Upon graduation from law school, Howard Scoville is drafted into the army in 1954 for compulsory two years of military service as a buck private. The story begins with Scoville boarding a troop ship bound for Japan. The voyage upon the stormy Pacific in January takes three weeks for endurance of daily nauseating seasickness. For the entire period of Scoville’s service in Japan, that experience imposes an underlying dread of the return voyage.
Unexpectedly, both Howard and another unranked law school graduate are assigned to the Tokyo Quartermaster Depot to assist the legal officer, a clueless infantry captain in need of advice. They enjoy friendship with each other, with soldiers, officers and Japanese employees, and appreciation of the “other world” of Japanese culture and scenic beauty.
Howard discovers the chaplain’s liberal theology, usually contested by his assistant. The chaplain prays for divine intervention with a surprising result.
Near the end of the term of service in Japan, Howard’s friends begin being shipped out for return to the States, leaving Howard lonely and the last to leave for a dreaded voyage. The Pacific in August turns out to be placid all the way to Seattle, a joyful arrival for another life.