Tahoe Pine Nuts: The Great Okinawa Barroom Brawl

Next week I get to go fly-fishing in Montana with two former Marine Corps buddies and our three 27-year-old sons, one son each.

The boys will float down the Big Hole River in one boat, and the old boys in another. At day’s end we will dine together, smoke cigars and share a few war stories that the boys might someday retell, with some embroidery, to their children.

One that comes to mind is the Great Okinawa Barroom Brawl…

Marlboro Man, Ginzo and Night Train were on their way to Vietnam in 1966, with a quick stop in Okinawa for some Counter Guerilla Warfare Training.

As good fortune would have it they were given a night of liberty, so they showered, splashed-on some after-shave, and headed downtown for what is duly called, “liberty.”

Well, the first skivvy-house they came to happened to have live music and pretty girls, which is just what a young man who has recently started shaving is looking for.

BUT, there were three Australian sappers at the bar who were quick to inform us that this was an Australian bar, and we were not welcome there.

We took a look around and informed them that it was actually more of a Marine Corps kind of a place, and that they should take a flyer at the moon.

They seemed to take umbrage, and started to roll up their sleeves. The band stopped playing, the hostesses gathered together in a corner, and the reality show that unfolded was worth the price of admission.

Ginzo threw the first punch, but I was denied the value of witnessing its effect when an Aussie pasted my nose to my cheek and clouded my vision.

I was about to return the favor when Marlboro Man got in ahead of me and took my adversary to grass as the saying used to be, and when they hit the barroom floor, well, the air went out of that Aussie sapper with a bellow that sounded something like a departing ocean liner.

Now, I may not look like a bar fighter, and I’m not. I was the first one out the door, and I made that exit without the benefit of my legs.

Albeit, I am proud to remember, all these years later, that on my way out that door, I was able to sprain the thumb of one of our adversaries, yes, with my right eye.

Well, those Aussie sappers showed us the door, but it took them the better part of five minutes to do it, and though our egos were somewhat tarnished, we were damn glad to have them on our side when we got to where it was we were all going.

Marlboro Man, Ginzo & Night Train would go on to lose more than a few good friends over there in those triple-canopy rainforests, and so you have to know we will be toasting those friends while out on the Big Hole River next week with our sons, and in doing so, will be hoping that our sons, and your sons and daughters, will be inheriting a more peaceful diplomatic world in the decades to come.

To learn more about McAvoy Layne, who’s spent many of his years at Lake Tahoe impersonating Mark Twain, visit www.ghostoftwain.com.


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