Dad was Charge of Quarters one night – the senior enlisted man in keeping an eye out at headquarters while all the officers were sleeping – when he was approached with an unusual request. “We need to borrow one of the prime movers. “
Dad gave him the official response. “What for? I can’t do that!”
Don’t worry, he was reassured. We'll take care of everything. No one will know it was gone. And we’re getting an ice machine!
The men had for some weeks been scrounging parts out of wrecked planes around the airfield. They had managed to get enough components to make radios capable of picking up music from Japan. And some freelance elements in the Navy were willing to trade an ice machine for some of these radios.
Now the ice machine we are talking about is not like the little unit in your refrigerator. It has its own internal combustion engine, for one thing. It makes massive amounts of ice. And it seems it was about the size of a semi trailer. Hence the need for the six-ton prime mover, of which the 801st was lucky enough to have half a dozen.
Faced with the opportunity of ice in their drinks in Okinawa’s hot climate, Dad could hardly argue. The prime mover stealthily left camp, returning shortly with the giant ice machine. It was then returned to the motor pool, where a team worked through the night to completely disassemble the engine and rebuild it from fresh parts so that it would be ice cold to the touch for any inspection.
When the Major got up in the morning a large and fully functional ice machine was positioned behind the mess tent.
“Where the hell did that thing come from?”
“It just showed up this morning,” dad replied.
There was a long silence. “Anything missing?”
“No, sir. And we checked the motor pool. All the engines are dead cold.”
Another long silence.
“Get it working.”
The best part was that they traded ice to the Navy for beer and soda pop.