The Tale of the TapesBy Bill Tobin
Both Joe O’Carroll and Bill Tobin were “lifers” in the Navy, and their careers paralleled each other somewhat. Joe was a communications technician, or CT, otherwise known as the Navy’s CIA. Bill was a regular Navy “black shoe” with the designation EN for Engineman. But they never knew each other during their whole careers, and for some time after that.
The first time either one laid eyes on the other was at the AFRH-W. Bill had gone there to live after selling his home in California. His son had retired from the Marines and was living in Virginia.
Joe, on the other hand, was there for an entirely different reason. He’d been living at the AFRH-G when hurricane Katrina wiped it out and the survivors went to live in DC.
They still didn’t know each other until one day when Bill replied to a question from Sid Land, Joe’s good buddy. However, the reply was made in Japanese for whatever reason and the dam was broken.
It seems that both Joe and Bill had found a home and wife in Japan and were both stationed there for some time. Joe was living in Yokohama while Bill was living in Hayama, the home of the Emperor’s summer palace.
Joe had found employment in Japan and was teaching English to Japanese students. Bill found himself in command of two YFU’s out of Yokosuka. These vessels were WWII vessels, called then LCTs. Their main purpose was to deliver cargo up and down the coast from Tokyo to Chigasaki and offshore to the Coast Guard LORAN station at Oshima Island, 60 miles offshore.
Bill’s duty had 13 months to go when President JFK formed Seal Team One. The members of this group were taken from the UDT Teams at Coronado, Calif., and Little Creek, Va. They were replaced in the UDT Teams with former members of UDT who were at various duties throughout the world. Bill was one of these and found himself back in Coronado with UDT-12.
From there it was off to Ft. Benning and Jump School, eventually winding up in Seal Team One. Which meant many a long deployment overseas. To help out his wife who was trying hard to cope with a new country, Bill got a VCR and showed her how to watch Japanese movies from Los Angeles. She learned how to copy them onto VHS tapes and send them back east to her sister living in Virginia. She did this for years until her demise in 1991.
After a suitable adjustment period, Bill decided to continue that program for which his sister-in-law and all her Japanese friends in the Shenandoah Valley were thankful. And, as the years wore on, the collection of these tapes became fairly extensive, taking up one whole wall of her TV room.
The program was discontinued when Bill moved to AFRH-W in June 2003. Time inexorably moved on, as did the people in DC, and so Bill and Joe were now at Gulfport. By this time whey knew each others as they both resided on the C wing 8th floor.
On a visit to Joe’s room, Bill noticed that Joe had a VCR there and a higher wisdom struck him. So he called his sister in law in Virginia and asked her to send him some of the tapes she had collected. She was happy to do so and that’s about the end of this story. Joe is happy as he can now watch Japanese TV and relive old memories. Bill’s sister-in-law is happy as soon she will be able to redo her TV room. And Bill is happy as he once again did what he does so often. Pay it forward.