A sight to behold

Many things trigger thoughts in our minds that return us to a place or time in our lives that we won’t soon forget. It could be a sound or a smell or even a song.  Or we could be looking out over the shimmering waters of the Rumsey Island Canal on a bright moonlit night. 

Recently I was  having trouble sleeping and went out to the  sliding door overlooking the patio and saw a  moon that was shining on the water as bright as day. The billowing white clouds passing by the moon were rimmed by gray and black clouds on the horizon.  It looked almost like a snow-capped mountain range.  Then I was reminded of a sight, the thought probably brought on by a recent article I read about the Pacific Rim, a sight that I had been privileged to witness at another time in my life,  in another place far away.

We were flying at about 5000 feet, preparing for a landing at Tachikawaa Air Base on a visit to Japan during our war that they called the Korean Conflict. We were  part of the 5th Bomb Squadron (M),9th Bomb Wing (M) 15th Air Force, part of the Strategic Air Command, commanded by General  Curtis LeMay.

We  were TDY (temporary duty) from Travis Air Force Base in California to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam. We brought our B29s to take part in the bombing of strategic targets in North Korea. The squadron had completed our required number of bombing missions on their supply lines, sadly losing a crew and one aircraft over the North.  

We had earned our R & R (rest & relaxation) trip to Japan and the Air Base at Tachikawa was our destination. It is located west of Tokyo and it would the first time I put a foot on foreign soil.

It was the middle of the night when we arrived over Japan and the moon was shining like a Fall Harvest Moon over the hills up in the ZONE.  We made our approach from the west, lining up for a landing at Tachikawa.  I looked out on the right side of the aircraft and there it stood in all its moonlit glory, looking just like the many paintings, photos and postcards we’ve ever seen of it,  the magnificent 12,000 foot active volcano, Mt.Fujiama.

Fujisan, as the Japanese call it, is actually two volcanoes that have formed into almost a perfect cone shape called a strato-volcano and the first one is over 100,000 years old.

Then an eruption about 11,000 years ago formed Fuji as we see it today.  The most recent and probably the most violent eruption was at Christmas time  in 1707 which made Mt. Fuji the beautiful object it is now . 

Strato-volcanoes are the most violent of all volcanoes when they do erupt and they express themselves about every 200 years and we can all  “do the math” as they say.

There  were  some minor rumblings in 2002 but everything has been quiet lately.  It sits there, sacred to the Japanese people, quiet  and serene,  awaiting its next que from Mother Nature to release some pressure from her store house of lava and pyroclastics that will no doubt change her looks forever.

Just a thought, but have you taken a good look at beautiful Fuji lately? I have recently read that if it ever erupts again it will be a catastrophic event and it will never have the same face that it displays so magnificently today.  So we should all have a good look at this giant, sitting on the Pacific Rim of volcanic activity,  I was privileged to see it in person.

It was winter atop Fuji as it most always is and it was covered at the crest with snow while the full moon made it sparkle like silver. But on terra firma, the night was warm and we were quickly ushered to a concrete barrack just west of the main runway where the air was not conditioned and we spent the evening trying to find a cool breeze.

But I had my unexpected look at Fuji and a memory of it that still persists.  I hope your winter, like Mt. Fuji,  is a picture postcard.

Don Langrehr


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One Response to A sight to behold

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great story! Makes me think of a lot of beautiful things around us we don’t take the time to appreciate.

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