ASA Chitose Association Inc.
By Don Edgers
June 5, 2016 I finally arrived at
what was to be my home for 26-months, the 12th USASA Field Station located at
Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan. As we newbies came onto our base by bus, we drove past
an unoccupied three story concrete building. A sign on it read, "Kuma Station – Hibachi Hall – Test Center
Laboratory Housing – 768 Brave Men – We accepted it – Tho we don’t understand
it." It seemed the cement structure that was meant to be our barracks
didn’t have a required heating system needed in the very frigid winter
temperatures of the northern Japanese island, meaning we had to be billeted in
Quonset Huts built soon after WWII
My home from 63-64 Hibachi Hall (Renamed Higuma Hall)
We troops were assigned to, what were called
‘Tricks’ (work groups living together in the Quonsets) which worked in rotating
shifts – Days, Swings, Mids. These shifts were for six days on with two days
off. After two days off, the tricks would change shifts, work six on, two off,
change shift, etc. This work schedule could seriously mess with one’s mental
time clock, and the strain drove some guys to drink way more seriously in order
to cope with the mind-numbing schedule. I don’t know of many sober guys who
really got the hang of it. Fortunately, I managed to get assigned to a permanent
day shift. Several guys I worked and lived with became functional alcoholics who
influenced my decision to not follow in their dysfunctional
My home in
Soon after starting my job, I was told of a
week-long snow & ice festival in the large nearby city of Sapporo. Using the
information supplied to me by my working companions, I learned how to travel by
bus and how to read Japanese signs of what I needed to know. It reminded me of
when I took the bus to downtown Seattle when I was in second grade. Because of
the festival, the bus was jammed and I spent the entire hour-long ride
Downtown Sapporo Japan
I’m about 5’10”, but seemed to be a head
taller than most Japanese. When I got off the bus, I looked around the throngs
of people to see if there were any Americans I could talk to. There wasn’t
another white person to be seen in the thousands of people in attendance, so I
got busy looking at the giant ice and snow sculptures covering several blocks in
Sapporo Snow Festival
Within 45 minutes of arriving at the festival, a
black-uniformed male stopped in front of me and started a conversation in
English that would change the course of my life. “Excuse me,” said the uniformed
boy/man, “may I speak with you in English?” Extending his hand, he continued,
“My name is Kadzuo Yamamoto, or Yama. Would you let me buy you a cup of coffee
and practice my English with you?” As it appeared he was sincere and I was
becoming cold, I accepted his invitation. Making our way through the crowd, Yama
took me about three blocks to the Sapporo Grand Hotel, the only Western-style
hotel in the city. The ground-floor of the hotel had a crowded restaurant where
we managed to get a table for two. I discovered my coffee companion was only a
year younger than me, and was a medical student at the nearby Hokudai University
(University of Hokkaido). There were several students in his medical classes
that were interested in practicing their English conversation skills and Yama
was a sort of recruiter for his classmates to find an American to practice with.
“Would you be interested in meeting with us next week? We will pay for your bus
fare.” Geez, how easy would that be? I agreed to meet him at the bus terminal
and meet with his friends. A week later, I was met at the Sapporo Bus Depot by
Yama and another student named Nishi Yakamori. We caught a streetcar to Hokudai
and walked to the medical school’s well-worn wooden building and to a lecture
classroom. I was greeted by over 40, mostly male, uniformed-students who
applauded as I walked into the room. Strangely, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the
experience and treated it like a dream. As Yama introduced me, I asked myself,
‘Is this experience really happening?’ Similar to today’s Press Conferences,
each student introduced themselves and proceeded to ask a question. I remember
two of the questions: “Do you have lots of Indians in the United states?” and
“Is it true that Americans don’t take baths?” Some of the questioners weren’t
very proficient in their English, so Yama or Nishi acted as translators. After
the Q&A session, I was treated to a meal and a couple of beers at a beer
hall, and given remuneration for bus fare. I also was invited to come back the
next week, if I wanted to. Primed with such an exhilarating experience, I
agreed. The next week’s get-together attracted a few more curious students who
asked more questions. After they had drained my brain, Yama thanked me and asked
the gathering if they would like to continue our English meetings, only with the
purpose of learning spoken American English and being able to understand and
speak it well enough to possibly become interns in American military
hospitals. About half of the group raised their hands. Then I was asked if I
would agree to become their teacher? In exchange, they would pay my expenses and
teach me about their culture. Yama, Nishi and I spent quite a bit of time
brainstorming ideas of how to run the class. Besides vocabulary, they wanted
colloquialisms and common expressions they might encounter in medical settings.
And, would I type up the lessons so everybody in the class could have a copy? I
started feeling panicky, but reasoned this would give me inroads to Japanese
society that most other Americans would never have – and Iwould be able to
improve my typing. At first, virtually all of my off duty time was spent typing
lessons four at a time by using carbon paper. Forty copies accompanied me to the
next meeting at the university’s lecture hall. About 35 students plus a
university medical professor greeted me, and I became a teacher (‘sensei’ in
Japanese). The class decided to call our assembly the Ducks’ Club, because my
first name, Donald, was associated with Donald Duck.
July 27, 2012 I am Sgt. Jerry
Martin’s son, Patrick. My fondest memories are of Chitose and
Sapporo. My school buds were Billy White and Paul Miller. In 1966, I
took my little brother Mike to the movies. We took the bus from Chit. 1 to
Chit.3 and watched the movie. I cannot remember anything about the movie,
but the bus ride home is embeded in my mind and has never left. We had a
burger and coke at the snack bar, and then went out in the snow to wait for the
last bus home. It came, but it was headed for the MARS station
first. We got on the bus and, aside from the papasan,we were the only
people on the bus. We could have waited for the bus to come back, but it
was so very cold that we hopped on the bus for the ride. This is where my
story takes a rather weird turn. We were getting near the MARS station
when, suddenly, the bus was filled with a foggy blue light. The light was
so thick, we couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces. My little
brother seemed absolutely giddy, laughing hysterically. I opened a window
on the bus and looked up; the blue light was so intense, but there was no
noise from a helicopter or plane...just the sound of the bus. I could see
the pine trees that lined that road, but nothing else. We were standing up
and playing with the light and the papasan yelled at us to sit down. I
know, for myself, that this was not normal, not military, not of this earth. I
believed then as I believe now, that it was extraterrestial. I told my mom,
Lillian Martin, but she thought that I was being silly. Now, this was well
before movies were made about aliens and the blue light. It was palpable
light, I felt like it was communicating with me, keeping me calm. Now, as
an old 58 years, I have the benefit of a computer. I have unearthed some
My father, Sgt. Jerry Martin, was the club manager for all 3 clubs on Kuma Station. He arrived at Kuma Station in 1964 and was there about six months before my mother and we three boys flew over. This is in regard to our flight and a really weird fact that I discovered some months ago. I googled “UFO incidents over Hokkaido in 1965”, and one report really jumped out. We left Travis Field for Japan in Feb. 1965. We first flew to Anchorage for fuel and de-icing. We were on a 4 prop. Flying Tiger. We then flew on to Tachikawa. The report stated that the pilots of a Flying Tiger passenger flight viewed a UFO enroute to Tachikawa from Anchorage. We were on that flight. I remember seeing lights out the window...my mom and brothers were asleep, so I never said anything. After more research, I found a Japanese commander of the Chitose airbase filed several reports regarding UFO’s over Chitose. Apparently, there have been many more reports of this nature.
OFFICIAL REPORT: 11 February 1965 : Between Anchorage and Tachikawa AFB, Pacific Flying Tiger incident. Radar visual confirmation. three red oval objects visible out cabin window, paced aircraft for 30 minutes, 200 feet to 1000 feet diameter, 5-mile distance. Objects were tracked by radar and sighted visually. Three red oval objects, about 600 feet across, were observed by four experienced male military witnesses on the ocean for 30 minutes. No sound was heard
The Great Chitose
by Ron Dakin (1954)
My name is Ron Dakin and I was the Morse Trick Chief on the day shift when the fire occurred in the Operations Building on December 29, 1954.1 was sitting at my console at the front of the Morse room. The room was comprised of Morse operators on both sides of the room and the language group was in the rear on the left hand side.
Some of the guys on duty that day included Sgt.'s Richard Seidenspinner, Harold South and Glenn Ralston. At the end of the room were two large swinging doors that opened into a hallway. Across the hallway was the door to the Comm. Center where Sgt. Ayala and his men were working behind closed doors. The first thing I remember was looking up and seeing the door to the Comm. Center opening and Sgt. Ayala and his men were all trying to get through the door at one time. Behind them was a sheet of flames. It all happened so fast, I can only remember people running all over the place, looking for fire extinguishers and trying to battle the fire from the hallway. It was a losing battle, the flames spread so quickly we had to evacuate the area and eventually the building.
As the fire swept over the Operations building, fire trucks from the Japanese fire department and from the Air Force fire department stationed at Chitose I, began to arrive. They were immediately informed that they could not enter the compound for obvious security reasons. The fire fighting would be left up to those of us who had security clearances. Sgt. Pete Reganato who was off that day remembers getting out of the shower in his Quonset hut and seeing a large plume of black smoke coming from the direction of the Operations building. Some one ran into his barracks and informed everyone to report to the orderly room to help fight the fire. Our fire engine would not start due to the extreme cold and we had to build a fire around the fire hydrant to get the water to flow. Fire hoses were hooked up and we went into the compound and began to fight the fire. It was bitterly cold, snow was up to our knees and the water dripping from the hoses saturated our clothes and turned to ice. Several senior NCO's including SFC's Eccelston (Tiny as we called him), Kapps, and MSGT. Howard were directing our efforts. It soon became apparent that there was no way we were going to save the building.
Because of the severe cold, along with the water that accumulated and froze on our clothing, we were rotated back to the mess hall from time to time where we were supplied with dry OG's and waterproof field pants. The mess sergeant, SFC Sargent and his chief cook Sgt Shorty Richardson had prepared several vats of hot soup, which we were only too happy to get.
There was no way to save the building and we spent the next few days out in the field around the Operations building, picking papers out of the snow.
On New Years Day, January 1, 1955 we were loaded onto Globemasters at Chitose I and flown to Kamiseya Naval Base near Yokohama, where we would spend the next several months until a new Operations building could be constructed.
The time at Kamiseya was highlighted by the great Navy chow. It was hard to imagine how well the Navy fed their troops where steak and eggs for Sunday brunch was not uncommon.
The cause of the fire was determined to have been caused when one of the men in the Comm. Center accidentally kicked a box of thermite grenades stored there for the purpose of destroying equipment in the event of an emergency. A request by our CO, Major Ben McKibben, to replace the outdated thermite grenades had been ignored. However, his replacement in August of 1954, Maj. John T. Horton, was relieved of duty as CO due to the accident and resulting fire.
Finally a new Operations building was constructed and we were finally going back to Chitose. It was like a homecoming when we arrived. The troops that stayed behind greeted us like long lost friends and many a celebration went on in the EM and NCO clubs.
(I, Jim Brock, would have been on duty that day except for the fact that I was in Tokyo on R&R along with Jim Striplin. We had reported in to Oji Camp, HQ ASAPAC, on TDY and signed out on a 7 day leave, at the end of which we signed into Oji Camp and awaited transportation back to Chitose on TDY status. Great Deal !!!. While on leave a friend of mine who was stationed at Oji Camp met us one night at the R & R hotel and told us that Chitose had burned. That was all he knew. His recommendation was that we not return to Oji Camp until our leave was up, because they might send us back early. We didn't, needless to say.
However, we did worry about the loss of our personal effects in the fire when 8612 DU burned. When we arrived back at Chitose we found of course that only the Ops Bldg burned. We had the extreme pleasure of cleaning up the mess. The building was 80% destroyed. The water that was poured on it pooled in the building and froze solid. Paper was through out the ice and the equipment had ice all through it. We took the equipment out and a bull dozer dug a large hole out by the ball field and we buried everything of metal in it, after hammering it totally useless and unrecognizable. We cleaned all the classified paper out of the ice and burned it. I had the job of running a jack hammer for the duration of the job. Finally we dug a foundation for the new building. It was another Quonset that coupled up with the one shown in the left side of the compound. The ground around the building had thawed due to the fire and the water that was poured over the building that did not remain in the building soaked into the ground around it. The bulldozer that was used to dig the foundation only bounced the blade off the frozen ground. I ran the jackhammer to cut the granite like soil so that the dozer could get a start into the ground. Finally we got it done.
I reported to Kamiseya in mid January and stayed until ordered out to do the site survey for a new station on Kyushu, to become FS Hakata.
More “Fifties” Stuff
Jack “Spider” Valentine – Trick 4 VI – ’57-’59 (988)
added July 8 2007
I read “Jack” DeBolt/Bowen’s exploits and memories with great interest.
– Jack, you have the best memory I have ever seen anywhere, and it was very
interesting to read what happened after I left. We never had the benefit of the
“barracks” so the Quonsets were all we knew and actually I liked them, since you
could put a case of beer out of a window in the winter and have cold beer
whenever you wanted it. You could also go on top of the Quonset and put snow
down the pipe into the shower, but you had to be able to run very fast if you
did it. It was funny to see the corners of the beer cases start to appear in the
spring as the snow melted, exposing long forgotten cases of beer. There weren’t
as many of us “Russian talkers” as there were diddyboppers, but outside of “Ops”
it did not matter. My two very best friends were John Krueger, (who I have
maintained contact with), and Vince Carney, who I can’t find. – “Krueg” was a
true athlete, from
Spider and the Singer
Jack "Spider" Valentine - ('57 - '59) Trick 4 VI 988
Don Williams used to drop by our Quonset from time to time and "jam" a little with us total amateurs. We always had a good time. One time he came by and sat on a bunk with us and we played guitars while he sang 8 or 10 songs. He was just so very good, we could not figure out why he was there and why he was not in Nashville recording. Anyway, he allowed me to record the songs on my trusty little recorder. We were finished and we were just talking when somebody came in who I believe was Phillips. I turned on the recorder and said, "Do you believe this guy here sang this song?" He said, there is no way he sang that song, that had to come off of the radio." About that time, Don started singing harmony with the recording, and the guy's mouth fell open and he was totally speechless. My memories of Don are that he was a gracious gentleman. with a gracious smile and I still love to hear him sing!!
BEER SOFTBALL or What a bunch of GI's Will do for Athletic Recreation
By John Krueger (1959)
I believe it was early ‘59 we got word that a General was coming to Chitose for an IG inspection. I was in charge of VI at that time, and was told I would have to greet the General and talk about the section to him, since he liked to talk with enlisted men. This was around the time we were changing to “Greens” and since I was getting out in a few months, I did not want to buy greens just for the General’s visit. I had a friend back in Georgia who was in the reserves, so I contacted him and he mailed me a set of “greens.” I got the patches on it just in time. The General came through, don’t remember his name, but he was a “3-star.” I greeted him with a crisp salute and we spent about a minute and a half together with me mostly saying, “Yes Sir!” and “Thank you sir!” – He was a nice guy, but I am not real sure he even looked at the floors we had spent so much time cleaning. - - Part of this time we had a young Lieutenant named Murphy in charge of our section. Lt. Murphy, (“Murph”), did not speak Russian, so to agitate him, we would write our log entries every day, from one shift to the next, in Russian. I don’t think he liked it very much, but we told him it was to “practice.”
added 5/30/2007Recollections of My ASA Experiences. 1960-1963
I graduated from High School in January of
1960, taking an “Early Out” in order to enlist in the Army. I had auditioned for
the Army Band and was all set to go to Basic then return to
Needless to say, to a seventeen-year-old who wanted to “see the world” this sounded pretty exciting. So I said “Choice, NotChance” and signed up for the ASA.
We traveled up to
In Mid-April we completed BCT and I got
orders to go to
I plugged away at code practice stumbling between 12 and 15 wpm for awhile, and then they diverted several of us to NM school (059). I liked it a lot better. We still had to do code, but not as much and in a much more casual arrangement. I got very good at recognizing various types of communications systems when I heard them…a skill that was to make my life a bit more comfortable later in my service. I finished second in my class of 25, and that paved the way for my choice of duty stations.
I am sure that many of you had the
same situation when you completed your initial MOS training. In our class they
came in with 25 slots for duty assignments. We had 10 in
Following a dull Christmas Leave in
Out at Operations my Trick Chief was SFC Tom Brennan with SFC ‘Slick’ Mefford as his Assistant. ‘Slick’ Mefford took over the Trick One Echo Section when SFC Brennan went home. Two of the Room Leaders in Room 7 that I worked for in that early period were Tom Lambert and Charlie Sassaman. Both were Spec 5’s and one-termers (as opposed to lifers). Lambert was great guy and really helped me make the adjustment to living in the Chitose environment. Sassaman was a genuine Smart-Ass who loved to call me Norman at every possible moment. But he was Smart about the work we were doing and as a result of my following his example I learned more about the folks we were interested in at that time than I would have in ten times the time by myself.
A few other names of guys who some of you
may recall. John Gunkle was on our trick. He seemed to spend a lot of his time
in the NCO club doing PR stuff, but he was around when he was needed. Jim Burke
in Room 9 and PJ Smith in Rm 8 ran pretty tight ships in their respective areas.
Operators were many, but a few names come thru. Dennis-Stretch- Snodgrass,
Dennis Hawthorne, Bill Shelly and Larry Moesby all were friends and co-workers
at some time during my tour. The Grand Wizard of this whole section was Howard
Fenton. I don’t think SFC Fenton said 3 words to me during my whole tour in
Chitose, until I made a classic blunder on the job and he let me know how
disappointed he was in my mistake. Lucky for me it was work-related so I can’t
embarrass myself again by describing it here.
I have a few strong memories of
stuff that went on at Operations during my tour, but as you all know most of
that should be left unsaid. I will say that the time period around October of
1962 was a very tense time for me personally as well as for the ASA folks at
Chitose. Back when I enlisted I took the language proficiency test for Spanish.
I passed both parts with a “Fair” performance level. Well shortly after arriving
One other Operations related story. In the spring of 1962 promotions for E-5 seemed to be coming very quickly. I had less than 6 months in grade as an E-4 to get that Spec-5 Stripe. At the same time we took the Pro-Pay tests. For those not involved in that annual event, the troops took an MOS-based Skills test that was supposed to define your skill level in your primary MOS. It was a multiple choice test of a hundred or so questions. Now I am not real smart…but I am very test-wise. I do well on those types of tests. A couple of the old-timers leaned on me pretty hard about how well they were going to do, and how a Norman like me didn’t stand much of a chance for the extra cash awarded to those who made the cut-off score. I didn’t say much, but pretty much maxed the test and beat the guy who had needled me by a dozen points AND got a P-2 award, I think that amounted to $60 a month at the time. After the results came back and were posted some of the old-guys quit picking on me as much!!
It really is hard to talk about the level of pay we received then, compared to what a GI makes today. I was thrilled to make E-5 and get that $180 a month plus the $60 that came with the P-2. I can’t imagine trying to live on that today!!
One of the benefits I used while at Chitose was to be able to check out a vehicle (usually a ¾ ton weapons carrier) from the Motor Pool for “Recreational Purposes”. LT Jerry Hardiman was in charge of the Motor Pool. He always gave me a pep talk about taking good care of the truck and not drinking while I drove, etc. This happened several times during my two year stay. I would apply in advance for a shift break of 4 days, then beg some c-rations from the Special Services folks and two or three of my friends would take off, usually down the coast to Tomakomai or Muroran. We saw a lot of the beaches and followed side roads until they ran out of road. We got to see a lot of the countryside (within a hundred miles or so of the Post). We would fish a bit and drink a lot. It was a real nice way to get away from the pressure that seemed to follow us on the job.
Do any of you recall the day that a JAL
airliner landed on the old runway out in the Antenna Field. Apparently the Pilot
made a bad choice when lining up for landing and picked the runway that was
several miles from the real
One of the funnier incidents that
I recall was the day that Soviet Astronaut Yuri Gargarin visited
I came home on leave in the summer of 1962, using MATS flights. I got bumped off a flight at Midway on the way to the states, so I got to spend about a day and a half greeting Gooney-Birds while I waited for the next aircraft going my way. The return flight was no problem and I returned to duty in August of ‘62 ready to finish out the year.
About that time we moved into the new Barracks Hibachi or Higumi Hall, whatever it was called. They altered out address at that time. We became the 11 USASA Operations Company… The DiddyBoppers were in the 12th USASA Operations Company and the other MOS’s seemed to be divided between the two. LT John Gordy was our CO and the First Sgt was Donald Wilcoxsen. I recall that Sgt Wilcoxsen had an old Dodge or Desoto that he sold to Slick Mefford , and it seemed to break down, or fail to start more often that it should, but I can’t remember how the dispute over it was resolved. I do remember it was a good chuckle when we would ride the bus out to Operations and pass the Dodge as sat by the side of the road…broken again !
Anyone remember P.I.P. Alerts? When we would draw our weapons from the Arms Room and load onto trucks and buses to ride out to Operations and form a defensive perimeter around the place. My one memory of those events was of a fellow on Trick One, George Peddy. George was a slight fellow. He must have weighed less than 120 pounds and about 5ft 5 or so. All of the bigger guys carried carbines or pistols or even M1’s, then there was George, the guy assigned to carry the Browning 30 caliber machine gun. We never did know who was supposed to carry the tripod for George’s gun… as far as we knew it remained in the Arms Room for each ‘Alert’. So if George was going to fire that heavy S O B, he would have had to John Wayne the thing, and he could barely lift it!
When we lived in the Quonset Huts (before the new Barracks was done, It was a bit of an ordeal to make it from the street (bus stop or taxi drop-off) to the barracks through the snow. Paths were packed hard, and so long as you stayed on them there was no problem. However, sometimes due to a temporary loss of balance or sense of direction someone would stumble off the path into the deep snow beside the path. If that person was protected by enough “anti-freeze” until his friends could rescue him things were fine, but now and then someone just disappeared for several hours and came into the Quonset looking really blue around the edges. This was the result of falling off the path any laying in the deep snow until they regained enough ‘balance’ to be able to make it into the barracks.
I find it amazing to see Suntory’s and
Tory’s Whiskey on sale in some of the major Liquor outlets here in
That leads to an interesting experience I had
upon returning to the States. I was less than 17 and a half when I enlisted. I
was 20 and a half when I got out. After drinking with the guys for a couple of
Shift Work- The constant rotation of the Trick through the 24 hour work day was another interesting experience. Working 6 day shifts-2 days off- then 6 Swing Shifts-2 days off and then 6 Midnight Shifts and (we called it) a 4 day break kept us hopping. That shift rotation, plus having to relate much of what we were doing to GMT or Zulu Time really did a lot to disorient us from the regular day-worker on the Post. I looked forward to the long break between the Midnight Shift and Day Shift work periods.
Food- The late night meal
served to the Midnight Shift before they went to work, and the breakfast that
the Swing Shift got when they got off work was the one meal I seldom missed
during the work-week. Chow was pretty good, especially once we got into the new
Barracks. The Mess Hall was much more comfortable and seemed ‘cleaner’ to me. I
have a couple of the
We often ate at small restaurants in
town. I don’t recall the names of all the dishes, but the usual Suki-Yaki and
YakiTori was on the list. During the summer we would buy roasted ears of corn
from street venders who dipped the corn in a teriyaki sauce before handing over
the ear to us. That always was some good eating…Just like the county fair food
Winter- Both winters I was
there we spent some time at the Winter Festival in
Riding the Army buses between Chitose 1 and
Chitose 3 and out to Operations took on a new feeling in winter. Chains were mounted on all the buses so
speeds were reduced and it seemed to take forever to get wherever we were
OK that’s about it for what I can recall. Thanks for letting me ramble on. Anyone who can add to or perhaps correct an error from these notes is welcome to join in
Military Tidbits from the early 1960’s.-
We wore low-quarter shoes to work in Operations with either khaki’s (summer only) or fatigues. Combat boots were discouraged, but were worn now and then. The black boot soles caused nasty black marks on the light colored floor in the Operations building and that meant someone would have to “erase” the black marks…so you didn't see many guys wearing boots.
The Khaki summer uniform usually meant long pants and a short sleeved shirt when the weather got warm. Long Sleeved shirts were worn also. Only a few of the guys would wear the “tropical” shorts pants with the khaki uniform. Dennis Hawthorne (Trick 1-059), a “Large” kid, liked to wear that outfit, but looked like an outsized member of the “Our Gang” comedy group when he did. I don't think I ever put on those long socks that were part of that uniform.
The winter uniforms were either fatigues, or the locally issued woolen "OG" uniform. I never understood why they were called "OG" as they were an old shade of Brown, like the Pre-1960's Ike Jacket uniforms. They were comfortable though.
Did any of you keep “track of” the people and places of interest that we paid a lot of attention to while on the job? I know a couple of guys who kept National Geographic Maps of some areas with location notes and comments even though it was against the rules at the time. I often wonder if any books have been published since the change in world events of the 1990’s have opened a lot of formerly closed doors. Reading the "Brotherhood of War Series" answered that question partially for me.
Somehow I got selected to be the duty driver for the Operations shift during one of the May Day strikes. I had to drive a ¾ ton out to “Flake” to carry the site operators to work and bring in the off-shift guys. It would have been no big deal, except the JN who went off the job just before I took his truck took his trip ticket with him, and I had none…and didn't care, thinking it was no big deal. Well, on the way back from the DF site I was checked out by an MP car. The guys must have thought I had stolen the truck as they wouldn't let me move it for about 30 minutes, while they checked with everyone about why I was doing what I was doing. The end result cost me my drivers license for 30 days (driving without papers) and a chuckle from 1st Sgt Wilcoxsen who thought the whole thing was pretty funny!
On one of my off days, I drove up to Badger's
Alley in Sapporo. Wandering through, I came upon a store selling counterfeit
guns. Being a "gun-nut" I looked at them all and bought a .38 snubby. I also
bought the shells and the stick'um caps for it.
These things felt like real and with the caps they sound real. I returned to post to my room. I unpacked everything, assembled the gun and loaded it. While sitting in my room admiring my new purchase, I heard Frank Berta enter his room next door. Getting up, I entered his room, walked up to him, shoved the snubby out in front of me and said, "Frank, I've had enough out of you!" BLAM - BLAM. Frank turned white and grabbed his gut. Looking down at his white T-Shirt he sees two black smoke rings. Pulling the neck of his T-Shirt out to look inside, he sees nothing wrong. Looking back up at me he says, "Let me see that!" I gave it to him and we moved to the window for better light. While admiring the snubby [very similar to the ones we had in Commo] we see Redshaw and Johnson walking toward the Hq. Co. building from Post Hq. Frank throws open the window and yells, "Hey Red!" Red looks up just as Frank shoots him. BLAM - BLAM Redshaw throws up his arms and falls back on the ground, dead. Johnson drops to his knees, shakes Redshaw and says, "Red...Red, speak to me Red." Red doesn't move. Looking up at us he yells, "Berta, what did you do?" Unbeknownst to us, the First Shirt was looking out his window at this time. I am told he damn near castrated himself jumping over his desk to call the MPs.
By this time Frank & I are hanging from the window sill laughing so hard we can't get a breath. Redshaw starts
laughing, which starts Johnson laughing in relief. As they get up the First Shirt realizes he's been "had" and hangs up.
Within the next month I took a LOT of folks up to that store in Badger's Alley.
Thereby starting the running Hq. "Dying contests and War."
But that's another story.
The winter of 54/55 was no different from any other on
Hokkaido, snow, freezing temperatures, snow, freezing
temperatures, etc. This winter, however, the boys stationed at Field Station 8612 were alone. The 1st Cavalry had moved out and the NPR (Japanese National Police Reserve)had moved into their quarters. As a result, there were no support troops stationed at Chitose II, including no medical facilities. If you got sick, you had to travel over to the air base at Chitose I. To compensate for the lack of on-site medical aid, 2 corpsmen were assigned from Tokyo to take care of the less serious medical needs. A dispensary was set up inside the 8612 compound and the 2 corpsmen dispensed APC tablets and tended to minor cuts and scratches. The more serious medical problems were referred to the Air Force medical facility at Chitose I. The weather being what it was, there were the usual cases of colds and flu that year, the method of treatment consisting of a supply of APC tablets and a bottle of cough medicine, the cough medicine being Terpen Hydrate and Codeine, otherwise known as GI Gin. It seems this method of treatment became quite popular. In order to receive the cough medicine, all you had to do was go into the dispensary with your little brown bottle and the corpsmen would gladly provide you with a refill. Most of the men assigned to 8612 were not familiar with the narcotic, Codeine. Back then the choice drug was alcohol. The drug craze, such as had been the case in Viet Nam, had not yet begun. The men knew that when they had a cold and took their cough medicine, they felt much better, even if the cough didn’t go away. And even after the cough went away, they felt better, as long as they had their medicine. Back down in Tokyo, who was supplying the corpsmen, they began to wonder why so many men stationed in Chitose were constantly ill. This was based upon the consumption of cough medicine (GI Gin) being consumed up north. Around February, a group of medical personnel came up from Tokyo to investigate the problem. It turns out there was no epidemic, only a couple of corpsmen who were dispensing cough medicine at the drop of a hat. If you entered the Operations Building, it was not uncommon to see operators sitting at their work stations with a cup of coffee, a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of GI Gin. You have to remember, none of these people realized that their cough medicine was a strong narcotic. It was not long after the medical team from Tokyo left that the 2 corpsmen were transferred out of 8612. And with them went the supply of cough medicine.Their replacements, having been thoroughly briefed by Tokyo, made it nearly impossible to receive a prescription of cough medicine, and if you did receive one, you could be sure it would be the only one you ’d receive for the rest of the season.
As a post mark, it should be known that many of those who became attached to their little brown bottles of cough medicine, had some disquieting days after those 2 friendly corpsmen left Chitose
The most popular fishing waters for those at Chitose was by far Shikotsu-ko. Horomon Reservoir, specifically the uppermost dam, which had a nice population of good sized "nijimasu", or rainbow trout. There were a series of dams on that stream, but the one most accessable and the one we used to fish was the uppermost. A long drive up a rough one-way logging road. Always hoped we didn't meet a loaded run-a-way coming the other way. I did occassionally see one off the road and spilled down the mountain side. On later trips they had begun to regulate the travel up and down with radios.
Another spot, also around the coast east of Tomakomai, was Batei-ko (Horseshoe Lake). More difficult to get to in those days, and not as often visited by the folks at Chitose; or from any other place for that matter. A group of us, which included Dave Potter, Jim Thomas, John Ryan, John Long, Charlie Poe, myself and probably a couple of others that I have forgotten, went there for a week once about 1962 or 63 and we saw on one but a Japanese forest ranger the whole time. Of course at that time we had to pack up the last mile or so. I understand that later a road was cut into the lake and it became infested with tourists. It sure was nice while it lasted.
We used to also fish the rivers around Chitose - Especially a place we called "Number 4 Dam". I'm not sure which stream it impounded; maybe the Chitose River??
A Georgia Boy, Lost in a Foreign Land
I came out of “Basic” in Fort Jackson, S.C. in December of 1956,
and went up to Fort Devens Mass. In the middle of winter. The plane laned in
After a few tests, and learning how to drink 3.2 beer from a
pitcher, they told me I could go to Language school in
I fell in with the wrong crowd and they convince me that I needed
to go to Chitose and not stay in
I had not been there long when the “great snow of ‘57” showed up and naturally I was on duty and since I was the rookie, they sent me out in the dead of night to wake up some truck drivers. The snow was driving down in sheets, power was out and it was the darkest dark I had ever been in. I not only did not know where the motor-pool was, I did not know where I was or how to get back to where I had been! I bumped into a building and went in. Well either I was in Heaven or I was in the Chapel, I did not know which.
added June 23 2007
Early in November of 1956, I was sent TDY along with a group of 3 ditty boppers and a DF man to Wakkanai. (Actually I think it was Soya Misake because I never saw a town in the five months I was there, but I could very easily see Sakhalin across the strait.). As an SP-2 and the ranking army man in the group, and since we were housed with an Air Force unit under the command of a Captain (his name escapes me), I was afforded the privileges of the Officers’ Mess. This came as quite a shock after 2 ½ years of army chow halls. The table had neat white linen tablecloth, and your order was taken by a houseboy complete with white apron and towel over the forearm. The only other person who ever joined me was this Captain. For all I know he may have been the only officer there. The quality of the fare was equal to anything you could get in the finest restaurant today. There was also an Officers’ Club outside the gate. It amounted to a folding card table beside a pot-bellied stove in the back of an Ainu run little “general store”.
After the snow got so deep you no longer needed the snorkel jacket to get from the living quarters to the little operations shack, movement back and forth from one to the other got a lot easier. One day in either January or February, I don’t recall exactly, there came a knock on the operations door. I slid the little steel window open, and as I blocked visual access to the internal workings of the shack, I could see the Captain’s head over the shoulder of a rather large important looking gentleman who introduced himself as house representative somebody (don’t remember his name now) from Montana. He said he would like to come in and see the operation. In my finest ASA training I responded, “With all due respect Mr. Somebody, I don’t feel that you have the need to know what goes on here.” This apparently amused the Captain to the point that he had to shove his fist in his mouth to keep from laughing out loud. When I finally decided to wrap up my end of the daily operations, I went back down to the living quarters area. As I entered the area, the Captain was waiting for me. He laughed as he slapped me on the back. He said he had never seen that happen before and it made his day. He invited me down to the Officers’ Club for a beer. Three quarts of Nippon later we called it a night.
GOING TO CHITOSETOWN HALF
by Dick Ott (1954)
IN SUMMER OF '54, FIELD STATION 8612 FOR SOME REASON RECEIVED TWO BRAND NEW GM 6X6 TRUCKS TO REPLACE OUR OLD, WORN REOS.(For you young folks REO was a make of truck). IT WAS BETTER THAN RECEIVING A LOAD OF GREEN EGGS PACKED IN '47....
THE FIRST TO TOWN WAS TO TAKE THE JAPANESE WORKER HOME THAT EVENING. THE NEXT THE DRIVER STATED THAT THE TRUCK BOUNCED "FUNNY" ON THE RUTTED, BUMPY ROAD BETWEEN THE POST & TOWN..
THEN WE GOT THE NOTICE: "DO NOT, DO NOT FILL THE FUEL TANKS OVER HALF" PLACARDS WERE PLACED ON THE DASHBOARDS. SOMEONE FOUND OUT, IN KOREA, THAT THE MOUNTING STRAPS, SUPPORTING THE FUEL TANKS, WOULD SNAP UNDER STRESS ON ROUGH ROADS. AND, THE ROAD TO CHITOSETOWN WAS A REAL ROUGH ONE WE DID NOT LOSE ANY TANKS
Hosting Our New
by Dick Ott (1954)
In the Summer of
'54 after the 7th Cav moved out, the Japanese Self Defense Forces moved into
Chitose II and took over all facilities outside the fences surrounding Field
Station 8612. What should we do to welcome our new neighbors, throw a BBQ, a
beer and saki party? We finally settled on an afternoon soft ball game with
beer. We had seen their troops playing softball across the road so an
inviatation was delivered.
One beautiful Saturday afternoon, we made preparations. Two trucks led by a jeep of officers, passed through our gate as our MPs saluted them, and drove to the field adjacent to the ham shack across the road from the motor pool. Introductions were made and beer was served. "PLAY BALL" shouted Capt. Mac Stevenson, our ops officer. Our shoeless Bob Fussel, from Tenn. led the toss of the fixed coin; we wanted to be sure that the Japanese would have the first chance at bat. Everyone took their positions on the field with Henry Blount on the mound.
Off goes the first pitch; a strike. The second throw was a hit. But the batter threw the bat, jumped into the air yelling EEETAIIII, EEETAIIII! The ball was caught and thrown back to the catcher. The Japanese team ran over to the catcher to examine the ball; passing it around and slapping it against their hands. It was a regulations softball, but to them it was a hardball. They showed us their ball, a tennis ball. After a discussion, and another can of refreshments, we all agreed to use the tennis ball, after all this was just an exhibition game and supposed to be neighborly. Boy, could they hit.
When it became our turn to bat, Dud Weatherby, our Louieville slugger, stepped to the plate. Slam went the ball, the tennis ball flew through the sky almost to the antenna field fence. After it became 6-0 in the first inning, we decided to just bunt the ball. Even then it was difficult to keep it within the limits of the outfield. After two innings we had our first international negotiations meeting. We came to an agreement; the Japanese would pitch our softball and we would pitch their tennis ball.
It was a great game. Everyone had a fun time. At the end of the nineth, we all turned to our scorekeeper, Mac Stevenson, for the final score. He was having so much fun and a few beers that he had lost the score somewhere in the seventh inning. But all in attendance agreed that it was a great game and we became good friends. That is until the day, some weeks later when one of the Japanese attached his radio antenna to one of the legs of our slooping V ham antenna terminated next to his quonset hut for better reception. Our BC-610 blew his radio across his room. We even had a warning sign at the termination; "DANGER-50 OHMS" of course in English.
Chitose Blacksmith Saves
by Dick Ott (1954)
Twas a dark and stormy night in the summer of
'54. When all was quiet in the guard tower, overlooking iceflow, out beyond the
antenna field. Then as a big bang...No, it was not the lightning and the guard
did not shoot himself in the leg. A small metal cam, the size of two cigarette
packs broke loose, into two pieces, in the iceflow dome...The flow had melted
and did not know north east from south west.
We determined that it would take two weeks for Tokyo to figure out what we needed to get back into operation, then four weeks to get the part shipped from the states. Then the storm broke and a light bulb went off in someone's head. He only had a light bulb in there and not much else. Into a sock went the two parts. The next morning, at first light, we headed thru the deep mud on the road to the little village of Chitose. Drove thru the muddy alleys and into the village blacksmith's little house. He had done welding repairs to some bucket-a-day water heaters for some dependents with his inverted half water filled wash tubs containing carbide with a hose to his torch.
He looked at the two parts, we removed from the sock. We showed him how they fitted together...ahhh so!!, ahh so!! "no can weld". He noticed our sorrowful looks, "No, No, I can not weld" I makie new." Outside he had a junk pile looking like parts from many toyopets. He selected a piece and brought it into his little shop at the rear of his house. He carefully measured the broken pieces, in the dim light, and sketched it all on a small piece of rice paper. Then it was placed into his metal lathe powered by a belt from the rear wheel of his motor bike...in one hour, he had made a perfect duplicate of the broken cam. "How much?" We asked. He wrote down on the sketch paper "1,500" ($5) Thank goodness, we had enough to pay him, plus another 1,500 which he would not accept. We took his sketch with us, security, and back into the power wagon, thru the muddy streets of Chitose and out the rutted, muddy road to Chitose II. Back at iceflow, the group was still attempting to explain to Tokyo the part that they needed as we walked in.
At 14 hrs, that very same day, iceflow was flowing smoothl; Thanks to the light bulb in the head and the Chitose Blacksmith.
Chitose As I Saw It
by John Steele (1950-51)
In January 1949, after just turning 15 years of age
in December 1948, I enlisted in the US Army. When I was just about half way
through basic training at Fort Ord California, I was called out of the bleachers
where I was receiving extensive training in the use of machine guns, mortar and
flame throwers ( by watching some one else demonstrate how they worked) and I
knew I was busted for being underage. The MP that came to get me, once I was in
the jeep, never answered any questions I asked. I can assure you that I was one
nervous young fellow. Driving me into the warehouse area, the MP curtly told me
to get out and go in "that" door. Since it was the only opening in the side
where we stopped, even I couldn't screw up. No other doors, windows or bodies to
be seen, I just knew that this was the end and I was soon to be shot. When I
opened the door and peered inside, I saw eight or nine other young men sitting
in the large room, saying nothing. They just looked at me and then down or up or
just anywhere, other then to look at me again. This gave me my first clue that
others were in my same situation, and a thought, somewhat comforting, that
perhaps something interesting was going to come out of this. I took a seat like
the others and waited for who knew what or who. We must have sat like that for a
lifetime in complete silence, when the only other door into the room opened and
a Major walked in and assumed a position behind this little podium, not saying
anything, just looking at us. After a rather long pause, he spoke. "Men" he said
( oh yea, I'm a man!)" you have been called here today for an opportunity that
not many get. If you accept, you will, in the next year be trained and screened
to join a most elite organization. What you will be doing is secret, what it is
called is a secret, and you may not ask any questions about it. One thing I can
tell you, is that if there is anything you have withheld from the
Army when you joined, it will come to light as you will be investigated back to your birth. Sooo if anyone here has something that he would rather not come to light, he may leave now. Transportation is waiting outside the door, and you will be returned to your platoon - no questions asked by anyone". He then left the room and in the next five minutes, all but three of us left. Times were tough in those days and a lot of young men came to the Army as a lesser of two evils. What
possessed me to remain I'll never know. We were taken to a different building, remained there for three days (all our possessions were delivered to us there - never went back to our organizations from whence we left) and in three days, one at a time, we departed to catch a train. I got off the train in Agusta Georgia and transportation was waiting to take me to Camp Gorden. What happened to that great secret organization I had volunteered for? As far as I could tell, I was just another young GI going through radio school. No one said anything to or about my being different from anyone else. What a drag. I figured that by now I would have secret signs and handshakes to identify my self to those others like me. Oh well, such is life. It was fall after graduation from radio school, when I got orders to Carlisle Barracks Pa. and no one had heard of the place, that I began to believe that, just maybe, this was going to be fun. This was also when I first heard about the ASA and what it stood for. Forgot all about my fraudulent enlistment and the concern of the background investigation disclosing my under age status until I was informed that I had received my TS clearance. Still don't understand how that came about, but not my problem. I learned some neat stuff there and upon completion, was ordered to Vint Hill Farms, Virginia for yet a bit more training. From there, on to Two Rock Ranch California and an airplane ride to Tokyo Japan. That's where some Sgt tried to stick me on a train that would take me to the docks for further transportation via ship to Korea and an infantry platoon already in action. Thank God for another Sgt I wasn't even aware of, that brought to the attention of some Lt standing around what our orders read and I was put on a truck for transport to Tokyo.
The Tokyo Arsenal
by John Steele (1950-51)
I received a story about another guy that passed through the Tokyo Arsenal, in route to Chitose, and the story was quite a bit different then the one I am about to tell. The fact that he was a SNCO, where as I was a low of the low PVT, might
have something to do with the divergence of experiences, but I figured that everyone that made that trip wasn't a SNCO and therefore our story should be shared. I remember the Arsenal as being a concrete structure, over ridden by a permeating odor of mildew. Bare mattress and loud speakers that blared messages that I never understood. There were ten or twelve of us in a squad bay and we were given liberty to wander around Tokyo for a few days, awaiting further orders. As these orders came, sending one or two guys off to different destinations at a time, the feeling of being left behind grew. There was that old dark cloud that was to hang over me for another 8 years, before I finally corrected the birth date on my records. No music, no linen, no waitresses in the mess hall. Try tin trays, food slopped on by some guy with hairy arms and tattoos. Smelly mattresses (the source of a lot of the mildew smell) and not a friendly face to be seen. Departing there was the high light of my life and the experience quite a bit different then the description given in the other story. I was given an envelope with my orders and direction (with transportation layed on) to the rail line that took me to Hokkaido.
by John Steele (1950-51)
Don't remember how or why, but I got off the train
in Sapporo instead of Chitose and hooked a ride to the base in an old Japanese
truck. The driver seemed to know where I was going (found out later that there
weren't too many GIs around the area in those days) and dropped me at what must
have been the gate to the base. No one there. From that point, I just looked for
the biggest building I could see and headed for it. It was the old Japanese HQ
building, and what turned out to be my new home. As I entered the building, I
heard laughing and turned into an office that had no description as to what lay
behind the open door. What I found was five or six guys, all in tee shirts,
smoking and playing poker. One of them must have been expecting me, for he held
out his hand for my orders, identified himself as the first shirt, and with a
vague wave of his hand introduced me to Lt somebody or the other. I guess that
this was the famous Lt Reynolds, as the time was about right and that was the
name Miles Miller referred to as the CO. As far as memory serves me, that was
the last contact with either of these two men. The first shirt directed someone
in that room to show me where I would sleep and take me up to my work space on
the top floor. This is where I was to spend many hours on a steel chair (boy did
my but hurt) beating the hell out of a Mill. I lived in a two man room and
experienced what it was to have a "house boy". A Japanese fellow that went by
the handle of "Sgt" He told me he was a ex-Kamikaze pilot that never flew his
mission. So what, I was young and believed him. Then one day, it got better!
Seems like my records showed that I had a talent that leaned toward what was
going on out at Ice Flow. (See how they brain washed me. Even today I wouldn't
say what I did) Sgt Leroy Jakabson ( aka one punch jake ) took me out to "Ice
Flow" and became my illustrious leader for the remainder of my time at Chitose
and was my friend until I shipped out to Korea in early 1951 or 52 (I think).
What a great place Chitose was!!! These are some of the things I remember that
made my memories. Never having to stand an inspection or formation. No liberty
cards or gate guard to show it to (until the 45th came just before I left) and
no one caring where you went, or when you got back, as long as you showed up for
your shift. One wild night of war games. Didn't learn a damn thing, but it was
fun throwing firecrackers at each other. Taking the shotgun from the sleeping
Japanese that was supposed to be guarding us out at Ice Flow, and keeping it
until he had to come and ask for it back. Never slept again. Crab races over a
white sheet of paper up on the top floor. Had to pick you own crab, and the
wager was a dollar a head. Seems like we were always getting crabs. Using the
weasel to pull two to four guys on skies hung out on comm. wire.With six others,
taking a military cargo sled (have no idea where we got it) down along, steep
slope, thereby reaching speeds exceeding the speed of light, beforebeing dumped
in about four feet of snow.The scandal of a Pvt named Brown, who had a different
slant on sex.When two of us junior fellows, got the duty to raise the flag one
morning. Findingthe door locked and about two steps up, the other fellow whipped
out his 45 andwith one shot, hit the lock. The flag went up and no one asked
what happened.The night the NCO club burned down and we lost one of our senior
NCO while he
tried to save the Japanese fire guard.The day Gen Ridgeways plane landed and we played host to the Asst Sec of Def.
Seems I heard something like "eat the banana Anna" but it was for sure all in my mind.I am sure that in time I will remember other things, but overall, I hope thisbrings back memories of the days gone by. Would love to hear other stories of the time and I hope my personal information wasn't to boring.
Respectfully John Steele Pvt Pfc Cpl Sgt Cpl and then no longer RA but USMC
From Miles Miller (1950-52)
The very first POV to arrive at the 51st SSD was mine. I had it in Tokyo and, like many others, I was TDY to Chitose [arrived Feb 12, 1950, departed Jan 1952] since the TOE did not include a cryptographer, which I was. In order to ship it I sold it to Lt Reynolds, our commander, for $1, and he shipped it up. Even though the roads were gravel and bumpy then, it was a treat to have. Many adventures ensued, too lengthy to include here. Eventually I got hard up for money to support my lady in Chitose and sold it to M/Sgt Ness [who always had plenty]. Later he sold it to Don Stoops, who had it overpainted dark blue from the earlier white. I owned that 1941 Ford Club coupe from 1947 [when I returned to Great Falls AFB, MT, from Adak] until 1950. It took me to Ft Ord, CA, Vint Hills Farm, VA, Carlisle Barracks, PA, and back across country to Petaluma, thence Oji Camp in Tokyo. It seems in those days hardly anyone owned a POV, they were still hard to get and few had the money. Miles C. Miller, then S/Sgt and SFC, retired CW3.
My contribution to "Bear Tales": By John "Crazy Stick" Chrzastek
As an O58 (A Ops) I was frequently assigned to the Igloo (B Ops). Ninety-nine percent of the time there was nothing going on and it was really tough to stay awake. At that time, the operations end of the Igloo was attached to the back end of the permanent building. This was composed of 4 moving van sized trailers that opened into a common "hall" area. At the end of the hall was a door that lead to a concrete platform and to the left, a Quonset hut. In the Q-hut was the beloved coffee pot. The entire complex was surrounded by the standard double barbed wire fence. The internal complex was lit up thru the night by flood lights that also covered 20-25 feet outside the perimeter. Late in the winter or early spring of 1967 I was working a loooonnngg mid shift. Around 3 AM I headed for the Q-hut and yet another cup of coffee. Half way across the concrete platform, I happened to glance up and froze in my tracks. There, just on the outside edge of external spotlit perimeter, I saw half a dozen faces staring at me. Well, in that instant in time, at that hour of the morning, I decided that the figures, which appeared to be shrouded in white, were Russian paratroopers wearing winter camouflage. I was convinced that I had stumbled on some dastardly first strike plot. I made a mad dash for the Q-hut and let the watch NCO know I saw something outside. By the time we got outside the "paratroopers" were gone and I was feeling mighty stupid. The watch NCO notified the MPs and a minor flap ensued. I had to repeat what I had seen a couple of times. At that point I figured I was headed for a trip down south and maybe a stay in a rubber room. An hour or so later, word filtered back to me that somebody else reported a similar event on the swing shift. Man was I relieved. When I came back on duty the next mid shift, I found out that the MPs had gone out in the daytime and did see signs of activity in the snow so I was in the clear and the whole incident just went away. Many years later, as a fat, dumb, and happy civilian, I was channel surfing the TV and up pops my Russian paratroopers! Turns out, I was seeing a National Geographic special on snow apes -- a sub species of baboons. Their fur was white -- a winter adaptation. These particular apes were photographed on the northern end of Honshu but there's no doubt that that's what I saw on that "first strike" night on Hokaido.
(The nick name came from a mispronunciation of my last name by trick 4's "Gomer", not the paratrooper incident.)
EXTRA EXTRA READ ALL
US Air Force Machineguns Chitose (1953)
The following tale was related by Tony Murello. Tony was with the 506th Strategic Fighter Wing. In the fall of 1953 the 506th was sent to Chitose AFB on a 90 day TDY deployment. In October of '53 an Airman Nun was cleaning the 50 caliber machine guns in the nose section of an F-84 Starfighter when the guns accidentally started firing. According to Tony, "3 rounds spent in the first hanger. 2 rounds went through the terminal hanger and just missed a First Cav troop as it pased through a window."
Want proof? OK...
"Airman Wessar pointing to bullet holes put in hanger". (Photo & quotes courtesy of Tony Murello)
Well "Stick" here is you a Bear
by Clark Halstead (1957-59)
Some of us guys was sitting in the mess hall one Saturday morning and if you remember the mess hall, there were a lot of windows on the left side and out of the windows you could see a smoke stack that was decorated up like one on a Missippi river steam boat. We got to talking about it and someone asked what it was. An ol boy (I think by the name of Eldrege) got real interested. Another ol boy from Virginia (I think his name was Pendelton) told him it was a steam boat on the Chitose River that had got stuck there and left. No one thought any more about it as Pendelton could always come up with some explanation of anything and everything. Well, the next morning, as we set lingering over coffee, Elredge walked in and told us he had rode over every road he could find available looking for that steam boat and from that day on, he was called "Steam Boat". ~Clark Halstead (57-59)
Another nugget from Jacque
Bear and Lightning Bolt
I keep thinking of this and it seems it was a contest on post to design something for the "Chitose Confidential" our unit paper and it was designed at that time (54-56), can't remember who did the design but maybe that will "pop" into my head one of these days. If I recall the lightning bolts signified the same as other ASA stuff, radio waves. The bear is Kuma Station. I don't swear to any of this but it is the best of my recollection. Sure wish I had saved copies of the "Confidential" sure would have been nice all these years later.
~ Jacque Crevier (04/04/98)
OPS Maint. (54-56)
"POP" At the last reunion I found a copy of the Confidential that fully credited the design of the "Bear and Lightning" to Alfred "Dud" Wetherby. Hopefully I will be able to locate the article once again in San Diego. . .. Jacque A Crevier (05/17/03)
Memories of Chitose July 54 -
By Jacque Crevier
What do I remember of my time in Chitose?... Well,
I will try to recall what I can, spurred on by my recent contact
with the Chitose Reunion Group... I remember the long train ride from Tokyo, I remember, the ferry ride across to Hokkaido (a ferry that was destined to sink with the loss of many lives in a typhoon later that year), I remember arriving at Chitose Station with the words of the people at Tokyo Arsenal still on my mind; "When you get to Chitose, don't let the guys from the Cav get hold of you. We have had guys lost for weeks before we find out where they are". I remember the long truck ride (well, at least it seemed long) out this dusty, bumpy road to the forlorn looking group of Quonset huts, 8612 DU, the place people at AHS said no one wanted to come to. I remember my first day in the shop, the kid fresh out of school saying; "that's not the way we did it in school", and Sargents Grove and Robertson saying; "but this isn't school" and this being echoed by PFCs Taylor, Bell, (Russ) and O'Sullivan (Don), although O'Sullivan was in the same class at Ft. Monmouth, he got to Chitose a month before me, so he was an "old hand". I remember MSGT Delvin Snodgrass, what a character, his favorite word was "immigrant" when he meant "ignorant". I remember watch officer WO "Tippy Toes" Taylor who use to snoop around the shop off shifts until "someone" started leaving charged filter capacitators on the bench which he picked up and got rid of when they discharged in the palm of his hand. I remember the OPS fire of December 1954 (Sorry Duane, I was state-side December of 1956 and I was there for the fire.) and how we moved some operations to the "ham shack (KA9MF)" and to the generator building or wherever we could. I remember the long hours spent salvaging what could be salvaged and then setting up jamesways and then the "liberated" quonsets were set up, GI and Japanese working side by side, the many hours spent building plywood consoles. If my memory serves me right, a guy by the name of Dick Holp was company carpenter or something like that and was sort of the carpenter supervisor, how we strung antenna cables, and power cables, etc. and finally we had a "new" OPS building. I remember a couple of "green weenie" incidents that always successfully got the Company personnel's philosophy aligned with OPS. I remember CWO Ness and his red Chevrolet convertible and his many jo-sans. I remember CWO Mosure and thinking that he was the most military man I ever met. And, getting back to the OPS fire, I remember that in the next day or so, a MIG showed up to take a few pictures, made two passes and was gone by the time the Air Force got the F86s in the air he was long gone. I remember the local Japanese paper reporting that a radar station had burned. I remember Bob Grove working to get a couple of Ampex bays going and was recommended for some sort of commendation for his effort, always wondered if he got it. I remember how some of us got together, bought a Heath-kit stereo, put it together and put it in the library. later some guys made a low power transmitter out of a salvaged signal generator and installed it so we could hear the music in the company area. Well, I guess it wasn't so low powered because a few weeks later a group of locals showed up at the main gate with a DF truck wanting some one's "whatever". Needless to say that was the end of radio KUMA. I remember spending my first Christmas with the kids at Angel Guardian Orphanage at Kita Hirosima and how the guys all gave on pay day so these kids and others there would have a nice Christmas. This went on year round but Christmas was special. If I remember correctly, mary Ott, Disk's wife was the only dependent that was there, no dependent housing was available and I think they lived in town. She was a great help with this project. There was a guy named Warren Stowell from the antenna crew that was involved,. I remember Harold Norrod, who would make sweet rolls that were a welcome sight when you came off mids. I also remember green eggs, reconstituted milk, slippery cold cuts and the occasional good meal that came out of the mess hall and we all probably remember SOS and Salisbury steak. We even had 'C' rations one time when the snow got so bad we were isolated for a few days. I remember that, some time in my tour, after the fire, i was made sort of a clerk/typist to help out with the paper work as it pertained to the OPS maintenance a worked with LT Dixon and MSGT Mize. This was kind of meat as I only worked days and took occasional calls in the shop. the best part of this was on pay day we always seemed to spend the afternoon at the NCO club even though we were supposed to be elsewhere. I also remember the "Snowflake Theater" and George Beddingfield who kept it running. I remember that the films (16mm) started showing up in cinemascope and the picture would be all mis-sharpened and george took some wide angle lens (35mm) from special services cameras and got the picture so it was viewable. If I remember correctly, we even had popcorn, popped in the mess hall. And then there was the tale of the "sloping V" antenna. it was put up in the fall for a special job with the Aleutians. The job didn't materialize until early spring sometime. The antenna crew and whoever checked it out informed MSGT Snodgrass that the reading didn't look right on one leg. He said; "FIRE IT UP", so they did and the poor old BC-610 about left the shack. The 250TH glowed like a bonfire and down it went. I hear tell that they took a ride out into the area tat was being used by the SDF, and there was a mess hall with smoke coming out of the windows and people running around. It appears that one of the cooks had an old super het receiver (grounded chassis, of course) and had placed it on one of the stainless steel sink areas with the antenna hooked up to the "old" wire that so conveniently ran just over the roof top. When they keyed the transmitter all hell broke loose. I remember Dick Ott working to get his amateur radio license, as a lot of guys did and when he got it, he picked his call sign "KA9DO" and some other the guys called it "King Arthur's nine drooping oscillators" as the base's station was "KA9MF" or "King Arthur's nine merry fiddlers". I also remember when we got a new company commander, can' remember if it was Major Horton or who, but they decided we all should stand reveille in the snow. Well, one of the fore mentioned "green weenies" took care of that. And who could forget 1SGT Comier, or his side kick Jim Swing. He was a little upset when someone let go a 45 round in the guard house. it could have been Vern Brigman, one of the Ryans, George Kitrinos, or Cletus Royal. There was another SFC or MSGT named Billy J Woods. I can't remember if he was at the company or at OPS, also, Nick Kaps another SFC, NM section. I remember Howard Anderson, and if I remember correctly, he was involved in the "mill repair" incident that got the Cav all shook up. I remember Herbie Bickel, the west coast basketball "star" who pulled the backboard stand down and fractured his back and ended up in the hospital in Tokyo for awhile. I remember William "Bill" Buerkle, power operator, and his ever present pipe, I think he smoked CAPT. Black or something like that. Even smelled tolerable in the barracks. I remember Maurice Carlson, the native American guy from St. Cloud, Minn. who wanted to be a teacher. Often wonder if he got his wish.
Since I started this, I ran across Jim Brock's page and it, and an e-mail with him has brought back more names and memories, he brought me up to date on news about Harold Norrod and Don Robinson. The names of SFC Bierbaur (Beer Barrel) of the motor pool, mess SGT R. A. F. Kutnarski, SGT "Shortey" Richardson. I was also at a loss for the name of the CO before MAJ Horton and he refreshed my memory with MAJ McKibben. I am also at a loss for the name of the OPS officer. CAPT Cook comes to mind, who was so insistent on keeping inventory on the stuff in the jamesways after the fire and I got in trouble for putting down SH/IT Paper for you know what. There are so many names, faces and incidences that have gone to the further neurons in my mind but I am determined to set them down as they re-occur.
[John, feel free to use any, all or none of this rambling discourse and if you or anyone else can help on names, I sure would appreciate it.~Jacque A. Crevier OPS Maint. (54-56)
From Hal Fleming: (1952-54)
As we all know, "mills" were certainly the most worked pieces of equipment that ASA had in it's inventory. Used 724-hours per day by sometimes frustrated O58s who saw the machine as an invention of the devil, they were always breaking down. We had assigned maintenance men responsible for their upkeep, but they could not keep up with demands and were frequently out of parts. Sometime in the 1952-54 time period someone, somewhere, came up with the idea that the ASA field stations ought to use the existing Army maintenance facilities and send our mills to them when we needed more than organization-level maintenance. On Hokkaido the facility was operated by the 1st Cav Div in Sapporo and we sent a bunch of mills to them for repair. Back came a letter charging that there had been obvious neglect and in some cases attempted destruction of government property and that plans were afoot for a formal survey to be conducted which would lead to someone paying for the damage and being courts-martialed. I don't recall the details of how the matter was resolved, but I believe that Major MacKibben, with his smooth southern charm, talked the 1st Cav out of following through with their threat. I do believe however that by mutual agreement between ASA and the 1st Cav we went back to the prior system. And what about the O58s? Did they settle their dispute with the infernal machine? Not that I noticed.
-Hal Fleming, Watch Officer (51)
Earthquake of '51
Submitted by John D. Campbell
Does anyone remember the earthquake we experienced during the winter of '51. I'll never forget it that's for sure. I was working the midnight shift,and half asleep when I heard a loud booming noise,followed by a tremendously loud screech. I had been seated at the time, and when I stood to go to the door to see what was happening, I fell over immediately. In fact, I wound up on my hands and knees trying to get to the door. Once outside the door, I was again knocked to my knees and the screeching noise was deafening. I rode the creast of each roll of the earth's crust with great difficulty. There was a first wave of the quake followed by two other minor tremors. Each time the screeching was deafening. Later, we (others) who experienced the quakes surmised that the screeching was a result of the ice covering cracking during the heaving of the earth's crust. What a night that turned out to be!!
The Great Bear Hunt
Submitted by John D. Campbell
I always thought of myself as a sort of "Great White Hunter" after the hunting experiences I had in the wilds of northern Minnesota. But what I was about to take part in would be the thrill of my lifetime, or so they told me. That's about all they told me. Nothing about the hazards of a bear hunt (Kuma that is!) Nothing about the way in which we would approach the bear or what we would do in case we saw a bear in the flesh! Nothing about where to try to hit the bear in a full charge. No, none of those "little" details. Well, to make a long ordeal short-- We set off to get a bear. With our japanese guide, and five others of us, we had trekked into the woods about 1/4 of a mile, when we came upon the biggest bear I had ever seen. I don't need to tell you he changed my mind, and the man closest to me on my left. We made one bee-line for the truck, and needless to say that ended the hunt for the two of us. Kumas. Who would want a nice 10 foot rug (head to feet)to send home to mom anyway?
Got a funny story, an explanation on something (like
that Bear with the 3 bolts of lightning)?
Please send it - just about any kind of format will do.. None of us are getting any younger...
Phil Peters firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com