Ruins of the USAF base Camp Drake in Japan

August 30, 2010 · Haikyo, Military Installations, Saitama 

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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178 Responses to “Ruins of the USAF base Camp Drake in Japan
  1. JERRY KULKO says:


  2. Floyd Blue says:

    I served in Japan from 1946 to June 1950. when I left there for Korea. I served in Korea from July 1950 to November 1951. I believe Camp Drake was the home of the 7th Cav Regt until the Korean War Started. I was never assigned to Camp Drake, but after the start of the Korean War I was assigned to the Eight Army Liaison Teams, the team to which I belonged established an office at Camp Drake, and I made several trips to Camp Drake from Korea during my time as a Liaison Team Leader. When I rotated from Korea in November 1951, I returned to Japan for a short stay and reasignment. My wife was in Yokohama Houseing Area during my Korea time, we left Japan and returned to the States in March 1952. I did return to Japan for a two week visit in 1960, but I never returned to Camp Drake, I remained in the Yokohama Tokyo area during that visit, but I have many memories of Japan, I am now 88 years of age with lots of memories. FB

  3. Ron Thornton says:

    I was at North Camp Drake for 9 months in 1963 when Kennedy was shot. The Agency sent me to Ft. Monmouth for Fixed Station Transmitter Repair (172.?). I was trained as a Tech Controller (173.?) in ASA Criticom Control Pac as there was no school yet at Monmouth. ASA Criticom Control Pac was in the the (first?) comm center. We had our own backup generator in the building called a No Break System which I would run up periodically as part of my duties. I loved playing with that thing. This comm center like the latter was behind a big vault door. I experienced my one and only earth quake in that building which was weird. ASA had it’s own MP’s who checked our badges and let us in. What happened in the comm center STAYED in the comm center! I learned that lesson when I was called to the office of the captain in charge of security. I never saw NSA people only Army ASA. I believe all of the Officers were Signal Corp attached to the Agency and that is where we ended up when we came back stateside if there was no slot for us. Criticomm which stood for critical communications was a super secret version of the Army Starcom run by the signal corp. We transmitted messages on sig intel, war messages to the War Room, and other stuff that was Top Secret and above. I’m sure that some of it was for the CIA but I never say them and wonder why they would come the the Comm Center anyway as it was strictly a technical operation. On to 177th ASA, Korea.

    • Charles P. Younger says:

      I was stationed at Camp Zama the day Kennedy was shot. A sad day for all. I only visited Camp Drake a couple of times during my stay in Japan(Oct. 1962-Nov. 1964). Came up a couple of times to hear and dance to the popular band called the House Rockers. Those were the days my friend.

    • Charlie Johnson says:

      I was at Camp Drake from April 1971 until it closed for good. Assigned to USASA Comm Unit Japan it was an interesting place for a young guy. Bldg. 898 which has been called a big industrial building in some references was home to our operations. There were a few bars, the most memorable was the Corner Bar (how I remember that 42 years later is beyond me) Other than that you had to take the train to the many things to see and do in the area. I remember owning a 1961 Ford Falcon, it was Red with a white top. In Tokyo the traffic was so bad that it was near a battle of Bumper Cars. Most cars stayed away from mine as I had much less to lose and a lot more metal around me. Housing for married personnel was not that far away though I don’t recall the name of the housing area. The Japanese Military and Self Defense Force occupied South Camp Drake which also housed the Military Radio Station. General McArthur’s old HQS were on South Camp Drake and though it was a neglected and unused building when I was there it still looked regal. Our work was interesting at times and mind numbing at other times. I worked in the Security Office (S-2) which was run by a CW4 Harry Andrews. He was a WWII veteran and it seemed at times that he owned the Army. The Commander was relived, Ltc Rouse J. Todd, after that we had a short term commander until the Station was closed. There never was much information about why the Commander was relived. He seemed like a good officer, and was especially kind when I had to return to the US on Emergency Leave. I recall he came in on a Sunday to sign the orders so I could leave right then and there. His kindness was appreciated. I recall some of our other leaders were perhaps better candidates to be relived than our commander but what in life is fair. I departed Camp Drake as one of the last at our Unit. There was another Intelligence Unit on the Site, all of whom wore plain clothes. We as well had a Lt whose name was Brisbane, he was a great guy who sadly lost his security clearance for the sin of marriage to a foreign national. Our rules were a tad old world when it came to any and virtually every aspect of our mission and the data we handled. Certainly one could hear more in a Bar than one would ever tell his foreign born spouse. They wouldn’t have understood it or honestly cared. I had the opportunity to go on several Tdy assignments to Vietnam and Laos. Though well outside what I had been trained to do, as one NCO said you first and always a solider! From Camp Drake I was assigned to the US Army Security Agency Field Station in Okinawa where again I worked in the S-2 or Security Office. After a few years in Okinawa it was on to Germany and the US Army Field Station at Augsburg. A wonderful place, with great people. I spent almost 5 years in Germany.

      • David W. Lynch says:

        I was stationed at Camp Drake from about May 1967 until August 1970. I was a Teletype repair technician for the Army Security Agency. I did several TDY’s while I was there to Korea, Vietnam and my most favorite Thailand. I have many great memories (although they are fading) of my time there. As you mention the Corner Bar was there then too. Al NUGS ( new useless guys) were required to take a shot of Absenth as an initiation.

        Our barracks was right next door to the bowling alley, cafe and the slot car track and hobby shop upstairs. The theater was across the street which I worked for a year or so as a projectionist and later the manager.. My buddies and I played the golf course, climbed Fuji, attented the 1970 World Fair in Osaka and partied like crazy in shinjuku all the time. Several of the pictures above are the remnants of the 2 story Top Secret comm center.. It looked a lot better then.

        Thanks for the pictures and the comments.

        • MIKE DENHAM says:

          WOW!!!! Dave do you remember sergeant X. (Mike Denham). we worked at the theater together, went to EXPO 70 in my green Cougar and I took you to Yokota for your flight home? I am still in contact with Sgt Earl C Young who sold you your car to pick up in Hawword on the way home, I live in Houston, Tx.

      • Michael Shea says:

        I was there USASA 03/1969-03/71 knew the cornebar and all the trips to Tokyo by train and taxi on the way back always stopped i Believe was charlies in early mornging prior to go back to Base was a 72b on Charlie trick. Enjoyed my time there and have great memories and great friends.

        • Ron Bennett says:

          I was there as a tech controller 67 – 68 and have great memories of the Corner Bar and driving around the area in my Honda S-600…..great memories

          • Dean Allen says:

            I was at Camp Drake from late 1968 thru 19700 as a AFSC 307X0, Tech Controller. My buddy, Frank Toth from Ohio, traveled around the country rail and car. Corner Bar was ground zero for most of us. Spent time at the HF radio relay site (forgot the name) off and on. Geez!

            • Bob Roska says:

              Hey Dean, I was in TEch Control during that time also. Your name and Frank Toth sound familiar, but I can’t put faces to the names. After 45 years the memory kinda fades, ya know? I also went TDY to one of the transmitter or receiver sites. One was Awada. Can’t remember the other one I just remember we spent a lot of time hollering at the sites to change frequencies!

  4. David Collett says:

    Hats off to all the service members. My family lived on Mutsumi Dai from 1967-69, and my younger brother went to Camp Drake Middle School.

    Can some of you who were there in the 60s do me huge favor by answering a few questions about Camp Drake? We are trying to create a web site of all the places we’ve lived for our 93-year old mom.

    1. Exactly where was Momote Village? Was it actually on the grounds of South Camp Drake, or off the camp to the east? How far away?

    2. Was Drake Middle School on South or North Camp Drake?

    3. Did both S and N Camp Drake have their own commissary, theater, stores, etc., or only on N. Camp Drake? I assume that most people who lived in Momote Village did their shopping there.

    4. Was the 249th hospital on South Camp Drake?

    Thanks VERY much. I hope some of you can reply.

    David Collett, Seattle (

    • Toni Pedecine says:

      Hi David,

      I went to Drake Jr. High back in the day, and lived in Momote Village (house #1804, I think). Momote was separate from Drake, I remember there were shuttle buses. School was in South Camp Drake, I believe. There was a little convenience store/drug store in Momote but main shopping at Grand Heights. Hope this helps a bit. Best, Toni

      • jim says:

        Toni, the above website has people who were at narimasu/grant heights and drake

        • Mike Coffman says:

          I lived in Grant Heights from July ’68 until Jan ’70. I went to Drake Middle School 8th grade from ’68-’69, then Narimasu High School on Grant Heights. Anyone else?

          • David Collett says:

            Hi, Mike. I lived in Mutsumi Dai from June 1967 until June 1969. I attended 10th and 11th grades at NHS. My younger brother was at Drake MS from 67-68, then he attended his freshman year at NHS.

          • Kenny Shiba says:

            Hello Mike,
            I have the SC Drake 8 grade class picture with you on it

          • David Kodama says:

            I lived on North Camp Drake from 1968 to 1971. I attended Narimasu Elementary School in Grant Heights, Drake Middle School in South Camp Drake, and Narimasu High School before my father was transferred to Fort Belvoir, Virginia in 1971. Some of my neighbors that I can remember are the Nagatas, Shibas, Tesches, Taylors, Itohs, and Nishiokas.

    • Rick Tanaka says:

      Momote Vlg was on the grounds of S Camp Drake and abutted the Drake golf course where I played 2-3 times a week while in high school (1962-1966)

      Drake Jr HIgh, as it was known when I attended, was in S Camp Drake, next to the Officer’s Club Pool (known as the “small pool”, as opposed to the “big pool” for enlisted men about a quarter mile away.

      I believe that up until the late 50’s or early 60’s, S Camp had a movie theater. They definitely had a PX but I don’t remember a commissary. North Camp had a theater and a very small PX. The only commissary that I remember was in Grant Heights which was about 5 miles away.

      During the Vietnam War, my mother was the secretary for the hospital CO, Col Woodyard. I assume that was the 249th that you are referring to. I still remember the heart wrenching stories my Mom would tell about the young guys that would come in from the war zone.

      We moved to Grant Heights in Aug 1956. My parents were there until it closed in mid-1972.

      • Daniel Ridings says:

        I don’t remember a commissary there either, Rick. I have a vague memory of going to movies on South Camp Drake and I definitely remember the small pool. It was easier to get the “patch” (= permission to enter without your parents) since swimming a length on a 25 meter (yard?) pool was easier than the longer ones :-) It just might have been a different color patch, only allowing you to go into smaller pools. We’d have to sew them on our trunks and show them in order to get in.

      • STEVE URBAN says:

        For Rick Tanaka,

        The names Woodyard and Tanaka rang a couple of old bells.
        I was with the 500th IntC Gp. from ’62-’65. Col Tom Woodyard was the CO for the first year I was there and then he was replaced by LtC Pierson. My office was one down the hall from the CO’s and one of my co-workers was a DAC (?) named Tom Tanaka. There was also a secretary, a Mrs. (Shizuko ?) Tanaka, somewhere close by on the same floor, but not in the CO’s office or mine. Are the right bells ringing?

        Steve Urban

    • Daniel Ridings says:

      Most people from Green Park, and the Drakes would shop at the commissary in Grant Heights. I used to bag groceries there for change (pretty good change too, at the time). We’d walk out into the parking with two heavy bags, headed to the customer’s car and try to time it in such a way to avoid the lowering of the flags. You didn’t want to stand there holding heavy groceries as the UN, Japanese and American flags were lowered, one by one.

    • Charlie Johnson says:

      Drake Middle School was not on North Camp Drake when I arrived. Momote Village was a Housing Area not that far from Drake. It was quite small and reserved for Officer Family Quarters. It was the smallest of two family housing area’s. The Army Hospital on Camp Drake was gone when I got there in 1971 I believe it closed in 1970 though it could have been a bit sooner. I had housing in what had been the nurse officer quarters on Drake and was always thankful as the rooms were larger and nicer than the other housing area’s on base. There was a small commissary on Grant Heights only a bank, theater and NCO Clubs on North Camp Drake at the time.

  5. Dean Hite says:

    I have several pictures taken by a soldier in the mid 50’s i purchased them at an auction..It’s a complete album he must have been stationed at North Camp Drake..Every picture is detailed with a description from him amazing pictures several of him personally..There’s also pictures of Nikko Kanaya Hotel,Ryuzu Fall,Mt.Asami,Karulzaiua,Okinawain dancers,Omiya Area,Daruma doll factory,Bonsai garden,Hikawa Shrine a picture of a Daruma head finished…If anyone knows how i can contact family members (if any still around)would gladly make sure that it got back to them… His names PFC/Sp4 Paul D. Dillow pictures are from mostly 1956 era….Thanks

  6. David Collett says:

    Thanks to everyone above who took the time to answer some of my questions about Camp Drake and Momote Village. I still have a few questions that I will post to see if any of you remember.

    Did anyone here work at the “Little Pentagon” in North Camp Drake? My mom worked there from 67-69. Col. Huth was in charge, I believe. Does his name ring a bell with any of you?

    My mom used to volunteer on all her lunch hours to sit with the wounded service people who were flown into Drake and stayed at the 249th hospital.

    If anyone here lived at Mutsumi Dai housing area (annexed to the NE corner of Grant Heights) or if you are just interested, please join our group:

    David Collett

    • Don Williams says:

      Hi David,
      i was stationed at North Camp Drake from,1968-1971, with the Army Security agency (ASA) . We operated a comminications center in an upper level of Drake Hall (Little Pentagon) . Stratcom operated a commcenter in a portion of the lower level. There was a small snack bar on the lower level. Post headquarters was also located there. The 7th Psych Ops had a detachment on post as well as the 500th Military Intelligence Group. The 249th Hospital was largest unit.

      • David W. Lynch says:


        I was there from 1967 thru August of 1970. As mention above I was a teletype repairman. When I left I was SP5 and was working the rotation shift. I think I was on the third floor and my best friends were E J Ryder, John Tanner, Sweathog ( can’t remember is real name) and Hawkins .. I also remember SSG Jr. Barnes. Lol.

        I remember the small snack bar. Made the best tuna sandwich. I also worked at the theater…

        • john smartt says:

          i remember you knuckleheads. i was there from 1968 – 1971. 72B20 and later the training clerk. did aikido downtown with ernie fleshman.

      • Ron Bennett says:

        As a tech controller 67=68….I remember the snack bar very well, always had a laugh at the cook who couldn’t pronounce Jumbo Hamburger……great time.

  7. Ron Baynard says:

    I was in the 249th hospital late dec 1966 to march 1967 recoving from a gun shot
    to my right shouder.Looking for a friend Phil Mann from little rock ark.If anyone
    knows of him please let me know. Ron

  8. Daniel Ridings says:

    This is where I spent my teenage years, in the darkroom and lapidary on the floor above the bowling alley, at the hobby shop. There was a slot-car track too that I enjoyed. Sigh …

    This was during our second assignment. Our first one was at Fuchu.

    • Rick Tanaka says:

      Dan,how are you? Hard to believe how much time has passed. I loved the slot car track at the N Drake hobby shop too! Bowling alley made great burgers.

  9. Daniel Ridings says:

    The bunker entrance just might be the entrance to the computer installation that the Air Force had. That’s where my father worked. It was like a base on base. It was a fenced in building with its own guard. You didn’t go in there. I was there once, when they had open house.

    Rick, who writes above, was my best friend’s oldest brother. We lived in Lot House 101 just a couple houses away.

  10. Jim Bryant says:

    My Stepfather worked with the 500th M.I. Group at Drake Hall and we lived in Momote Village 1206. Went to NHS from 67-70, graduated in 70 and spent two years working at Stars and Stripes.

    • Jim Bryant,
      Is your father still alive?
      1967-68, 500th M I, camp drake
      I was 294th MP Det@ Drake and did riot duty @7th fld hosp( Camp Oji)
      during Feb-Mar 1968.

  11. Brad Jones says:

    I went to 5th grade at Camp Drake in 1962-1963. We lived in Matsumai Dai next to Grant Heights from 1960-1963. Three great years!!!
    Brad Jones

    • Richard Geminski says:

      Was a Air Force relay station 65-66. Was a great job. Great commander, good officers. Was in the Drake motorcycle club and did alot of trips around the country. We had our own chow hall, not army.
      Had the army move in a hospital unit which was great, NURSES… Was one of my best memories.

      • Doug Jacobs says:

        Hey Rich , if memory serves correctly I think we roomed together Bob White was in the room with us also. I was there from Oct 1965 through Oct 1967.I was in the 1967 com squadron USAF. Just wondering if you were the same
        Richard Geminski. You may also remember some guys named Velderman and Bob Hendricks. Any of this ring a bell?

        • Gary Kim says:

          Oh man, you guys are killing me.

          I was stationed at the 1967th from 66 – 69. I’ve got scrapbook pictures of Velderman, Hendricks and many others.

          I married a very pretty lady from Toki-Wadai and we’re still married after 44 years.

          At that time, I was a 291X0 and cross-trained later into 303X1. Took a break as an instructor for our AFCC PME Center at Keesler and finished up as a FSgt at Beale AFB where I retired.

          Great assignment,

        • Rich Geminski says:

          Doug, just hit site for giggles and found your mail. Remember you well, rode bikes together. Had great times there. Remember POP’s motorcycle shop out the main gate and down the hill? I spent many hours there. Remember Hilibrand, tsgt ran the club awhile. Roomed with a guy later that had a Honda sports car. He roomed with a guy named Bobby Johns? Still have some pics around somewhere…
          Ran into Danny Tam Lung years ago on a site but lost it. He was in the tty/tape section, civilian from Hawaii. He took us to the Sumo matches, buddies with Jessie.
          Shot trap and skeet on the japanese air field out the main gate about 3 miles.
          Rich []

      • Doug Jacobs (Jake) says:

        Hey Rich (Geminski)
        I think we were roommates back in 1966-1967 I was at North Camp Drake
        USAF 1967 Comm. Squadron. Bob White was also in the room and you may
        Remember Bob Hendicks (Henny) and Bob Velderman (Velderman). Any of this ring a bell on your part? We had some good times back then and some fond memories were brought back when I saw this site. Hope all is well with you and yours, if you are not the person I thought you were please excuse me.

  12. Kenneth Buggs says:

    I was stationed Drake Feb 67-Feb 69 ASA Com Center, the best thing I remember about drake was the massage parlor next to the officers club, oh wow.hehehehe.Yes the hospital was the biggest unit there, choppers landed every day with the wounded from Nam, I lived in the Barracks just down the street from the Nurses Barracks, until Nov 67 when I extended and brought my wife over and we lived just outside Grand Heights I was there 2 years with ASA Except for a short 60 Days.TDY to Davis Station In Saigon. ( Tuansunut) who knows how to spell that? Does anyone know if the Golf Course is still at South Drake?

  13. I was an Air Force dependent living in Momote Village, from 1959, till 1963. i attended Narimasu Elementary School in Grant Heights. In the old green Quonset huts. Attended church at the Grant Heights Catholic Church. Across the street from the Narimasu High School. Then attended junior High School at South Camp Drake. We used the S. Camp Drake Theater for our graduation ceremonies. i saw lots of great movies there for twenty five cents! Momote Village had a general store with an attached barbershop. it was across the street from the guard shack, which was next to the generators. Up the hill where the Japanese Nationals lived, that worked at North, and South Camp Drake. South Camp Drake had the bakery that supplied all of South East Asian military Facilities, it was in operation day and night 24/7. Also there was the Japanese Self Defense forces that were slowly regaining the use of the former MacArthur administrative facilities. Fortunately, we were all on really good friendly terms! We had many sporting events, that were good natured, but competitive! In 1962, the Harlem Globe Trotters Played at South Camp Drake Gymnasium, we invited the Japanese soldiers to visit. This evidently delighted our ambassador, as he presented our school with a prize for being so gracious! Lots of great memories! In 1963 my dad was reassigned to State side. When i was of age, I enlisted in the Air Force. I re-visited my old home in Japan on several occasions, as i was moved around, but I never imagined it would ever ….go away… Now, over 50 years later, my memories are still fresh, my Japanese friends are long gone, and my Air Force/Army buddies are few. I am proud that i was a part of such a great endeavor. Japan is one of our best friends. :)

  14. Rick Kitchen says:

    I was stationed at Camp Drake from December 1971 to August 1974 with the 1967th Comm Squadron in Tech Control. I spent the entire time working in “The Bunker” which was located south of the “Little Pentagon”, where the Air Force had a patch and test facility. Worked for Msgt Craft and Richardson, along with Tsgt Pierce. Lived in the AF barracks for a little while, then moved off base when my wife. We eventually moved into housing on Momote Village and then Grant Heights when they started to turn MV back to Japanese control. I drove a cab between GH and MV/Camp Drake for extra money. When I wasn’t working spent a lot of time playing golf on the South Camp Drake course or playing intermural sports. In 1972 we played for the Kanto Plains football championship. Still had the jacket they gave us up until a few years ago. Saw a lot of the wounded coming out of Viet Nam as the 249th Army hospital was also on Camp Drake. One guy didn’t make it home as he scaled the microwave tower outside the HDQ building and jumped. Another casualty of the war. Left four month early as the AF was pulling staff out since the war was whining down and they wanted to cut costs.

    If anyone reads this and wants to talk about the good old days in Japan and running “The Skid”, hit me up at

    Later – “Kitch”

  15. Stephen Matthews says:

    Was there in the late 70’s in the USAF. The flooded Building was the AUTODIN (Automatic Digital Switching Network) computer floor. Off to the side was tech control and where I worked in the Crypto Vault. Believe the building with the tanks was part of Doy-San’s haunt next to the Generator (power Room.) Interesting that the Guard shack was still there.
    Some of the best Japanese and Korean food was available in town, but we were housed at Yokota and drive through the park (Muriyama?)and Tokorozawa City to get to work.

    Hope you have had as much fun there as we all did.

    Thanks for the wonderful pictures.and for bringing me back to some great memories.

    Stephen Matthews
    Insane_ferret in AZ

    • James Hilley says:

      I was also stationed at Camp Drake in the late 70s; from June 1977 to June 1979. I was a shift supervisor in the Tech Control facility of the Autodin Switching Center.

  16. Nate Dyhre says:

    I love hearing all these stories, they’re fascinating and interesting. I am a current soldier in Japan stationed at Camp Zama the only Army installation left on mainland. Sagami Depot and Yokohama North Dock still exist but are barely alive since the drawback and the fact that we give the JGSDF back many bases. Zama is a joint base and rumors are always around that we’ll give the entire base back one day but who knows. I really wanna check out the remains of Drake and Fuchu. Any other bases around the area I can check out? If I can assist in answering questions about anything currently in Japan let me know. Nate

  17. Bob Johnson says:

    I lived with my wife, Marie, at 2202-A Momote Village, Saitama, Japan. That was a relatively small housing area for Army and Air Force officers. My duty was at Haneda AB (Det. 5, 20th Wx Sq.) on a island a few hundred feet in Tokyo Bay just off the coast of the Southernmost part of Tokyo. My wife and I were both 1/Lt Weather Officers. Her duty was in downtown Tokyo at the Meili Building which was a large pre-war monumental building facing the moat around the Emperor’s Palace. So we saw little of each other at Momote Village – we both worked shifts. We lived in the boonies in Shibuya-ku from our arrival in Japan in Nov1953 until 23Dec1954 when we finally moved into Momote Village. I recall going to the Commissary and Theater at Grant Heights, which my memory tells me was located adjacent to Momote Village. On 15Nov1955 moved from Momote Village to 1014B Yukai Village at Johnson AB on 15Nov1955 where my duty was in the large pre-war concrete bunker, taken over as the Air Control Center for Japan and Korea, as Staff Weather Officer, sitting on the dais with the duty commander, a General or Colonel. My first child, Michael Thomas Vincent Johnson, was born in the Johnson AB Hospital on 25Nov1955. Wouldn’t trade my 4 year tour in the USAF for anything. Am proud to have served, as was my Greatgreatgreatgrandfather, Lt. Valentine Peyton, a battlefield surgeon in the Virginia Volunteer Army up to his balls in blood and muck in the 1780s.

    • Alex Kipnis says:

      Hi Bob,

      Fascinating history! I’ve spent my lunch hour reading it. I must confess that I came across this blog accidentally, as I was trying to look up an old friend, Michael Thomas Vincent Johnson, who it appears, is your son. Mike and I had worked together for many years, but I lost track of him after my family moved away from Minnesota. I wonder if you could be kind enough to pass my contact info to Mike?

  18. Bob Johnson says:

    Meili Building should read Meiji Building.

  19. I was stationed at North Camp Drake from Sept 1964 to Sept 1967 and worked in the Automatic Digital Relay facility on the first floor under the hospital.
    My wife, two boys and I lived in Green Park. We had a great Commander (Lt.Col Earl G. Cross), good supervisors and lots of great associates to work with. I was an E4 and while there was promoted to SSgt before I left. In 1967 was transferred to Det 1, 1150th USAF Special Activities Squadron at MacDill AFB, Tampa, Florida, (US STRIKE Command later to be US READINESS Command.)
    Was in Tampa from Sept 1967 to June 1972 then to Vietnam. Retired May 1979 out of Fairchild AFB, (Spokane) WA. Posted 3/17/2014
    Anyone remember AUTODIN?

    • Gary Kim says:

      Hi Earl, I remember AUTODIN. I worked in the Torn Tape Relay next door. I worked with a guy who was cross service (Navy, I believe) but his name was Vinnie Adams.

      • Art Stilleyl says:

        Hi Gary I Worked in the tape relay at Drake from 1966-1968. The ex navy
        guy was TSg Josh Hatfield. I also worked with Vinny Adams. He was a
        great guy. Tsgy Hatfield died a number of years ago, I don’t know what
        happened to Adams. Major, later Lt Colonel Cross was a great commander.
        Best I ever had. Great days with happy memories.

  20. John Fogle says:

    Anyone at Camp Drake 249th hospital in August 1969….? I was a patient there for 3 weeks.


    • Gary Kim says:

      Hi John,

      I was assigned to the 1967th Comm Sq (USAF) on Camp Drake, but when I first arrived, I came down with Mono the first week there, so I was admitted to the upper floor of the 249th General Hospital. Everyone was on had to be in mosquito nets the first week on the ward to prevent the spread of malaria or hepatitis.

      I was the only AF guy on the ward, everyone else was Army and up from Nam. . . . most were not looking forward to recovery as it usually meant going back.

  21. Bill Mortimer says:

    Spent a year and 11 months at North Camp Drake. Worked in the big bunker
    style office building, barracks a short walk away. Used to go to the theater at South Camp for movies. At North Camp enjoy many a night at the NCO CLUB
    which brought many big name entertainers in for shows. A lot of country stars made appearences and I was fortunate enough to introduce many of them. I had been a country dj before getting drafted and had made friends with many of them. Trips into Tokyo were always a treat, especially on those crowded trains. For a country boy born on a ranch in Arizona, I was wide-eyed.

  22. Jim Turner says:

    I was at Camp Drake 249th Hospital from 68-70. I worked in the dispensary. A couple of months I worked in the mail room. When my wife came over we lived between Drake and Heights. Natamasu. I’m sure my spelling is not correct. Climb Mount Fuji.

  23. "Charlie Mike" says:

    Hey to Steve M & Dan Roy ! I was there too from 79-81, in the Autodin switch tech control. Those 2 years were among the best in my life & it’s so sad to see the ruin that the place has become. I remember how we would all order food from a local place & the guy would deliver it all on a moped with the trays swinging on the sides of it. Still have one of the bowls! Always wanted to go back to Japan again someday.

  24. RICHARD OBREY says:


  25. sam ray says:

    1967th Comm ASC 1972-1975, Loved Camp Drake

  26. Surfadelic says:

    Does anyone remember Joseph E Collins? Don’t have any info other than a photo I just received of him showing that he was very young and at N. Camp Drake Japan. He’s from Knox, Indiana.

  27. David Johnston says:

    Just returned from trip to Japan. Hunted down a couple of places I was stationed in the early 1953 to 1960, Any body that does know the exact location of Camp Drake please get in touch email above. I was stationed at many army bases in Japan & am trying to vsit them. Been to Hokkaido, couldn’t find the Chitose II base, Found Camp Haugen near Hachinohe near Misawa AFB, found Camp Ojima near Camp Drew, in Gunma-ken, north of Tokyo

    • Mel Cox says:

      You can find the Footprint of the old Camp Drake Comm center at Google Earth
      35.47.43 X 139.35.43. I was there Feb. 64 to Sept 64. Started at the Owada Receiver site & was sent to Camp Drake to be a Tech. Controller. Then got transferred to Okinawa when the AF took over the Comm Center. Loved Tokyo,
      hated to leave but had no choice.

  28. BILL DAVIS says:

    I was stationed at USASACUJ from 11-68 until 1969 when I was sent to NSA Fuchinobe. I worked in the S2 Office. Partied with the Com-ops and drank way to much Absinthe at the Corner bar and others. Remember the Coal Miner? Shea and Lynch I knew both of you. Probably gave you cigs on break.

  29. Eddie Broce says:

    I was stationed at Camp Drake from June ’66 to July ’69. (USAF) .Lived on North Camp for a few months and then moved to South Camp..What a great time !….Like my friends Ron B. and Ron S., and others, we had Honda S-600’s. Best 3 years of my life.


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