Loan Sharking In The Marines

During my time in Okinawa, I discovered there was very little to do on “The Rock” as other marines called it. There was access to books, but most marines don’t read that much. Lots of money was spent on gambling, from poker, to battles between mongoose and snake, which was legal in Japan, down to betting on which side a coin would land if flipped, from sheer boredom.

I found one of my better opportunities on loaning money to cover the “pot” during a card game called “Acey Deucey”. Simple game, easy to bet on. Two cards are thrown. If it’s your turn, you can bet on whether the next card falls between the two cards thrown. The further apart in rank the two cards are, the better the chances. For example, if one card thrown is an ace, and the other card thrown is a two, you have a good opportunity to collect the “pot”. If two aces are thrown, you can count one as “high” and the other as “low” so that anything else thrown will fall between the two.

Since I was generally quiet, and considered honest, I was asked to deal from time to time. A friend of mine was getting ready to bet, and I threw two aces with $400.00 in the pot. He had a sure thing, but not $400.00 to thrown in order to cover the bet. I offered to cover the bet, since I had the money. Everyone agreed, and my friend and I split the pot.

Since most marines worried more about something to do instead of being frugal, a marine suggested that I loan him money. He borrowed $20 and paid back $40. I couldn’t turn that down, so I went ahead and did it. Next thing I know, people are coming to me from all directions, asking for loans of various amounts. One guy borrowed $400.00 from me, and repaid $700.00. I didn’t have the heart to charge him a dishonest amount. 🙂

In time, I was the “banker” to many activities. I never asked what the money was for, only that it got paid back. During that time, I was introduced to an NCO here and there who had spending problems, and I worked out deals with them in which they could act as intimidators and collectors and I would forego monetary re-payment for their help in collecting.

One guy borrowed $20 from me about the time I started loaning, and ignored my requests that he re-pay me. About two nights before he was to leave The Rock, he was visited by a muscular sergeant who talked with a Philly accent much like Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky”. The sergenat told the guy, “If you do not pay my friend what you owe, I will see you again, and I won’t be wearing these stripes, understand?”

Early the next day, the guy shows up with a handful of money and says “Call off your dogs!”.

“What dogs? What are you talking about?”

“You know what I’m talking about! Just tell them to leave me alone!”

He hands me forty dollars and leaves.

I always liked to keep informed on latest news as well, and generally had ways to avoid duty in certain areas. I really hated those incorruptible Commanding Officers who knew I was up to something but couldn’t prove it. Constant harassment, threats of Office Hours, refusing to pay me during “pay call”, none of which hurt me, since I could call in favors in any situation, and I was already making far more money than the marines paid me anyway. If they never paid me again, it wouldn’t have made any difference.

On float to Australia, the NFL sent tapes of games played on Sunday, but I was generally informed before everybody as to who won the games, well before the games were shown on ship. Made great money on that.

Had I stayed at Okinawa, I could probably have bought out some businesses in the “Ville” as they called the town outside the base, but too many officers were getting suspicious of me, and I figured it was a matter of time. I left the island in quite good financial shape.

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