“美馬町の川原に結ぶ日米の友愛”

 

 1960年11月17日沖縄海域で行動中であった“The Navy’s USS Oriskany"号から発信したTF-1双発輸送機が悪天候と無線機故障のため四国の庁田舎美馬町の吉野川の川原に胴体着陸したことから、 日米親善の友愛の花が咲き始めたのである。

 

当日私は町内中学校で課外授業(高校進学希望者対象)英語科の指導をしておりました。数名の生徒が窓 越しに飛行機らしい物体が異常な爆音をあげながら川原の方向に飛び去ったのを目にし、飛行機が墜落し たぞと授業は騒然、授業は中止、現場に急行しました。当日の天候は、小雨まじりの晩秋独特な天候の中 ジアルミンの機体に米海軍のマークが薄暮の中に鮮明に写しだされておりました。

 

私は学生時代東京で当時日本に進駐していた米軍G.H.Q.勤務ヒックス・トーマス大尉と友人であり、少し は自分の英語力に自信を持っていたので、この機会と思い勇気を出してその場に望みました。

 

拳銃を腰にした乗員と応答、充分とは言えないが事故の内容を把握した後、対岸の貞光町警察署に同行し 、電話連絡を通して山口県警察、岩国基地との連絡がとれました。

 

〇 乗員氏名: 機長 C.L. LT Priddy,

 

Captain Hugh D. Scott

 

USNR-R and Commander, Paul W. Schlegel

 

他4名

 

〇 当時、美馬町の町民は今まで誰一人として実物の飛行機を見たことがなかったので、県内各地から多 数の人々が河原に見物にやってきていた。その見物人のための店が出来る程賑わったものである。

 

地区住民、町当局、建設会社協議の結果、自分達の手で河原を整地し、離陸のための滑走路を作ろうと申 し出、岩国基地から作業指導のため来町していた、プレストン・トーマス大尉と他2名の技術指導のもと 、毎日約100名の町民が全面的に協力し23日間で490mの滑走路を作り上げました。

 

〇 離陸式当日

 

元軍医少将であった美馬町長佐々木高行氏は、この歴史的な離陸を全町民に見学させるため、町内の役所 、学校を休業することにしました。

 

岩国基地から司令官A.C.ローウェル大佐、飛行団長W.C.ハンバード大佐他数名の参加のもと見物客数千人 と共に盛大に開催され、「この工事に示された寛容と厚誼に感謝のため合衆国海兵隊より美馬町に献ず」 と刻まれた記念碑を贈呈されました。

 

〇 その後の交流

 

米軍機不時着を機に芽生えた友愛の絆は「日米親善記念式開催」という名目でその後5年間継続されまし た。毎年11月17日、岩国基地から司令官をはじめ、7,8名の軍関係者を招待し、地元地区、町共催 のもと式典、ディナー・パーティーを開催し、阿波踊、花束贈呈、餅投げ等々余興を共に楽しむと共に、 記念碑横の船玉神社で交通安全祈願を行い、旧交を温めました。

 

〇 「国際親善さきがけの碑」の建立

 

45年前に米軍から贈られた記念碑が風化したのをきっかけに、同地区民が計画し町当局もその主旨に賛 同し、2004年12月17日記念碑が再建され、その除幕式が挙行された。除幕式には基地から司令官 マイケルA・ダイアー大佐、報道部長ステュワート・T・アプトン大尉他5名の参加と、幼稚園児、小学 生、地区住民数百名が見守る中厳粛に行なわれた。その後美馬中学生との交流会が開催され新たな交流を 復活させようという気運がよみあがった。

 

〇 「シューイ文庫」の開設

 

1964年7月、岩国基地所属の品質管理隊長ウォーレス・S・シューイ少佐が夏期休暇を利用し友人宅 に来町した際、「町内の貧しい子供の大学進学費に役立てて下さい。」と美馬町に送られていた奨学基金 をもとに「日米親善奨学資金」が設けられていたが「さきがけの碑」建立を機会に、その資金を教育の道 に活用するため、中学校に親善文庫、名付けて「シューイ文庫」を開設し、480冊を町当局から寄贈さ れた。生徒会長の伊藤佑哉君は、「40年の時を超えて実現した日米親善の文庫を大切にしたい。」と話 している。

 

〇 翔べー・イカロスの翼をもて 作者 さとう裕 大阪府箕面市在住

 

「NPO教徒の文化を映像で記録する会」が全面的にバックアップされ、美馬町から文化を発信しようと いうもとに、不時着機がもたらした幾多のドラマ、友情、不幸な第2次大戦を乗り越えた友好の絆を後世 に伝えたいと、若い世代の中、高生に読んでもらいたいという願から、題記の小説がまもなく発刊の予定 である。

 

荒岡 禎一郎(75歳)

 

当時 地元中学校英語科教諭

 

元 美馬町教育委員長

 

"Japan-US Friendship over the Riverbed in Mima-Town"

 

 

 

On November 17, 1960, a TF-1 twin-engine transport airplane, which was sent from "The Navy’s USS Oriskany", was flying in Okinawan water. She belly-landed on the riverbed of the Yoshino River of a rural Mima-Town in Shikoku region due to a bad weather and total electrical failure. Since then, the Japan-US goodwill friendship started to begin.

 

On that day, I was teaching English to Junior high school students (who wished to go on to high school) as an extracurricular activities at a local Junior high school. Several students saw from the window an airplane-like object roaring abnormally and flying toward the riverbed. "The airplane crashed!" The class was confused and stopped. We rushed to the accident site. The weather on that day was a light rain and peculiar late-autumn sky. The mark of US NAVY on the body of gray aluminum shown vividly in the gloom.

 

When I was a student in Tokyo, I had a friend, LT Thomas Hicks. He was working at the U.S. military G.H.Q., which occupied Japan. I had a little confidence of my English ability so I thought this is a great opportunity, and challenged on the spot with courage.

 

I responded to a crew who put a pistol around his waist. Though it was not good enough, I grasped the situation of the accident. I then went to Sadamitsu town police station across the river with them. We contacted the Yamaguchi prefectural police station and Iwakuni base via phone.

 

〇 Name of Crews: Pilot LT C. L. Priddy

 

Captain Hugh D. Scott USNR-R

 

(and Senator from Pennsylvania)

 

Commander Paul W. Schlegel

 

Four other crew members

 

〇 In those days, no one in Mima-town had seen an actual airplane before. So many people from many parts of the prefecture came to the riverbed to observe. The shops were also alive with sightseers.

 

As a result of discussion by the local people, the town office and the construction company, we offered to level the riverbed by hand and to build a runway for take-off. Under a technical supervision of LT Preston Thomas and two others who came to town from the Iwakuni Marine base for operational guidance, about 100 local people of the town cooperated wholly every day and built the runway of 490m in 23 days.

 

〇 The Day of Take-Off Ceremony

 

Mayor Takayuki Sasaki of Mima-town who used to be the surgeon Major ordered town hall and schools to close in order for all town people to watch this historical take-off.

 

The ceremony was a great success with an attendance of a couple of thousand sightseers including, Col A.C. Rowell, Commanding Officer of the Iwakuni Marine base, Col W.C. Hanbard, Aviation Chief, and several other guests. The monument inscribed "The U.S. Marine Corps presents this to Mima town in appreciation for their generosity and kindness as shown in this construction." was presented.

 

〇 Exchange Afterwards

 

The bond of friendship grown up since the US military airplane’s emergency landing was named as "Japan-US goodwill exchange ceremony", and it had continued for five years afterwards. On every November 17th, we invited 7 or 8 military personnel including the commanding officer of Iwakuni base and held a ceremony and dinner party under the auspices of local district and town. While we enjoyed the entertainments such as the Awa dance, the presentation of flowers, catching rice cakes, etc, we prayed for the traffic safety at the Funatama temple next to the monument and renewed our old friendship.

 

〇 The Establishment of "The Monument of International Goodwill Exchange"

 

The monument given from the US military 45 years ago was disintegrating. This led the local community and town hall to plan and approve the plan. (?) The monument was rebuilt and the ceremony was held with solemnity on December 17, 2004. Col Michael A. Dyer, commanding officer, Capt Stewart T. Upton, PAO, (now promoted to major), and five other personnel from MCAS Iwakuni attended at the ceremony while kindergarten, elementary school children and a couple of hundred of the local community observed. Then the exchange with junior high school students of Mima town was held, and there is a growing tendency to revive the new exchange.

 

〇 The Establishment of "Shuei’s Library"

 

On July 1964, when Maj Wallace S. Shuei, Quality Assurance Officer of Iwakuni base, came to Mima-town to visit his friend’s house for a summer vacation, "Please make good use for poor children in town for their college education." Under his scholarship fund for Mima town, "Japan-US goodwill exchange scholarship" was established. For the occasion of the establishment of "the monument", the junior high school established a goodwill exchange library named "Shuei’s library" to make good use of the scholarship for education, and 480 books were donated by the town hall. Mr. Yuya Ito, a president of the student council, said, "I want to cherish the library of Japan-US goodwill exchange which was fulfilled over 40 years."

 

〇 "Fly! With Wings of Icarus" by Mr. Yu Sato in Minoh city, Osaka

 

"Association for recording a picture of NPO believer’s culture" was backed up wholly. On the basis of our wish to send this culture from Mima town, the above novel plans to publish soon with hopes to pass to the future generations in regards to the several dramas caused by emergency landing, friendship and the bond of friendship which triumphed over the WW2, and also a wish for junior and senior high school students of younger generations to read.

 

Mr. Sadaichiro Araoka (75 years old)

At that time, I was an English teacher at the local junior high school

Former chairman of education, Mima town

 

 

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