Ruins of the USAF base Camp Drake in Japan

Mike Grist Haikyo, Military Installations, Saitama 453 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:

[album id=4 template=compact]

Comments 453

  1. Have any of you filed and or won Agent Orange Exposure claims 217-972-7806 My Veteran was at a Camp Drake at the 249th 68-69 Burkhartt If you anyone remembers him please contact me

    1. Very Interested in if you have found any vets with Agent Orange claims from Camp Drake/ 249th General Hosp. I am a Veterans Service Officer trying to help a vet

  2. Marcia,
    I worked in the ASA comm center from 67-70. I knew your dad. All agreed that CW4 Lang was “a cool head”: perceptive, good humored, the even hand on the tiller that kept the place running smoothly. Saw that I got a commendation instead of an article 15 for refusing to obey an unlawful order from a drunken chucklehead to violate communications security protocol.

    Those of us I know who are still here remember him fondly. I trust the years treated him kindly
    Best regards
    Steve Berry

    1. Hello my fellow North Camp Drake alumni….. 1967th COMM SQD 1971 – 1973. Interest but tough times. Not a whole lot of us on the base during that period. Mostly AF and ASC men.
      Never forget the trips we made in the little Daihatsu station wagon; i purchased for a grand sum of $300. from some lucky sob on his way home. And enjoy the Bob Hope show at Yokota AFB. Took flying lessons at the Kanto Plains Aero Club. never forget my FIRST solo flight. Was supposed take off go around the flight pattern and land….. ya right. Took off got up there nicely and the Control Tower radio called me and told me to head toward Tokyo and circle around for about 15 minutes, 5 C5A’s were on final from Viet Nam. I thought o-HELL!
      SGT William Striegel

  3. I served at ASACU-J from Sept. 1963 to Aug 1965. Worked in the com center. It had a single entrance through an 8 inch thick steel safe door. What the Japanese worker would strike and demonstrate outside if the base they would mount and man 50 cal. machine guns on the roof corners of the windowless concrete building for defense and overwatch. I had a COMINT security clearance at the time as did all the others who served in the com center. For those who don’t know, COMINT is a higher clearance than Top Secret.

  4. I attended the camp Drake junior high school for seventh and eighth grades in 1959 to 61. My father was an Air Force officer, and we lived at Matsumoto Dai, next to Grant Heights.

  5. I lived in Grand Heights and Momote Village in 1960-1967. Enjoyed Little League baseball and have some very fond memories from back then. My siblings were all older and probably remember more than I do. My oldest brother Fred was a champion wrestler at Narimas HS. never lost a match in 4- yrs. Narimas HS also were champs many years in a row. I loved baseball and remember helicopter loaded with Generals landing on our fields for opening day ceremonies every year to sign autograph baseballs. Good times! My older siblings are Doug, Jody and Susie, my oldest brother Fred passed away many years ago from Cancer, he was a big influence in my life. My father was a highly decorated war hero, 50 missions in WW II, Korea with MacAuther’s plane and then Intellagence during Vietnam. We lived in Hawaii after Japan, but I really did miss Japan. Thanks for all the memories. Aloha

  6. was there in 71 thru 72….. ASA ,,,,,, was a tape ape,as we were called…our Barracks were right across the street from the bowling alley and movie theater…..a great duty station….

    1. Hi Carl,
      I was there 71 – 72 also; was one of the last ones to leave before they closed the ASA com center. I went out with Personnel; they put the last remaining guys on a commercial flight. I was in the barracks with the mess hall in it. My room was right over it. Mess sgt would roast a pig from the local economy and the smells drove us nuts. Had Burkhalter and McGaughey as sgts. Burkhalter passed the exams to move into the Warrant Officer ranks. Tradition was if you were one of the few that first saluted him, he gave you a silver dollar in the subsequent handshake…still have mine…he was a great guy. McGaughey was a good guy too.
      Enjoyed my time there.

  7. Growing up in Virginia in the mid 1970’s I found a 5 cent mess hall coin in my backyard. On the front is 5 C and CAMP DRAKE OFFICERS OPEN MESS. On the reverse C.D.O.O.M. It is still part of my coin collection and am glad I found your pictures of what the place looked like.

  8. I was a medivac from VN sent to the 249th hospital at North Camp Drake in 1969. I was shot in the left side by an NVA soldier while walking point on June 26th, 1969. I spent about 6 weeks in the 249th before being reassigned to the 7th Inf. Div. in South Korea. I was in the 249th the day of the moon landing in July 69. I remember a lot of soldiers passing away in that hospital and a lot of soldiers wounded. Some extremely bad injuries and some not so bad. I was well taken care of by the doctors and nurses during my time there. God bless all of you for all that you did for those thousands of soldiers that came through there.
    Freddy Odom

  9. I worked at Camp Drake ASC back in 1981-1984. I was in the 1956 Comm Group and worked the patch & test facility at the AUTODIN switch site. I was based at Yokota and rode the bus out to Camp Drake every day. I have been back to Japan a few times but have never made it back out to Camp Drake. I think on my next visit, I will try to make it out there.

    Does anyone know if Fuchu is still out there? It’s where the old AUTOVON facility was located before it was moved back to Yokota after I left.

  10. Very Interested in if you have found any vets with Agent Orange claims from Camp Drake/ 249th General Hosp. I am a Veterans Service Officer trying to help a vet

  11. Bill Barker I was with USASA-CUJ from 6/68 to 11/70 72b40 charlie trick. Great duty! Anyone know if the charcoal inn is still open?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *