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Remnants of the US Air Force Base in Tachikawa, Japan

May 13, 2010 · Haikyo, Military Installations, Tokyo-to 

The abandoned US Air Force (USAF) base in Tachikawa is a bramble-choked memento from the early days of Japanese/American war and peace. It was annexed by the USA shortly after World War II, in co-operation with the still-active nearby Japan Army (SDF) Base, then abandoned in the 1970′s as the Vietnam war came to a close.

Its three huge chimneys are still visible from the exterior, brick-red and lined up like masts on a rudderless ship, slowly sinking deeper into the smothering sea of green jungle. Its airstrip now swims with weeds, and bamboo forests have grown through the foundations where buildings once stood, patrolled by old men on bicycles keeping a watchful eye on the 10-foot perimeter fence.

Storage bunker, one of the few remaining structures on base.

As with the Fuchu Air Base, I’ve been here before. The first time was some two years ago, in the early days of my haikyo exploration. I must have walked the perimeter circle 4 or 5 times, as dusk fell around me, wondering if I had the chutzpah to scale the fence. At no point was it easy to climb, and at no point in an isolated spot. It got dark, and I became antsy. The guard in the guard box out front didn’t leave, except to occasionally drive carefully around the interior, or cycle around the fence. In the end, I gave up. It didn’t seem worth it, so I backed off.

Map of the whole base. The central part is now the huge Showa Kinen Park, site of Tokyo`s only full disc golf course. The left oblong, 1km long, is the abandoned base. The right oblong is the still-active SDF base.

The second time, around a year later, I arrived with my chutzpah turned on, knowing what to expect. After circling the base to my desired sport, I just went at it. Over a fence, and in.

After that, my memory’s a series of frantic snapshots as I ran around looking for things to shoot. It started to rain, reducing visibility, and that just amped me up further. Roads criss-crossed in every direction, and I knew that the old security guard could use any of them. I didn’t doubt I could out-run him if it came to a chase- but I didn’t want it to come to a chase.

And so even with the sense of real risk pretty absent, I still ran from cover to shelter like a hunted animal. When taking shelter in buildings, I became acutely aware of my heart thumping, and more worried every second about stepping back out of my new-found safety, and into the open.

Exciting.

This massive bunker hosted me for around 30 minutes, as I planned my next line of attack-

It is pretty huge, covered in ivy, and built to withstand serious punishment. The walls and doors are several feet thick.

Covered in ivy.

The central part of the bunker had probably once been an office, with desks, machinery controls, and grilled windows looking into the hangar-like storage area alongside.

The two doors left and right lead to the hangars.

Filing cabinets belie it was an office.

Empty storage shelves in the bunker’s back room

The hangars either side were filled with old equipment. The southern wing (below) had what looks like a lot of air conditioning equipment. The northern wing had chairs and assorted engine parts. In the back was a staircase, going up to the roof.

Of course I clambered over everything to get to it. and up- affording me the best view of the remains of the base anyone’s had in years.

Elevator and lift gear in storage.

Looking back towards the entrance, the stairs to be climbed.

Up the stairs.

At the top of the stairs was a small room, smashed in rot and weather, then more stairs, then the roof.

Signalman`s room?

Rickety stair-case.

One of the hazards of haikyo- stairways whose rungs have fallen away. I walked with great care.

On the roof the view was excellent, dominated by the forest, and the three chimneys.

Roof and chimneys.

Roof ruins.

After leaving that sanctuary, again I was on the run, bobbing in and out of the overgrown forest and through clumps of bamboo, head ducking in search of the old dude on his bicycle. I heard there were immense apocalypse-emergency tunnels underneath the old base, perhaps some kind fall-out shelter for Tokyo’s elite. I saw a few hatch-like structures emerging above ground, which had no doors of any kind. Could those be the air circulators, for such a massive complex?

This from Wikipedia.

Consolidation resulted in the establishment of the Tachikawa Disaster-Preparedness Base, involving hundreds of miles of tunnels designed to support 5,000 top government members for a year in the event of a catacylsmic disaster. The bunker building is one of only a few remaining structures on the large base lot.

I didn’t linger around them.

After a while I got pretty turned around inside. Even seeing the three massive chimneys, that I’d seen clearly from outside, didn’t really help orient me.

The guards had buckled a ladder into the chimney flues, so it is possible to climb up inside them.

I climbed up inside one, and again briefly relaxed. What were these chimneys for, remnants of some kind of power plant, or a waste incinerator? Did they cremate bodies here?

Inside the flue.

Looking out.

Looking at the inside of the base of the chimney.

Looking down at the base of the chimney.

Dreaming of the past.

After the towers, dusk was falling and I really thought I was pushing my luck to stay any longer. I wasn’t sure any more which way I’d come or which way was out- all the straight grid streets of the base looked equally overgrown, and I’d zig-zagged through so much bamboo I had no idea where my entry climbing fence had been.

I got out my iPhone and pulled up the map feature. Then, working myself up into a lather, I started to run.

Which way was I going? Where was the exit?

Watching the little screen with me inching down an overgrown road, peeking up to check I wasn’t slaloming into some obstacle, I felt weirdly like a World of Warcraft character running to his next battle. I ran in a straight line for a few minutes, until at last one of the easiest fences- also closest to the guard’s box- emerged, and I plunged for it. At last I hit it, vaulted over the top, and landed on the legal side, out of breath.

An old lady looked at me confusedly. I nodded, and went on my way. So it goes.

History

The Tachikawa base started life as an Imperial Japanese Army airfield, though that role later morphed to also cater to civilians by the 1920′s. In 1929 Japan`s first regularly scheduled commercial air service departed from this base to Osaka, a three hour commute that was in operation for 4 years, until the service was moved to Haneda airport on Tokyo Bay. After 1933 the base returned to being an Army airfield, and remained so until the end of World War II. During the war it was defended by the Shintentai, an anti-aircraft kamikaze group. Near the end of the war Tachikawa was subjected to heavy bombing, and in the aftermath was occupied by the US.

From Wikipedia- Disaster struck Tachikawa on June 18, 1953 when a U.S. Air Force C-124 Globemaster II transport experienced an engine failure on takeoff, crashing shortly after. The accident claimed the lives of 129 people, and was the deadliest air disaster in history at the time. With a runway only 1,500m long, Tachikawa was not adequate for the largest aircraft, and the U.S. decided to extend the runway into the neighboring town of Sunagawa.

The July 8, 1957 Sunagawa Riots resulted in cancellation of the plan. The U.S. instead developed Tama Airfield (the present-day Yokota Air Base) and moved its operations there. By 1969, the U.S. had largely left Tachikawa, and in 1977, after the end of the Vietnam War, it returned the base to Japanese control.

The Japanese government put the land to a variety of uses. The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force established a base there, as did the Japan Coast Guard, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and the Tokyo Fire Department.

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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182 Responses to “Remnants of the US Air Force Base in Tachikawa, Japan
  1. Adrian Tan says:

    Great stuff.
    Really dig the inside the flu and looking up shots

  2. Mike says:

    Great pictures Mike! Love the one looking up out the chimney. Lovely composition!

  3. Yeah, I like the looking up the chimney shot too. You couldn’t get to the top by wedging yourself in between the walls and crawling up like the Grinch does?

  4. geekmom says:

    Loved those chimney shots too!

  5. FifthDream says:

    These are amazing. The place looks very unreal, and beautiful. Also: i suddenly have the urge to play Fallout 3 again.

  6. micky2be says:

    Great discovery and great pictures.

  7. David Meyer says:

    Another interesting set of photos and background story. And I agree that the shot up the chimney is spectacular. Very surreal feeling to it. You could use it to represent the entrance so a space warp or the afterlife.

  8. Florian says:

    Those stairs look really dangerous – but I’m glad that you found and explored that great new place!

  9. Becky says:

    Fab pictures..but please don’t be trying to get yourself into anymore dangerous places than you already have done!! Very striking chimney shots…if not a little scary.
    Mum

  10. Ken Bryant says:

    Nice shots, Michael.

    I lived for 2 of my 4 years in Japan in the area bordering one side of Tachikawa Base known as American Village, unit # 437, I believe.. Very flimsy housings, with no insulation, windows that long ago stopped closing completely due to the constant tremors and quakes. No phone (there was a public booth about 1/4 mile from my house), no central heat (used two small kerosene heaters carried from room to room) and no air conditioning (had two 16″ oscillating fans). Much the same as many others lived, I suppose.

    Wish I could go back to that (I understand it’s still there and not too much has changed in the intervening 30 years).

    Beautiful photos of bunkers and chimneys. I never got on the base itself as it had closed several years before I got there. The remnants of some of the protest were still around, such as a ragtag tower that the protesters had erected at the fence to try and prevent planes from landing.

  11. kikinawak says:

    Wow!
    Nice color, nice place, nice story!

  12. Robert Reynierse says:

    I really enjoyed your pics. If I’m not mistaken those two structures you show where across the street from the house that I lived in 68-70. Can you tell if they are in the vicinity of the old BX auto repare shop and the Hobby shops ?
    They where on the north west part of the base.

  13. MJG says:

    Thanks for all the comments! I’m glad the flues and chimney shot seem to have been received well. A few specs if you’re interested, it’s a five shot HDR, composed with the camera pointing straight up on the tripod. An awkward angle to shoot at, really. The HDR is needed because without it, you get either a tiny circle of light and black walls, or lit up walls and a supernova going off in the middle.

    Adrian, Mike, Geekmom, Mickey2be, Kikiniwak- Cheers!

    Jason- I wish, but the diameter of the chimney was too big for that- unless I’d done it at full stretch. Bit too risky for the likes of me…

    Fifth Dream- Have at ye! My own post on World of Warcraft recently got me back into playing that game myself. Now I’m a level 30 Warlock.

    David M.- Right, I had that thought myself- it seems like a tunnel into the spirit world or something.

    Florian- Pretty dangerous, I guess so, but the metal rivets seemed solid, so more just a case of keeping ones wits about one.

    Becky- Thanks mom! Of course I’m always super careful. Chimneys were definitely intimidating. Guess I’ve never been inside one before!

    Ken- Flimsy houses with little insulation, that’s a tradition that largely continues into the modern day. As I heard it- the Japanese build homes for summer, not for winter. So it’s all breezy stuff that lets the air in. In winter you’re just supposed to suck it up, I guess.

    Thanks so much for sharing your memories of the place- the makeshift tower to prevent planes landing sounds crazy, and dangerous. I wonder if that sort of thing is going on now with Futenma Base on Okinawa.

    Robert Reynierse- Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed them. As to exact location, it’s hard to say since everything that was on base is now gone. If the auto repair shop and Hobby shops were on base, then they’re gone too. Just looking at the map in the post, the structures shown here were in the top right-ish section of the left hand (decrepit-looking) oblong.

  14. ex tachi says:

    I lived on the base for over a decade. It looks like they were the 2 concrete buildings that were over by the housing area where the BX garage and hobby shop were in those old warehouses. there used to be housing around them, as far as I know they were never used since the at least mid 60s for anything. With the amount of concrete in them, no wonder they were just left standing. Tachikawa used to be an aircraft factory during WWII. The wind tunnel was turned into a base theater.

    The 3 smokestacks were part of the steam generating plant on the base.

    At one time virtually all the air traffic and supplies for all of the Far East went through there. Over to Korea, down to the Philippines and further South. It was a major transportation hub for the things the military flew.

  15. Hello my name is Mike Skidmore and I have a web site for Tachi which has almost 1000 tachi veterans and dependents group members one of which sent me your web site and the tachi photos. They were great photos, i have about 5000 tachi photos i have collected over the years. It always nice to see new photos but its alos sad to see tachi as it is today when i remember when it was the Mighty base it was from 1945 to 1977 when it was given back to the Japanese government.

    My father was stationed at tachi in the air force from 1958 to 1962 as editor of the base newspaper and then we went back in 1967 when he was a civil service employee as the base historian for the 6100th support wing HQ. I graduated from Yamato High school in 1969. I got to go back to tachi in 2005 with a group of 145 others but didn’t not get to go onto what was the restricted area, which is the housing area. I have read post on the Internet that say the abandoned housing area of the base has a secret underground complex which is used for the national emergency response center if they have to move the Japanese government from tokyo in time of a national emergency. I had heard of the underground tunnels they had at tachi during world war II and had been closed off after the war. I think the air force had used the tunnel compex to store supplies during the Vietnam war. Tachi was the major supply hub for Vietnam and all the seriously wounded came direct to tachi for care. Your web site was sent out to all of my Tachi group members and many having posted messages about the tachi photos. Did you have to get special permission to go onto the restricted area to take the photos? i am attaching the photos i have posted for tachi on youtube.

    TachikawaAirBaseJapan : TACHIKAWA AIR BASE JAPAN this is my web site

    TACHIKAWA AIR BASE JAPAN 1945-1950

    YouTube – Tachikawa Air Base Japan – 1960′s Military Planes

    Tachikawa Air Base – Home of the Marauders 1945-1977

    Tachikawa Air Base 1958-62 The Skidmore Family

    Tachikawa AB Japan The Skidmore Family 1967-69

    Tachikawa Air Base Blog

    YouTube – 1st Quarter of Yamato High School Homecoming Game ’68

    Yamato High School Warriors 1968-69 Football – Basketball

    YouTube – Tachikawa Air Base Japan 1961 Base Housing

    this is a book i wrote about my dad

    .

    Charles E Skidmore Jr Book

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    mike skidmore’s Story: OurStory.com – Capture your stories, save them permanen

  16. Can. Mike says:

    I was also quite impressed by the chimney shot MJG, like the eerie blue light around it!
    Leading shot is also pretty cool, I like how one building has greenery on it while the other is bare stone. A story behind that maybe?

  17. E.R. Ithel says:

    Much of Tachikawa’s transport capacity was superceded by Yokota Air Base (around since the Vietnam War era), formerly a Military Airlift Command base and then an Airlift Military Command base when the USAF restructured.

    Yokota isn’t that far away and is still very busy to this day.

  18. Richard Auger says:

    My father was stationed at Tachi from 64-67 and I was 11 when we arrived. This bunker was right next to the hobby shop and auto repair and near Gate 7. It was used as a supplies & parts warehouse. Being curious and because there was a metal ladder on the outside wall (opposite end from the doors) to the roof, we explored the building and use to hang out on the roof. As it was one of the taller structures we had a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area and no one could see us. We figured a way into it by bringing a wooden ladder up to the roof and climbing in through the terraced air duct. One night we had taken a couple cases of florescent light tubes we found back up to the roof and were throwing them to the street below. The explosions sounded so cool, except for the fact that they drew the attention of the MP’s, due to the height, we could see them coming and were long gone by the time they arrived. The walls were already dark like the pictures you took; this building was old even then. I am not surprised that it is still there, it would not have been as easy to demolish as the housing and other structures.

  19. owlfarmer says:

    I came across your pages during a fit of nostalgia this evening (after watching My Neighbor Totoro and remembering what it was like to be a little kid in Japan). My father (who died six years ago) was stationed at Tachi from about 52-54 or so. At first we lived in a sort of shack in Kunitachi next to a dancing school, and then moved to Green Park when I started first grade. We left midway (I think) through my second-grade year.

    Although your photos are haunting, I can’t say that they remind me of anything I can actually remember. I was probably way too young than and am way too old now (62). Still, I wanted to thank you for posting these. They’re rather lovely–and I’ll probably come back to them in the future.

  20. Floyd W. Black says:

    You have some great shots here.
    But the Japonise have snookered every one.
    That runway is (and was) a aircraft manufacturing facility roof.
    I have been in there.
    And you can bet your boots that some where in that existing
    mess there is conecting tunels.
    The main large tunnel ( in 46) was to the west side ware house
    area and Large enough to drive through with small A/c stored on the sides. That warehouse had elivators in it.
    The ware house and most the tunnels back toward the runway was
    emploded in 47 but not the runway. See Mike Skidmore web for mor from me.

  21. Thom R. says:

    Thanks for these pics. I was born on this air base in 1973. I just recently developed a desire to see the place since we left for California in 1976 and I haven’t been back since.

  22. Darrell Bowles says:

    I was born here January, of 1970, an Air Force brat.

  23. STANLEY M says:

    I VISITED TACHIKOWA MANY TIMES FROM YOKOTA .
    1971-1973..MUCH OF THE BASE WAS CLOSING DOWN .
    I REMEMBER A BIG PX MAIL ORDER ONLY AND THE BASE MOVIE THEATER . I REMEMBER SEEING THE GOD FATHER THERE AND I WAS THE ONLY ONE IN THE THEATER THAT NIGHT, BUT I FOUND OUT MY SHOP CHEIF MASTER SARGET WAS SELLING TICKES AT THE MOVIE?
    WHAT ABOUT GINNY ROSE ANY BODY REMEMBER??

    • ABE says:

      Do you really want to know about Ginny Rose? Didn’t think she was still around in the 70′s. Can tell you about her in the 60′s.

      • Bill B. says:

        I know about Ginny Rose. It was like a right of passage for a young C-118 air crewman (me) in 1971. On my first trip into Yokota the rest of the crew said that there was something I had to do before I was “officially” a member of the crew. They all piled in a cab took me to her place and as drunk as I was I still remember the experience vividly. She had to be getting on in years because a couple of the guys I flew with also flew out of Yokota/Tachikawa during Korea and said they knew about her then.Bless her heart.

        • Dick Randolph says:

          You are right. I was stationed @ Fuchu 59 – 61 & she was around in those days….

  24. ralph bailey says:

    interesting reading this stuff about tachi. stationed there for 18 months from 67 to 68.
    didnt know much of the history before i read this. had great experiences while there.
    now i’m trying to find personel i servered with during this time
    609 mass was a support group for flights into and out of nam. saw a lot of death, drank a lot of suntory whiskey and drank a lot of kirin beer
    if anyone has any info on airmen serving there , in this time frame, feel free to
    contact me..

  25. diana McInnes Harding says:

    “Lived at Tachi from1948 to 1956. These photosa re great but I must confess not a lot jars my memory. Nancy Byrd and I live rather close-by so we do visit periodically. I now live in Ocala Fl as does my sister Patricia.

  26. J. Childers says:

    Our family lived on the Tachikawa AFB from May of 1965 until February of 1966. My husband was assigned to VR-7, Det. A, from Moffat Field, until the Defense Department closed the det down. Almost all of our neighbors in housing were Air Force and I remember the AF kids had a mission of liberating the Navy’s anchor from its place beside the flag pole. We were there for the last days and Navy trucks came from nearby bases to haul away gear.

    We’d spent a few months at the AEW on Barber’s Point, until that closed before coming to Japan and the third and last station on the 3 year tour was the VW squadron at Agana, Guam.

  27. Richard Arland says:

    Nice pix. I was stationed at 1956 CGp, Fuchu TCF twice: 1968-70 and again in 1974-79. Lived in the paddies outside Nishi-Tachi on the first tour and on base at Tachi and then Yokota on the second tour. Great memories. Thanks for posting the pix.

    vy 73

    Rich, K7SZ (ex: KA2AA and AFA7YHA)

  28. 12/03/10, 0500. I was stationed at tachikawa as a medic from sept,1969 through sept,1971.. I ended up getting married in tokyo, and again, at the hospital chapel 5 days later. my first child was born in 1972 at tachi hospital. i remember it as being a very active, vibrant place. the nco club was always hopping. my friends and i would square dance there and do the ‘modern dancing’ there. there were very few wafs-which, I guess, made it that much more fun! we treated many guys from vietnam-usually the ones too badly injured to make the longer trip back to the states. sometimes the bays were filled, and the halls-in an attempt at triaging for surgery. i worked primarily on an ortho unit of 58 beds-open unit. only the officers got the few single rooms. when i got married, the guys on the unit at the time, threw a shower for me. I have sad memories of alot of deaths, and some happy memories of being young, single, in an exciting place-and having an invulnerability myself.

  29. PRG says:

    I flew into and out of Tachi several times while stationed in Japan then Korea in the 1960s while in the Army. Thanks for more fantastic photos Michael.

    Paul

  30. Mike Youtz says:

    Haha…I was actually born at the base hospital in ’66. My folks were stationed there from ’65 to ’68 I believe. We returned to Japan in ’73 were we lived at Kanamura (?) and then Yakota…my father worked at Fuchu and then Yakota during that second tour.

  31. mike c. says:

    Was sationed at Fuchu from 12/1960 to 12/1962. I loved the my time at Fuchu. It makes me sick seeing these photos of a my dilapitated Air Station, my 1956th comm sq. why didn’t the Japanese tear it down and put something constructive there or have they since these photos?

  32. Jim Cunningham says:

    2/9/2011
    I was sitting around with nothing to do so I thought I would see what is going on at Tachikawa Air Base. I was stationed there from 3/1956 to10/1957. I was not in the Air Force but in the Army and I Lived in the building that is in the pictures. We had a radar on the top inside of what was a gun turret. The building was used as a wind tunnel by the Japanese. The radar was long range and was used to send information to the 75mm guns that were stationed around the air strip. The guns were equipped with radar and could pick up low flying aircraft and lock on them and shoot them down. The guns were deactivated in mid 1956. I do have some pictures of the building and the homes that were around it.

  33. Robin says:

    This was very interesting seeing the pics and reading the comments. I was born at Tachi in ’61 and am planning on visiting Japan in April. My son is stationed at Yokosuka. I really wanted to see Tachi and not sure now if it is possible with all the restrictions getting on the base. I’m going to visit Tokyo for a couple of days and wanted to know if getting to the base is easy enough. Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!

  34. sherwood galen says:

    It was very interesting seeing these photos. I worked at Yokota AB in the 610 MASS Command Post. The 610 MASS has reunions annually and email address is as follows: http://www.610MASSALUMNI.com. I lived at Tachikawa and lost my lot house due to fire and moved into a USAF house later. I was involved with VFW Post 9876 and 9555 at Yokota. My late wife Bonnie work for DOD School Area Curriculum Center at Yamato AS and later at Tachikawa AB, when it moved there. I remember the yen rate being 360 to a dollar back in 1972. We had many good times with friends on and off base. Loved their train system and driving on the left side of the road was quite an experience. Had 3 1/2 years in Japan and loved it. Thank you very much.

  35. Larry Archuleta says:

    I was there in 1946,I was in the motor pool in the army headquarters company
    43 eng., thanks for the pictures I live in riverside,california.

    • James Scott says:

      My Great Uncle was station at this airfield in 1946. He died in a wepons carrier that was hit by an electric train on April 11 1946. Would you happen to know where I could find more infromation on him. His name is Edward H Scott.

      Thanks,

      James Scott

  36. Richard A. Starker Sr. says:

    I was in the USNavy from 1961 to 1965. I went to Japan to board the USS Terrell County LST 1157 in June 1962 ported at Yokosuka. We landed at Tachikawa AFB and my then unacustomed to the smells of Japan were introduced to a whole new world. Knowing what I now know I wish I had spent more time at that old base. The pictures shown here give show to the world of change. I left Japan June 1964 from Tachikawa AFB………

  37. Lynn Stubbs says:

    My former husband was stationed at Fuchu from 1968-1971. We lived in the Green Park housing annex and did most of our shopping and socializing at Tachikawa. I notice that Tachikawa was mostly in Japanese hands by 1969, however it was still entirely USAF in 1971 when we flew out of there to return to the States. We also enjoyed our time in Tokyo and and made some wonderful friends, both Japanese and American.

  38. the map really brings it all back. we were there from june 1961 to june 1964. my dad was in VR-7 . being navy kids on an air force base made it interesting.

  39. donald t harrison jr says:

    i was born on the base in 1970, my dad was a lab tech. there. i’ve always wanted to see the place. i have some photos of him on the base with his buddies. there were a few but not alot of black officers there. after the earthquake, i wonder if what little remains are still standing.

  40. LaJuana Graham says:

    I was in Tachi from 1959 to 1963. I attended 1st and 2nd grade over there. I still think I could find my way to school! I have so many memories of Tachi. My brother and sister were born there. Wow…. I didnt know there were so many people interested in digging up their past…..

    Thanks for the trip!

  41. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Awesome photos! My uncle was stationed at Tachikawa during the Vietnam War. When I was stationed at Yokota, my roommate and I took a trip by one of the gates just to see the place but were denied entry.

  42. Iris LeCerf Leith says:

    All the tragic news about the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan made me nostalgic about Japan. I looked up Tachikawa and was surprised to see so much info. My father was stationed at Tachi from 1957 – 1959. When we first arrived we lived in a small compound in the rice paddies. I think there were only 4 small frame houses and I remember the “honey-bucket” men coming on Saturdays. It was very cold. After a few months we moved to Greenpark housing and I went to Greenpark school. Later, I went to Narimasu High. My father was a Mstr Sgt and qualifications for housing was based on rank. We finally made it to on-base housing in a quanset. Was that the American Village? I don’t remember it being called that. On Tachi, in the summer, there was a program for the teenagers to work at some of the base facilities to keep us busy. I worked at what I think was the Airmen’s club behind the desk checking out games, cards, pool cues, ping pong paddles, etc. I loved it because I got to flirt with all the cute Airmen. We also had cute Airmen as bus guards on the school bus to Narimasu. I remember once my girlfriend and I skipped school and hung out with 2 Airmen and walked around the village of Sunagawa. Amazing how many memories come back……I have an album of many photos of Tachikawa and Japan. If anyone is interested or knows of someone who was there in 1957 – 1959 send me a note. Iris LeCerf Leith

  43. Ed says:

    I was stationed there from 67 to 69 in the terminal building (Weather office). The base was a country club for a young airman like myself and my buddies. Great duty/great location. So much to do… A lot of wonderful memories. What a (sad) shocker to see that there is NOTHING left of the place accept the runway (Which I am very familiar with!). They say you can never go back and this is one great example of that! It’s sorta like putting another nail in the coffin, I guess… Good news is that two of my co-workers from that stint and I are still in touch, almost daily, some 40+ years later!

  44. David Vawter says:

    Wow… This is like one of those analogious moments, you lost your beloved dog while on a trip far away from home, sadly you think that you will never see him again…, then one day unexpectedly several years later he turns up at your doorstep beaten up, worn, scarred, and dirty after a long journey, you are stuned, and you are in awe, you just can’t believe what you are seeing after so many years.

    In early 1962 at the age of 8 years my family moved from Fusa Japan to Tachikawa AFB. Our home was located on the west side of the base sandwiched between the base motor pool and my school “Annex Elementry”, It was the only school that I ever attended or for that matter ever heard of since that had a bomb shelter, it was located separately from the school building next to the playground and the base fence line.

    While in attendence, the school would periodicaly conduct fire drill exercises where in orderly fashion we would have to walk out to the playground and away from the buildings. In October of 1962 for several consecutive days the school conducted fire drills, this puzzled me because it was out of norm, but instead of stopping in the middle of the playground on our trek from the building as usual, this time we continued on until we reached the doors of the bomb shelter, neither I nor my fellow classmates knew it at the time, but that we were performing a dress rehearsal for nuclear war as the Cuban missile crisis was in full swing and the world was on the edge of destruction, thank god that Nakita Khrushchev blinked.

    Later my curiousity about this shelter got to me and I just had to investigate, the thick steel entrance doors were laying at a 45 degree angle to the ground and were unlatched, they were very heavy for a 8 year old boy but I managed to open it with a long 2×4, down the stairs below ground and dimmly lit by the entrance sunlight was a long cold ribbed tunnel, on each side of this tunnel were wooden bench seats much like at a football stadium, each facing each other, no food or water was present or stored for long or short term survival that I saw, thinking about it now this could have been my grave site if things had gone badly, perhaps in some circumstances this shelter was no better than some of the kids back in the USA practicing hiding under their desk at that time.

    Of all the land marks on the base that I remember most are the buildings and smoke stacks in these pictures, these buildings were down the block from my home and were within sight of my backyard, I remember playing around these structures many times and was very familiar with them, they were always spooky and a mystery to me as a child, the buildings were secured and no one could gain entrance, as in the photo one building had a solid door, the other building entrance obscured by a bush in the photo had at that time bars like a jail across the opening, through these bars you could never see around the corner inside the building.

    At the base movie theater I viewed H.G. Wells “The Time Machine”, if you are not familiar with the movie in one segment the “Morlocks” were these scary looking long haired, glowing eyed, steriod driven creatures that were raising people like chickens for food and unknown to these people they were conditioned with air-raid sirens and thus enticed like robots, these victums went inside a large building and were eaten alive, being a kid your mind plays with you and this part of the move scared the pants off of me, these buildings with its doors and bars reminded me of this movie and thus after viewing this show I never again approached the doors because in my mind I was afraid of the potential of being snatched, dragged in and eaten alive, these photos of the interior have now assured me that the “Morlocks” are not there.

    Though some may find these photos to exhibit a haunting quality of just an old junky building in a nice artsy photograph, to me they represent a superb and beautiful fixture, a piece of aged treasured art from my past, much like a old favorite song that rekindles good memories, I have to say that I am stunned, saddened, but giddy with delight with what I see, come forth a river, a pleasing flood of memories, the sights, the smells, and sounds of my childhood on Tachikawa and of Japan bob and dance though the emotional waves in my mind.

    These photos are of my long lost old dog, the one that has been away for so long after 47 years, my old friend that has come home to tell me that he is still around and hope that I have not forgotten about him… I haven’t and never will.

    Thanks so much michael john grist for bringing my dog home.

    • MJG says:

      David- What a beautiful analogy! Thank you so much for sharing it- you really moved me. I’m so glad I could bring your dog home! And thank you for sharing your stories of times exploring the bomb shelter- how intense it must have been to have that coupled with the Morlocks of HG Wells in the imagination of a young boy. I remember well my explorations as a kid- indeed I’m still doing them in one way or another- and how they’d get all mixed up with images from books and movies and the like.
      Wow. Thanks again, beautiful analogy, and am so glad you enjoyed the photos.

      • David Vawter says:

        Thank you for your comments,
        In regards to your point of reflection upon the mixture of images of movies and books into explorations as a kid, to expand a little further upon my situation of this time in life, Tachikawa AFB had an air-raid siren, from what I remember every day at noon this eerie siren would howl for 20-30 seconds until the sound spiraled down slowly to its death, this sound reminded you that this was a military installation, the cold war and an impending missile crisis was the tempest, so a call for the sirens daily testing for preparedness and “conditioned response” for military personnel and their dependents as we were called, was absolute.
        How ironic when I now reflect upon this period, this play in time in terms of the air base siren’s unforgettable moaning sound in relation to the siren (which was so eerily similar) in the movie “The Time Machine”(1960). In a scene when the time traveler stopped in the year 1966 with an air-raid siren blaring as people fled for their lives to a bomb shelter just short of a nuclear bomb detonating, and then several thousands of years later in the future when the time traveller witnessed the Eloi’s “conditioned response” directly because of these sirens, like Pavlov’s dog, muted with no resistance, walking calmly to their death, how strange this symbolism is for me now when I look back.
        To note, the “conditioned response” of the personnel & dependents for the AFB air-raid sirens, the calm orderly muted walk during the school fire drill to the cold dark bomb shelter, the real threat of nuclear war one step away-Defcon2, and finally the two mysterious isolated concrete monoliths that a unaware young boy was cautious around because of proprietary imaginary creatures from a movie that might evict his life from his body, permanently! This imagery is meshed, woven in a web of movie fantasy and the reality of this potentially dangerous moment in time.
        In the end what brought me to your site was an event, the event was the horrible destruction caused by the Tsunami which triggered the ongoing nuclear drama taking place now in Fukushima. Because of my wonderful childhood experiences in Japan I felt a personal connection and sorrow for the Japanese people and was searching for additional information. In my online search I found your site and then I found my memories, strangely enough in some convoluted way the real nuclear atom of the past & present, combined with the atom of fantasy & reality brought me back to the future. I will come back to this shrine you have created to refresh these memories from time to time as long as you have these posted. Thanks once again …

  45. Chris Lougee says:

    I was in MAC from ’69-’73 flying 141′s through Yokota often. Thursday night at the Tachi “O” Club was great Mongolian BBQ as I recall, or was that Clark Field?

  46. Don Hamill says:

    I flew the C-130′s, with the Flying Jennies 1959-1963. I purchased a flat roof 3 bedroom, on a short street next to the steam building, We had steam heat. Sold the house when we rotated in June ’63. It had depreciated to zero and we lived there free. Steam and electric was $5.00 per month. In 1959 we began the tour at Ashiya until Ashiya closed
    My children Suzanne and Donnie went to kindergarten and Suzanne started 1st grade there. A full time maid was $25. per month. My wife wanted to stay…ha ha..The maid was Chinese…Her husband worked for Air America.
    When I first flew missions into Vietnam, my USAF sponsored passport was stamped with a Republic Of South Vietnam Visa.
    I flew more than two thousand hours from Tachi to all over the Far East for the 315th Air Division, General Teddy Kershaw, Commander. He liked to play cards when he flew with us. I flew with him at Pope before Japan. Lockheed gave small pins for each thousand hours flying the Hercules. Memories…Don

  47. LESLIE KESSOCK BAKER says:

    MY NAME IS LESLIE. MY SISTER AND MOM AND I JOINED MY DAD IN JAPAN IN 1966. HE HAD ALREADY BEEN IN TACHI FOR A YEAR. WE LIVED AT YAKOTA A.F.B. AND WENT TO SCHOOL IN TACHIKOWA. I REMEMBER THE OFFICERS CLUB WELL. BOTH THE DINING ROOM AND HOT FUDGE SUNDAES MY SISTER AND I ENJOYED TO THE PANCAKE BREAKFASTS WE OFTEN HAD. THE B-B-QUE OUT ON THE PATIO WAS FANTASTIC. WE WALKED THROUGH A LINE AND SHOWED THEM HOW THICK WE WANTED OUR STEAKS AS WE PASSED THROUGH. MY DAD WAS A RETIRED AIR FORCE MAJOR AND BOMBER PILOT. WAS PART OF THE GRIM REAPERS IN KOREA. THE ONE THING NEVER MENTIONED IN HERE WAS THAT THE NOW FAMOUS AIR AMERICA GROUP FLEW IN AND OUT OF NOT ONLY UDON THAILAND BUT OUT OF TACHIKOWA. MY DAD WAS AN AIR AMERICA PILOT DURING OUR STAY IN JAPAN. HE FLEW IN AND OUT OF LAOS AND VIETNAM ALOT. AIR AMERICA WAS A VERY SECRET ORGANIZATION AT THE TIME RUN BY THE C.I.A. MY DAD HAD 2 UNIFORMS. HE FLEW IN AND OUT OF JAPAN UNDER THE GUISE OF SOUTHERN AIR TRANSPORT AND FLEW AS AIR AMERICA IN VIETNAM. MY MEMORIES OF JAPAN ARE MOSTLY GOOD. ADVENTURESOME FOR A 12 YR. OLD GIRL. FIELD TRIPS INTO TOKYO AND KEYOTO. A THEME PARK CALLE DUNESCO VILLAGE. A TYPHOON OR TWO…LOL. MY PARENTS MARRIAGE FELL APART THERE SO THE MEMORIES ARE MIXED WITH BOTH SWEET AND BITTER-SWEET TIMES. I WENT TO SCHOOL AT THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN TACHI AND HATED HAVING TO CHECK OUT AND WALK MYSELF TO THE DENTIST….LOL WHAT A THING TO DO TO A KID. SOMETIMES TOOK ME SEVERAL TRIPS TO GET INTO THE FRONT DOOR. I ALSO REMEMBER THE STRIPPED OUT BUSES WITH COTS SUSPENDED WITH DIRELY WOUNDED MILITARY IN FROM VIETNAM. WE WERE OFTEN THEIR STOP WHEN TOO CRITICAL TO MAKE IT INTO CALI AND BALBOA. I ALSO WATCHED AN F-105 THUNDERCHIEF MAKE AN EMERGENCY LANDING AT YAKOTA’S AIRSTRIP. IT WAS ON FIRE! THOSE KINDS OF MEMORIES STICK WITH A KID FOREVER. SORRY TO SEE THE BASE IS NOW NOTHING BUT A MEMORY.

  48. LESLIE KESSOCK BAKER says:

    I MEANT UNESCO VILLAGE. SORRY. I BELIEVE IT STILL EXISTS. I ALSO FORGOT TO MENTION THE WINTER. WAS INCREDIBLE. I LOVE SNOW…. AND WE HAD PLENTY. I CAN REMEMBER GROWN MEN POPPING UP FROM BEHIND SCHRUBS TO POUND US KIDS WITH SNOWBALLS ON THE WALK TO OUR BUS STOPS….LOL WE HAD MANY GREAT SNOWBALL FIGHTS. I REMEMBER THE EXCHANGE AND THE COMMISARY VERY WELL. MOSTLY I REMEMBER US NOT LIKING THE FACT THAT WE COULD NOT EAT OR DRINK THE LOCAL DAIRY PRODUCTS AT THAT TIME. THE JAPANESE DID NOT PASTURIZE IT THEN. OUR MILK WAS EITHER FROZEN OR WE HAD TO DRINK POWDERED. NOT GOOD! LOVED THE CHERRY BLOSSEM TREES IN BLOOM AT TACHI!!!!!

  49. Gus Kathmann says:

    I stumbled across your web site while researching the current location of friends who were stationed with me at Tachi. Amazing and somewhat disheartening to see the deterioration of the base. I was stationed there in the USAF from November of 1960 to May of 1964. I have many great memories of Tachi, the USAF camaraderie and of Japan in general. I recall the riots outside the base in 1959, the high alert during the Cuban missile crisis in 1960, the minor earthquakes (at least while I was there), and the shocking death of John F. Kennedy in 1963. Thanks for posting.

  50. Jerry W. Tate says:

    My dad was in WWII in Tachikawa, Japan. He was in the hospital there for a week for an infected leg. He was from (at that time) Bristol, Virginia, and his full name is William Robert Tate. He needs these records for his hospital visit as he is try to get a VA disability/service connected. However he was told many military records such as these burned in a fire in the 1970s. Please contact me (his son) as soon as possible. Thanks so much

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