Stanley Fukai – My Personal Story

Part I: My Dual Culture Heritage

My life started in 1925 in a rural Oregon community called Lake Labish, a very fertile farmland area on both sides of the Willamette River a few miles north of the state capital of Salem. We lived among about 20 Japanese families, raising onion, lettuce, celery and other vegetable crops. My parents came from an area of Japan called Okayama which is about 340 miles west of Tokyo on the Main Island of Honshu. My Japanese born Father was named Itaro, but he got the name of "Charlie" while working here. There were four kids in our family and I was the oldest and naturally the one who was most often in trouble.

From infancy until age 6 we used the Japanese language. Once I reached school age I attended a regular American school during the week and a Japanese language school on Saturdays. The language school was about a mile from our little home. The Japanese taught was basic Japanese with local dialects and slang words which would have been difficult for native Japanese to understand, but that is what we spoke. Our knowledge of the language was improved a bit when the teacher arrived from Japan who I think spoke the standard Japanese used in the Tokyo area. But, what can one learn in four or five hours of Japanese on Saturdays when all the boys were solely interested in playing softball or football during breaks, all while speaking English?

This lifestyle continued until November of 1937 when the lease on the farm expired. At this time Japanese could not buy land in Oregon. My father had the choice of possibly extending the lease for three years, try another location, or fold the farm and take the kids to Japan for a few years to get some formal Japanese education. After some years in Japan he planned to return to the US and start anew, perhaps after I had finished Japanese high school. Therefore, my parents got rid of all the farm equipment and we moved to Japan.

Before WWII started, the whole family was settled in Japan, hoping to return to the Salem, Oregon farming community at some early future date. My father had arranged to have $200 sent monthly from his account/investments in a bank or firm in the Salem area. I was only 12 or 13 years old and not interested in my father's assets or investments, etc. $200 is not much these days, but in 1938- 40 this was more than double (almost triple) what the average wage earner was making in Japan. At that time school teachers earned about 60 to 80 Yen per month and teaching was considered a good job. My father (and mother occasionally) visited old friends, traveled, and fished and took us to shows when he could. We kids went to school for the classic Japanese education that Father lacked which he always wanted us to have. My father also wanted me to have a good Japanese High School experience. First I had to catch up. I arrived in Japan with the Japanese language skills I acquired in the Salem Community Japanese School which was very basic at best and practically useless for our daily life in Japan. Because of my limited command of classic Japanese language and history I was relegated to the third grade with students 2 and 3 years my junior. It was a struggle.

My father was pulled out of school in the fourth grade in 1907 to join Grandfather in the US and help on the farm. Grandfather sent my father to school when he wasn't busy on the farm and somehow he eventually managed to get some US high school. My father put a big emphasis on education and told my mom that if he were to return to school he would bring home top grades every time.

In time I passed the entrance exams for a good high school. The high school I attended in Japan was a difficult school that funneled students onto higher academic universities; again I was more than a bit lucky. The academic year begins in April. The first semester lasted until July. After an August break, school picks up again in September lasting until December and the final semester ran from January to March. The course subjects were similar to US schools except that students also studied English. Math curriculum included: algebra, trigonometry, geometry, calculus, and logarithms, etc. In addition we studied chemistry, physics, world history, Japanese language grammar, Classical Chinese, music, geography, Far Eastern History, and Japanese History. PE included Judo, Kendo, gymnastics, and military training (similar to ROTC). The school Principal taught a class on morals. The two toughest subjects were the principal's morals class and Japanese History. I just barely got passing grades. School life was busy with lots of cramming and studying. Home work assignments continued even during summer break.

My daily routine was to rise at 6am, eat breakfast, leaving the house at 7:30 on a bike for 8AM class. After school I would nap from about 4PM until dinner. After dinner I would study or cram until 2:30 or 3:00 and sleep again until 6:30am. I think we had half-a-day on Saturdays too. I wish I could do it over without any threat of war.

Sometime in 1940, or perhaps 1939, my Father taking the initiative, took me to register as an American citizen with the US Consular office in Kobe. I remain grateful for his action. After the war began, both father and I got called in by the Special Police (akin to the FBI I would think) and told to register the kids as Japanese citizens. My father refused to change our citizenships since we were still children - I was 16 at the time. Father was planning to take us back to the US when the war ended. I even told him that I wanted to return to the US. Needless to say, he was raked over the coals by the secret police for his comments and was harassed several times after that - I don't know or recall whether he spent any time in jail or not. Anyhow, in reflection, they were probably thinking of me as "draft-age" material in a couple of years. All this was wasted efforts because of an extended illness that would soon occur. I was called in by the authorities again, but I don't remember giving them any answers. They did mention that we could go back to the US any time we wanted after the war was won.

On December 8, 1941, (7th in Hawaii) I was in the second year of high school. At this time the Japanese education system offered students 5 years of high school and 2 years of college prep school. College was 4 years plus more if desired. However after the war when General MacArthur’s staff came in, this was all Americanized. I don't remember how I qualified for one of the better and well-known high schools considering I only had two years of Japanese elementary school. The high school that I attended had most of their graduates enter colleges and universities after finishing the fourth year, and only a few students remained for the fifth year.

Once the war started our funds quit arriving from the United States and my father was forced to try a couple of businesses - first charcoal manufacturing and then eventually he settled into weaving tatami (floor mat) mats.

Much of what follows I learned later from my Japanese high school teacher after WWII.

In 1942, the government military people instructed the high school principals and teachers to have students with better grades apply to the service academies so they can be prepared to become officers and leaders. The military had power during this period and to defy their requests was unthinkable, regardless of how the families or students felt. But my father had different ideas. He told me if I would study a bit more and pick up my grades I might be able to pass the entrance exams to a military academy where the tuition would be free and therefore take a load off the family finances. Because of my age I had to take the entrance exams during my fourth year of high school. If I waited until my fifth year in high school I would have been ineligible because of the academy age restrictions. So study I did. Entering an academy would also protect me from service in the Army and surely the war would be over in four years. My father also assumed that, like the U.S., the academy required four years of studies to be commissioned. He could not possibly foresee that four year courses would be crammed into three years and eventually into a two and a half year program.

In the summer of 1943 I was carrying fairly good grades, helped along by my good grades in English; therefore I passed the academic exams for the primary Naval Academy at Edajima (near Hiroshima) and the Military Academy at Tokyo. However, I failed the physical for the primary naval academy in Edajima (near Hiroshima), but passed for the Military Academy. Fortunately the CPO or Lieutenant conducting the physical exams passed me for the Naval Engineering Academy in Maizuru, Japan, north of Kyoto.

At that time we were treated by a Dentist in Okayama city who was originally from Seattle. My father knew him quite well. Once when he was checking and treating my teeth he asked what school I was going to after high school. I mentioned that I failed the primary naval academy physical but was admitted to the engineering academy. He said, "good move!" Just like a dentist he offered that "when the war is over, engineers can be recycled or re-utilized in the civilian world, whereas a sailor would have to be re-educated." Sounds logical to me now - but I didn't even think of it then. We were being brain-washed anyway. And my Japanese wasn't perfect yet Even if I had graduated the from Maizuru Naval Academy, I probably would not have been commissioned right away anyhow because of an extended illness that was to soon discover.

I entered the Engineering Academy as a member of the class of 1947. My class of 500+ entering cadets was the largest ever. I was hazed by the upper classmen for being an American. [Remember than Stan had never de-registered as a U.S. citizen.] At first I got into a lot of trouble at the Naval Academy since I was rather outspoken, but after a few "treatments" by my seniors - I quickly learned to shut-up. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. All the upper classmen knew about me in a few days and I was cooked and ready to put the fork in which they did - often.

The first few months at the academy we had classes on 3 phase electricity, calculus, internal combustion engines, physics, navigation and many other classes including English. In the late fall of 1944, our group was sent to a naval air force training base near Ohtsu, just east of Kyoto near Lake Biwa, where we went through some aptitude tests. I think we were checked to see whether we would be best suited to be pilots, or sailors, or submariners. I do remember there was a single engine plane at Ohtsu with stub wings and that the NCOIC would explain how to start and shut down the engine. This wingless airplane had a rotary engine, probably a 5 or 6 cylinders and club props.

Shortly after the Lake Biwa testing I collapsed in my room during some more hazing (training) and wound up in the hospital until wars-end with a fairly serious case of TB. Apparently I had become infected and the continuous training or hazing did not help.  The hospital was a converted plush hotel. From there I could see B-29s overhead, the refugees fleeing from the air raids, surely the people had to know Japan was losing.

Much later, and ten days before the war ended I was ordered to return to the academy from the TB hospital. By then, my TB had solidified (calcified) and I was no longer considered contagious. Although assigned to the infirmary I was back to attending lectures. There were very few classes of anything of substance near war’s end. From what I have since learned, the healthy midshipmen were all digging holes or air raid shelters in the side of the hills.

On August 10, 1945 after the A bomb raids a Navy Commander explained to us midshipmen the significance of the A Bomb. This officer mentioned that Japan was also researching the same types of bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On August 15, 1945 the entire student body was assembled to listen to the surrender

announcement by the Emperor of Japan. I had great difficulty understanding the Emperor due to radio static. The explanation by the senior officers was that Japan had surrendered unconditionally and the war was over.

On August 19, 1945 a very sickly Stanley Fukai was given a diploma eligible for entry to most universities, a train ticket home, and with his personal belongings in a gunny sack he was discharged from the Navy. One class above me had graduated and did receive their commissions as Ensigns/ Lt (jg) and had gone to war. No, contrary to NWA rumors I did not serve in the submarine service, or battleships, not even the air force. I was simply in school.

I returned to my parent’s home. During my recuperation I visited an old high school teacher and he said, "You can come back to your high school and teach English." I turned him down then since I was still weak physically. The teacher confided that the military had indeed placed a lot of pressure on the teachers and the schools to send all the students that they could into the military service academies, which resulted in a very high competitive rate for entry. He also mentioned that he wished he could have sent more people to the other universities rather than the military. A number of naval cadets did go into teaching at the grade school level, until they could find a college or university they could enter.

Late in 1946 I went to work for the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF). I was assigned to the Rail Transportation Office (RTO) as an agent and interpreter. In November of 1947 I was hired by Northwest Airlines as a ticket agent at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. I later transferred to the stockroom and was employed as Stockroom Chief under Paul Benscoter, then later under Bill Huskins. My Tokyo NWA job was not a union job. Seniority in my job classification did not start to accrue until years later.

As for other members of my family: my father passed away on March 5, 1950, only a few months after he received his re-entry permit to return to the US. My mother and one brother returned to the US about 2 months after my father's passing. My sister died in September 1945 at 17 year of age from typhoid fever. One of my younger brothers, who finished Japanese high school, returned to the US by himself in 1948 and was admitted to Oregon State University but had to pass because he lacked funds. This brother traveled east to Chicago where he found a job and attended a technical school at night. Just before he graduated he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

Meanwhile I was still living in Japan and had given up all hopes of returning to my boyhood home and friends in Oregon. In 1949, I was married and lived in little shack in Japan. When we married I thought I would be in Japan for the rest of my life. I bought the shack for about 100,000 Yen (about $3,000 at the time) after selling my Royal typewriter and borrowing from my relatives. One day in 1952 there was a knocking at the door and standing at the door was my brother now back in Japan as a corporal in the U.S. Army. My brother was assigned to the Army Signal Corps Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group based in Tokyo for service in the Korean War.

On day in 1951 while I was in charge of the stockroom in Tokyo a Japanese fellow came looking for a job. This man was an ex-naval academy fellow - who was in a concurrent class at Eda-Jima academy in Hiroshima (where the primary naval Academy was located). Immediately after reviewing his record I hired him. Later I confided to him that I too attended the Academy - but in the Engineering classes at Maizuru. A couple of years later he asked that he be allowed to transfer to Maintenance where they were employing local mechanics and training them to acquire the (FAA) A & P license. I approved the move. About the same time NWA was contracted to assist JAL get back on their feet again with one NWA DC-4 N88444 (I think) and three NWA Martin 202s. The ex-naval academy fellow then resigned NWA to work for JAL as a mechanic and eventually a flight engineer. In time JAL sent him to San Diego to learn to become a pilot and he eventually retired as a DC10 Captain flying to Europe – stationed in Rome. After retirement, he organized a tour for ex-Japan navy cadets (midshipmen if you want) and conducted a tour of the US and invited me to join them, which I did. They had been in touch with the corresponding class at the Annapolis Naval Academy and received permission to visit the U.S. Naval Academy.

Back-tracking a bit, my younger brother who finished high school in Japan at war’s end wanted to return to the US. I helped him process his paperwork. This is the brother who was later drafted and re-assigned to Tokyo during the Korean war that I mentioned previously. Together we visited the U.S. Consulate in Yokohama, and finally got his passport at the Consulate in Kobe. At the Kobe Consulate, the Consular officer asked me what I was doing in Japan and why I had not attempted to re-establish my US citizenship. I explained my personal situation that I had served in the Japanese Naval service having attended the Naval Academy. He recommended that I submit my application anyway.

So in 1948, I prepared and submitted the documents to the Embassy in Tokyo and promptly forgot about it. Recently I found some copies of the old family registry and it shows that I had become a dual citizen since my name is recorded in the Fukai family registry as of February 04, 1944. This is somewhat strange since I had been a Naval Academy student or midshipman since Dec 01, 1943. I can only guess that some coercion was used on my father to register the kids. All four kids registered on the same day - this I didn't realize until very recently.

Sometime later, in 1957 I believe, out of the blue, I received a letter from the US Embassy to come down to their office if I wanted my passport to return to the US. I guess you can foresee some of the problems that accompanied this opportunity to return to the U.S. For one thing I was obligated to register for Selective Service upon returning to the US, which I did.

By this time, my mother was living in Chicago with my two brothers. This became my connection to Chicago. Meanwhile back in Japan our daughter was born in July 1952 and my roots in Japan were getting deeper fast. My younger Japanese born brother was in my care and my dependent at the time, for which an immigration application was submitted in 1950. This was finally approved in 1953. In November of 1953 I returned to the United States with this little brother. The purpose of the trip was to bring my Japanese born brother to U.S. to join my mother. This was my first visit back to the country of my birth since leaving in 1937 and things had changed. Even the Immigration Officer and Customs people in Anchorage were surprised to see me (having survived the war I guess). From ANC we went to SEA, where we spent a few days with cousins before continuing on to Chicago. My little brother stayed in Chicago living with mother and his older U.S. born brother while I returned to Japan. It was during this time that I registered with the Selective Service System in Chicago, before returning to Japan, but I was never drafted.

In time I asked Bill Huskins for a transfer to the United States. I remain grateful to Bill for honoring my request to leave the orient which permitted me to start again from the bottom in Chicago. In January of 1959 I made my long awaited return to the United States, to start as a stock clerk at Midway airport from the bottom of the seniority list.

In retrospect, I could have been divorced by my wife and separated from my daughter because my in-laws did not want their daughter and grand-daughter to leave Japan. My in-laws assumed there was no chance we would return to the Japan once we moved to the U.S. I moved to the U.S. and lived with my mother for 7 months in Chicago until my in-laws became convinced that their daughter should join her husband along with the granddaughter. The first few years were very difficult for my wife. Over time she became become accustomed to life in the United States. Years later NWA offered me the position of maintenance manager in Narita, Japan (Tokyo), my wife and I seriously considered the offer and together visited Narita (1980). After observing conditions in Japan my wife opted to stay in Chicago. I suspect the major factor in opting to remain in Chicago was the presence of our single and independent daughter living in there.

Part II: Working ‘The Line’ in Chicago

When I returned to the United States in 1959 I went to work as stock clerk at Midway Airport. Since I had worked in the stockroom in Tokyo, and since I knew the system and no further training was required, the Stores Division people in MSP recognized this and had the payroll department start me at the top pay scale - which helped our finances.

In 1963 I started attending evening classes at DeVry Institute to study electronics and work toward my FCC licenses. My classes DeVry included theory and lab work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The tuition at DeVry was $25.00 every two weeks. I did not have any GI Bill benefits to support me but my wife was working downtown which helped bear the expenses. The Radio and Communication courses lasted two years. Periodically, during that time (every six months or so) I would visit the FCC office at the Dirksen Federal Building and take the FCC written exams shotgun style. I took the second and third class license tests failing the second class but passing the third class. A few months later in similar fashion, I took the first and second class FCC exams and failed the first but passed the second class. A year later I think, before graduation, I went for the first and the radar endorsement tests and finally passed both. I don't think there were any FCC fees then. I probably should have stayed at DeVry to complete the Computer course they offered there but at the time I did not see the need for it then. Everyone's hind-sight is perfect isn't it?

NWA required a second class FCC license for employment as a radio mechanic. (A first class license holder received more pay than a second class)When I applied for a radio mechanic position in February of 1966 my manager sent me to MSP to take the NWA radio tests. I thought this was somewhat discriminatory since it appeared that other applicants did not have to take the tests. After completing the first half of the test at MSP we broke for lunch and when I returned for the second portion of the test the Director of Training stopped me and told me that I did not have to take the remainder of the tests. I thought I had failed. This was not the case. The Director of Training informed me there was no need to take the balance of the test and he would call the ORD maintenance manager to approve my transfer to a radio mechanic's position. When I returned to ORD I was told that I would be paid radio mechanic's wages but would remain in the stockroom until he found someone to take my place. Even before I turned a screwdriver as a radio mechanic, I was told by my manager that I would help the line mechanics change tires and brakes, check oil, do push-outs and everything else the line mechanics do. So in time I kept busy doing radio and electrical repairs as well as other tasks, including washing the tractors and adding oil to aircraft engines, etc.

A mechanic friend at ORD said that I should get the A & P (Airframe and Power plant)
license as well. He offered me a thick book to read and study for the exams. Well, I read a few pages but thought that I needed to be more familiar with the R & E (Radio and Electrical) end of the work before I should to tackle the A & P portion. About this time the FAA got very strict on who is or is not qualified to sign off the repair items in the aircraft logs. An R & E mechanic was qualified to sign off only repair items related to Radio and Electrical work unless he had a FAA Repairman's certificate, which allowed the R& E mechanic to defer the repair if the MEL did not require an immediate correction or repair. The sequence of events at the time is a bit confusing now, but the radiomen at ORD were given FAA repairman's certificates so we could sign off our own repair and defer other repairs if MEL (Minimum Equipment List) conditions were met. This got me in a bit of trouble with the FAA when I did not defer and placard an A & P item but signed for the R & E repair only. The FAA inspector asked why I did not defer the item and I explained that I was not an A & P mechanic, which seemed to upset him. So it seemed to me that to stay out of trouble I needed the A & P license as well. (Good thinking Stan.)

I was working afternoons and midnights, so after work I started practicing welding and reading up on trim, fabric, and piston engines and all those other things that were required for the A&P license. (We were taught arc welding and gas welding at the Academy but very little practical work) By now I am 40 years old and ideally should have gone to an approved A & P school, but there were just not enough hours in a day to work, care for a family, and to attend an approved school many miles away from home and work.

During my tenure as a junior R & E mechanic I was required to attend all the NWA aircraft maintenance schools on the 707, 720, 727, DC10, and 747 mostly at MSP. Each school in MSP lasted for three weeks or longer. The more I learned the more I became aware of what I didn't know. Finally, after seven years of much piece-meal study and lots of practical line experience, I went to the FAA office in Des Plaines and sat for the A & P license written exams. I passed the written exams. The same friend who first told me to get the A & P sent me to an FAA Inspector for the demonstrated practical test. This FAA inspector wanted to see my work resume. I showed him a copy of the letter that the manager had provided to qualify me to take the written test. The inspector was apparently satisfied. If a trim and fabric, welding, or reciprocating engine task were to be assigned to me at that moment I knew I would fail. I don't remember too well, but I think the inspector gave me some wiring jobs, weight & balance problems, plus some engine work pulling oil screens etc., standard safety-wiring, and the demonstrated use of torque wrenches, etc. I think he was also looking to see whether I would properly use the maintenance manual. Of course he asked many other questions. Again I assumed I had failed and went back to my assigned radio shift work. Perhaps the inspector was busy, or needed time to think about it bit, but about a month or two later I received my license in the mail. I guess I must have passed by the skin of my teeth. Either that or I was extremely lucky.

My new A&P license qualified me to bid for and be awarded a crew chief job at ORD. I became the junior (relief) crew chief on the midnights shift. Of course having all three licenses caused me to receive some criticism from my peers but that was fine - they could have also studied. A problem arose when the manager saw me as interchangeable multi-task person and assigned me Radio/Electrical and A&P work, plus vacation relief Crew Chief duties. One guy doing the work in two disciplines may have been perceived as taking work away from someone and perhaps it was. As a junior crew chief I think I took a lot of abuse. I couldn't help but notice that the other chiefs would stay in the office to start the paperwork, assign the work, have the mechanics sign off the reports and if everything was in order, release the aircraft for flight. Anyhow working outside was fine with me. I learned to ask questions of a few senior mechanics and cockpit crew about how certain systems worked. I had a few failures, delays, and cancellations but I can only think of one aircraft that a crew refused to accept. And in retrospect - I know that the captain did the correct thing. I enjoyed the work.

One mechanical problem remains fresh in my mind. Early one morning a freighter aircraft showed up at ORD with a chronic EGT problem that had previously been corrected and signed off by replacing the indicator, cleaning the cannon plug, reposition wires etc. This aircraft’s EGT problem had been carried for a number of days and I think Maintenance Control had intentionally programmed it to stop at ORD for system repair. If repairs were not possible the aircraft would be ferried back to MSP. Somehow I have to think that they knew that I was the relief chief on day shift. I was asked to rewire the EGT harness on number two engine from the probe junction in the exhaust to the front of the engine and on to where the wiring bundle goes through the leading edge to the fuselage and into the cockpit. Someone must have trouble shot it to this point. A replacement EGT wiring cable had been shipped to ORD. The cable must have been 15 feet or longer. The engine wiring harness, which carries other engine parameter information, terminated in a cannon plug with about 40 pins. The EGT cable pin was buried right in the middle. Other people refused the assignment and MC estimated it would take eight hours plus to complete. I got the assignment since no one wanted it. I don't think that I have ever refused work like this.

I disconnected the old EGT cable but could not be removed it from the wire bundle. Instead I chose to loosened the connector end pins at both ends and pushed them out of the plug assembly, inserting one end of the good cable pin into the proper location and tied off the bad cable. This might sound simple, but lacing and tie-wrapping the new cable alongside the old harness was no easy matter. At one point, due to a lack of space, the cable had to be re-routed around the access hole in the diaphragm.

When I completed the repair I called Maintenance Control (MC) in Minneapolis and suggested that since EGT is a critical engine parameter the engine should be run up (started and brought up to operating power). MC agreed. I still have to doubt if I ever stopped for lunch, I kinda' doubt it. When the afternoon crew chief showed up to relieve me I already had the engine running and was ready to taxi out to the run-up area. We agreed that I would finish the task. I came back about 30 minutes later and entered it in the log and deferred it as non-standard repair and approved it for service. I believe it flew that way until it was due for an engine change. I would have liked to have checked the resistance value on the harness to see where the break was but that would have been difficult to do. Those intermittent reports are hard to spot.

At a later time I was on duty the night that a "green" mechanic pulled the gear handle up on ship N142 at the ramp - gate C7 and put the airplane down on its nose. That night I was the relief chief and was working at the hangar replacing a captain's window on ship 490 with another mechanic. About 3 AM I got a call to come down to the ramp right away. The previous night when the DC10 terminated at ORD, the crew had left the flaps down to and a note for us to check for snow and ice that may have accumulated during the landing and reversing. The new mechanic was checked out the night before on starting the DC-10 APU, turning on the hydraulic systems and raising the flaps after snow and ice inspection. I don't know why he grabbed the gear handle. Perhaps he saw the metal flap speed placard on the instrument panel (about not lowering the flaps above a certain speeds) and this placard is co-located next to the gear handle. Well we know what he did. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A few days afterward the errant mechanic was questioned by the FAA. Since he was still on probation he was given an ‘opportunity’ to resign, and he did.

The senior crew chief and I had to submit letters to our manager and the FAA about how much training the new fellow had received. We were never reprimanded over this incident. The senior chief bid down to mechanic at the next bidding - I suspect he didn't like to take the heat. That's how I got to be full time CC on midnights - until the dayshift CC job opened up. Of course, even before I got the relief job I received a letter from the VP (Bill Huskins) suggesting that I take the Manager's job at ORD. The senior foreman who came from MSP to take the job temporarily put my name in the hopper too. Of course, you know now that I informed Mr. Huskins that I was too green on the job as a mechanic and crew chief and wanted a bit more experience.

Some of you may want to know how we raised this ship. We borrowed a heavy duty forklift from AAL and with our heavy duty forklift used a canvas strap (about 3 feet wide) placed under the nose and lifted it slowly, while I ran the APU and turned the hydraulic system on. Once the nose was lifted high enough the nose gear extended and locked and the green light came on. Of course, I am sure someone put the nose gear locking pin in. The nose gear door linkages were broken in the open position and later repaired.

Normally on the ground the engine fan blades will rotate freely with any air movement. I observed with the wing engines on the DC-10 that with warping of the nose cowl or possible pressure on the engine shaft while resting on the ground the wing engine fan blades may not rotate. Such was the case with this aircraft. Once we got the nose up and gear down we started all the engines and taxied it over to an empty gate. This ship was ferried back to the Main Base for further inspection and repair. I believe it had engine vibration reports until they eventually changed both wing engines.

This ship was later loaned or sold to ATA. While in their use, they flew it into ORD and parked at the International gate. They had a practice of carrying spare seat units, cases of oil and parts in the lower cargo compartments. While they were grooming and loading the aircraft, it caught fire. The burned carcass was towed to AAL hangar where the parts were sold or junked. NWA bought some hydraulic parts and all the INS components I believe.

The reason for the fire was reported to be the accidental pulling of a lanyard from the oxygen system on a passenger seat and the subsequent chemical reaction produced by the oxygen generators. There is reason to suspect oil and oxygen contamination.

I really enjoyed working on the planes. Some pilots may recall that I often asked a lot of technical questions to solicit their comments and responses; anything to try to learn how things worked. Burt Sisler was a good one for technical advice, as was Bert Quam and many others names that I have forgotten. I would often benefit from listening to Captain Quam explain system logic to his second officers. Many second officers were also helpful.

I recall one hot summer day back in the 1980s when a 747 arrived from MSP with a logbook write-up stating that all fuel temps pegged out high. The senior chief told two mechanics to take it out for run-up and check it out. He didn't send me out because I was also the only radio mechanic on duty. The runup/checkout accomplished nothing so the flight was canceled. The aircraft was taken to Eastern Airlines hangar and main base maintenance help was sent from MSP. I came back the next day and found the main base people changing the fuel temp sensor for number 3 tank. I helped them finish up the work. I was the relief crew chief that day. A decision was made to return the airplane to the ramp to operate as Flight #003 to the orient, scheduled to depart at 11:50AM. The pre-flight inspection completed, I was now responsible for releasing the aircraft and responding to the high fuel temp report. I have to thank the out-going second officer for giving me the clue on this one. I'm sorry that I can not recall his name but he commented to me about the write-up that he had seen this before and wondered why it was written up.

I called MSP Maintenance Control to outline my line of thought. The key to my analysis of the problem was the only common element - the fuel itself. This ship had been parked the previous night on the Minneapolis ramp in 100 degree F heat. Everything, including the fuel, was heated soaked. The short one hour flight to Chicago was inadequate to cool the fuel. These hot Midwest conditions continued that night in Chicago. I remember that when I was installing the fuel temperature sensor the following morning I could feel the warm fuel. The root problem was not the temperature sensor but simply hot fuel.

Once in flight fuel in the wing tanks is cooled in the air stream passing through the engine. Fuel passing through the engine in turn cools the circulating engine oil by use of a fuel/oil heat exchanger. Jet engines, unlike reciprocating engines, do not have oil coolers. In this situation, with inordinately hot fuel, the only way to cool the fuel and engine oil is with cooling air flow during flight. With unusually warm fuel in the wing tanks it would surely take more than an hour or two of flight to cool the 300,000 lbs of fuel. In this case the airplane was fueled at MSP so as to be at the maximum allowable for landing at ORD. This is because at the time fuel was cheaper in MSP. I had previously changed a fuel/oil heater on a 747 and it’s not an easy task, so I preferred to avoid that option. Changing any other components didn’t make sense. There I advised MC I was approving this aircraft for flight per the above stated reasons. To confirm my logic I asked the second officer to call our operations back in a couple of hours to let me know if the temp decreased back to the normal range.

About five hours later the second officer called back to advise us that everything was operating normally. Of course, I don't think I got the message until the following day, but I did eventually get the message. When the senior Crew Chief returned to work and wanted to know how I repaired the problem, I told him that I signed it off as normal with an explanation. I know he was upset, but the only other alternative was to de-fuel one tank, say down to 1/2 tank, and then refuel it with cold fuel from the underground fuel system. This would serve to convince everyone that the system was good to go and there was nothing to repair, or else wait for cooler weather.

Now a story about a young second officer. All of us remember the D.B. Cooper affair. I don't remember the exact date but a short time after that when I was still a new R & E mechanic with only a few years under my belt, everyone was hyper-sensitive about strange objects on the planes. A second officer reported that there was a strange green canvas bag in lower 4l (the electronic compartment) on a 720 at Gate D10 during his walk-around. I responded that, that bag has emergency gear pins and is part of the ship's equipment and is on the maintenance pre-flight check list and belongs on the ship.

But the report got out and we were told to move the aircraft off the gate. The crew chief told me to ride the right seat and handle the radio while he started the engines and called for a tractor and towbar. He said we'll start the inboards only, because the inboards can provide electrical power and hydraulic power and that's all we need - the plane was empty so it will move with very little power. After push-out, I called for taxi clearance to the hangar which was OK'd as we were about to cross 9-27 to the hangar, the tower called and asked whether we were the one with the bomb scare (for everyone on 121.9 ground control frequency to hear). I answered yes and were directed to the penalty box (a holding area) and there shut down the engines. After shutting down and checking the aircraft - nothing was found. Someone else returned the aircraft back to the gate.

This fast thinking crew chief Bill Ringhoff passed away recently. To conserve fuel and time during taxi, he taught me to start only the least amount of engines necessary, unless we had to trim engines, etc.

Part III: Summary

So where is my family now? I mentioned that my father finished his U.S. education, sort of piece-meal. My father named the kids the American way too, instead of Ichiro, Kazuo, etc. The given names on our birth certificates read: Stanley - Chester - Marjorie and Herbert. The little brother born in Japan didn't fare too well - Akira remains his name today. Chet is the one that I helped with the paper work returning in 1948, and he is also the brother that turned up in Japan knocking on my door during the Korean War. After his discharge he earned a degree and worked for Lockheed Missile Division as an engineer at Burbank assigned to the "Skunk Works" project. He helped to start the SR71 program and retired a few years ago. My sister died of typhoid fever while which she contracted while caring for my mother. There was an epidemic of typhoid fever in Japan at the time. My next brother Herbert did not fare so well in school. He returned to the US with mother and attended night school. Herbert learned to be a ‘segregationist’ - that is a chick-sexor – he sorted the male chicks from female chicks at Midwest and southern chicken hatcheries. Herbert is now retired living in Arkansas. Akira, my made-in-Japan brother, quit college and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He was assigned to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and based in Alaska. After discharge from the Air Force this brother joined IBM and eventually retired as a Computer System Engineer.  Akira has purchased a landscaping business and recently built a large home on the Wisconsin side of the Illinois border.

More personally: my wife and I are both retired and work as volunteers, she as a committee member of her church and I as a volunteer driving instructor for the state of Illinois and AARP. I provide actual driving sessions as well as classroom instruction about safe driving. My students are often surprised to hear me, their Japanese featured instructor, speaking fluent U.S. English. These classes are held at senior centers, banks, and hospitals. There are twenty to twenty-five class sessions a year of which two or three are for Japanese speakers who have a limited command of English. The Japanese classes are intended for Japanese people who don’t quite understand the rules and customs of driving on the right (correct) side of the road.

Recently I was recently asked to speak to some Japanese junior high school students about Japanese immigration history in the US and specifically using the Fukai family as an example. This was an especially interesting and rewarding experience. These students were commemorating the 150th year since Commodore Matthew Perry made his ship into Japan to open all of Japan's port for trade in 1853.

My Father had a younger brother named John who was born in the US after my grandparents immigrated here. Uncle John helped on the farm as a high school student and afterwards went onto an automotive maintenance school. In time Uncle John was hired as a mechanic by the local Ford Motor dealer in Salem, Oregon. Unfortunately he as was relegated to doing menial work such as oil changes and not the more preferred challenging mechanical work. So Uncle John transferred to Japan where he worked for Ford Motor Co. and later other companies. He eventually married and in 1937, while living in Yokohoma, they gave birth to a son. This cousin of mine was just a little infant when I arrived in Japan just before Christmas 1937. My cousin’s name is Victor Satoshi Fukai. The immigration rule at the time (and probably still is) is that any dependent children born of a US citizens must have resided in the US for five continuous years before the age of 18 to retain their citizenship. To comply with this residence rule, Victor (Vic) was sent Vancouver, Washington to live with his aunt and uncle. Victor (Vic) completed high school, attended the University of Washington, and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as an Aviation Cadet. It is a coincidence that this cousin was in the same aviation cadet class as NWA pilot Bill Day. Colonel Fukai is well known to many Air Force vets who served at McChord AFB and may hold the record for officer length of tenure at that base. While I was still working for NWA a couple of pilots have asked me whether we were related. Vic is retired now living in Tacoma and is doing well.

Finally, I must mention my gratitude to all the crew members, Captains, First Officers, Second Officers and the Cabin Attendants for their help along the way. I was a just curious guy asking lots of questions, sometime the same ones twice. Thank you for putting up with me and providing me the answers.

One more event I should mention: In the early days NWA was flying newly authorized Trans-Pacific routes with DC-4s on a route from MSP - SEA (or YXD) - ANC - SYA - TYO. Often the crew would layover overnight or longer at each stop. The airline schedule was such that we had three flights per week or every other day. The Tokyo based crews would take the flights to SEL and back to TYO, or to SHA- OKA - MNL and back after a layover in MNL. TPE and HKG came into the picture later.

I remember back in 1949 that some flight crews laying over in ANC would go fishing for salmon. The flight crews must have been good at catching salmon for someone kindly thought of putting their catch into a crate and loaded the crate into the rear cargo hold of a Tokyo-bound DC-4 for distribution among the Tokyo employees. Needless to say, in food starved Tokyo, this was a heaven sent gift. When rice, flour and fish were rationed to a 3 or 4 day supply per week, the look on my wife's eyes was priceless. It was probably a 5 pound silver salmon but to my wife and me it was a 30 pound king. I wonder if there are any pilots around from those days - if there are - thank you - it you're upstairs - thank you again. Most of you know that I like to fish too. I acquire this interest from my father who used to drag me out of bed Sunday mornings for the drive out to the Pacific shores, or to the Columbia/Willamette river junction area, or perhaps to Oregon City to fish.

Retirement ended my career on December 31, 1988. I would like to say "Thanx" to all the pilots for helping me along. I learned a lot from you pilots as well and hope you didn't think that I was too inquisitive. If I were to do it again, I would start at a younger age. I thank you all for your help in enabling this writer to do his work until retirement. It was a great run. You folks were great.

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