Don Gongaware

Name: Don Gongaware
Location: Carmel, IN
Year: 1954-55
Date: Sunday, April 30, 2006
Time: 03:15:59 PM


During my stay, JI’s mission was as an emergency landing site for flights from Japan to Hawaii. The B-29 and SA16 seaplanes were there on standby for downed aircraft.

Based on your website, it looks like the island was a lot smaller in 1954 and had no trees! My recollection is that runway and tarmac covered over half of the island. I don’t remember an outdoor theatre – must have come along later. No indoor snack bar either. I was enlisted Air Force and we had a small outdoor club on the water (it sold 3.2% beer).

I was the radio station manager and DJ for WVTV, the AFRS (later AFRTS) station. I worked the station every day and water skied between LP’s! I was also one of 4 telephone operators and the mail clerk – gives you some idea of how few folks were on the island.

We had a base commander who insisted on haircuts, shaves and wearing a cap while outside. He said he didn’t want to see us “go native”, which would have been easy to do in that environment. He also had us do marching exercises on the runway from time to time.

I loved my stay an savor the memories

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