USMC United States Marine Corps Marine Corps Air Facility, Futema, Okinawa 1st Marine Air Wing
There’s Work, and Then There’s Work! A combat engineer on a Marine air base is part of the maintenance or utilities crew. We are suppose to make sure the roads stay serviceable, the lights stay on, and the toilets flush. Some of us, as carpenters, would build whatever was necessary to maintain the air group’s readiness. However, at Futema, most of these basic utility functions were taken care of by indigenous Okinawan laborers. In reality, our real duties involved not much more than building shipping crates of every imaginable size and shape. We soon found  the crates were being used to ship equipment and materials to a classified location in South Vietnam. Danang, an airbase abandoned by the French, was being resurrected as a base for Marine Air Group-16.   Our “office” at Futema was a Butler building isolated in the far, northeast corner of the base, past the end of the runway. We were so isolated that we ran our shop on a 30 KW generator. Sanitary facilities were primitive. I had not been at Futema for more than a month when I was ordered to see my first sergeant. As good managers do, the first sergeant had read my record book and decided I was an artist. Suddenly my duties shifted from crates to canvases. I was now commissioned as the base artist. My first assignment was to do something about “sprucing up” the reception area of the headquarters building. My commanding officer thought the place looked too bare (too military) for properly receiving guests and VIPs. I eventually painted four canvases; each representing one of the four seasons. I styled the paintings after Okinawan landscapes, giving each season an almost monochromatic color scene. Winter was predominately blue, spring, yellow; summer, blue; and fall, red. The biggest difficulty I had with the paintings was locating the materials necessary to do the them. The Marine Corps supply depot did not stock art canvas, oil paints, and bristle art brushes. I remembered a World War II Marine vet telling me that after they invaded and secured a Japanese-held Pacific island,  the Marine Corps brought ashore a field kitchen. They had their first hot meal after several days of eating nothing but cold C-rations. When the Army came ashore that same island, they brought a fully equipped soda fountain and ice cream machine. He remembered that the Army seemed to have everything. “Everything” was what I needed. With my gunny’s permission, I started calling around and eventually got linked up with an Army gunnery sergeant. His deal was straight- forward. He could get a hold of the art supplies I needed. What could I do for him? After listing off a variety of things, he said they had a hard time getting lumber and good coffee. We settled on a truck load of two-by-fours and a case of Maxwell House. A couple of days later, the gunny pulled up to our shop with two vehicles and a crew to load the lumber. He handed me a roll of canvas, oil paints and brushes, and even some turpentine and linseed oil for good measure. We shook hands and I never saw him again. With stretchers and frames made in our shop, I had the paintings finished and hung in two weeks. Then came the fun work. Soon after completing the headquarter’s oils I was ordered to report to George, the manager of the Staff NCO Club. George appeared to be a civilian working for special services.    
Marine’s Scenes Brighten Club
Marine Lance Cpl. Paul J. Grassler, Marine Air Base Sq., Futema MCAF, Okinawa, brushes up a faded spot on one of the “Seven Oriental Gods” which he painted for the Skyline Staff non- commissioned Officers Club at Futema. A self- taught artist, Grassler has decorated the club’s walls with oriental scenes and portraits.
(S&S Photo)
Many of the finest clubs on the island are overlooked either because of their location or size. However, it sometimes turns out that the smaller clubs are among the best. Such is the case with the Skylne Club at the Marine Corps Air Facility in Futema. The Skyline Club is in a perfect location for many of the families on Okinawa, being located near the Futema Housing Area and centrally located for the majority of Americans residing here. Not only is it convenient, but it’s a cozy club with a pleasant, friendly atmosphere and an easy place in which to relax. The club is open to all Staff NCOs, E-6 and above, in all services. There is no membership charge at Marine Clubs and the Skyline welcomes other services.      Manager George Veeder is justly proud of his club. He says he’s only sorry more people don’t know about it. Manager Veeder is ably assisted in running the club by Assistant Manager, Albert Webster and Ryukyuan Supervisor Seiichi Sakumoto.
Home Home Introduction Introduction Jobs Jobs Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Marine Corps Marine Corps NPIC NPIC Secret Service Secret Service CIA CIA NRO NRO Teaching Teaching Tweens Tweens Marine Speak Marine Speak FUTEMA MCAF, Okinawa A young self-taught Marine artist has decorated the walls of the Skyline Staff NCO Club here with scenes and portraits of the Far East. bbbLance Corporal Paul J. Grassler,  who boasts no formal art or drawing training, has covered the walls with both Chinese and Japanese art to give the club a Far East flavor. bbbThe club’s walls have been painted with a dull black finish, to make Grassler’s gold line drawings stand out either in daylight or at night under the club’s soft lighting. bbbGrassler painted Chinese dragons and figures intermingled with portraits of Japanese gods and some 50 “kanji” Chinese language characters and several scenes in his decor. bbb“Most of my ideas come books on oriental art, the Chinese dragons and figures on the waitresses’ tables did come from an old tapestry I saw,” Grassler said. bbbGrassler, regularly assigned as a utilities man in Marine Air Base Sq. 16 of the 1st Marine Air Wing, has done the work on the Skyline in his spare time. He has been working at the club off and on since he arrived on Okinawa last August. bbb“As a matter of fact, most of the paintings on the walls have been done two and some even three times because the high humidity here fades my gold into a greenish tint and it has to be done over,” Grassler said. bbb“When I went to Atsugi, Japan for a month’s schooling, one tree branch com-pletely disappeared because of the oxida-tion of the paint and I had to re-do that portion of the wall from scratch,” he pointed out. bbGrassler calls Niagara Falls, N.Y., home and says his talent comes from  his father, who has never done any painting or b drawing commercially, but who “enjoys fooling around with oils and charcoal when no one is looking.” bbbThe 21-year-old marine for two years attended Notre Dame University before en-listing in the Corps. He plans to return to college and to major in architecture. bbbHe is enrolled in a Japanese language class at the Naha Ryukyuan-American Cultural Center and in return for the instruc-tion in that language, teaches English on Saturday’s to Naha high school students. bbbHe is interested in learning Japanese after doing the research in oriental art books for the club’s decorations. bbb“I realized I must know the language to know what their art means,” Grassler said.
Managers Webster and Veeder
The Skyline Club has been in existence since June of 1961. Manager Veeder pointed out that since that time it has come a long way in decor and facilities in general. The club is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 A.M. to 12:30 A.M. and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 A.M. to 1:30 A.M.
The food at the Skyline Club is something special in that it is not something for gourmets only. The Skyline concentrates on good old-fashioned American food and is definitely among the best available anywhere... especially the southern fried chicken.
Typical night at the Skyline
Saito’s Skyliners and Teiko Taira
The Skyline features music nightly by Saito’s Skyliners and singer Teiko Taira. This lovely lass has one of the finest voices we’ve heard. The club also has special acts. Coming on Saturday, July 20th are Korea’s singing and dancing sensations, the Cool Cats.
One of the Skyline’s beautiful murals.
The club has a beautiful oriental decor. Murals were done by Lance Corporal Grassler and are beautiful oriental scenes in gold on a black background.      The skyline welcomes families. Children are allowed in the club until 8 P.M. nightly and there is no place families can feel more at home.
The cub is open to parties both day and night. Many women’s clubs have held their meetings in the Skyline and Club Manager Veeder welcomes any others who would like to do so.      The Skyline Club is a club that’s different. It’s a great place to meet friends or take the family for a relaxing night out. Try it.
The Skyline’s bar.
The above article was featured in the July 19, 1963 publication, This Week on Okinawa. 
What was not mentioned in this article was that the bar was designed as a stag bar. Three nudes adorned the wall above the back bar. A reclining nude was centered over the bar and flanked, left and right, by standing nudes. I painted them in oil on canvas, using Playboy magazine subjects as models. the bar was screened off from the dining room so as not to offend families and female guests.  I also designed the lighted, glass and wrought iron back bar which was fabricated by local craftsmen.
USMC Photo
copyright 2013 spyartist.com