Several members of our unit spent an evening on base shooting pool and having a few beers. After last call Buddy Lynch asked if I wanted to run over to Honolulu and get something to eat before calling it a night. The Marine Corps had very strict rules about signing out with your duty officers. We decided to go without signing out as we would be back in a couple hours anyway. Nobody would even know we went to town. We jumped in Buddy’s 56 Ford and headed for the Pali Highway.
We had the little Ford wound tight as we cleared the top of the Pali Highway and descended into the outskirts of Honolulu. Buddy was driving and I was kicked back on the passenger side with my knees on the dash. The radio was blaring and I was half asleep when Buddy hit the brakes. The tires started screeching. We were headed for the rear end of another 1956 Ford. We were doing well over a hundred miles an hour. The car in front of us looked like it was standing still. Buddy clipped a rear corner of the other car and it went spinning out of our sight. We went into slow motion weightlessness and lost all sense of what position we were in. We could hear the thumps and clumps as the car tumbled down the highway. There was no pain, no fear, and total darkness. After what seemed like forever we were over whelmed by brilliant flashes of orange light and what felt like little darts hitting us from all directions. We still had no idea what position we were in. The orange flashes became steady and the noise was deafening. The noise and the orange flashes gradually subsided and became silence. Buddy and I affirmed we were both alive and crawled out of the car onto the pavement. We got our bearings, located the other car, and ran to see if they were injured. The six people in the other car couldn’t believe we crawled out of Buddies car and ran to their location. They had spun a 180 degree circle and hit a cyclone fence in the median. They were all fine.
Buddy and I walked back down to his car and sat down on the guard rail to wait for the police. As we burned off our adrenalin we shook like leaves in a breeze. We had just tumbled five times and skidded three hundred and fifty feet down the highway on the top of the car. The car was still in one piece, but everything on it had damage. Buddy spent eighty eight days in the Honolulu jail. I spent a month of duty with a swingblade trimming grass from runway lights and taxiways.
Buddy and I didn’t dwell on the wreck or the punishment………….we were still here.