Ruins of the US Air Force Base in Fuchu, Japan

November 3, 2008 · Haikyo, Military Installations, Tokyo-to 

The abandoned US Air Force (USAF) base in Fuchu is a vine-slathered memento from the early days of Japanese/American war and peace, built shortly after World War II and abandoned in the 1980’s. Part of it was cut off and made into a public park, part cut out and transformed into the the still-active nearby Japan Self-Defence Force (SDF) Base, and part left behind, slowly falling into ruin, for nature to claim as her own.

New antenna, old antenna in Fuchu Air Base.

Fuchu was an Air Base vital for re-supply and communications during the Vietnam and Korean Wars. Two giant parabolic dishes once loomed at one end of the runways, looking over a bustling base where the wounded frequently came back hot from war-zones overseas.

Now those huge twin dishes bob like hole-riddled yachts on a sea of green jungle, rusted red and half-eaten by the passing decades. Beneath them roads swim with weeds and trees shot up through the cracks, and barracks buildings glisten with waterfalls of rushes and creepers, windows and doors barely peeping through the shadowy gaps.

Double paraboles.

I’d been to this base before. The first time was in 2004, days before I first left Japan, along with a fellow teacher very early in the morning. I’d heard about the base from local students- some who’d been inside, others who’d heard of people going in and shooting movies then getting ushered out with light warnings by local police.

We left at dawn and walked to the base- through the park and past the current Japan SDF base that both used to be part of the American Base. We hopped a low fence easily and explored – through the long barracks buildings, to the 2 huge rusted-red satellite dishes, climbed up to their tops, in their control stations, all without any real concern of trespassing or being caught. I took photos with my feeble camera phone, none of which I still have, and somehow managed to forget a long-sleeved T-shirt in one of the rooms. I blogged about the voyage in an extremely vague way on my then-blog at Live Journal.

Just 4 of around 11 barracks buildings.

Dishes from Google maps.

The functioning antenna at right, more wrecked buildings in the middle.

Shortly after that, I got into a brief communication with a retired USAF captain who was stationed with the 5th Air Force in Fuchu from 1961-1966. I asked him for some details on the base, and described to him the gloriously overgrown nature of the base as was. He described to me the wonderful nature of the relations the USAF had with the JSDF, and some of his memories of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He said there was a new law made called the ‘Cinderella Law’, which meant all military had to be off the streets from midnight to 6am- one supposes to stop them from carousing with the locals. However- since the relationship between the base and the locals was so strong in Fuchu- the law was not enacted there.

I returned the next time in the summer of 2008, in the middle of the day. I was far more cautious, since my research on the web had shown that the base was not actually fully abandoned- the 2 huge parabolic dishes and all of the barracks were, but one large communications antenna (350 feet tall) was still in active use.

I began by walking the circumference of the base, trying to decide if I was foolhardy enough to enter. I walked around the base maybe 3 times, taking photographs from the outside, checking the integrity of the fences, mulling over the possibilities. I hung out in a park for several hours trying to decide if it was worth it. At stake was possible deportation if caught, if not absconsion to prison or some huge fine. I weighed the pros and cons in my head back and forth for a long time, while watching video podcasts about the coming US election, Obama vs. McCain, and taking photos of the Base through the fence.

They’re really huge.

After waiting for some time with one eye on the base’s fence, I saw a car driving on the interior. Not inside the section for the large antenna, which was re-fenced from the abandoned section, but actually inside the abandoned section. I chased the car from outside but failed to determine where it went, or exited. But that mostly decided it for me. If caught within the bounds of the base- I thought the punishment would be severe. Last time I was protected by my ignorance and the fact I was leaving Japan within days.

You can see the tire-tracks here, in low-sections of grass surrounded by overgrown buildings.

This time I wasn’t ignorant, nor did I have any desire to leave. Still, I couldn’t bear to leave without getting inside.

So I went inside.

The same fence I climbed over the last time was still low and accessible. I waited nearby until it got dark, lingering like a burglar casing a mark, already feeling the tension of the hunt. Standing beside the dark fence, peering into the gathering dark glooming around the ivy-wrapped barracks buildings, I strained to hear the slightest indication that there were guards patrolling inside.

As anyone who’s strained to hear something at night knows- there’s lots to hear. Lots of strange clicks, drips, scurrying sounds, and the occasional thump echoed out of the darkness. Each I worried over, wondering what kind of creature clicked, or which thumped. Each could be soldiers, creeping up on me, waiting for me to make the mistake.

At last, it reached the point where I was freezing, and the shame of going home with nothing at all finally overawed my fears of getting caught, and I stepped up to the fence, and did what was necessary.

The old story

In the first version of this post- I was so concerned about this trespassing that I didn’t admit to it at all. Rather I wrote the following-

So I turned around, and walked away.
However- afterwards I searched the net, made another contact, and managed to get hold of some photos from INSIDE the base from an anonymous source. My source described entry by night, feeling constant tension and fear of being caught, climbing the huge parabolic dishes, and finally exiting in a hazy blur.

None of which is true. Probably no-one was fooled anyway, and probably no-one cared, but still, it made me feel that little bit more comfortable at the time.

On to the real story, then, as remembered 3 years later, in Dec 2011.

The real story

Over the fence, and in. Guilty. I ran at once for cover, the nearest of the many long barracks buildings. In the darkness I had to fight my through the entangled ivy and leaves, getting dripped all over by the sodden undergrowth. Just ahead, barely iluminated by the moonlight, something went bang.

I froze, contemplated throwing myself bodily into the morass of vines. Instead I went statue-still, waiting for the US patrolmen to come arrest me. Waiting.

Nothing more. I creep forwards. I see a rusty old door blowing in the wind, occasionally thumping against its buckled frame.

Breathe out, relax, and into shelter.

And so like that.

Once inside, I felt comfortable enough to cautiously use my flashlight. Empty concrete halls, wires and pipes gouged and hanging down from above. Underfoot there were regular holes in the middle of the corridor- some kind of maintenance ducts to the basement- for some reason left dangerously open when the place was shut down.

I shuddered at the thought of a more-cautious-me, one who didn’t turn the flashlight on, and who walked brazenly into one of them. I’d have fallen straight through, probably whacked my hip on the edge, then possibly fallen right through.

Ouch. One of the hazards of haikyo.

I skirted them carefully, and started bobbing in and out of rooms, snapping photos with flash. Empty bedrooms, water-damaged, some with their wooden-frame ceilings coming down, some with hangars still in the closets. Who had stayed here, for how long? What war-zone had he or she returned from? How did it feel to be in such a foreign country, surrounded by men and women who until recently had been sworn enemies.

Mottled walls and rusting hangers.

Roofing rafters visible after the plaster has come down.

Here the rafters themselves have fallen- tumbled by time and rot.

Plaster-strewn stairs.

I felt like I was walking through a plane thick with memories, ghosts, as if I could just listen hard enough, I might be able to hear them.

My heart raced. I moved on.

At times padding down that first long barracks, I thought I heard voices outside, saw lights coming towards me. Had I tripped some silent alarm, and now they were coming for me? Would they think me a terrorist after the existing antenna, and shoot on sight?

I continued on in that mindset. Stepping out of the barracks at the end felt crazy, like I was just asking to be sniped, like taking a deep breath and diving off a sinking boat into the ocean, with no way back and the prospect of a long swim ahead to safety.

The only way out was through.

I entered another barracks, and repeated the long process, entering ad exiting at random, as the whim took me, drawn to see as much as possible. Soon I was thoroughly lost. A few hours passed like that, flying by in adrenaline and excitement as I walked around with all senses pitched to the max, attuned to every little sound around me. Regularly I leaped off the game-trails beaten through the tall grass, into the near-pitch-black cover of overhanging trees bowed down with creeping ivy. I ducked and weaved as though approaching an enemy encampment.

My goal was the great parabolic dishes. I’d climbed them before, and at that time I’d left behind one of my favorite T-shirts, by accident. I wanted to get it back.

At the back of one of the barracks was a forest, and I dived into it, moving by memory, tracking the ghost of my younger self. Like a Blair Witch victim I stumbled around, until at last amongst the dark bamboo thickets I nearly walked into a rusted metal support stanchion. I looked up, and through the foliage above could make out the outline of one of the great curved antenna against the sky.

Wow. Big.

I strafed around it, heading into the command cab next to it, where I’d left my shirt. No sign of it, though. I scanned through the pages of technical specifications, now left lying around like autumn leaves on the floor. In and out of desks, my heart still racing. Soon. Surely somebody would come soon. I had been here 4 years ago, and nothing had changed. If I closed my eyes, I could almost see the person I was then, the dreams I had banked on.

Smashed-off dial of a safe.

Banks of HIGH VOLTAGE gear in the comm hub.

A book filled with tech specs.

Back outside and standing at the foot of the parabolic ladder, heading up through the foliage and into plain sight in the sky, I gulped. Then I stuck my courage to the screwing place, and began the climb.

Up, up. Who knows how rusted this metal is. Swaying. Up.

To the top, and a view over the dead dark base around me. Beyond that, the roads of Fuchu, my old town. Lights and people and memories. No signs of pursuit, no black-hawk helicopters sweeping the grounds with floodlights.

Nobody knew I was here. Nobody cared.

Beneath a red steel sky.

Night-visioned to orange, from one dish to the other.

After that, I could calm down. I was already exhausted from the adrenaline high of the past several hours. It was dark, I was tired, and ready to go home.

I climbed down, and fought my way back through the woods. In a corner near to the station, I climbed over another fence. People might see, but I was coming out, and when coming out I hardly care if I’m seen.

Out. Back on the street, cool wind on my face, legs burning with excitement, filled with a kind of sense of accomplishment that doesn’t really make any sense, if properly examined.

I’d passed some kind of test, perhaps. Perhaps a crazy one, a senseless one, but one that had really put me through the wringer anyway.

Walking away, buying a 100yen orange juice on the way back to the station, I promised myself- “Never again.”

To see me break that promise- take a look at my explore of the abandoned Tachikawa Air Force Base a few years later.

Would you like to see photos from Fuchu Air Base’s heyday? You can see them here.

Thanks to everyone who has commented on this post over the years. Comments are now closed.

However there are many other forums and groups mentioned below where you can reconnect with old colleagues and friends. Best of luck!

 

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Comments:
288 Responses to “Ruins of the US Air Force Base in Fuchu, Japan
  1. Robert A. Smoak says:

    Was C.O. of The 421st APRON from June 60 to June 63 . A super fine outfit . Great team work . I feel this was one AP unit of the USAF that was very unusual . Was an honor to have had the privledge to have been this part of history. Would like to hear from any former 421 bst Air Police of the 1960–1963 period. Robert A. Smoak , Col, U( Ret) ( bbsmoak@comcast.net )

  2. ken robert says:

    I was all ways eating at the bowling alley snack bar at fuchu. All ways ordered a blt with no bacon, (20 cents). Polished a lot of gems at the hobby shop. Sure was a lot to see around there. Used to go camping at Tama park. 1970-73

    • Kevin Malone says:

      Ken, the Fuchu bowling alley had the best cheeseburgers and fries in the world. I was there in 1974…end of that year, I moved over to Yokota…what a change…not for the better! Tama Hills was a cool place back in those days…went/camped there a few times myself. Thanks for the memory.

      • Dave Hauger says:

        COULD THIS POSSIBLY BE THE MALONE I KNOW FROM YOKOTA/FUCHU
        ALSO CALIFORNIA, FRIED OF MIKE MCDONALD, I WAS MARRIED TO MITZI.. JDHAUGER40@GMAIL.COM ??.

        • Kevin Malone says:

          JD, I don’t think I am the Malone you are referring to. I was with the SP outfit while at Fuchu in 74, and at 5AF/CCE at Yokota when I PCA’d there from Fuchu end of 74. Left Yokota end of 78 for Hickam AFB. That said, Fuchu was like a little piece of heaven on earth.

        • Mike Packard says:

          Dave Hauger? The NCOIC at Fuchu Weather Switch and then at Camp Drake ASC?

  3. Philip M. Parker says:

    I was stationed at Fuchu Army Ordnance Depot. 1953 – 1954. The Depot was then moved to Tokorozawa Ordnance Depot, an airfield that had hangers and other buildings shot full of holes in our attacks on Japan. That Depot was also closed in the 60s.
    There was a Shrine in Fuchu where as legend held, pilots that were captured after Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo (Thirty seconds over Tokyo, Van Johnson) were executed there by beheading. Of course we boycotted that Shrine whether the story was true or not.

  4. James Burks says:

    I was stationed at Fuchu from 1976 to 1978 as an Autovon tech

    • BILL FISHER says:

      Was stationed at Fuchu July 1956 to July 1958 and was in the 1956th AACS and was a Teletype Operator working in the Aeronauticle station. We were right next to JAP Relay station.
      Had a great time their as a young 19 year old and loved the Duty. We must of had 25 Bars on the strip at the time and loads of Taxi’s waiting to take you wherever you wanted to go. Hard to believe you could go to Shinjuku for under two dollars just before payday. Many good memories!!

      • Jim Fenton says:

        I was at fuchu in Jan of 57 till July on 58. Great duty and was in 1st comm, and a telelype operator, in the relay center, also I was up stairs in cincpac, also in relay there. The snack bar was great and the cherry cokes we out of this world. Our barracks was right behind the bowling ally, a great place to hang out. Keep in touch…Jim Fenton

      • Jim Fenton says:

        I was there at the same time and when you got paid and got 10 worth yen you got a stack of bills. It was a great place to work and also eat. Keep in touch..Jim.fenton@comcast.net

  5. Carl Howard says:

    Was stationed at Fuchu 56-58, 16th Comm Sqd in TTY maintenace. Stayed in for 20 and think that this was my best assignment.

    • Dan Rogers says:

      I was at Fuchu w/ 56 Comm Gp. (’73) then 5th AF and 56 Comm Gp (Kanto Consolidation) consolidated to Yokota. I agree with an earlier post, was the best time in the AF being stationed in Fuchu. I still call it home.

      • Dan Rogers says:

        Also was in Teletype Maintenance

        • Jim Fenton says:

          I was at Fuchu Air Station in Feb of 1957 till Aug 1958. I was in the 1sr comm, the duty was great. I was a teletype operator . It was a great 18 months. Our barricks was next door of the bowling alley, great place to hang out.

      • Bob Bennett says:

        I was at Fuchu Aeronautical Station 73-74 until we moved to Yokota. Was there until Dec. 75.

    • Jim Fenton says:

      I was a teletype operator the in fuchu, we moved up from moreima, we played a lot pinochle there, The duty was great and would do it again, loved it. Talk to you later, you can reach me at jim.fenton@comcast.net

      • BILL FISHER says:

        I to played a lot of pinochle there Jim. Also spent a lot of time at the bowling alley. In fact I almost had my AFC changed so that I could run the 6 lane bowling alley. It seemed that the alleys were always crowded except in the mornings. Their was a Sergeant that I usually bowled with and one night he was bowling with an older man and his wife and they invited me to bowl with them. I got my shoe and started bowing with them and was doing the (great shot Bob and the same with his wife Mary).At the end of the game my friend asked me if I knew who the man was we were bowing with and I said of course it’s Bob! Then he spoild it all by telling me that we were bowling with General Bob McCrum. I worked George Shimotsu who recently passed away. He was a great friend and lived in Torrance here in Southern California.

        Oh, by the way, we were getting 360 yen to the dollar and now it’s somewhere around 100 yen per dollar.

        Bill

        • Jim Fenton says:

          I know that 360 yen was a lot of money. But today it is really low. Japan was a great tour of duty. You worked your 8 hours and the rest of time was yours. We worked 3 days 3 swings and 3 mids and off three day, it was great, I would love to go back and see how things have changed, maybe some day I will. Keep in touch, great talking to you…..Jim

        • Jim Fenton says:

          The duty was great and would love to go back and see how things have changed. 360 yen was a lot of meney then.

    • Billy L. Conduff says:

      I was in the 16th Comm Sqyadron in Tokyo in 1956. We moved to Fuchu and I was assigned to the JAP Relay Station as a teletype operator. Also spent some time at Yamato a detachment from Fuchu. Left Japan in December 1957.

      • Jim Fenton says:

        We would go to camp drake to get records and a little bit of shopping. It was atways 45;s at that time. It seems like old times talking about a oplace we all liked and enjoyed the work. Talk to you again….Jim

    • Jim Fenton says:

      Do you know anythingabout the 1st comm unit. Or anyone from there? We workewd in the hgt bldg. Cant find anyoine who knowesa anything about 1 st comm. Can you help////jim.fenton@comcast.net……Thanks

  6. Terry Baird says:

    I was stationed at Fuchu in ’67 and ’68 as a Crypto technician and loved every minute of it. The environment was not “military” at all. We even had a “Mama San” clean our room for us. We never worked more than 8 hours a day, and spent most of our free time climbing Mt Fuji or checking out Tokyo and the surrounding area. Beautiful country & beautiful people.

    • Larry Miller says:

      Terry,

      Your name is familiar. Do you remember who you worked for/with
      ? On my shift was Doug Meeks, Bill Malone (Who made a post earlier); only names I can dredge up from my shift. Dan Jaynes, Charlie Lefczuk, Bob Plummer, Charlie Otto, Mike Snyder, all other guys in the shop.

      • Terry Baird says:

        The only names that ring a bell are Mike Snyder and Doug Meeks, but my memory is not what it used to be. When were you there & what was your job?

        • Larry Miller says:

          I was there 67-69 in Crypto Maint. Doug Meeks was my first shift super, Bill Malone the 2nd. when I first got there MSgt Wotte was the NCOIC, TSgt Don Horn in the front office, SSgt Simpson was the training guy. I think it was MSgt Griffee who replaced Wotte. SSgt Jim Bunting was a shift super. I think you were on a different shift than I was. Remember the big earthquake around 68, that knocked out power. I think the epicenter was up around Misawa. I was in the Airmans Club bar when it hit. Bottles were clinking all over the place.
          LM

          • Terry Baird says:

            I remember several earthquakes while I was there. Not sure exactly when, but one in particular stays in my memory because it had stuff in my room falling to the floor and almost knocked me out of my bunk.

            • Bob Bennett says:

              LOL! I was at Fuchu 73-74. I remember an earthquake shortly after getting transferred there. People starting freaking out and running around. Being from Southern California I just sat there and watched the light fixtures sway above the radio consoles!

  7. Lynn Stubbs (nee Floyd) says:

    My first husband and I worked on Fuchu 1968-71. He was a communications officer w/1956 CommGp, and I worked for the Univ. of Maryland, Far East Division. Our years there were great…. both the location, the US and Japanese people.

    • Nathan Woerner says:

      My Wife Suzanne (Sue) Woerner also worked for the U of M during that periord.
      I believe she was the deans secratury. We lived in Whitman Haven.
      Rode a bycycle togather every where we went.
      I was in maintence for the teletype switching center. It was great
      background training for my Motorcycle repair business.
      Had to put in 4 years but it kept my ass out of Nam.
      Nate

  8. Jerry Houk says:

    I WAS STATIONED AT FUCHU FROM MARCH 1954 WITH THE 5TH AACS
    I&M SQ. IN 1956 WE MOVED TO YAMATO AIR BASE AND BECAME THE
    1885TH E&I SQ. i SPENT MOST OF MY FREE TIME IN TOKYO WERE I HAD
    A SMALL APT.(NO UNIFORMS) i MET OTHER WHO WERE DOING THE
    SAME. WE STILL SEE EACH OTHER.WE WERE KNOWN AS THE GINZA
    BOYS. WE HAVE BEEN MENTIONED IN A BOOK OR TWO.I LOVE MY TIME
    IN JAPAN AND THE SQ I WAS IN WE A GREAT CO.LT COL NOONAN.

  9. Lisa Hill says:

    What a great blog! Happened on it by chance, looking for info on the base I lived at as a kid. My dad was stationed there in ’71 or ’72 and we were there till ’74, when we went to Yokota briefly before he retired in early 1975. his name was Col. Pierce Mounts, US Army, and I think he was involved in the USFJ turnover of the Ryukyu Islands. If anyone remembers him I would love to hear from you! Some names i dimly remember (and I apologize if I mis-state ranks – I was only a little kid!) there was Col Pursley, General Jim Davis…and of course the rest escape me now. The pictures are amazing – so sad to see it just rotting away! I remember playing in the park in the middle of the base – there were a couple of abandoned bldgs even at that time that we kids would play in. And every evening we’d stop playing and salute the flag as it was lowered. Wow…memories…

  10. lee stowers says:

    moved from kunia to fuchu in 63. workd in 1956 comm. worked in notam facility. was only 5 of us in the
    shop. done pretty much as we pleased. hung out at the bar kay downtown and listened to country music.
    enjoyed the tour. went to raf mildenhall from there,prefered fuchu.

    • Donn J (Jim) Paris says:

      Lee,
      I was in the NOTAM center from ’65-’67. If you’re the Stowers I think you are, we used to hang out and play guitar. I still do that. At the risk of excessive SPAM, my email is bparis@centurytel.net. Give me a shout.
      Jim

  11. Cliff Cockerill says:

    I was station at Fuchu from April 1953-April 1956…..was a Tech Controller
    in the 1956th AACS Sqn. Great place to serve.

  12. George S. Lord says:

    Was stationed at Fuchu from June 1966 to Dec 1967 before being moved to Grand Heights. Worked at the AMT at Tokyo Int. Airport [Haneda] and we travelled from Fuchu to the airport daily. I have many photos of Fuchu and the airport flight line and have written of my two year stay in Japan which I enjoyed very much. Would like to correspond with anyone who may have been at Fuchu during that time.

    • James Bodiford says:

      George, I was at Fuchu 1961-1963, would appreciate any photos of fuchu that you may have. please send to jbodiford@nc.rr.com

    • Asbury J. Steen III says:

      George, I was stationed with Jim Bodiford at Fuchu in 1961-1963 and I would like to see some of your photos of Fuchu. I think that was my best assignment in my 20 yrs in the USAF. It’s a shame and sad to see the ruins of that BASE. I guess the Japanese Gov’t didn’t care to use it as their small Base Operations
      site and just left it for the dogs and even the dogs didn’t want to live in it either.
      The Fuchu Bowling Alley had the best “Hamburger or Cheeseburger” for 50 cents that I ever tasted and I haven’t found one anything like that since I left Fuchu. I told my wife that I wshed that I had the chance of learning the secrets
      of that recipe. It beats Big Mac, Wendy’s, or Fat Jack-in-the-box. Isn’t that right, Jim Bo? See you and keep on smilin……Joe Steen

      • Asbury J. Steen III says:

        George, I got carried away about the hamburgers in Fuchu and forgot to give you my email address…..sonnybullit42@yahoo.com
        Thanks, George and keep on smilin……

      • James Bodiford says:

        Hey Joe. You are so right about the Burgers at Fuchu Bowling Alley. Also, the Airman’s Club had a pretty good Pizza, which went well with the 10 cent Beer, (Black Label as I remember). And….as far as good food goes, the “midnight chow” at the mess hall was as good as I have ever had. I’m getting hungry, see you later.

        Jim Bo

    • Knobby Walsh says:

      Fuchu Airways – RJTZYS Aug ’63 thru Aug ’67… best military years of my life! Assignment to 1956th Comm Gp was worth a million bucks a day! It brings back memories of Donald Small, Jim Johnson, Robert May, Wayne Austin, Ralph Hauley… a few names I remember. I’d like to hear from the ‘old heads’ from Fuchu!

    • Ed Midkiff says:

      Sounds like we were there at the same time. I was at the NOTAM Facility and did some grocery bagging and part time work at the airman’s club.

  13. Frank Brazell says:

    I am trying to get in touch with Mike Mahar from Rumford Maine. Mike, I got your e-mails with photos . I’ve responded a couple of times but I trust to never got them. Would you please send me your e-mail address. Mine is fbrazell@verizon.net. Frank

  14. David Schoppert ST says:

    Was stationed at Fuchu between 1978 and 1984 as a Tech Controller. It was a great assignment, probably the best. Got married in Tachikawa. Loved going to Tokyo and Shinjuku. Climed Mt. Fuji 3 times

    • Clay Dawson says:

      Hi Dave, I don’t know if you remember me but I remember you…It was a great assignment, fond memories of being there. One of my best assignments too.

      • David Schoppert says:

        Yes, of course I remember you, Mr QC guy. I forget John’s last name at the moment. Do you know where Darryl Brooks is? Anyways, I am with Verizon now, was originally hired on with MCI, but with all the mergers and such, I am ow with Verizon. I live in Orlando, Fl and have for the last 26 years. Have two adult offsprings and married to my second wife. I am a Grandfather to a 1 year old. I had always said that if I could work the same job over in Japan as a Tech Controller, but not be in the military, it would be the best. So, how are you doing?

        • Steve Parsons says:

          Hi Dave don’t know if you remember me Fucu Tech Controller 1979 1980. I found this web site. Fucu don’t look like it used to.. Lots of Great Memories!

  15. Clay Dawson says:

    I was stationed at Fuchu from Sept. of 1979 until Sept. 1982, The big parabolic antennas were actually from the old Tropospheric radio link to Misawa A.B. I was there as a Tech. Control specialist working the Autovon switch and special circuits.

  16. Bill Wentz says:

    I haven’t heard Autovon in over 40 years! My dad, Bill Wentz Sr., was a test engineer for some secret stuff for the 5th Air Force at Fuchu during the war years. He was in charge of the guarded area and the equipment. He climbed the existing tower that was built around 1969 and I climbed it at night when it was brand new. Do you know Barry Swain? Sandy Swain?

    • Robert Brandies says:

      Very interesting, I also was a Test Engineer, I was with GTE Automatic Electtric and worked on the 490L Autovon switches through out the Pacific. We were attached to the Air Forces ESD operations out of Fuchu from 69 to 74. Had a few hamburgers at the bowling alley and lots of Happy Hour drinks at the O club.

      What company was your dad associated with ?

  17. Bill Wentz says:

    What I am saying is my dad was ” The Test Engineer” that got that equipment going. He did 3 months of special ” schooling’ before we went to Japan. It was guarded by armed AP’s with M-16-s.

  18. lloyd cheek says:

    I was at Tachikawa 1965-1967…Best duty I ever had….I would like to hear from anyone who was there at that time…

  19. Fred McNabb says:

    I worked in the Fuchu Aeronautical Station (Airways) from 1973 until our move to Yokota. When Fuchu was down sizing they moved us from the dorms to the BOQ buildings up in the 800 area on he back side of the Air Station…felt like a king with a living room, bedroom and kitchenette..a single NCO’s paradise. Remembered the cafeteria turned into a mexican resturant at night.THe softball field accross from the NCO Club had a building in right field and a light pole about 6 feet out in right field (covered with matresses in case anyone Mura a few times to visit friends.

    THwy moved us to dorms on Tachi and still commuted to Fuchu to work until they re-located our Aeronautical sttion to Yokota, lived on Tachi untilI PCS’d in June 75i

    • Bob Bennett says:

      Hey Fred; I just came across this webpage and was reading the postings. I began working at Fuchu Aeronautical in 1973 and was there for the move to Yokota. I transferred there from McClellan Airways. I don’t remember too many guys I worked with. Do you remember me? My wife at the time, Terri, was also in radio. When she got pregnant she went civilian. We lived in a little house outside of Tachi after the move to Yokota. My best friend eventually became Terry Janke at Yokota Airways. We have touched bases off and on over the years. I played football with the Yokota flag football team and our quarterback was also from Airways…..Terry something. Anyways…if you get this write back! Thanks!

  20. Leon A Wells Jr says:

    Was stationed at Fuchu from 1965 to 1968. Worked for the 1956 communications Group. Assigned to the Command Center working under Gen. Seth McKey. My Flight was “D” in the command center lead by Sgt Armstrong. Was on duty during the seizure of the Uss Pueblo in 1967. Teletype, IBM, and airborne crypto communications.

    • Charles Corzine says:

      I was stationed at Fuchu AS from August 1966 to July 4, 1968. I was in the 1956 Comm Gp (AFCS) and worked at a small (3 man shifts ) Special Comm Relay Station,first floor, abt 50 ft left of main entrance, behind big steel door in HQ (bldg 175??). I was not actually on duty during the USS Pueblo seizure, but I certainly remember working the 12 hour duty shifts because of it! :-) My wife and I lived in Fussa (near Yokota AB) and I commuted between Fussa station and Higashi-Fuchu station for duty. Fuchu AS, HQ building, was good duty.

  21. Tatsuki Matsui says:

    I am a Japanese who was born and raised in Fuchu. This base is nearby my home. I have been alway curious about what those two dishes are for, and I am glad that I came here to find out. I am also very glad to know that the American servicemen who once worked there keep a good old memory. Thank you all very much for working in Fuchu and we Fuchu residents will welcome you again anytime.

  22. Bob Setzer says:

    Station TDY Fuchu June 68 to Sept. 68 working in Hq in a room controling aircraft parts for broken aircraft in PACAF. Remember downtown Fuchu and being in Bldg when earthquake of 68 that was a 7 or 8 in northern Japan. Actually station in Misawa from March 68 to Sept 69. Really loved Fuchu down town people were very nice to the Americans. I also work for Gen McKey

  23. Bill Long, Jr says:

    My Dad was stationed at Fuchu Air Station from 1961 to 1964. Spent my Freshman thru Junior years at Fuchu High School on base. We lived in both units of a duplex on base housing. (My parents had eight kids at the time) Many good memories. In the summer of 1963, I had a job at the weather station and learned how to use punched card machines and early IBM computers. Used to take the train into Tokyo and wander through Akihabara picking up electronics bargains. Technology certainly has changed.

  24. Bill Long, Jr says:

    The school was Narimasu High School and the housing area was Grant Heights. Fifty year old memories are a little rusty. But I still remember the little 47 cc motorbike I was able to buy with money from mowing lawns. The 20 mph Base speed limit was not a problem, that was its max speed.

  25. Larry Hess says:

    My dad was stationed at Fuchu AS from ’61 to ’64. He was the public information officer for 5th AF and USFJ. We lived in the senior officers quarters on Bong Street, facing the railroad tracks. Both my brother and I went to Yamato HS (I graduated in ’62). During the summers I worked as a lifeguard, first at the O-Club pool, then at the Airman’s pool. Had my own motorcycle and used to ride all over the place with the Fuchu Motorcycle Club, raced at Tama-Tech and at the scramble course at Yokota AB. All in all, a very memorable time for an 18-20 year old dependent.

  26. Farris Wilson says:

    I was A/2C stationed at Owada from Oct. 1959 to July, 1961, having come up from 18 months on Okinawa. Used to go to Fuchu BX where I first saw color TV, bought clothes, records, Lowenbrau beer, etc. Went out with the little Japanese girl in the record dep’t, whose name I’ve forgotten. Later lived in Kiyose with Yoshie, and immersed myself in Japanese culture, went to night school at Jochi (Sophia) Daigaku, studied Japanese, climbed Fuji-san in December, spending Xmas on the summit sharing Nikka Black whisky with the crew at the weather station, one of whom confessed to me that as a fighter pilot he had shot down a “B-san” (B-29), adding “I’m sorry.” Then he showed me his thumb, missing the first joint, and said he was shot down.
    I spent a week with the Japan Alpine Club climbing in the Central Alps, as the only gaijin in over a hundred members, one of whom was 67 yr. old Shinrokuro Hidaka, who had been the ambassador to Italy during the war. I hung out with him a lot because he was such a fascinating person. I was only 22 at the time and very impressionable. I traveled by train south to Nagasaki and north to Sapporo and loved every minute of my stay in Nippon. I will always be grateful to the U.S. Air Force for making this all possible.

  27. Gene Smith says:

    I worked at the Fuchu microwave station from 1971 to 1974 and then at the CRC facility in the old 5th Air Force headquarters building from 1979 until 1982. I practiced karate in the abandoned bank building at Fuchu with the Japanese Air Self Defense Forces club from 79 to 82. I have hundreds of stories from my time at Fuchu and Japan (I was in Japan a total of 15 years and 6 months). My email address is sazaisan@yahoo.com.

  28. Jim Simms says:

    Stationed at Fuchu 63-68 in the 5AF Command Center. I was actually part of the 1932 AACS Squardon, as a communication specialist. Completed my last year of school at Sophia University under Operation Bootstrap. Thanks for the memories, a great assignment, compliments of the USAF.

    Anyone remember Bill Hughes or SSgt Fifield? Good friends, but lost any contact with them.

  29. harold kuschel says:

    was cryptoman in Nagoya ror 2 yrs with 5th af signal center & cheriched evdry day as could go with pilots getting their flight time over Japan alot….We hired one CW Japanese who was flying in small bombers & attack planes…would like to go back to Japan & frequented Tokyo & same bldg as Mc Arthur used. Could write a book on JP for all the places such as the nuked bombed ones which we just had to view fm the air…….

    • Jim Fenton says:

      THE 1ST COMM WAS IN NAGOYA WHEN I FIRST GOT TH JAPAN, AND WE WORKED IN DOWNTOWN NAGOYA, I WAS TAPE RELAY AND WE STAYED IN MORIOMA,( I THINK THAT IS HOW YOU SPELL IT ) IT HAS BEEN A WHILE. i WAS THERE IN JAN OF 57 TO JULY OF 58, GREAT GREAT DUTY, LOVED IT AND THE DUTY WAS GREAT…..jIM FENTON

  30. William A. Thomas says:

    Am very sorry that Fuchu AS was closed as a US Air Base. I was stationed there from 1965 – 1967. I was in the air force for eight years and had some great assignments, but none as great as Fuchu. Loved to hang out in the base bowling alley, the Airmen’s Club, and also downtown Fuchu, right outside the base main gate. What a wonderful place. I’ll never forget it. The local Japanese people were absolutely wonderful, just as were the American servicemen with whom I was stationed. I mainly remember Tsgt Richter and Ssgt Childs. I worked with them most of the time while stationed at Fuchu. Boy, do I ever miss that place…but more than that, the people on and off the base.

  31. Donn J (Jim) Paris says:

    I was stationed at Fuchu AS from June ’65-June ’67, assigned to the 1956 Comm Sq and my duty section was the Pac NOTAM Center. If anybody remembers me my contact info is at the end of this note. I’ve looked at the Google satellite image of the former base and can’t make sense of it so I’m trying to recreate a map of the site as it was. The still standing (and functional, it would seem, though not for they’re original purpose) Headquarters building and annex are the only landmarks I am familiar with. I don’t even remember the big tropo dishes, though they were located at the opposite end of the base from me and the main gate so I had no reason to go that way. My barracks was about two blocks from the annex, where the NOTAM Center was located, and directly across the street from the microwave com building. What I’m getting to is this: I am soliciting info on the base layout; where this was in relation to that. I can remember isolated places, like the BX and Bowling alley, commissary, theater but where they were relative to anything else escapes me. If anyone has pictures or descriptions (how about a map of the original facility? It must exist!) I would appreciate if you would contact me at: bparis@centurytel.net.

  32. Arthur Becker says:

    I worked in Plan 55 Maintenance at Hickam AFB until the system closed down in late 1968. The only person I recognize here is Walter Neitzel, who was a T/SGT with me there until he retired. I’m currently living about 15 minutes away from where the Plan 55 center was at Clark AB. Had I known then how great the duty was at Fuchu or Clark, I might have even re-enlisted. Since I had less than 6 months to go on my enlistment when the center closed, I was simply discharged. The Plan 55 maintenance guys who had more than that left all ended up at Eglin AFB in combat communications training. artbecker2001@yahoo.com

  33. abnoraddam says:

    The collection of U.S. Air Force challenge coins has become popular over the years. Those who collect them are typically looking for older and original ones.

  34. I was stationed at Fuchu from December, 1972 to December 1973 and was a Tech Controller. One shift super was Msgt Jennings, another was TSgt. Antlee as best as I can remember. While there, we had a guy named Wagner that was going home and was killed in a car accident before he got to go. The Branch Chief was a Chief Master Sargent Smith, if I remember. The “tropo” dishes were prominent as welll as the Microwave tower. I missed my family while I was there but it was a good place to work and the Japanese people were very kind and helpful I hate to see it falling down but I guess that all things must change. The food at the bowling alley was “great’ the whole time I was there. Great to find this site…brings back memories. My buddy Mike Geddes married Toshiko before we left and they are still together these 30 plus years later.

  35. Donna Cooper Garcia says:

    My dad, Sturl “Dean” Cooper, was stationed at Fuchu Air Station 1957-1959. He was a clerk and also a Japanese interpreter. He had a Japanese girlfriend named Itsuko Yamamoto. Anyone out there remember him or Itsuko? I would love to hear from you. donnalee9988@gmail.com

  36. Tatsuki Matsui says:

    Thank you all for working in Fuchu, Japan. Please visit back again, Fuchu has changed a lot!

  37. This was a good piece of information about Fuchu, not many of them know about this place. Nice to know the history of the place.

  38. Andrea says:

    The story is adventure and thriller and history layered. I just finished reading this and plan to look up for the history of the place. Good story presented like a suspense thriller. Some part of a shared bitter past for the two countries.

  39. Juan Rodriguez says:

    I was at FAS from June ’65 till June ’68 with 6114 Spt Sq. Was with AF Police and can say I may have met some on official business (nothing personal) but truly nothing bad. Mostly guys just feeling too good. Overall, it was a great place to be at and left knowing it will never forget Fuchu, Toykyo and area. Great people.

  40. Gary Nichols says:

    I was stationed at Fuchu AS from Jan 1969 to December 1970 as Air Route Traffic Control Radio Operator with the 1956 Comm Gp, This was my favorite duty station from my career. I absolutely loved the local people of Fuchu. They were so warm and welcoming to the US military. Plus, there were a limited number of US personnel as Fuchu was a relatively small base, so it was not so westernized and you got to really become a part of the local scene. I even kept a small one room apartment with a shared bathroom off base to help enjoy the local environment. But if you needed a larger US support system, Tachikawa AFB & Yokota AFB were close along with Green Park, the huge housing building just a few miles away. Great memories!

    • Lynn Stubbs says:

      My husband and I lived in Green Park from 1968-71. You are right. It was enormous. We both worked on Fuchu also. I have fond memories of both places. I recall a large earthquake around 1969 that had the whole building bouncing up and down. I was terrified, but by the end of the 3 years, I hardly noticed most of them. He was David Floyd w/1956 CommGp, and I worked for the University of Maryland. Good times.

  41. Madison King says:

    I really liked the article and the related posts here. Very well presented. Such articles prompt the readers to look up for the history of unknown places.

  42. Jack Hubbard says:

    I was stationed at Fuchu wit the 1885th AACS I&M squadron. They relocated us to Yamato Air Station in 1956 and changed the designation to 1885th E&I squadron. I still have one of the old green baseball caps.

    • Billy L. Conduff says:

      I worked in the Comm Center at yamato in 1956 and 1957.I was a detachment from Fuchu.

  43. Great article. it walks me through those childhood days. My father was stationed at FUchu from 1979 – 1984. We had a great time there. So many friends whom we are still in touch with. We did experience a few earthquakes though. Fuchu was a lovely place.

    • Claire says:

      Hey Kaitlyn, I was there in Fuchu for a period of 7 years from 1977 to 1984 but I am unable to get you, as much I know there is no one named Gonzalez. Can you please tell me full name of your father? May be we know each other.

  44. JOE NAAB says:

    I was stationed at Fuchu Aug 68 thru Aug 70. Worked in a small Rescue in the 5AF Hdqtrs bldg. Nice duty. I also remember the burgers at the bowling alley and spent some time at the Airmans Club . Would like to hear from anyone who was there at that time.

  45. Bill Shelby says:

    Reading all of these posts, just remind me that I’m an ‘ole-man’!! I served my time at Fuchu from 1949-1951, worked in the P-X office, & we put in the first bowling alley at Fuchu (one of the first in Japan). The tunnels spoken of went from Fuchu, all the way to Tachikawa. Also had the duty of Base Safety Officer, & there was an entrance to the tunnels just outside the main gate, on the right, about 75-100 feet from the road, & another entrance inside the gate, to the left going towardsthe Hdqtrs bldg-it would have been 1 orr2 blocks before the Hdqtrs. From the bowling alley-going towards the Officers Club, & past it on same road a block or two was an abandoned bldg, that was full of G-E, Westinghouse, Emerson Electric, controls, under the concrete apron in front was an acid tank (still full). Fuchu was an fuel experiment base during WWII. Do not remember an air strip tho, & I was all over the base…

  46. Lew Blevins Jr. says:

    We were stationed at Kanto Mura from 1970-73. My father, Lewis F. Blevins Sr.(Carolyn) worked at Fuchu at the HQ Bldg located directly across from the main gate. I have incredible memories of our time in Japan and loved to got o work with my Dad from time to time. He was the NCOIC of Disaster Preparedness. I also was involved in scouting and we had our troop meetings at Fuchu. Loved the softball games that my Dad played in as well. Great times indeed!

  47. Ed Midkiff says:

    When I first arrived in Japan I did not know what to expect. I met some nice people there Mr Oguri, Wada and Moryi the spelling I know is wrong but they took me places and one of their wives gave me a komono(spl) I carried it with me for years untill it got misplaced. They wanted me to teach them English. My other sad thing is I had to leave my guitar there they wouldn’t let me take it on the plan I had to leave it with a friend I met there and no I didnot climb Mt Fuji I did take a picture of it and rode the Bullit.

  48. HAYES says:

    The Fuchu Communications Station was built shortly after World War II
    ended. Prior to its abandonment in the 1980’s, the communications
    station was a vital hub for American troops. So much so, that the
    base often took in wounded men from Korea and Vietnam.There is
    definitely no shortage of abandoned military bases around the world.
    At that point in the War Japan had suffered severe losses, was
    experiencing rapid decline in its industrial capacity compared to the
    US.Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades
    of grey.

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