Ruins of the USAF base Camp Drake in Japan

MJG Haikyo, Military Installations, Saitama 237 Comments

Camp Drake was a joint US Army/Air Force base in Saitama, active until the 1970`s. It contained a hospital which handled troops coming out of Vietnam and also a communications array. Now about half of it remains, an overgrown jungle with only a few remaining buildings set back behind several layers of fencing. The other half has been eaten up by parks and a junior high school.

Tanks in a shed by the commissary.

Camp Drake was one of my last haikyo to explore with Mike before he left for Canada last month. Compared to other US bases around Tokyo- those in Fuchu and Tachikawa, there wasn`t a lot to see, though of course we couldn`t know that until we ventured in. Access seemed harder than either of the other bases, but as ever there were weak spots. Once in though we had to climb one more fence, and actually crawl through a tiny hole cut into a third fence to get close to a building.

I don`t know why security was so tight, as there was very little to see. The main building remaining seems to have been a mess hall / commissary, and its now flooded, so we couldn`t explore inside. There were chairs and desks lying around in the jungle.

Mike got a bit bored/wary and decided to high-tail it, so I ventured forth and looked into one more building, kind of an industrial room- probably gas and/or hot water heaters. I know now there was another building deeper in with more industrial stuff, but we were on a schedule (headed for the Gan Kutsu cliff face hotel) so I didn`t take the time.

You can see more about Camp Drake on these sites-

About the 249th hospital.

About the barracks.

One man`s experience of it.

Guardpost after the second fence, before the third.

Guardhouse int.

Defunct moped.

Expired desk.

Do Not Enter – vault-like entrance to the mess hall / commissary.

Interior of what I think is commissary (because of COMM on the wall, yes- please correct me if wrong).

Some big troughs.


Lonely forest chair.

Back entrance.


Warehouse space.

Big forest flue.

Hole we crawled through.

Machine shed.

Tanks that remind me of Anakin`s racing pod.

Some HDR-ed engine.

Tanks BW.

See a curation of world ruins in the ruins gallery.

See my collection of Japanese ruins (haikyo) in the galleries:

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Comments 237

  1. The housing area close by was Grant Heights. Camp Drake had the AAFES Bakery that functioned well into the seventies. There was a commissary there at GH until it closed.

  2. My Dad went to Camp Drake at one time. I take it that lots of the old places aren’t there anymore.

    21 Dec 1951
    Reported to Camp Stoneman

    14 Jan 1952
    Camp Stoneman to Sea USNS Meigs

    29 Jan 1952
    Arrived Yokohama to Camp Drake

    31 Jan 1952
    Camp Drake to Calcote

    16 Feb 1952
    Calcote to Johnson AFB

    23 Mar 1952
    Johnson AFB to Calcote

    24 Mar 1952
    Calcote to Kaitakai Firing Range

    6 April 1952
    Kaitakai Firing Range to Calcote

    18 April 1952
    Calcote to Camp Gifu

    3 May 1952
    Camp Gifu to Calcote

    5 May 1952
    Calcote to Johnson AFB

    6 May 1952
    Johnson AFB to Tackicown to Misawa Airbase

    30 May 1952
    Misawa to Tokyo to Eta Jima

    1 June 1952
    Reported to Eta Jima

    25-27 July 1952
    Eta Jima to Tokyo to Misawa Airbase

    12 May 1953
    Misawa Airbase to Drake

    13 May 1953
    Arrived at Drake

    19 May 1953
    Left Yokohama

    Places like Tackicown, Calcote, Camp Gifu, and Kaitakai Firing Range. Anyone know if these places exist? Also, the spelling may be wrong on some of the names.

    Thanks in advance,
    AJ Broussard

  3. Was stationed at north Camp Drake, lived at Grant Heights 1970, 71, and 72. Often remember the club and “leapin’ Leo”. Saw some first-rate entertainers there. Lots of cold beer too. worked at the USAF relay communications center with some great people.

  4. Hey Tom,

    It’s been a long time and I don’t know how I missed your response. I do remember you. I sent an email to your Comcast account but in case that is no longer valid I’m responding here. My email is Drop me a line

  5. Ken Buggs worked in the comm center ASA from 67 – 69 with a tdy stint to Viet Nam, the picture owith the 2 rusty doors on the steps was the entrance to the comm center , the hospital there was huge and choppers landed every day with wounded from Nam. OUr barrackes was just down the street from the nurses barracks (( enough said).

  6. David, I remember you from ASA Camp Drake. I was there from 02/68 to 04/70. I remember the Corner Bar. One of the bar flies lived in my off base apartment for a while. I had a nice apartment in Yotsuya, not far from the Charcoal Inn. I’ve often considered going back to Tokyo for a visit. I too partied in Shinjuku and Roppungi. My Japanese language skills were pretty good, so I had more fun than I should have. Take care my friend.

  7. I worked for a summer at the aafes bakery on Camp Drake. Almost got sick of eating doughnuts. I am pretty sure it was the summer of 1971. Close by, there were warehouses full of BX goods. I lived at Grant Heights and went to Narimasu HS.

  8. I was in the 602 nd Army ambulance co. in 1969-1970.. I drove amb bus to most all the air bases and hospitals..
    all my camp drake photos got burned up but I have some of Sagami Depot Tokorozawa where I lived in 1969.
    do you remember that soul band made up of gi’s with Spaceman playing guitar?
    I really miss that little bar that was in the ally not far from Drake..

  9. Terry Hill –Valparaiso, In.
    From 1968 to 1970. Went home on leave and got married. Brought her back to Japan. Looking for Donald Lee Maxwell and Cora Elma Maxwell out od Stearns Ky. Lost contact.

  10. I served with Marine Hospital Liaison from 68 thru 70 both at the 249th and the 20th Casualty Staging Flight,,, I left at the end of 69 for my last year in the Marines, did a Med cruise before I was sent to civies.. I had a tough time dealing with the way patients that were able were returned to Nam for the reamainder of their tour… we played radar o’riely and would give them TAD assignments that kept them on duty as our labor and liberty team,, to work with patients who needed to Talk,, and the Marine Corps never caught on,, if a patient had seven months left of tour the orders were to return them to Okinawa for a return trip to Nam,, some of these Marines came thru the ubit more than once,,, if we could keep them past the seventh nmonth they had a chance of going state side,, while the Army sent their wounded home… There were so many good people working the wards and keeping us Sane,,,

  11. The picture which is believed to be the commissary, is actually the USAF Autodin Center (ASA). I was stationed there from December 1970 to August 1974. You can look at the posts on the floor and they were used to raise the floor so the cabling could be run underneath. I remember polishing those floor for 4 years. Worked for Tsgt Pierce, NCOIC Msgt Robert Craft and newly promoted SMsgt Bob Richardson.

    Ssgt Rick Kitchen (

  12. I was stationed at 249th General Hospital, North Camp Drake, from Dec ’65 to Sep ,68. I was there from the conversion of warehousing into large open patient wards Saw the first patient arrive…we used baseball field as LZ and aimed headlights of several cars to light the field at night.

    Had several concurrent jobs: Registrar, Admissions and Disposition officer, Air Evac Coordination Officer, and CO of Medical Holding Company to which all patient were assigned or attached. Finished tour in late 1968 to enroll in University of Iowa Hospital/Healthcare Administration graduate Program.

  13. I was with the 1967 Comm. Sqd. From 66 to 69. I use to date one of the bar girls (Nina) for short while until a civilian with more money came along.

    I was a Radio Relay Tech. (304X0).

  14. Richard Hettinger, Nov 66-Nov 68. 249th Hosp. Dental clinic. Worked in the auto craft shop evenings checking in and out tools for service men and one woman to work on their POVs.
    Some great people to work with and things to learn. I have found a few of them as years go by. One I found but just after he passed away. Don’t put off the search. Finding these photos will put me back on the hunt for some of the friends and mentors from that time.

  15. Was stationed at South Camp Drake at FEN 72-73 – yea one of those guys- hope you enjoyed the shows- Jerry H. if you are out there Jan and I would love to hear from you or any of the DJ’s from 72-73

  16. Ken, worked in crypto 1967 Comm. 65 – 66. Was is the motorcycle club and went to the sumo dojo’s with a civilian Dan tam Lung. Also was a member of the trap and skeet club on the japanese air field south of Drake.
    Sent out of there to Homestead in sunny florida, 2 great tours… Rich Geminski

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