Us Military Occupation Of Japan

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by jamesicus, Apr 2, 2005.

  1. jamesicus

    jamesicus Senior Member

    The US Military began occupying and taking control of Japanese military installations shortly after the surrender in August 1945. The initial American units -- including General MacArthur and his staff -- landed at Atsugi Air Base near Tokyo in forty five C-47 cargo aircraft on 28 August 1945. The officially designated US occupation of Japan lasted until 1954, although the US Military presence lasted many years longer.

    I was in charge (NCOIC/Chief Range Officer) of the small arms firing training program and range at Yokota Air Base (Tama Army Airfield) some twenty five miles north of Tokyo (after the occupation - early 1960s). My staff consisted of five GIs -- four instructors and one gunsmith -- and five Japanese contract civilians -- four range maintenance/laborers and one gunsmith/supplies assistant.

    The Japanese contract civilians, being in their 60s, had not served in the Japanese armed forces in WW2. The Japanese civilians spoke little English and my GIs spoke limited "GI Japanese" -- but as time progessed the GIs became more proficient in Japanese (I became quite proficient) and we communicated in a mixture of English and Japanese.

    The back stop of the firing range was one of the Japanese Air Force hardened "Zero" fighter aircraft shelters that were adjacent to the main runway. They were reinforced concrete "clam-shells" covered with a thick layer of earth. The range proper featured covered firing points with cement walkways that had been constructed by the first cadre of US troops that had taken possession of the base from the Japanese after the surrender in 1945. This same group of GIs also constructed the range house, gunsmith room, storage rooms, classroom and maintenance shop (and using Japanese laborers). There were 25 yard turning targets and stationary 1000" & 50 yard targets. It was used for USAF small arms familiarization, training and qualification with the standard (at that time) M1911A1 .45 cal semi-automatic pistol (Officers, aircrews and Air Police) and M1 cal 30 Carbines (enlisted personnel). We also conducted periodic inter-service competitive pistol matches. We used the 1000" firing line for range instructor fully automatic fire familiarization and training (BAR and M2 carbine) in order to accommodate their tendency to climb during sustained fire. We trained and maintained base competitive pistol and high powered rifle (Garand) teams.

    The cooperating inter-service US Military small arms training units/firing range facilities in the central Honshu (main island of Japan) area were: Yokota AB (USAF), Tachikawa AB (USAF), Camp Zama (the wartime Japanese Imperial Army Academy now US Army Headquarters), Atsugi Naval Air Station (US Navy), Yokosuka Naval Base (US Navy/US Marine Corps). Firing range usage within this structure was: Yokota AB -- competitive Pistol shooting; Camp Zama: primary high power rifle (Garand) training and competitive firing (pit operated 200 yds, 300 yds, 600 yds) with back-up at Yokosuka Naval Base (US Marine Corps - 200yds and 300 yds only).

    I signed for and took custody of the small arms assigned to the Base (approximate numbers for I cannot remember exactly) -- fifty .45 cal M1911A1 pistols; one hundred cal .30 M1 Carbines (M1 & M2); four cal.30 Browning Automatic Rifles (BAR); seventy five cal .30 M1 Rifles (Garands) -- service & competition -- plus accoutrements, spare parts, supplies, ammunition and the physical buildings.

    All Japanese military weapons had been confiscated, inspected, categorized and transmitted to US Military Headquarters at the time of the initial occupation. One Japanes tripod mounted 7.7 mm cal model 92 machine gun had been painted and retained as a war trophy/decoration and installed at the entrance to the Yokota AB small arms firing range main office.

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