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Second R&R - Chris Sarno Memoir

Then the unexpected happened. "By hook or crook, something came up in the company and nobody wanted to go on R&R that month. So I went back to Japan before the six months was up in order to fill the allotment." This time he took the company tank driver with him on R&R, and, as he had promised, he looked Yoshiko up again. "I found Yoshiko for honeymoon #2," he said. "She was in my blood, but I didn’t know it until after four months home as a civilian."

"I had five more days with her," he said. "This time I let her take charge of the whole setup. We went to a Japanese hotel in a suburban area." One night, after an evening of dancing and three brandy alexanders at the R&R hotel, Sarno passed out on the elevator as it came down from the tenth floor ballroom. "It must have been the brandies," Sarno said. "As soon as that elevator went down, I was just like a bowl of jelly. I remember somebody splashing cold water on me. I said, ‘It’s cold. It’s cold. It’s cold.’ My buddy, Lorne Bayliss of West Virginia, was splashing me with the water. He got scared because I wouldn’t come to. When we got back to the Jap hotel, he took me in the shower room and hit me with cold water to revive me. I remember puking out of the window." The next day, Yoshiko got the bad news that the group had been kicked out of the hotel because Sarno threw up out of the window. Sarno was angry with himself for causing them to have to move. That hotel was a nice one. The one they moved to was called the Sakura (meaning Cherry Blossom). "But it wasn’t a Cherry Blossom," Sarno said. He doesn’t remember too much about that second R&R. "The first one was very impressionable to me," he said.

On the third morning of his second R&R, Yoshiko got a call from her Papasan, requesting that she return to the house for a while that day. Through Yoshiko’s closest friend Margie, Chris found out that Papasan wanted Yoshiko to rid herself of the American Marine, and to replace him with an Army veteran who had also returned to Kyoto on a second R&R, and who had also sought out Yoshiko for a second good time. Chris only had two more days of R&R, while the Army guy had more days than that. Yoshiko could make an extra two days’ pay if she dumped Chris for the Army guy. Margie might have had an ulterior motive by informing Sarno of Yoshiko’s rendezvous with another potential customer. Margie was more than a little attracted to Sarno herself, and told him that her Marine was not a good dancer, a little cheap, and not so hot under the sheets. "She had designs on me," Sarno said, "but when Yoshiko came back she chased Margie out like a banshee." Yoshiko had turned the Army guy’s offer down, choosing instead to stay with her "Clis" until his R&R was over.

When he first learned that Yoshiko was considering a business proposition with an Army guy, he was annoyed. "I wasn’t in love with her on R&R," Sarno said, "but I was infatuated with living with her. The fact that she was a prostitute never bothered me at all. If she had gone off with the Doggie, I would have made Papasan give me Horiko-san, another stunning looking ‘business girl’. I saw her briefly at the house and we just exchanged polite hellos, but she was nice, too. When in Japan, do as the Japanese do. You must comprehend the essence of the times—living with war and thinking of death at hand, I lived for the moment at hand, and that was a heady existence. Even after the truce was signed, Korea was a mess. Life was cheap and the future looked very bleak. I didn’t give two red cents when the Koreans would ever get back to pre-war days. Korea is to this day a most volatile country. At the time I went on R&R to Japan, I wanted a slice at gratification. If I had to pay for a girl, so be it. It was a business deal."

In writing his memoirs, Sarno said that he wanted his R&R episodes in his profile because it is generally Korea veterans seldom discuss what went on in Japan or Korea when Korean War GI’s went on liberties." "I was a single Marine and had no guilt hooking up with a prostitute" he said. "Ninety-nine percent of the GI’s in Japan/Korea acted exactly like me. If readers find it sordid or depraved, no sweat. That is what transpired on R&R—the truth. It was the tenor of the times."


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