me in the office and told me, 'Tom, we've been able to teach monkeys to take Morse Code. Would you like to be bested by a monkey?'"
He gave it another go but was unable to improve, so they sent him to another office for testing to find out which part of the Army suited his needs, and theirs, best. "The Army, somehow in its wisdom, decided I needed to be in Field Artillery."
He wound up a Combat Surveillance and Target Acquisition crewman.
"In that job, you sat out on a line, [and] there were at least three [teams] of you [along this line]. If we sent artillery out, they would tell you what the target was they were planning on hitting and you'd look in that direction. Where the round actually landed, you would turn and look at it. Everybody else turns and looks at where the explosion happened, and where all the lines [of the direction they were looking] came together, that was where the shell landed.
"Of course," he pointed out, that [when] the enemy was shooting at you, you could see their muzzle flash ... 'OK, I'm looking at them. There they are. Throw something back at them, would ya?'" Murotake laughed.
He said it was one of the most interesting jobs to have in the Army, Murotake added. Generally, the enemy didn't mess with these types of crews because, "(the enemy) knew they had friends ... chances were they knew somebody who could drop artillery on top of them if they messed with (the crew)."
By this time, Murotake's stint with the Army came to a close. Because he realized he didn't have a "civilian occupation," he signed up for another round in the Army. "Somehow, filling out on your application that you were capable of dropping large amounts of high explosives on people you didn't like was just one of those things that wouldn't get you hired."
Having successfully demonstrated to the Army that he was, in fact, colorblind, Murotake was "locked out" of about 95 percent of any job the Army had to offer. So, he chose one of the few jobs left - Optical Laboratory Specialist. "The problem was that I only learned how to make Army glasses," Murotake said. "Army glasses, those really ugly ones and they've gotten even uglier ... Those first ones were black, and when the Buddy Holly look became popular, they turned them into brown [ones].
"We call them, lovingly, 'male birth control devices' because you'll never, ever get a woman wearing those things. Army glasses are symmetrical; the lenses are cut the same. Regular glasses are asymmetrical, meaning there is a definite left and a definite right.
"With Army glasses, you just keep sticking the things in (the frames). You just flip the pattern over (from right to left and vice-versa). The first problem I had in civilian shops is that I'd keep forgetting to flip the pattern over, because we never did that in school. I made beautiful left lenses," he laughed.
At this time, Murotake was stationed in Maryland. The chief nurses office in the medical battalion he was with wanted everyone who had an interest to become a[n emergency] medical technician (EMT), he explained. So, the next time classes began, Murotake signed up. "Twenty-five people started the class, 23 went to test; two of us graduated," he said. "The two people who passed were the military optical specialist (myself) and the MP (military police). The medics all failed."
Being an EMT was important to Murotake, both because of his interest in helping people and because of his grandfather.
"He was everything you could be in the Red Cross," said Murotake. "He trained hundreds of people in Red Cross first aid. If they'd had paramedics back then, he;d have probably been one. I always thought my grandfather was the neatest guy."
The Army sent Murotake to Europe for 36 months, as a Combat Surveillance and Target Acquisition crewman, unit clerk, operations clerk, S-2 clerk (intelligence).
"I know the S-2 clerk sounds intriguing. It just meant that my papers were marked 'secret' as I moved them around on my desk. They just had little labels on them saying terrible things about bad things that could happen if you ever breathe[d] a word about this stuff. Each level, [as] you went up in classification, the warning was even more ... 'could cause grievous, terrible, awful ... horror ... national security of the United States' ... The (warnings on the) ones that are top secret were five paragraphs long," he laughed. "That was an interesting job. I used to have to take my trash out with a gun. Classified material had to be burned, and we had a burn barrel out back. Different levels of classification determined whether you actually put a bullet in the gun or not."
About the time the Army was going to send Murotake off to Germany in 1980, he decided to take his leave and come back to California for a visit. He decided to stay, moved to Los Angeles and, after working for
'Deranged Sarge' at Camp Roberts provides relief through humor (con't)