- 1 ：1：2014/03/14(Fri) 12:21:40.62 ID:jJwUmv3Z0
- In late 1964 I got an assignment had been seeking. Japan.
And, I obtained approval for concurrent travel.
That's military for you can take your family with you when
- 2 ：1：2014/03/14(Fri) 12:22:14.93 ID:jJwUmv3Z0
- We drove our 1963 Rambler station wagon, my wife, I and 3 kids,
from South Carolina to Los Angeles. We had a nice vacation there,
then drove up to Fairfield, CA, home of Travis Air Force Base.
I shipped my car, and we flew out of Travis through Anchorage to
Tachikawa Air Base, Japan.
- 3 ：1：2014/03/14(Fri) 12:23:23.37 ID:jJwUmv3Z0
- When I left the States I knew I was going to the
1956th Communications Group, I think it was 1956th, located at
Fuchu AS, Japan.
- 4 ：1：2014/03/14(Fri) 12:24:33.73 ID:jJwUmv3Z0
- We, my wife, kids, and I were, met at Tachikawa terminal by a
Sergeant from the unit.
He said, "You gonna be working at Kashiwa."
Never heard of it. "Transmitter site", he said.
Well, what the hell's the difference? It's somewhere around Tokyo.
And my family is with me.
- 5 ：1：2014/03/14(Fri) 12:25:42.98 ID:jJwUmv3Z0
- I had the pleasure of riding a bus out to Kashiwa a couple of days
later. My sponsoring Sergeant drove me over to Grant Heights
from Green Park and we caught a bus for an hour and a half ride.
"Am I gonna do this every day?"
"Well, no. You gonna work 24 on, 48 off."
What am I, a fireman?
- 6 ：1：2014/03/14(Fri) 12:26:43.64 ID:jJwUmv3Z0
- Ever been in the service? You know I had to spend a couple or
three days "clearing in". Then, I had to locate and rent a house for
my family. And sign for some furniture and wait for it to be moved in.
And get some kerosene delivered. This was February. That done,
I was assigned to a shift and began working.
- 7 ：1：2014/03/14(Fri) 12:27:29.22 ID:jJwUmv3Z0
- My car had not arrived, and would not for three or more weeks.
So, every shift evening I rode with someone or other from
Tachikawa, where the house was, to Grant Heights, where the bus
for Kashiwa left. 24 hours later we made the trip in reverse.
- 8 ：1：2014/03/14(Fri) 12:28:13.33 ID:jJwUmv3Z0
- Kashiwa Transmitter Site was in the process of being taken over from
the Army by the Air Force. The Air Force was closing its transmitter
site at Funabashi and was going to move the transmitters from there to
Kashiwa. There were a few Army guys around, screwing off, for the first
shift or two I was there.
Then just us boys in blue. Actually, we were in green.
- 9 ：1：2014/03/14(Fri) 12:28:49.98 ID:jJwUmv3Z0
- The cantonment area consisted of some one-story buildings clustered
next to a former Japanese hangar. Kashiwa was a former Japanese air base.
Around the edges of the hangar building were various administration offices,
chow hall, club, PX, supply, etc. The one story buildings were barracks.
- 10 ：1：2014/03/16(Sun) 10:20:03.74 ID:l30f3IS10
- About a mile away was the operations building. Inside were the
transmitters and auxiliary equipment. More about the equipment later.
But, about that bus trip. I don't wanna complain, after all, I was there
from 65 to 68, right through the Vietnam buildup. Still, the trip was
a son of a bitch. At night there weren't many of us riding, so it was
a minivan with 2 or 3 GIs and a Japanese driver. Sheer mind blowing
boredom. Hour and a half, unless a traffic jam was encountered.
Every driver had his own personal shortcut. Some of which worked
and some of which were disasters. Then too, we GIs had our own
ideas after we had made the trip a few times. Every trip began as a
discussion of which way to go.
- 11 ：1：2014/03/16(Sun) 10:22:25.65 ID:l30f3IS10
- We'd leave Grant Heights at 2100 hours, as I remember, and arrive at
Kashiwa about 2230. We ate midnight chow at the chow hall, then
rode up to the transmitter building. We worked until about 0730 the
next morning, depending on when the day shift arrived. We ate again,
another breakfast, then slept, or tried to, until about 1400.
I worked, and therefore shared sleeping quarters, with a guy who
ground his teeth. Which is less desirable, a snorer or a tooth grinder?
How about neither one.
Another meal in the chow hall, then back to transmitters to work
until 2300 or so. Then yet another meal at the chow hall, and a ride
back to Grant Heights. And let's not forget that until we were fortunate
enough to Grant Heights we had then drive back to Tachikawa in our
That drive was an adventure in itself. Soon I was the only one on my
shift living at Tachikawa. So, I made the drive alone. Just me, and rock
and roll on the radio. Tachi, Higashi Murayama Machi, Tokorozawa, down
the Koshu Kaido to Grant Heights. In my big, white station wagon with the
steering wheel on the wrong side. Took over an hour on a good night.
Listen to me now. I'm the only guy in my outfit who had a car over there
for nearly three years and did not have an accident.
Actually, an amazing feat.
- 12 ：1：2014/03/16(Sun) 10:26:37.32 ID:l30f3IS10
- The transmitters. Or should I say, THE TRANSMITTERS. I'm not
going to dredge up the nomenclatures of the various big dogs. They
were 40,000 watt hummers and little bitty 4,000 watt pups. You could
walk into the 4,000 watters if you removed a transformer or two.
You could live in the 40,000 watters. They sat on the floor with open
wire transmission lines coming out high on the tops and proceeding to
exit windows in the walls of the building. The lines carried the RF out
to rhombic antennas.
Here's a picture of the big ones, the AN/FRT-22.
They would fry your ass good if you made a major mistake and became
personally connected to the operating voltages or to the RF output.
Actually, they were not dangerous at all. You don't step in front of
moving car; you don't lick you finger and test for high voltage. There
were those among us, though, who were scared shitless of big bad old
- 13 ：1：2014/03/16(Sun) 14:14:25.17 ID:l30f3IS10
- The Air Force insisted that these things never be operated with the
interlocked doors open. That precluded anyone getting fricasseed.
Of course, it also precluded fixing the things when they were broken.
We ignored the Air Force directives and cheated the interlocks at will.
We hid the interlock cheating devices when the dumbass inspectors
We had 5 Japanese maintenance guys left over from the Army. The
Army had manned the site mostly with operators, so the Japanese
were used to doing all the repairs and maintenance. They were
somewhat taken aback when they found that we intended to fix the
things ourselves. The Japanese guys were EXCELLENT technicians.
Mr. H***** was the supervisor, and the shift dudes were Mr. K***,
Mr. Y*****, and the other two I can't remember the names.
One more came over from Funabashi with the transmitters from there.
- 14 ：1：2014/03/16(Sun) 14:15:53.07 ID:l30f3IS10
- This place was not like my cool tour in Thailand, where I just left
the equipment alone until it failed, the fixed it. Here, we had QSY,
change frequencies, at least twice a day, often more. Every QSY is a
potential disaster. Lots more fun screwups to fix. But, I loved those
transmitters. They were my favorite electronic junk of my whole
career, military and civilian. But, they could blow up in an impressive
fashion. Sometimes you'd look in the windows of one, yes, they had
doors and windows, and see an apparent lightning storm. If something
happened, screwup or equipment malfunction, that prevented the RF
energy for leaving the transmitter on the way to the antenna, the RF
would arc around inside the transmitter in a truly merry fashion.
Moving transmitters from Funabashi to Kashiwa took at least a year.
The stuff coming over was about like what was already there. Old and
crappy. We got it all to work as required. This is not to say it didn't
work at Funabashi. Moving it and reinstalling it caused problems. I was
not much involved with installing the new (to Kashiwa) stuff. A GEEIA
team did that, assisted as necessary by our day shift. I remained, happily,
a shift worker.
- 15 ：1：2014/03/16(Sun) 14:16:45.88 ID:l30f3IS10
- Now, lemme tell you about promotions. I had became a SSgt on 1 Dec
1955. I mentioned that I arrived at Kashiwa in late January 1965. So,
that means that I'd been a SSgt for a little over 9 years. Was I ranking
SSgt? Well, Yes. Another guy had the same date of rank, but I had been
in the military longer. Big deal. Anyway, I was a kind of a gray beard SSgt.
Whoa! Vietnam. The magic word for all of us old lifers of various grades
who had been so long in grade that promotion boards automatically
assumed we must be fuckups. Which we may or may not have been.
Vietnam. It opened up promotions. One day I was told to report the
next day to the Communications Group at Fuchu. On arrival I was
put in a room with the damnedest bunch of over the hill sergeants
I'd ever seen in one place. Some officer showed up and told us we
had all been promoted. Tears of joy were shed.
Well, I always thought, and still do, that SSgt was the best rank in
the enlisted force. However, promotions mean more money, faster
cars, older whiskey, younger women. No, scratch that last benefit.
This promotion was not an unalloyed blessing, Now being a TSgt, I was
moved to the day shift. A place populated mostly by people I didn't much
care for. See, radio guys who can fix radios tend to do so. Radio guys
who can't fix 'em tend to do paperwork. Paperwork is done by day shifts.
I despised paper work, and didn't particularly like those who graviated to it.
I called them chart makers, among other things. As it turned out, I still got
to do a lot of maintenance and repair work at Kashiwa. It was on my next
assignment that I was relegated with the useless to a chair behind a desk.
Bummer, but unavoidable.
- 16 ：1：2014/03/16(Sun) 14:17:57.24 ID:l30f3IS10
- Those days were the end of the line for long haul HF radio communications.
It was mostly backup for undersea cable, and satellites were coming into use.
Vietnam again. We were doing Indepensent Sideband (ISB) stuff. And, with the
transmitters from Funabashi, we did some weather fax transmission at about
1,000 watts. Even had one RTTY circuit to Iwo Jima. Some communications
agency came in and installed some SSB voice transmitters. Big ones. Cool
discone antennas. Meant, I think, for the use by the President's communications
system. I don't know if they ever got the stuff to work properly. They didn't
think us pitiful GIs were smart enough to handle the junk.
Another time I was elected to go on a TDY trip around the Pacific to inspect
the operations of transmitter and receiver sites. A civilian tech from our
Communications Group was to go too. Air Force gave me a ride from Grant
Heights to Haneda, Tokyo, to catch a PanAm for Honolulu. The civilian
never showed up. I had to go to Honolulu, and the Philippines and wander
around transmitter sites listening to familiar tales of woe. It was a total waste
of time. Finally, I left my "team" at Clark in the Philippines and went back to
Japan. I met them for the final leg of the tour at my own dear Kashiwa.
Needles to say, when I wrote my report at Kashiwa ruled, the others sucked.
- 17 ：1：2014/03/16(Sun) 14:18:42.14 ID:l30f3IS10
- I continued to work on the floor and on the transmitters until I left. I was
sorta the number 2 NCO. The number 1 NCO was a good guy who tended
to not work very hard. That's OK, not an usual situation. Doesn't mean I
didn't like him. See, if one worked the day shift at Kashiwa and one had
anything military or personal that precluded catching the bus in the morning
one did not have to work that day. Like, 30 minutes with the doctor, off the
rest of the day. Number 1 NCO was a genius at having something to do that
made him miss the bus. Hmmm. Every time number 1 NCO missed a day,
number 2, that's me, missed the next day. Sometimes a couple of weeks
would go by without 1 and 2 seeing one another. Worked great.
All good things must come to an end, and sometime in the middle of
January 1968 my rides to Kashiwa came to an end. I shipped my car
back to the U.S. I let my house on Grant Heights to go. I moved with
my family into temporary quarters at Tachikawa, and on 28 January
1968 boarded a PanAm 707 and flew non stop to good old Travis.
= Fin. =
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