It was in 1972, after an R&R in Honolulu, that Rog was flying back to Viet Nam. I was changing planes in San Francisco when a news report flashed: The Pan Am flight from Honolulu to Saigon had been hijacked! I spent the next hour vainly trying to get more information. It was days before I heard the details from Rog.
The hijacker claimed to have a bomb. He wanted the plane to land in Hanoi (not a very bright idea on a flight full of military personnel returning to a battle zone.) The flight crew claimed to comply as they took a long and circuitous route to Saigon and completely fooled the hijacker. Upon landing, several soldiers overcame the hijacker and discovered his “bomb” was a foil covered fruit. Rog reported the most dangerous part of the episode was exiting the plane by emergency chute!!
Twenty-some years later, unruly passengers were still a problem. In 1995, Rog was flying for Continental’s Air Micronesia and I accompanied him on the “Island Hopper” from Honolulu to Guam. An overly stimulated passenger was unhappy that he could not have any more libations of his choice and became aggressively agitated. We would soon be landing on one of the islands in the chain. So, Rog called for the local authorities to come to the airport. Upon landing, they boarded the B-727 and quickly removed the boisterous passenger. This was my first visit to Majuro, Marshall Islands!
And here we are—back in Majuro. This time, we came in by cruise ship—no drama involved. Four of us hired a car and driver to take us around. We visited the Welcome Center set up at the Alele Museum. The Visitors Bureau folks were all wearing T-shirts commemorating the ship’s arrival! What a nice touch. After a little more sightseeing, a stop at the Outrigger Hotel’s beachside bar to absorb the view was most pleasant. A totally different experience compared to the first visit!
The next port-of-call, Guam, was also a trip down memory lane. Rog had been based in Guam for Continental Air Micronesia. We revisited some old hangouts and marveled at how little the island had changed over the last few decades! The entire island is like a WWII museum—so many of the beaches were battle sites. We stopped at the Pacific National Historical Park Visitors Center where a Japanese 2-man submarine is on display. It had run aground on the beach! Can you imagine the sense of claustrophobia this vessel could induce! It’s not surprising these little subs were never very successful!
After re-acquainting ourselves with island history, we went on to relive some of our own!! We had lived in Tumon Bay. The condo is still there as is the Acanta Mall. Jungle Java has moved from its Acanta home to the Outrigger Hotel but another café took its place. We once loved sitting by the fountain sipping our lattes. The shopping in Tumon is still amazing, still expensive and with many more shops! The Micronesia Mall is pretty much as I remember, but Liberty is now Macy’s. Most excitingly, there is now a Bookstore in the mall. Bestseller also stocks a nice array of magazines.
We were expecting to complete our time in Micronesia on Saipan revisiting Bonsai and Suicide Cliffs. However, there is no harbor in Saipan—not even a breakwater. It’s an open berth. Unfortunately, on the morning of our arrival, the waves at the berth were 11 feet high! Impossible to dock. So we passed by Saipan and are now on our way to Japan. Our trip down memory lane has ended in the rough and stormy Philippine Sea.