This free blog has been converted into a poor man's web site. Read it from top to bottom, then hit the link to the bottom of each page for Older Posts, and keep repeating this as you read on to the end of it.


This web site begins with a set of photographs that accurately display the kind of a US Army photographer I was on Okinawa, assigned to the 30th Artillery Brigade missile unit; and we had nuclear warheads on some of our 'birds'. After the photo series, there is a written piece about my childhood experiences growing up in a nuclear armed world. The rest of this site tells how my assignment to the 30th Arty Bgde was illegal and immoral and what my four decade long quest to prove this has been like, also what it all has done to me and how I have been struggling to be properly helped by the Veterans Administration.

My assignment to the 30th Arty Bgde was illegal because it broke numerous Army Rules and Regulations and immoral because the photo lab I worked in had been set up in a nuclear fallout emergency decontamination chamber and that meant the chamber could not be used in the prescribed manner. Had that decontamination chamber been needed in a nuclear war, the lack of its readiness could have caused millions of casualties in America because 30th Arty Bgde personnel who needed decontamination would not have remained alive and well long enough to perform their assigned tasks in helping the rest of the US Military defend those millions of Americans from enemy attack. That military madness made a mess out of my life. It nearly destroyed me.


Group Photo in Front of Donated Baseball Backstop

Photograph by Specialist Fourth Class David Robert Crews

One mighty fine, beautiful day on Okinawa, in 1970, the US Army missile unit that I was assigned to as a photographer - the 30th Artillery Brigade - gave each of three Okinawan civilian schools portable, three section baseball backstop each to. I went along to photograph the giving and setting up of the three backstops.

There wasn’t much to photograph at the first two schools, because all that happened was a tractor trailer truck with the backstops on its flatbed trailer pulled up to the school and a small crew of lower ranking GIs, from my Army unit, got out of an Army car, that I was riding in with them, and then they unloaded the backstop while the school kids stayed in their classrooms. We had a couple of U.S. Army officers with us who were riding in their own car, I believe that the highest ranking GI there that day was a major.

At the third school, the GI crew took the last backstop off the truck and set it up near the school building on the school’s field. There was a group of official Okinawan school administration personnel there to meet us and accept the gifts for all the schools. That group included a Japanese-English Interpreter.

As soon as the backstops were in place, the school sent out some kids to be photographed in front of it, along with all the school officials and the GIs. Those GIs were the two Army officers, and five enlisted men--one enlisted man had driven the truck, one had driven the car, and three who were car passengers, along with me, had helped the two drivers unload the backstops. That group of Okinawans and Americans all lined up in front of the backstop, and I got down on one knee out there about 40 feet away from them to take some photos of that international gift giving scene. I focused my lens on the group, set the exposure on the camera, said smile, brought the camera up to look through it and squeeze the shutter, but no one smiled. They all looked back at me with solemn looks on their faces.

I asked the interpreter how to say smile in Japanese, he told me and I said it in Japanese three times, then English one more time, I gave them all big, friendly smiles when I was doing this, but every face in that group stayed the solemn same. That just wasn’t going to work as one of my photographs. Not for this dedicated photographer it wasn’t!

An idea flashed across my brain pan; I instantly knew that either it would work like a charm or I’d look dumb as the dirt I was kneeling down in. I wasn’t going to be satisfied that day unless I got a certain great photo that I had seen in my head when I kneeled down there, and if I ended up only looking like a fool then that gamble had to be taken.

I looped my camera strap around my neck, placed the camera onto my chest in a position that allowed me maximum recovery speed of it, and I stuck my thumbs in my ears, wiggled my extended fingers up in the air, stuck out my tongue at them, and went, "Nyaaaah!"

It worked!!

I swooped up my camera in my hands and grabbed that great shot which I was determined to get. That’s this photo here on this blog posting.

Left click on the photograph to enlarge it, look at every face on the photo and you will see how well my idea worked.


Imitating the Photographer

Photographs by Spec. 4 David R. Crews

These two photographs were taken right after the previous group photo was taken, and before the kids did the ceremonial dance that is on the photos in the next blog posting below this one.

Those kids in these two photos were having the time of their lives by goofing around with a soldier from a foreign land who had just made their normally solemn faced school officials break out in smiles and laughter along with everybody else. And now the kids were being allowed to act funny too and to thoroughly amuse themselves in a place that was run on ancient, Asian style discipline which requires children to be quiet and polite during most times when they are in the company of their elders. You can see that the goofy kids were imitating a visiting U.S. Army Photographer who was had just acted real goofy himself.


The Thank You Dance

Photographs by Spec. 4 David R. Crews

The kids did a traditional dance for us American GIs as a thank you for the baseball backstops.

I was amazed at how my first professional grade camera had frozen the action on the sand kicking up from the shoe of the girl in the front. This was the first time I had taken shots of people while they were moving around. Photography is all about learning something new every time you try something new.

If you take a good look at these photos you will see how the left sides are lighter than the rest of the photo and are slightly out of focus. This was because the enlarger in my photo lab had the wrong lens for it. But I couldn't do anything about that because the 30th Artillery Brigade was not authorized a photographer so I could not order any of the right equipment through my supply sergeant. This photo is actually a first print reject; I made several other prints that had the light part darkened by me 'burning in' that area, that's custom photo lab work. The schools we gave backstops to and the Army all got 4x5 and 8x10 prints of all the photos in this series.


The Big Pile Up

Photography by Spec. 4 David R. Crews

The way this wild-fun-mayhem got started was, after the official ceremony and Thank You Dance were all over, I began taking a few candid photos out in the school yard which the kids all wanted to be in. They were being very happily competitive amongst themselves about this, the girls got squeezed out right away, so I came up with a quick idea to make it a whole lotta’ fun for the boys who lasted through the first round of competition.

I had the guys in the front line of the group stand there with their arms outstretched and holding the rest of the boys back; then I stepped back about twenty feet, stopping to draw a line in the dirt at ten feet; and then at twenty feet away from the group I focused my lens on that ten foot mark; then, as I watched through my camera, I raised my arm and dropped it suddenly to signal them all to dive in at the ten foot mark, where I photographed them at here in this shot. I did that three or four times till they almost got too wild.

I seriously doubt that any of them ever completely forgot this day, because in their society children are taught to be quiet and polite most of the time when they're around grownups. I was very aware of this while doing the photo assignment and was careful not to let the kids get too wild for too long. In fact, right after this shot was taken I began to slowly, carefully (cause they had almost surrounded me by then) retreat backwards towards the Army car that I had ridden there in with the crew of GIs who had taken the baseball backstops off the trucks and set them up. Those GIs were already sitting in the car, over there about seventy-five feet from me and my mayhem; they were having a great time watching all this fun and had noticed when I started backing up towards them. I was nearly tripping over krazy-kids while damn near falling down laughing, and those GIs were all grinning and smiling and laughing and loving life at that moment too.

I turned around towards them and yelled, "Hey man! I gotta get outa here!"

The driver hollered back, "Yeah, we can see that, hold on, we're comin'!"

Then he slowly inched the car towards me.

The other guys in the car were all bouncing around inside there and laughing and poking each other with elbows (while remembering bits and pieces of what it had been like some years before that day when they were just school boys too). As the car eased on towards me, while avoiding touching any of the krazy-but sweet and wonderful-kids, the guys were laughing uproariously and hollering stuff like, "Hold on Crews, we're coming, hold on there man, we'll getcha'. Don’t let ‘um knock ya down there buddy, stay on yer’ feet! We’ll getcha’ outa’ there." Them GI buddies of mine were bouncing around in the car and hootin’ and hollerin’ like a buncha’ krazy-kids themselves.

I was getting all tangled up in, and nearly pulled down on the ground by, hilariously laughing little Okinawan school kids when one of my buddies opened the back left side car door and jumped out and sorta' rescued my (nearly falling down from laughing) GI butt from the escalating mayhem.

Everyone who was there that afternoon in that dusty school yard on the subtropical Island of Okinawa had a great, memorable time.