Sasebo Silent Night

O-Dark-Thirty

by Lawrence F. Farrar

It was the afternoon of December 24, 1962 in Sasebo Japan, and Seaman Bradley Haynes was in a thorny mood. With most of their shipmates already on holiday routine, at 1500 Chief Bascom put Haynes and seaman Dirk Chandler to work wire brushing rust off the base of the ship’s crane. It struck Haynes as more like punishment than necessary maintenance. But what really rubbed the young sailor the wrong way was that he would also be pulling security duty that night–for the third time in two weeks. Why him? Not that he had any Christmas Eve plans; but the unfairness of it gnawed at him. Why him? He expected sentry duty that night would be miserable. Dampness hung in the air; the temperature was falling; and a thickening gray sky promised snow.

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