Vice President Dan Quayle prepares to shoot during a pickup basketball game at Yokota Air Base in May, 1979.

Vice President Dan Quayle prepares to shoot during a pickup basketball game at Yokota Air Base in May, 1979. (R.J. Oriez / ©S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Stopping over at Yokota Air Base in the early morning hours Friday, Vice President Dan Quayle played basketball with a pickup base team after telling Pacific Stars and Stripes the United States must reverse what he called four years of slow military growth.

Quayle made a 90-minute refueling stop at Yokota en route to the United States after a 12-day diplomatic mission to Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

The vice president said the United States must, despite budget cuts, insure that it keeps a strong defensive profile in the Pacific. He told of having lengthy discussions with Pacific allies on Cambodian issues and said he has much to report to President Bush on the subject as well as many ideas to present on U.S. policy in Southeast Asia.

Quayle said Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney has pledged to maintain readiness of U.S. forces and will stress the importance of joint military exercises between the United States and its Pacific allies despite cutbacks in the defense budget.

The United States "cannot have (defense spending) cuts below zero growth," Quayle said. "We cannot expose ourselves unnecessarily."

Quayle was also optimistic that the United States and the Philippines will agree to maintain American bases in that country. "However, should U.S. bases there close," he said, "we will have a presence and defend our (regional) interests."

Despite his 3:30 a.m. arrival, the vice president brought some Hoosier tradition from his native Indiana in the form of a 25-minute pickup basketball game between his staff and Yokota troops.

Quayle played guard and his teammates trailed 20-8 after the originally scheduled 20-minute game.. However, Quayle asked for another 5 minutes to be put on the clock and came back to score his team's only points of that period, from the free-throw line.

The local team, which included Brig. Gen. Keith B. Connolly, 5th Air Force vice commander, scored four baskets to finish the scrimmage, beating Quayle's team 28-10.

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