("Headlining in The Rafu Shimpo" - continued from previous page)

now," he quips.

The Sergeant now makes his home in Los Alamitos, where he works as a computer repair and network technician, but has spent a major portion of the last several months here at the base. "I was watching [the attacks on Sept. 11] on television, and I just put my boots by the door when something like this happens," he explains. "About 10 a.m., we knew the media would be calling, so I decided I'd better get into the office."

The security at Camp Roberts during the occasion of this interview is understandably tight; guards with M-16 rifles and absolutely no sense of humor are very visible at all ends of the facility.

Murotake's skill in diffusing an uncomfortable situation is well-polished. He immediately reveals that the gun stock of the old M-16's were plastic, and made by toy maker Mattel, who proudly slapped their logo on the back of it. "They used to say, always remember that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder."

At this particular time, Sgt. Murotake was responsible for providing recognition for the 40th Infantry Division (Mechanized) of the Guard, who were training in the protection of Patriot missile installations.

Despite his off-the-cuff levity, Murotake takes great pride in increasing public awareness of these citizen-soldiers who serve our nation.

"Many people don't know we have a National Guard here in California, until there is a flood, fire, riot or earthquake," he explains. "A lot of us are kind of like Superman: when something happens, we go into a phone booth and change into our army outfits, do the job, and when we're done, it's back into the phone booth and change into our civilian clothes. There may be someone on your street, and you just {don't} know it, until something happens."

To be a source of amusement in a time of national alert is a delicate matter; Murotake takes cue from history.

"Even after Pearl Harbor, when the Americans were getting clobbered, comedians were still doing their job; Bob Hope was stilling laughing and trying to be funny. So we felt we should carry on in that tradition. America's sense of humor has been wonderful and has carried us through tough times; it'll carry us through tough times now."

(Copyright © 2002, The Rafu Shimpo)

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