Sr. Sharon Becker, CSJ and Fr. George Lepping, SM

Sr. Sharon Becker, CSJ: Letters of july 2003

Sr. Sharon Becker of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange (CA) is a nurse-midwife. Her Congregation has served on Nissan and she was there from March 1979-December 1981.

"I reopened the health center there on the Island. Dr. Pulau was my medical director but he was based in Arawa on Bougainville. I opened the new health center that had been built by the government which was situated on a cliff over looking the ocean. Fr. Lepping, SM was the parish priest who was in concentration camp during WWII in Rabaul. He entertained us with stories.

I lived at Tungol which was a military base for Japanese and the Americans. Actually I lived in the American General's house so I am told. It had bullet holes in the floor. At least that what is said and it does make for a good story. Our water tanks were converted fuel tanks. The Catholic Church is the former mess hall or gathering place for the GI's. If you took the horseshoe shape of the island we were located on a piece of land that jutted out at 6:00 o'clock. This is imagining that you are getting ready to throw the horseshoe. Beautiful. It would be worth millions here in the States.

"The watercolor (by Al Nemoede) depicts the scene well. I must tell you that when I was on Nissan from 1979-1981 not much had changed in re to housing. I am certain that it is still the same.

"Just a short note about the airstrip...that airstrip had served the people up to 1981 without repair and I am certain that it is still serving them. Airstrip still looks the same. It has a bush house for the taking of tickets and getting weighed to ride in the aircraft.

"The nationals loved the Americans and were so grateful to them that they had removed them from the islands to protect them from harm and made arrangements to take them back. I was able to meet some who had lived through the experience of WWII. There was, up to 1981, a barge outside of our house on the lagoon. The base was fairly intact and provided a wonderful fishing spot. I am told that there is a downed plane in the middle of the lagoon. I didn't snorkel but visitors told me about it. We also had a bush covered vehicle of some sort. I found bullet casings in the reef and have kept them. They are long, about 3". They look like they could have inflicted real harm."