I love ramen.
I could eat it every day.
My wife is Japanese but that isn’t why I love ramen.
Her mother was a wonderful cook, but she isn’t the reason I love ramen either.
Her dad was born in Honolulu to immigrant parents. Nor he or they.
They worked in the pineapple fields and later cut sugar cane.
Mr. Ono was a WWII hero fighting the Germans in Italy, France, and Germany.
His parents were incarcerated in Hawaii during the war.
He was given the Distinguished Service Cross by General Mark Clark.
I tear up when I think of him and his heroism. Uncle Masa served too.
They both served in the Korean War. Her dad was a POW. He earned a Silver Star.
A Hawaiian woman operated the lunch van at Barbers Point Naval Air Station.
I had lunch there regularly when I worked the night shift at the squadron.
She never spoke more than was necessary to sell me lunch.
When Hawaiians get to know you, you become family. I learned to love poke.
Her ramen was made the traditional Japanese way. Soy sauce or miso.
Toppings of sliced pork, dried seaweed, menma, and green onions.
It was one of the greatest things about serving in Hawaii.
Other great things about Hawaii were the smells, the ocean, and the nightlife.
Michiko and I met at Bully Hayes nightclub in Pearl City. She’s a great dancer.
We married after two months. We just went over thirty-three years.
We pretty much do things her way. I don’t mind: ^^33 years.^^
After Michiko and I married, we moved several times. Eleven to be exact.
We transferred every three years to a new duty station. I loved Maine’s Winters.
She moved alone twice while I was at sea. Navy wives are the greatest.
Of all my memories of Hawaii, the lunch van stands out. I’m not sure why.
I remember one particular day. I ordered. She served me. We made eye contact.
That was pretty much it. I wondered what she was thinking. She never smiled.
I’m sure she wondered what I was thinking. My nickname back then was Smiley.
When I left Hawaii I cooked packaged ramen. But it wasn’t the same.
Gradually I made it my own. An egg stirred in. Red onions slivered or diced.
I added thin-sliced sandwich ham, mixed vegetables, and American cheese.
Sometimes, when on shore duty, I went home for lunch and made my ramen. A meal.
It’s amazing how American and Japanese relations stand today.
From inflicting unspeakable wartime horrors on each others’ young men.
To powerful allies whose friendship rose from the fallout of atomic waste.
Michiko had relatives on both sides of the war. Her mom lived in Tokyo during WWII. When I was piped ashore for the last time, Michiko was with me. I’m still smiling.
Her white bean and chicken chili is the greatest ever. Her dad drank Bud Light.
It’s good to try new things and make them your own.