Cold War Samurai – The 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 1987 – 1991

This site's the panther's roar! Photo of 549 courtesy of Mr. Akira Watanabe of nabe3saviation.web.fc2.com


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The Samurai Table

Every unit likes to place its emblem in prominent places around the base, and the Samurai certainly did so.

The emblem of the 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron

The emblem of the 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron

Whether it was the patch on a uniform, flight suit or an F-16, a plaque on the wall, a zap left just about anywhere, there were all kinds of places one could find the Samurai emblem. This included the Officers’ Club, the Club Mutsu in old Building 22.

The Club Mutsu circa 1976, looking similar to how it did in the 1980's.  (Courtesy Misawa Japan.com)

The Club Mutsu circa 1976, looking similar to how it did in the 1980’s. (Courtesy Misawa Japan.com)

There, in the lounge and bar on the lower floor, resided the Samurai Table, a place squadron members could rally around and claim as our own on club sorties.

14TFS 1Lt "Spider" and the Samurai Table featured in a public service advertisement in the May 1988 MWR magazine at Misawa AB.

14TFS 1Lt “Spider” and the Samurai Table featured in a public service advertisement in the May 1988 MWR magazine at Misawa AB.

There’s no doubt 1Lt “Spider” caught a lot of flak and razzing over this picture circa May 1988, but it was to his credit for a public service advertisement in the base MWR monthly magazine. It clearly shows the Samurai Table. The table likely came from the Philippines, made of that superb mahogany wood, with the squadron emblem hand-carved into the top by Filipino craftsmen. With the many TDY’s to Cope Thunder exercises at Clark Air Base, there were ample opportunities to acquire such hand-made goods, and the Philippines was a large source for unit going away plaques and scale model aircraft painted up nicely, among other things.

The table lasted at least to the end of the Cold War as far as this web log writer knows (May 1989), though not without wear and tear. And abuse. Memory is a bit vague at this point but it seems like the table was assaulted and the top broken completely in half while we Samurai were away TDY, at the Cobra Gold exercise in Thailand during the summer of 1988.

We returned from the exercise to find our table busted, reportedly by a rotational US Navy P-3 Orion patrol squadron, which may have been VP-40, the Marlins, who were deployed to Misawa between February and August 1988.

Insignia of Patrol Squadron 40.  The motto "Laging Handa" is Tagalog for "Always Ready."  Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Insignia of Patrol Squadron 40. The motto “Laging Handa” is Tagalog for “Always Ready.” Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

It’s a good thing the Marlins left when they did because there were some pissed-off Samurai on RTB. If they were the guilty ones and if they are ever in Misawa again they deserve the Tohoku snow treatment like this VP-46 Orion:

A VP-46 P-3 Orion maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare aircraft frozen on the winter ramp at Misawa Naval Air Facility.  (Courtesy of  TogetherWeServed)

A VP-46 P-3 Orion maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare aircraft frozen on the winter ramp at Misawa Naval Air Facility. (Courtesy TogetherWeServed)

As for why anyone would want to destroy the table, who knows? Maybe a P-3 was cut out of the pattern by an F-16 inflight emergency. Maybe the 13th did a South Park to the 14th for a deed of their buffoonery. Jealousy, spite, envy, ignorance, any number of factors could have impelled the perpetrators.

Hopefully the Samurai Table, though battered in that (un)friendly fire incident, has survived, or at least found a good home, what with the change in unit designation at the end of the Cold War and the move to a new club building in February, 2002, in the area where the old base hospital was at. (It was kind of a swap in new construction, so much of it in Misawa, as it seems the new base hospital went into the area where the old Mutsu Club was at.)

References:

VP-40 history, at: http://vp40.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/VP-40-History.pdf

This Month in 35th Fighter Wing and Misawa Air Base History: February, at: http://www.misawa.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123437254

Photos from:

Old Club Mutsu, at: http://www.misawajapan.com/aboutmisawa/facilities.asp

VP-40 emblem, at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vp40_insig.jpg

Frozen P-3, at: http://navy.togetherweserved.com/usn/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=AssignmentExt&ID=101066

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