On 13 September 1954, at a U.S. Army hospital in Yokohama, Japan, a 21-year old U.S. Army corporal named James Almon Polk died of encephalitis. He left behind his wife, Chieko, eight months pregnant. Two months later, in November 1954, she gave birth, in the same hospital where her husband had died, to a boy. She named him after his father.

***

For twenty plus years, I enjoyed my job as a federal criminal investigator, a special agent for the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). I traveled the world. I witnessed the darker side of humanity. At times I unmasked the shadow-personas of people hiding behind their social masks. I cannot say for sure if evil exists as a force that shapes the world, but I know for sure I had come face to face with people whose hearts had chilled. Like a father who explained to me one morning, as if nothing bad had happened, how he had found his six-year old daughter in bed, dead. When I entered the bedroom I found the girl, her tiny body darkened with bruises and burn marks, and her bones broken, and the cold reality hit me that her father had beaten her to death.

Twice I volunteered for an assignment aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier. First, I deployed with the USS Independence. Then years later, I deployed with the USS Kitty Hawk during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I worked primarily in the field of counterintelligence investigations and counterespionage operations. However, after the 9-11 terror attacks, my career track shifted to counterterrorism operations. In 2005 – 2006, I volunteered and deployed to Iraq. I had to witness the war.

In 2005, after turning 50, an age eligible for an early retirement with 20 years in the federal law enforcement, my wife, Sharon, also an NCIS special agent, said to me: “I know your dream. You want to write full time. Go ahead. Write all you want. You can retire.” So in October 2006, I turned in my badge and credentials, gave up my Sig Sauer PP-229 pistol, and became a writer.

J Almon Polk - Iraq
Camp Blue Diamond, Ramadi, Iraq (2006)
J Almon Polk - NCIS Badge
My NCIS Badge

3 Comments

Rob Ruts · January 7, 2018 at 9:49 am

Hi James,
I have been in search of you mail address without luck. Hope this works as I am trying to contact Yokohama International School classmates. It is about a reunion to be held in November this year in Yokohama. Obviously I am keen to meet friend of that time then! If interested I will send you a link to a facebook site.
And I was wondering how you were doing.

Hope to hear from you!
Best regards,
Rob Ruts

    J. Almon Polk · January 7, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Hi, Rob – It’s good to hear from you. It’s been a while. So, a YIS reunion in Yokohama in November? I live in New York City now. I’ll reply to you via email. Talk to you via email. Ciao, James

Mark Currie · September 23, 2020 at 7:28 pm

Hi James, I think I was in YIS with you in Japan, in 1969. I beleive it was during the grade nine year. You were a good friend, along with Sang yang, david Chou, and Paul Vanderwal. I was a missioneory kid and lived in Japan until 1970, when I resettled in Canada at age 15. Do you rememer being attacked by a bunch of Japanese punks and getting a cut scalp? Anyway, hope you are well; please contact me when convenient! Mark Currie Abbotsford, BC, Canada (778) 982 1148. PS are you on Facebook?

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