Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Francis J. Tatu
TATU: I didn't know about Casey then. At any rate, the significance of that was that it did give me the interest in the Far East, and I was constantly going for educational materials so that I could brief my “shipmates.” So after two years of that the squadron was decommissioned and I was discharged. That constituted five years active service. You may recall that “universal military training.” The draft was in effect at that time, so I was fortunate to have had the service of my choice.
Q: That was when?
TATU: 1950 to 1953. We weren't in Japan all the time. We had six-month rotational deployments. We were stationed between Atsugi, Japan; a facility called Barber's Point in Hawaii; and Naval Air Station Sand Point in Seattle, Washington. Incidentally, the squadron recently had our 50-year reunion and - boy, talk about weird experiences - walk into a room and here are all these guys that you had pictured in your mind as kids and they're now in their 70s.
Q: Yes. Did you recognize any?
TATU: Oh, yes, quite a number, but also there were some, as I said, strange experiences. One guy I used to be a really good buddy with was very stand-offish. Then finally, at the end of virtually a day in the same company, I got a name tag, and he said, “My God, you're Frank Tatu!”
Q: So then you went back to California?
TATU: Went back to California. We were, as I think I said earlier, a reserve squadron, so we were all from the same relative area. We had been training at a place called Los Alamedos, which is just outside of Los Angeles. So most of the men had some connection with one another, that sort of cohesion developed a strong esprit de corps. Betwixt and between we only lost one plane. We were operating with nine aircraft most of the time, so we lost one and nine guys, including my best friend.
Q: So that introduced you to the Far East?
TATU: Right. I went back and I started at the University oCalifornia at Berkeley.
Q: That was 1950...?