The delivering mothers were up and walking and carrying the babies within a few hours. There was no big to do about it. Like Bill, it bothered Marina when babies were born with deformities from radioactivity. There were still residual results of the atom bomb tests at Bikini and the radioactive fallout, which had drifted and fallen on inhabited islands about fifty years before. The coconuts, pandannus, and breadfruit trees took up the strontium 90 from the soil and concentrated it in the fruit. The quantities were not lethal for foreigners, who don’t consume


considerable quantities of those food staples. However, the Marshallese survive on the outer islands with those staples, augmented with fish and imported foodstuffs.

A significant number of women over twenty years of age had thyroid cancer, and other cancers that complicated the health care issue in the islands. All operations for removal of cancer had to be performed in Honolulu and the families couldn’t accompany the patients to Honolulu. Those trips were very heart wrenching for the patients and families. Marina felt very sorry for them, as there wasn’t anything she could do for them. The US military continued with their position of deniability of responsibility for the problems of radioactivity in the Marshall Islands. The present military people hadn’t done it; it was their parents or grandparents who had conducted the nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll. And, the vaporization of the island of Bikini in the Bikini Atoll had been an accident. None of the scientists in their wildest imaginations had thought that the blast that day would be that destructive. Well, they promised they wouldn't do that again. There is a current solution in process to remove all the topsoil from the most seriously affected islands to get rid of the radioactive fallout and to replace it with untainted topsoil, and then to replant the local flora. But the Marshallese people have little confidence in it. They don't really believe the American Government people anymore.

Bill and Marina saw the death rate of newborn infants decline by about fifty percent the first full year they were on Ebeye. That was satisfying both personally and professionally. The Marshallese, of course, just adored Bill and Marina because fewer babies died in their first year of life. Rita and Kio explained to Bill and Marina that the Marshallese on Ebeye now felt that they could be assured of retirement income for themselves from the children when they got old and could no longer work themselves. They really loved their children. When they died, they felt sorrow for the rest of their lives. The children were the only retirement programs for most of the people. It had been that way for centuries. Those who didn’t have children to 55

take care of them when they were old and ill were poor indeed and were pitied. Kio explained, "When the old folks ask for money for something, the younger generation must provide even when that means they have to do without a refrigerator, a water pump, and a water tank or an outboard motor."

One Sunday, Marina was invited by Rita, Kio's short, fat, round faced, smiling wife of about fifty five years of age to see the older Marshallese women making baskets from pandannus leaves at her house. Rita was wearing the old missionary style cotton dress from shoulder to ankle and covering her arms to her elbows. It was a colorful flower print with a bright blue solid panel over her chest and shoulders. The other women were dressed the same way, were of the same age group as Rita, and were sitting on pandannus sleeping mats. Marina was welcomed to the group. Rita had told Marina she would show her how pandannus was used to make mats, fans, and baskets. But, she meant, she would teach her how to do it. Rita said, "The pandannus leaves have just been brought from the outer islands as dry leaves which fell from the pandannus palm trees. They are a light beige color, have a leathery texture, and a saw tooth sharp edge that has to be stripped away. Being pulled back and forth around a wooden stick driven into the ground softens the long and narrow leaves. The women divide the work among themselves. One strips away the saw tooth edge by biting the edge free and then pulling the rest of it off. Two others soften the leaves by pulling them around wooden sticks. Another four women weave a sleeping mat, hand fans, and baskets. They dyed some of the leaves purple, some red, and some green a few days earlier to add bright colors to the woven articles. Some women add bright strips of plastic or wrap the pandannus leaves in bright plastic for color but these women did it the old fashioned natural way." There was a friendly buzz in the air as the women worked and chatted with each other.

Marina asked, “What are they talking about. 56

Rita replied, "Bwe bwe natto, which is Marshallese for talking, talking nothing or as westerners would say making small talk." The women made Marina feel welcome and had her to do each of the steps of preparation and then to make a fan for herself. The fans were a special pride of the women. They carried one with them everywhere they went and were proud of the styles they had created.

As they worked, Marina asked about the large number of unmarried pregnant girls coming to the clinic. She asked, "Why are the young girls so impatient to become pregnant and have babies, and why do they all want to have babies from foreigners."

The women tittered and Rita replied, “It is simple. For a Marshallese girl to become desirable for marriage she needs to prove she can be a good wife and have babies. All Marshallese want a large family so that they will have a potential for a rich retirement. Never mind that the girl is not married. Society does not look down on that. The reason the girls want babies from foreigners is that they want the child to have as white a skin as possible, and they themselves want the attention they will get by having a white-skinned baby. They know that the whiter the skin color, the better the chance the child has of getting a good job.” She said, “A good example is the Gilbert islanders who learned the lesson well. Today you have a hard time finding a Gilbertese who is pureblooded Gilbertese. Almost all are of mixed white American and Gilbertese blood and their skin color is light like that of a white American with a medium to medium dark tan and the mixed features make them very handsome and beautiful." Rita added that, "The Marshallese people have a dark brown skin color made black by long exposure to the sun, and they consider their sin color ugly." Marina had to admit that the explanation was logical and reasonable for the Marshallese people, but it was still hard for Marina to accept as a proper way for a society to live.


Marina was often frustrated in trying to elicit information about the patients when other family members were present. When the patients were alone, she usually got direct answers to all of her questions. But, she noticed that if a girl patient's mother or father, or brother or sister were present, the girl patient would only answer questions in a vague manner. Marina spoke to Rita about this. Rita explained, "The island culture had a very evolved set of rules about what can be said in front of what relations and what sexes. To a Westerner, these rules seem very complex and unduly cumbersome. For example, you can’t talk about an unwed girl being pregnant in front her and her brother or father. Separately, yes. But together, no. They know about it, but there is no direct talk about it between the girl and them. Also, when one person does something wrong to another, the offending person must go to another island or hide out for about two weeks. Then, the offending person can come back and join society as though nothing happened. No one can talk to the offending person about the incident. It is pushed back in memory, and cannot be brought up again. In a big city, these practices would be unnecessary. But on a small island, with two main North/South streets, you see almost everyone every day, and to carry a hatred toward someone for making your daughter or sister pregnant or a grudge would result in no cooperation. Cooperation is essential to continued successful life on a small island. Those who are good fishermen share their catches with those who have the coconut trees, the pandannus trees, the bananas, etc. Basket, fan and sleeping mat making are done in groups with all sharing in the work and the results. The worst punishment that can be given to a Marshallese is to make him or her work or live alone."

Across the atoll was an old WW II German Battleship, the Prince Eugen. It lay upside down, stern to shore on a reef on the lagoon side of an island. At low tide, the propeller could be seen above water on the shore side. The rest of the ship was underwater. It was a favorite diving spot for visiting foreigners. Sometimes, divers were able to recover pieces of the ship's china or silverware and proudly showed off their trophies. Bill asked and asked to be taken on 58

a diving trip there, but it wasn't until Marina asked, that they were both invited by a Marshallese man with a dive boat to join a diving party of visiting foreigners.

While on the trip, the man who owned the boat said, "The battleship was towed to the island across the lagoon from Ebeye and anchored there after using it in tests in the Bikini lagoon. While anchored there, it started to list to one side one afternoon. It was late in the day so the military crew left with the intention of checking the holds for leaks the next day. The next morning, the once proud battleship of Germany was upside down and resting on the bottom as you see it today. For years after the atomic bomb tests in Bikini Atoll, the Americans made the Marshallese stay away from the German Battleship, Prince Eugen. It is still slightly radioactive. Any fish caught near the wreck for years made Geiger counters go beep beep. The local residents called those fish beep beep fish and left them completely alone. Reef fish are rather risky to eat anyway because most are coral eaters and coral is poisonous to the human body in large concentrations. The bigger the reef fish, the more coral it has eaten and the poison is cumulative. We local people have learned to test the fish before they eat them. The testing process involves cooking the fish and putting a good piece of it out for the cats to eat. If the cats eat it and don’t act funny within four hours, the fish is safe to eat. If the cats walk crazy or act as if they have eaten cat nip, the fish is thrown away." Marina and Bill thoroughly enjoyed their dive on the wreck, but were not lucky to find any of the coveted ship's china or silverware. Previous divers had pretty well cleaned the wreck of the nice collectors’ items.

Bill had made good friends with many Marshallese men who kept saying they would take him fishing. April through June was the season for the big red meat tuna and yellow fin tuna to pass by the atoll. Bill was anxious to go fishing for the tuna. His chance came one day in mid May. Bill was, however, a bit apprehensive about getting into the fourteen foot 59

fiberglass boat with the single thirty horsepower Yamaha outboard engine for the ocean deep water fishing trip. After all, he had been taught boating safety and didn’t see any life jackets, and the four burly fishermen already in the boat seemed to fill it. Bill said "Are you sure it is safe to go out on the ocean in that small boat?"

Katabang, the lead fisherman, replied, "Sure, we do it all the time. Come on now, the tuna are waiting." So, he went. They went North of Ebeye on the ocean side where other fishermen had said they had caught many tuna the day before. They baited their large hooks with squid, and put plenty of lead weights just above the hooks on the fifty weight lines they threw into the water. They had no poles. The lines were just wound around oblong Styrofoam fish net floats obtained from shopping the beach on the ocean side. They trolled along the edge of the reef. First one man cried out he had hooked one, and then each of the other men, and then Bill said he had hooked a tuna too. The motor was slowed down and put into neutral so that the propeller wouldn’t cut the lines.

Bill was told, "Bring your fish in quickly because the sharks follow the tuna up to the surface and in the last one hundred feet the sharks often get the tuna and the gear too."

Bill tried. He wound the line around the Styrofoam float and just as he saw the big tuna on the line break the surface of the water, there was a big jerk and Bill pulled in the head and about four inches of the body of what had been a nice tuna. A shark had gotten the rest. The other men laughed saying the shark cleaned Bill's tuna for him and quickly brought in their own tuna, but didn’t share them with the shark. As soon as they got their tuna into the boat, they bit the back of the neck of each tuna to kill it. While Bill was aghast watching the blood run down Onimus's chin, another fisherman pulled out his knife and cut a nice sashimi piece out of the back of his tuna, dangled it over his mouth, and then ate it with extreme relish. He shared the 60

rest of that tuna with the other fishermen, threw the carcass overboard, and resumed fishing in earnest. Bill liked his fish fresh, but this was a bit too fresh.

Bill was amazed at the speed with which they filled the boat with tuna. In an hour, the boat was knee deep in tuna, and the tuna stopped biting. Bill estimated they had caught seventy-five to one hundred tuna. The lead fisherman Katabang, an older man with white crew cut hair, no upper teeth, button up cotton shirt with half the buttons missing and cotton pants with the bottom edges of the pant legs ragged, barefoot and with a lean work hardened body gave praise to the Gods and said" Enough for today, time to go home."

Katabang was the outer islander fisherman and was highly respected for his fishing ability. He also caught plenty of women. He had three wives, each on a different atoll, and many children with each of them. The other fishermen were dressed similarly, Onimus, Katabang's older brother was neatly dressed, also had white hair but long and wavy, and was fat with a big belly. The third fisherman, Mejagi was in his thirties, skinny, dark haired with hard piercing eyes, and also wearing tattered clothes. After arrival back home, everyone in the fishermen's families, and neighbors gorged themselves on the fresh fish that afternoon. The women and the girls cleaned many of the fish, and put them out to dry rubbing them with plenty of salt to make salt fish. The fish would dry and cure within three days in the sun and wind but the salt had to be applied twice daily. The fishing kept up for eight days and then the tuna were gone as quickly as they had come. That was fine because by then, Bill was just about sick of fresh tuna, something he had never thought possible before.

A week later, a few fishermen sailed in from Imroj Island in their dugout sailboats and offered to trade fresh turtle for rice. That night there was a feast. Roast turtle is a food for kings. It is illegal for white men to catch and kill turtles, but the Marshallese are allowed and 61

cannot be stopped from catching and eating such a delicacy. They only take a few turtles and make sure there will be more for another day. Bill and Marina were invited to Katabang's house to try the turtle meat. He cooked it in small chunks with plenty of soy sauce. They found it to be tender and delicious.

Bill and Marina had both wanted and dreamed of being able to eat plenty of good fresh fish every day. By now, they had come to realize that was an unrealistic dream. On Ebeye, you ate fresh fish when the fishermen brought the fish home. The rest of the time, you ate canned goods or salt fish. However, they had been able to eat some of the best and freshest fish in the world until they could eat no more. They had been spoiled; they could never again eat a scant portion stale fish dinner in Aliotto's Fish Grotto in San Francisco and be satisfied.

The Marshallese Government asked Bill and Marina if they could do something to provide some sort of drug and alcohol treatment to help the Marshallese people. They invited Father Hacker, an Old Catholic priest who had been a Japanese POW, and who was highly respected and loved by the Marshallese people, to join with them to try and have a few information meetings. Father Hacker told Bill and Marina to not hope for very much success too quickly, and to expect that the first rush of enthusiasm would go away as quickly as the paper thin bark from the palm tree trunks burns, in a flash. He said that was the way of the Marshallese people. It took a tremendous amount of patience and demonstration by the teacher before the people would grasp and start to emulate and use that which was being taught. He had been in the Marshall Islands for over fifty years, so he knew what he was talking about.

They had several information meetings on drug and alcohol and found that Father Hacker had been correct in his comments. The first meeting included over a hundred people. 62

The third meeting had three attendees. Kio, Mejagi and Grace. Grace was a local policewoman and former drug and alcohol abuser. Grace had kicked the drug habit and was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings over on Kwajalein with the Americans during the week and at Father Hacker's house on Ebeye on Saturday evenings. Grace was short like many Marshallese women and very fat. At five-foot height, she weighed about two hundred pounds and looked rather round. She was in her mid-thirties and showed evidence of a hard life. She was, however, a friendly person and liked Bill and Marina. Grace told the tough youths on the island to leave Bill and Marina alone or they would tangle with her. Bill and Marina had no incidents with the tough youths. Marina and Grace got into a discussion of the drinking and drug use problem there on Ebeye, and Grace told Marina how the offenders, when disorderly in the bars or on the streets were taken to the jail, stripped of their clothes, and thrown naked into cinder block cells with welded rebar doors. Bill and Marina said, "Really."

Grace said, "Come, I will show you."

They followed her to the jail. Marina saw seven prisoners in one cell, all completely naked. They were curled up on the wet concrete floor. There was no furniture or bunks in the cell. The walls and ceiling had peeling white paint. The light was bright and the jail cell was disgusting and revolting. It smelled strongly of urine, stale beer, and vomit. It was a worse jail scene than any she had ever seen in a movie. The few prisoners who were awake looked very meek. She asked Grace, “Why are the prisoners were being treated so badly." Grace said, "This method had proven effective. Removing their clothes generally stops them from fighting amongst themselves, or with the guards. It is hard to fight when trying desperately to be modest and cover your genitals with one hand. And a good hosing down not only stops what little belligerent attitude they have left, but it also washes out the vomit and urine. The 63

prisoners are usually released in the late afternoon after they sober up. They are given no food during their stay in the jail. They are given their clothes and shoes when they are released. And, generally, they would will not be caught and returned to the cells for a week or more."

Marina asked Grace to take her and Bill to Kwajalein to meet with the American hospital people and the Alcoholics Anonymous people to ask for their help to set up a drug and alcohol treatment program on Ebeye. Grace later took them to a meeting on Kwajalein. They were surprised to find Clif there. After some discussion, they found out that their friend Clif, the LSU driver, was also active in AA and had been invited by Grace to come over to Ebeye to give AA talks to the Seventh Day Adventist Church grade school children. He had done that, and had also given talks to high school students. Clif hoped that at least he was planting the seed of thought that they could live without alcohol, and didn’t have to consume and become as miserable as many of their fellow citizens. Not all Marshallese drank, but most of those who did, didn’t drink socially. They drank to get drunk, and numb every time. Waking up on a beach or in a gutter wasn’t a pleasant thing. Bill and Marina had seen men of all ages on Ebeye sleeping on the beach or occasionally in a gutter on their way to the clinic in the mornings.

A few Marshallese attended the joint meetings with Bill and Marina and the AA folks. Over time, many tried but were not successful in staying sober, but Grace and Kio were. Later, Kio gave Bill W., another AA member on Kwajalein, the Marshallese flag to carry to the AA International Convention in Seattle, Washington and it was displayed with fifty other nation's flags. That made Grace and Kio very proud to be a small part of such a good and large movement. They bragged about that for many months.


Bill and Marina's role became one of support and referral with occasional contact with the AA group. They reported this back to their Marshallese superiors who expressed their thanks. They both enjoyed working with the AA's since they wanted to help people to live better healthy lives, free of drugs and alcohol.

Marina had noticed that Americans were referred to, and were called Rubellis by the Marshallese, and other foreigners were referred to by their nationality. She asked her Mary and Rita why. She was told that in Hawaii, the Hawaiians called the Americans Katunkatunks. Which was the local word for the sound coconuts make when they fall on the ground. Not very nice. In the Marshall's however, the Americans were called Rubellis, the word meaning a person of plenty, who always had plenty of everything, and who was very generous. The term was one of proper identification and of respect rather than one of joke and insult as was the Hawaiian term. When the Americans liberated the Marshallese from the Japanese during WW II, the US forces gave and gave to the Marshallese. Liberty ships loaded with foodstuffs and clothing regularly came to the Marshalls to help the people. This did have some negative side effects to the health of the people as seen by Bill and Marina in the clinic everyday. The food the Americans gave was very nutritious. But, the salt content of the cheese and Spam, and the shift in diet away from fish, the local root crops, and fruits, over time significantly contributed to a high rate of gout and diabetes in the elderly. By age fifty, most of the people had lost their teeth, and many had also lost toes, or had legs amputated because of the diabetes. But, the Marshallese still loved the Rubellis.



Watching ships pass the atoll and beach combing became a nice pastime for Marina on this Pacific Isle, where passing ships are rare and the flotsam and jetsam of the rest of the world washed up. On land, there are garbage dumps where refuse is thrown and buried under dirt, never to be seen again. In the ocean, however, that which is thrown overboard usually floats, and floats, and sometimes washes up on island beaches. The Marshallese people called beach combing going shopping ocean side. The store was always open and the price was always right. Sometimes useful or partially useful items, such as glass and plastic fish net floats, sandals, and even a lifeboat was left on the shore by the passing ocean current and receding tides. Ownership of the items on the beach has to do with the finder and where on the beach the item is found. Items found high up on the beach and of relatively high value, such as fish net floats and boats belong to the owner of the land, but the rest of the items belong to the finder.

Marina loved to walk on the beach early in the morning. She often went alone, as Bill preferred to sleep in. One morning, Marina was lucky to find one of the old large dark green glass fishnet floats believed to be from China. It was about eighteen inches in diameter. She asked the local people if she could keep it, and was told she could after she said she found it near the water and not high up mixed in with the undergrowth of bushes. She had seen several dark green glass floats for fish nets like the one she found in homes on the island but with a hole broken into one end, and with a light bulb on an electric cord placed inside. Upon inquiry, she was told that breaking a hole in the fish net floats was difficult without breaking the entire float. They said that maybe only one in five became a lamp. The rest broke and were thrown away. Since there was no cost involved and the glass floats always washed up on the 66

beaches after the winter storms, the people were not concerned with the high breakage rate. When Marina told them that tourists paid as much as one hundred and fifty dollars for such glass fish net floats in California, they just shrugged their shoulders and said that was there, and not on Ebeye. Marina also found many Korean hard orange plastic fish net floats fourteen inches in diameter. The Marshallese prized them. They were cut up to make handles for machetes that were non-slip because the original black plastic machete handles were dangerous because they were slippery when wet with perspiration.

The Russian ship was constantly on patrol circling Kwajalein Atoll. It was listening to radio and microwave phone transmissions and monitoring and recording all of the radar signals bouncing back to the Army radars. The Russians dumped their garbage in the ocean. Trash from the Russian ship occasionally washed up on the Kwajalein atoll beaches. The cans and plastic containers with Russian writing made it obvious where the trash had originated. Japanese and Chinese writing was common on trash washed up on the beach, but trash with Russian writing was a rare find. Marina learned from her contact who showed up on the North beach for a data pickup that there were actually three Russian ships. He told her they alternated with each other in their observation mission and the necessary trips back to Russia for re-supply, downloading of data, and repair. There was always one on station circling the atoll. Kio told Marina there was an earlier time when the Russian ships had routinely come close enough during daylight hours and that people on the beach with binoculars could make out individual sailors on the ship. But, the fear of their spying caused the Army to tell the radar technicians to aim the largest of their three radars at the Russian ship and ping it whenever it was within sight of the Atoll. The Russians didn’t like being micro waved and cruised further out just over the horizon from the Atoll and below the microwaves during the daylight hours but, under the cover of darkness, sometimes came within visual distance of the atoll. When the ship did that, it came close to Ebeye and Kwajalein but not 67

close to Loi. The radar on Loi couldn’t ping the ship when it was near Ebeye or Kwajalein or they would microwave the Marshallese and the Americans and were forbidden from doing that. Sometimes the ship could be seen as a dark shape on the water in the moonlight.

The military spiced up the game of ship watching. They required all sightings of the Russian ship be reported and investigated. On a lonely island, any opportunity to relieve the boredom and to get favorable attention can only result in getting a number of false reported sightings. Some people reported sighting the Russian ship just to be noticed and to receive attention, something like the child receiving a beating just to get attention. There was no penalty for lying about seeing the Russian ship. No one could prove the observer had lied.

None of the Army's radar transmissions were encoded or encrypted. So, the Russian ships were able to observe and monitor radar traffic for re-entry missiles landing outside or inside the lagoon and to copy all of the electronic data they wished.

When Marina's beach combing walks turned up Russian labeled plastic items and other trash, she was reminded of her of her spy contacts, who just lay just over the horizon. Sometimes she took the Russian labeled items to her trailer as amusement items. Each of the Russian ships stayed on station for about three months. Sometimes the fellow who came in to pick up Marina's data talked briefly with her. He told her it was awfully boring and frustrating for the young technicians on those ships. They were so close to the tropical islands but yet so far. He said they could sometimes see the islands. He said the loneliness was especially almost overpowering at night when the wind blew the sound of music from the Ebeye bars to the ears of the Russian technicians.


Marina visited Kwajalein again and bumped into her radar technician friend, Pat. Of course he invited her to visit his radar dome and she accepted. It was especially hot that day and Marina couldn't wait to get into the cold air conditioned radar dome to just chill the entire body to the bone until she got the shivers from the cold. She could never get cool enough on Ebeye to feel really comfortable. Marina asked Pat more about his job. Pat said, "The radar technicians track the incoming test missiles, all of the orbiting satellites, space junk, and launches of Russian satellites. Kwajalein was located just south of Russia's launch area in Siberia. We need to identify those with decaying orbits, starting to fall to the earth, so that the landing point can be computed. The first country to do that has the best chance of getting to the landing point and picking up the remains of the space object. The first one to find the space object on earth or in the ocean can then take it and analyze it."

Marina asked, “How many foreign missiles has the US retrieved that way?”

He just laughed. She was afraid to push too hard for information so instead she asked him about his family back in the states.

Prior to each missile launch from California or Hawaii the Army flew a sweep around the atoll called a reef sweep, to ensure there were no people within the restricted area of the test and that the Russians hadn’t come and camped out on one of the deserted islands. Footprints in the sand can be seen easily from the air and any present or recent activity can be identified quickly. Marina had seen the helicopters flying and had asked enough questions to find out why, and that there was a possibility to get to go on one of the reef sweeps herself, prior to a missile launch. There was a handsome, young, single, Army Major named Bill on Kwajalein, with a lean body and black wavy hair. He had quite a reputation for chasing pretty American women on Kwajalein and he had already taken two of them on a helicopter reef sweep. 69

Marina made it a point to run into him at the Yokwe Yuk club one Saturday night. Marina entranced him. When she mentioned she had heard about the helicopter reef sweeps and that she would just love to fly on one, he eagerly responded“Come and fly with me next Tuesday.”

Marina asked for and got the next Tuesday off from the clinic. The other nurses were surprised that she had been invited for the helicopter reef sweep ride and said that they would fill in for her. They said the Marshallese never got to fly over their islands on a reef sweep. But that she must go and take plenty of pictures to show them later. Marina's Bill on Ebeye was miffed that Marina hadn’t asked if he could go too and pouted about it.

Marina cheerfully went over to Kwajalein on the six a.m. LSU on Tuesday morning to be at the helicopter pad before seven a.m. When Major Bill saw Marina, he came running out of the flight shed carrying a parachute and life vest for Marina. He was obviously very happy she had come. He put the life vest and parachute on Marina, touching her all over, seemingly just being thorough in fitting the life vest and parachute on her. He had a reputation for Roman hands and Russian fingers and a fondness for pretty girls. He put her in the helicopter in a side seat where he said she would get the best view. He put a headset of earphones and speaker on her and told her that she could now hear and talk to him during the flight and that the communication was only within the helicopter so she need not worry about someone else listening in. Marina had her camera ready with a zoom lens 50mm to 250mm and four rolls of 36 exposure 200 ASA film.

Major Bill gave a nice tourist guide narration on the trip. He told Marina when to get ready to take pictures and when to take them. He flew low around the rusted remains of the bow of the ship on the reef on one side of the atoll and the miniature Japanese submarine on the reef on the other side of the atoll so that she could get pictures at different angles. When 70

Major Bill swooped down to less than one hundred feet above some of the islands, Marina could feel the stifling heat and humidity through the open door of the helicopter that is everyday life in the islands. Up higher, it was cool. One small island was circled twice. Major Bill said to Marina, "Marina, do you see the foot prints in the sand on the beach from half way up the beach to the top of the beach and back down again? That is where someone came ashore last night at high tide and then left. We can see that there are no people on the island as there are no shelters to hide in."

Marina responded, "Yes, I can see them clearly. I had heard about that but am surprised that the footprints are so vivid from the air." Major Bill continued with the flight over the island where the Imperial Japanese had their massive fuel oil tanks. These were just rusted out collapsed rust red and black hulks now. They returned to Kwajalein. The flight had been about two hours long. Marina had used all of the film she had brought with her and wished she had brought more. After landing, she thanked Major Bill for the trip but when he asked her to dinner that night at his trailer, she replied, “Maybe sometime later, but thanks for the helicopter ride with the superb narration and for the dinner invitation.” Marina had heard that on Kwajalein it was just understood that dinner invitations to bachelor trailers were for dinner and sex and acceptance of such an invitation included the package deal. She didn’t want that. She had only wanted the helicopter ride around the atoll.

Upon landing and walking across the landing strip the air was stifling with heat and humidity. She though that if she dared to quickly take three deep breaths she might drown with the humidity. She felt that she would never get used to her cotton clothes always being damp and sometimes even dripping with perspiration. What amazed Marina most was that when the perspiration ran down her back and dripped down on to her buttocks, it felt like ice water and sent a chill up her spine. 71

Marina promptly sent the rolls of exposed film in mailer envelopes to San Francisco California for developing and prints. After three weeks, she received the prints and negatives for two of the rolls of film and the following week, she received the rest. The pictures were spectacular. But even with the high-resolution, high-speed color Agfa film, the real shades of turquoise of the water she had seen didn’t show up in the photos. She was disappointed but was learning what other people told her was correct. She hadn’t believed them about the color not coming out as she had seen it. She believed the advertising and had been fooled. She was beginning to understand that she had to see and experience things directly herself to really see and appreciate them. Pictures were there to show others and to serve as close resemblances and reminders of the things she had seen. A few of the islands she had seen from the helicopter were little more than a single coconut tree, and a bit of sand. They reminded Marina of the cartoon of the shipwrecked sailor. Before seeing such islands, she had thought that small islands with only one palm tree were just cartoon drawings and that no such islands actually existed. Now she knew from experience that they did exist.

Marina was fortunate. She was right in the middle of lots of action and was able to easily obtain information for the Russians. She was a young, vivacious, and friendly American girl and all of the guys flocked to be near her. They told her everything about themselves and their jobs in their attempts to impress her. Marina was able to get the previous three telephone directories and the current one listing all of the personnel and positions and home addresses and phone numbers. She got the previous three organizational charts and current ones for the Army and the contractors. She was also able to hear the latest gripes of the Army and contractor employees. She got the printed material from six different young men and she overheard the gripes by sitting at the snack bar enjoying a nice breakfast after church on four different Sundays. Marina was amazed that she didn’t even need to lead the conversation to 72

get to what she wanted. The lonely bachelors just talked and talked and told everything she wanted to hear and much that she never wanted to hear. And since she had an excellent memory, she needn’t record the conversations or take notes. She just wrote down all the data from recall when she got to her half trailer on Ebeye.

Getting the hard copy information to Ebeye was no problem. Customs was looking for store merchandise and stolen Army material and not phone directories and organizational charts. Getting the information off Ebeye was easy. Marina went to the North end of the island late at night on the pre-arranged dates, or signaled with her flashlight, and a small one-man rubber boat came in to pick up the information. These pre-arranged dates were monthly, coinciding with dark moonless nights. So as to not arouse suspicion, Marina went on a number of night walks on various nights and at various times of the night and told the inquisitive people she met that it was too hot and sultry to sleep in the trailer and that she just wanted to walk on the beach with the cool breeze blowing gently on her body, and to look at the stars. They accepted her explanation as they did the same themselves.

The stars were very bright and clear in the islands because the air was without smog and there was no blinding background light from big cities. Marina was able to see the Southern Cross Constellation and other stars not visible from North America. Marina saw many Marshallese out walking late at night and finally had go to the extreme North end of the island after two a.m. to avoid unwanted eyes. And so, as time passed, the local people saw her take her walks but no longer took notice of her movements. Marina had been surprised to find that many of the local people were also out after midnight. They too liked to be on the cool shore letting the cool night breezes blow over their bodies. Some chose the darkness and coolness of night to find places to enjoy their lovemaking without spying eyes and interruptions. When she told a couple of the nurses in the clinic about the people making love 73

on the beach, they just laughed. One said, “Nature sometimes plays a trick and the coconut crabs come out and crawl over the lovers on the sand. Sometimes, the lovers get pinched so hard on their arm, legs and buttocks by the crabs that they bleed and have to come into the clinic for treatment.” That was a different kind of case of crabs than the clinic usually treated and was always the cause of much laughter.

The coconut crabs scampering around the beach and shoreline scared Marina more than the sudden appearance of her Russian contact when he appeared the first time in his black wet suits on the shore at the pre-arranged time. Marina was afraid of the crab pincers because of the stories of people being pinched until they bled. But, Marina finally decided to just steel herself and swing a club at the crabs when she saw them.



What is there about civilization with clusters of people and stores where merchandise is displayed for sale? Why is that sort of thing a magnet that attracts people? All that is needed anywhere you live is to say, anybody want to go to town shopping? and there is immediate attention and eagerness to go. Never mind if no one has money. Window-shopping, people watching, and talking to different people is in itself a nice break in the monotony of daily life. It was that way too about going to Kwajalein. Everyone on Ebeye wanted to go and visit Kwajalein with free cool and refreshing boat rides on both ends of the trip.

Marina liked to visit Kwajalein just to walk and see the place and the people. She was a people watcher. Kwajalein was clean; there was no paper litter on the streets and on the open fields like on Ebeye. The snack bar and clubs even had tasty food to eat that was safe and clean. Safe meant that it was clean and prepared in sanitary conditions and wouldn't make you sick if you ate it. There was real green mowed grass that smelled nice and you could even walk on, sit on, or play on it. There were tennis courts, basketball courts, and even baseball diamonds. The ball playing areas even had lights for evening events. There were two movie theaters. One had a roof to keep the rain off and no walls so the wind could blow through to keep the audience cool. The other one was outdoors with no roof except the sky. The projection screen for the outdoor theater was a white painted wall on a stage. The seats were permanent wooden benches on a concrete area in front of the stage. It was the original theater and had been built and used by the US troops stationed there after liberating the atoll from the Japanese. That was the theater Marina liked best. The most enjoyable evening she spent alone on Kwajalein was at that outdoor movie theater watching Pinocchio while the sun 75

was setting. She watched the palm trees outlined against the sky turn from tan trunks and green fronds to gray and then to black. She watched the clouds in the sky turn from white to gray to bright orange and then bright red, magenta, purple and finally to black. The colors in the clouds changed from the horizon up as the earth continued its revolution causing the low levels to become dark first, and eventually all of the clouds in the sky. It was a continuous color show of nature. As the sky became darker, the stars became brighter. Marina could clearly see the constellations. It was a better star show than the one she had seen one evening in the planetarium in Los Angeles while on vacation there one time. True, the show in the planetarium was shown against the dome ceiling of the room and the accompanying narration was good, but the real thing was far superior.

After her return to Ebeye, Marina told Bill about the outdoor movie theater and the magnificent sunset and view of the stars. But, he wasn't interested in listening. Things like that he just accepted and didn’t talk about. When Marina got up early on Ebeye, she was able to see the morning sky show of color in reverse of the night sequence. She didn’t know which was best, morning or evening. She enjoyed both. Marina also enjoyed the attention of the Kwajalein bachelors. She enjoyed Bill too. He was kind of drab and boring but sometimes he was caring and thoughtful. He just wasn’t flamboyant and spontaneous. Marina liked talking woman talk to the women nurses on Kwajalein, but there also were times when she just liked to enjoy her own company, outside in the great amphitheater of life.

It was good that the Army let the Marshallese Islanders visit the air terminal to wave good by to departing friends and relatives and to meet arriving ones and to stop and eat in the snack bar. French fries, coke and a cheeseburger may not be healthy, but that food is recognized as American worldwide and is highly prized. The Marshallese bragged for weeks about the delicious hamburgers and fries they ate in the Army snack bar on Kwajalein. Such 76

friendliness helped the American image and inter-country relationships for team building, continuing the lease on the islands, and the continuing use of the islands for military purposes without interference by the owners or other local people. The leases could have continued with little cooperation from the local people but since local people were used for the drudgery jobs on Kwajalein, cooperation and a certain air of friendliness really helped. There had been discord between the Marshallese Islanders and the Army ten years before over some misunderstandings, improper attitudes, and bad treatment of Marshallese workers. Even now, with new Army people placed there to rectify the wrongs, previous high levels of trust and friendship hadn’t returned. At best, the Marshallese people would say the present Army Commander was good, but not excellent as his two predecessors had been. They didn’t want to insult and infuriate the present one as he had a bit of a reputation and they feared the arrival of another biased, prejudiced, and bigoted one. They had experience a number of those before.

On Marina's frequent visits to the Army base, she was constantly checking on the moods of the people. Her Russian bosses had insisted that she continually monitor that aspect. Were the workers well fed? Were they happy with their work duties and hours of work? And, Were they disgruntled with their bosses? This was the same type of observation and comment the Russians in the Embassy in Vladivostoc had told her had been required by the Soviet Military Liaison Mission of their personnel in Western Germany. There, the Soviets often talked to the troops when they stopped at autobahn rest stops. It is surprising how much operational information can be elicited from a low ranking soldier or worker when provided with a sympathetic ear, especially a female ear. Supervisors may not really know the operational condition of the equipment but workers always do, especially those contractor technicians whose livelihood depends on the continuity of successful mission accomplishments.


When Marina attended the Friday night dances at the Yokwe Yuk Club, many of the men asked her to dance with them. She took her pick. Why not, she thought, there is only one of me and so many of them. While dancing with those she liked, each just rambled on and on about how beautiful Marina was and the deplorable living conditions in the old BOQs, molds and fungus in the air conditioning systems, respiratory ailments not cured by the doctors, the general nastiness and unfriendliness of many people on the island since the construction contractors had come to build new buildings, how the construction workers had taken over the mess hall and the Yokwe Yuk, and that they didn’t belong there because they were trash and would she like to come and see their room in the BOQ.

The construction workers enjoyed a good fight once in a while, like every Friday night. They worked hard, drank hard, and fought hard. That was their life. The island rules, however, listed fighting as an offense, which would get both the instigator and the participant immediate plane tickets off the island, and loss of their jobs. The long-time residents didn’t want to lose their jobs because of the childishness and stupidity of the new construction contractors. The contract technicians lived in the BOQs and the construction contractors lived in trailers in their own base camp alongside the airport runway. The permanent party personnel tried to avoid the construction workers and few of them went to the Yokwe Yuk club dancing anymore. The Army assigned personnel and government civilians still went to the Yokwe Yuk club dancing and had no trouble with the construction workers who knew well enough to leave them alone or they would lose their privilege of going to the Yokwe Yuk and might also be fired. Just like in the chicken yard, there is always a pecking order and the inhabitants both old and new learn and adhere to it quickly.

The clinic on Ebeye was put on distribution for the new island telephone books with the office directories and information about fly through of VIP's of the US, both political and military 78

by Major Bill. He said that it seemed logical and reasonable for Marina to get copies of those books and be provided with the other information so that she could find and contact those people with whom she needed to conduct business. It was his way also to invite Marina over to Kwajalein for the events of visiting dignitaries and for him to escort her to such events. He delighted in having a young pretty girl on his arm to show off at events. When dressed in his dress uniform he was really, the cock of the walk and part of the image was the ever-essential pretty girl on his arm to prove his virility. New books and organizational charts were issued about every six months. The back half of the phone directory listed the home address and phone number and spouse's name. Telephone books and office directories identified who was in charge of what and by comparison with older directories; departure dates of individuals could be determined. When the Russians combined this information with the personnel files they already had on the assigned Army personnel, they were able to assess whether or not top quality officers had been assigned to the island or just average, just how skilled those officers were, and their specialty of endeavor.

One Friday night at the Yokwe Yuk club, a new tall, handsome, Army 1st Lt. with dark wavy hair asked Marina to dance. She liked her men tall, dark and handsome. She said yes. This man had the appearance of her ideal man. Lt. Richard was well mannered and a much more graceful dancer than the run of the mill bachelors on Kwajalein. He didn’t even step on her toes like many of the technicians had. He asked, "Where do you work and where are you from?"

She said, "The clinic on Ebeye. But, I am from Detroit Michigan and worked in Lima Peru for the Peace Corps before coming here."


He seemed surprised that she was working for the Marshallese Government on Ebeye. He said, "I thought all Americans in the area worked for the Army or Army contractor. But since you are an American I can associate with you. Army officers on Kwajalein are not permitted to fraternize with local island girls unless they desire a speedy termination of their career". She danced many dances with Lt. Richard Marina asked Lt. Richard, "Please talk about the Army base at Kwajalein and its history."

He said, "It was used by the Air Force as the air strip for the B-29 bomber to take off from to drop the atom bombs on Japan. After that, the Air force wanted nothing to do with it and the Navy took it over as a refueling station. The Navy ran it after that for a number of years. When the Navy no longer needed it as a refueling station, the Army took it over for a missile base. As a missile base, it was the oceanic target area for missiles fired from Vandenberg California and from barking sands Hawaii. It takes only fifteen minutes or so for a missile to reach the Atoll from Vandenberg. The land target area for short-range missiles is Dugway Proving Ground out in the desert near Salt Lake City Utah. The posting of officers to Kwajalein atoll was rarely at the choice of the officers. However, I volunteered for this assignment. Junior officers usually get promotions after assignment at this base, but none of the commanders ever got promoted to general after an assignment at Kwajalein. It is usually their last or next to last assignment before they retire, called their terminal assignment."

Marina asked Lt. Richard "If the commanders never get promoted after assignment on Kwajalein, just how important is the base and the work done there anyway?"

He replied, "The data collected was very important for the Star Wars Missile program and the US needed some place such as this at about five thousand miles distance from the US. Missile shots over land to Dugway were not only dangerous with all of the airplane traffic, 80

but also not at sufficient distance to thoroughly test the intercontinental ballistic missiles at their full range of operating ability. Kwajalein was available and was part of the Trust Territories of the Pacific under US administration after WW II so it was easy to take over. The commander is supposed to keep peace with the local people and politicians and to keep the base operational. There are no major decisions he needs to make. He is primarily a caretaker."

Marina asked, "If the commander doesn’t make the major decisions, who does?"

Lt. Richard replied, "The chief scientist was in Washington D.C. and a large element of the Strategic Defense Command in Huntsville Alabama where Dr. Werner Von Braun, the German rocket scientist, conducted most of his rocket research for the US."

Marina said to Lt. Richard. "I heard that the Russians have a ship constantly circling the atoll with all kinds of technical gear and that they are able to copy all of the radar technical data that the Army base receives and later transmits to Huntsville."

Lt. Richard replied, "I’ve been told the same thing. But, the Russians don’t have all of the same technical equipment and aren’t able to obtain the precision the Americans can and they can't get and analyze the data from the instruments in the black boxes in the nose cones retrieved from the lagoon splash downs." He said to Marina, "Let's dance, shall we?" Then he proceeded to ask Marina about herself and her life as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru.

The following week, Marina received a letter from her grandmother. The Russian stamps were colorful and Marina added them to her collection of foreign stamps. The envelope contained a long hand written letter from her grandmother and pictures. Her grandmother wrote that she had finally, after many years of waiting, been given an apartment 81

on the first floor of a newer building. She wrote that she now had a private bathroom in her two-room apartment. The pictures showed grandmother proudly standing in her living room/kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom of the new apartment. The walls looked freshly painted and Marina noticed the furniture looked new. Grandmother looked healthier. Her face had some color and was fleshier than during Marina's visit. Grandmother wrote that once a week groceries were delivered to her apartment. The groceries consisted of fresh meat, eggs, butter, milk, bread, and fresh vegetables and that when she asked about payment for the items, she was always told that her granddaughter had paid for it. Grandmother thanked Marina profusely for her support. She said the new apartment, new furniture and weekly grocery deliveries made all the difference in the world. Marina was happy for her grandmother. It made all Marina's work for the Russians seem worthwhile. The envelope also contained a letter from Ivan. Mixed in with some chitchat there was a thank you for her efforts and contact information for Marina to meet someone arriving within the next month on Kwajalein. Marina mused a bit about the two letters. She had gotten what she wanted for her grandmother, but knew she must continue or support of grandmother would stop. She remembered the fun days spent with Ivan, but knew she could never live in Russia. It was too cold there. The American bachelors on Kwajalein were fun to dance with and to receive compliments from, but there was no future in that. She knew Bill loved her and wanted to marry her even though he hadn’t specifically said so. But he was overly possessive, controlling, and preferred a drab life style. Major Bill on the other hand was flashy and had money and a good position. However, he played around too much and couldn’t be taken seriously. The new Lt. Richard she didn’t know enough about yet. Well, she didn’t have to make a decision yet. She could continue to enjoy life for a while and to keep her options open.

The next week Marina went again to Kwajalein. This time she went mid-week. While enjoying a nice US style hamburger and fries and coke at the snack bar, she saw Pat, the 82

young radar technician. He came over to her table and said "Hello Marina, are you ready for another visit to my air-conditioned radar dome?" Marina cheerfully replied, "Yes". She needed more information.

They walked to the radar dome and Marina got him talking about the circling Russian ships and what they were doing. He said, "Kwajalein is located directly south of the Russian space program missile launch area, something like Cuba is to the US space program missile launch area in Cape Canaveral. Part of our job is to keep a radar watch on the launch area so that they could be the first to detect a launch.

Marina asked, “Why?”

He said, "The first one to detect and to monitor the launch would be the first one to be able to project where and when the landing with the earth would be and each super power tried to do this and to be the first one at the landing site to retrieve the missile and parts for analysis." He said, “Most landing areas were in remote places in the world. So it is fairly easy to go in and retrieve an object without being seen by other people. The radars monitor all of the man made objects in space regularly to detect degradation in orbit, which would give them an edge on identifying when and where they would land. Whoever gets there first gets the missile pieces. The electronic data the Russians are able to pick up directly enables the Russians to know just about as much as if they were sitting in the central radar control room on Kwajalein."

Marina said, "Pat, you told me that last time I was here. Don't you remember?"


He said, "Sorry, I don’t remember clearly what I told you because I was just so happy to have you visit with me here." He said, "Maybe I didn’t tell you that the Russians know the Americans are firing different types of inter continental ballistic missiles with different fuels and with different pay loads and under different weather conditions. Those tests are to improve the accuracy so that they can fire a missile in any weather condition and have it go exactly where they want it to go. The long-range goal is to be able to detect a missile fired by Russia at the US and to then be able to fire a missile from the US to hit the Russian missile in the stratosphere. The Russians know exactly what weather conditions exist for each shot and the mission results. But, they don’t know more than a few days in advance when a missile shot was going to be made into the lagoon. And they never know in advance when there will be a payload in the missile nose cone for lagoon splash-ins. The Russians know that as the Americans accuracy improves, they change the target area from outside the lagoon in deep water where nose cones can’t be recovered to inside the lagoon where the water is shallow and the nose cones with their black box of instruments can be retrieved. They also knew of the damage an intercontinental ballistic missile could cause when it hit land. The Army had early on in the program targeted a concrete electric generator building on Illegan Island one time. They had only expected to come close and to impact the missile in the lagoon water near by. But, they were more accurate than they had anticipated and had hit the generator building and literally blew it to bits. The Americans believed the Russians really wanted to be able to get into the lagoon and to recover a nose cone with the black box of instruments from an American missile but because they never knew when one was being sent, they hadn’t been able to achieve their goal yet. And that was what the Star Wars program was all about."

Marina said, "You hadn’t told me that before. It is interesting but all too complicated and technical for me to understand."


Marina thanked him for the visit with a brief hug and kiss on the cheek and said she had to go to the clinic to get some medicines. She had finally gotten the specific information she needed without having to be real specific in her questioning. She knew now she needed to find out as soon as possible when the next lagoon splash in was planned, and get that information to her contacts.

There was considerable people traffic to and from the air terminal on Kwajalein. The air terminal, snack bar, and post office porch were ideal places for Marina to enjoy her hobby of people watching. She wasn’t the only person with people watching as a hobby. Especially on a remote island, people watching is an old past time and to see strange faces is like watching a new movie. Who does not enjoy sitting and watching the passing flow of people and vehicles? And, it provided the opportunities for observation and data collection. Sitting on the post office porch, Marina saw many of the young bachelors she had danced with on Friday and Saturday nights. Either before or after getting their mail, each one smiled, came over to her and said hello as soon as they saw her. Marina was popular. She jokingly asked several technicians when the next splash in would be. They said they had heard that the missile launch scheduled three weeks hence was to be a splash in in the lagoon. They said they were looking forward to it because a splash in was always scheduled for daylight hours, and they didn’t enjoy working nights. They preferred spending their evenings over on Ebeye at La Mona Mike's.

Marina needed to go out at two a.m. tonight to signal the ship to pass the information. She hoped someone from the Russian ship would see her since tonight wasn’t a scheduled night. She hated those times when her signal wasn’t seen and she had to go out again and again. She wasn’t lucky. No one from the Russian ship saw the signal and came in to shore. When she got back to the trailer, Bill pulled one of his jealous rages accusing her of going to 85

La Mona Mike's bar to see someone. He just wouldn’t believe she had just gone for a beach walk alone. Marina didn’t like it when he pulled these jealous fits.

Bill wasn’t the only one in bad spirits. There was a significant budget cut pending on Kwajalein and one of the proposals was to send dependents home, and for all of the bachelors who had been authorized and given trailers to live in alone, to move into the BOQs and to double up with four men in two rooms sharing one bathroom. It didn’t happen. But, the mood of the potentially afflicted bachelors was very glum for several weeks and they performed practically no work. Ever after that, those workers lost trust in management. Often, you would hear them say, "Well management says this but remember the proposals with that last budget cut. You cannot believe them. They will take care of themselves and screw us." Marina thought that this was even better than planned psy-ops by the enemy she had read about. She added this information to the scheduled splash in information to pass on to her counterparts.

The contractors doing construction on Kwajalein for the Army and repairing and renovating old buildings had sub-contracted out provision of materials. One morning a Polish flagged ship steamed into the lagoon and tied up at the Kwajalein Army dock. Marina went to Kwajalein that day as that was the day Ivan, in the letter from Grandmother, had written to her to meet a Russian contact on Kwajalein at the wind surfing beach at three p.m. She went to that beach behind the water purification and storage tanks and a husky, dark, heavy bearded, middle aged man with old dull blue and blurry tattoos on his forearms came up to her and asked, “Are you Marina, the nurse from Ebeye.”

She replied "Yes."


He said, "My name is Stephen. Ivan sends his greetings and thanks for your visit." They sat on the sand on the beach under a palm tree watching the wind surfers. Several were skilled and rode their boards fast over the aquamarine water of the lagoon. Four others were novices. They hadn’t yet mastered making turns without falling off their boards and fell each time they tried to change directions with the board. There were about a dozen other people sitting and watching the surfers. The doldrums weren't over yet, but today was one of those days with sudden gusts and puffs lasting up to fifteen minutes. Just right to try a little surfboarding.

The sound of voices didn’t carry very far since the wind was quite strong at the moment, and they were able to talk without being overheard. Stephen said, “I arrived on the Polish merchant ship. The information you provided was exactly what was desired. Are you happy with what has been done for your grandmother?"

Marina said, "Thank you and yes. The pictures of grandmother told me more than the words in her letters. Can you get the splash down information to the people on the circling ship soon enough for it to be useful."

He said, "Yes, the cargo ship will leave in tonight and drop me off near the Russian ship. Keep up the good work and keep collecting and passing the same kinds of information. It is needed to build up informational databases. Can you find out the next station of assignment for the military officers after they leave Kwajalein?"

She said, "Sure, I can get that, they’re next duty assignments, and the same information for most of the civilians if you want."


He said, "That would be good and try to get all of it for those who work for Lincoln Labs, the MIT Institute of Technology. Also, if you can find out which of the officer or technical men on Kwajalein are either sneaking out on their wives or have wives sneaking out on them, or are gay."

Marina said, "I will try to get that information too."

Stephen asked Marina, "How do the people on Ebeye enjoy the marijuana and crystal meth now available in La Mona Mike's bar?

Marina said, "The Marshallese government and the Army are mad as hell and are trying to stop it. It really hurts the Marshallese people."

Stephen said, "Sometimes cold war actions hurt a few innocent people. Don’t be too vocal about your objections to the drugs. We had a difficult time getting that drug operation set up to soften the people and gain control over them". It was about dusk and Marina had to catch the LSU so she said goodbye and walked alone back to the pier to catch the LSU to Ebeye.

The next month, Marina had an opportunity to accompany Neilani, an eighteen-year-old Marshallese girl, to Honolulu to Tripler Army hospital for an open-heart surgery to correct a birth defect. Her father was Katabang the fisherman who had taken Bill fishing for tuna. Tripler Hospital in Honolulu had a great reputation and serviced a large area and many people. However, the military patients often felt they were being experimented on and had some rather livid comments about that. Those soldiers who were injured in the Korean conflict and in the Vietnam War and live in the Pacific area routinely go into Tripler for re-constructive surgery. As 88

surgery techniques improve, the soldiers are given surgery with the new techniques with the intent of restoring their mobility and easing their discomfort. That, however, is often not how the soldiers perceive it suffering the same pain and immobility after having been operated on six or more times. This information was also the kind her Russian superiors wanted.

After arrival at Tripler Army hospital, she was told to have fun and go shopping. She hadn’t realized how much she had missed shopping Western style. She went to Ala Moana shopping mall near Wai Ki Ki and shopped until she dropped. There were just so many stores and so much bright and nice merchandise to look at, to touch and to buy. She went back to the hospital with all of her purchases, spending the night there.

The next day after checking in on Neilani, who by that time was out of intensive care, Marina took a bus to the Bishop Museum. It was on her list of must see cultural things. A gentleman from New York built the museum just before the Queen abdicated her throne before the turn of the century. It was built in the Victorian style and with intricate steel beams and braces. Inside the four-story structure were glass display cases somewhat like in the old part of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D. C. and the center of the museum all the way to the roof was open. Looking up one could see the outside of a large blue whale about 95 feet long hanging suspended. There were balconies on each floor with many exhibits. The exhibits were of the Polynesian and Micronesian cultures and showed the fierceness of the peoples in wartime with their wood fighting sticks with razor sharp sharks teeth imbedded in them. On the balcony level where the blue whale was hanging Marina looked inside the whale. It had been cut away and preserved of course to reveal the inside structure of the bones, baleen etc. It was a most impressive exhibit. She even came across a Kona wood surf board owned and used by the first famous native Hawaiian surfer and the wall was covered with many pictures of him accepting trophies. The tip of the board was cracked and had been drilled and string 89

inserted to bind the split together. The board was massive. It was about 2 inches thick, 18 inches wide and almost six feet long and had no fins. The foot grips were pieces of old canvas and rubber fire hose nailed or screwed to the board. Surfboarding has come a long way to today’s lightweight fiberglass board with fins. Marina went back to her Thai restaurant off of Kuhio Avenue for dinner, returned to the hospital and flew back to Kwajalein atoll the next day.

At the Honolulu International Airport, Marina sat outside the terminal on the upper departure deck for an hour before going to the boarding area for the plane to be loaded. She watched the people pass by. Her attention was attracted to those wearing bright new stylish outfits and looking real good and also to those misfits with clothes that looked like they had been slept in and were fat, ugly, or crippled. Oddities attracted her attention. There were people flying through Honolulu from all over the world, so many different nationalities were represented. She only got a glance at some of the people and idly thought she would look more closely at them when they passed by again. Then, she realized that she was in Hawaii and not on Ebeye or Kwajalein where the people walked around in circles, permitting repeated inspections in review as it were. She was surprised at how quickly she had acclimated herself to life on the Islands. Her flight back was uneventful and only the LSU ride was refreshing before arriving at the dock at Ebeye.

Marina visited Kwajalein as often as she could. Actually, she wished she could live on Kwajalein at the Army base and commute to Ebeye but that wasn’t allowed. The only one she had heard about who got away with doing that was an American Judge in the Marshallese court system. Kwajalein Atoll was on his circuit. His courthouse was on Ebeye. However, he just stayed in the TDY hotel on Kwajalein and no one raised a question about it. Sometimes that is the best way to get what you want. When you ask in a military environment for permission that indicates that maybe the action is not routine and authorized. And, as an 90

exception, it must be looked at and probably given a no answer to. But when you just check in a hotel and say who you are and act properly, people tend to not ask questions. Even the single American workers wishing a private rendezvous with a girlfriend or just some peace and quiet sometimes checked into the Kwajalein lodge. That went on for some time until the Army was told there were no rooms available for the TDY guests for missile launches and the Army checked to find out why the rooms were all occupied. They were surprised and stopped the games.

Kwajalein had a merchandise store where there were American-style clothes, and it was fairly easy for Marina to get a resident of Kwajalein who was authorized to buy in the store to buy for her. Sometimes she just sneaked in anyway, and until the ID card check was changed to require presentation upon entry to the store and at the cash register too, Marina was able to buy in the stores. There were clothing stores on Ebeye but the Asian clothing they sold just didn’t have the durability she insisted upon. She was after all a practical, thrifty girl. She couldn’t afford to get the reputation of being flashy or extravagant. That also, was a leftover lesson and requirement of the Peace Corps. Some lessons were learned well and others were not.

There were periodic social events Bill and Marina were invited to attend on the military base at the Yokwe Yuk club. The October-fest was one of them. Bill didn’t like the excessive drinking by the attendees and Marina disliked the vulgar passes she received by the intoxicated attendees. When she refused their amorous attentions they usually became very belligerent and loud, and made unpleasant social scenes. Many of that kind of worker didn’t last on Kwajalein for very long. They were shipped off island the day after they hit someone with their fist, since fighting wasn’t allowed or had their contract terminated for being unruly and for not getting along with others. Bill tried to avoid such events because there were 91

always a few unpleasant people trying to make trouble, especially when he had Marina with him. He knew it was just the old fight of roosters in the chicken yard over ownership of the hens. But, he wanted none of it.

The annual Thanksgiving dinner and the lighting of the Christmas tree were two very good events and they enjoyed them very much. Lighting a real pine Christmas tree under the palm trees while wearing shorts and thin shirts was nice. It was much better than with all the snow and ice in many places back in the good old USA.

There were other social events on Kwajalein on the beach next to the airstrip. Bill and Marina liked social events at that beach; it had nice powdery sand, and a permanent covered pavilion, and showers, toilets and changing rooms. But, it was a long way to walk to that beach area. And, the military vehicles on the island couldn’t be used for personal reasons. Shuttle bus service in vans was provided and residents were permitted to purchase and ride their own bicycles for transportation. Visitors were either loaned a bicycle or they walked. Bill and Marina bought two used bicycles and kept them at the American clinic. Social events at any distance from the housing area required some skill to avoid tangling up dresses or pant cuffs in the bicycle chains. They learned how to ride a bicycle again. Some visitors to the island just borrowed available bicycles, much to the anger of the bicycle owners.

Visitor’s time on Kwajalein for Ebeye residents was limited by permission and the LSU ferryboat schedule. It made socializing rather difficult. To come for a social event, the guests had to be invited, sponsored, and met at the dock by the sponsor. To sponsor a guest, that action had to take place at the dock before seven a.m. two days prior to the event. There was no telephone service between the two islands except as an international call to Hawaii and via satellite back out to. But, where there was a will there was a way and those who wanted to 92

socialize in either direction did so frequently, but kept a close eye on the clock. The penalty for violating the visiting restrictions was loss of privilege to sponsor visitors or to visit for six months or longer. There was a restriction on traffic to Ebeye as well. To go over to Ebeye, which was a foreign country, the traveler had to have a written invitation and to be sponsored to Ebeye, and was subject to customs search and seizure before getting on the LSU. Bill and Marina were both lucky about the transportation and passes to and from Kwajalein. As Americans working at the Ebeye clinic, their Marshallese supervisors had been able to get them permanent passes to conduct business at the American clinic. The security guards and customs official got used to them passing back and forth and just waved them through. They still couldn’t stay overnight, but they could come and go much more easily than most of the people.

Chapter 8 93


During June each year the trade winds from the Northwest started dying off. Then the islands became very muggy and uncomfortable. The winds played around and puffed in short gusts from different directions of the compass with long lulls between gusts until August. And then the wind blew steady from the Southwest until late January or February. Typhoons occurred primarily from December through February but could and did occur before or after that time as well. The chill factor of wind is very important for cooling in the tropics. Without wind, it gets very hot and muggy. Sometimes the lulls last for several days. During the lulls, space in front of any electric fan is at a premium day and night. And, if air conditioning is available, that is a fine place to just stay. But slowly, the lulls become less frequent and the wind starts picking up from the South West and the muggy air is blown away. The wind from the South West lasts until late January or February when the winds shifted back to the North West trades.

During the doldrums, the hot muggy air causes people to change their generally cheerful and friendly dispositions to irritable ones most aptly described as touch me and I'll kill you. Marina found most of the people in the clinic to be irritable at this time. She knew she herself was irritable and longed for a good night's sleep with cool air. She was sorely tempted to go to Kwajalein just to sleep in Pat's air-conditioned radar dome. She had to force herself to be cheerful and friendly when she was constantly dripping with perspiration without even moving and with clothes clinging and constricting most body movements. The damp clothes attracted mosquitoes like ants to honey. As Marina dozed off, she heard or felt mosquitoes and came abruptly awake swatting them. The stings from the very small mosquitoes, which bit in the wee hours of the morning and about dusk, were far more painful than those of the big 94

mosquitoes, which bit the rest of the daytime. One of the older Marshallese nurses told Marina to put rubbing alcohol on the mosquito stings to lessen the pain. She did and found the pain of the sting went away after a few minutes instead of having to endure the normal fifteen minutes or more of discomfort. She had a mosquito net, but couldn’t use it because it let no air in and made her feel like she was in a sauna bath all night. She burned mosquito coils at night for the smoke to drive the mosquitoes away. She placed two on opposite corners of her bed on large tin can lids so they couldn’t catch the bed on fire. The directions said to avoid breathing the smoke. Nice directions, but for the smoke to be effective, you have to be in the middle of a cloud of it and can't possibly avoid breathing it. Marina really disliked the morning after taste in her mouth from breathing the mosquito coil smoke at night but she found that four coils a night, two lighted at opposite corners of her bed when she went to bed and another two lighted about 5 hours later took care of the job. When she only used two, she got bitten before dawn. The local people just wrapped up in a sheet from head to toe. At times, Marina thought the Marshallese must be just numb and without any sensation in their extremities. She saw them bitten by mosquitoes and not flinch or scratch at all.

Typhoons often occurred after a period of no wind. They came up suddenly and were violent. It wasn’t safe to be on the water in the lagoon or out on the ocean during typhoons and not very safe on land either. During the typhoons, the people tried to shelter themselves in the old WW II Japanese bomb warehouses and bunker buildings or in newer concrete buildings on Kwajalein. Bill and Marina experienced one typhoon of great intensity. The typhoon struck Ebeye at high tide and swept the ocean water right up over the island. The water came over the island in waves of one to two foot height three times. The wind blew down many of the shanty houses and the waves washed them into the lagoon. The wind blew the corrugated steel roofing off many buildings and scattered the pieces everywhere like paper litter. During the height of the storm, Bill and Marina were in the cinder block and concrete 95

jailhouse building. It had been built better than the houses and survived. They sat on top of desks because the ocean water came in and covered the floor. The roofing edges of the jail building were bent and twisted by the wind but none of the roofing was blown off. Surprisingly, no one was hurt and instead of a sudden surge in workload in the clinic, there was a lull. The pregnant girls couldn’t come in from the outer islands and since no one could work, no one was getting hurt. The older nurses chuckled when Marina commented about no pregnant girls in the clinic now. They said just wait nine months and there would be a surge tide of them.

However miserable the change in winds, it was these very trade winds with the seasonal changes which enabled the early explorers in their square rigged sailing ships to cross the vast Pacific, to visit the islands and to return back from whence they had come. These ships could only go where the winds blew them. To make a round trip of East and West directions took as long as the sailing time and for the winds to change directions. Magellan visited Cebu in the Philippines in the 1400's. And not long after, a gold and silver route was set up from the Isthmus of Panama to the Philippines with only one safe storm harbor on Guam near the stormy South China seas. Trips were annual. Out to the destination, unload cargo and load the precious spices and gold and silver and wait for the winds to change to blow them back to their starting point.

It was during the hot and sultry doldrums that the bicycles made in Shanghai came in to the Four Seasons Outdoor Merchandise Store on Kwajalein. Al, the contractor employee who ran the department stores called Macy's and the Four Seasons Store had made his annual shopping trip three months earlier and the new merchandise from the Philippines and China was starting to arrive. Al tried to have new exotic merchandise available for Macy's end of the summer warehouse sale when the almost permanent residents in Kwajalein returned from summer vacations in the US. Marina eyed the nice furniture items but neither had enough 96

money to buy any nor the space to put them in her cramped half trailer in Ebeye. She had seen the fabled Shanghai bicycles on TV movies of China before and had been impressed by their apparent durability. She’d in riding her American Huffy bike on Kwajalein that she could stay dry and reasonably cool riding it instead of walking and wanted a new one for over on Ebeye. She asked Clif to please buy her one since she could no longer buy in the stores on Kwajalein. The Shanghai bikes were priced at sixty dollars. Which was considerably less than the hundred and twenty dollars for a Huffy. It seemed like a good bargain. Clif got her a red one, took it to his room in the BOQ to assemble it and then rode it around the island and test it and to get it a bit muddy so it didn't look brand new. A few days later after he finished his work shift driving the LSU, he smuggled it past customs. He had pre-arranged with Kio to sponsor him over that day so he could deliver the bike to Marina at the clinic. At the dock Clif told customs that it was his bicycle, that he was just going riding over on Ebeye, and that he would return with it that evening. He knew there was a change of shift for the Customs agents between his going and return and no one would question his return without the bicycle. Marina was elated with the shiny, new, bicycle. Riding it was so nice and she could almost stay dry going to and from the clinic instead of perspiring profusely from walking just like over on Kwajalein with her Huffy bike.

Her joy, however, was temporary. After two weeks, the rear end of the bicycle seemed to be rumbling. When Bill took it apart, the ball bearings fell out. Two were broken in half. Well, she thought, just a defective bearing. Clif can get a replacement at the store. Two weeks later Clif informed her that Al hadn’t gotten any repair parts with the new bicycles and had said "Sorry for the inconvenience but the bikes were cheap. What do you expect for $60?" She was very disgusted by that bargain. She finally asked the mechanic from the clinic to fit an old Huffy rear wheel to the Shanghai bike. He said it couldn’t be done as the huffy tire was


too wide and the sprockets on the axle were different than on the Shanghai bike chain. She ended up giving the bike to the mechanic. So much for a bargain.

During the main typhoon season, the winds came from the South West. The Marshallese islanders don’t live in fear of the typhoons. They have a healthy respect for them and by tradition know which islands of each atoll are safe and relatively free from harm in a typhoon and which ones are always in the typhoon's path and get washed over with the waves. After numerous weather detection stations had been installed and the Marshallese Government put short wave radios on many of the islands in each atoll, the typhoon season became even less of a concern because typhoon warnings could be radioed out and the people could leave the unsafe islands, secure their boats on safe islands, and wait out the storms. But, it was also common to be stranded on an island for a month or longer during this season because waves were too high and too strong to launch or to land boats and many plane flights were cancelled because of strong winds. Landing a boat on a coral lee shore in a storm is not an easy task if you want to use the boat and motor again.

Some of the affluent Marshallese flew to Hawaii to avoid the season of doldrums and typhoons. It was something like the Minnesota snowbirds leaving Phoenix Arizona each May before the temperature exceeds 100 degrees each day. Marina wished she had been able to do that too after she was half way through her first doldrums and typhoon season. Life seemed to just hang still during that season. People were just sitting and waiting, waiting and waiting. Waiting for the season to pass as it did each year, returning at last to the glorious North West trade winds blowing constantly through the houses and keeping them cool and fresh smelling with the salt air.


There were no missile tests during the summer time because of sudden, unpredictable storms, and that was also when the top people went with their children back to the USA for vacations. Missile launches were scheduled many months in advance. However, before an actual launch, the weather at the launch site and at the re-entry from the stratosphere was determined by the use of weather balloons. Moisture and ice crystals in the air and not planned for could cause the missile to deviate from its intended path and to not hit its target. Actual launches during the rest of the year when the weather was more stable were frequently delayed hours, days or even cancelled and rescheduled weeks later. The contractors had to make all of the preparations for a launch in advance as if it was really going to happen. Delays of a few hours were annoying to the technicians waiting in their radar domes. Delays of one or more days meant shutting everything down, going back to Kwajalein and then setting up everything all over again. That included flying another helicopter reef sweeps and announcing closure of the mid-section of the lagoon. Delays sometimes kept the technicians from going to the Friday and Saturday night dances at the Yokwe Yuk club or over to Ebeye. That was always a morale problem. The technicians got paid well, but there were so many restrictions on how they could live that taking away their two nights to play a week caused them to grumble and be in a bad temperament.

There was little to do during the doldrums except for story telling. The Marshallese loved telling stories. One evening over at Kio and Rita's house, Rita told Marina a story about Kalewa Anjolok, Katabang the fisherman's oldest brother who had been a doctor all of his life and had served on most of the atolls during his career. One morning shortly after he retired on Ebeye, a young twenty-one year old man visited him. The handsome young man named Kalani was his son. Kalewa didn’t know the young man or even that he was his son. After some discussion and many questions and answers, it turned out that twenty two years before, while working providing medical support on the boys home island, a lovely young girl slipped 99

into Kalewa's hut one night to give him comfort, to sleep with him, and to maybe have a child from him because he was a handsome man. He left the next day and never returned. The girl never wrote to him or sent him a message so he never though any more of it as he had thought nothing more than pleasant memories of many other beautiful young island girls who did the same thing on other islands over his many years of service. It was custom, expected, and accepted. Kalewa had been a handsome young man and as a doctor had been sought after by the young girls. Kalewa welcomed Kalani he stayed to visit for a week and then left.

Another story concerned the customs and rights of the Iroij, kings who practiced polygamy and were allowed tattoos. The lower classes of alab and jerbel were monogamous, had to get permission from the Iroij to marry and to be buried, and were not allowed tattoos. After an Iroij died, his primary wife, the queen, was permitted to select a man from the male population from any of the three classes of people to be her sex partner. It was expected and understood that she needed such comfort and it wasn’t to be denied. To be asked was an honor and if the selected man was married, his wife just had to understand he was doing his duty and she had to wait for the queen to tire of him and to send him back. It was and is after all, a matriarchal society. In the present day world, this practice still exists and foreigners are sometimes included with the three classes of people. The old hereditary queen of the Iroij Kabua Kabua had been a widow for some time and reportedly had a large appetite. Many were asked and went. But they didn’t have to stay long because she liked variety. She was discrete of course. But the Marshallese knew and the people talked in hushed tones about it. Bill had been asked by the queen on one visit to come and see her on Majuro. Not understanding what was meant, Bill said he would visit the next chance he got and never did visit her. The queen was rather cold to Bill ever after. In talking with some Marshallese men after this story was told, he got a number of knowing chuckles and smiling nods with comments. "You should have tried it". 100

The missionaries who came to the Marshalls in the mid-1800s were at best well intentioned. But, they changed the life and culture of the islands forever. The improvement in the health and survivability of the children was hailed as a great achievement. But today, with the demographics of the islands showing that ninety percent of the population is under twentyone, serious doubts are being raised, and questions being asked concerning why the missionaries hadn’t anticipated the impact and trained the local people on how to cope with the tremendous social problems the cultural changes created. This still impacts on new foreigners. It makes anything new foreigners propose as good for the people as being suspect immediately.

Many of the islanders don’t live successfully away from their beautiful islands. They don’t live a modern life very successfully on the islands either. Although outsiders coming into an area that is considered backward and savage have the best of intentions to improve the life of the local people, they often mess it up because they impose their own customs, beliefs, and value systems and force the local people to give up theirs' instead of blending the two. The Marshallese people had survived well as a race of people for many hundreds of years prior to the arrival of the missionaries. Therefore, their customs, beliefs and value systems were not all bad and in need of immediate replacement with those of the Boston missionaries. But again, that has been what conquerors have done all the way back though history. These were some of the background influences that Bill and Marina had to contend with daily. The longer they lived there and the deeper they got into the Marshallese Culture the more striking and significant the differences between Western and Marshallese Culture became. They were learning more and more why things were done as they were. Instead of relieving the frustrations of seeing the Marshallese people in the clinic and on the island do things which to them were backward, unsanitary, stupid, dangerous, and unnecessary, the why explanations 101

they were getting were intensifying their frustrations. Both Bill and Marina at times asked each other why the Marshallese people just wouldn't learn to do things logically, reasonably, and in safe manners like in the western culture. The answer, of course, was the Marshallese couldn't change quickly because they were still living completely surrounded by their culture and saw no need to change. At the same time, the Marshallese accepted Bill and Marina just as they were. They didn’t try to change them. They showed them the Marshallese ways and told them much about the customs and history and couldn’t understand why Bill and Marina at times tried to force them to change to Western ways.


Chapter 9 MEDICAL SUPPLY TRIP TO GUAM Word came down from the Majuro government health office that the American Air Force on Guam had a large quantity of almost outdated medicines that the Marshallese Government could have. They need only go there, select and the Air Force would deliver them by C-141 to either Majuro or Kwajalein. Bill’s Marshallese supervisor June told Bill and Marina it would be better for them to go to Guam instead of he as he sometimes felt the American medical types looked down on him, which made him feel inferior. He added that they needn’t take a list of medicines they needed, they were to get any and all the medicines the Americans wanted to get rid of. He said that they were to fly on the military plane to Guam as special allowances had been made.

Bill and Marina were ecstatic with joy. They weren’t authorized to fly on the military aircraft so this exception was a delightful surprise. They had been getting itchy feet to travel anyway after watching a promotional half hour video to come and visit Guam and Saipan shown repeatedly on the Armed Forces Television network. The video showed beautiful white sand beaches stretching into the distance with towering cliffs and high-rise hotels rising above. Just the masses of tourists shown in the video were intriguing. Ebeye after all was small and they had gotten used to the faces there. There were almost no new faces to see.

As is typical with government operations, Bill and Marina were told to leave the next day on the 1030 A.M. C-130 special flight which just happened to have originated out of Guam and was returning to Anderson Air Force Base. They hurriedly packed that evening and took the 7 103

A.M. Kwajalein Landing Craft Ferry at the Ebeye dock to Kwajalein. Bill told Marina he would treat her to breakfast in the Kwajalein Yokwe Yuk, equivalent of the officer’s club. They were both very excited on the ferry crossing. All of the other passengers knew where they were going and why and wished them well. After arrival at Kwajalein and processing through the Army Security Control they walked the two blocks to the Yokwe Yuk.

It was a beautiful day and the Yuk wasn’t crowded. The Yuk was cool with thick red carpeting in the dining area. Bill ordered two Denver omelets with black coffee. Something they couldn’t have on Ebeye for the lack of fresh green bell peppers tomatoes and crisp white onions. There were none, not even wilted ones on Ebeye. And it was seldom that friend from Kwajalein brought any over since security was tightened up. They sat leisurely waiting for the breakfast to be served and then feasted on the omelets savoring every morsel. Even the American ham nicely diced in the omelets was delicious. For some unknown reason even American ham wasn’t available in the stores on Ebeye. They didn’t know when they would be able to eat as well again. Bill paid and they decided to take a slow walk to the air terminal.

They had to check in 2 hours before the flight even at the small terminal. The resident bloodhounds for contraband materials sniffed the bags before being whisked away by the forklift for loading. They sat in the air terminal lobby waiting and waiting. Finally boarding was announced and they walked out through the lobby, out the door and across the already hot tarmac bleached silver gray by the intense sun and constant rains. They climbed aboard and were directed to take a seat along on side of the fuselage. The side seats had been dropped down as the flight in had been a cargo flight and there were no seats in the middle. Well, 104

sitting on olive drab nylon cloth seats and held in place with brilliant red two inch nylon webbing and seat belts facing the opposite side of the aircraft wasn’t Marina’s idea of economy flying but at least they were getting off island and they didn’t have to pay for the plane tickets. The only other passengers were enlisted Air Force Personnel who kept to themselves. Bill and Marina looked out the tail of the C-130 at the airstrip wondering when the tail ramp would be raised and closed. Just then they heard the wine of the electric motors turning the screws to lift the ramp and the ramp quickly came up and closed with a thump. The plane started moving and rolled out to the taxi way and down to the far end of the island before turning into the wind, revving up the massive four engines letting go of the brakes and slowly lumbering moving ever faster and faster with the wheels rumbling below until all of a sudden, they were airborne in almost silence and circling to the right. They looked out the small window behind them and could see the waves breaking on the coral reef of Kwajalein down below. They were off. The flight was scheduled to take 6 hours and there wasn’t anything to do but sleep. There were no movies or music. They slept until a corpsman woke them handing them each a white cardboard box lunch. It was noontime. The box contained two ham and cheese sandwiches, one apple, one orange, a packet of cookies, a packet of potatoes chips, a large cold can of coke and a napkin. This was standard issue for their usual passengers; growing young male recruits with high caloric intake needs.

The Air Force loadmaster came and sat down next to Marina and started talking. After all, Marina was a beautiful young girl and the flight was boring. The loadmaster told Marina that Anderson Air Force Base in Guam is the major US Military air base in the region and was home for the KC-119 flying tankers and B-52 bombers during the Viet Nam days and still had a 105

contingent there. There were massive weapons storage areas there for the Navy and the Air Force. In fact, Guam has been continuously used from the days of the Spaniards who used a small cove on the Southern shore as a safe shelter from typhoons in the China Sea. He said that above the cove and out on the point of land you could see a coral rock guard outlook post from the Spanish days. The ships taking refuge in the cove were the treasure ships carrying gold and silver from the Philippines to the Ismuth of Panama to be carried over the mountains by donkey and reloaded on the Atlantic/Caribbean side for their transport to Spain. Just off the Southern tip of Guam was the Marianna trench, the deepest place in all of the oceans.

The C-130 came in for a landing At Anderson Air Force Base and touched down so lightly they could almost not feel the landing. The terminal was clean and nicer than the Kwajalein one but was still through and through military. After baggage claim, bloodhound sniff and reclaiming their bags, Bill and Marina walked out into the lobby where to their delight they saw a man waving a placard with their names on it. The fellow said his name was Charles, was retired military, and would be their guide and assistant. He led them to his sedan and drove to the military Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQs) where two rooms had been reserved for them. Charles told them to rest and that he would be back at 6 P.M. to take them to dinner.

The BOQ rooms were freshly painted but had the mark of military about them, the smell of military furniture polish and the red mahogany furniture which was standard issue for officers quarters the world over. Bill joined Marina in her room and they took a shower and a short nap. There was a knock on the door. It was Charles. It was only 4:30 P.M. Charles said, “I am early. I had some free time and thought you’d like a bit of a car tour of Guam before dinner 106

to acquaint you with the place. He drove them past the old KC-119 on display beside the roadway and out the main gate. They rode down a two-lane asphalt road with very few houses along the sides for about 15 minutes before coming to the edge of a town. Then the road turned into a four lane divided highway with standard US style hamburger and pizza stands on both sides. Marina remarked to Charles about the flashy high rise pickup trucks along side the road and pointed out a couple which had stopped and were tilting the pickup bed like a dump truck while the fronts were raising and lowering with hydraulics somewhat like the Chicano low rider cars in California. Charles said these modified pickup trucks were the Chamarro boys’ equivalent to the Chicano low rider cars. He said the sad part was that the Chamarros sold their land close to town and spent the money on the pickup trucks and other consumables and within three years, the trucks were rusted out, the money was gone like the land, and this forced them to move further and further into the hills. The native peoples were being dispossessed of their land and were being pushed out. This was causing serious animosity between the Chamarros and the other recently arrived residents.

They continued on into town past many high-rise hotel buildings Charles said were mainly owned by Japanese corporations. He said the Japanese corporations used the hotels as part of the incentive and compensation package with their employees allowing each employee two weeks vacation there every 3 to 5 years. They kept the occupancy rate above 95%. It was cheaper for them and their employees than to go straight commercial. He added that the hotels often hired traditional dancers from Pohnpei to entertain the tourists and many of the Pohnpei young men came to Guam to join the US Forces for a job. He cited the example of a man he knew who recently retired from the Navy who had returned to Kolonia, 107

Pohnpei and became the police chief. He was born and raised in Pohnpei and had made good. Charles drove them by the local Gibson store that he explained was the equivalent of a Wal-Mart in the US. He said the Navy PX at the South end of the island was better stocked and nicer to shop in than the Air Force PX but since Bill and Marina had no ID cards he couldn’t even take them in to see for themselves. After Gibson’s, Charles drove them to downtown Agana, the capital city and the ancient Spanish city. There were ancient Spanish artifacts, building, and ruins everywhere. Bill and Marina were having a great time feasting their eyes on all the new things and new faces. Bill said to Charles “Where are all the pretty native girls I saw on the advertising video.

Charles said, “I don’t know and that very few of the Chamarro girls were pretty, most were rather heavy set with doughy faces and because of the interracial animosities, most Americans found it best to stay away from them to avoid provocation fights with the Chamarro boys.”

Charles pulled up in front of a seafood restaurant in Agana and said, “This is the place I selected for dinner.” He parked; they got out and went in. It wasn’t crowded but had perhaps 20 diners already and there was a nice pleasant buzz in the place. It was clean and nicely decorated but not richly so. Charles said the specialty of the place was paella, a Spanish traditional dish of rice, tomatoes, onions, several different fish and shrimp all cooked together in a huge open pan over an open fire. He ordered it and an inexpensive red wine. The paella was served piping hot with fragrant mouth watering aromas rising from the plates. It looked


good and tasted good. While they ate, there was the pleasant sound of a small mariachi band playing in the background.

While they ate, Charles continued his delivery of information about Guam. He suggested they visit the cliff top lovers leap where legends had it that a Chamarro princess leaped 300 feet to her death below on the rocks as her parents refused her permission to marry her lover. He said it was a local tourist attraction and a place to get some nice pictures and in expensive souvenirs such as carved cowrie shells. Bill asked, “When are we to meet with the medical authorities to see and select the medicines.”

Charles said, “Tomorrow morning at 9 A.M. at the Anderson Air Force Base Hospital Pharmacy.” After dinner Charles drove Bill and Marina back to the base and the BOQ in a heavy tropical rainstorm. As he let them out, he said he would pick them up the next morning at 7:30 A.M. for breakfast and then take them to the Pharmacy.

Bill and Marina went into Marina’s room and they watched TV for a couple of hours. Here they were getting good US TV shows via satellite something they couldn’t get on Ebeye. Ebeye wasn’t in the footprint of any of the TV satellites but Guam was. The shows Armed Forced TV network chose to present as good shows were not necessarily Bill and Marina’s taste in viewing. But, here in Guam, they had a choice of many shows they liked. Marina remarked that while on Ebeye she knew they were living a life style devoid of many of the normal creature comforts of the US but the added local things provided the spice of life to keep it interesting. But, now that they were back deep in the riches of pleasure of American style 109

living, she realized how much she really missed those things. She vowed she would have to leave Ebeye for Guam or Hawaii at least once every six months to satisfy her soul.

The next morning Bill and Marina went out for a short walk before Charles arrived to pick them up. The sky was blue with a few white billowy clouds and the air was clean and fresh smelling. The flowering bushes and trees were fragrant and pleasing to the eyes. There was one particular tree with a fiery orange red small flower and with small green leaves which seemed to grow everywhere across the island and Marina noticed a number of them had a lot of dead branches. She asked Charles about this when he arrived. Charles said the tree was native to the island and that a beetle had arrived on cargo flights and was now proceeding to eat the trees. No effective eradication method had yet been found, as was also the case with the Australian brown snake that had also arrived on cargo flights and had now taken over the island. The snakes ate all the bird’s eggs and slithered up the power poles and often shorted out the transformers. He said, “The brown snakes are a real nuisance.”

Bill and Marina said, “Thankfully there were no snakes on Ebeye to contend with, just too many brown kids everywhere all the time.”

Charles drove them to the local International House of Pancakes on the edge of Agana for breakfast. The place was crowded but the smells of the sausages and pancakes made their mouths water in anticipation of the taste treats. Bill ordered a short stack and link sausages and Marina ordered blueberry waffles and ham. They both thought how pleasant


living on Guam was compared to Ebeye. Marina didn’t want to leave the restaurant. It just felt good to be inside enjoying the ambiance of the place.

The deputy base commander was at the pharmacy to welcome them. He asked if Charles had taken good care of them and they replied in the affirmative and that they were enjoying their visit to Guam. The deputy base commander introduced them to the chief of the pharmacy Major William Steele and told Bill and Marina that they were to select any and all close to expiry date medicines the Air Force would have to dispose of and that the Air Force would pack the medicines into insulated chests to air-freight them to Kwajalein on an Air Force flight. He left them with the chief of the pharmacy.

They went into a refrigerated and dehumidified storage room with racks and racks full of medicines. Major Steele showed Bill and Marina an inventory list of the medicines available to them and left saying to have the corpsman he left with them come and get him when they needed him. They noticed right away that most were name branded medicines and not the generics they were used to dealing with. Bill asked for a copy of Merck (the drug companies list of all medicines and generics and uses of those medicines) to identify a few of the medicines as he went down the list. Most were anti-fungal or antibiotic as pills for both children and adults and there were a few salves and ointments as well. There were even deworming medicines. This was a real treasure trove. Even the medicines other countries sent the Marshal Islands were close to expiry date, often on the expired side of the date. Here the medicine was on the unexpired side of the expiry date and so should be very effective in treatments of ailments. Bill asked for some time to complete his review of the medicines and 111

sat down. He didn’t want to seem greedy and wanted to make it seem like their trip to Guam was necessary and not just a boon doggle. While Bill read the list and checked the Merck, Marina looked over the medicines on the racks. The boxes were clean and dry without mold on them. Some packages of 12 were still in the manufacturer’s cellophane wrap. After three hours, Bill asked the corpsman to find the Major.

The Major came in and Bill told him “The medicines you have inventoried are in excellent condition, are in far better condition than most we get on Ebeye, still have a month or two of shelf life left before expiry date and are all of the kinds and types we can use on Ebeye and on Majuro in the National Hospital to treat the Marshallese people. Some we haven’t been able to get before, some we use all the time and a few we might be able to use in the future. May we just accept all of the medicines and have them split into two identical lots, one for Ebeye and one for Majuro?”

The Major chuckled aloud and said, “Of course. Do you want to fly back to Kwajalein on the same flight as the medicines.”

Bill and Marina replied, “Yes.” The Major told the corpsman to pack all of the medicines and to arrange shipment to Kwajalein. The Major told Bill and Marina to relax for a few days, as it would take at least that long to pack the medicines. He suggested they take a tourist package trip to visit nearby Saipan as they had plenty of time available. The corpsman phoned for Charles to come and pick them up.


Bill and Marina asked Charles about the tourist package to tour Saipan the Major had suggested they take while waiting for the medicines to be packed. Charles said he was familiar with it and said the local airlines offered it. He drove them to the international airport and walked with them to the local airlines office. The friendly airline travel agent said the Saipan tour was available cost $99 each plus lodging and ground transportation and they could fly that afternoon at 5 P.M. or the next morning at 8 A.M. Bill looked at Marina and said with a question “We should take the 4 P.M. today?” Marina was jumping up and down with excitement saying “Yes, Yes, Yes.” Bill paid for the tickets and asked Charles to take them back to the BOQ to pack and to return them to the airport at 4 P.M. for boarding.

They returned shortly before 4, checked in and boarded at 4:45 P.M. for the 45-minute flight to Saipan. While waiting in the lobby before boarding, they noticed five rather rugged looking young men carrying toolboxes. Bill struck up a conversation with them and learned they worked for a Florida based company proving electronic maintenance to the US satellite dish receiver sites all over the Pacific including Guam and Saipan and they had been sent on a trouble call to fix an inoperative site on Saipan.

As they flew to Saipan, they could see the small island of Tinian on the way. The arrival at the airport in Saipan was uneventful. Marina saw many nice woodcarvings for sale in the open-air tourist shops at the airport and wanted to buy them immediately but Bill told her to wait and buy them as they departed. That way there would be less to carry and fuss with. Bill asked the electronics technicians where they were staying and they said the name of a large hotel and as he said the name, one man in a group of four well dressed men behind them said 113

“That is our hotel and I am the new manager just arriving this afternoon to take over and I am sure we can accommodate all of you. Please come with us in the hotel limousine.”

The drive to the hotel was pleasant and short. The rate for the double room was a special $50 a night. A bellboy carried their luggage to their room. It was a US style room with thick carpeting and a sliding glass door to a balcony overlooking the 3 swimming pools with plenty of palm trees and other local plants. The room however had a certain moist mustiness from the constant high humidity and stale tobacco smoke. They went downstairs to the lobby and walked around the grounds and swimming pools. They saw the electronics technicians at the outdoor bar who waved them over to join them. As they sat down, Bill said he and Marina wanted to tour the island the next day. The other fellows said they had been furnished a van to do their job and that since the next day was Saturday and a non work day, they said “Why don’t you come along with us to tour the island tomorrow and save the cost of renting a car?”

Marina said, “Yes, and thank you”.

The next morning dawned bright and cheery. After a light free continental breakfast at the hotel, Bill and Marina met the fellows in the lobby and they got local scenic site maps from the desk, went out to the van and drove off. The scenic maps suggested visiting the high cliff where the Japanese soldiers leaped to their deaths several hundred feet below on the rocks at the edge of a large coastal plain as the liberating allies stormed the island during WWII, to Banzai Point, the cliff overlooking the ocean where other Japanese soldiers leapt to their deaths in the ocean two hundred feet below, to the Japanese battlements on the island with 114

relic miniature tanks and other artillery etc. As they drove along Marina took pictures of everything she found interesting.

At Banzai Point, there was a small Japanese memorial to the soldiers who had committed suicide. They all walked down to the edge of the cliff to the safety railing and looked down to the sea below. The water was clear but with a light blue tinge. They could see massive granite boulders just below the surface of the water. There was no way anyone jumping into the water there could survive if they changed their minds. There was no way to get back up the cliff and the ocean waves came in pounding against the base of the cliff. They walked back to the car noticing the throngs of Japanese tourists starting to descend upon the site.

The next place to see was the embattlement area halfway across the island. Sure enough, just like the tourist brochure showed, there was a miniature Japanese tank, various artillery pieces, trenches and embattlements, large caliber machine guns and all. Bill walked around the area touching the war materials, checking out the fields of fire for the artillery and machine guns, and mumbling to everyone and no one. Marina satisfied herself by taking pictures of the miniature tanks. The battle here must have been fierce.

They all got in the van and drove to Suicide Cliff. They had to walk a quarter mile to get to the jump off point and there were many Japanese memorials along the way. The view from the top was spectacular. Down below was a large plain covered with farms stretching at least several miles to the ocean to the East. Marina said she couldn’t understand why anyone 115

would jump from this cliff. One of the technicians said that the Japanese knew they were defeated and their culture required them to commit suicide rather than to surrender with complete loss of face to the Allies. The place had a certain quiet and calmness about it. Marina felt a sudden chill and wanted to leave immediately. She told Bill and he told the others that Marina felt uncomfortable and could they please go back to the hotel to check out and fly back to Guam. The others said fine and they left. At the airport on Saipan Marina bought 6 of the small 6 to 8 inch high standing woodcarvings of ancient gods she had seen upon arrival. They boarded the mid-afternoon flight and had an uneventful flight back to Guam.

Upon arrival in Guam, Bill called Charles who came and picked them up and took them back to the BOQ at Anderson Air Force Base. Once in her room there, Marina confided in Bill that sometimes in places of many sudden deaths or ancient human sacrifice sites, she got some uncomfortable feelings from the dead and these feelings scared her. She hadn’t pursued education in the psychic realm and wasn’t sure she wanted to.

The next morning Bill and Marina got up and walked the short distance to the Armed Forces Exchange Cafeteria adjacent to the air terminal. They rather enjoyed the buzz of the place with so many young military service members neatly dressed in their uniforms. The place was clean and comfortable. Not like the not so clean and loud radio two restaurants on Ebeye and, even nicer that the Military cafeteria on Kwajalein. They went through the order/serving line. Marina got a glass of orange juice, a bowl of hot oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg. Bill ordered a short stack, two eggs over easy and two slices of bacon. Marina still felt a bit uneasy and that feeling had affected her stomach so wanted just bland food. Bill, on the 116

other hand was still pursuing getting and enjoying the things he couldn’t get on Ebeye. They sat near the window with a panoramic view of the parking lot. Even looking out at the cars was nice and unusual. As they were finishing their breakfast they heard Charles saying good morning to them as he approached from the cash register.

Charles politely inquired about their tour of Saipan and flights to and from. They told him they had enjoyed the trip and thanked him for his assistance. Bill asked if the medicines were packed and ready to go. Charles said the medicines were packed but there was no space on an aircraft until the following day. Charles said they were in for a surprise. The flight back wouldn’t be a direct flight. Instead, it would be a regular C-130 cargo flight to Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii and then they would take another C-130 plane to Kwajalein stopping at Johnston Island where a large de-militairzation operation of chemical weapons from all over the Pacific was being conducted. Charles said the operation there was similar in size to the one out in the desert from Tooele, Utah. The one there was to de-militarize all of the chemical weapons stored in the US and avoided the risks of long shipments. The de-militairzation actions were in accordance with some international arms treaties. He said they were getting a treat as no commercial flights landed at Johnston Island. He said they couldn’t get off the plane but could say then had been there. After Johnston Island, they would fly to Wake Island and remain overnight. The reason for that was Kwajalein was doing extensive repair to it’s runways for the Optical Adjunct mission with the new Boeing 747 with the big bubble on top and it had sensitive equipment which could be adversely affected by the rough runway at Kwajalein. During the repair time, the airstrip was only open every other day and then only in daylight hours so there was a narrow window of opportunity to land there. Charles said he had 117

heard that after the Allies liberated Kwajalein Island the bulldozed the Japanese fighter plane wreckage into the bomb craters, rolled over them with compaction rollers and asphalted over that. After fifty or more years in a corrosive ground water situation it wasn’t surprising that the fill material had collapsed and the runway had serious dips in many places. Charles suggested that Bill and Marina take a drive across and around the Island of Guam. He offered the keys to his Toyota pickup and said to just meet him at the cafeteria at 6 P.M. and to have an enjoyable trip.

This was better than working. Bill and Marina drove to the base travel office where they obtained brochures of sites to see and a map of Guam. They then took off for a nice leisurely day trip. Bill drove into Agana and toward the Navy base. He took a left to go around the base and down to the special port for the Navy munitions ships. Everything was fenced in but they could see how massive the place was. Bill understood why there were no houses on this end of the island. With the high explosive capability of the munitions and the large quantities of munitions especially in off-loading operations, it was best to keep everyone far away. Bill then drove North up and over a very rugged mountain range with verdant vegetation. He was starting to see why the US Marines in WW II had such a hard time advancing against the dug in Japanese troops. The mountains were on slopes from 70 to 95 % inclines. After twisting around back and forth and driving up steep inclines and back down, they finally came out on a beach. Bill was tired. He hadn’t been able to get out of 2nd gear through the mountains. Driving up the shore line they looked out at the ocean and saw what looked like a WW II US Army tank in the water with the waves breaking over the base of the turret. Bill remarked to Marina that it must have been abandoned there and left as a memorial to those who died in the 118

landing. Marina said to stop and she took a picture of the tank. She had one of those newer plastic cameras with the 35-70 zoom lenses and sometimes could get decent distance shots. When she was finished, Bill drove further north. Just outside a small town and on the beach side stood a regal looking slim older woman with the biggest pair of tits Bill had ever seen. He was shocked. He stared and his mouth dropped open. The woman noticed of course and smiled back nicely. She knew what she had of value and what called attention to herself. Marina looked at what had taken Bill’s complete attention and she swung and hit him with her left fist on his right shoulder to snap him out of his trance saying “Bill, what is the matter with you?”

Bill replied, “Did you see that?” They drove on if obvious silence for sometime after that. Bill mentally recalling the image and the stories he had heard about the beautiful island girls and thought this must have been one of them, not the ugly ones in the city. They continued on North and eventually the road turned west and they drove up and over gently rolling lush green hills sparsely covered with trees and back to Anderson Air Force Base. They stopped in the snack bar for a small lunch and then drove off the base again and this time to drive over to the west side of the island. They went to the northwest portion of the island far from the Japanese tourists. They came upon a nice beach with no other people to be seen. The tide was out and this side of the island had a number of pedestal type rock formations out in the shallow ocean. They were limestone formations eaten away by the waves leaving the hardest rock in odd shapes. They went for a swim and a beach walk and decided to drive down to the tourist lovers leap site they had been told about. Arriving at that site in the midst of 5 large tourist busses packed with nicely dressed Japanese speaking tourists was a blow to 119

the tranquility they had gained on the beach further north. Marina selected three large cowrie shells about 3 and ½ inches long, which had been carved out leaving the figure of a young native girl with long hair on the cliff and the word Guam. One was for herself, one for her mother and one she would send her grandmother along with a long letter about this fantastic surprise trip. Bill wasn’t interested in such tourist novelties and impatiently urged Marina to come with him to the cliff edge where there was a bronze plaque beside which many of the Japanese tourists were posing for pictures. Marina begrudgingly went with him. But, when she got to the jump off place and looked the 4 hundred feet down, she was impressed. They read the bronze plaque and asked one of the other tourists to take their picture at the site.

Bill told Marina he was tired after the long unaccustomed drive and wanted to take a hot shower and rest for tomorrow’s flight. They drove back to the air base in silence. As Bill started to walk to his room Marina asked for the truck keys saying “I’ll take the truck back at 6 and thanks for the drive.” Shortly before 6, Marina after a refreshing fresh water shower and donning clean clothes drove to the Cafeteria to meet Charles.

She found him waiting outside with his usual Cheshire cat grin. He was a warm friendly happy man. He was nice to be around. He asked how their trip had been and where was Bill. He chuckled when she said Bill’s shoulders ached from the drive up and over the mountains and that he had taken a hot shower, said he was going to apply some Ben-gay and rest for the flight tomorrow.


Charles decided now was the time to be a bit aggressive. He said, “Marina how would you like to come with me to town for dinner and out to a night club for dancing?”

Since Marina was comfortable with Charles and not engaged to Bill, she said, “I’d be delighted to.”

Marina gave Charles the truck keys, they got in the Toyota and they drove to Agana. He drove to a nice restaurant between Gibson’s and the International House of Pancakes. It was a steak and seafood restaurant. He told Marina he came her often as the food was excellent, the place was clean, the clientele was pleasant although a bit colorful and the prices were reasonable and the Japanese tourists didn’t go there. He said since the Japanese tourists were company employees on tour, they went everywhere in busses and there were always many of them making the places seem crowded. Oh, he said, they were pleasant enough but he preferred smaller groups of mixed individuals. The restaurant was dimly lighted, smelled invitingly, had a nice comfortable buzz about it and the head waiter after greeting Charles by name and with a knowing smile saw them to a window table offering Marina a chair with a view out the window with the beach and cliffs above and the Japanese high–rise hotels on the tops of the cliffs. The lights were twinkling in the hotels. There was a pleasant background dining music playing softly in the dining room. Charles ordered tossed salad, steak and lobster. The fresh iceberg lettuce salad with sun ripened tomatoes and fresh asparagus spears with vinaigrette salad dressing and a lit dusting of Parmesan cheese on top made a nice start to the meal. The slices of hot garlic bread were great also. Then came the waiter with the steaming platters of the steaks and lobsters head, claws and tail. The waiter removed the tail of the 121

lobsters, snipped it lengthwise, brushed in melted butter with freshly chopped chives and placed it on the plate with the steak and baked potato. Marina’s mouth watered as the waiter asked what topping she wanted on her baked potato. She chose chopped chives, butter, sour cream and plenty of ground pepper from the eighteen-inch long pepper mill the waiter held up. Marina thought Bill was nice but he was rather cheap. He had never treated her to such a lavish meal or in such a nice place. Marina slowly and carefully ate her meal savoring every bite and listening with half an ear to Charles rambling small talk. The place and the meal was enough, she didn’t need the small talk too. She was already captivated. Suddenly, the meal was finished and the waiter removed the dishes. Before she could rise from her chair, however, another waiter came with a dish of raspberry Sorbet for their desert. Marina really liked raspberry Sorbet, it was just so chock full of flavor that one spoonful just lasted and lasted and lasted. It was the fitting finale to a sumptuous meal.

Charles asked Marina, “Are you ready to go dancing?”

She replied, “Yes, but I’m rather full at the moment.”

Charles paid for the meal leaving a generous tip, another thing Bill didn’t do and they walked slowly together out to the Toyota. It was cool outside now and the air was fragrant with the many flowering trees and shrubs nearby. Charles drove downtown to the nightclub section, parked and took Marina’s hand on his arm, escorting her into a nice looking night club that was clean with clean neatly dressed customers and with nice music in the background. At


the door, the doorman greeted Charles with a pleasant Good to see you back again sir. And he looked at Marina with appreciative eyes. This Charles knew how to pick the pretty ones.

Inside the club, a waiter took them to a table on the edge of the dance floor in front of a small stage. A small dance band was set up on the stage and was playing nice music. Charles said the club featured a singer along with the dance band. He asked what she wanted to drink and since she was a tee-totaller, she asked for a Shirley Temple. Charles ordered that for her and a vodka gimlet for himself. The singer came out on the stage and began singing. She was nicely dressed in a long sleek black sequined gown that sparkled in the stage lights. She was in her 30’s and had a nice figure and a pretty face and sang well too. At the end of each number, the audience politely clapped their appreciation. After half an hour of singing, she said that was the end of the show and for everyone to enjoy dancing with the band.

Charles asked Marina to dance and she was ready. The dance floor wasn’t crowded but had a number of people on it swaying to and fro with the music. Charles took Marina’s hand pulling her up and to him and they started dancing. Charles was a skilled dancer and it was a definite pleasure dancing with him. No stepped on toes like with Bill. She decided to stop making comparisons and to just enjoy the evening. They danced, danced, and danced. Charles finally said that it was getting late and that he should get her back to her room since the flight tomorrow was early. She sadly agreed, Charles paid the tab and they left arm in arm.

On the way back to the base Charles asked if she would like to see where he lived. Marina had no objection and in reality was rather curious. He drove to the other side of the 123

commercial airport to a nice section of town where the terrain was jagged. He stopped in front of a nice narrow 2-story house with a large balcony on the second floor and said this is it. He took her arm and they walked to the door. He unlocked it and took her inside and upstairs to the balcony. From the balcony Marina could see the runway at the commercial airport and all of the twinkling lights of the landing strip and incoming and outgoing planes.

The house was clean and obviously decorated by a male living alone. There were no pictures of girls or women anywhere. The furniture was dark heavy wood and metal of Spanish style. The moon was shining brightly and Marina just felt good. So when Charles took her into his arms she offered no resistance and returned his gentle kiss with fervor. After a few more kisses he took her into his bedroom and they slowly undressed each other. Marina figured she not only owed him for the fantastic evening but also wanted to enjoy him herself. She was no prude but wasn’t wild. After a long passionate love making and a nap of exhaustion, she awoke, woke Charles and said “I have thoroughly enjoyed this evening, thank your for all of it, it is time for me to go back to the BOQ so that for propriety’s sake I will be there when dawn comes.”

Charles said, “I too have enjoyed this evening and you and you are right. Get dressed and I will take you back now.” They drove in silence to the base. Marina kissed Charles on the cheek and got out. Charles quietly closed the Toyota door after he was a bit away from the BOQ so as to not wake Bill.


Marina’s alarm went off suddenly. She arose with a start. Still tired and groggy but feeling good for having had such a good time the night before she jumped into the shower and bathed. Within a half hour she was finished including dressing and packing her things. She had a few minutes to spare before Charles was due to pickup Bill and her for breakfast and a lift to the Military Airlift Terminal departure terminal. She went outside, walked to Bills door and knocked loudly. No answer, she knocked again and heard a muffled “Yeah, I’ m up.” Marina walked up and down the street breathing in the fresh and cool morning air. Charles drove up in the Air Force sedan just as Bill came out his door with his luggage. Charles was cheerful as usual and made no comment as to the previous evening after glancing at the dour look on Bill’s face. A good cuckolding does not leave a person very cheerful. They drove to the cafeteria and had a light breakfast.

After breakfast Charles drove them to the terminal where they could see the 6 large pallets of medical supplies being loaded on a C-130 while Charles said, “That’s your stuff.” He escorted them into the terminal and through the check in since they were special passengers and didn’t want them to be hassled. He shook both their hands telling them he hoped they had a good time on Guam and to have a nice flight back home. As Bill turned away and started walking to the plane, Charles gave Marina a friendly hug and a kiss on the cheek saying “Take real good care of yourself; you are one really special girl, ok?”

They boarded the plane and strapped into the drop down wall seats like on their flight to Guam. This was going to be a long and boring 10-hour flight. It was a cold flight too and the loadmaster brought them two wool blankets each. After an hour, Marina copied the action of 125

an off duty standby passenger who had taken his blankets and spread one down on the top of the edge of one of the cargo pallets, laying down and covering himself with the other blanket. She was tired anyway and was rather upset with Bill and it was too noisy to talk and be heard easily on the plane. There wasn’t anything to do but sleep. She needed to catch up for the shortage of sleep the night before. 10 and ½ hours later they set down at Hickham Air Force Base sharing the International Airport at Honolulu, Hawaii. Marina was stiff and sore from sleeping on the hard aluminum pallet but was well rested. After deplaning and clearing US Customs and Agriculture Inspection, a young air force officer who said he had been assigned to escort them to their BOQ rooms for the night and to and from the Officer’s Club and the air terminal met them.

He took them to their BOQ room giving them an hour to freshen up and then on to the Officer’s Club for dinner. It was ok and somewhat like Marina had seen on a number of movies about Pearl Harbor but it wasn’t anything compared to the previous night and the trip by now had grown long and tiring. The officer took them back to the BOQ where they went to their separate rooms. Marina watched good old USA TV shows until 2 A.M. AT 5 A.M. the young officer returned and picked them up and drove them to the MAC terminal. He escorted them to the ticket counter explaining who they were and what flight they were to be put on and left them there. There was a small snack bar outside the front door and 100 feet down the side of the terminal building. They went there and had an American breakfast Hawaiian style, rather greasy and blah. They returned to the MAC terminal to wait seeing many familiar faces from Kwajalein smiling at them and waving hello. Finally boarding was announced and they cleared through and boarded the C-141. 126

The flight to Johnson Atoll was uneventful. They got a glimpse of the Atoll upon approach after the loadmaster motioned for them to come and look out the window. Once upon the ground and taxiing up the runway they looked out and the place looked very sparse and almost devoid of coconut palms like Ebeye. The loadmaster reminded them they were not allowed to get off the plane. The motors operating the screws to open the back ram wined and the ramp opened and went down. Two forklifts came and took off the last two pallets and the motors wined again and the ramp closed. The C-141’s engines roared into life and the plane went back to the runway and shortly they were airborne again. Next stop Wake Island. About 3 hours later, the loadmaster came and took them to the window to look out to see Wake Island. Marina could see it was like an oddly shaped fish bowl with no top on the west end. It was thick and wide at the bottom where the runway was and very narrow up the sides. They landed and deplaned.

The place seemed almost deserted. There was a Chevrolet Carryall to take them to lodging and they got in with their luggage. Off to their right they could see the two-story massive terminal building. The loadmaster said, “That terminal building is a relic from the days of the propeller driven overseas flights. Before the jets took over, the propeller planes flew in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Hawaii refueled and then flew on to Asia such as Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Seoul Korea, and Tokyo, Japan. The planes couldn’t carry enough fuel to get to their destination and Wake Island just happened to be in the right place in the Pacific. Ships brought in the aviation fuel and foodstuffs and there was a huge wooden hotel for overnight lodging. The hotel burned down a number of years ago. Later you can visit 127

the terminal building and see the map covering the end wall showing where the flights originated in the US and the five fingers destinations in Asia.”

As they rode to the lodging place they saw a number of decrepit collapsing buildings including what must have been family housing at one time. The loadmaster said, “There used to be military personnel stationed here including their families and plenty of Gooney birds but now the military coded the place condition 4 meaning perform no maintenance on structures not in active use. Look at the old concrete bunker with the concrete breaking off and the rusting reinforcing bars protruding. That peeling off of the concrete is called spalling and shows how fierce the corrosion is here and the strength of the rust to break off and push away the concrete as much as 12 inches deep. After we check in to the lodging place I will take you on a walking tour of the island.”

They arrived at a nondescript wood frame; plywood covered and tin roofed single story building that had a sign over the entrance Welcome to Lodging at Wake. The place was clean, neat, and was staffed by courteous and clean and neat Thai personnel. They checked in and placed their bags in their rooms and changed to swimsuits and loose shirts and flip-flops. The loadmaster who said his name was Jeff asked if they were ready and had cameras to take pictures. Marina had to go back and get hers.

Jeff led them out and north along the beach ocean side past more spalling concrete bunkers from the Japanese occupation days. He pointed out a four-inch gun mounted on a swivel in concrete on the shore and said that was part of their coastal defense. The battle for 128

the island was fierce. The beach was long and flat with gray white sand and the waves were about 2 feet high. They made a nice crashing sound on the beach. Otherwise the place was quiet. Oh, there was the occasional screeching sea gull flying overhead but no people or population sounds. Jeff led them back and past a building he said had been a fire station and down an unpaved road partially overgrown with brush to the lagoon side. They came to a twosided flat roofed beachcomber’s hovel. There were glass floats for fishnets in many sizes and in great numbers hanging in scraps of net and laying about as well as odd shaped pieces of driftwood and other flotsam junk. There were also many empty whiskey bottles on prominent display proudly announcing to the uninvited visitors that this was a place of solace, comfort and tranquility to one or more beachcombers and had served them well for a long time. The place did look comfortable but it also looked lonely. Obviously there wasn’t much to do on Wake Island these days.

Jeff led them back to the Wake lodging and on to the old family housing units on the ocean side. The places were just falling in with vegetation and trees growing in and through the roofs and windows. Other than being devoid of furniture, they looked like they had been abandoned in place and had been left alone by looters. They were spacious and had nice views of the ocean and beach. Jeff said that when the families were stationed there the people had been allowed cars. Practical Bill spoke up and said “Why, everything is so close and there is no where to go?”

Jeff said “To keep the Americans happy you have to let them have their cars.”


They walked further down the east side of the island to the old terminal building with massive concrete hardstand out front. There were no vehicles parked in front. There was only their plane. The place looked deserted like a relic from long ago days of lots of activity and crowds of people. The front of the terminal building was all glass above 10 feet height and the roof curved up from the ends to the center. They went inside to a massive empty lobby. On the huge left wall was the map Jeff had told them of earlier. Jeff went over and spoke to the lone man at the counter who turned on the lights on the map. The flight origination points flashed with the white lights, Wake flashed with a yellow light and then the five Asian destinations points flashed with green lights. At head height on the wall were a number of period pictures of when Wake was in its hay days. There were several photos of the old wooden hotel. It was massive, impressive and elegant. There was a photo of the front of the terminal building with 10 propeller driven passenger Constellation planes.

Marina remarked she had read about Wake Island in history class but only knew of it as a famous significant battleground during WW II. She had previously learned nothing about its significant role in trans-pacific air travel. She was impressed and showed it. They took a leisurely walk back to the lodging and then on to the small cove in the shoreline behind the lodging where they went for a swim. Dinner that night was plain and simple but nice. Walking outside after dinner in the cool air was very pleasant. No cars, no screaming kids, no city light, only the moonlight and starlight. Marina gazed skyward and thought Dream upon a falling star just as she saw a falling star streak through the atmosphere towards earth. It might be lonely here on Wake Island but Wake did have some nice points.


The next morning dawned bright and clear. After a light breakfast they were taken in the van to the air terminal and they boarded for departure. It was a short one-hour flight to Kwajalein. Jeff said Kwajalein had asphalted two sections of the runway while they slept on Wake Island. They landed on Kwajalein as though it was a milk run. Bill and Marina quickly processed through and cleared the baggage search and sniff and security and walked the halfmile to the pier for the LSU trip to Ebeye. Other people would see that the medicines were brought over to Ebeye.

They arrived at the Ebeye pier to a welcoming crowd fit for the reception of a dignitary. Bill had called June from Guam about the massive quantities of medicines they were getting and June had told the hospital staff and the rest of the people heard it on the coconut telegraph. The people were so delighted to have their Bill and Marina back and were so happy they had been able to get the much-needed medicines. Several asked where the medicines were. Bill said, “Still on the plane on two pallets for here and there are also two pallets for Majuro. Two will be brought over this evening when it is cool and the other two will be airfreighted on Air Line of the Marshalls flight tomorrow; in the meantime the pallets will be placed in the chill area at the Kwajalein cold storage area to help preserve the medicines. When they arrive here, those requiring refrigeration and are specially packed will have to go into the deep freezes and refrigerators in the clinic. That should be no problem as they are empty now.”

They were back and life returned to normal. Rather ho hum compared to the events of their recent adventure but still pleasant.



The typhoon season and bad weather was over and the long-range weather forecast was for clear skies and good weather. Vacations of key staff were over. It was time for Kwajalein Missile Range to get back to business. The weather was perfect for the launch. Lt. Richard was excited. This was going to be his first missile launch flight and splash in. He had no specific duties for the day other than to observe and take notes. It was comfortable in the new control room with nice fresh beige paint, thin carpet over new linoleum tile floors, new furniture and all new electronic equipment. The place just smelled new. The air conditioners were new and working at perfection, the air was cool and clean and not humid. Some of the older buildings had older air conditioners which either just re-circulated humid air or recirculated chilled humid air making him feel like he was in a deep freeze. He thought it would be nice if Marina could be in the control room right now. There was a busy buzz about the place with people scurrying about seeming to know what they were doing. He really liked Marina; she was such a nice and honest girl. He hoped he could get to know her better. He fancied she might make him a good officer's wife. But, since she couldn't be with him today, he would just have to tell her the thrill of it all the next time he saw her. He hoped that would be this coming Friday night. The officer in charge was going over the checklist of critical events again. The crews had already been scrambled at Vandenberg California to get the previously prepared missile to the launch site. The radar technicians stationed at Kwajalein and on the outer islands had been briefed on the specifics of the test and had been taken out to the islands on the rim of the atoll to man the radars. The test runs of the radars had been accomplished without a problem. They were ready and it was difficult to wait. The helicopter reef sweep had just started. The contractor technicians, the boat drivers, the generator plant operators, the military officers, everyone, was ready and everyone was excited. The mid-atoll 132

corridor exclusion zone had been announced and the Marshallese outer islanders were upset again from being removed from their islands. All the people on Loi, the island on the North Eastern extreme of the atoll with the big radars, were in their buildings ready and waiting. The warning lights were on to warn people not to be outside in the radiation area from the big radars lest they be irradiated and sterilized during the tracking of the incoming missile.

All of the crews were in position and were waiting anxiously. This was the hardest part of the job. They all hoped that the missile would be launched on time and that the launch wouldn’t be scrubbed as had happened many times before. The buildup of excitement and tension with a let down with nothing at the end was miserable. Especially so when they had to either stand by and wait for a delayed launch or when the launch was scrubbed and rescheduled a few days later. It was now Friday morning and everyone hoped the launch would go well and be completed including recovery of the black box by 4 P.M. that day so they would have their weekend free to play. Rescheduled launches usually occurred on weekends when the radar technicians preferred to be over at La Mona Mike’s on Ebeye soaking up suds and fondling the pretty girls. They didn’t mind working but felt that there was a time for work and a time for play, both in measured amounts and at prescribed intervals and that the intervals should not be tampered with. Gosh, any man understood that. If you didn’t show up at your favorite bar on Friday or Saturday night and meet your girl, some other guy would and then you would have none. That sort of thing puts a man on edge.

The control officer told Lt. Richard that the missile being tested today with its particular fuels and guidance system had been perfected over the last few years and that its accuracy was greatly improved. Until the accuracy was within the size of a football field at 5,000 miles intercontinental range, the missiles were dropped into the ocean near the atoll. Ocean drops caused no land damage but the payloads couldn’t be recovered because of the great depths of 133

the ocean surrounding Kwajalein. A lagoon splash in, as was scheduled for this missile launch, was rare, but always included a black box payload in the nose cone, which had to be recovered. The lagoon was only 200 feet deep at the deepest so just about anything dropped in it could be recovered by divers. The military jokingly referred to their recovery policy in the lagoon as the clean bottom policy. Accuracy for today's test was considerably better than football-field size; it was closer to a twenty-five foot square foot patch. Hitting a target that size with a missile launched 5,000 miles away was very good accuracy.

In the mission control room on Kwajalein, the Army test control officer was trying to be patient. He was hoping that the test would go smoothly this day. But, there was a surprise local storm dancing around the atoll and threatening to come into the lagoon. That would make retrieval of the missile cone impossible. However, the stratosphere had no clouds with moisture to interfere with the navigation of the missile, so the missile could be launched. The hard hat diving ship was ready and waiting a safe distance from the target area. There were three other boats acting as spotters already deployed close to the splash down site but at a safe distance.

The message came from Vandenberg; the missile couldn’t be fired because the weather conditions in the stratosphere had changed. He was told to issue the stand down order and to await word for the order to get ready again in a little while, maybe the conditions would improve, and there were high winds in the stratosphere today. This was nerve racking. Four hours later, Vandenberg called and said the mission was scrubbed for the day and was tentatively rescheduled for next week on Tuesday. Well, at least the technicians Friday and Saturday night with the girls over on Ebeye wouldn’t be interfered with. For some reason or other, there was something like a caste system, the scientists and officers left the Marshallese


women alone but the technicians concentrated on them almost exclusively and everyone seemed to accept that was ok and the way it was supposed to be.

Well, it was weekend time and the mission had been scrubbed. The three Marshallese brothers, Kalewa, Onimus and Katabang, had previously given an invitation to Marina and Bill to go with them to Aijijen Island to visit their weto and to snorkel and explore the island. The missile launch had suspended that invitation. It was now back on. They went Friday night after work. Aijijen was only an hour North by boat. On the way, Onimus and Katabang were fishing along the reef with forty-pound test hand lines, a bit of weight and a large hook buried in a bright florescent red plastic thing with frills. Whatever fishing lure works is the right one. Just about sunset, the rainbow runners struck the lines and Onimus and Katabang kept pulling them in until dusk. For twenty-five minutes, the fish had taken the bait as soon as the lures were in the water. They caught seven rainbow runners. These fish were shaped similar to sixteen-inch rainbow trout but were eighteen to twenty-four inches in length. They had yellow stripes down the sides and according to the men made excellent eating either steamed, grilled, or as sashimi, raw fish with lemon and soy sauce.

Bill and Marina were greeted by some of the Anjolok family on Aijijen where there was a permanent campsite. Three boys had been there for several weeks now harvesting the coconuts and making copra. Kalewa said," God looks after us poor Marshallese people. We sleep under the coconut trees. When we wake up, God had caused the ripe coconuts to fall to the ground. They are food and money. We need only gather them up, remove the husks, crack them open and remove the yu. We eat some of the yu and feed the rest to the pigs. Then, the half shells are left in the sun, preferably on concrete, to dry. After three to five days, the coconut meat, the copra, has dried and shriveled up and is easy to remove from the shell. Another few days drying and it is ready to sell to the copra agents on the government ship, 135

which comes about four times a year. The copra is bought by the agents for about twenty-five cents a pound. Three cents goes to the Iroij who owns the wetos where the copra was harvested, two cents goes to the Alab, the overseer of the wetos, and the jerbel, the harvester, gets the rest. When the men work hard, each can make about $200 each month in this manner." Human nature being what it is, copra is often stolen during the night. The ship takes the copra to Majuro where is ground up and processed to extract the oil for export, a little is kept to make coconut oil soap to be sold locally. The mash is dried and sold as pig feed.

Marina and Bill were on Aijijen less than thirty minutes when they were called to come and eat. There on the pandannus mats under the palm trees with kerosene lanterns casting a yellowish flickering glow was food in palm frond baskets. Each basket was the plate for a person. Each basket contained half a fried rainbow runner fried nice and crisp brown, large chunks of rainbow runner steamed with grated coconut and condensed milk gravy sauce on top on green banana leaves, some chunks of raw rainbow runner with the extremely sour local lime juice and soy sauce on top, and some pieces of stewed turtle meat. All had been seasoned with coarse salt and spicy black pepper from Pohnpei. There were also a quarter of a grilled chicken, three large rice balls covered with grated coconut and a big 4 inch square and 2 inch thick piece of pandannus cake for desert. Nearby was a large mound of green drinking coconuts to wash the food down with a young boy already slicing of the tops with a machete. The liquid in the drinking coconuts was clear, cool, sweet, and extremely refreshing. The quantity of food in one basket was far more than Marina or Bill could eat and each got a separate basket. But, the custom was to give plenty. The people were expected to continue to eat all night and into the next day. Having and serving great quantities of food showed how well you liked your visitors and that you were not poor. The show was everything. The food was delicious. Afterward most of the people were finished eating, someone brought out an old, sad-looking ukulele and cajoled Katabang into singing. He had a very nice voice and he and 136

the old Alab, Tokyo, sang old Marshallese songs late into the night. The sky was clear. Without the interference of city lights at night, the stars were easy to see in their great magnificence. The entire Southern Constellation was visible since they were almost on the Equator. They even saw a couple of falling stars. Bill pointed out to Marina particular star clusters and told her their names. Marina was surprised that he was quite well informed about the stars since he had been indifferent about looking at them before. They lay on the pandannus mats enjoying the singing and gazing at the stars until midnight. Then Onimus said it was late and they should all go to sleep.

They slept on pandannus sleeping mats made on the island by the women. Bill and Marina had been given a large mat the length and width of a double bed to sleep on under the cookhouse roof in case of an early morning shower. The other people slept in the open with the sky as their roof. The island had a many chickens and pigs roaming around and sometimes they came close to the sleepers but didn’t walk on them. That was good, as some of those pigs must have weighed more than 300 pounds.

About four a.m. consumption of too many drinking coconuts caused Bill to wake up to urinate. He crawled a short way from the sleeping mat, urinated, and returned. The pigs and chickens were still roaming around. He threw a few of the pieces of beach gravel at them to chase them away. He did this remaining lying down. He got an unexpected surprise. Onimus sat bolt upright and looked around. Bill then threw a few pebbles behind Onimus. Onimus looked again and spoke softly in a scared voice to Kalewa "Brother, brother, wake up, the ghosts are coming, wake up and help keep them away from me. I am scared." Bill chuckled as he went back to sleep with Onimus nervously looking around as he remained sitting bolt upright.


During one of the story telling sessions on Kwajalein during the doldrums, Bill and Marina had been told that the Marshallese believe in ghosts and are deathly afraid of the bad ones. Many of the ghosts are either dead Marshallese warriors or witches or are dead Japanese soldiers. Of the three brothers, Onimus was the largest one and was of an abnormally large size for a Marshallese. Perhaps that had to do with his aggressiveness and always getting the food first and as much as he wanted. In spite of his size, he was the one most scared by the ghosts. Anyway, in the morning all three brothers were busy talking about the ghosts who woke Onimus the previous night. Onimus was definitely scared. He said he would sleep further down the shore in a neighbors hut that night because he was afraid the ghosts would come back and get him if he slept in the same place.

The neighbors had listened to Onimus tell his ghost story with great attentiveness and apparent concern. But, one of them was a practical joker too. That night, while Onimus slept in the neighbor's hut, the joker sneaked up in the dark and grabbed Onimus's big toe firmly, pulled real hard and hid. Onimus woke with a start and a scream, stood up, insisted the lantern be turned on bright and didn’t sleep the rest of the night.

The Marshallese thoroughly enjoyed jokes and were constantly playing jokes on each other. Everyone knew that Onimus was the brunt of a practical joke and no one cared whom the joker or jokers were. The second morning on Aijijen, after Onimus had related his encounter with the ghost at the neighbor's hut, everyone had a good laugh. Kalewa, the oldest brother, asked Onimus where he was going to sleep the third night. Onimus, in a bad mood for lack of sleep and fear of the ghosts, growled, "Somewhere, but I'm not going to tell anyone where." No one knew where Onimus slept the third night and subsequently, Onimus said the ghosts didn’t bother him again.


A week later after return to Ebeye, Marina and Bill reciprocated for the trip to Aijijen with a feast of canned ham, Spam, and aluminum foil wrapped, fire baked, potatoes for the three brothers and their wives. To them, these foods were expensive delicacies. Katabang, while eating and smacking his lips started talking about Onimus and the ghosts on Aijijen. Onimus didn’t want to talk about it. He kept saying to his younger brother, "Katabang, you shut your mouth now." Bill thought the time right to admit that he was the first ghost. He did so and then everyone laughed and laughed, except Onimus. He was a proud man and didn’t like jokes played on him that caused him embarrassment. The story of Onimus and his ghosts was retold many times all over the island for months. That had been one very good practical joke.

Now, back to Saturday morning on Aijijen. Mid morning, Bill and Marina were taken out to ideal spots on the reef alongside the island for snorkeling in one of the hallowed out tree trunk canoes with an outrigger, sails and paddles by two teenage boys. The canoe anchored over a large coral head with a lump of coral on a rope as an anchor. Bill and Marina just rolled over the side into the warm water. They just floated over the top of the large coral head and observed the multitude of multicolored fish in all sizes darting and out of the coral. The water was exceptionally clear. In the afternoon, they walked and explored the island taking photos of the WW II airplane engines and propellers on the beach and the concrete bunkers and power houses, etc hidden under the coconut trees and vines. They even found an old Japanese tractor used to pull bomb and torpedo carts on a narrow railroad. The tractor had 12-inch wide rear wheels with rubber tires bonded to the metal rims, something like old US trucks at the turn of the century. The two teenage boys who had taken them snorkeling acted as tour guides for Bill and Marina on their excursion on the island and their uncle Onimus came along as well. They knew where all the neat things were to be seen.


Onimus suddenly came out of the bushes carrying two live mortar shells and told them where there were many mortar shells and 105 mm shells and casings lying around. He was afraid of ghosts but had no respect and fear for the live old and dangerous ammunition lying around. He told a story of years before, when a construction company hired to build a cinder block school nearby needed a large container for water. Some locals with the construction contractor went to Aijijen and using some of the old unexploded shells blew out the walls of two diesel fuel storage concrete bunkers. They removed and rolled the tanks to the lagoon and floated the empty tanks down to the construction site. It was said that one of the tanks, after construction was completed, was towed to Pohnpei and was used as a water tank in another construction project there. All of this happened before the Marshallese Government put into place historic preservation laws prohibiting destruction of the Japanese era things because of the potential of tourism in the future.

Sunday afternoon, Bill and Marina were taken out to the North West side of the island near a reef in the lagoon to participate in catching some fish for a barbecue. They were told that this type of fish was large and plump of body and that the meat was very tasty. To catch them, they need only lay a black nylon rope on the water. The men circled the rope to club the fish inside as they came to the surface and then threw them toward the shore where the children gathered them up. No bait, hooks, or net were used. Apparently, the fish saw the rope and thought it was a barrier they must go up and over and that is when the fishermen clubbed them. The men were right. Those fish were very succulent when barbecued that evening.

Early Monday morning they returned by boat to Ebeye and went back to work. The visit had been very enjoyable and when asked if they wanted to go there again, they said "Just let us know so we can get time off from the clinic. We had a very enjoyable time and the food was 140

magnificent." Their supervisor June was friendly about letting them off on weekends when they wanted but they usually worked, having nothing else to do. But June wanted them to see the how the people lived on the outer islands and insisted they take every opportunity to go.

So, after a weeklong delay in the mission, on the next Friday, the missile test was on again and all of the preparations had been made again. Lt. Richard had gone to the Yokwe Yuk to look for Marina on the Friday night after the mission was cancelled but not finding her. He had hoped and assumed she would come over that night but hadn’t. He hoped the mission would go smoothly today, be completed early, and that Marina would come over for the dance tonight. Dances in the Yuk after successful missions were very nice, as everyone was feeling good. He really wanted to see and talk to her.

The message came down from Vandenberg, the missile had been fired. Only a short wait now, fifteen minutes for 5,000 miles. Splash down. On time, on target, it was a complete success. It was time to dive and recover the black box. But alas, safety says not today. The storm that had been lingering outside of the lagoon just came in and closed off visibility and the wind was kicking up eight-foot swells with plenty of white caps. The weather could change in a matter of a few hours or even less from beautiful and calm with a light wind to a raging storm. Lt. Richard knew he must relate this to Marina next time he saw her. It was exciting things like this that really got the irises of her eyes to dilate. He liked to see the excitement in her eyes. He couldn’t see the pupils of the Marshallese girls, they had dark brown eyes and you could only see the dark brown spots. Eye reactions didn’t show.

All the crews stood down and were elated at the success of today's missile launch. The missile pierced the stratosphere exactly as planned and splashed into the lagoon exactly where targeted. Recovery of the black box would take place tomorrow. Lt. Richard went to the 141

Yokwe Yuk club again looking for Marina but again she hadn’t come over to Kwajalein. He was disappointed but tried not to let it show. He wasn’t the only lonely bachelor in the Yokwe Yuk that night. He would go over to Ebeye tomorrow and visit her on a day pass.

The bad weather held in for three days. Then, the Army ship with the hardhat divers went to the recovery area and the divers went down. They located the missile right away but they couldn’t locate the nose cone with the black box. However, they were not too concerned. Sometimes, the nose cones broke off and could be found fairly close to the missile on the lagoon bottom. The storm had stirred up waves, which had stirred up the sediment on the bottom making visibility poor. The bad weather came in again, and the search was called off again. That scenario continued for two weeks. Each search resulted in no black box. Now the Army was getting worried about the missing black box.

Marina went over to Kwajalein on Friday afternoon for a visit to the clinic and to dance in the Yokwe Yuk. Lt. Richard had persevered and had gone again to the Yokwe Yuk. He was extremely delighted when Marina walked in. He told her what had happened in the control room on the day the first launch was aborted and then on the second launch day when the mission was successful. He told her about the failure of the hard hat divers to find the nose cone and the fear the Americans had that the circling Russian ship had sent in one or more of their mini-subs with divers and had found and removed the nose cone and black box during the storm while the American divers were ordered back into safe harbor. Marina said, "Do you really think it possible that the Russians retrieved the nose cone with the black box?"

Lt. Richard said, "We don’t know but since it hasn't been found, that's a distinct possibility. Marina was thinking to herself that if the Russians had sent in their mini-sub and had successfully retrieved the nose cone and black box, she might be able to cease her spying 142

activities. Stephen had told her that while on the beach watching the wind surfers last month. Marina was getting bored with the spy stuff. To her, the data was routine and without value and she disliked doing things which might result in her getting caught and having to explain why she had the items.

The search continued. The US media got wind of the event and started publishing questioning stories. "Why had the military lost the black box?" "Why had the military not had adequate security?" Fortunately, there was a political scandal in the US, which took over the front pages for a few days and the fickle media lost interest in the black box. The military asked the Navy for one team of Navy Seals. If the seals couldn’t find the black box, it wasn’t there.

Navy Seals flew in to Kwajalein on a C-141. It was full with their special gear. The military folks and contractors were happy. Jim, one of the civilian government employees for the military and a naval reserve officer, was assigned as point of contact. The black box would be recovered soon now. But, the weather was being fickle again. The Navy Seals dove anyway. They found the missile and started searching in grid patterns where the nose cone should be. But search as they might, even they couldn’t find the object of the search.

The Navy Seals enjoyed this assignment to the Marshall Islands. One of them told one of the nurses at the snack bar who then told Marina of a previous assignment the Navy Seals had to Lake Tahoe to find a commercial aircraft which had crashed into the lake and to recover the flight data recorder. They didn’t enjoy that assignment because the weather and the water were very cold and they had to camp out near the lake edge. They hadn’t been permitted to go into Tahoe even for a dinner. They hadn’t recovered the flight data recorder on that mission. But then Lake Tahoe is very deep. On a small island like Kwajalein, even a little news is great 143

and gets passed. The Marshallese called this news passing, the coconut telegraph. It was extremely fast and surprisingly quite accurate.

After two weeks and two searches of all the original grid patterns and of additional grid patterns as well, the sinking feeling started to become pervasive. The Kwajalein Island Army commander said during a staff meeting, "Those damn Russians sneaked into our lagoon during the storm and stole our missile nose cone. They had no right to do that. It was bad enough that they have been stealing the tracking results of each missile shot for twenty years. But to steal our nose cone, that is just unacceptable." But, spying on each other was a constant reality of life in the industrial and military worlds of all countries.

Quietly, the Navy Seals packed up their equipment and flew away. Their lips had been sealed. They hadn’t spoken to anyone or had they maybe just whispered into a few pretty girls ears? They had at least not spoken officially. A Pacific Island is not a place where a secret can be kept. But, everyone knew who buttered the daily bread and talking about it wouldn’t bring the black box back so there was compliance with the order to not talk about it.

Jim would reveal nothing even if he knew something. He wouldn’t even admit to knowing any of the Seals. However, their greetings, handshakes, and body language had said otherwise. There was sadness on the island. The missile nose cone and black box were gone. All hopes of recovery were dashed to shreds. The fearful questions were in everyone's mind. Would they close the base now by tightening up security? Would the island of the big PX become seeable from a distance but unreachable?

On Saturday, Lt. Richard dressed in his civilian clothes, got a day pass at the security office on the dock and took the LSU at noon to Ebeye. He walked to the clinic to find Marina. 144

As he walked in the door of the clinic Marina saw him and came to meet him. Lt. Richard asked if he could take her to lunch at the restaurant and she replied of course. They left walking side by side but not hand in hand. Lt. Richard told her of looking for her two Fridays in a row at the Yokwe Yuk since she had previously indicated she might come over. Marina mumbled she had been busy and missed the boat. In the restaurant after ordering the ramen noodles with boiled reef fish and ice tea, Lt. Richard proceeded to tell her of his time in the control room during the aborted and rescheduled launches and the lost black box. Marina told him she had already heard about the missing black box, that everyone on Ebeye had talked about it and had then forgotten about it.

Lt. Richard was disappointed; there was no excitement visible in Marina’s eyes today. Lt. Richard inquired if she was feeling well and she replied that she had been working a lot with delivery of babies and was extremely tired and that the lunch was nice so that she wouldn’t have to cook her own lunch in the trailer, as she was just too tired. That dashed Lt. Richard’s hopes of getting her over to Kwajalein for dancing tonight. He wanted to tell her he wanted to court her but was too reserved to just blurt it out in the restaurant where he felt every Marshallese was listening intently to each and every word that passed his lips. So, he just said, “I’m sorry you are now feeling well and tired, perhaps you can come over next Friday night and we can have dinner and dance together for the evening?”

Marina said, “Yes, that would be nice, I’ll try to come over and be there at 7 P.M. I’ve got to go back the clinic now and thanks for the visit and lunch. Goodbye for now.” Lt. Richard paid the bill and walked slowly and sadly back to the dock to wait for the 3 P.M. ferry. It had been a trip for almost nothing. Well, he still wanted Marina so would just have to increase his efforts. He was early for the ferry and sat on the edge of the dock watching children swimming


in the lagoon. They were laughing and having a good time splashing each other. They waved and he waved back putting a smile on his face.



The Kwajalein work force discussed a number of theories after the Navy Seals departed as to why the black box hadn’t been found during all of the dive searches. Those theories included the following ones: The black box hadn’t been lost. The Navy Seals had recovered it. The Navy Seals had spirited it away from the island on the C-141 in a diving equipment container. The plan from the beginning was to have the Navy Seals come in and recover the nose cone because it was so top secret that the local divers were not to even see it. Like Kennecott Copper in Utah did whenever they struck a rich gold vein in the copper pit. They brought in miners from an out of state mine and kept them sequestered like a jury until the vein was depleted. All the while telling the local people that no, a new gold vein hadn’t been found and the out of town crew was comprised of specialists doing a new technology job. The whole story of the Russians sneaking in with mini-subs was fabricated. There never was a black box in the nose cone.

What was the truth? What was the lie or deception? Who really cared? Those responsible appeared to be very concerned. There were many closed-door meetings. Those who had been cheerful before were glum now. Slowly, the talk and fuss died down. There were other tests being conducted at the atoll now and life does go on. The lives of the technicians and the Marshallese workers changed not the least bit. The big boys had played with big and expensive toys and lost one of them and now they were grumpy. They had seen it all before and they still had jobs to do. They were not asked for an opinion and knowing that offered none. Besides, it is always nice to talk about wind surfing, snorkeling and pretty girls.


The Russian ship continued on its slow patrol around the atoll. There was no detectable deviation from its predictable path. There was no Russian radio message intercepted by the Americans that indicated they had recovered the nose cone and would deliver the black box to Vladivostok next time the ship put in for provisioning and shore leave of technicians or that another ship would rendezvous with the patrol ship and pick up a package as has been shown on so many war movies. All radio traffic was monitored closely. Either the Russians were remaining silent and were very good in their spying and carrying out of their snatch operation or the black box really was missing forever.

When Marina asked her Russian counterpart on the next scheduled pickup date when he came in to shore on the one-man rubber boat to pick up new data, he only gave a shrug of the shoulders as an answer. Had the Russians been able to get the black box as suspected? His shrugs said no, but the twinkle in his eyes and the smile told a different story. But, Marina didn’t need to know. Such information could get her into serious trouble, and it was best left unknown. She chose to dismiss the subject and forget it as the technician did.

The American USO offered to have the Dallas Cheerleaders from the Dallas Cowboys Foot Ball team stop by the Kwajalein Army base on their return trip from entertaining the troops on Diego Garcia. After the loss of the nose cone, the entire population needed cheering up and who could do it better than the Dallas Cheerleaders. Those girls are gorgeous. Almost all of the Kwajalein population attended. Many people even came over to Kwajalein from Ebeye getting special passes for the event (Marshallese workers were not allowed on Kwajalein when not on duty) including Bill and Marina. The best part was when the head cheerleader, the cutest one, gave the Army base commander a long hug and kiss. The crowd cheered them on. The commander’s wife was watching and complained bitterly for weeks afterwards that he appeared to enjoy it too much and asking what had he really done with the cheerleaders on 148

the special around the island tour he had taken them on for two full hours? The populations of both islands heard via the coconut telegraph about the commander's wife being upset about the cheerleader’s hug and kiss and rather lengthy tour. The cheerleaders visit and performance and the commander being in trouble with his wife provided plenty of grist for the rumor mill to grind. That commander was rather standoffish and hadn’t been reasonably friendly with many of the people so now, they all delighted in his discomfort.

News Week's news team visited Kwajalein and tried their best to elicit information from the knowledgeable workers. The Army Commander and contract project managers had warned all of their people to not talk to the news week team under the threat of loss of job. They said to them, "You talk you walk because you lose your job immediately." The News Week team tried and tried. They got drunk priming the workers. But the workers remained tight-lipped about the nose cone. The news team men were overheard venting their frustrations about not being able to get the news for the story they wanted to write. They gave up. Marina sitting at a table in the bar room at the Yokwe Yuk saw one of the newsmen who gave up at the bar. He just fell asleep nodding forward until his forehead touched the table and then he just slept with his untouched drink in front of him because no one would talk to him. She heard the workers talking among themselves. They were not talking about the incident but were instead talking derogatorily about the news team. It was something to watch. Marina had never seen anything like it before. She had usually seen that anyone coming into the bar as a stranger in such a remote place welcomed and given all kinds of friendly attention. But this time, the news team was kept isolated in that bar room. They bought drinks, sat with the workers, and tried to make conversation but were ignored. They were not rebuked or rebuffed. They questions were just ignored. The Army couldn’t have been more successful in achieving its objective.


The next day, the news team flew away to the East and the workers resumed their previous discussions of the event but in somewhat guarded tones after looking around the room to see who was and wasn't nearby. There was a cloud of suspicion that Big Brother had tapped the phones bugged the rooms. Everyone believed that it really wasn’t safe to talk about certain things or to voice discontent without risking your job. They all remembered the attractive young civilian woman working for the Army on the island who had walked around one Saturday wearing a very innocuous Green Peace T-shirt when there were visiting dignitaries on island. She was flown out on the next military flight and never returned. Her household goods were shipped out a week after she left. And, not a word was said, but all knew, there were some things you didn’t do or say if you wanted to keep your job. You sold your body and spirit for the time of the job and in some cases for a number of years afterward as indicated in the small print of the employment contracts. Marina heard this information from the American nurses on Kwajalein.

Some people went back to doing their jobs without any outward appearance of concern. Others asked for and got leave approved so they could do a much needed attitude adjustment off-island. Some went to Pohnpei for a long weekend away from the prying eyes and ears of the military.



For a number of months Bill and Marina had gotten more and more interested in taking a vacation to Pohnpei. They had heard a lot of nice things about it from both married and bachelor Americans stationed on Kwajalein who had already taken vacation trips there. And, with the current liberal leave policy on Kwajalein, some were going. A group of technicians and nurses was forming to go, and Bill and Marina were asked to go with them. Bill and Marina got leave for a four-day weekend and a group of ten flew from Kwajalein on Friday afternoon.

The only commercial airline servicing Pohnpei and Chuk, formerly called Truk, was Air Continental. It flew every day. All flights originated in Guam with a destination of Honolulu where the plane remained overnight and then flew back to Guam. There were two planes: Ju Ju and Nu Ju. Both were old Boeing 727's. Nu Ju had been fitted with a cargo door in front of the wing and Ju Ju hadn’t. Sometimes people air freighted a small car, or pickup truck to one of the islands. It was faster and about the same cost as by boat. Both planes carried a mechanic to perform maintenance and emergency repairs at Chuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Kwajalein, or Johnson Island. Each day, one plane flew west and one flew east unless there had been delays and then the schedule got jumbled up for a while. Missed flights were not made up with additional aircraft. The passengers just waited for the next plane.

The flight to Pohnpei was filled with Koshians and Pohnpeians returning from Hawaii. They were a happy carefree group in a festive mood. Marina was caught up in their high spirits. They were dressed in brightly colored clothes, and were laughing and singing the entire trip. Marina got an extra thrill when the flight landed in Kosrae. Ju Ju flew in low over the choppy water of the ocean, landed on the left wheel of the landing gear and then the right 151

wheel touched the runway and the plane jerked to the right a bit, the engines went into reverse thrust, the brakes were applied, and the passengers were thrust forward against the restraining seat belts. Then the plane came to an abrupt stop and turned left. As the plane turned at the end of the runway, Marina could see the ocean waves crashing on the rip rap rocks at the end of the runway maybe one hundred feet away. She knew the abrupt stop was so they wouldn’t run off the end of the runway and into the ocean. After the Koshians departed the plane and the woman pilot was walking through the cabin, Marina asked her about the seemingly rough landing and abrupt stop. The pilot said, "The runway was built up over a reef out on the South West Shore of Kosrae Island. The runway wasn’t aligned with the direction of the trade winds. That caused the plane to not be lined up with the runway until the wheels touched down. The strip was short and as soon as the wheels touched down, I had to apply the brakes hard and to reverse the engine thrust to keep from running off the end of the runway." The sudden touchdown and maneuvering left Marina feeling very uneasy.

Friends greeted the passengers staying at Kosrae and relatives with many bright, fragrant flowers made into decorative headpieces. The fragrance was intoxicating. It was pungent and more powerful than night jasmine, which Marina loved to smell. Marina thought it smelled like a real sexy perfume. The flowers were put into the women's hair and were worn with charm and elegance. Marina caught Bill ogling the pretty Koshians. Bill just said, "Marina, aren't those girls attractive with the bright flowers in their hair?"

After a half hour ground time, they boarded the plane for continuation of the flight to Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia with a scheduled landing in the only town on Pohnpei named Kolonia. It was named that during the German occupation time according to a tourist pamphlet Bill had obtained and read. As they were approaching Pohnpei, the pilot played tour guide and called the passengers attention to the reef ringing the island of Pohnpei and the 152

many green mountains partially hidden in clouds. The island was lush and verdant. They landed in a rain shower on an airstrip larger than at Kosrae that was aligned with the trade winds. Again, friends and relatives with many fragrant flowers to adorn the arriving passengers met the passengers. Marina saw that some of the head leis were a bright yellow band that was extremely fragrant. It wasn’t a flower. Marina asked what it was and was told that it was blossoms from the coconut trees.

After clearing customs and immigration, they were met by a representative from the Hotel Pohnpei. The bus driver said the Hotel Pohnpei was the hotel where the Peace Corps people always stayed. But, none were staying there at the present time. Two busses drove them to the hotel. As they passed near the top and along the edge of a steep hill, their attention was directed to the Kapalangan wood carvers village where mangrove woodcarvings of local fish could be purchased rather inexpensively. Hotel Pohnpei was also on the edge of that steep hill. The main building and dozen cottages had mangrove wood floors, woven split bamboo walls, and pandannus thatched roofs. The windows were screened in to keep out the mosquitoes. The showers had black volcanic stone floors and flowers growing on one side of the shower. The cottages were one-roomed affairs with a small bathroom and a nice covered porch. They were perched on the edge and down the side of the hill. Each had a spectacular view from the front porch of a black rock mountainous Craig similar to diamond head in Honolulu. The desk clerk told Marina during Japanese occupation times, the Japanese forced the conscript Pohnpeians to haul cannons up there to protect and control the harbor. The Japanese tried to use Pohnpei for a fighter air base but the cloud cover was too pervasive. Instead, the Japanese used Pohnpei as a farming island to provide food for their troops on other islands. That first evening the group went for dinner to a small restaurant down the street a few hundred yards. The chicken dinner was excellent. When Marina asked if it was grown locally, 153

the girl said it was imported from the USA. The bachelors in the group and Bill were eyeing the pretty Pohnpeian waitresses who smiled invitingly. After dinner, the group then went to one of the local bars which the US military construction team reportedly frequented. There was plenty of evidence in the form of hats, banners, and t-shirts that the military construction team used the bar but none of the troops were there that night. There was a pool table and loud music. After playing pool for two hours and none of the military fellows showing up, Bill told Marina it was best they go back to the hotel as the next day would be a long one with plenty of exciting things to see, take pictures of, and just enjoy. Marina wasn’t eager to turn in so early, but since there was no action in that bar and it was reportedly the liveliest in town, they returned to the hotel. The rest of the group went bar hopping in hopes of finding something lively. The night air around the hotel was pungent with the smell of the night jasmine. It and the rustic scenery were sexually arousing and Marina became the aggressor. It had been a long time since her fantastic night with Charles on Guam. Her action delighted Bill who willingly and eagerly succumbed to her desires. Later, they awoke to rain water dripping down from the ceiling and onto their bodies. Practical Bill opened his umbrella and put it over them to keep the water off. It was a short rain shower and the dripping stopped. They went back to sleep listening to the sound of the insects chirping and the wind blowing through the palm trees.

The next morning dawned bright and clear with beautiful bright red and white flowered ginger bushes, many bright shades of green of the lush tropical plants trees and grasses, and the birds singing outside the cottage. It was a far cry from the almost desert appearance of the Marshallese coral atolls. They had reserved two cars and a pickup truck for this morning and the rental companies had brought the vehicles to the hotel for them. The rentals were expensive at $50 a day, but they did want to drive around the island, thirty-eight miles, to see what it had to offer. There was no such thing as a drive around Ebeye sight seeing. Before 154

they left, they asked again for the desk clerk to try and get tickets for them at the cultural dance in Uh late Saturday afternoon and to confirm the boat trip tour to Nan Madol on Sunday.

They stopped at the gas station to top off the tanks and were shocked at the price of two dollars a gallon. Sodas were a better deal at fifty cents each. They had tourist maps from the hotel. They drove first down Kolonia's main street to the Old Spanish stonewall and Old Spanish stone church and took pictures. They headed out the same way they would go to Nan Madol the next day and past the open market area. Bill insisted they stop and buy some of the local finger bananas as he had heard they were very sweet and delicious. They stopped and let him buy his bananas. He was right, they were very sweet and delicious and didn’t last more than fifteen minutes in the car before they were all eaten and Bill was asked why he had only bought such a small bunch of thirty pieces. He just mumbled a response. The group stopped for pictures of the two Japanese miniature tanks next to the cultural tour office on the main street of town. They were identical to the one Marina had taken picture of on Saipan. They drove on slowly down the asphalt road, passing the turn off to the governor's housing compound where the map said there were a half dozen more of the one man Japanese tanks in a grassy field.

The asphalt pavement ended at a concrete bridge across a salt-water estuary. From there on, the road was an unpaved rough surface about one and half lanes wide. It was being worked on. Beach gravel and sand was being hauled to the roadway and spread to raise it above the surrounding area. They wandered down the road through a forest of huge trees. They were scared and almost had to drive off the road when they met the big Izuzu dump trucks hauling the beach coral and sand and gravel to make the new base for the road. It was something like David meeting Goliath. They finally got to the place that had been described to them to stop to go to the waterfalls. They stopped and asked directions. They were told to 155

proceed on to the next little store on the left and to pay the admission price. They did and a boy came back with them to lead them up the path to the waterfalls.

The information pamphlet on Pohnpei said there were seven rivers and numerous mountains on the island. The constant rain provides the water for the rivers. One of the rivers came over this waterfall they were going to see. It was an advertised tourist attraction. They followed the boy up the path and through the palm trees and vegetation. It was cool and very humid under the trees after the searing heat of the sun on the roadway. After a half hour walk, they saw the waterfalls. It was about 150 feet high and the water fell over an area thirty feet wide into a pool about fifty feet by thirty feet and five feet deep. It flowed down over the black basalt rocks into the mangrove swamp and into the lagoon. Marina ran into the pool and climbed the rock face alongside the waterfall. She shouted for Bill to come. He and the others dropped their camera gear, shed their shoes, and joined her in the water. The water was nice and cool and very refreshing. Lying in the water where it rushed down out of the pool, Marina felt something was biting the moles on her back. But, she couldn’t feel or see anything. Later back at the Hotel Pohnpei when she had told about the biting on her back to the desk clerk, she was told that the biting had been by the fresh water eels in the water. After the usual posing and picture taking at the waterfalls, it was back down to the road and resumption of the around the island drive.

When they reached the next fork in the road, they knew they were at the North West corner of the island by the sign pointing to a Catholic Missionary school and pepper farm at the end of the side road run. It was where they would have to go tomorrow to meet the boat for the Nan Madol tour. They turned right and continued on. There were no road signs at any intersections. They had to guess which branch was the main road based on the relative appearance of the roadway and general direction. They guessed wrong a few times and had 156

to retrace their route. They came across many little settlements of one to three huts, all very similar in appearance to their cottages at the hotel. Some huts were mini stores selling soda, munchies and coconuts. The road was barely passable in places for the cars and they frequently scraped the undersides and mufflers. When they got to the North East corner of the island, they came to the new housing development with all of the new governmental buildings. These had been built by a Korean contractor and were quite artistic in style. There, they found paved roadway again. The trip around the island had been interesting, scenic, and exciting and had taken about six hours. The travel brochure/map contained comments that each of the occupying foreign powers had dreamed of a road around the island linking all seven kingdoms since the days of the Spaniards but that the road, although started a number of times, wasn’t completed until the 1980's after the country had achieved it's independence.

Upon arrival at Hotel Pohnpei at two p.m., they were told that they had to be at the Village Hotel at three p.m. to follow the hotel bus to Uh for the cultural dance scheduled to start at four p.m. They quickly washed up and refreshed themselves and drove back the way they had gone that morning. At the top of one ridge they found the Village Hotel sign pointing left. The hotel was built on a ridge with large double cottages similar to their cottages at Hotel Pohnpei. Americans who were very hospitable ran the place. Bill went to the hotel desk, asked for, and paid for two tickets to the cultural dance. He was told to wait and ride in the bus. He said he would wait and follow the bus in his rental car. The rest of the group bought their tickets too.

While waiting, they had a cold coke at the bar on the edge of the ridge overlooking the lagoon. They could see in the distance the big trucks being loaded with the gravel and sand for the roadbed. There was an elevated walkway out to a hut on top of long strut legs. They went out there and sat in the shade and caught the breezes. Marina thought it looked familiar. 157

She asked the waitress who told her a picture of the elevated walkway and hut taken at sunset was in the Continental Airlines magazine advertising the hotel and travel to Pohnpei. Bill and Marina saw a young American man who turned out to be the hotel owner's son. They got him to telling some of the history of Pohnpei. The young man said that from the 1850' to 1875, Pohnpei had been the center of the whaling industry. Local men were taken as crew and the harbor was full of whaling ships. Many sailors liked Pohnpei and the girls so much they just stayed. The girls passed the men around and after the girls had gotten all of the white skinned babies they wanted, the sailors were either killed or run off. After the whales were killed down to almost extinction, the ships left. The sailors left a serious impact upon the island population too. Yes, there were many fair skinned babies but the sailors had also brought white man's illnesses with them. Simple things like small pox, measles, mumps, syphilis, and gonorrhea. The local people died off from a population high of about 25,000 down to about 5,000 and had only gotten back up to a population of about 15,000 when the Japanese arrived and took over the island. He said the island had seven kingdoms and seven kings and the cultural dance they would attend today was in the kingdom of Uh and the trip to Nan Madol the next day would be in the kingdom of Mandolenium. He wished them an enjoyable vacation and urged them to dine in the Village hotel that evening.

The bus driver walked around the bar area announcing that the bus was ready to leave for the cultural dance in Uh. It turned out that Bill and the rest of the group from Kwajalein had been wise in bringing their rental vehicles. The hotel bus was full of German tourists staying in the hotel. The rental vehicles followed the bus to Uh. They went down the same road they had driven earlier that day. After a few miles, the bus driver turned right and headed up a steep hill. The road was a narrow one-lane affair that was washed out in places by the heavy rains. Both cars scraped their bottoms again. After driving up the hill for about a half-mile, they turned left onto a semi plateau several hundred yards wide. They parked and were 158

greeted with people saying kaselidia, Pohnpeian for hello and welcome to my place. They were motioned to go into a tin-roofed structure and sit down. The tin roof radiated the heat downward. It was like being in an oven. They were all offered pieces of yu, the soft cotton candy like center from sprouted coconuts. It was sweet and very nice. Then they were given fresh green coconuts to drink. The structure was shaped like the letter U with a raised platform narrow on the sides and wide at the center of the U with the open end being the entrance. The bus driver told them that this was a typical Pohnpeian house. People met, entertained, and lived in these structures. They slept on the raised concrete platforms and with open sides; the air blew through and made them cool. The group from Kwajalein Atoll had seen many of these structures earlier in the day when they had driven around the island. Some were down in the mangrove swamps near the lagoon and they had seen that the lagoon water came up and all around the structures leaving only the raised concrete u shaped portions dry. Bill said that was a natural way of cooling them.

The dancers were getting ready. They were shedding their modern western clothing and jewelry and were putting on the grass skirts, the inner bark from the hibiscus tree, dried and dyed. Finally it was time for the dance to begin. The tourists were taken from the U shaped building and over to a seating area with a high thatched roof and in front of a stage. The stage pillars and back area were decorated nicely with bright flowers.

The performance began with the making of fire by a young boy who took a dry hibiscus wood stick, some shavings and then rubbed another dry stick very fast on the first stick. The shavings started smoking and the young performer lit a cigarette from the fire he had made to prove he had made fire. The Japanese bus driver acted as a tour guide and said that was how the early people of Pohnpei had made fire. A handsome young man came out blowing on a seashell like a trumpet, and male and female dancers came running up single file onto the 159

stage. There were boys and girls from eight years of age to men and women of seventy years of age in the performance with their only garments being the grass skirts. All of the tourists found the dancers to be very erotic. It is hard for Westerners to watch a bunch of lovely, bare breasted young women, and handsome young men wearing only grass skirts, and smelling of the fragrant flowers, without getting aroused and excited. The sight itself was an aphrodisiac. The older women dancers had sagging breasts because of nursing many children, but the young ones, without children, had breasts, which just jutted straight out and bounced and bobbed nicely as they moved. This sight captivated both men and women tourist's attention alike. The tourists were busy pointing and telling each other "Did you see that one?" The dances were performed with precision in the singing, stamping of feet, and slapping of boards. There were six different dances. The dances, according to the bus driver, were representations of various times in Pohnpeian history.

Some of the people on Pohnpei or their ancestors came from Papua New Guinea and the long oblong faces and extremely dark skin coloring could identify their descendants. Those with lighter tones and round faces were from other parts of the Pacific and had a fair amount of white sailor in their blood. Bill found the dancing, singing, and nakedness of the dancing girls extremely erotic. He whispered into Marina's ear, "Let's just go back to our hotel room now and make love all night long."

She looked at him and said, "Later, I'm enjoying myself here right now. Oh, Bill, look at that pretty girl with high pointed breasts and the handsome hard bodied young man next to her."

After the dances were over, it was time for the Sakau ceremony. The tour guide from the hotel continued in his narration and said, "Sakau is a narcotic like drug extracted from the 160

roots of the kasava bush. It numbs the lips and entire body leaving the mind clear. It is not habit forming, although many people on Pohnpei consume it almost every evening." The dance group leader selected six people from the audience to sit on the stage and to represent different kings and queens and other important personages. In front, and below the stage was a lava basalt rock shaped somewhat like a bowl. The men washed the kasava bush roots with water, scrubbing the dirt off with coconut husks. They cut them small, placed them on the rock basin and poured a little water on top. Then they proceeded to sing in a chant and pound the sticks in the basin with rocks from the same high metallic content basalt of rock. The metallic content of the stone caused the pounding to give out a loud metallic ringing not unlike a large church bell. More water was added, and there was more pounding until the mass was thoroughly shredded, and mixed with the water. Then, some of the mass was scooped up with an empty coconut shell and poured onto layers of hibiscus bark. The hibiscus bark layers were then twisted to squeeze out the drinkable solution, and to leave the pulp behind. This was done somewhat in the manner, as you would wring out a towel, the towel being the hibiscus bark. The drinkable solution was caught in an empty coconut shell, and was offered like a supreme offering to the highest ranking person first, and then descending down to the least ranking person. Each person took a sip or many sips of the Sakau. The singing and pounding continued the entire time. Bill and Marina tried it when the coconut cup was passed to them. It really did numb the lips and tongue but tasted very bitter and bad. Bill found out later that the local people usually spit the solution out after swishing it around their mouth and then ate a piece of breadfruit to kill the bad taste somewhat like wine tasters do with white bread.

The cultural dance show was over. All the men wanted to have their pictures taken with the beautiful bare breasted young girls, and the women tourists wanted to have their pictures taken with the handsome hard bodied young men. Both women and men dancers 161

accommodated with laughter and smiles. There were some Old women German tourists there also, they really hugged and stroked the hard-bodied young men dancers. And, after they got the pictures they wanted, they German women opened their purses and took out and gave the dancers Toblerone chocolate candy. Marina told Bill, “It looks like those old German women want to take those young men back to their hotel with them." Many of the tourists left stumbling as in trance state, breathing heavily, and sexually aroused. The fragrance of the flowers, the beauty and handsomeness of the dancers, the melody of the singing and the intoxication of the Sakau had done a number on them.

They had dinner on the verandah at the Village Hotel at sunset. The clouds turned from white to pink to red to purple and finally to black as the sun set in the West. They ordered local mangrove crabs and Mahi Mahi steaks. Dinner was magnificent. For table talk during dinner, Peter, the self-proclaimed leader of the group from Kwajalein, started expounding on the information he had about Pohnpei. He said, "Previous visitors had told him that Pohnpei still practiced arranged marriages. But, once married, the girls couldn’t go out partying and playing with other men unless their husbands either hit them, or got caught going out with other girls. He said he heard that many did so and even provoked fights just to be able to go out."

As they were leaving, they met and spoke to a small group of English speaking people who turned out to be a medical team out of Hawaii who had a contract to supervise, monitor and inspect the hospitals on Pohnpei, Kosrae and Chuk. They were on their annual visit. After exchanging business cards, and being told to contact them if they wanted a job with their company after they finished their contract with the Marshallese Government, the group walked out to their vehicles. The drive back under the big trees was very dark and cool, almost spooky. When the sun goes down in the tropics, it gets very dark.


Bill and Marina went directly to their thatched roof cottage and enjoyed each other. They were both still turned on from the cultural dance. The rest of the bachelors in the group without partners went out to find girls for the night.

The next morning when Bill and Marina smiling, and hand-in-hand, joined the group for breakfast on the hotel patio with the view of the mountain Craig, the bachelors were busy talking and bragging of their good luck. Of course, each bachelor said he'd found the prettiest girl, and she promised to return to his cottage that night about eight p.m. The guys said they now understood why the men on Kwajalein liked to come to Pohnpei at least twice a year. They could drink without the watchful eye of Big Brother military looking over their shoulder and there were beautiful women to have and enjoy. They all said those Pohnpeian girls really knew how to make a man feel good. It sure beat the monastic celibate life on Kwajalein. The men were completely enamored with Pohnpei.

After breakfast, Bill and Marina, and the other men took off in their vehicles down the same road as the day before. At the end of the island, they turned left towards the missionary school, and at the end of the road they waited. Soon, a young fellow came up and asked if they were the party for the Nan Madol tour. They replied they were, and were told to follow him. They walked down a path, and out to the lagoon. There were three narrow flat-bottomed boats with outboard engines. They got in and were taken out and across the shallow, sandybottomed, and light green water to Sand Island. On the way across the lagoon they were told to keep their hands and feet inside the boat and to look over the side for the manta rays. This lagoon was a favorite spot for them. Marina was enthralled by the sight of the rays were in great abundance, swooping gracefully in great circles.


At the island, they got off the boats and bought coconuts to drink before proceeding on to Nan Madol. While drinking the coconuts, they were given a brief account of Nan Madol. This account was in effect a supplement to that which they had received before leaving Ebeye and Kwajalein. One evening on Kwajalein, a visiting archeologist from the US Army Corps of Engineers had given a slide show and a discussion on the Nan Madol ruins on Pohnpei. He had said that the ruins were located on a section of the island that was flat and partially flooded at average high tide. It was very difficult to approach the area from land and from the sea; only small shallow draft boats could get over the coral reefs. Therefore, the place was a natural fortress and easily defended. The place was built around 800 AD. The building materials were basalt rock pillars naturally formed in six and eight sided shapes from eight to sixteen inches in diameter. They were in varying lengths from four feet up to eighteen feet. By taking samples of the rock, the archeologists were able to trace their origin to a number of different islands located as far as 1,500 miles from Pohnpei. Their belief was that the rock pillars had been transported by canoe. Nothing was known about the people who built Nan Madol or their reasons for building it. The local people only had vague legends about this place and Chicken Rock on the other side of Pohnpei. For them, Nan Madol was a place of the ancients and a place to stay away from. The Pohnpeians could visit in the daytime and never at night and they couldn’t live there.

They then went back into the flat-bottomed boats and were slowly paddled down the canals and around Nan Madol. There were many structures and ruins. Bill was amazed at the lines of the buildings and canals, which were straight. Superior stone craftsmen had built the place. After scampering in, on, and around one of the larger buildings and taking many pictures, they went back to the boats and back to the hotel. They were all silent in their awe over Nan Madol.


That night they to another the restaurant and bar where the American military construction team reportedly sometimes hung out. The restaurant had prime beef and a salad bar on Sundays. The meal was excellent and the troops were there. Stories were exchanged. The troop's camp was on the far side of the island about two miles before Chicken Rock, a large volcanic fumarole said by legend to have been picked up from near Nan Madol and placed on the other side of the island by a God when he was angry.

The sergeant major in charge of the troops talked to Bill and Marina and said they were there to do civil works construction jobs such as a dam, road building, etc., and that sometimes they operated their heavy equipment in town on community service projects as well. He said the local government had difficulty getting the construction materials to the team on schedule so there was quite a bit of free time available. On the civil works projects, the local government provided the materials and the troops provided the equipment, know how, and the labor. The real purposes were to provide a continuing US military presence in the islands to watch what was going on (in the event of a future war), to train troops in living and working in tropical environments and to maintain a good US/local people relationship. As a part of the Trust Territories and later the Federated Government agreements, the US maintained the right to build military bases on the islands in the event of war. The military troops were assigned on six-month assignments and there were ten such teams all over the former Trust Territories of the Pacific. Some teams were Air Force and some were Army. Sometimes the troops married local girls and took them back to Ft. Shafter or to Guam. He said that most of those marriages didn’t last more than a few years because the girls couldn’t live separated from their island families. He said he had heard the Governor of Pohnpei once say, "You can take the bunny out of the bush but you can’t take the bush out of the bunny." The governor had been talking about the local girls. The Governor had married an American woman with as he said had no bush or bunny problem. 165

The Kwajalein Atoll group retired to the hotel again. The bachelors couldn’t miss their erotic at eight p.m. appointments. And, the next day at noon was the flight back to Kwajalein Atoll. They were all thoroughly enjoying Pohnpei. The next morning, before breakfast, Bill and Marina walked down the road to the wood carver's village and bought three mangrove woodcarvings of local fish. There were few to select from. The crew from the C-130 Military supply plane for the construction team had come the week before and bought them out.

At 11:00 a.m. they checked out of the Hotel Pohnpei and were taken to the airport. The airport was at the end of a two-mile long causeway across the lagoon to an island, which had been made into an airport. They checked in, paid their exit fees with immigration, and went into the waiting lounge. There was a wood carving shop there with more carvings. Marina bought a small canoe. The lagoon canoes in Pohnpei were with the outrigger but without the mast and the raised sail like in the Marshalls. That was because they were in the shallow narrow lagoon surrounding the big island of Pohnpei and could easily be paddled instead of in the deep lagoon of the Marshalls, which was a narrow ring of islands around a deep and huge lagoon.

The flight back was uneventful. After arrival at Kwajalein, the group members who were stationed at Kwajalein went through security first and then the people from Ebeye were processed. Dogs looking for drugs sniffed bags and passengers. Marijuana had been available in Pohnpei but none of the passengers on this flight had bought any. Bill and Marina took the shuttle bus down to the dock and waited for the LSU to Ebeye. Arriving at Ebeye, they were saddened by the barren, almost desert-like appearance of the place. There were few palm trees, grass, or foliage. There was no cool breeze with the fragrance of flowers on it. They missed Pohnpei already and vowed to return as soon as they could. After their return to 166

Ebeye, Marina thanked Bill for the trip to Pohnpei. He had been unusually generous and had paid for both of them. She said, "Bill, we really needed that trip to re-focus our lives and our efforts in the Marshall Islands. That trip helped me to put things in a better perspective."

Bill replied, "Yes, Marina, that was the purpose of the trip, and how about you and I becoming engaged now and get married after our contracts are completed here and we return stateside." That wasn’t the romantic marriage proposal she had dreamed of but it would suffice.



A few weeks after Marina and Bill returned from their vacation to Pohnpei, Bill's offer of engagement and her acceptance, and adjusting back into the lifestyle of Ebeye, Marina decided to go to Kwajalein alone. She went on a Saturday afternoon, telling Bill that she was going over to Kwajalein to visit her nurse friends there and to have dinner with them at the Yokwe Yuk club.

Marina did visit her nurse friends. They were elated with her news of her engagement. All of them said they had expected it anyway. They were all ears about the exciting trip Marina had made to Pohnpei. Each nurse vowed she would make the same trip if she could get a week off. Marina casually asked how things were on Kwajalein since the Navy Seals had left. She was told that they had quieted down and no one spoke about the incident anymore. It was dinnertime and Marina went with Betty and Nancy to the Yokwe Yuk for a small celebration dinner.

Marina ordered prime rib au jus rare, with baked potato, sour cream and chives. The other two nurses ordered the same for themselves. Marina needed a good American style dinner. The food was served and was delicious. Marina ate like she hadn’t eaten in a week. After dinner they went into the bar/dance area to listen to the band and to have a couple of drinks. Shortly after sitting down, Lt. Richard came into the dining area, saw Marina, and came to her table. He said hello and asked if he could sit down and was told yes. He asked Marina, "How did you enjoy the vacation trip to Pohnpei?"

She said, “I had a fantastic time.”


He said "I'll go there when I get a chance as what you have said matches other good stories I have heard about the place."

Marina asked Lt. Richard, "How are things with you?"

He didn’t look too cheerful as he said "Americans learned well from their fearless leader known as tricky Dick. If questioned about something, deny any knowledge about it. Avoid answering questions. The complete truth is something to be avoided. Part of the truth can be told but not the whole truth. When asked about an event, if no one knows you were there or knew anything about it, you can rest comfortably in the position of safe deniability. When the inquisitive types delve deeper, there is the question could you have been expected to have known? That furthers the paranoia of the ones in power and causes them to say, ‘Do you see my initials on the document? Well, since you don’t see them, I should have seen the document but didn’t. I always initial every document I read.’ Even that is believed for a while. The main objective in all of this is to get the people asking so many embarrassing questions to go away and to leave you alone. Marina asked what he was talking about.

He said, "Ever since the black box and the nose cone from the last missile which splashed into the lagoon went missing, people on the island have gotten real strange on Kwajalein. The senior officers have been talking like during the last days of President Richard Nixon just before he resigned."

Lt. Richard said, "The paranoid people back in the US had ordered studies made, had prospective contractors visit, and had them give bids to secure the lagoon from unauthorized access. The four accesses to the lagoon from the ocean could be sealed with cable and submarine nets but that would interfere with the local islander’s free access and would have to 169

be negotiated with the host country. Submarine nets require constant attention and maintenance and since the channels were on both sides of the lagoon, at least two tugs and two crews would be required to service them and the present two tugs and crews were already fully occupied. Radar could be used to detect surface vessels but any of dingy size (inflatable raft) could slip in under the radar. Underwater listening devices could be deployed but the maintenance was difficult and the background sound of the waves crashing on the reefs gave this proposal only a minimal chance of success. The best solution proposed seemed to be a combination of low level radar sweeps done intermittently, use of some underwater listening devices and an expanded human eye watch operation."

So, Marina learned that all the fuss and bother was over. People were unhappy but life had returned to normal routines. She and Lt. Richard enjoyed their evening together dancing and talking. He was a good at making conversation and was fun to be with. He also wasn’t tight with his money. He had ordered a nice lobster meal for them and had left a generous tip for the excellent service. He even tipped the cocktail waitress in the bar each time she brought drinks. Like Charles in Guam, he had a certain confidence and worldliness about him that Bill lacked. He talked about growing up in Maine and going to Massachusetts Institute of

Technology to obtain his electrical engineering degree before going to West Point. He said he had just received notification from the promotion board that he would receive his captain’s bars at the end of the present assignment, 3 years after graduation from West Point. He had been told he was on a fast track for assignments and promotions and should get his major’s oak leaves in another two years. Although he was quiet and reserved, he always presented a good image and was well liked. He had a certain cheerful disposition that Marina liked. He approached situations and people with a positive attitude instead of Bill’s fearful attitude. The small dance band announced the next dance would be the last for the evening. Lt. Richard and Marina danced together comfortably. Marina thought he danced even better than Charles. 170

The music ended too soon. Lt. Richard said he wanted to walk her to the dock and to wait with her until the ferry left. The left the Yokwe Yuk arm in arm.

As Lt. Richard walked Marina to the dock in the moonlight he finally got up enough courage to tell her he wanted her to be his wife and asked if she would marry him. Marina hadn’t told him of her engagement to Bill. She thought to herself that she would rather that Lt. Richard had proposed to her first rather than Iowa Bill but he had never said anything previously to indicate the seriousness of his feelings and Marina hadn’t been bold enough to ask him herself even though she had definitely been interested. Now she had a dilemma. Bill had asked and she had accepted and now Lt. Richard had asked. Both were acceptable but the Lt. was the better of the two. And she still had some time to go to complete her contract on Ebeye so if she told Bill no, life on Ebeye would be miserable for some time to come. Marina said,”Lt. Richard your proposal takes me by complete surprise. I knew we were friends but hadn’t suspected you were that intent. You hadn’t indicated that to me before.”

He replied, “True but I have been so busy on my job on Kwajalein and what with the strictures on life on Kwajalein and difficult of visiting you on Ebeye and never being able to get you alone for the right setting, I have not been able to tell you my feelings and I do want you. I knew I’d better ask you before I lose you.” Marina was reeling with emotion. This was a lifealtering event. Here she had a chance to take her pick. She didn’t want to cancel her engagement to Bill and make him feel bad and be embarrassed herself on Ebeye and Kwajalein but, she was a practical girl and knew that life with Lt. Richard with his foreseeable advancement potential in the military, social prominence, and good income was the better choice. Well, she thought I must make a decision now. She put her arms around Lt. Richard’s neck and hugged and kissed him softly and fervently on his lips. He returned the kiss with equal fervor under the palm trees and in the moonlight. They separated briefly and Lt. Richard 171

said, “I take that as a yes.” Marina nodded and mouthed the word yes. They walked the rest of the way to the ferry and Lt. Richard talked the security officer into letting him take Marina back to Ebeye on the last ferry for the night with the promise he wouldn’t stay but would return on the ferry on its return trip. There were very few passengers on the ferry at that time. There only a few Marshallese workers going home after shift work and they were tired and slept on the bench boxes. Lt. Richard held Marina in his arms the entire trip occasionally giving her short kisses on her cheeks. He was happy and contented. She was also happy but was fearful of the row she would have with Bill in the morning when she returned his engagement ring and broke the engagement. Well, there was a price to pay for going with the gusto. And the row would be that price.

As she walked to her half trailer Marina thought about events on Kwajalein, not only that evening but other events of other people. There was the bachelor civilian electrical engineer who took a trip back to the US, married a girl and brought her to Kwajalein getting a prized family quarters house only to have the girl leave within 3 weeks saying she couldn’t live on such a deserted small and cramped island with so many weirdoes. The poor fellow was sick with grief and embarrassment over the affair and hid out the rest of his assignment on Kwajalein. Then there was the young single woman civilian electrical engineer. She lasted about 6 months before admitting she couldn’t take it on Kwajalein and asked to be shipped back. Oh, they did and then Command started talking badly about her as she had been seen walking around Kwajalein wearing a sweatshirt with a logo or motif of one of the environmental groups and that was strictly taboo there. Those groups had delayed too many tests and were not welcome. Living in a glass fishbowl wasn’t for everyone. Marina’s subconscious was working on the problem and just as she got to her trailer door, the inspiration hit her. Tomorrow morning she would go to Rita before work and tell her what happened and ask her to come with her to lend moral support when she told Bill in the clinic. The telling had to be in a public 172

place so he couldn’t make a scene, as he was apt to do otherwise. As she drifted off to sleep going over and over again in her mind the scenario and words and actions for tomorrow she felt a nice calmness come over her. She knew she had made the right decision. The next morning dawned with a magnificent sunrise. Some of the sunrises here were as magnificent as the sunsets only the color sequence was reversed. As she left the trailer to walk to see Rita, there was a light sprinkle of rain. She thought that was good, as the Marshallese believe rain brings luck. She had Bill’s precious engagement ring in her pocket.

Rita was already outside her house washing clothes when Marina got there. She was a bit surprised at the early visit but considered Marina a daughter who was welcome anytime. The Marshallese are curious but always polite when someone visits and they never ask why they came. They know they will be told. Marina said, “Good morning momma Rita, I need your council and support today. “ Rita welcomed her with open arms and gave her a big hug. Rita was short and only came up to Marina’s shoulders but was a big and thick woman. Marina told her what had happened last night and what she had decided to do asking her if she agreed.

Rita listened carefully looking intently into Marina’s eyes. When Marina was finished, she said, “Yes you have now made the right decision. Bill at the clinic wasn’t right for you. We knew that but were afraid to tell you. I will come with you now to the clinic.” They left together hand in hand like school children, which is how women friends often walked in the Marshall Islands.

As they walked in the front door of the clinic, Bill was coming out. He had seen them coming. He was showing his usual grouchy disposition as he said to Marina, “I hope you had


a good time on Kwajalein last night. I spent the evening on duty with a number of crying birthing young women and crying babies.”

His display and comments were nice as openers for Marina’s coup de grace blow. She said swiftly as she handed him his engagement ring back, “Yes, I did have a nice evening and I am breaking my engagement with you. I am tired of your negative attitude and bad attitude toward others and me, as you have just so nicely displayed here again for all to see. I will continue to be a friend and working colleague but that is all. Lt. Richard on Kwajalein has asked me to marry him and I accepted.”

Rita beamed with a grin from ear to ear as Bill took the ring, tried to sputter a comment back and then turned and went back into the clinic. Rita wisely took Marina back to her house for a cup of coffee before returning to work in the clinic later that day. Rita on the way to the house told her that it would take about 15 minutes for the coconut telegraph to deliver the full account of that morning’s incident to everyone on the island including the staff and patients in the hospital and that was necessary before she went to work. Marina hugged her and thanked her. Drank the coffee in peace and calm and went to work.

She was met with smiles and congratulations from the clinic staff and a cool look from Bill. Rita as usual had been right. She wasn’t called momma Rita for nothing.


Marina though she was well versed in social customs and was a very tolerant person. Life on a Pacific island was supposed to be Paradise. You only needed to see or read vacation advertisements or see a movie to know that. However, actual life on a Pacific atoll was far different from the advertisements. The first few months had been exciting as everything was new and thrilling. But, after a while, the repetition of things and the Marshallese people's lack of concern for world affairs sometimes grated on her. She could rationalize that the local people properly placed their concern on daily living but the local taboos and living customs seemed extremely complex and unnecessary for the most part. At times, it seemed so easy to just let go and become one with the locals with seemingly no care for tomorrow. Life here was starting to rub her wrong. She noticed it more since the vacation to Pohnpei. She told herself that distance often gave a person the necessary space for proper assessment and evaluation of things. She knew she would leave the Marshall Islands after the two-year contact and couldn’t understand how others had lived there for five or more years without going weird.

Marina happened to be on Kwajalein a couple of weeks later when an American Ambassador was visiting, and she heard his speech. The little story he told at the beginning of the speech really struck Marina and she thought long and hard about it for some time. The Ambassador said, “I tried to entice a local lad to come to the USA to school. I told the boy that if he left the island now and came to school, he could, with hard work, get a good education, and then a good job. He could make lots of money, and buy many nice things, and then someday, he might have enough to come back to the islands, buy a piece of land, build a nice house, and enjoy life on the islands with the fresh air, clear, and clean water and plenty of fish."


The lad looked back, and replied, "I have all of that now so why should I leave it?" That story just added fuel to Marina's desire to leave. It just emphasized the futility of her attempts to make improvements.

To keep up her morale, she went snorkeling frequently. It was hard to remain glum when looking at natures many beautifully colored corals and fish. She loved to just drift over the coral reefs and watch the many brightly colored fish dart into and out of the coral heads and branches. Sometimes, when she was lucky at low tide, she could see and with quick dives, swim down and catch the big lobsters before they hid themselves under the coral. Such snorkeling was fun but also painful at times. She learned to apply plenty of water resistant sun block to her back, neck and legs, and to wear a thick T-shirt to keep most of the sunray's off. The first time she had scoffed at the warning by kind local people and were then clown-looking for a while with white fronts and red backs. The sun's rays are very intense near the Equator. The best light was at noon, but the safest time for snorkeling without too much burn worry was before nine a.m. and after three p.m. With all the plenitude of fish swimming over, around, under and through the reef, Marina couldn’t understand why the fish were not harvested to feed the hungry masses of the world.

During her remaining time on Ebeye, Marina tried to enjoy life more. She tried night dives with a couple of avid American women who came over from Kwajalein to watch the cone shells move and to see the purple and other iridescent colored sea life at night in the glow of the bright underwater lights. However, she was rather nervous about the night dives because she couldn’t see except where the light was. She had a fear for what might be lurking in the dark. Her nervousness may have been increased by Joey, an American from the base, who told the story about some visitors who had been watching the surf ocean side and had seen what appeared to be two different schools of sharks, gray-finned and black-finned ones. The 176

question had been raised about which colored fin sharks were safe to be around and which sharks were dangerous to be around. The answer of course was that the color of the fin was only the color of the fin. Sharks are sharks and attack when they attack. Marina had been ocean side at low tide on Kwajalein one day when some young scientists were there with their new camcorders. The had chicken in pieces and one was filming while the other five waded thigh deep in the shallow water chumming the six foot gray-finned sharks with pieces of the raw and bloody chicken. Fortunately, the scientists were not bitten and the sharks got bored and left after the chicken was gone. Those people hadn’t realized how dangerous their actions had been. When the island safety officer heard about the incident, the young scientists were restricted to quarters and flown off Kwajalein on the next C-141 MAC flight.

Marina heard that Clif was in trouble. She went to Kwajalein to see him on a Sunday afternoon. Her pass to go to the American hospital on Kwajalein gave her ready access. When she saw Clif in his room, he said, "I have been relieved of my boat driving job pending completion of the ship accident investigation, and report."

Clif said, "The previous weekend, when it was stormy, I was driving an LSU as substitute for another fellow who was sick. On the 8:20 p.m. run to Ebeye, as I was heading for Kwajalein, I saw through the dark and the heavy rain, a white light dead ahead. I knew there was another LSU returning from Ebeye at about that time and wondered why it was off course. I immediately steered to the starboard to avoid collision, and slowed the engines to idle. Then I saw immediately dead ahead, the dark shape of another LSU at anchor. I shifted engines into reverse and revved them. I struck the LSU ahead a direct but mild blow. There had been only about fifteen passengers on my LSU and a few were thrown from their seats but none were injured. The vessel I struck had been towed and anchored there during the day and I didn’t see it when I reported to work after dark that night. The people who anchored it 177

there didn’t put warning lights on top. That violates marine safety code. An anchored boat has to have a white light on the top. The running LSU had a white searchlight mounted on the cabin and that was what I saw. Because of the heavy rain and the bright white search light, I couldn’t see his red and green running lights."

Not only was the investigation professionally embarrassing, but also the other people on the island harassed Clif mercilessly. The Army in their desire to avoid problems or hints of problems asked the contractor to remove Clif from that job.

Three weeks later, Clif visited Marina bringing salad makings again. He was pleasantly surprised when Marina told him about her change from Iowa Bill to Lt. Richard. Clif in his comical dour way broke into a broad beaming smile and said, “Good, I never liked Bill anyway.”

Marina said, “How have you been?”

Clif said, "Tolerable, and I was sent to Loi, the radar island, as a diesel generator plant operator. The old diesel engines often stop. They needed constant loving attention to keep them running. One night, when there was a mission going on and the electric load exceeded the maximum capacity of the generators on line, each generator and motor shut down until the entire plant was shut down."

Marina asked, “Were you scared and were there any repercussions?”

He said, "No, and I wasn't scared. Having your engines die on a ship when you are near an island and sharp coral reefs can make you scared and cause you to fix the engines quickly. But on dry land, there is no imminent threat of sinking, and darkness is only an 178

annoyance. Anyway, I had a flashlight. People started calling the generator plant on the phone when the power went off asking what happened and when would the electricity be back on. I just told them that the mission that night hadn’t been scheduled on the generator plant work sheet and when the extra load hit, the one generator running standby to handle power surges couldn’t handle the power surge. The surge caused all of the generators to trip off. I told them the power will be back on as soon as I get off the phone and get each generator motor started again. Once running, I will turn on the circuits to carry the load. There were no repercussions from this event. I did what was right and proper according to Army procedures. Its fifty miles from the flagpole and the saying out of sight, out of mind became reality for me. No one bothers me up there."

They both had an enjoyable dinner in the trailer and talked until the one a.m. LSU run. Clif said goodbye and left to catch it back to Kwajalein and to return the following day to Loi by Army plane. Marina was glad her friend Clif had survived the accident without losing his job. She knew he needed it badly to build up cash reserves in order to be able to retire.



The US Coast Guard buoy tender, Mallow, was passing through Kwajalein on its biannual visit. That vessel serviced the buoys in many places in the Pacific. It was an old vessel built early in WW II and had seen over 40 long years of hard service. While tied at the dock on Kwajalein, the captain invited the island residents to visit and tour the ship. The residents were delighted at anything to relieve the monotony of life on Kwajalein. Marina went to Kwajalein that day just to tour the US Coast Guard buoy tender. The tender and its quarters were small and they imagined the crew was rather cramped aboard and were tossed about a lot by the waves. They were glad they had land-based jobs.

The following week, a Navy tug came through Kwajalein Atoll towing a dry dock from the Philippines and headed for Hawaii. It had stopped for refueling. The sailors, permitted shore leave for the night, went over to La Mona Mike's for some excitement. Marina had worked late that night at the clinic getting off at about nine p.m., and had stopped at La Mona Mike's for a drink on the way home. She overheard the Navy tug crew talking loudly in the bar. They had been drinking for a while and their tongues were well oiled. The spoke about a rumor they had heard that a US submarine was bringing a missile from the States to be fired from an old launch pad on Meck. Some sort of Star Wars thing where they were going to fire the missile from Meck to intercept a missile being fired from Vandenberg and for the interception to occur in the stratosphere. It was to be a missile shooting down another missile at supersonic speeds. It was supposed to be the proof that the Star Wars program worked. Marina listened intently. She feigned disbelief to get more data, saying, "Oh you guys are just spreading comic book fantasy stories, and you have been at sea too long and have had too much to drink.” The sailors responded loudly and emphatically that they were not just telling stories. They said they were telling the truth.


A month later Marina heard shouting from outside the clinic. Several young girls came in excitedly shouting, "Marina, come quickly and look in the lagoon, there is a submarine that has just surfaced between Ebeye and Kwajalein. Come quickly and look."

The young girls pulled Marina by the hand and they went down to the dock on the lagoon side. In the distance, just as the girls had said, there was a huge gray submarine. The dock was full of anxious on-lookers. There was a buzz of excitement. People were asking questions. Whose submarine is it, the American's or the Russian's? What is it doing here? How long will it be here? Will the sailors be allowed ashore? Do you think we can go on the submarine and see inside? The questions were endless.

The lagoon rarely had ship traffic. There was the monthly barge load of containers from Honolulu and the twice-yearly oil barges. There had been the visit of the US Coast Guard tender, the Polish flagged cargo vessel bringing contractor equipment and materials to the island for a military construction projects, and the Navy tug. But no one except the old folks had seen a submarine in the lagoon before. This was the thrill of the year.

As they watched, one of the Army tugs with a barge in tow outbound from Kwajalein came along side the submarine and tied alongside. Those on the dock with binoculars could see people transferring crates of what looked like food from the barge to the submarine. Still, there was no flag on the conning tower of the submarine to identify its country of origin. But, the on-lookers reasoned, it must be a US submarine because they couldn’t believe the Americans would provision a Russian one.

Every summer the special long-range propeller planes with long protruding noses and tails came to Kwajalein. They flew very slowly and for great distances. The crews jokingly 181

said they were on submarine patrol duty to find and track the Russian submarines when they played their war games in the Pacific. The people on Ebeye wondered if this submarine in the lagoon was part of some new watch on the Russian submarines. Marina, however, remembered the Navy tug boat crew's comments and watched intently. It was an exciting event and no work would be done on the island today.

As dusk drew near, the watchers could see that although there was no more cargo shifting activity, there also appeared to be no action to move the tug and barge back to Kwajalein. During the day, a few small fishing boats had tried to draw near the tug and submarine but had been warned off. That action annoyed the fishermen because the submarine and tug boat were anchored almost directly over the best spot on that reef for the red snapper codfish. Did these fool Americans have no understanding? The families needed fresh fish to eat. When would they leave or at least move? These were the questions and comments the fishermen had but they couldn’t get close enough to talk to the Americans.

The fishermen moved to another reef close by which also had the red snapper cod, but not as many or as big. The fishing was poor there. It looked like they might have to fish all night to get enough to feed their families. About two a.m. when most of the people on the island were asleep and the entire crowd on the dock had left, activity started again on the submarine and the barge. The fishermen, with eyes accustomed to the dark, could just about make out men taking something long, round, and large out of the submarine and load it onto the barge and cover it with tarps. Maybe it was a torpedo. They discussed that and decided that didn’t make sense. Kwajalein hadn’t had any equipment to launch a torpedo since the early 50s. They had heard of no tests requiring a torpedo. Maybe it was a missile, said another fisherman. Well, they were all tired, it wasn’t any of their business, they had been warned away and their families were hungry. The fishermen pulled anchor and went back to 182

Ebeye. But, Marina remained on shore watching with her binoculars. She saw the Army tug and barge untie from the submarine and head for Meck. The submarine remained on the surface and at anchor. The next morning, the submarine was gone. The Marshallese workers who had worked the night on Kwajalein said that the Army had conducted a test of resupplying a submarine from stocks at Kwajalein. No big deal, just another seemingly stupid test. The Navy had re-supplied submarines from cargo ships and island depots all over the Pacific during WW II so why should they test or even practice the exercise now from Kwajalein for a nuclear submarine? The following night, Marina went out to the North end of the island and signaled the Russian ship. Fortunately, her signal was seen and they sent a rubber boat in. Marina gave the man the information she had about the missile arriving on the submarine and the possible firing of a missile at a missile in the near future. She told the contact on the beach that she hoped one day she would have provided enough information so that she could retire from the spy business, but that grandmother would still be taken care of until she died.

The fish had been divided among the fishermen and their families. They carried them home and had their children take a few to the old people who couldn’t fish anymore. The catch must always be shared. Within an hour of putting their boats and engines away, the fish had been cleaned and cooked and new rice had been cooked and everyone was busy eating. They were fortunate in having some refrigeration on Ebeye but everyone knew that rice and fish just didn’t taste good after being refrigerated and therefore must be eaten immediately. The nights the catch hadn’t been good so there were no fish leftover to pan-fry for later or to sun cure with salt tomorrow. Maybe next time the Americans wouldn’t be anchored over the best fishing place. They were so inconsiderate at times.

The arrival and cargo moving action on the submarine and barge was also observed by the residents on Kwajalein with as much curiosity as on Ebeye but with less excitement. No 183

one knew what was going on. This was either a real secret event or an emergency action. Well, it didn’t matter. If they needed to know about it, they would be told and if not, there would be official silence and eventual talk by the participants and then they would know what was happening.

Another missile test window was announced for two weeks hence. That disrupted a second weekend outing Marina had been invited to on Aijijen Island just north of Ebeye. She was disappointed but the islanders were mad because the crops of coconuts, pandannus, and breadfruit were ready for harvest and they needed them now. They were annoyed that they were not permitted to go there during any announced test window even though missiles never hit on any of their islands. The landowners, the Iroij, were given monetary compensation for this but the common islanders, the Alabs and Jerbals, got none of it.

On Kwajalein, the radar technicians were put on alert and were run through tests for special tracking for the next mission. That mission was to test a bullet hitting a bullet. Vandenberg would fire a missile toward Kwajalein. As soon as the radars on Loi detected Vandenberg had launched the missile, Loi would launch a missile from Meck Island to intercept in the stratosphere the one fired by Vandenberg. The scientists and engineers had been working on this Star Wars project for years. Many scoffed saying it couldn’t be done. Others said bullets had been fired from both sides and many times the bullets had collided during the Civil War. In museums you could see many examples of two bullets fused into each other. If it could be done with bullets without intent, why could it not be done with high tech missiles with experts controlling the events?

The residents of both Ebeye and Kwajalein watched the launch from Meck Island and it was just like the video on TV showing another successful launch from Meck Island for an 184

implosion with an ICBM incoming from Vandenberg. The launch had been announced the evening before. There was haze and low clouds that morning, however, and few admitted to seeing anything.

The next day, there was great jubilation when the official announcement was made of the success of the mission. And later, when the video taken from a high flying Lear jet was shown in the Army staff meeting showing the implosion of the two missiles in the stratosphere, all doubts were removed. There was a swelling of pride. Everyone wanted to be on the bandwagon of the successful operation. People were talking proudly of their contribution however small it may have been.

A month later, Marina received another letter from grandmother. It contained a nice long letter from grandmother, pictures of grandmother in her apartment and outside with friends and a short letter from Ivan. Ivan's letter was strange. He wrote thanks for the support she had given him to further his education and that he had been accepted at a university in Prague. He wrote that all debts had been paid in full and she need no longer feel obligated to him. He said that his friends would see that grandmother would continue to live safely and well. He said that it was surprising what the genie can do when he is let out of the box. Marina understood from that cryptic message that the Russians had retrieved the nose cone and black box with the mini-submarine, and had been most pleased with the other information she had provided about the implosion. She believed that the data provided had been of sufficient informational value as to be considered as payment in full for the rest of grandmothers life for her improved living conditions and that she, Marina need no longer obtain and provide any information. With this, Marina felt a great deal of relief. She need no longer hide or conceal what she did. Her two-year contract was coming to an end and she and Lt. William Richard were going to get


married in Honolulu when her contract was completed and his tour of duty was completed and have a nice honeymoon in Hawaii before returning to the USA.

Lt. William Richard and Marina flew to Honolulu, got married, had a spectacular honeymoon spending many hours at the fantastic botanical garden at Wai Meia Meia falls, and when the time was up, flew to Huntsville, Alabama for his next assignment with the Missile Command. Marina easily got a job there in the base hospital in administration.

The end.

But is there ever really an end. The bigger the boys, the bigger the toys and the games go on. Some player’s die, and some retire, but new players are always taken into the game. The sunsets continue to be magnificent with the promise of another beautiful and wondrous day, another challenge, and the opportunity to do what is right and good for mankind and, to enjoy life. Maybe the Marshallese are right to enjoy life on the islands without modern conveniences and troubles.

For those of you who want to read more from this author, the “New Hires of '65 “, soon to be published by Author House, is parallel in time to My Life Story by Tom, the Recovering Alcoholic soon to be published by Author House and “Retirement Riches in the Pacific” IBSN 1-4137-0995-8 already published by Publish America is the sequel to both My Life Story and New Hires of ’65. This spy novel is in the time slot between New Hires of 65 and Retirement Riches in the Pacific. I am sure you will enjoy these fine adventure novels too.