Kishine Barracks, Yokohama

Life in a medical "communications zone"

By William Wetherall

First posted 18 December 2015
Last updated 10 February 2016

Kishine Barracks War, protest, and urban legends in an occupied neighborhood of Japan
106th General Hospital (1969) Unit history | Installation | Mission | Officers | Organization | Operation | Hospitalization | Burns | Personnel | Map | Buildings | Photographs
History Geography | Before wars | China and Pacific Wars | Allied Occupation | Post-Occupation | Vietnam War | Renovations | Medical reports | Kishine Park
Japanese perspectives Rest & Recuperation | Community protests | Urban legends | Camp Oji demonstrations | Deserters
Then and now Maps | Photos | Suido street | Google maps | Satellite views | Street views | Other views Park access Park guides Park versus Barracks
Early posts and training Basic combat training (Ft. Ord) | Medical corpsman training (Ft. Sam Houston) | 561st Ambulance Company (Ft. Ord) | Laboratory techncian training (Ft. Baker)
Lab tech posts Ft. Ord U.S. Army Hospital | 106th General Hospital (WBGH Ft. Bliss) | McAfee Army Hospital (White Sands) | 106th General Hospital (Kishine Barracks)
Clinical pathology Hematology | Serology | Blood chemistry | Bacteriology | Parisitology | Histopathology
Looking back Crossing the tees and dotting the eyes of a life half lived half a century ago

Entrance Entrance to Kishine Barracks from southwest
Taken February 1962 by J. Szabo on R&R from Korea
The photographer stayed in one of the buildings called "R&R Hotel"
The buildings behind the guard post are the movie theater and gymnasium

Kishine Barracks

War, protest, and urban legends in an occupied neighborhood of Japan

I spent 3 years in the U.S. Army as a medical corpsman, ambulance driver, and laboratory technician. I enlisted in October 1963, a year before the Tonkin Gulf Incident that sparked the Vietnam War, and I was discharged 3 years later, 2 years into the war.

I never set foot in Vietnam, but Vietnam set foot in me, at an Army hospital in Japan, where I worked for 9 months as a laboratory technician. Soldiers wounded in Vietnam were evacuated to Japan, treated and returned to duty in Vietnam if possible, or stabilized and sent to the United States for further treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation. A few died in the hospital and were flown home in a casket.

I am writing this half a century later. 50 years is not a long time in the flow of human history, but it is a significant period in the life spans of the people who passed through the 106th General Hospital at Kishine Barracks, in Yokohama, in the late 1960s. I was 24 when I arrived in December 1965 and 25 by the time I left in September the next year. This means I am now in my 70s, as are the majority of the thousands of personnel and tens of thousands of patients who crossed paths at the 106th. Most were affiliated with the U.S. Army, most were men, and most were Americans. But women and non-Americans, including some local Japanese staff, and the denizens of Yokohama, also figure in this story.

The following overview is based on numerous sources of information. Inevitably I depend heavily on my own memory, supplemented by the accounts of others I have read on forums or in blogs, or in personal email exchanges. The more historical parts are pieced together from mostly Internet sources, including on-line scans of printed materials. The characterizations and interpretations of past events are mine.

By embedding my story of Kishine in a larger narrative, I don't mean to imply that the history of Kishine is more important than the personal experiences of the Americans, Japanese, and others who were at Kishine Barracks for whatever reason. I do, however, feel that the significance of being there in any capacity, for those who were there, regardless of their personal circumstances, cannot be fully appreciated without understanding the place and time in the larger sweep of local, regional, and even global history.

Note on editing

All [bracketed remarks] and boxed comments are mine.

Bum center, bum patients, and 3rd-degree bums

When scanning pages of printed text to create electronic text, you have to edit the results of a scan for errors, no matter how clear the original text. Certain letters and numbers, and combinations thereof, can be corrupted by even the better optical character reader (OCR) software.

The combination "rm", for example, often comes out "m", and sometimes with amusing consequences. Many instances of "burn" and "burns" came out "bum" and "bums" -- which spelling checkers can't detect, and even the naked eye can miss unless you read very carefully.

I have tried to spot all such errors, but in the vetting process my eyes cross and invariably I miss things. I trust everyone will forgive me, and laugh just as I did when I first tripped over expressions like "bum center" and "bum patients" and "3rd-degree bums".

As I would say in Japanese as a closing salutation in almost any situation -- "Yoroshiku o-negai shimasu" -- which in this case means "Don't judge me too harshly and otherwise be nice to me."


Entrance 106th General Hospital, APO 96503
Cover of received report, 1969

106th General Hospital official report (1969)

The following texts and tables are reproduced from a copy of an official guide to the 106th General Hospital, compiled in 1968 and early 1969 and published in 1969. Most of the data is from 1968, but the personnel data is dated 9 January 1969.

From paper to hypertext

The received report had 13 pages in addition to a cover. I produced the html versions shown below by first making jpg scans of each page and then creating text files by scanning the jpg images with OCR software. I then formatted the text in html and edited the text against the text of the the original report.

All [bracketed remarks], information highlighted in red, and boxed comments are mine. Illegible text is represented by bracketed ellipses [ . . . ].


I received a copy of the report from Michael Caines, who received his copy from Harold Rubin, who received an original copy at the time it was issued in 1969.

According to his own account, Michael arrived at the 106th General Hospital on Christmas Day 1967 and left for the United States on about the 16th of January 1968. He had been attached to the 198th Light Infantry Brigage, which was part of the Americal Division in Vietnam. He received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 30 percent of his body. He was evacuated to the 106th General Hospital in Japan, and after his condition was stabilized, he was sent to the United States for further treatment and recovery.

Harold arrived in the fall of 1968 and remained until the hospital was closed in 1970. At the time of the report, and as stated in the report, he was a captain in the Medical Service Corps (MSC) and the Chief of the Pharmaceutical Services.

As I had left by the fall of 1966, I never met Michael. As a laboratory technician whose rounds at times included the burn ward, I would probably have drawn his blood had we been there at the same time. As he had left before Harold's arrival, he never met Harold until crossing paths with him later in life.

I came across Michael's name on an Internet forum in which he stated that he had a copy of the report. I contacted him by email, and he sent me a copy and put me in touch with Harold. I am grateful to both men for sharing their time and experiences with me.


Unit history



The 106th General Hospital was originally activated at New Oreleans [sic = Orleans], Louisiana, on 15 July 1943, as the 286th Station Hospital. The unit was activated at 500 beds, expanded to 750 beds in ten days, and had 1,000 beds by December 1943. On 23 December 1943, the unit was redesignated the 106th General Hospital. The hospital underwent basic unit training at Fort McClellan, Alabama through June of 1944, at which time it was deployed to Britain where it was stationed outside London. The unit actively supported the European Theater during the Second World War, handling a balanced load of medical and surgical cases with a specialty in neurosurgery. The unit was returned to the United States in August 1945, and assigned to Camp Sibert, Alabama, where it was deactivated on 4 October 1945.

The unit was allocated to the Regular Army on 17 November 1959, and reactivated on 1 December 1959 at William Beaumont General Hospital, El Paso, Texas. During the period from activation until it was alerted for overseas movement, the unit underwent parallel training with William Beaumont. From 1959 through 1965, the hospital underwent several T0&E [Table of Organization and Equipment] reorganizations and changes and STRAF [Strategic Army Force] re-classifications. On 2 September 1965, the unit was allerted [sic = alerted] for deployment to an overseas area. The personnel of the hospital traveled from El Paso to Yokohama on four aircraft during the period from 12 through 16 December 1965. On 15 December 1965, the medical assemblage arrived at North Pier, Yokohama. The hospital was operational 72 hours later on 18 December.

During the first two and one-half years of operation the hospital has admitted and treated over 16,000 patients evacuated from Vietnam. The primary workload of the hospital has been surgical with a specialty as the Burn Center of the Far East.





HISTORY: Kishine Barracks was constructed in 1956 and 1957 on farmland owned by the Japanese Government. The installation was transfered [sic = transferred] to the U.S. Army on 1 June 1967 in exchange for some U.S. Forces property in the Tokyo area. It was originally occupied by Troop Command, Army Transportation Terminal Command, Japan and U.S. Army Personnel Center, Far East. On 15 December 1965 the 106th General Hospital replaced the Personnel Center, which moved to Camp Zama.

LOCATION: Kishine Barracks is located in Kanagawa Prefecture approximately 4 miles north of Yokohama and 17 miles south of Tokyo. The installation is 35 acres, triangular in shape, 0.37 miles wide and 0.18 miles long. National Highway #1 extends along the southeastern portion and National Highway #16 extends along the southwestern portion of the installation.

Latitude  35 29' N
Longitude 139 37' E

BUILDINGS: The installation consists of 18 permanent building with 325,865 square feet, and 20 semi-permanent buildings with 77,979 square feet. There are 2 temporary buildings with 167 square feet. Estimated replacement cost of land and buildings is $27,274,000. Annual maintenance and support cost is $276,300.

The description of the LOCATION is a bit odd. Kishine Barracks was in Yokohama -- in Kōhoku ward in the northern part of the city. The "Yokohama" that is said to be 4 miles south of Kishine refers to the older part of Yokohama along the central part of the waterfront.

The "Tokyo" that is said to be 17 miles north of Kishine refers to the nearest border of Tokyo prefecture. The heart of the city is considerably farther.

National Routes 1 and 16 do not extend along any portion of the Kishine area. They pass through the far-flung general area around Kishine and intersect with prefectural roads that approach Kishine.

The road that climbed the hill in front of the entrance was then and is still commonly known as Suidō-michi (水道道) [waterway street] or Suidō-dōro (水道道路) [waterway road]. The name reflects the history of the road along an old water course. This is the name of the local stretch of what is more formally called Yokohama City Road Route 85 / Tsurumi-station -- Mitsuzawa line (横浜市主要地方道85号鶴見駅三ツ沢線). The road intersects at the bottom of the hill with a stretch of Kanagawa Prefecture Route 12 (神奈川県道12号) known as Yokohama Kamiasao Line (横浜上麻生線). The intersection is known as Nishi-Kishine (西岸根交差点).





1. To maintain and operate 1000 hospital beds for definitive inpatient treatment, to include medical and surgical care in support of military personnel evacuated from SEA and local Army personnel assigned to Kishine Barracks and North Pier, Yokohama under a 60-day evacuation policy.

2. To provide outpatient medical, surgical, and dental care for authorized personnel assigned to North Pier, Yokohama and Kishine Barracks.

3. To operate an intermediate burn center.

4. To provide consultation service covering the various medical and surgical specialties, as requested or directed.

5. To accomplish physical examinations (less flight physicals) for personnel authorized primary medical support.

6. To provide only emergency treatment to authorized dependents. Make such arrangements as necessary to transfer or refer such patients requiring such treatment to the US Army Hospital, Camp Zama or other appropriate military facilities.

7. To provide medical instruction and training support to USARJ [United States Army Japan] non-medical units in the Yokohama vicinity as requested.

8. To perform the functions of installation commander for the CG [Commanding General], USAMCJ [United States Army Medical Corps] as outlined in USARJ Regulation 10-1.

9. To provide such other medical support as may be directed.





COL Alexander M. Boysen, MC
COL Paul A. LaVault, MSC
CPT David D. Gibson, MSC
COL Harry B. Burkett, MC
LTC Raymond J. Bagg Jr., MC
MAJ Jerry D. Ballard, MC
LTC Helen L. McCormick, ANC
LTC James L. Andrews, DC
CPT Henri C. Theodore, MC
CPT John J. Gisvold, MC
CPT Harold Rubin, MSC
LTC Joe B. Gipson
MAJ William M. Collyer, MSC
LTC Lyman Blakesley, MSC
MAJ Dorothy Mount, AMSC
LTC Hugh J. McKenna, CHC
CSM Robert C. Dalehite
Commandlng Officer
Executive Officer
C, Prof Svc
C, Surg Svc
C, Med Svc
C, Nurs Svc
C, Dental Svc
C, Path Svc
C, Rad Svc
C, Pharm Svc
C, Pers Div
C, Reg Div
C, S&S Div
C, Food Svc
C, Chaplain
Command Sergeant Major

COL   Colonel
LTC   Lieutenant Colonel
MAJ   Major
CPT   Captain
CSM   Command Sergeant Major

MC   Medical Corps
DC   Dental Corps
ANC   Army Nursing Corps
MSC   Medical Service Corps
AMSC   Army Medical Service Corps

C   Chief





General Med
Chest & Comm
Cli Psych
Social Work
General Surg
Thorac Surg
Anes & Opr
Physical Med
Mil Pers.
Medical Co.
Med Hold Co.
Welfare &
A & B
Med Records
  & Reports
Hosp Treas.
Hosp Clinic
OR Nursing
Anes Nursing
Oral Dg
Oral Surgery
Property Mgt
PLAN & Tng Div
Diet Therapy
Production &





THROUGH 31 Dec 68


Everyday during the past year the 106th General Hospital has:
Admitted 37 patients from Vietnam of which 30 were surgical cases and 7 were medical. 23 of these patients were injured as a result of hostile action. Each patient was hospitalized 21.9 days. The hospital discharged 37 patients of which 28 were Army and 9 were Navy/Marine. 29 of these patients were transferred to CONUS [Continental United States] hospitals and 8 were returned to duty. In treating these patients, 30 Operating Room procedures were performed, 258 X-rays were taken, 2014 Lab procedures were performed, and 33 units of blood were prepared. The Dental Clinic treated 44 patients, and the mess hall served 2261 meals. 4487 pieces of mail were delivered and 38 personnel records were received and processed. $2335.00 was sent [sic = spent] on consumable medical supplies and $604.00 was invested in medical equipment. In providing this service 5395 permanent party man-hours were expended.

I found this especially interesting. I would never have thought of comparing the number of lab procedures performed every day to the number of meals the mess hall served. Judging from the variety and volume of work that was done at the pathology lab when I was there in 1966, I would guess that most of the lab procedures in 1968 were also related to blood work. A request to draw blood would typically call for several procedures -- from routine blood cell counts, and differentials and hematocrits, to one or more specific blood chemistry tests. The number of meals served seems low -- considering that the report says the operating strength was 649 military personnel and 258 civilians, and an undisclosed average number of patients on any given day. Presumably the civilians packed their own lunches. But surely the patients, and most of the military personnel, ate on base, and I would think they most likely ate food prepared by the mess hall.





1 Jan - 31 Oct 68

MAJ AMP (Lower Extrem)
Fx Femur
Fx Tibia
Thoracic Wds
ABD Wds W/Gu Involvement
ABD Wds W/Colostomy
ABD Wds W/Liver Inj
Maj Vascular Inj
Maj Burns
Maxillo-Facial Inj



Burns 106th General Hospital burn statistics
1966, 1967, and 1968 through June
Page 8 of 1969 report as scanned
Click image to enlarge

Treatment ● "Tx" means "treatment". At the time, the two most common approaches to controlling infections in open burns were silver nitrate (AGNO3), a more traditional treatment, and sulfamylon (mafenide acetate), which had been more recently introduced. Both were topically applied in various ways -- silver nitrate in the form of soaks, in which gauze soaked with silver nitrate was placed directly on an exposed burn -- and sulfamylon in the form of an antimicrobial cream. "Open Tx" was just that -- leaving the burn exposed with no topical treatment.

Disposition ● More burn patients were evacuated from the 106th to facilities in the United States than were returned to duty.

Deaths ● 101 of the 106th's 1,407 major burn patients died -- 76 at the 106th, 23 at Brooke General Hospital (BGH) at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, and 2 at Tachikawa Airbase presumably en route to BGH.

Evacuation ● 411 or 29.2 percent of the 106th's 1,407 major burn patients were evacuated to the Surgical Research Unit (SRU) at Brooke Army Hospital (BGH), which amounted to 49.8 percent of all patients evacuated from the 106th.

The Surgical Research Unit (SRU) at Brooke General Hospital (BGH) treated patients with infected burns and other wounds on a special ward. This evolved into today's U.S. Army Burn Center at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston (L.C. Cancio and S.E. Wolf, "A History of Burn Care", in Marc G. Jeschke et al., editors, Handbook of Burns: Volume 1: Acute Burn Care, New York: Springer-Wien, 2012, page 8).

Causes ● That more major burns in Vietnam were caused by accidents than by "injury resulting from hostile action" (IRHA) has often been cited as an example of the tragedy of war zone injuries that could have been prevented. See other reports (below). Among the causes of IRHAs, "RPG" refers to "rocket-propelled grenades".

U.S. Army reports on medical support in Vietnam made the following observations about the role of the 106th General Hospital concerning "secondary care" for surgery patients, especially those that required orthopedic surgery, and "burns" [bracketed remarks mine].

Secondary care

Secondary wound care, which included the management of wound closure, wound breakdown, wound infection, stabilization of long bone defects, and similar problems, was not ordinarily handled in Vietnam. Although reexploration for surgical complications indicated by fever, pain, excessive drainage, or vascular compromise was encouraged whenever and wherever they appeared, most secondary wound care took place after the patient was evacuated to the 106th General Hospital, in Yokohama, Japan; the U.S. Air Force Hospital at Clark AFB [Philippines]; Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii; or CONUS [continental United States].

Source   Orthopedic Surgery in Vietnam, Medical Department, United States Army Surgery in Vietnam, Orthopedic Surgery, Editor for Orthopedic Surgery, Colonel William E. Burkhalter, MC USA (Ret.), Chapter 1: The Soldier and His Wound in Vietnam, Colonel John A. Feagin, Jr., MC, USA (Ret.), The Milieu, Care of the Soldier's Wound, page 9.


The most unfortunate aspect of the burn injuries incurred in Vietnam was that more than half were accidental and therefore preventable. Burns associated with enemy fire, while fewer in number, accounted for almost 70 percent of the fatalities because of their severity and associated wounds. A factor in the high mortality was that most combat burns occurred in an enclosed space, such as an armored personnel carrier or a bunker, and were, therefore, complicated by inhalation injuries.

Burn cases were stabilized in-country and then evacuated to the 106th General Hospital in Japan, where a special burn unit had been established. Of the burns treated by the 106th, 27 percent returned to duty, 66 percent were evacuated to the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Tex., and 7 percent died.

Source   VIETNAM STUDIES, MEDICAL SUPPORT OF THE U.S. ARMY IN VIETNAM 1965-1970, by Major General Spurgeon Neel, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, WASHINGTON, D.C., 1991, CHAPTER III: Care of the Wounded, Nature of Wounds, Burns, page 56.

Confessions of a vampire on the burn ward

Though I ended up working mainly in the bacteriology section of the lab, I did my share of rounds drawing blood, on all medical wards, including the burn ward. When I was there, it was on the 2nd floor of Building C, just a few steps from the lab.

Each kind of ward presented different challenges in terms of the medical conditions of the patients. All patients were the same, though, when it came to the first rule of drawing blood -- to make the patient feel at ease with me, especially if we were meeting for the first time. Second and subsequent draws were easier if the first draw left the patient feeling that I could be trusted to do relatively painless work.

What's different about burn patients is, of course, the burns. I'm not talking about the sort of burns you get touching a hot kettle or spilling boiling water on an arm, or even the burns you might get if the sleeve of your shirt gets too close to the flame of a stove or campfire. I'm talking about major burns, including chemical burns, caused by explosives -- incendiary weapons, white phosphorus munitions, napalm, gasoline, jet fuel -- especially those that cover substantial parts of your body, and may involve your head and face as well as your hands and limbs.

Before I could begin to try to make a patient feel at ease with a stranger wielding a needle, though, I had to make myself feel at ease with the patient. After the 106th began operating, I quickly enough got used to the sights of the sorts of mangled bodies that populated too many of its beds -- unlike what I'd seen in the surgery wards of the hospitals where I'd worked in the United States. The most difficult challenge for me, at Kishine, was to tame my natural curiosity about not only a patient's medical condition, but the conditions that caused the injuries or wounds -- in this case the burns.

If the patient volunteered to tell his story, fine. If not, then I would hesitate to ask unless I saw signs that the patient might actually like to talk about what happened. Some did, some didn't. At times a ward nurse would intercept me and alert me as to which patients were having emotional difficulties on top of their physical trauma. These included patients who had been involved in severe combat and were unable to get any information about other men in their unit -- who else had been wounded or killed, or how wounded buddies were doing. These also included patients who, in addition to having to deal with extreme pain and discomfort, were dwelling on certain or probable prospects of lifelong disfigurement.

I hated saying things like "How are we doing today?" to patients who were obviously miserable. I was more apt to say something like "You don't look like you're having fun" -- in a way that would be taken as a sincere acknowledgement of the patient's difficulties.

I was generally good at what I did, but some patients were tired of being pin cushions. Some had experienced failed attempts by doctors, nurses, or lab techs who were were either having a bad day or were simply careless or unskilled. And no matter how much confidence I had in my own abilities, there were times when I couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't hurt, or that I wouldn't bungle a few attempts to find a suitable vein.

I was supposed to remain calm and give the patient the impression I knew what I was doing. But sometimes I'd joke about it -- "Don't worry. I'm as nervous as you are." -- and take it from there. It could go in all manner of directions.

Patients called us vampires. Someone would spot me and say, "Here comes the vamp."

There were vampire jokes on the level of the joke about the two blood cells that loved in vein. Artistic vampires are good at drawing blood. Vampires go fishing in the blood stream.

Sometimes you had to fish around for a vein, or even inside one. The arms of some patients were so badly injured that I couldn't draw blood from a conventional vein. Or the conventional veins were intact, but had collapsed from excessive punctures. An alternate site might be indicated on the patient's chart. Or a nurse might bring such a site to my attention.

If I didn't immediately spot a suitable vein, I'd look for one. I might ask, "Where have they been drawing your blood?" Or I might look at a bunch of puncture marks and joke, "Do you have any good veins left?" while meeting the patient's eyes, who invariably would be watching me, most likely with considerable anxiety.

When I found a possible site, I'd prepare the needle and tubes, while talking to the patient about anything other than something that might upset him. I resorted to humor if possible. But some patients were burned in such ways that smiling or laughing were painful or even impossible.

Obesity always presented problems. Drawing from veins that could not clearly be seen increased the likelihood of failure. But I never encountered an adult patient whose peripheral blood I couldn't somehow draw. If no one was able to draw blood, then a doctor would have to perform a venous cutdown.

As much as I sometimes wanted to, there wasn't a lot of time to linger and walk with patients. When especially busy, I had no choice but to minimize conversation. And even when there was time to talk, there were times when I concluded that the kindest I could be to a patient was to go about my work in silence.





9 January 1969







Medical Corps
Dental Corps
Medical Service Corps
Army Medical Service Corps
Army Nursing Corps
Chaplain Corps
Warrant Officer

Enlisted Men
  RN (Part Time)
Registered Nurse
Japanese National
Department of the Army Civilian



Map Map of 106th General Hospital installations
Page 10 of 1969 report as scanned
Click image to enlarge

The numbers of the buildings on the above map are explained in key on the following page. The numbers are difficult to read but some can be better made out by enlarging the image. The scan is 600dpi -- the highest definition that was meaningful. The handwritten information is as marked on the received map.









Registrar and BEQ
Mail Room, APO, Linnen Exchange,
  and Unit Supply
"A" Wards
"B" Wards
"C" Wards
"D" Wards
Enlisted Billets
Baggage Room
Officer's Club [sic = Officers Club]
Dental Clinic
Mess Hall
Operating Room and Recovery Room
Central Material Supply
Theater and Gymnasium
Post Exchange, Snack Bar, Barber,
  Tailor and Bowling Alley
Headquarters, Personnel, Finance
Hospital Clinic, Pharmacy, Medical Library,
  EENT Clinic, and Education Center
Telephone Exchange
Local National Dispensary and Snack Bar
Swimming Pool
Power Plant
Fire Station and Security Guard
NCO Club
Supply and Service
Ammunition Bunker
Sewage Plant

Bachelor Enlisted Men's Quarters
Army Post Office
Bachelor Officer [Officers] Quarters
Eye(s), Ear(s), Nose, and Throat
Non-Commissioned Officers

Enlisted Men
Operating Room(s)
Post Exchange



Photo Aerial photographs of Kishine Barracks from southeast
Circa 1968, pages 12 and 13 of 1969 report as scanned

The two photographs came at the end of the received report. The darker second photograph appears to be a crop from the first photograph. The parade ground and baseball field is in the lower right corner. The large building to their left is the theater and gymnasium. The entrance gate is just to their left, and just to ts right is Officers Club. The white building top and center is the chapel.


Aerial photograph of Kishine Barracks from southwest
106th General Hospital, 1966, Stars and Stripes photograph

The surrounding neighborhoods are Sanmai lower left (west), Rokkakubashi lower right (south), and Shinohara upper right (east). The train station in the upper left (northeast) is Shin-Yokohama on the Shinkansen or Bullet Train line.

The H-shaped building in the center is the mess hall. The 4 large 4-story barracks immediately in front of the mess hall are the medical wards. Facing the wards from the mess hall are wards A-B to the left and wards C-D to the right. A and B, and C and D, are connected by 4-story enclosed bridges. B and C are connected by only a ground bridge. The bridges were built in early 1966 after the 106th General Hospital arrived in December 1965 and started operations.

The pathology laboratory occupied the small building close to B between B and C. The radiology lab was in the corresponding building close to Ward D between D and the enlisted men's barracks (to the 4-story barracks to the far right viewed from the mess hall). The building behind the EM barracks is the chapel.

History of Kishine and Kishine Barracks

The history of Kishine Barracks is bound up with the history of the Kishine area, which it occupied to the extent of nearly 30 percent, and of neighboring areas, all in relationship to the history of Yokohama city, and of Kanagawa prefecture, and ultimately of Japan and the rest of the world. This history is geographical, political, and economic more than social or cultural.

The story of Kishine could, of course, be told from purely social and cultural perspectives, through personal experiences which ignore the forces that created Kishine Barracks in the 1950s and occasioned the deployment of the 106th General Hospital there in the 1960s. However, the political components of this story -- involving as they do Japan's wars, and their international contexts and aftermaths, which continue today -- are arguably the most important determinants of the origin and demise of the American military installations that were built in Kishine, especially Kishine Barracks, and most prominently the 106th General Hospital that occupied the camp during the Vietnam War.

What I experienced at Kishine Barracks through the sometimes tense relationships with others who were at the 106th General Hospital, including military personnel and local staff, in the pursuit of our shared medical mission -- and what I learned through travel and personal intercourse with people outside the gates of the hospital -- are of course the most vital elements of the story of Kishine for me as an individual. Had I never been there, or known anyone who had been there, I would never have been motivated to write this. Yet in the course of writing my own story, I encountered the stories of others -- including those of the parliamentarians who debated the fate of Kishine in the chambers of the Japanese Diet, and those of Kishine residents relating half a century later their childhood memories of the mysterious barbed-wire enclave they associated with noise, pollution, and death.


Aerial photograph of Kishine Barracks from northwest
106th General Hospital, 1966, Stars and Stripes photograph

The surrounding neighborhoods are Sanmai upper right (west) and Rokkakubashi upper left (south).

The H-shaped building in the center is the mess hall. The 4 large 4-story barracks immediately in front of the mess hall are the medical wards. Facing the wards from the mess hall (looking toward the upper right or west) are wards A-B to the left and wards C-D to the right. A and B, and C and D, are connected by 4-story enclosed bridges. B and C are connected by only a ground bridge. The bridges were built in early 1966 after the 106th General Hospital arrived in December 1965 and started operations.

The pathology laboratory occupied the small building close to B between B and C. The radiology lab was in the corresponding building close to D between D and the enlisted men's barracks (the 4-story barracks to the far right). The chimney in the lower left marks the power plant and incinerator. To the lower left of the chimney is the swimming pool.

The large long building in the lower right is the Non-Commissioned Officers Club. The smaller buildings to the right of the NCO Club are the operating and recovery rooms. Central Material Supply (not shown in photograph) is to the right of the OR building. The OR and CMS buildings, and the covered walkways connecting them and the NCO Club with the wards, were built in 1966 after the arrival of the 106th General Hospital. Until then, OR and CMS were in C.

Kishine Geography

"Kishine Barracks" (Kishine barakku 岸根バラック, Kishine heisha 岸根兵舎) takes its name from the neighborhood in Yokohama where the barracks were located. "Kishine kyanpu" (岸根キャンプ "Kishine camp") or "Kishine kichi" (岸根基地 "Kishine base"), as it is also called in Japanese, occupied the southernmost part of Kishine-chō (岸根町) in the southern part of Yokohama's Kōhoku ward (港北区), which as its name implies is "north (kita, hoku 北) of the port (minato, kō 港) that defines Yokohama city (Yokohama-shi 横浜市).

Meaning of "chō"

As a municipal classification, "chō" (町) means "town" -- an administrative entity smaller than a "city" (shi 市) and larger than a "village" (mura 村). Some large metropolises, such as Yokohama city, are divided into "wards" (ku 区), which are increasing called cities in English, although as cities within cities they are more like boroughs. Such municipalities (ku-shi-chō-son 区市町村) constitute the local governments that make up Japan's prefectures (to-dō-fu-ken 都道府県).

As used in Kishine-chō, however, "chō" is the most common suffix in Japanese for what in English would be called a neighborhood or area if not a district, quarter, or even block. Historically, "chō" was a unit of area of land or of distance. But it also came to be used to denote a locality consisting of fields and other cultivated and inhabited lands and related woods and waterways. The name of a locality, whether or not it is suffixed with "chō" (or "machi" as 町 is also read), often reflects the locality's geography or history, though at times the etymology of the name may be not be clear.

Neighborhood associations

Local communities within municipalities, whether or not their names end in "chō", will probably have a "neighborhood association" (chōnaikai 町内会 "association within the chō"), which deal with matters of local interest. Most associations have by-laws, go through the motions of self-government, and liaison with the municipal government having jurisdiction over the neighborhood.

Their activities center on keeping residential areas clean and safe, preventing fires, and preparing for natural disasters and calamities. They cooperate with local police, fire departments, health departments, and school. Most collect a very nominal dues to cover stationery and other out-of-pocket costs. Some earn money through local events. They may also earn money from recycling activities they facilitate on behalf of waste collection companies.

Neighborhood association officers are generally volunteers. Membership and participation is also in principle voluntary, though most people feel compelled to at least pay dues and participate in the door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor circulation of association bulletins and other information.

In the past, neighborhood associations, especially those in small villages, were commonly involved in local marriages and funerals, but today their involvement, if any, is limited to mutual help. Under the policing system in Imperial Japan, before the reforms that were made after the Pacific War, neighborhood associations were instrumental in anti-subversive and other surveillance activities that today would be considered invasions of privacy and snooping for the state.


Kishine-chō squats on a mere 182,000 tsubo (0.602 square kilometers, 0.2324 square miles, 148.8 acres) of land averaging 5 meters (16 feet) above see level. It's population as of 2012 was 1,875 people.

Kishine Barracks occupied about 51,000 tsubo (0.1686 square kilometers, 0.0651 square miles, 41.66 acres) or roughly 28 percent of the area of Kishine-chō.

Land, lot, building, and room measurements

Japan generally uses the metric system often along with traditional units. Today, the areas of large tracts of land, such as fields or villages or other neighborhoods, are generally specified in hectares (10,000 square meters) or square kilometers (1,000,000 square meters), but "tsubo" (坪) -- as I have used it here -- is also sometimes used. The size of a lot and the floor space of a building are usually specified in both square meters and tsubo.

The area of 1 tsubo is equivalent to 1x1 ken or 1 square ken, hence 2 jō A "ken" (間) is roughly 182 centimeters (6 feet), so 1 tsubo is about 3.31 square meters (36 square feet). A "jō" (畳) is the area of a standard tatami mat, hence 1/2x1 ken or 1/2 tsubo, thus 91x182 centimeters (1.65 sq m) or 3x6 ft (18 sq ft). A ken is the most widely used unit of modularity in home and building design.

While areas of lots and building footprints are usually specified in square meters or tsubo, areas of rooms are most commonly given in mats or jō, even if the room has a wooden or concrete floor. The three most common sizes of rooms in homes are 4.5 mats (4.5 jō, 9x9 ft, 81 sq ft), 6 mats (6 jō, 9x12 ft, 108 sq ft), and 8 mats (8 jō, 12x12 ft, 144 sq ft). 3-, 10-, 12-, and 15-mat rooms are less common. Larger and even smaller spaces are defined in "mat" or "jō" units. Closets, toilets, washrooms, and baths, for example, may be 1/2, 1, or 2 mats.

Surrounding streets

The roads that bound the east, south, and west sides of Kishine Barracks mark the boundaries between Kishine-chō and neighboring Shinohara-chō (篠原町) to the east, Rokkakubashi (六角橋) to the south, and Sanmai-chō (三枚町) to the west. Suidō-michi (水道道) -- the street that climbed to the main gate from its intersection with Route 12 at the bottom of the hill -- marks the boundary between Kōhoku ward (Kōhoku-ku 港北区), which includes Kishine, Shinohara, and Sanmai -- and Kanagawa ward (Kanagawa-ku 神奈川区), which includes Rokkakubashi. Route 12 -- the larger street at the bottom of the hill, that ran along the east side of camp -- marks the boundary between Kishine and Shinohara north of its intersection with Suidō-michi. South of the intersection, it runs through Kanagawa wardto Higashi Kanagawa station near the waterfront.


Rokkakubashi -- formally Rokukakubashi -- begins immediately across Suidō-michi from the entrance side of Kishine Barracks, now Kishine Park. At the bottom of the hill, going to left (east) down Suidō-michi, is the intersection with Route 12. Going to right (south) down Route 12, toward Higashi Hakuraku station and beyond that Higashi Kanagawa station, about halfway you reach the Rokkakubashi intersection. From there a narrow shopping street takes off to the left (east) towards the Yokohama Rokkakubashi Post Office and Hakuraku station. At the entrance to this street, and at intervals along the street, are arches announcing its name -- Rokkakubashi Shōtengai (六角橋商店街) or "Rokkakubashi shopping street" -- as shown on the photograph to the right, which I took in 1966.

During the Occupation of Japan, this street was home to a black market. It still has the stripes of an older commercial-cum-entertainment district of the kind that can be found in practically all congested mixed residential-business districts in Japan -- usually but not always near train stations, which are the hubs of many local communities. Hakuraku station, one of the older stations in the area, was such a station. The location of the post office just off the street, halfway between the intersection on Route 12 and Hakuraku station, is also a vestige of the centrality of the area in older times. The area is a buffer zone between Rokkakubashi and Hakuraku, as the names of buildings and other facilities in the area suggest.

Kishine's ruralness

Kishine-chō is still green, but not nearly as green as it was when it was home to Kishine Barracks. And it was greener when the barracks began to be constructed in 1955 than it was when the facility was returned to Yokohama in 1972.

The area that was occupied by Kishine Barracks is now part of a city park. The park's greenery is that of a landscaped and groomed public facility. Most of the open spaces that characterized the surrounding areas in the past -- the rice paddies, vegetable fields, and small woods -- and older homes, some with thatched roofs and hedges in village-like settings -- are gone. Practically no single-story bungalows survive. Most older 2-story wooden structures have been replaced by newer 2-story and 3-story buildings.

In the 1950s and 1960s, a few -- but not many -- 4-story buildings could be seen in the vicinity between Kishine Barracks and the waterfront. Today even 5-, 6-, and 7-story ferro-concrete apartments, condominiums, and office buildings can be seen along the main streets and larger side streets. But on the whole, there are not many high-rise buildings in the area.

Kishine's modernness

In some sense, Kishine Barracks was ahead of its time. 4-story and 5-story apartment blocks, called "danchi" (団地), some of them as large as the 4-story barracks at Kishine, were then coming into vogue in Japan's suburbs. Like Kishine's 4-story barracks, most 4- and 5-story danchi had no elevators.

By spring or so of 1966, however, the barracks at Kishine that were converted into hospital wards were connected by passageways. Buildings A and B, and buildings C and D, were connected by 4-story enclosed passageways that had an elevator midway between the buildings. Only the ground floors of B and C were connected by a passageway.

The exterior walls of the buildings had to be knocked out where the passageways connected with the buildings, but no structural elements of the buildings were effected.

Blue Line subway

The segment of the Blue Line subway line that runs between Yokohama and Shin-Yokohama stations cuts directly under the Kishine Park. Completed in 1985, one of its stations -- Kishine Kōen eki (岸根公園駅 "Kishine Park station") -- is immediately under the northeast corner of the park and exits by Shinohara Pond (Shinohara-ike 篠原池).

Geographically, the area on that side of the park was a narrow and shallow valley of the kind that was ideal for the construction of rice paddies that could be flooded with water from a creek or spring in the valley. Shinohara pond had been a reservoir of spring water that was used to irrigate paddies in the area. It also supplied water to farms in the Shinohara-chō area toward Shin-Yokohama, east of Kishine-chō.

Kishine-chō's ruralness was still very picturesque at the time I was there in in 1966. Its relative distance from the heart of Yokohama, however, was instrumental in its nomination as a site for Kishine Barracks. Its openness made it vulnerable to the politics of the more urban parts of Yokohama, large swathes of which were requisitioned by U.S. Forces during the Allied Occupation of Japan.


Kishine up to the China and Pacific Wars (1868-1937)

During the Tokugawa period, which ended in 1868, Kanagawa (神奈川) was part of Musashi province (Musashi-no-kuni 武蔵国). It included Yokohama village and other port towns in the cusp of what is now Yokohama bay, and was overseen by a magistrate (bugyō 奉行).

Kishine was then Kishinone village (Kishi-no-ne-mura 岸之根村) in the Tachibana district (Tachibana-no-koori 橘樹郡) of Kanagawa. In 1871, when the provinces were prefecturized -- some become prefectures, others were broken up or merged into prefectures -- Kanagawa became a prefecture. At this time, "Kishi-no-ne" -- meaning "the root of a bank" as in the origin or base of the shore of a waterway -- became simply "Kishine" or "bank root" village in Tachibana county (Tachibana-gun 橘樹郡). In the process of prefecturizing the provinces, the graph 群, meaning "district" or "county", came to be read "gun" in Sino-Japanese rather than "koori" in Yamato.


Note the similarity between "Kishine" (岸根) and "Negishi" (根岸), a better-known Yokohama neighborhood, south of the waterfront. Unlike "kishine", "negishi" is an established expression land along the foot of a mountain or hill, which characterizes the flatter part of Negishi between the sea and the hills in the neighborhood.

During the Occupation of Japan, U.S. Forces requisitioned much of the land in the Negishi area, as they did large swaths of land adjacent to the waterfront centering on the Port of Yokohama. Most 106th General Hospital personnel became acquainted the Navy Exchange and other facilities in Negishi. Some lived in U.S. Naval housing in the area.

From village in county to neighborhood in city ward

In 1889 Kishine and several other villages were merged into Kozukue village (Kozukue-mura 小机村) in Tachibana county, and in 1902 Kozukue village was renamed Shirosato village (城郷村). The village was integrated into Yokohama city as part of Kanagawa ward in 1927. As a result of its affiliation with Kanagawa ward, Shirasato's village appellation, and its affiliation with Tachibana county, ended. Then in 1939, the three most northern components of what had been Shirosato village were separated from Kanagawa ward into a new ward -- Kōhoku -- as Kozukue, Toriyama, and Kishine neighborhoods (chō 町).

Municipal mergers

Many kinds of mergers are possible. Villages may be merged into other villages, or into cities, or become towns, and towns may be merged into cities, or become cities. among other examples. Cities may also grow to the point that they are subdivided into wards. Upgrading from village to town, and town to city, and breaking up into wards, is usually a usually based on population. Mergers are usually motivated by a desire to create larger communities that pool the resources of smaller communities.

Prefectures are divided into cities including wards, and counties which consist of towns and villages. All towns and villages are therefore associated with a county, while all cities are separate entities. Cities (and wards as cities within cities) are considered more urban than counties. Villages that are merged into cities, and towns that are merged into cities or become cities, are separated from the county.


Kishine is thus an example of a village that was merged into another village, which was later merged into a city. As such it is also an example of how sprawling metropolises like Yokohama come to include semi-rural or rural areas within their urban perimeters. Or, to put it differently, Kishine is an example of urbanization.

As soon as smaller municipalities are merged into or absorbed by larger ones, they become subject to the sort of urban planning that incorporates them into the urban road and railway, including subway, systems. The stretch between Kishine and Shin-Yokohama station on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) line out of Tokyo, which included lots of open space in the 1960s, is now practically all built up, and roads not then paved are now paved and otherwise improved to accommodate a level of automobile traffic that was unimaginable in the 1960s, when not that many people had cars.

Kishine-chō during the 1930s

Hirai Seiji (平井誠二), the director of research at the Okura Institute for the Study of Spiritual Culture (OŌkura Seishin Bunka Kenkyūjo 大倉精神文化研究所) in Yokohama, is among the handful of people who have published histories of Kishine on the Internet. In the following newsletter, written in August 2011, he presented one of the most ambitious summaries I have seen of the history of Kishine Park from the 1930s to the present.

Shiriizu Wagamachi Kōhoku
Dai 15 kai, Heisei 23-nen 8-gatsu gō genkō
Shūsen hiwa, Sono 14
Kishine Kōen no sesshū
シリーズ わがまち港北
Series Our town Kōhoku
No. 152, August 2011 manuscript
Secret history of end of war, Part 14
Requisition of Kishine Park

The following paragraph is a paraphase of what Hirai wrote regarding Kishine during the 1930s, before World War II. His report contains the usual variations in figures and dates that one finds in oral and written accounts. Some of Hirai's details I have no choice but to accept at face value since I have not seen independent accounts of the same events. Other details I modified in accordance with more accurate independent accounts. For example, he had written 1941 rather than 1940 as the date of the Olympic Games. He also stated that the 106th General Hospital arrived at Kishine Barracks in December 1966, though in fact it came in December 1965.

Sometime during the 1930s -- [apparently after Tokyo was designated the site of the 1940 Olympic Games, and before Japan forfeited its nomination in mid 1938] -- the city of Yokohama bought about 14.3 hectares [43,000 tsubo, 35 acres] of private land, on which to build a public park that could also be used as an air-defense park. The city planned to construct a general athletic field, anticipating the 1940 celebration of the 2,600th year of the founding of Japan by Emperor Jinmu in 600 BC, and the 1940 Olympic Games in Tokyo.


Kishine during China and Pacific Wars (1937-1945)

Before looking at wartime develops in Kishine, I would like to summarize the build-up of hostilities in East Asia, and the deterioration of Japan's relationships with United States and European powers.

Japan in the 1930s and early 1940s

In 1931, in Manchuria, Japan initiated military actions it considered essential to bring order to what Japan regarded as a practically lawless territory which China claimed but was unable to control. The following year, Japan helped establish Manchoukuo as an independent state. The League of Nations, however censured Japan's actions in Manchuria, and considered Manchoukuo a puppet state. Japan was so alienated by this criticism that it withdrew from the League in 1933.

Despite the widespread displeasure on the part of the United States and major European powers with Japan's actions in Manchuria and its withdrawal from the League of Nations, in 1936 the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1940 Olympic Games to Tokyo. 1940 also marked the 2600th anniversary of the legendary founding of the Empire of Japan by Emperor Jinmu in 600 BC.

The China War (1937-1945)

As of late 1936 and early 1937, the Imperial Japan was considering ways of celebrating the two 1940 events. Then in 1937, after an incident involving Chinese troops and a Japanese garrison outside Peiping, in northern Japan, Japan invaded and occupied a number of parts of China, including Shanghai, and then Nanjing and other lower Yangtze river cities in the south. Japan's rationale, again, was to impose order on what it considered to be an irresponsible government.

The conflict in China escalated in 1938 to the point that the government of China, including its president, Chiang Kai-shek, who also commanded China's military forces, went took refuge in the western provinces of China. By 1938, Japan -- which had already started mobilizing all of its industrial and human resources for a long engagement in China -- unilaterally announced that it would not be able to host the 1940 Olympic Games.

Entrance The Honolulu Advertiser, 2 December 1941
The winds of war 5 days before Pearl Harbor
The Pacific War (1941-1945)

Then in 1939, war broke out in Europe. In the fall of 1940 Japan signed a pact with Germany and Italy, thus supporting these two states in their war against the Allied Powers in Europe and Northern Africa. And in the spring of 1941, already facing American, British, and Dutch naval blockades in support of China's exiled government, and American economic sanctions, Japan signed a neutrality pact with the Soviet Union, an Allied Power in the European war. By that time, Japan was planning the attacks it would make in December 1941 on Pearl Harbor, and on American, British, and Dutch territories in Southeast Asia.

China's government in exile joined the United States in its declaration of war against Japan immediately the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. And in early 1942 the United Nations, better known as the Allied Powers, declared total war against Japan, Germany, and Italy, thereby extending World War II to East Asia and the Pacific.

China and the Pacific War

Japan, in its eyes, was never at war with China. Chiang's government joined the United States in its declaration of war against Japan the day after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. But Japan had stopped recognizing Chiang's government and turned to rivals who had not joined him in exile. In 1940, one such rival, Wang Jinwei, installed a new government that was willing to cooperate with Japan's mission of reforming China. And Wang's government declared war on the Allied Powers in 1943.

However, under the terms of surrender it signed in 1945, Japan accepted the terms of the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, which embedded the terms of the 1943 Cairo Declaration, both of which were signed by featured Chiang, representing China as a major power in the United Nations (i.e., Allied Powers) war against Japan. Japan thus had to accept Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist government as the legitimate government of China. And in 1952 Japan signed a peace treaty with the Republic of China. In the meantime, Chiang's government prosecuted many and executed some Chinese who had, in its opinion, committed treason by "collaborating" with Japan.

The impact of World War II on Kishine

What, against the background of this international drama, was happening in Kishine-chō?

World War II -- according to Hirai Seiji (op cit., Hirai 2011) -- forced Yokohama to discontinue its park plans. Instead, part of the area set aside for the park became the site of anti-aircraft guns (kōshahō 高射砲). The flak station consisted of 7 guns, which were located in the vicinity of the Boys Baseball Field (Shōnen yakyūjō 少年野球場) and the West Square (Nishi hiroba 西広場) in the extreme northwest corner of today's Kishine Park (Kishine kōen 岸根公園). This land, just north of the chapel at Kishine Barracks, was not part of the U.S. Army facility. Hirai added that the land now occupied by Kishine Nursery School, immediately north of the anti-aircraft guns, was the site of 2 or 3 twin-anti-aircraft batteries, and that north of them were two radars.

In other words, the anti-aircraft facilities were concentrated on a strip of land on the Kishine side of the road that marks the border between Kishine-chō and Sanmai-chō -- the road that ran along the fence immediately to the west of the barracks that became the wards of the 106th General Hospital. When I was there in 1966, the road was unpaved. I may have walked down it. I frankly can't remember. I didn't do much snooping around the neighborhood. I now wish I had done more.


Kishine during the Allied Occupation (1945-1952)

Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers in 1945, after which practically all of its prefectural Interior was occupied by Allied military forces and subjected to the authority of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), beginning and practically ending with General Douglas MacArthur. Though formally an Allied Occupation, by the time war broke out on the Korean peninsula in 1950, the Occupation was dominated by American military officers and civilians at SCAP's General Headquarters in Tokyo.

When the United Nations agreed to support the Republic of Korea in the south against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the North, MacArthur was appointed the commander of U.N. Forces in Korea, which of course included U.S. Forces, most of them deployed from Japan. In 1951, however, he was dismissed, and his replacement oversaw the last year of the Allied Occupation, which ended when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect in 1952.

Anti-aircraft facilities at Kishine

Sometime during the Occupation of Japan, the Imperial Army anti-aircraft facilities in Kishine-chō were dismantled. I have no idea when or by whom. Most likely, as soon as physically possible after their arrival in Japan, a U.S. Army demobilization unit confiscated whatever munitions remained, rendered the guns inoperational, and ordered their removal and recyling as scrap.

Requisitions in Yokohama

Numerous areas in the heart of Yokohama and throughout Kanagawa prefectures were requisioned by U.S. Forces. Former Imperial Army and Navy military bases were of course taken over by Allied Forces, but many privately owned buildings and land were requisioned for use by Occupation Forces, including civilian officials, and the civilian dependants of military personnel. Several large tracts of land in the heart of Yokohama, along the waterfront, were sites for the building of military barracks and dependant housing and all manner of facilities, including air strips, motor pools, supply depots, and hospitals and schools. Much of Yokohama had been totally destroyed by air raids, but some waterfront and other facilities had been largely spared, in anticipation of their postwar use.

Kishine requisitions

The city of Yokohama has published a number of reports on requisitions (sesshū 接収) and releases (kaijo 解除) of Japanese properties by U.S. Forces in Japan, both during the Occupation of Japan under the authority of GHQ/SCAP, and after the Occupation under provisions of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty. These reports show the following dates for Kishine-chō property (my titles and translations).

Kishine-chō property requisitioned and released by U.S. Army
during Occupation of Japan, 2 Sep 1945 - 28 Apr 1952, and later
Name of U.S. Army facility
Location (Building, facility)
Requsition yr-mo-dy
Release yr-mo-dy
Anti-aircraft position [station]
Kishine-chō (Kishine Park)
1 April 1951
22 December 1955 - 29 March 1966
Kishine Barracks / 106th General Hospital
Kishine-chō (Kishine Park)
12 April 1955
25 August 1972

Source占領下の米軍施設 (Senrō-ka no Beigun shisetsu ) [U.S. Army facilities during Occupation], Parts 1 and 2, 横浜市史資料室 (Yokohama-shi-shi shiryō shitsu) [Yokohama city history resources room], undated.

The received data states that the location of the anti-aircraft station was requistioned on 1 April 1951. April 1 corresponds to the start of Japan's fiscal year. 1951 marked the height of the Korean War in terms of the reversal of MacArthur's earlier successes and his dismissal for stepping beyond his authority.

I have shown the above information as received. The anti-aircraft station is listed along with Kishine Barracks as though it too were a U.S. Army facility. However, some Internet sources conveying remarks by local informants suggest that the station was an SDF operation (see more about this below).

U.S. Forces responsible for Japan's defense

Shortly after the start of the Korean conflict in 1950, the Allied Powers -- having refused to permit Japan to maintain its own military forces -- authorized the creation of a military-like National Police Reserve in 1950. This evolved into the Self-Defense Forces in 1954, after the Occupation, when Japan was free to create its own defense policy, mindful of the 1947 Constitution, Article 9 of which (1) "forever renounce[s] war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes, and (2) provides that, to this end, "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained" and that "The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

The Japanese government today maintains significant land, sea, and air forces, which train and exercise with their American counterparts under a considerably more elaborate mutual security arrangment. As all critics of Japan's build-up of military forces argue, Japan is obviously interpreting Article 9 to mean other than what it appears to mean. This be what it may, the United States is still, today, committed to come to Japan's defense.

I say "still" because, in 1951, a year before Japan regained its sovereignty and independence, Allied Occupation Forces -- in particuarly U.S. Forces -- were totally responsible for Japan's defense. So it is entirely possible that the GHQ/SCAP felt the need to build contingencies against the possibility of rouge air attacks from a belligerent country -- namely the Soviet Union, which was providing air support for the People's Liberation Army and the Chosŏ People's Army against United Nations Forces in Korea, and had the capability of attacking U.S. military bases in Japan. This is all material for an alternative history of the hottest of the hot wars that the United States fought during the cold war -- not withstanding the Vietnam War.

Defense measures taken in Yokohama

Ishimaru Yasuzo, in "The Korean War and Japanese Ports: Support for the UN Forces and Its Influences" (NIDS [The National Institute for Defense Studies, Ministry of Defense] Security Reports, No. 8, December 2007, pages 55-70), makes these interesting observations concerning (1) the takeover and return of properties in Yokohama, which became the most important staging area for the support both U.S. Forces and other U.N. Forces in Korea, and (2) the U.S. 8th Army's response to the threats that the Korean conflict posed for Japan's defense (pages 60-62).

(1) Yokohama Port

Yokohama Port, developed as the central station of Japan, had many of its port facilities requisitioned by the occupation forces following the end of World War II. Its return to Japan was significantly delayed due to the outbreak of the Korean War, resulting in its complete paralysis as a commercial port. Although the numbers of takeovers in Yokohama City showed an upward trend until 1951, with the conclusion of the peace treaty, they were gradually returned to Japan from 1952 onward, reducing the occupied area.

[ Omitted ]

Possibilities of attacks by North Korean Forces could not be denied even in Yokohama which was located far away from the Korean Peninsula. In October 1950, in preparation for air defense and disaster planning, the JLC [Japan Logistical Command, established on 25 August 1950] requisitioned parks in Negishi, Koyasudai, Okamura and Hanamidai where they established anti-aircraft artillery positions.

My own recollection is also that, when arriving at Kishine Barracks with the 106th General Hospital in December 1965, we were told that there was or had been an SDF facility right beside Kishine Barracks. I have no visual memory of it, but my visual memories of many of my experiences at Kishine Barracks that had no relation to my on-base work and off-base interests are dim.

I rarely ventured far from the lab, the wards on which I made regular and sometime stat rounds, and the mess hall, which were all within a few steps of each other. I seldom needed to go to the PX, can remember being in the headquarters building only once, never set foot in the movie theater or any of the clubs, much less in the chapel, and I never even approached the swimming pool or baseball field, though I can swim and I like and play baseball. I was extremely busy, and I would have been busy even if I hadn't volunteered to do a lot of things beyond the proverbial call of duty, which resulted in a promotion I valued only because I had a lot of respect for the officers who saw fit to give it to me. I would guess that, in my 9 months at Kishine Barracks, I spent no more than a dozen days and only a few nights off base. Such as they were, my off-base activities -- some with friends, most alone -- were fairly ambitious and all very rewarding, as numerous photographs and photographically unaided memories still remind me.

What happened, I suspect, was that the U.S. Army set up the anti-aircraft station in Kishine-chō, and later the Ground Self-Defense Forces took over their operation. The received information suggests that they began to be phased out in December 1955, some 8 months after the U.S. Army is said to have requisitioned the land for Kishine Barracks, the construction of which began the same year. The flak station was of course gone by the end of March 1966 when the land it had occupied was returned to Yokohama. The guns and related structures had most likely already been dismantled and removed by the time the 106th General Hospital arrived in December 1965.


Kishine after the Occupation

Many descriptions of the origin of Kishine Barracks, in Japanese as well as in English, are misleading or incorrect. Contrary to the most common genesis stories, Kishine Barracks was not built (1) during the Korean War or because of the war, or (2) as a R&R (Rest and Recreation) facility.

The barracks were authorized, when their construction was budgeted in 1954, as a way to consolidate a number of military camps and other facilities in the heart of Yokohama, to a single location on the outskirts of the city, in order to expedite the return of land the Allied Powers, in particularly the United States, had requisitioned for their use. Kishine was slated to absorb the remnants of the following military facilties.

Camp McNelly
Bund Hotel Officer Quarters
Yokohama M.P. Headquarters
Camp Coe
Other small facilities

Kishine Barracks is variously known in Japanese as Kishine barakku (バラック "barracks"), Kishine heisha (兵舎 "soldiers quarters"), Kishine kyampu (キャンプ "camp"), and Kishine kichi (基地 "base"). Yokohama formally made the land available to U.S. Forces in Japan on 12 April 1955, and the lad was formally returned to Yokohama on 25 August 1972. The land was originally used to consolidate, in a more rural part of Yokohama, a number of billets and other facilities that, during the Allied Occupation of Japan (1945-1952) and the Korean War (1950-1953) and for a number of years afterward, had been located in various parts of Yokohama's commercial neighborhoods.

The Korean War concluded in an armistice, and some combat units were pulled out of Korea, but Japan continued to be a potential staging area in the event that the truce on the peninsula failed. By the late 1950s, however, many U.S. military units that had been based in Japan were withdrawn or deactivated, and the United States began to return some bases and other facilities to Japan.

15 March 1957 Bugetary Committee meeting

At the 18th Meeting of the Bugetary Committee of the 26th Session of the Diet, convened in the afternoon of 15 March 1957, committee members, including the Minister of Defense, discussed the plans to relocate a number of U.S. military units from the center to the outskirts of Yokohama, namely to Kishine. The gist of the problem was that about 1.3 billion yen was allocated in the 1954 budget for the relocation, but construction had made little progress on account of considerable opposition from local residents, farmers, citizens, workers, youth, and women. Some 0.16 billion yen had been paid in advance, which raised the problem of overpayment.

Moreover, regarding Camp Coe, the first facility scheduled to be moved, and 4 other facilties, they are not being moved to Kishine, which at present is not close to completion, but are moving to other places. So why are we continuing to construct the barracks, ignoring the opposition of so many people, the people of Japan, when the original plans have changed, and we don't know how they are going to be used?

31 August 1960 Cabinet Committee meeting

The disposition of Kishine Barracks came up at the meeting of the 3rd session of the Cabinet Committee of the 35th Diet, convened on the afternoon of 31 August 1960 in Tokyo. A committee member observed that Yokohama citizens had been opposing the base called Kishine in Yokohama for the past 3 years. He added that Kishine was actually more a dormitory than a base.

An official in the Ministry of Defense reported that Kishine Barracks had been built about three years ago to open up -- i.e., consolidate -- several billets and other facilities around Yokohama, and so American troops had been stationed there. However, during the past year or two, combat troops have been withdrawn, and so fewer troops were permantly stationed there. However, the official pointed out, in February last year Kishine had been designated for use as a United Nations facility, and so it was also being used by UN troops enroute to and from Chosen (Chōsen 朝鮮). The official did not have specific data at hand, but felt it would be difficult to obtain the return of Kishine Barracks at that time.

Therein lies the problem, the committee member who raised the issue asserted. The Kishine facility was built on Yokohama city land, which the city had acquired from its owners. The city permitted its use by the United States in order to relocate U.S. military facilities that had been scattered in the heart of the city's commercial area. Kishine was thus intended for use by American troops. If it is no longer needed for American troops, then it ought to be returned to Yokohama. Its use by UN troops was not part of the deal. The government of Japan should make different arrangements for UN troops. Yokohama needs the money it spends to subsidize Kishine for schools and hospitals.

"Chosen" (Chōsen 朝鮮) refers to what most speakers of English would call "Korea" meaning "South Korea" or the "Republic of Korea" (ROK), which in Japanese is "Kankoku" (韓国). Japan and ROK did not sign a basic treaty establishing normal diplomatic relations until 1965. In fact, the treaty was ratified in December, the very month the 106th General Hospital arrived at Kishine Barracks. Until then, most Japanese referred to the peninsula as Chosen, its name as part of Japan from 1910 to 1945 (acceptance of Potsdam Declaration) and 1952 (effectuation of San Francisco Peace Treaty). As of this writing in 2015, Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) continue to be diplomatically estranged. Most Japanese call the northern regime "North Chosen" (Kita Chōsen 北朝鮮) -- a legacy geographical rather than contemporary political name for the northern part of the peninsula.

Camp Coe and MASH

Camp Coe sprawled out in a neighborhood parallel to the main street of Isezakichō. The camp billited many personnel, men and women, who commuted to assignments at other facilities. Men especially found the location convenient, the Isezakichō's side streets were lined with bars, cabarets, and hotels that catered to foreign merchant seaman and military personnel.

When war broke out in Korea on 25 June 1950, top priority was given to mobilizing and deploying medical units in Japan. Camp Coe became a staging area for the creation and deployment of many Army units to the peninsula, including 3 new MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) units created under the command of the 8th Army and the Yokohama Medical Depot, hence their numbers -- the 8055th, the 8063rd, and the 8076th. The units were activated on respecively 1, 7, and 17 July - all within a month of the start of the war.

The 8055th sailed on 6 [or 8] July from Sasebo to Pusan, from immediately began supporting the 24th Infantry Division, which had been forced to retreat south to a perimeter around Pusan. This first MASH unit inspired Mash the novel (1968), in which the 8055th is fictionalized as the 4077th. The novel inspired the film (1970), and the film inspired the TV drama (1972-1983).


Kishine tower Click on image to enlarge
Kishine Barracks water tower, 1966
Before decoration as aviation beacon
Photograph by William Wetherall

Kishine during the Vietnam War

A member of the original party that arrived with the 106th General Hospital in December 1965 told me "I think that there was an incident while you were still there at the 106th wherein a Spc5 from Surgery had to be talked down from the water tower to keep him from jumping. It seems he was dumped by a female 2nd Lt nurse." The writer said he later dated the nurse (email, 6 January 2005). I don't recall the incident, But a lot of things happened that I was not aware of or have forgotten. Or it may have been after I left.

The Vietnam War (1964-1975) embroiled more than one generation of Americans and others in military and civilian operations supporting the essentially American cause in opposing the spread of communist regimes in Southeast Asia. I was stationed with the 561st Ambulance Company at Fort Ord when the Tonkin Gulf incident in early August 1964 was reported in news media. The Congressional Tonkin Gulf Resolution of 7 August gave President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to order U.S. military support of any Southeast Asian government that appeared to be endangered by communist aggression. Over a decade after red-scare McCarthy era that coincided with the communist revolution in China in the late 1940s, and the Korean War in the early 1950s (1950-1953), the fear of communist takeovers of East and Southeast Asian governments was will strong.

The 1954 communist victory in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) against France's efforts to reinstate its former colonial control over the region was followed by American support for the nominally non-communist regime of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), never mind how corrupt and dictatorial it was. By the Tonkin Gulf Incident, there were already quite a few American military and civilian advisers in South Vietnam, and some had been killed by Viet Cong forces operating in South Vietnam with the support of North Vietnam.

My knowledge of the geography of the region, and of its political history, were practically zero. By the beginning of 1965, when I was sent to Fort Baker for training as a medical laboratory technician, I was reading books on the history of Vietnam, and quickly coming to the conclusion that the United States was in for another Korean War or worse. In my reading, I also gained an understanding, which I had never had before, of the dynamics of the failure of America's support of the Republic of China against the People's Liberation Army that forced ROC to take refuge on Taiwan in 1949, and the strategic failures of the U.S.-led United Nations Forces in Korea.

I quickly became a very cynical and pacifist young man. It was not that I wouldn't have welcomed a quick and successful repelling the takeover of a functioning government by truly evil forces. I simply couldn't conclude that North Vietnam's regime was more evil than South Vietnam's regime. I favored the idea of leaving what had all the appearances of a civil war to the people of the country to get it over with in their own way. Outside interference would almost certainly double or quadruple the death and destruction, as it did in Korea, with no certainty of gaining more than a stalemate, as happened in Korea. In the end, would life under communists like Ho Chi Minh (胡志明 1890-1969) be worse than life under nationalists like Nyugen Van Thieu (阮文紹 1923-2001) and Nguyen Cao Ky (阮高祺 1930-2011)?

Practically all the people I worked with in the 106th General Hospital at Kishine Barracks felt like this. Our hearts were there for the wounded, and we were prepared to do our very best to help them heal and recover. But our hearts weren't with the politicians who were calling the shots in Washington.


Whitmore cover History of the United States Army Engineer District, Far East, 1957-1975

Renovations and new construction at Kishine Barracks

When arriving at Kishine Barracks in December 1965, we had to set up the 106th General Hospital and get it operating in facilities that had not yet been renovated for hospital use. In other words, we set up the hospital using mainly the field equipment which had been shipped ahead. The only things that weren't shipped were the tents and other items that would have been needed only if we had set up in a cow pasture.

Renovations of the buildings, the construction of connecting passageways and elevators to permit the movement of non-ambulatory patients from floor to floor and building to building, would not be completed until late spring or early summer if my memory serves me correctly. A number of smaller buildings and other facilities were newly constructed to accommodate the hospital's growth.

The 4 barracks that were used for wards -- called A, B, C, and D -- underwent a lot of remodeling, inside and out, to accommodate the specific medical needs of the various kinds of wards. Ground and elevated passageways with elevators were constructed between A and B and between C and D, and a ground passageway was constructed between B and C.

The passageways and elevators enabled the movement of patients on gurneys between floors and buildings without having to carry patients or gurneys on stairs or expose patients to the elements. They were not completed until spring, however, so that first winter at Kishine was rough on both patients and medical personnel. Ambulatory patients could walk, but others had to be carried from floor to floor, and were exposed to the elements when moved on gurneys from building to building.

The passageways were built by Japanese construction crews under the supervision of a man who I gathered was an American civilian. He gave orders and otherwise spoke to the workers in fluent Japanese, which inspired me to doubt the rumors that Japanese was difficult. I once greeted him when passing the construction are between Wards B and C. If I ever heard his name, I've forgotten it. He could have Jim Calhaun, the supervisor described in the following extract from the following publication.

Earl Whitmore
History of the United States Army Engineer District, Far East, 1957-1975
Seoul, Korea, 1976
164 pages

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Far East District, was located in Seoul in the Republic of Korea. The following text is an OCR scan and edit of a jpg file I captured from this pdf edition of the above book (pages 50-52).

Whitmore photo Caption of photograph on page 51
FED Project Officer Jim Calhaun inspects the progress of work at
the Kishine Barracks phase of the hospital rehabilitation project

At the same time Project Running Light and the Kanto Plains System were being rushed through Design Branch, the Army presented its first crash program to the District: the military hospital rehabilitation. The requirement for beds to accommodate the sick and injured increased each month as the war in Vietnam escalated. USARPAC [U.S. Army Pacific] determined that rehabilitation of extant Army structures provided the most rapid and inexpensive method of gaining additional hospital spaces even though many of the buildings were old barracks and warehouses. The sites selected were Camps Oji, Tokorozawa, and Drake in greater Tokyo and Kishine Barracks in Yokohama.

In December 1965, FED [Far East District = United States Army Engineer District, Far East] assigned two A-E [architect-engineer firm] contracts to initiate the program: one to DMJM [Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall] for the rehabilitation at Kishine and Oji, and one to Adrian Wilson Associates for Tokorozawa. The District had the first increment of 1,000 beds ready for advertisement within 38 days, but a USARJ (US Army, Japan) revision forced an extensive redesign. Consequently, this contract was not awarded to Tekken Kensetsu Co. Ltd. until 28 June. In the meantime, by 4 January, FED completed negotiations for the 1,200 bed complex at Kishine, and Hori Komuten Co. Ltd. set about construction. By October 1966, FED contractors had the surgical facility and recovery ward at Oji (ENG 1124, assigned to Tekken on 10 March 1966) finished but not yet occupied and the repair and alteration plan for the sixteen buildings at the 106th General Hospital complex at Kishine well underway. The 2,000 bed project at North Camp Drake was in its second month of progress. The DMJM-engineered Drake upgrade involved the refurbishing of twenty-one structures on the 249th General Hospital compound to provide barracks, hospital wards, and surgery, supply, x-ray, and dental facilities. Now utilities to support the Drake patient increase included rehabilitating two wells and building a 100,000 gallon water storage tank, sewage treatment plant, a million-BTU-per-hour boiler, and helipad. Local traffic congestion prevented the use of Japanese roads for incoming patients, making the helipad necessary.

By late summer 1966, FED had the second phase at Oji and the several thousand bed project at Tokorozawa ready for award. The CINCPAC [Commander in Chief, Pacific] and CINCUSARPAC [Commander in Chief, U.S. Army, Pacific], however, advised a suspension of further action because of a probable curtailment of the total hospital bed requirement; the funds authorized had already been cut from $8 million to $4.1 million. With the cancellation of the second increment at Oji and the entire project at Tokorozawa, the magnitude of design changes for the first phase at Oji and Drake increased radically. In the fall of 1966 alone, for example, there were 36 individual modifications at these two job sites. Subsequently, it was decided to add air conditioning to the rehabilitated structures. In less than four months, DMJM completed the plans and specifications, and work began at Kishine in August 1967 and at the other post in the following month. The 406th Medical Laboratory and the hospital at Sagami-Ono were added to the four air conditioning contracts which amounted to moore than $l.l million and brought the Army hospital rehabilitation project total to approximately $5.1 million. Despite delays in delivery and incorrect shipments of GFM [government-furnished material], the herculean efforts of Hitachi Constr. Co. Ltd., Tekken Kensetsu Co. Ltd., Mitsubishi, Kinki, Sanwa Denki Kogyo Co. Ltd., and District personnel resulted in temporary provisions to permit operation of all the air conditioning systems by late June 1968. With the completion of this program in 1969, the District demonstrated that it could launch a large project rapidly and still keep construction costs within reason. The average price per bed for the hospital upgrade was a low $2,822, and the expenditure per square foot of floor space, $5.95. FED also accomplished the task without closing any of the already functioning areas. [Note 18]

CINCPAC (Commander in Chief, Pacific) -- usually a Navy commander -- controls all U.S. military forces in the Pacific area and reports directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). CINCUSARPAC (Commander in Chief, U.S. Army, Pacific) reports to CINCPAC. USA

DMJM refers to Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall, described in the book as an "A-E firm" -- meaning a company that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracted to design or construct buildings and facilities. The Pacific Coast Architecture Database (PCAD) at the University of Washington says in the part that the firm was established in 1946 as "one of the first combined architecture and engineering firms in the Western U.S . . . at a prosperous moment for architects in a booming section of the US [and] grew rapidly, becoming one of Southern CA's largest full-service design and engineering firms by the 1960s."

Both the 406th Medical Laboratory and the hospital at Sagami-Ono played significant roles in the operations of the pathology laboratory and burn center at the 106th General Hospital. See related reports elsewhere on this page.


Medical reports

The medical profession both thrives and survives on sharing experience in the form case histories and research findings. Sharing experiences becomes even more important in times of war when doctors in the field face unprecedented conditions and challenges. The Vietnam War was no exception. And it was well before the electronic age we live in today when arguably it is much easier than in the past to convene conferences and publish papers, and opportunities and motivation to contribute are probably greater.

A number of doctors and other medical specialists at the 106th General Hospital contributed to "The Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fourth Conference on War Surgery" convened at the Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, Japan, from 16 to 19 February 1970. The following reports were two of several published under "Highlights of CINCPAC Fourth Conference on War Surgery" in the July 1970 issue of Navy Medical Newsletter (U.S. Navy, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Vol. 56, No. 1, pages 8-10, and pages 10-13).

The following 8 reports, all extracted from the above newsletter, were made by doctors at the 106th General Hospital. The last report concerns an in-depth study of burn patients.

In addition to the following reports, see Bacteriology section for a report by Edward Y. Henjyoji (MC), Theodore C. Whitson (MC), David K. Ohashi (MSC), and Bohn D. Allen (MC), all 106th General Hospital personnel, on "Bacteremia Due to Serratia Marcescens" in the May 1971 issue of the Journal of Trauma.

Lieutenant Colonel Bohn D. Allen on "Acute Pulmonary Insufficiency" (page 8)

"Acute Pulmonary Insufficiency" by LCOL Bohn D. Allen, MC, USA, 106th General Hospital, Kishine, Japan was based upon experience in treatment of over 3,000 burn patients at the latter hospital. Sulfamylon therapy has reduced burn sepsis to a minimum, but an increase in deaths from acute pulmonary insufficiency has been noted. Excluding patients with significant associated trauma, practically no mortality in patients with 40% third degree burns or less had occurred. In the case of .patients with 40-60% third degree burns, deaths were primarily attributed to acute pulmonary insufficiency. No survivals were reported among patients with more than 80% third degree burns.

Pulmonary insufficiency patients presented persistent and progressive tachycardia and hyperpnea with associated progressive hypoxemia. Chest X-rays revealed diffuse exudates which then become confluent; concomitant decrease in P0 2 and pH with a rise in PCO a were characteristic.

The following etiological factors were reviewed: prolonged hyperventilation; prolonged anoxemia; release of toxins; low pulmonary blood flow status; overinfusion with fluids low in colloids and high in sodium; surfactant abnormality; decreased pulmonary vascular tone; congestive atelectasis with abnormalities in the microcirculation; oxygen toxicity leading to hyaline membrane formation, and; disseminated intravascular coagulation and thromboembolism. Increased release of tissue thromboplastin, associated decrease in Factors II, V, VI, VIII, and X, with fibrinolysin abnormality, were encountered in thromboembolic cases.

Dr. Allen detected no significant difference in pulmonary insufficiency encountered in burn cases as compared to pulmonary insufficiency presented by patients in septic or hemorrhagic shock or in cases of severe non-thoracic trauma. Similarly, pathophysiological changes in the kidney, liver and brain resembled those seen in the lungs of patients with acute pulmonary insufficiency of traumatic origin; these changes were most compatible with a disseminated intravascular clotting abnormality and the associated thromboembolic phenomenon seen under these conditions.

Captain D. K. Ohashi on "Bacterial Flora in Wounds" (pages 8-9)

"The Bacterial Flora in Wounds of U.S. Armed Forces Patients Evacuated from Vietnam to PACOM [Pacific Command] Hospitals" was presented by CPT D. K. Ohashi, MSC, USA, 106th General Hospital, Kishine, Japan. Klebsiella and Aerobacter were most frequently grown on cultures from burn wounds; Klebsiella and Escherichia were most frequently found in patients with non-burn wounds. From traumatic wounds unassociated with burns, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus and E. coli were commonly cultured. Cultures obtained from intravenous cannula tips (plastic intra-catheters) removed after 48 hours or more were positive for Klebsiella, Pseudomonas and/or Escherichia in 68.6% of the cases. Sensitivity studies generally revealed Klebsiella to be sensitive to Keflin and Pseudomonas sensitive to kanamycin. Best results in sensitivity studies were achieved by the tube dilution method.

Lieutenant Colonel Bohn D. Allen on "Septic Phlebitis and Its Management" (page 9)

"Septic Phlebitis and Its Management" was presented by LCOL Bohn D. Allen, MC, USA, 106th General Hospital. He urged that a large central vein be employed in projected long term intravenous fluid therapy. The condition was reported to develop much more frequently when indwelling plastic catheters were positioned in small veins such as those in the lower extremity, hand, forearm and neck. The important clinical features cited were induration and cellulitis over the course of the involved vein with expression of cloudy serum or frank pus upon milking the vein toward the entrance of the catheter. The recommended treatment was total excision of the involved vein following proximal ligation of the vein to prevent systemic dissemination, with delayed primary closure of the wound. Consideration of a return to the use of needles for intravenous fluid therapy (rather than continued use of plastic catheters in small veins) was advised.

Lieutenant Colonel H. G. Williamson on "Fat Embolism" (page 9)

"Fat Embolism: A Questionable Clinical Diagnosis" was presented by LCOL H. G. Williamson, MC, USA, 106th General Hospital. Out of 40,000 admissions to the 106th General Hospital, six cases of fat embolism with a 50% mortality rate had been encountered by the orthopedic service. Four of the six cases occurred in patients who presented multiple fractures; the remaining two cases involved patients with minor fractures. Their clinical courses were characterized by progressive respiratory insufficiency with hyperpyrexia, tachycardia, tachypnea and elevated blood pressure.

Although infarction is considered the end result of a true embolus, infarction was not found in the involved organs (lung, brain and kidney) of these patients. Pathological findings included perivascular edema and capillary ruptures with multiple areas of interstitial hemorrhage wherein globules of fat were noted. It was considered that capillary flow sludging led to associated injury of the capillaries, local and systemic anoxia, extravasation of fatty acids into adjacent interstitial tissue, and vascularitis. In the end result, local tissue hypoxia progressed to a systemic hypoxemia. The primary objective of therapy was best directed toward treatment of local and systemic hypoxemia, was the general concensus.

Colonel Jackie Jacobs on "The Anatomic and Physiologic Basis for Treatment of Vascular Injuries" (pages 9 -10)

"The Anatomic and Physiologic Basis for Treatment of Vascular Injuries -- a Review of 480 Cases at the 106th General Hospital" was presented by COL Jackie Jacobs, MC, USA. Assuring an adequate closing pressure, which reflects an adequate flow, is essential in vascular repairs. To insure patency, the critical closing arterial pressure is 20 mm Hg; pressures below this level are associated with a minimal flow rate and occlusions following arterial repair under these conditions are common. Most vascular repairs from war trauma can be accomplished by excising the damaged area and performing an end-to-end anastomosis. If excessive tension is anticipated however, a vein graft is warranted. Fasciotomies of all significant distal compartments was recommended. Following an approximation or graft, if there is minimal flow but a viable extremity as evidenced by satisfactory capillary flow, or if an anastomotic leak develops from an anastomotic disruption , treatment by ligation of the vessel is recommended, to preserve the collaterals and frequently the extremity. Results of arterial ligation have been superior to those obtained where second grafting procedures have been attempted in an infected field. Collateral vessels are often disrupted by an attempt to insert a second graft, further compromising distal circulation to the extremity. End-to-end anastomosis or a vein graft was considered superior to patch grafting in injuries resulting from penetrating wounds.

Lieutenant Colonel Bohn D. Allen on "Penetrating Injuries of the Abdomen" (page 10)

"Review of 1200 Penetrating Injuries of the Abdomen" was presented by LCOL Bohn D. Allen, MC, USA, 106th General Hospital. The need for strict adherence to the basic surgical principle of adequate posterior dependent drainage at the time of initial surgery in severe abdominal wounds was admirably demonstrated by the author. A high complication rate (50%) resulting from T-tube drainage of the common bile duct in treating liver injuries was noted; in comparable patients, the complication rate was 30% when T-tubes were not used. A staggering complication rate of 71% was reported for primary ileocolostomy procedures performed in cases of right colon injury. It was strongly recommended that ileocolostomy procedure be replaced by end-ileostomy and mucous fistula.

Special report on "Burns" centering on cases at the 106th General Hospital (pages 10-12)


* Taken from proceedings of CINCPAC Fourth Conference on War Surgery, February 1970.

1. General

Burned casualties in RVN (Republic of Vietnam) have increased in numbers and are requiring more and more attention. These burns at the present time are usually reaching a definitive treatment facility by helicopter in less than 40 minutes from the time of injury. These patients are resuscitated and definitive debridement is carried out at this echelon before the patient is evacuated to a PACOM hospital. Most severe burns are reaching the Burn Center in Japan within 48 to 72 hours after being burned.

At the present time the majority of burns from RVN are evacuated to the Burn Center at the 106th General Hospital in Japan. This Burn Center was established in February of 1967 and since that time has received a majority of burns over 20 per cent TBS regardless of service branch. By centralizing the burn patients, a regimen for management which is uniform has been established. Patients can now be better stabilized and the disposition made in a more uniform manner. Those patients with small burns can be treated and returned to duty. Patients with moderate burns that are all partial thickness can be treated and then evacuated to the hospital closest to home. Those patients with more extensive burns associated with full thickness skin loss can be further resuscitated and stabilized. When the patient is stable, he can be safely evacuated back to CONUS [Continental United States].

In general, burns are being treated by resuscitation, debridement and application of Sulfamylon in RVN. After arrival in Japan, Sulfamylon therapy is continued until the patient is evacuated or the burns have healed.


4. Antibiotics

All burns other than the small superficial partial thickness bum should receive penicillin for the first seven days post-bum, to eliminate infection by Bhemolytic streptococcus which may occur. After this period antibiotics are discontinued and are only employed when specifically indicated, as in urinary tract infection, pneumonia, and septic phlebitis.


Recommendations for Treatment

  1. At the first echelon of medical care, all clothing should be removed and lavage with copper sulfate solution should be followed by wet (water or saline) dressings, to prevent re-ignition of phosphrous particles prior to their definitive removal in a hospital.

  2. Resuscitation in conformity with the standard principles for management of a burned patient.

  3. Top priority debridement of tpe areas of phosphrous burns with total removal of phosphrous particles. Removed phosphrous particles should be placed under water to prevent operating room fire.

  4. Continued evaluation of hemolysis and hepatotoxicity of uncomplicated phosphrous burns regardless of percentage of total body surface burned.

  5. Management of acute renal failure by conventional methods.

  6. Routine measurement of 24-hour urine, copper and blood ceruloplasmin when copper sulfate is used in initial treatment together with search for previous exposure to other known oxidants.

  7. Serial calcium and phosphate studies should be obtained along with frequent or constant ECG monitoring. Hypocalcemia with hyperphosphatemia may result and lead to cardiac arrhythmia. This may be managed by adequate oxygenation together with infusion of 0.1% xylocaine and IV calcium sufficient to correct the hypocalcemia.

Notes of Caution

  1. Anesthesia: Caution is necessary in administering a general anesthetic to a burn patient (See Anesthesia Section); Anectine + hyperkalemia = death!

  2. Sulfamylon treatment: In the event of significant acidosis, the Sulfamylon cream should be removed and therapy resumed 24 hours later.

  3. Urine output: If urine output falls after the third to fourth day, furosemide or ethacrynic acid shoul4 be relied upon rather than excessive volumes of sodium bicarbonate, Plasmanate or mannitol, to reduce the risk of acute pulmonary insufficiency.


Kishine Park

See the entire Then and now feature below for photographs, maps, guides, and comments on the park that was built on the site of Kishine Barracks after its return to Yokohama.


Japanese perspectives

Americans generally seem to have an easier time rationalizing the presence of U.S. military bases in other countries, than in contemplating what it must feel like to be living in a community near a foreign military base. I had trouble at the time understanding why the United States was involved in a war in Vietnam. And I was aware that there were anti-war sentiments in Japan as well as in the United States. But I didn't give a lot of thought to the question of how someone living around Kishine Barracks viewed us.

I could not help but be aware, when stepping outside the gate, that I was in an unfamiliar place. I easily got to know the main streets as I walked them to get to train stations or to just look around and take photographs. But that knowledge was extremely superficial, and I was not then able to speak enough Japanese to have a conversation beyond confirmation a price or obtaining directions.

Today, my own perspective -- not as an American or a Japanese, but as a journalist -- would motivate me to ask local people what they thought of the madness. In the following sections I have digested a sampling of views I have found on the Internet and in a few book that touch upon Kishine Barracks and/or the 106th General Hospital.


Yoshizawa 1988 Yoshizawa Minami's "Vietnam War and Japan"
2009 (12th) edition of 1988 booklet

Rest & Recuperation

Many books have been written in Japanese about the Vietnam War. Most are about the war as it was fought in Southeast Asia. Some touch upon the manner in which the war was supported by U.S. military bases in Japan and Okinawa, which was returned to Japan in 1972 after the 106th General Hospital and many other supporting units had left Japan or been demobilized in Japan and the sites they had occupied had been returned to Japan.

To be continued.


Click to view mp4 video clip
Our Yokohama (Watakushitachi no Yokohama
Two minute (0:00-2:00) news reel from late 1972
Return of Kishine base (Kishine kichi no henkan)
Twenty second (1:10-1:30) report on Kishine Barracks
returned on 25 August 1972 and already used by public
Source City of Yokohama
Uploaded to YouTube on 20 February 2012
Captured from YouTube on 30 November 2015

Community protests against Kishine

Local people opposed Kishine Barracks from the moment they heard of plans in the mid 1950s to build the facility. The "Kishine issue" made the agendas of several national government committees during the mid 1950s when the barracks were being constructed, and during the late 1960s after the arrival of the 106th General Hospital.

Before the hospital came, objections centered on the presence of foreign troops in the neighborhood. U.S. military bases did not have a very good reputation. When the Allied Occupation ended in 1952, restrictions on protests against U.S. military bases were lifted. Most bases became sites of occasional or regular demonstrations by local residents, usually supported by outside groups opposed to the military alliance between Japan and the United States, as well as to the influence the bases had on the lives of local people.

Demonstrations during the 1950s were often organized by socialist and communist party elements. By the late 1960s, however, they were likely to involve radical college students opposed to the Vietnam War and Japan's role as a stage for all manner of logistical support, reminiscent of Japan's role in Korean War.

Any facility that had barracks came with a build-up of souvenir shops, eateries, bars, and quickie hotels that catered to the men and camp followers. Bases brought jobs to local people, but women employed as typists and clerks and janitors were subject to the amorous attention of the men. The women, especially if courted, would begin to dress and cavort like Americans, and some would live with their lover as an "only". Parents worried about the effects all this would have on the morals of their children.

Residents of Kishine-chō were understandably shocked when they heard that the city had earmarked a significant part of their land for use as a U.S. Army billeting facility capable of putting up hundreds of troops. The Occupation was over. Even the Korean War was over. Why a new facility?

As it turned out, Kishine-chō was to be the sacrificial lamb, so to speak. Yokohama wanted to reclaim several properities in the neighborhoods along the port facilities -- the heart of Yokohama. Practically the entire port was requisitioned, along with significant properties by the port, by the 8th U.S. Army. Kōbe and Saseba were also important ports, but Yokohama exceeded them in terms of tonnage and sheer flow of U.S. military personnel and material. Moreover, it was a stone's throw from Tokyo, where GHQ/SCAP established its main offices after they were first set up in Yokohama.


After the 106th General Hospital was set up in Kishine Barracks, local residents found more things to worry about. They were anxious about the presence of patience with communicable diseases. This meant, for the most part, malaria.

There were tens of thousands of cases of malaria in Japan during the Occupation period as millions of Japanese were repatriated from overseas, including Southeast Asian countries where malaria was indemic. By the early 1960s, however, indigenous malaria in Japan was virtually extict.

At the time the 106th General Hospital arrived at Kishine, malaria was limited a few cases of infections picked up when traveling overseas, or from a malaria-bearing mosquito that had come into the country with cargo. But the 106th General Hospital had a malaria ward. And Kishine-chō, like most rural areas of Japan, had its share of mosquitoes that were capable of transmitting malaria.


Patients were brought to Kishine by bus or helicopter. At first most came in busses outfitted for both ambulatory patients who could sit and patients on stretchers. More seriously wounded patients, however, especially those with extensive burns, were ferried by helicopter. The number of helicopters began to increase from a few a week to many ever day. Mass casualties in Vietnam, such as during Tet Offensive in 1968, meant mass casualties for military hospitals in Japan. Kishine, on account of its effectiveness in dealing with burns in 1966, became the burn center for all of East Asia and the Pacific in 1967.

At times, especially after the Tet Offensive began on 30 January 1968, which was lunar new years, meaning the night was essentially moonless, there was practically a non-stop stream of helicopters ferrying casualties to Kishine from air Yokota or Tachikawa air bases in Tokyo.

Kishine Barracks was not designed for heavy traffic. The paved square between the barracks to the west and the headquarters, PX, movie theater, and clubs to the east, nearer the main gate on the south, was really an asphalt parade ground. If a helicopter came, it was one helicopter, and it came during the day.

The need to evacuate casualties from Vietnam to Japan, however, changed this. Like it or not, the parade ground would become both a bus terminal and helicopter port, so to speak. Busses arriving at night posed no logistical problems, though of course they had to climb the hill in front of the camp to get to the gate. And sometimes several would come at a time, in a convey, pretty much like when I arrived with the original complement of hospital personnel in December 1965.

Helicopters were another matter. Pilots had to find Kishine, then set down on the parade-ground cum helicopter-pad. And this was not easy to do at night. When I was there, the asphalt square was illuminated by the headlights of vehicles parked around it for this purpose. Otherwise there was no special lighting. This may have changed later.

This arrangement may have changed later. The water tower I photographed at Kishine Barracks has no markings that would make it especially conspicuous from the air. The only lights I can see are those that illuminate the "Kishine Barracks" on the side of the tank. Pictures taken later, by others, show the tower decorated with the red-and-white cheques conventionally used to mark obstacles at landing facilities. I would guess that this incarnation of the tower also had beacons to aid pilots flying at night or in inclement weather.

The whumps of a helicopter arriving at Kishine any time of the day, but especially in the evening, or at night when the lab was practically empty, sometimes except for me, since I bunked in the building, never failed to remind me where I was. At times I'd become so engrossed in my work that I lost all awareness of where and why I was doing it. I could be screening a slide for intestinal parasites and become fascinated by something I had never seen, and pull out a textbook and lose myself in its chapters and charts.

One afternoon, when the lab was still operating in Building B, before we moved into our permanent location in the small building beside B, a doctor brought some mucosal scrapings from a patient's colon, suspecting dysentery. The resident pathologist examined part of the specimen and brought another part to the bacteriology section for culturing.

Dysentery, an potentially fatal inflammation of the colon, is accompanied by a number of symptoms, including most commonly watery and often bloody stools. It is bacterial or amoebic in origin, and the microbes are contageous. Stool specimens are therefore cultured to determine what kind of bacteria they may contain. But before that, bloody stools, or a colon biopsy in the form of mucosal scrapings, are examined for the presence of Entamoeba histolytica (E. histolytica), which if present can be seen and usually identified unter a light microscope.

Healthy intestines thrive with "normal flora" -- a variety of bacteria that aid in the performance of a long list of essential small and large bowel functions. Normal flora also include some very common varieties of bacteria like Escherichia coli (E coli), which under certain conditions can be pathogenic. "Abnormal flora" contain, in addition to normal flora, less welcome, more virulent varieties, like Shigella, one of the most common agents in bacterial dysentery. In tropical countries, however, histolytic amoeba -- literally amoeba that consume tissue -- are the most common agent.

The pathologist put a wet mount of the specimen under a microscope in the bacteriology section and said to have a look. What I saw was the most dramatic event I had ever seen with a microscope. I'd seen red blood cells. I'd seen single-cell protozoa, including amoeba. But I'd never seen amoeba and red blood cells on the dancing together on the same stage, much less an amoeba kissing, embracing, and swallowing a red blood cell.

I was so excited by this that I called my friend Bill Harvey at the X-ray lab and told him to get his butt over to pathology. He had to see this. He came and was excited as I was. By then there was a small line of other lab personnel who wanted to see the action. I wonder how many of them today recall the moment. Bill had already decided to be doctor when he got out, and was especially curious and full of questions.

If someone had suddenly reminded me that I was in Japan in a lab that was part of an Army hospital, that the amoeba and blood had come from the intestines of a soldier who a day or so before had been in Vietnam, that he had been fighting in a war there and was wounded on a mission that involved wading and at times crawling through a rice paddy that had been fertilized with human feces containing E. histolytica, I would have reacted the way you react when in the throes of a pleasant dream and someone turns on the lights and kicks you awake. Would I have been suddently been less elated?

At the time I thought about such things. How is it that I can be so fortunate to learn so much about the human body and what can go wrong with it -- from natural, accidental, suicidal, and homicidal causes, for war is homicide -- on account of a war that I had always thought was wrong?

I was, after all, a conscientious objector -- not the only one at the hospital -- but only people who work in the Orderly Room know who the COs are, and in a hospital no one cares. A significant percent of the corpsmen who had been in the ambulance company I had been in at Fort Ord, who were then in Vietnam, were Seventh Day Adventists. One, who at one time had been my bunkmate and sometimes partnered with me on ambulance duty, wrote me from Vietnam. One of his letters, dated 22 September 1965, was posted from Qui Nhon in Vietnam. The 561st Medical Company, Ambulance, was deployed at Long Binh from 23 August 1965 to 1 October 1970. Long Binh, near Saigon, was the site of the largest U.S. Army post and depot in Vietnam. Qui Nhon was on the coast several hundred kilometers to the north.

The following letter was addressed "PFC William O. Wetherall / Hospital Co. USAH Lab. / Fort Ord, California 94211. The return address was PF [name omitted] [Army Serial Number omitted] / 3rd Plt. 561 Med. Co. (Amb) / APO San Francisco, Calif. 96238" and postmarked "Army-Air Force / Postal Service / Sep 24 / 1965 / 38" with free postage. The letter, hand written on 3 pages of lined letter paper, reads as follows (underscoring in original, highlighting mine).

Sept 22, 1965
Qui Nhon V.N.

William O.,

Due to the perplexing slowness and mishandling of our mail, your letter arrived only a few days ago. There is no censoring of mail here but it does go through a X-ray machine.

I am enclosing a few cents worth military Payment Certificates. I would like to have seen this town before the American influence entered. I'm afraid I cannot tell the economic impact of our being here at this late date. I can say that it appears that all prices have been inflated. It is almost impossible to get a 'bargain'. Things are as expensive as in U.S. There are a lot of breeds of busses and motorbikes and bicycles around this area, so it seems that there must be money floating around, although from the appearance of the people and their dwellings -- well I guess its the expected Oriental smell and lack of sanitation and personal hygiene.

I would appreciate the language guide [which I offered him] as the one we have I feel is quite inadequate.

We don't have a close contact with the natives due to the nature of our job. We do get to go to town to shop periodically, but there is always an element of danger present. I believe we are expecting trouble soon -- trenches being dug quite heavily the last two days.

We've been seeing quite a few casualties here (85th Evac. Hosp.) where we've been litter bearers while awaiting our ambulances. Our ambulances are here today from Saigon finally.While I am not about to write a letter to pres. Johnson castigating those who oppose V.N. policy and saying what a great thing we're doing here helping the poor Vietnamese, etc., I am glad to be here in a position to help some of my fellow countrymen. I think this is the biggest change in my attitude since leaving Fort Ord -- I am not sorry to be here as a medic -- although I still would like to be home of course.

I better get this in the mail now so you won't think I haven't got your letter.

Yours, [name omitted]

Pollution from incinerator smoke

East of the tower, further away from the barracks, was an incinerator. Though taller than the water tower, it appears to never have been marked as an obstacle. I would guess, then, that the checkered markings on the tower were intended mainly to make it stand out, not as an obstacle, but as an indicator marking the northeast corner of the paved square.

I have no memory of paying attention to the incinerator, and no knowledge of what kind of waste was burned in it. I recall at the 6th Army Medical Laboratory at Ft. Baker, where I underwent my lab tech training, there was a small incinerator right outside the wing that housed the histopathology section, and I participated in the daily ritual of incinerating the remains of tissue that had already been examined -- part of organs, if not entire organs, removed during autopsies. The tissue samples had to be accessioned in a log book when they arrived, and notations of their disposal also had to be noted in the log book. Logging specimens was a legal procedure to account for their custody and disposition.

I have no idea how the 106th Medical Hospital disposed of its general medical waste, much less its surgicially removed tissue, which would have included amputated limbs. When I was in the bacteriology section, I autoclaved buckets full of glassware and plasticware with contaminated culture media. The glassware was washed and reused. As the plasticware melted in the autoclave, it was disposed of with the media, possibly in the incinerator.

Garbage incinerators, crematoria, coal or oil burning electric generators, but also public baths, are conspicuous on account of their tall chimneys. People don't seem to mind the presence of public baths in their neighborhoods, though they have mostly disappeared as the vast majority of homes and apartments today have their own gas-heated baths. However, large incinerators, cremation furnaces, and hydrocarbon-fueled thermo-electric generators -- along with military bases of any kind -- are defintely on everyone's NIMBY (not in my backyard) list.

Shinohara pond pollution

Shinohara pond (Shinohara-ike 篠原池), though it wasn't within the fenced perimeter of Kishine Barracks, was immediately to the northeast of the camp and was geographically related to its grounds. It appears that the pond became polluted by drainage from some camp facilities. I have not been able to determine the nature of the pollution, whether from sewage or chemicals.

Front gate protests

I recall only one occasion -- there may have been more -- when we were alerted that there might be a demonstration outside the front gate of the camp and were advised to avoid becoming embroiled in it. I have no memory of seeing or hearing such a demonstration. This most likely means that I wasn't really paying attention to such things, or they didn't register in such a way that I would remember them.

There were, however, some well-documented and disruptive demonstrations at other facilities, such as Camp Oji, the sight of another Army hospital. See Camp Oji demonstrations below for details.

Testimony of Rokkakubashi Middle School student

In 2009, a certain "Shodai Fusafusa" [1st generation Fusafusa], presumably a man, who graduated from Rokkakubashi Middle School (Rokkakubashi Chūgakkō 六角橋中学校) in Yokohama, posted a review of Dear Hunter on a blog dedicated to the school's 21st graduating class and its reunions. The school was right around the corner to the left at the intersection at the top of the hill, at the southwest corner of Kishine Barracks, and it could be seen from the upper-story landings of medical wards.

I don't know where the boy lived at the time, but who knows. I might have passed him in the street on one of the few occasions I ventured outside the camp. Or I might have seen him playing on the road along the west side of the barracks when I was out on a landing taking photographs of Mt. Fuji or just getting some fresh air and a moment of peace from the bedlam of my medical laboratory duties.

Japanese schools begin in April and end in March. Practically all are 6-3-3 schools. All children are required to attend 6 years of elementary school and 3 years of middle school. The 3 years of high school are not compulsory, but practically all children finish high school, and today nearly half go on to college.

The blogger entered the middle school in 1965. So he was in the 1st (6th) grade when I arrived in December 1965, in 2nd (8th) grade when I left in September 1966. And he graduated a couple of months after the Tet Offensive in 1968. So he was in a position to witness the most dramatic changes at Kishine Barracks, and at an age when such changes were likely to engrave themselves on his memory.

As a preface to the review of Deer Hunter, the blogger related the highlights of his childhood memories of Kishine Barracks and the 106th General Hospital. He reported that, before the Vietnam War bogged down, on America's Independence Day, bazaars were held, and there appear to have been U.S. Forces culture festivals that were open to the public.

Then conditions in Vietnam worsened, and the U.S. Army Kishine base became a field hospital. There were times, he said, that classes were interrupted by the roars of the helicopters that transported wounded soldiers. He recalls that the American soldiers who appeared on the grounds of the base were conspicuous on account of being mainly wounded soldiers without whole bodies (gotai manzoku de wa nai 五体満足ではない).

As the war in Vietnam further worsened, he continued, the Kishine base reached its capacity to accommodate wounded soldiers, and relatively healthy soldiers awaiting return to their country (kikoku o matsu 帰国を待つ) were put up in general apartments in Japan and went to public baths (sentō 銭湯).


Kishine urban legends

Alas, Kishine Barracks -- and especially the 106th General Hospital -- would become objects of rumor mongering. Some rumors had more foundation than others. The one which had the least foundation has achieved the status of an "urban legend" (toshi densetsu 都市伝説).

On 4 July 2012, Yoshioka Machiko posted a 3-part report titled "Was Kishine Park a morgue during the war?" (Kishine Kōen wa, senji-chū wa shitai-okiba datta? 岸根公園は、戦時中は死体置き場だった?) on はまれぽ (Hamarepo) [Yokohama Report]. In the 2nd part, she cites an acquaitance who had lived immediately beside Kishine Barracks since infancy, as saying that, on days when helicopters came, someone in the family would say, depending on how many helicopters there were that day, "Today the war was bad." Apparently people were of two opinions, one that the patients were seriously wounded, the other that they were lightly wounded.

Yoshioka also spoke with a 50-year-old woman who remembers getting candy on the 4th of July, Independence Day, "the one day a year the camp was liberated". The woman reported that there was an "urban legend" among elementary school students to the effect that "because they washed the bodies of the war dead the [Shinohara] pond was red with blood." Hence, Yoshioka, writes, on the Internet today, the stories that Kishine Barracks had been a body disposal facility (shitai shori shisetsu 死体処理施設).


Camp Oji demonstrations

By the spring of 1968, The U.S. Army Hospital at Camp Oji in Kita ward Tokyo became the stage for some rather violent student-led demonstrations. The Oji hospital originated as the 7th Field Hospital, which had about 400 beds when deployed to Japan in November or December 1965, shortly before the 106th General Hospital arrived at Kishime Barracks. The 7th Field Hospital was provisionally set up at Johnson Air Station, in Iruma in Saitama prefecture, just north of Tokyo, but by March 1968 it had moved to Camp Oji and was reclassified as a U.S. Army Hospital.

The Oji hospital faced widely reported riots by radical student groups, supported by local people, who believed the hospital was treating contagious diseases that would spread to the general population. Chicago Tribune Tokyo Bureau Chief Samuel Jameson reported on the demonstrations as follows (my reformating of copy cut and pasted from Chicago Tribune).

Chicago Tribune Chicago Tribune
31 March 1968, page 16

Chicago Tribune
Sunday, March 31, 1968
Page 16, Section 1A

By Samuel Jameson

Radical Japanese Students Score Another Victory

TOKYO, March 30 -- Japan's revived Zengakuren students have scored another propaganda victory by jumping on a seemingly innocuous American plan to open a hospital to treat Viet Nam injured and blowing it up into a cabinet-level problem.

The hospital, located at Camp Oji in northwest Tokyo, was officially opened March 18 and is scheduled to begin admitting patients in a few days.

Originally approved in November, 1965, as part of an over-all military expansion, the Oji hospital began to take shape last March when a 2.9 million dollar construction program got under way to renovate buildings once used by the United States army map service. Japanese officials approved the plan and were in constant contact with American military officers.

More than 38,000 Viet Nam patients were treated -- without incident -- at four other field hospitals set up here since late 1965 and nobody paid much attention to them.

Then, on Feb. 16 more than 500 students from the ultra-left "three faction alliance" of Zengakuren -- a group which has staged 12 bloody riots since last fall -- moved in with clubs and rocks. Four other riots followed.

Playing upon public opposition to American policy in Viet Nam, the students claimed the hospital would threaten the heavily populated residential area with contagious diseases brought in from Viet Nam. They also said American soldiers would create problems of public morals.

With student violence as the angle, Japanese news media began to take up the cudgel. Then Tokyo's Marxist governor, Ryokickhi Minobe, got into the act. Ward politicians jumped on the bandwagon.

U.S., Japan Governments Silent

MEANWHILE BOTH the American and the Japanese governments maintained silence. Lacking any evidence to the contrary, average residents in the area began to wonder if the students weren't right, after all.

Soon, housewives in aprons were out demonstrating and office workers stopped on the way home to conduct protest rallies at Oji station.

On Feb. 23 Col. Charles H. Wells, head of the hospital, gave a press conference -- the only American attempt to explain what the hospital was all about -- and was quoted in the Japanese press as saying that the hospital was "equipped to handle patients suffering contagious diseases." The United States army told this reporter that no contagious diseases would be treated at Oji.

On March 13 Prime Minister Eisaku Sato instructed his chief cabinet secretary to look into the problem.

After that virtually every Japanese government official I connected with the issue began to make statements recognizing the legitimacy of the residents' fears. At no point did anyone speak out against the charges.

Officials Differ as to Evils

THE TOKYO METROPOLITAN police chief urged that plans for the hospital be dropped because of "traffic disturbances" that would result from future students' demonstrations. The welfare minister urged special measures to check the spread of contagious diseases. The foreign minister talked about the problem of public morals. The chief cabinet secretary called the hospital "undesirable."

Finally, Sato himself proposed that Japan seek other land for the hospital and said he would ask the United States to move the facilities some time in the future.

On Thursday, the problem took on diplomatic coloring as the foreign ministry -- in its first official representation to the United States -- asked for and got American approval to conduct continuing consultati ons to prevent the outbreak of contagious diseases.

Hardly was the agreement announced before the radical students, who have rejected even the Communist party as hopelessly ill-equipped to bring about the Marxian society they seek, were back in the street with clubs and rocks.

The issue once again underscored the power of a small handful of radical students to influence thru [sic] violence the course of political events here and stood as a crystalization of the countless frustrations the United States has endured over the years in maintaining its military bases here.

Many years later I met Jameson in his office in the Yomiuri Building in Tokyo, where Japan's largest national daily is published. The building provided offices for the bureaus of a number of foreign newspapers and magazines. By then "Sam Jameson", as he usually signed his name, was a legend approaching retirement. And he was the bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times.

I was introduced to Jameson by Teressa Watanabe, an LA Times reporter who worked out of the Tokyo bureau for a few years. She had come to my home a few times on fishing expeditions related to articles she was writing on social issues of mutual interest. The three of us had coffee and tea at a cafe in the building.

I never saw Jameson again but later we had reason to exchange some email. He was familiar with my by-line, as I had contributed a few articles to local papers, and to the Far East Economic Review, a Hong Kong weekly magazine. FEER also had its Tokyo bureau office in the Yomiuri Building, though I usually communicated directly with Ian Buruma, who edited the Arts and Society section out of FEER's home office in Hong Kong, and I rarely had reason to show my face in the Tokyo office.


Jenkins 2009 Charles Jenkin's tale of life as a deserter

Desertion via Kishine

Soldiers who go AWOL -- "absent without leave" -- either voluntarily return to their units and take whatever punishment is meted out, or they are apprehended somewhere. Depending on the circumstances, a soldier who faces charges for being absent without permission may have to do a lot of talking to convince his commanding officer or tribunal that his absence did not constitute an attempt to desert.

During the Vietnam War, numerous U.S. military personnel were sent from the war zone to nearby countries for brief vacations from which they returned to Vietnam. Tens of thousands came to Japan. Some felt so strongly against returning to the war that they AWOL for a while, and a few deserted.

Some soldiers deserted after receiving orders for duty in Vietnam. Some even deserted out of fear that they were about to be receive orders for Vietnam.

Thoughts of desertion can involve the equivalent of the wrist-cutting syndrome seen in some people who contemplate killing themsleves, or behavior analogous to the stockpiling of sleeping pills or making other preparations as a contingency.

Kishine and Sergeant Jenkins

Former U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins (b1940) admits he deserted in 1965 during his 2nd tour of duty in the Republic of Korea (ROK) -- "South Korea" or just "Korea" in English. Most likely he dwelled on the idea of deserting for several days or even weeks before the moment of decision.

One night, inebriated with several beers, fearing that he was about to be sent to Vietnam, Jenkins crossed the DMZ (demilitarized zone) and surrendered to soldiers of the Democratic People's Republic of Chosen (DPRC), better known in English as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) or "North Korea".

Whatever Jenkins hoped to accomplish, he found himself treated as a defector and used for DPRC propaganda. He underwent the usual privations that would-be deserters are subjected to -- they could well be spies -- with two men who had deserted at different times before him. Then he studied Chosenese and taught English.

In 1980 Jenkins married one of his students, a Japanese woman who had been abducted in 1970 with her mother to teach Japanese to espionage agents. His wife was allowed to return to Japan in 2002 but he and their children were not permitted to join her until 2004. Upon arrival in Japan, by prearrangement he turned himself in to U.S. military authorities at Camp Zama, where he was confined, questioned, court martialed, dishonorably discharged, and released. Since then he has lived with his family in Japan, and in 2008 he obtained permission to permanently reside in the country.

Jenkins' "Confessions" (Kokuhaku 告白) were published in Japanese in 2005. And in 2009 the University of California Press brought out The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea, an autobiography he wrote with the assistance of Jim Frederick.

Jenkins served in Korea for a while after enlisting in 1958. He then served in Europe, and is said to have passed through Kishine Barracks on his way to Korea again in 1964.

Story of Kishine patient who deserted

Desertion anywhere poses the problem of how to remain undetected if one does not defect or seek asylum. The problem becomes greater in proportion to the deserter's conspicuousness.

In Japan, people living in cities and towns with military bases are accustomed to seeing soldiers in uniform, and even in civilian clothes most U.S. military personnel physically standout if they are not of East Asian racial descent. Once outside such localities, however, racially conspicuous people get a lot more attention. And in the 1960s -- half a century ago -- the likelihood of a conspicuous person attracting and hold stares was very high. And adults could be even more curious than children.


A soldier might shack up for a few days somewhere, alone or possibly with someone, while contemplating what to do, then decide to return to his unit and take the heat. Or he might meet someone -- such as a member of Beheiren -- who was willing and able to help him sneak out of the country with false documents.

Beheiren (ベ兵連) -- short for "Citizens Alliance for [to bring] Peace in [to] Vietnam" (Betonamu ni heiwa o! shimin rengō ベトナムに平和を!市民連合) -- was a leftist anti-war organization which operated an "underground railroad" for soldiers who, while in Japan on brief R&R stints, chose to desert rather than return to Vietnam. The group was championed by a few actvist writers, including Oda Makoto (小田実 1932-2007).

An exchange concerning desertion in Japan by a soldier who had been a patient at the 106th General Hospital took place on pages 170-171 of the "Yokohama Navy Exchange was where?" forum on Japan Guide (see especially the searchable "Forum" feature). The following dialog is a slightly edited version of several posts made between 25-28 November 2012 by five contributors, at least two of which had served in the 106th General Hospital at Kishine Barracks. I am leaving their handles the same.

Walkingfool, the writer, has a blog called The walking fool.

Walkingfool   This is an amazing thread! I have a question for anyone who worked at the U.S. Army hospital at Kishine around 1967-68. How did patients and staff usually travel from Kishine to central Yokohama? Was there a special bus service? If so, did it connect Kishine with the Navy Exchange at Honmoku or with Yokohama Station? This is for story I'm writing.

Peter   Welcome Walkingfool. My buddy Wally is the best person to answer your interesting question. I suspect that he is at the package store right now but he will be with us when he comes around. Have you read all of the posts on this thread? No? We are a wealth of useless information. Tell us about your story! No stealing . . . I promise. Sounds pretty obscure . . . we like obscure.

Walkingfool   Hi Peter. Yes, I've read through the entire thread. I wonder how many people can say that? It's full of useful information. The story is about a deserter. If it's ever published I promise to announce it here first.

Peter   Walkingfool, you read the entire thread? Amazing! You are a glutton for punishment. I find it interesting how some people come and go and how others -- nice ones, people that I would like to know better -- come once and then never come back. Perhaps some of us will make it in as a character in your story. Regardless of weather or not you publish it, perhaps you might share it here. Some of us can actually read! Spelling is a different matter. Why Kishine? Were you ever there? Or did it come from inspiration from this thread? Where do you live now? Maybe this thread is a story unto itself. We need for Wally to answer your question. Both he and I were in the US Army in that time period, as perhaps you were? We would be happy to fill in any small details.

Walkingfool   Hi Peter. No, I was never in the US Army. I'm a New Zealander, living in Christchurch. I've been a regular visitor to Japan since my first trip there in 1984. I currently work as a translator, but would dearly love to publish some fiction of my own. The inspiration for the story was an encounter I had several years ago with an elderly Japanese man who was a member of an organization that helped US deserters in Japan during the Vietnam War. A number of these deserters were smuggled out of the country and ended up in Sweden. I did some of my own research on the topic and thought it would make a great story. I know at least one of the deserters this organization helped was a patient at Kishine, hence the enquiry.

Peter   Wow, very interesting. I never heard of such an effort. New news. I assume you translate from English to Japanese. Thank you for giving us a little peke. Always wanted to visit NZ, especially after LOTR [The Lord of the Rings] . . . Yea me and a million others. Ne?

Wally   Walkingfool, I was at Kishine Barracks 1967-68, but I sure as hell am not going to help someone write a book glorifying American military deserters. I suggest you contact Jane Fonda, as she would probably be glad to help you. And, by the way, why would anyone in Japan want to desert, we had it too good there. I suspect that if any serviceman did desert, it was because they were under some disciplinary action for drugs, or rape, or some other criminal activity, not political, although they may have said it was political. In all the time I was in Japan I never heard of anyone going over the hill.

Peter   Wally, perhaps you are jumping to conclusions. We do not yet know if this story is "glorifying" desertion. It might be about making bad choices given illogical reasoning, and desertion given a person stationed in Japan sounds illogical right? Give the Kiwi a wee benefit of the doubt. I for one would like to hear more. Perhaps its a redemption theme. Kiwi . . . you?

Barbara   Wally and Peter, I just reread the last few posts. "The inspiration for the story was an encounter I had several years ago with an elderly Japanese man who was a member of an organization that helped US deserters in Japan during the Vietnam War." The key may be the phrase, "during the Vietnam War." It's easy to imagine soldiers deserting the Vietnam War and making their way to Japan -- not that it was right, just something that with hindsight might be understandable and could make an interesting story, especially if they ended up in Sweden.

Walkingfool   Peter: You're welcome to visit NZ any time. Christchurch is still a bit of a mess after the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, but with the first movie in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy about to be released, the rest of the country is gearing up for another influx of LOTR fans from around the world.

Wally: Most of those who deserted in Japan were not actually stationed there, but were there on R&R, were being treated in hospitals, or were otherwise "passing through" after serving in Vietnam. They all had different reasons for deserting. Yes, some were facing disciplinary action. Some had drug or alcohol problems. Others were genuinely opposed to the war. Mostly they just didn't want to go back to fight in Vietnam. As a writer, I'm not interested in judging or glorifying them. I want to tell their story warts and all, as well as the story of those Japanese who helped them.

Peter   I believe that Walkingfool's explanation of the background of his story is not unreasonable. We who served still harbor resentment for those who swore an oath and then dishonored themselves by deserting. i never heard of this in japan as Wally never did either, so this is a story that for historical reasons may have merit to be told.

Thank you for the invitation. It's summer there right? See you in 18 hours. I'll wear my Hobbit costume, which is indistinguishable from what I wear everyday anyway. Sans the gold vest. Cant wait for the Hobbit, I'm a huge Tolkien fan. Where are they going to put the bronze statue of Peter Jackson? There goes your national debt! Saw the trailers -- "The making of" etc.
They measure things relative to rugby feilds. Lost me there mate. LOTR theme park? I'm there!

Peter   Walkingfool, to answer your original question. There was bus service between Kishine, running to various bases in the Kanto area, including the Navy Exchange Yokohama, Atsugi, Camp Zama etc. The buses ran on a regular schedule. They were "school buses" but painted the military olive drab (green). I would assume that they made a stop at Yokohama Station or Sakaragicho, but as I never personally rode the buses I couldn't rightly say, but it is a fair assumption. As I indicated, I would be willing to fill in any details of military life in that area that might be outstanding. Hope this helps.

Writer   Thank you, Peter. That was very helpful. Let me know if you ever make it to NZ and I will give you a personalized tour of Christchurch.

Peter   Thanks. Your on! I don't suspect that it will be anytime soon. Im sure you'll be easy to find. There can't be too many Walkingfools in the phone book. I presume your a gentleman, because if it's otherwise, I'm not sure my wife would quite approve. Need a trip on one of those dreamliners. Be sure to let us know where we can read the story.

Dave   Walkingfool, welcome to our discussion of all things Yokohama and whatever else grabs our interest. The Vietnam War was the most derisive period in US history during my lifetime followed closely by the civil rights movement. I was a twenty-year US Marine during much of the time and got a chance to observe both in many different places. I did three Vietnam tours and probably share Wally's feelings to some extent but I'm also interested in the research you are doing. I'm looking forward to reading your book.

I never got too wrapped up in worrying about the anti-war movement. I saw it mainly as a bunch of spoiled kids being worried about being drafted and sent to Vietnam and a bunch of politicians and do-gooders egging them on. We did suffer a lot more casualties because of the anti-war movement but that is the price we pay for freedom. Some good people die to protect the right of others to act like fools. I had a liberal aunt in Arizona who was a big peace activist. It was always fun visiting when I was passing through Tucson.

I don't think desertion was as big a problem in the Marine Corps as it was in the Army and Navy. People who were going to desert didn't join the Marine Corps and if they did we usually screened them out during initial training.

I got to meet a few soldiers from New Zealand toward the end of my second Vietnam tour when I was attached to a US Army command for a couple of months. Your soldiers were a great credit to your country. Professional, motivated and competent.

Wally   So much to say, so little time! First of all, Peter is right, there was military bus service connecting all the U.S. military bases in the Kanto Plains area, and they were school buses painted military colors, some were Army OD [olive drab], some were Navy gray and some were Air Force blue. There were at least two buses every day of the week making the rounds, one bus went clockwise and the other counterclockwise. I know this for a fact, because I used to take the bus to Atsugi and back to Kishine about once a month to pick up my eight bottle booze ration. I also went to Camp Zama a couple of times. It was a slow means of transportation, because you hit every base and housing area, but you knew you would eventually get to your destination. I think I have a copy of the bus schedule 1967-68 somewhere in my mementos, but it would be an all-day job to find it.

Taxis. I would take taxi rides right after payday, when I was rich. They all had plastic covers on the rear seats, and I would slide from one side to the other during the trip. Taxis were more dangerous to pedestrians than to the passengers. I remember late one night when the driver left a little old lady spinning around in the street over in Pete's neighborhood. Come to think of it, that might have been Peter in drag.


Kishine then and now

This section is devoted to photographs and other images of the Kishine area past and present. Most of the images have been copped and sometimes cropped from images found on the Internet. A few are mine. I have credited all borrowed photographers and other images to their originators and/or contributors when such information was clearly provided. My thanks to everyone whose work I have reproduced here and my apologies to those who I may not have sufficiently acknowleged.

Kishine Barracks

Kishine Park

Kishine entrance 1965 Circa 1966 directory to Kishine Barracks and 106th General Hospital Kishine entrance 2015 2009 directory to Kishine Park

I have dated the Kishine Area Directory circa 1966 because it appears the configuration predates the construction of passageways between the ward buildings and other new structures (see details on another representation of the same photograph below). The photograph on the right, taken by a cyclist in 2015, shows the directory at the entrance to the park just up the hill from the intersection at the bottom of the hill. You can see the "Yo are here" arrow in the bottom corner of photograph (see Other views below for a picture of this entrance).

Kishine entrance 1965 1965 gates and guard post at Kishine Barracks Kishine entrance 2015 2015 entrance to Kishine Park and parking lot

The photograph on the left was taken before the December 1965 arrival of the 106th General Hospital at Kishine Barracks. The buildings to the right of the guard post are the theater and gymnasium. The picture on the right is a screen capture of a street view of the main entrance to Kishine Park. The parking lot to the right sits on the site of the theater and gymnasium.

Kishine snap Circa February 1963, children by barbed-wire fence Kishine snap 30 April 2009, southwest entrance to Kishine Park

The photograph on the left shows the plaza of the southeast entrance to Kishine Park, taken from the Rokkakubashi Middle School Entrance Intersection at the very top of Suidō-michi. The left side of this photograph shows the road along the western perimeter of the park, corresponding to the road on which the children are playing in picture on the left. The plaza cuts through the site of the barracks which the 106th General Hospital used as medical wards. The 2009 photograph on the right was copped from Wikipedia, which attributed it to Captain76.


Vintage maps

Yokohama map 1965 Yokohama map 1975

Click on images to enlarge

1975 map showing Kishine area
Kishine-chō (岸根町) is the pink area to the left of the yellow area of Shinohara-chō (篠原町) in the center of the map. The map shows Shinohara Pond (Shinohara-ike 篠原池) but does not show any evidence of site of Kishine Barracks or Kishine Park as a distinct entity. The image is my scan from a book of maps of Kanagawa prefecture cities and neighborhoods published in 1975 by Shōbunsha (page 36).

June 1965 map showing Kishine Barracks
Kishine Barracks and some of its facilities are clearly identified on this large foldout map of Yokohama, published in June 1965 by Nippon Kokuseisha. The image is my scan of a copy of the map I bought a few weeks after arriving at Kishine Barracks with the 106th General Hospital in December 1965. It is not clear when the information representing Kishine Barracks was compiled.

Evacuation 1 Helicopter hovering over asphalt pad at 106th General Hospital
Click on image to enlarge
Photograph taken by William Wetherall in 1966
The arch of "Kishine Barracks" is visible above the building behind the helicopter.
The sign on the building reads "Golden Dragon" -- the name of the officers club.
The 3-story building is one of two BOQs -- bachelor officers quarters.
One thing you can say for the military -- it has a lot of "class".

Kishine Barracks on 1965 map

The shape of the green area marked KISHINE BARRACKS (U.S.ARMY) on the map to the left, and the red representations of its buildings, appear to be very approximate or purely schematic, rather than based on direct observation and mapping of the site. Of interest are the identifications of the GOLDEN DRAGON, U.S. NAVY, FEES KISHINE, P.X, and FEES PERIODICALS. Some of the typography -- "U.S.ARMY" and "P.X" rather than "U.S. ARMY" and "P.X." -- is typical of alphabetic writing in Japanese texts, which may omit spaces and the period marking the last letter of an abbreviation.

The GOLDEN DRAGON was the officers club, and it was located just to the left of the entrance gate, immediately by two bachelor 3-story bachelor officers quarters (BOQs). I suppose the proximity of the club to the quarters was intended to save the military money, for if the club was more than a few steps from their quarters, some officers would have wanted a jeep with a driver.

I cannot confirm the meaning of "FEES" but would guess that it might mean something like "Far East Education Services", on account of reports concerning people from various branches of the military, some of them living elsewhere in the area, attending short training programs.

Kishine area on 1975 map

This map is a puzzle. It shows, in the middle of south side, what corresponds to the entrance to the Kishine Barracks area, and a building to the left of the entrance, which would be the officers club. But in the southwest corner, it shows blocks corresponding to where the 4-story barracks were located, with streets connecting to the streets along the south and west perimeters. Moreover, it shows numbers like those assigned to blocks of land in other areas to facilitate identification of smaller lots within the blocks -- as though the area corresponding to the site of Kishine Barracks was just another part of the surrounding neighborhood. By 1975, however, it had already become a park, though most of it was still under construction.

Yokohama City Maps, August 1949

1949 Yokohama map Heart of 8th US Army in Occupied Yokohama
Nishi and Naka wards, old Yokohama waterfront
1949 Yokohama map Yokohama station and North Pier
Kanagawa ward, old Kanagawa waterfront

Click on images to enlarge the above maps, which were copped from Yo-Hi Devils, the home page of Yokohama High School and other regional American school alumni. See Maps for Kanto area maps and links to other maps, and More Maps for Yokohama area maps and an interactive version of the map on the left showing high-resolution images of selected areas.

August 1949 Occupation-era maps

The two above maps are part of a much larger "City Map of Yokohama" dated August 1949. The map was printed for use by Allied military forces and dependents in Yokohama. It shows major streets and locations of Allied installations and dependent housing in the Yokohama area, all clearly labeled in English. Map users were asked to bring omissions or errors to the attention of the "Intelligence Division, Engineer Office [Office of the Engineer], GHQ [General Headquarters], FEC [Far East Command], 4th Floor, Mitsubishi Shoji Building, Telephone 26-5090".

The Mitsubishi Shoji Building (Mitsubishi Shōji Birudingu 三菱商事ビルディング) was in Tokyo. Allied Occupation Forces commandeered the building for use as offices by a number of sections of GHQ/SCAP (General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers), including the Diplomatic Section (DS/SCAP), which proxied Japan's foreign affairs.

Old Yokohama and 8th U.S. Army Headquarters

The map to the left centers on the southern part of Yokohama's waterfront, associated with Nishi-ku (西区) or "west ward", and Naka-ku (中区) or "center ward", both south of Yokohama station. The flatter Nishi-ku -- in the upper half of the map -- includes the heart of Old Yokohama, in the days of the extraterritorial Foreign Settlement along the bay during the latter half of the 19th century, then Chinatown and the older entertainment and red-light districts. The hillier Naka-ku -- in the lower half of the map -- includes the Bluff and the Negishi and Honmoku areas.

Off the map

Yokohama station, in Kanagawa-ku (神奈川区), or "Kanagawa river ward", is just off the map directly north of the A.G. [Adjutant General] Printing Plant in the upper left corner of the map. North Pier, now known as North Dock, is east of Yokohama station and north of Central Pier. Kishine is in Kōhoku-ku (港北区), or "north-of-harbor ward", directly north of Yokohama station.

1949 Yokohama map Kohoku ward, north-of-harbor Yokohama
1949 Kanto map Kanto road map centuring on Tokyo and Yokohama


Vintage photos

The following photographs are copped from various websites. They are not of very high quality, and the kind and extent of the information accompanying them considerably varies with the source.

The photographs are shown in chronological order. All dates are based on the received descriptions, except the date of the closing ceremony, which was given as 1973 but was actually 1972.

I have credited the sources only when photo attributions were specific. The descriptions and comments in the captions are mine, but parts of the comments are translations or paraphrasings of the received descriptions.

Kishine snap Circa 1953, road from Kishine along paddies in Shinohara
Shinohara Kindergarten (Shinohara Yōchien しのはら幼稚園), about 300 meters down the road between present-day Kishine Park and Shin-Yokohama stations on the Blue Line subway, sits on the rice paddies in the foreground. The subway very roughly follows the road in the background, which was known as Bōgayato (坊海道), a placename which survives in the area. The paddies were filled, and the hills and flats are now buried in homes. The photo was copped from (とうよこ沿線), which credits it to Itō Yoshio (伊藤義雄) of Kishine-chō.
Kishine snap Circa 1963, road construction on Route 12 near barracks
New construction of Kamiasao stretch of Route 12, looking north, away from the intersection with Suidō-michi. Kishine barracks is immediately to the left. The Aoya (藍屋) restaurant near the woods on the left marks the site of today's Kishine Park Station on the Blue Line. The photo was copped from (とうよこ沿線), which credits it to Takahashi Minoru (高橋稔) of Kishine-chō

Bōgayato (坊海道) ● As a Sino-Chinese graphic expression, the 海道 in 坊海道 would be read "kaidō" and mean either "sea road" or "seaside provinces" as in Tōkaidō (東海道), which figures in so much of the history between the Kansai and Kantō regions and survives as the name of train lines that connect cities along the original route or through the same terrain. Here, though, the graphs are used to suggest the meaning of what is linguistically "bō-ga-yato" or "valley of monks". A "yato" is a long stretch of wetland between rises on eiher side. When developing such land for rice cultivation, a trail or road would be built along one side of the low valley for access. The word "yato" is found mainly in the Kantō area and is especially common in parts of Kanagawa. Some linguists think it may be of Ainu origin. The genitive marker "ga" in "bō-ga-yato" is not graphically represented in 坊海道. The place name could graphed 坊ヶ谷戸 in which ヶ or "ke" ordinarily represents が or "ga". The variety of ways in which Japanese is graphically represented is what makes the writing and reading of the language interesting. Language is what is spoken and heard, and graphs don't pronounce themselves. The likelihood of a non-local person correctly pronouncing 坊海道 without having heard how locals pronounce is practically zero. Understanding exactly what it refers to poses another problem. But this is true of all words. You either know how a word is pronounced, and what it refers to, or you don't. Nothing beats hearing a word and seeing or otherwise experiencing what it means.

Kishine snap Circa March 1958, one year after opening
The received description says the base was called "Kishine Camp" (Kishine Kyanpu 岸根キャンプ) at the time. The photo shows the water tower and the chimney of the power plant taken from the northwest side of camp. Other facilities continued to be built down to and after the arrival of the 106th General Hospital in 1965. Note that the water tower has not yet been graced with "KISHINE BARRACKS". The photo was copped from (とうよこ沿線), which credits it to Itō Yoshio (伊藤義雄) of Kishine-chō.
Kishine snap Circa February 1963, children by barbed-wire fence
Taken at southwest corner at top of hill up Suido-michi at intersection of Suido-michi and cross street on which children are playing. The intersection, called Rokkakubashi-Chu Iriguchi, is so named because the cross street leads to Rokkakubashi Middle School (chu-gakko), a short distance to the south, in the direction the children are walking. The photo was copped from (とうよこ沿線), which credits it to Matsumoto Kōhei (松本幸平) of Rokkakubashi.
Kishine snap 25 August 1972, ceremony returning land to city
The parade grounds and baseball field where the ceremony is taking place had been opened to the public almost as soon as the 106th General Hospital had packed up and left. By 1980, the park had been built and Suido-michi had been widened and otherwise brought up to the lastest standards. Notice that some families with children, probably from the neighborhood, are attending the ceremony. The photo was copped from (とうよこ沿線), which credits it to Ebihara Kazuo (海老原和夫) of Kishine-chō.
Kishine snap During 1966 or later, chapel and EM quarters
Shot from northwest corner of camp, from road along perimeter west of wards. Shows chapel and enlisted men's quarters in the foreground. Note that water tower has been painted with orange and white aviation obstruction markings, which was done sometime after the 106th arrived in 1965. My own photograph, taken in early 1966, shows an unmarked tower with only "KISHINE BARRACKS" on the water tank.
Kishine snap Circa 1966, Kishine Area Directory near entrance
Note the way the small "LAB" building is associated with Wards A and B and similarly "X-RAY" with Wards C and D. This is an architectural and landscaping artifact, probably reflecting the original division of the buildings into two groups for billeting different units, in which case the smaller buildings would have served as unit headquarters.
Kishine snap Circa 1972, apparently taken after closing camp
The gates are closed and a barbed wire barrier has been placed across the entire entrance. The entrance is also blocked by a common metal storage shed. Note the "U.S. Army Hospital" sign below the "Kishine Barracks" banner. I can't make out the rest of the sign -- "106th GH" and "APO 96503"? Note the spotlights on the top of the lateral supports, which are not shown in the earlier picture at the top of this page.

The Kishine Area Directory presents a problem. Note that the 4-story passageways connecting A-B and C-D, and the ground-level passageway between B-C, and a number of other newer structures that were built after the 106th General Hospital arrived in December 1965, are missing. The lab was temporarily set up on the 2nd floor of Building B, and was there for several weeks at least. The construction of the passageways took longer. I can't remember when the lab moved to the small building beside Ward B, but we knew from the time we set up in Ward B that the small building would be our home as soon as it was renovated. So the directory may be the first one made, showing where the lab and X-ray facilities would soon be housed when the small buildings were remodeled to accommodate them.


Suido street along Kishine Park

The following images are from a 2011 Yokohama city presentation related to a long-term project to widen the street called Tsurumi-Mitsuzawa Line (Tsurumi-Mitsuzawa-sen 鶴見三ツ沢線). Much of this street is more commonly called Suido Street (Suidō-michi 水道道), since it follows a major "waterway" (suidō) or water main.

Slide 23 Suidō-michi street work
The stretch along Kishine Park (dark gray) has been completed.
The stretches on either side (orange) are slated for widening.
Slide 22 Views of completed street work
(1) View of Suidō-michi from top of hill toward Tsurumi.
(2) View of Suidō-michi from bottom of hill toward Mitsuzawa.

Both images highlight the stretch of Suidō-michi along Kishine Park between Nishi-Kishine Intersection (Nishi-Kishine Kōsaten 西岸根交差点) at the bottom of the hill (to the right) and Rokkakubashi Middle School Entrance Intersection (Rokkakubashi-Chū Iriguchi Kōsaten 六角橋中入口交差点) at the top of the hill (to the left).

In the image to the left, the work on the street by the park is marked as completed (seibi-zumi 整備済み). The image to the right shows views of the completed work -- two traffic lanes, and wide sidewalks with curbs, rain gutters, and covered sewers.

The work involved widening the street in compliance with new standards to improve ability to safely handle two-way traffic and pedestsrians. In this case, the street was also provided with curbed sidewalks with rain gutters as well as covered sewers.

Facilitation of the land as a park began in 1940 but was interrupted by the war when the area became the site of anti-aircraft batteries. After the war, the area came under the control of U.S. forces, which had been the major part of the Allied Occupation forces, and it remained under U.S. Army control after the Occupation under the auspices of the U.S.-Japan security agreement.

Facilitation of the area as a park resumed in 1970 when the 106th General Hospital left and Kishine Barracks was closed. Parts of the area, in particular the baseball field and adjacent grounds in the southeast corner, were opened for public use in April 1971. In 1973, the rest of the area, including some private land which had been acquired for park use, was publicly opened as a park.

By 1980, the stretch of Suidō-michi in front of the park, shown in the above images, had been widened and provided with pedestrian walks and other features to bring it up to more recent standards. A prefectural Budōkan (武道館) -- a martial arts dōjō (道場) -- was built on the eastern part of the park in 1982. The Blue Line subway was extended under the park, and Kishine-Kōen Station -- straddling Kishine and Shinohara on Route 12 -- was opened in 1985. A direct exit on the northeast corner of the park, near Shinohara Pond (Shinohara-ike 篠原池), made access much easier.

Since the late 1980s, parts of the park, especially around Shinohara Pond near the subway station, and the western parts of the grounds at the top of Suidō-michi, have undergone more landscaping and reconstruction to provide new recreation facilities.


Google maps of Kishine Park

Google maps Google Map centering on Kishine Park
Composite of several screen shots copped from Google Maps.
The thin broken red line is the route of the Blue Line subway.
The thick red line marks the boundary between Kōhoku ward (top right) and Kanagawa ward (bottom left).
The cluster of yellow buildings bottem center, below the southwest corner of the park, is Rokkakubashi Middle School. Some people who were students there when the 106th General Hospital was operation have blogged their memories of the period.
The broken black line remains a mystery. It does not correspond with any surface feature visible on satellite or street views but ties in with railway yards at its extremes.


Satellite views of Kishine Park

Satellite views Satellite views

Views of Kishine Park area from higher/boarder (top left and right) to lower/narrower (bottom) persepectives
Screen shots copped from Google Maps. Click on images to enlarge.

Satellite views


Street views of Kishine Park (April 2015)

The following images are screen shots copped from Google Maps.

The captured shots begin looking west up Suidō-michi at its intersection with Route 12 and end looking down Suidō-michi from the Rokkakubashi-Chū-Iriguchi intersection at the top.

The Street View footage was taken in April 2015.

Kishine street view At Nishi-Kishine Intersection
On Suidō-michi, looking west across Route 12. Kishine Park is where all the trees are, straight up the street on the right. Rokkakubashi Intersection, Hakuraku and Higashi Hakuraku stations, and Higashi Kanagawa station and the Yokohama waterfront, are down route 12 to the left.
Kishine street view By main entrance of Kishine Park
Halfway up Suidōmichi, looking west toward the top of the hill. The entrance is immediately to the right. Notice the signal and crosswalk. The street was widened and provided with curbed sidewalks and other safety features at the time the park was built in the mid and late 1970s.
Kishine street view Main entrance to Kishine Park
Looking north into the entrance. This is about where the gates and guard post of Kishine Barracks were located. The plaza inside the entrance corresponds to the open space in front of the headquarters building at Kishine Barracks. The park administration building is immediately to the left inside the entrance, about where the Officers Club was located. The parking to the right was built on the site of the theater and gymnasium.
Kishine street view Rokkakubashi neighborhood across from entrance
Looking southeast from the entrance of Kishine Park at the Rokkakubashi neighborhood across Suidō-michi. The Nishi-Kishine Intersection on Route 12 is at the foot of Suidō-michi to the left. The older wooden buildings that characterized Rokkakubashi are gone. In their place are 2-story homes, and 3-story and 4-story apartment buildings, some with stores on the ground level.
Kishine street view Rokkakubashi neighborhood across from entrance
Looking southwest from the entrance of Kishine Park at the Rokkakubashi neighborhood across Suidō-michi. The Rokkakubashi Middle School Entrance Intersection is at the top of Suidōbashi to the right. The building across the street is surrounded by scaffolding enclosed with tarps to facilitate repairs and repainting. To its west is a 2-story home and a 4-story apartment building.
Kishine street view At Rokkakubashi-Chū Iriguchi intersection
Looking down Suidōbashi toward the Nishi-Kishine Intersection on Route 12, from the top of hill at Rokkakubashi Middle School Entrance Intersection. The cross street runs along the west side of the park to the left. Rokkakubashi Middle School is about 100 meters down this street to the right. The park can also be entered from this corner. The mirror allows people on one street to see traffic on the other.


Other views of Kishine Park and vicinity

26 August 2015 photographs by cyclist

The following images are copped from several posted by a cyclist who biked from Shin-Yokohama station, via Route 12 to the Nishi-Kishine Intersection at Suidō-michi, then up Suidō-michi passed Kishine Park to the juncture of Shidō-michi with Shimokōchi (下耕地), and south on Shin-Yokohama Dōri (新横浜通り) to Mitsusawa Park (Mitsusawa Kōen 三ツ沢公園).

The images are dated 26 August 2015. See Mackey Town Blog -- Tokyo Environs Bicycle Course Guide (マッキータウンぶろぐ 〜 東京近郊自転車コースガイド) for a photographic record of the entire course.

Riding alongside automobiles and trucks is not my idea of fun cycling. I prefer the quieter roads along the fields and paddies in my semi-rural suburban neck of the woods.

2015-08-26 "Nishi-Kishine Intersection 300-meters ahead"
Sign on Route 12 proceeding south in direction of Higashi-Kanagawa station near Yokohama waterfront. Mitsusawa is to right on Suidō-michi along front of Kishine Park. Tsurumi is to left on Suidō-michi through Shinohara and other neighborhoods.
2015-08-26 On Route 12 at Nishi-Kishine Intersection
Intersection of Route 12 where it is crosseds by Suidō-michi. Lower (west) part of Kishine Park is immediately to the right.
2015-08-26 On Suidō-michi at bottom of the hill
After turning right off Route 12 at Nishi-Kishine Intersection. The hill climbs by Kishine Park immediately to the right. Except on exceptionally wide sidewalks, cyclists are required to use the left lanes the same as cars.
2015-08-26 Entrance to Kishine Park at bottom of hill
This entrance is on the southeast corner of the park at the northwest corner of Nishi-Kishine Intersection.
The entrance leads directly to the Budōkan, baseball field, and Shinohara Pond.

Drainage sewers run under the concrete slaps along the curb. You can see the gratings of at intervals along the sewer. In older times these were open. In some neighborhoods the slabs are short and can be lifted to clean the sewers. Curbed sidewalks are a more recent innovation in the few neighborhoods that have them. This stretch of Suidō-michi got a head start on account of the building of the park.


Kishine Park access

The easiest way to get to Kishine Park from Yokohama station is on the Blue Line (Buruu Rain ブルーライン) municipal subway. Kishine Park station (Kishine Kōen eki 岸根公園駅), numbered B24 on maps, is only 4 stations from Yokohama, which is numbered B20.

The station straddles the Kishine and Shinohara sides of Route 12. Most of the station is immediately under the northeast corner of the park, and the closest exit -- Exit 2 -- comes out by the Shinohara Pond (Shinohara-ike 篠原池) entrance to the park. Though called Shinohara, the pond is in Kishine-chō. Though part of the park, it was not part of Kishine Barracks.

Kishine street view Exit 2 of Kishine Kō subway station and vicinity
Looking west from the Shinohara side of Route 12.
Park to left. Family restaurant to right.
Screen shot copped from Street Views in Google Maps.
Kishine Park Station Exit 2 of Kishine Kō subway station
The subway platforms are 3 floors down.
27 March 2008 photograph by LERK from Wikipedia.
Kishine street view Schematic image of structure of Kishine Park Station
Platforms are 3 stories down. Exit 1 is elevator shaft near Exit 2.
Platform 1 (Ichi-ban-sen 1番線) is line on top with arrow to right.
Copped from Yokohama city website.
Kishine Park Station Kishine Kōen subway station platform
Platform 1 of Kishine Park station for trains
coming from Shin-Yokohama and continuing to Katakurachō.
27 March 2008 photograph by LERK copped from Wikipedia.
Subway map Map of Blue Line and Green Line subways Subway map English map of Blue Line and Green Line subways
Subway map Subway map marking rapid service stops (double concentric circles) Subway map Walking to Kishine Park

Rapid service trains don't stop at Kishine Station

Kishine Park (Kishine Kōen 岸根公園) station (B24) is number 24 of 32 stations on the Blue Line, counting from Shōnandai (湘南台) station (B01) in lower left. When boarding a Blue Line train for Kishine Park, be aware that the semi-express or "rapid" (kaisoku 快速) service skips smaller stations, including Kishine Park.

The numbers of the rapid service (kaisoku 快速) stops are enclosed in concentric circles. The nearest rapid service stops, on either side of Kishine Park, are Yokohama (横浜) (B20) and Shin-Yokohama (新横浜) (B25).(B25).

Walking from Shin-Yokohama to Kishine Park

The walk from Shin-Yokohama is only about 1.5 kilometers through Shinohara, which should take only 20 minutes or so if you know the route, 30 minutes if you have to stop now and then to confirm directions, longer if you pause to take in the now very suburban sites.

The map on the right shows a walkable route from Shin-Yokohama to Yokohama stations, via Kishine Park, taking back streets through residential neighborhoods rather than the more roundabout though easier-to-follow main roads. I copped the map from a blogger named Tasone_99, who did the walk on 5 November 2013.

The blogger walked from Shin-Yokohama station to the west exit (nishiguchi 西口) of Yokohama station, via Kishine Kōen and Kanagawa University (Kanagawa Daigaku 神奈川大学). He said the distance was 5.7 kilometers and required 70 minutes. That's about 800 meters/10 minutes, which is a bit (but not a lot) faster than average. This implies a normal speed and gait, maintained without pausing to study a map. Someone not familiar with the streets would need to take more time. The image the blogger posted of the route suggests he relied on a smart phone with GPS navigation which very likely audibly told him where and when to turn.

Kishine guide Access map to Kishine park showing streets, stations, and bus stops
Map copped from Yokohama Greenery Foundation (Kōeki Zaidan Hōjin Yokohama-shi Midori no Kyōkai).

Yokohama city bus lines

A few Yokohama city bus lines have stops in the immediate vicinity of Kishine Park.

No. 38 stops at "Rokkakubashi North Town" (Rokkakubashi Kitamachi 六角橋北町). The bus runs between the west exit of Yokohama station (Yokohama-eki nishiguchi 横浜駅西口) and Tsurumi station (Tsurumi-eki 鶴見駅) by way of Route 12 and Suidō-michi (水道道). There are only about 2 busses per hour.

No. 39 stops at both "Rokkakubashi North Town" (Rokkakubashi Kitamachi 六角橋北町) and at "Front of Shinohara Pond" (Shinohara-ike-mae 篠原池前). The bus runs between the west exit of Yokohama station (Yokohama-eki nishiguchi 横浜駅西口) and "Nakayama station" (Nakayama-eki-mae 中山駅前) along Route 12. This is a heavily travelled route, and there are at least 5 buses per hour between morning and evening. This is probably your best choice for bus transportation from Yokohama station.

No. 291 stops at "Front of Rokkakubashi Middle School" (Rokkakubashi Chūgakkō Mae 六角橋中学校前) and "Front of Kishine Park" (Kishine Kōen Mae 岸根公園前) on Suidōmichi, right in front of the park. The bus runs along a less-travelled local circuit route between the west exit of Yokohama station (Yokohama-eki nishiguchi 横浜駅西口) and "Front of OŌguchi station" (Ōguchi-eki-mae 大口駅前). There is only one bus per hour.

Highway map Map of highway and expressway access to vicinity of Kishine Park
Kishine Park (岸根公園) is the green area at the green tack in the center.
Yokohama station (横浜) is bottom center, Tsurumi station (鶴見) is to the right.
The map is a screenshot of a Navitime image.

Highway access

The pink roads are National Routes 1, 14, 15, and 16. They are not freeways but streets with intersections and signals. If proceeding on National Route 1 (Kokudō Ichi-gō-sen 国道1号線) from Yokohama and Kanagawa, turn left at "West Kanagawa" (西神奈川) onto the Yokohama Kami Asao Line (横浜上麻生線) aka as Kanagawa Prefecture Route 12, and proceed west to the West Kishine Intersection (Nishi-Kishine Kōsaten 西岸根交差点) at Suidō-michi (水道道) -- about 2.4 kilometers from Route 1.

The thick blue road is the 3rd Tokyo-Yokohama Road (Daisan Keihin dōro 第三京浜道路), aka as National Route 466 (Kokudō Yon-roku-roku-gō-sen 国道466号線). It runs as an expressway -- insterspersed with on-off ramps (de-iri-guchi 出入口), interchanges (IC), junctures (JCT), and parking areas (PA) -- between Setagaya ward in Tokyo and Kanagawa ward in Yokohama, via of Kawasaki.

The yellow roads are prefectural roads such as Route 12.

Toyoko Dentetsu map

Tōyoko Railway stations from Yokohama bay to Tama river (circa 1930)

Stations along Yokohama-Shinmaruko stretch of Tōyoko Railway (Tōyoko Dentetsu 東横電鉄), which is now part of Tōkyū Tōyoko line (Tōkyū Tōyoko Sen 東急東横線) that runs between Yokohama station in Kanagawa prefecture and Shibuya station in Tokyo. The stretch shown here runs from Yokohama bay lower left, across the Tsurumi river (Tsurumigawa 鶴見川) center, to the Tama river (Tamagawa 玉川) right, which marks the boundary between Kanagawa and Tokyo prefectures. A couple of stations no longer exist, a couple have been renamed or are new, and all which have survived have been rebuilt.

The stations most closely related to the Kishine are, from left to right, Yokohama (横浜), Kanagawa (神奈川) [no longer exists on this line], Tammachi (Tanmachi 反町), Higashi Hakuraku (東白楽), and Hakuraku (白楽). The latter two stations are along Route 12 between Suidō-michi -- the street which fronted Kishine Barracks -- and the Yokohama waterfront. The image was copped from, which credits it to the Okura Institute for the Study of Spiritual Culture (Ōkura Seishin Bunka Kenkyūjo 大倉精神文化研究所).


Kishine Park guides

Kishine guide Guide to Kishine park posted at southeast entrance (lower left)
Photograph dated 30 April 2009 was copped from Wikipedia, which attributed it to Captain76.

Kishine Park Guide Map

Shinohara Pond (Shinohara-ike 篠原池), in the upper-right (northeast) corner, was there long before the advent of Kishine Barracks in the mid 1950s, but was not part of the Kishine Barracks property.

The small plaza, baseball field, and playground in the upper-left (northwest) corner were built on the site of the anti-aircraft batteries that were operated by the Imperial Japanese Army until demobilized by the U.S. Army after World War II. Kishine Barracks did not include this land, either.

Kishine guide Interactive guide to Kishine Park features
Guide copped from Yokohama Greenery Foundation (Kōeki Zaidan Hōjin Yokohama-shi Midori no Kyōkai 公益財団法人横浜市緑の協会).
Click on the map for the original interactive Internet version.

Interactive Kishine Park 's major features

The value of the above guide map is the color-coding of the park's major features. The following table shows the corresponding features of Kishine Barracks.

I have represented the names of features as shown on the above map, and on the Key to Major Building page in the 1969 report on the 106th General Hospital (at top of this page)

In the table, I have translated "hiroba" (広場) as "square" just to be consistent. The expression refers to a "wide [expansive] place" that could be a plaza or simply an open space. Other translations are also my own. There are no official English versions.

The names of some "squares" of are mostly metaphors for peace and enjoyment. The "gourd" (hyōtan ひょうたん 瓢箪) of "Gourd field" refers to the shape of the field.

Comparison of features of Kishine Park and Kishine Barracks

Location Kishine Park Kishine Barracks
Japanese English
Left top 西広場
Nishi hiroba
West square Outside Kishine Barracks
Anti-aircraft batteries
Left top 少年野球所
Shōnen yakyūjō
Boys baseball field Outside Kishine Barracks
Anti-aircraft batteries
Left top ゆうゆう広場
Yūyū hiroba
Quiet square Outside Kishine Barracks
West of chapel
North of EM quarters
Left ひょうたん原っぱ
Hyōtan harappa
Gourd field Medical wards
Motor pool
Mess hall
Helicopter port
Center top 展望広場
Tenbō hiroba
Observation square Can't confirm
North of CMS and OR
Center middle 忍者とりで
Ninja toride
Ninja fortress Between OR and
power plant
Center middle せせらぎ広場
Seseragi hiroba
Murmuring square Power plant
Swimming pool
Bottom left 管理センター
Kanri sentaa
Administration center Officers club
Bottom middle 中央広場
Chūō hiroba
Central square Entrance gate
Bottom right 駐車場
Parking lot Movie theater
Right top 篠原池
Shinohara pond Outside Kishine Barracks
Right middle 武道館
Martial way [arts] hall Sewage plant
Ammunition bunker
Right bottom 野球場
Baseball field Parade and
baseball field


Early training and posts

I underwent basic combat training at Fort Ord and medical corpsman training at Fort Sam Houston. After qualifying as a corpsman, I was posted to the 561st Ambulance Company at Fort Ord, where I underwent training in the driving of ambulances and other military vehicles. After a period of driving ambulances in support of field execises, I worked in the company and batallion offices as a clerk. I was then transferred to the Ft. Ord U.S. Army Hospital, where I worked in the physical exam section. From there I was sent to the Sixth U.S. Army Medical Laboratory at Ft. Baker for training in medical laboratory procedures.


Basic combat training (Ft. Ord)

Basic training was a fairly easy ordeal for me. I arrived at Fort Ord with my hair already cropped short, as it had been all summer while I worked on a survey crew with the Tahoe National Forest. I was also in very good condition. The survey crew camped. We sometimes had a trailer for cooking, but even then we pitched sleeping tents or slept outside, and dug latrines. On the job we walked, climed, cleared brush and small trees that blocked our line of sight when shooting angles and elevations. And I at least got very brown as I took every opportunity to break the rules and shed my hard hat and shirts. And on days off I often went swimming with friends in local rivers, or hiked around mines, even walked across an abandoned railway tressle,

The sergeant in charge of my training platoon ask me to be one of the squad leaders. I was assigned one of the two squads on the first floor of the 2-story barracks. The squad on the other side of the aisle from my squad consisted entirely of guys from Hawaii who had enlisted together with the agreement that they train together. All were Japanese Americans, and their squad leader's name was Norman Nishiki, from Ookala Hawaii. andguess I looked like a leader to the training sergeants. I was asked to be one of the squad leaders



Medical corpsman training (Ft. Sam Houston)

While undergoing corpsman training, I volunteered to do some typing in the orderly room and became familiar with the work of an orderly room clerk.

To be continued.


Ft. Ord

561st Ambulance Company (Ft. Ord)

After completing corpsman training, I was assigned to the 561st Ambulance Company at Fort Ord. I was first trained as a light vehicle driver, then deployed as an ambulance driver and attendant in support of basic combat, infantry, and other training programs that required routine medical support.

While in the ambulance company, responding to the First Sergeant's cry for help during a morning call, I volunteered to help the company clerk in the orderly room, and thereby became a stand-in company clerk. For a while, though unofficially, I was the company clerk.

I was then asked to write a history of the 561st, after which I was seconded to the headquarters of the 58th Medical Battalion, which oversaw the ambulance company and a medical supply company in the service of the 12th Evacuation Hospital. At the battalion headquarters, I assisted the battalion commander and his officers in their planning of the battalion's participation in Desert Strike, a simulated war game, and also wrote a batallion history.

A good and bad soldier

I was both a good and a bad soldier. As a good soldier, I attracted and got a lot of attention. Non-coms and officers would turn to me for help because they knew I could get things done. I had all the bearings of a leader. I was punctual, I learned what I was supposed to learn and often more, I did things without being told, and I had no difficulty passing inspections. But I was a loner and didn't socialize or go out of my way to polish anyone's apple. In fact, I bit into a few apples I was not supposed to even notice.

I applied in the Army the same principles of survival I had adopted in civilian life -- take the initiative, go first, get the things you don't really want to do over with -- and try your best not to do anything that goes against the grain of what you think is right. This sometimes got me in trouble -- but never into such trouble that I couldn't rebound and keep going.

I would volunteer to give my reports in classes first, knowing that I could then relax while others sit in pools of urine waiting for their names to be called. I stammered in ordinary conversation, but when I stood before an audience, I was less likely to trip over words. Something about the tension of being at the center of an audience's attention frees my toungue. I had the habit of wanting to keep talking after my time was up.

My way of thinking about putting work before play sometimes backfired. My parents knew that eating things I didn't like first did not mean I wanted more. When eating at the homes of friends and relatives, I'd immediately get served second helpings. "Did you like those peas, Billy? Here, have some more."

Doing more than one is told

Volunteering in the Army made me popular with officers but not necessarily with my barrack mates. There were always some guys who bad mouthed anyone who showed initiative. Why would anyone want to do more than they were told?

For me, though, volunteering meant getting away from the barracks and the formations and the other "mobs" I'd otherwise be in. Volunteering meant creating a sort of safety zone in which I could do something other than wait for orders. And I could learn things.

At Ft. Ord in basic training, I was a squad leader. I didn't have to do KP -- kitchen police -- work in the mess hall. Rather I had to make sure that the men in my squad were up and at the mess hall on time when their name came up on the KP roster.

One Sunday Lt. Campbell, the second in command of the training company, was passing through the mess hall and spotted me in the kitchen.

"What are doing here, Wetherall."

"One of my men's sick."

"Why didn't you get someone else to do it?"

"Their off at the movies or bowling alley. Anyway, I've never done KP. I thought it would be a good chance to see what goes on the kitchen."

Campbell warned me to watch out for guys who might take advantage of my generosity.

Campbell was right about the problem of leaders stepping outside their leadership role. After getting out of the Army, I worked as a party chief on a survey crew for a while. When setting up camp, at a site others had used in past summers, we found a plastic pipe that had been used to bring water to the camp from a nearby spring. It was partly buried in the duff, and so we attempted to free it so we could redirect it. Instead of studying the situation and directing my crew to do this, I impulsively picked up one end of the pipe and whipped it in the way I don't many garden hoses to change their location. This freed the pipe from the duff, but suddenly the other end coiled back and struck a crew member in the face and cut his upper lip. The plastic was hard. It had probably been coiled when it was first placed, and free of the weight of the duff in which it had been buried, it had snapped back as though to recoil itself -- as though the plastic had remembered being coiled. This was all afterthought, thought. The crew member's lip was split so bad I had to get on the field phone and get the lookout to call the office and tell them I was bringing the member into town to get stiched up. I did this and returned to the camp. He went home and stayed until his lip was well. I had to write up an accident report and present it at a monthly safety meeting before all the employees. The report included an analysis of the cause of the accident, in which I figured as a major factor -- failing to fulfill my supervisory duties. I was not disciplined. It was not that sort of incident. Like most accidents, it was taken as an opportunity to learn from hindsight.

Thoreau's "Walden" or Life in the Woods
with essay "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
1962 (16th) printing of 1942 edition with 1960 afterword
Dogeared, shaken, bumped, and frayed but still inspiring
How to pass an inspection

As I said, I always passed inspections. I could easily make a tight bed on which you could bounce a quarter. The folds and pleats were perfect. My footlocker, too, was in perfect order. Everything was in place. Even my bible.

"What's this?" the battalion commander said, picking up the book, a 1962 paperback edition of Henry David Thoreau's Walden I had bought at a bookstore in Berkeley before dropping out of college in 1963. It was one of several books I discovered that contributed to my loss of political innocence and alienation with the ways of the world. Most inspections were carried out by the company commander, a 1st lieutenant who was familiar with my reading habits. But that day the battalion commander, a major we rarely saw, did the honors, if that's what they were.

"It's a book, Sir," I said. The company commander, standing beside him, looked at me as though to say don't get smart with this guy, Wetherall. It had once fallen to him to reprimand me for failing to salute a lieutenant colonel who had been in the company area. I frankly hadn't seen the colonel before we practically collided, going in opposite directions, and figuring it was too late, I'd said only "Sorry, Sir," and kept walking. The company commander had been with him.

I got philosophical. "What am I saluting, the man or his rank? I'd rather salute an oak tree. It's got more leaves, and their real."

The lieutenant leaned into me and said, "Look, Wetherall, the only difference between you and me is that I finished college and was in ROTC. Otherwise I'd never be here. So why don't you just relax and go along with the ritual? And make my life and yours easier?"

The company commander shared an apartment in Monterey with another young officer who was serving out his ROTC obligation and did not intend to make the Army a career. Now and then they had parties to which they invited some of the men in their companies. They were very much like college parties. Everyone left their ranks at the gates when leaving the base. We didn't talk about such fraternization on base. When on duty we had to play out our assigned roles and pretend we didn't know each other as real people or friends.

"I can see its a book, soldier," the major said, eyeing me. "But the Soldier's Guide calls for a copy of the Holy Bible or the Soldier's Guide. Or both."

"It's my bible, Sir."

"Your Bible?"

"The Code of Conduct requires me to trust in my God and in the United States of America. I presume that means I can choose my god. And if I can choose my god, I can choose my bible."

"And Thoreau's your God?"

"A disciple of nature, I'd say, Sir. I'm inspired by his words.

"Including civil disobedience?"

"He did what he felt he had to do, Sir."

The major silently regarded me, set the book back precisely where it had been in the middle of the top of my locker, and turned toward the next locker. The lieutenant craned his neck to read the cover of the book then hustled to the major's side.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, and the famous essay on "Civil Disobedience" -- A Signet Classic. Half a century later I still have it, frayed and shaken but unbowed.

Summary court martial

A few months later, the major presided over a summary court martial the batallion had to convene for my sake because I had refused to accept an Article 15 administered by the second in command in the company, a 2nd lieutenant who was in the position of having to back my platoon sergeant, who reported me for failing to obey an order.

As part of a one-week bivouac, I was assigned to the advance squad that preceded the rest of the company in order to find a suitable site for the camp and determine where to pitch the tents, dig the latrine, park the vehicles, and other such details. We also determined the permiter and pitched a few pup tents for guards. I would sleep the first night in a pup tent.

My platoon sergeant, who arrived with the main body, as did the rest of the platoon, was supervising the pitching of the tent in which the platoon would be sleeping. The ground was relatively flat but not like a parade ground. But the sergeant had instructed the men to dig a ditch around the tent a foot or two from the tent. I suggested to the sergeant that, in a heavy rain, there would be run off, and the run off on the up-hill side would not flow up the hill and jump in ditch, so it would be better to ditch the slightly higher side of the tent immediately below the base of the tent, or even just inside the tent. That wasn't in the tent-pitching manual, though, so the sergeant nixed the idea. It would be okay. Besides, it wasn't going to rain.

Desert Strike

I figured I'd never see Campbell again when I finished basic training. But by sheer coincidence, after I returned to Ft. Ord and became an ambulance driver, he was assigned to the headquarters of the medical battalion that oversaw the ambulance company. I didn't know this until I was seconded to the battalion HQ to do some clerical work and write a battalion history. He had only recently been assigned to the battalion, and one day he asked me to help him plan the convoy the battalion would make going to and returning from the Desert Strike exercise in the Mohave Desert.

Neither of us knew a thing about convoys and convoy discipline. We discovered it was a science unto itself -- the physics of the motions of bodies moving together, in which changes in the motion of one body affects the responses of following bodies. Your friend, walking ahead of you, suddenly quickens her pace, creating a gap you attempt to make up by quickening your pace even more. Then your friend suddenly slows, but your response is delayed and you collide into her. We had to come up with instructions to drivers concerning speed and distance maintenance and signalling.

The 58th Medical Battalion, with the 561st Ambulance Company and the 12th Evacuation Hospital, arrived in the Desert Strike exercise area early and left late. Our mission was to participate in the war game not only under the simulated conditions, but in reality -- for we had to provide the medical support for all the real illnesses and injuries contracted and incurred during the exercise, which involved quite a few fatalities.

The Friday, 5 June 1964 issue of Time Magazine described the exercise like this.

Time Magazine
Friday, Jun. 05, 1964

Non-War Is Hell

Hordes of 52-ton tanks churned up choking waves of orange dust over California's Mojave Desert. Oil-drum devices released mushroom clouds to simulate atomic attack. In the 105° heat, smoke generators threw up acrid screens. Fighter-bombers singed the sand with the blast of their afterburners. The normally green Colorado River turned brown with machine-swirled mud, black with slicks of oil. Helicopters chattered, machine guns clattered and men swore.

All of the noise, grime and foul smells were generated by Joint Exercise Desert Strike, the biggest U.S. desert-warfare maneuver since General George Patton trained his tank forces in the same area in 1942 to prepare for the invasion of North Africa. Although considered a war "game," Desert Strike ran up costs that smacked of the real thing.

The two-week exercise consumed some $60 million, since it involved more than 100,000 men (90,000 Army, 10,000 Air Force), 780 aircraft, 7,000 wheeled vehicles, 1,000 tanks. All were deployed over some 13 million acres of California, Nevada and Arizona landscape. Air Force units operated out of 25 airfields from Texas to Oregon.

The exercise caused or contributed to the deaths of 33 men, including six in aircraft crashes, five by drowning[s], five in truck accidents, and two sleeping soldiers who were run over by a tank.

Is Desert Strike worth such costs? General Paul D. Adams, whose Army-Air Force STRIKE Command is conducting the exercise, is certain that it is. Puffing on a cigar in his air-conditioned trailer at Needles, Calif., Adams, 57, who bears a striking resemblance to the original "Desert Fox," German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, explained: "There are lots of things we try to accomplish in an exercise like this. It's the first time we've been able to get a proper training area for the armored divisions for ten or twelve years now -- where they will encounter the tactical and maintenance problems they would find in a real combat operation. We want to do all the things you're supposed to be able to do in combat. There's a close interrelationship of firepower and mobility in the two services, and we're working further on the development of joint doctrine. We're trying out techniques of conventional and nuclear warfare. There's a lot of desert in Africa and the Middle East, and if we ever have to go over there, we'll know what we're doing."

Within just few months, the American military establishment would begin its embroilment in another part of the world that was as different from a desert as a place could be. Many of the units that troubled themselves to train in Desert Strike, including those I was with, ended up on Vietnam. Before they left, however, I had been ordered to undergo medical laboratory training that would eventually take me to Japan where thousands of wounded U.S. military personnel would sent for treatment if not to die.

Debriding blistered skin

The Time report did not mention scorpion bites, sunburns, and myriad other medical problems that the medical units had to deal with on Desert Srike.

One of my most memoriable experiences during the exercise was to assist a doctor clean, debride (remove damaged or dead skin), and otherwise treat and dress the severely blistered skin of some soldiers who had removed their shirts and fallen asleep -- ignoring warnings about sunbathing in the scorching desert sun.


↑   Sixth U.S. Army Medical Laboratory, Graduates, July 1965
Me cutting graduation cake. Notice there's no rank on my sleeves.
Notice my rank is Private E2, the result of a previous demotion.
"Medical Laboratory Procedures" Certificate of Training   ↓

Laboratory technician training (Ft. Baker)

In the picture to the right, I am flanked on the left (my right) by Lieutenant Colonel Edmund R. Kielman, Medical Corps, the chief pathologist and commander of the Sixth U.S. Army Medical Laboratory at Ft. Baker, and his 1st sergeant, the top non-com, whose name slips me (and I can't make out his tag). I got the honors to cut the cake because I came out on top of the class of about a dozen students.

The "Certificate of Training" I received at the graduation ceremony states that I received it on 16 July 1965. That was also the date my military service records state that I began my assignment as a medical laboratory assistant the the U.S. Army Hospital at Ft. Ord. I had been working as a corpsman at the Ft. Ord hosptal when ordered to report to the Sixth U.S. Army Medical Laboratory at Ft. Baker. My service record states that my training at Ft. Baker began on 24 February 1965.

I thus began a 20-week course that involved rotations of two students in each of the 6 specialized divisons of the laboratory, for 3 or 4 weeks training in each specialty.

Fort_Baker_Station_Hospital_cove.jpg Fort_Baker_station_hospital_circa_1940.jpg Ft_Baker_GGNRA_aerial.jpg Fort_Baker_Marin_Headlands_map_capture.jpg Golden Gate National Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service)

Fort Baker, so named since 1897, originated in the 1850s mainly as a site for coastal batteries built to defend the entrance of San Francisco Bay. This remained its primary purpose until World War II, when it also became the site of a hospital. In the 1960s, the hospital facilities were taken over by the Sixth U.S. Army Medical Laboratory, which served as the reference lab for all Sixth Army hospitals except the very largest and completely self-sufficient hospitals like Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco. All smaller hospitals, even the large general hospital at Ft. Ord, where I had been working before being sent to Ft. Baker, depended on the Sixth U.S. Army Medical Laboratory to conduct complicated or unusual laboratory procedures and examine autopsy tissue. To the best of my recollectin, other than a small administrative unit that took care of the grounds and maintained its facilities, the medical laboratory was the only military unit at Ft. Baker when I was there.

As it turned out, the fort would be at the very foot of the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge when it was completed in 1937. My billets were in the abandoned hospital wing closest to the bridge, and just a few steps from the shore of the bay.

The months I spent at Ft. Baker, a short walk from Sausalito, were the best of my three years in the Army. While there, I felt more like a university student than a soldier undergoing military training. In fact, there was nothing at all military about the training. The laboratory was not even a training facility, but was pressed into being one on account of the Vietnam War. The group I was part of was the first to be trained at Ft. Baker, and as far as I know it may have been the last.

Each division of the lab was formally headed by a military officer who was a specialist in the field. For the most part, though, the divisions were run by career civilian specialists with the help of civilian and military technicians. The discipline that prevailed in the lab was not a military discipline but one reflected the strict standards demanded by the scientific procedures -- the need to be careful handling biological specimens and chemical reagents, in order to maximize the reliability of the results, minimize contamination and accidents, and absolutely not confuse the name and number identities of the specimens.

Ebony cover Ebony page 87
Ebony page 88
Click on images to enlarge
February 1965 issue of Ebony
Cover and pages 87-89
Ebony page 89

February 1965 issue of Ebony

I arrived at Ft. Baker shortly after the publication of the February 1965 issue of Ebony. It featured a story on the 1964 meningitis outbreak at Ft. Ord, which I was familiar with, having been there at the time.

The article, to my great surprise, also featured some of the officers who would be my instructors at Ft. Baker. Lieutenat Cohn, Captain Klein, and Lietenant Colonel Kielman -- left to right in the center of the page to the right -- would later sign letters of recommendation to the University of California that I be given credit for the medical laboratory procedures program.

The letters were dated the month after I graduated and returned to Ft. Ord. The general letter reads as follows.

25 August 1965


SUBJECT: Statement of Accomplishment

THRU:   William O. Wetherall
         PFC, RA 19 779 952
         USAH, Hospital Company
         Fort Ord, California

TO:      Chairman
         Department of Life Sciences
         University of California at Berkeley
         Berkeley, California

     1.   PFC William O. Wetherall RA 19 779 952 completed a 20-week course in laboratory technology given at the Sixth US Army Medical Laboratory from 1 March through 15 July 1965.

     2.   Although the Sixth US Army Medical Laboratory is not regarded as an accredited institution, instruction and examinations were at the undergraduate college level.

     3.   PFC Wetherall was an outstanding student in each course and finished at the top of his class. Due to his high achievement level and the advanced nature of the course work we recommend favorable consideration of his request for credit without grade in the field of Life Science if it is within the province of the University to do so.

     4.   Enclosed is a brief description of the Basic Medical Laboratory Procedures course.

1 Enclosure

Lt Col, MC

Lt Col, MSC
Chief, Bacteriology Division

Captain, MC
Chief, Pathology Division

Captain, MSC
Chief, Serology Branch

1st Lt, MSC
Chief, Chemistry Division

Notice that by then I had regained my rank as Private First Class, E3. This happened as soon as I returned to Ft. Ord.

The enclosures included letters from both Captain Klein and Captain Simon describing my work in their courses. As I recall there were also letters from Lieutenant Colonel Mandel and Lieutenant Cohn describing my work in bacteriology and chemistry, but I can't find them.

The fact that Captain Simon would also be transferred to the 106th General Hospital when it was building strength at Fort Bliss, and would become the top MSC officer of the Pathology Lab, would also prove to be a very important factor in the role I would play in the laboratory at Kishine Barracks. To put it another way -- I was very blessed with some very good training and connections.

More significantly for me today -- as I look back on my life at the time -- is that the letters, which I ask Dr. Kielman and my instructors to write for me, show that I was already thinking of what I would study when I returned to college after finishing my term of service in the Army. At the time I finished the program at Ft. Baker, I had about 14 months left on my 3-year enlistment.

While at Ft. Baker, I had become very keenly interested in pathology as a field of medicine, which centers on histopathology and may also embrace forensic pathology. I was considering returning to Cal, where prior to enlisting in the Army I had been majoring in electrical engineering.

Changing to a pre-med program would entail transferring from the College of Engineering to the College of Letters and Science, and this posed a few problems. I had more than enough math, chemistry, and physics to meet all pre-med requirements, but I had not taken any biology courses in college, and that would be a handicap. The College of Letters and Science required at least one non-lab biology course as part of its general breadth requirements. A pre-med program, though, would require two or more lab biology courses.

The work I did at Ft. Baker would not satisfy Cal's biology requirement, but it might persuade the people I had to convince to let me into a pre-med program, that I was not entirely unfamiliar with subjects related to medicine.

By the time I got out of the army, I was also considering bacteriology or parasitology as specialties in a non-pre-med biology program. And to complicate my choice of what to study -- having ruled out returning to the College of Engineering -- I was also contemplating majoring in Oriental Languages, which meant linguistics and literature, either Japanese or Chinese, or both.


Lab tech posts

After completing my lab procedures training at Ft. Baker, I worked as a lab tech at two hospitals in the United States before being posted to the 106th General Hospital in Yokohama.

At the U.S. Army Hospital (USAH) at Ft. Ord, in California, I learned the practical aspects of some of the more common procedures I had learned at Ft. Baker, and also became familiar with routine tests that were not performed at Ft. Baker, which specialized in less common tests.

At McAfee Army Hospital at White Sands, in New Mexico, a relatively small hospital, I experienced what it was like to be responsible for all aspects of routine lab work on the same shift -- unlike USAH Ft. Ord, where I had worked day after day in the same division before being rotated to another division.


Ft. Ord U.S. Army Hospital



106th General Hospital (WBGH Ft. Bliss)

My mail address when attached to the 106th General Hospital at Ft. Bliss included the letters WBGH, which stood for William Beaumont General Hopsital. All I recall of the hospital is that I pulled KP duty once in its mess hall. Otherwise my activities were confined to the area around the barracks of the 106h General Hospital, and the McAfee Army Hospital at White Sands (see next), where I was seconded while the 106th readied itself for deployment to an unknown destination in Asia.

The El Paso Herald-Post carried the following article in its Thursday, 26 Mary 1964 edition (page 14).

Dinner-Dance Set Thursday At Officers Club

Maj. and Mrs. Harry E. Leake of William Beaumont General Hospital will be the guests of honor at a dinner-dance Thursday evening at the WBGH Officers' Club. The party is being given by the officers and NCOs of the 106th General Hospital at Beaumont. Maj. Leake leaves next week for a new assignment in Germany after serving five years at Beaumont in instrumental positions concerned with the reactivation of the 106th General Hospital. Since 1959, he has held virtual1y every executive position with the I06th, including hospital commander. The 106th is that component of WBGH with the capaibility of operating a full-scale general hospital anywhere in the world on short notice. Maj. and Mrs. Leake have participated in several activities at Beaumont. Maj. Leake was active in the hospital's scouting program, and Mrs. Leake was assistant to Mrs. Stapleton, wife of Brig. Gen. James B. Stapleton, WBGH commander, in advising the women's clubs at the hosptial. Maj. and Mrs. Leake reside in El Paso at 7431 Winters street.

An earlier El Paso Herald-Post article, published on Thursday, 9 April 1964 (page 13), gave the following longer account of the 106th General Hospital at William Beaumont General Hospital.

El Paso Herald-Post El Paso Herald-Post
9 April 1964, page 13

Emergency Unit Ready to Move Anywhere in Week


When the Cuban crisis exploded nearly two years ago, the 106th General Hospital at William Beaumont [General Hospital] sent a number or highly trained medical specialists to units on the Georgia and Florida coast. It could have sent a complete hospital if necessary, almost overnight. Although little publicized, even in El Paso, the 106th General Hospital is one of the most amazing units on the face of the earth.

Keeping ready to move -- anywhere, at any time -- is its chief purpose. Within a week the entire hospital can move anywhere in the world and begin operations as a full-scale 1000-bed Army hospital. The official authorized strength of the 106th is 1000 beds, with an expansion capability of 50 per cent, which would make it the largest hospital in the city [El Paso] should it become operational tomorrow. It would require a mile-long stretch of railroad freight cars to move the hospital's equipment and personnel from one location to another. Personnel assigned the 106th are in training seven days a week at Beaumont Hospital to maintain the high individual standards of medical and professional proficiency.

As a general hospital, however, the 106th would be called upon to perform an operational mission only in the event of a disaster big enough to involve populations in the hundreds of thousands. Although the 106th has been in El Paso only since 1S59, the unit was active in World War II when it operated on a 75-acre campus estate in Great Britain. The origin of the 106th started with the 2S6th Station Hospital in 1943 in New Orleans. Originally a 500-bed hospital, it expanded to 750 beds in 10 days, and to 1000 beds less than six months later.

[Photograph and caption]   FIELD EXERCISE -- Here the 106th General Hospital sets up tents and simulates mass-casualty situations. Lieut. Georgiana W. Yapp, an Army nurse, and Sgt. Robert Harris, a medical technician, treat one of the "casualties" brought to the unit by helicopter during a recent field training test, psychiatric cases constituting the buik of the work.

When the war ended, the unit returned to the U.S. and was inactivated. Its history was closed until Dec. 1, 1959, when the unit was re-organized at Beaumont. During the past three years, the 106th General Hospital's mission has been largely to train medical personnel.

[ From here the received OCR scan degrades into scrambled fragments of text. Having no access to a clear visual scan of the original article, I cannot sort them into a coherent story. In the following representation, I have deleted senseless letters and shown ellipses between sensible fragments. Bear in mind, however, that lines from different columns have been scrambled. ]

The unit has . . . the Berlin Crisis when the unit alerted to move from El Paso, and again during the Cuban emergency when specialists were . . . PERSONNEL of the 106th maintain their professional proficiency and readiness by working daily throughout Beaumont . . . commanding officer of the 105th General Hospital, with Col. William A. Hamrick, chief of the Army Medical Service Corps look . . . set up in the field from the front lines. While soldiers, acting as patients, are admitted and "treated." The unit dispatched to the Georgia and Hospital . . . The group includes the Florida coast area. The unit operates under STRAC status, which means it has the recognized capability of accepting and carrying out an immediate operational mission anywhere in the world. Because of . . . medical specialists, social workers, laboratory and x-ray technicians, as well as administrative people. In full-scale combat, the 106th would receive patients from ating . . . under its 111 tents, the 106th occupies an area of about 50 acres. It attempts to occupy permanent buildings whenever possible, such as it did in England in World War II. Because it is a general hospital, it would provide most of the highly specialized and technical procedures which are available today in El Paso at Beaumont Hospital. . . . has consistantly received the highest possible scores on training exercises. Lieut. Col. Robert L. Judy of 3581 Atlas avenue is the commanding officer of the 106th. His predecessor, Maj. Harry E. Leake, is now the hospital's executive officer. He has been with the unit since its earliest days at . . . ALTHOUGH located at Beauumont . . . design and build Beaumont's Sun mont, the 106th Hospital, be . . . Carnival float entry. The unit . . . cause of its STRAC designation, also prides itself in that members is assigned to Service Group at . . . have dominated the athletic pro- Ft. Bliss. . . . Service Group is commanded by Col. Guinn B. Goodrich. Enlisted men of the unit have contributed much to community life at WBGH. The 106th, for example, supplies all adult leaders for Boy Scout Troop 188 which . . . at Beaumont in recent years. During the past few months, the 106th has become one of the few U.S. Army units to provide single rooms for its men. Today, even privates in the unit can write home bragging about their the unit since . . . Beaumont. Commander of the was nidged E Paso's best . . . individual rooms . . . less than six montns later. . . . treatment facilities in the combat during the war . . . has been called upon twice during . . . bility tests zone. The hospital itself would be . . . DURING FIELD exercises, . . . patient load came . . . located in the rear-most area the 106th sets up tents, and sol . . . 106th Medical Detachment is Capt. John T. Hariing, 6533 Scott avenue.


McAfee Army Hospital (White Sands)



The 106th's self-styled technician gang
In front of Pathology Laboratory, circa August 1966
Tripod shot using timer by Wetherall

106th General Hospital (Kishine Barracks)

There was a lot of bonding among hospital personnel. Standing left to right in the photograph to the right are Lew Goodhart and Bill Harvey, both X-ray technicians, and John Daugherty, a physical therapist. Squatting front and center is yours truly, Bill Wetherall, a path lab tech. Bill, John, and I were part of the original unit. Lew joined us later. Bill and John were the closest and they were more likely to socialize together off base, and Lew with them after he arrived. I was then, as always, more of a loner, and more obsessed in my work.

I picked up at the Oakland processing center in my mother's Volkswagon when he mustered out. He spent a couple of nights at my folks' home in Grass Valley and I drove him to Reno to catch a plane home, which was in Clintonville and then Milwaukee, Wisconsin. John was from Philadelphia and later Palm Beach Shores, Florida. Lew was from Walnut Bottom, Pennsylvania and later Denver Colorado.

Lew is wearing the red radiation monitor required by all X-ray personnel.

Around the time I left Japan or shortly after -- I can't clearly remember -- Bill bought an old car, and for a while he may have lived off base. After getting out of the Army, he went to medical school and became a diagnostic radiologist. He got a bit of teasing because William Harvey was a famous anatomist. In this picture he is off duty. We were all fairly trim, but Bill was probably the most fit.

I can't remember why John was in khakis. He usually wore whites like the rest of us.

I can't recall wearing khakis, much less a dress uniform, in all the time I was in Japan. When on duty in the laboratory, or when making rounds in the ward, I wore whites. Sometimes in the lab I took off the blouse and worked in a t-shirt, but this was not acceptable outside the building.

As you can see in this picture, Lew and I didn't wear a cunt cap, which in principle we were supposed to wear with the whites when outside. The 106th was fairly lax about such rules.

When off duty, especially when off base, I wore civilian clothes. We were not supposed to wear any military garb off base unless we were on official military duty. When going by military transportion to North Pier or Camp Zama, I wore fatigues.

I also wore fatigues when I took a road test to qualify for driving in Japan, As I had been trained to drive an ambulance and other military vehicles, and had driven an ambulance as part of my duties at Fort Ord, someone if not an arcane regulation must have required that I be ready to drive in Japan if required. So one day the NCO in charge of qualifying drivers observed me while I took a spin around Yokohama. I have no memory of receiving a license or whether the qualification was noted on my Army I.D. Card. It is not noted on my military records. It was the only time I have ever driven an automobile in Japan, though my children and some friends will tell you that I have done lots of backseat driving.

To be continued.

The communications zone

Facilities like the 106th General Hospital were regarded as part of the "communications zone" between the combat zone in Vietnam and the United States. This metaphor was not familiar to me when I was with the unit in Japan. It still strikes me as an odd way of describing a locality that, while nowhere near a combat zone, was certainly about more than "communication".

The term appears in the following paragraphs cited from the following source.

Mary T. Sarnecky
A History of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
(Studies in Health, Illness, and Caregiving in America)
Univ of Pennsylvania Press, 1999
Page 365

The hospital units located in Japan were considered to he in the communications zone, the intermediate area between the combat zone and the United Slates. [Note 208] At the beginning of the buildup in Southeast Asia, only one Army medical treatment facility was operational in Japan, the one hundred-bed U.S. Army Hospital at Camp Zama. As more sick and wounded were generated by the hostilities in Vietnam, more bed space was required. The Camp Zama hospital expanded to five hundred and later seven hundred beds and its capability was augmented further by the four hundred-bed 7th Field Hospital first located at Johnson Air Base and later Camp Oji. The one thousand-bed 249th General Hospital at North Camp Drake, and the one thousand-bed 106th General Hospital at Kishine Barracks. All four hospitals fell under the jurisdiction of the Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical Command, Japan, which was operated by the 627th Hospital Center. [Note 209] The sick and wounded evacuated from Vietnam usually arrived in Japan via air at the Tachikawa or Yakota [sic = Yokota] Air Force Bases. From there, they were dispatched to the appropriate treatment facility within Japan by bus or helicopter.

The 106th General Hospital typically admitted thirty-seven patients (usually seven medical and thirty surgical) from Vietnam every day. [Note 210] The unit was situated in four cinderblock buildings of four stories each, which formerly had served as an R & R center in Yokahama [sic = Yokohama]. Since the operating room and CMS (Central Materiel [Material] Supply) were located in separate buildings, the busy staff were compelled to rig a trolley to transport patients and supplies. The hospital also had a movie theater and swimming pools.

English is notorious for its resistance to repetition of vowels, hence the "Yakota" and "Yokahama" errors for "Yokota" and "Yokohama". Similarly, "kimona" is a common Anglicization -- an "English corruption" or "English-accented form" -- of "kimono". In Japanese, words and phrasing featuring repetitions of the same vowel in succession are common. And the most commonly repeated vowel is "o" -- pronounced like "oh" as in "o" in Owen. Japanese sounds are extremely easy, and syllable formation is very regular. But its metronomic character -- its allocation of relatively unstressed equal time and equal value to each mora (a single vowel, a consonant followed by a vowel, a single consonant following a vowel) -- causes speakers of stress-timed languages like English difficulty. Words like "Toyota" and "Nikon" -- "toh-yoh-tah" and "knee-koh-ng" -- come out "toy-OH-tah" and "NIGH-con".


Clinical pathology

Clinical pathology refers to the microscopic or chemical examination of bodily fluids including blood, products of elimination like urine and feces, and tissues and other specimens from various parts of the body, for the purpose of diagnoising or indentifying diseases and other medical conditions. Most such examinations are carried out in a laboratory by technicians trained in laboratory testing methods. Others may be conducted in a doctor's office or clinic by a doctor or nurse, and a few can be performed at home using kits.

In the mid-1960s, most tests were performed by conventional manual methods that today would be regarded as labor-intensive and, given the costs of labor, expensive. Today most labs have a variety of machines that take most of the manual labor out of testing. A panel of several blood tests, for example, can be conducted on samples of blood from many patients at the same time, and the results can be printed out within minutes of loading the samples. The machines are expensive, but the costs per test per patient are considerably lower. The increasing ease and lower unit cost of testing has encouraged doctors to order more tests on more patients.

In the past many patients went untested or were undertested, and doctors had to wait longer for test results. Today I would argue that there is a tendency to overtest. And in this age of instant-gratification, doctors and patients alike expect results the same or next day if not immediately.

Here I will outline what I recall of my own adventures in clinical testing at three different U.S. Army hospitals in 1965 and 1966 -- Fort Ord, White Sands Missile Range, and Kishine Barracks -- but especially the 106th General Hospital at Kishine Barracks.

The first months of clinical pathology at the 106th General Hospital

We arrived at Kishine Barracks in late December 1965 with only our duffle bags and whatever we could stuff in them in addition to our military-issue clothing. The laboratory equipment was waiting for us in crates which had been shipped ahead of us. Most of the equipment was antique by mid-1960's standards, but we had to make do with it until other equipment became available.

We also had to make do with the buildings, most of which had been barracks. Remodeling the 4 large 4-story barracks that were pressed into service as wards had barely begun. Renovations of these buildings, and the construction of connecting passageways and elevators to permit the movement of non-ambulatory patients from floor to floor and building to building, would not be completed until late spring or early summer if my memory serves me correctly.

The smaller 2-story building intended for exlusive use by the laboratory had not yet been remodeled for our use. Moreover, it had been used to temporarly shelter some of the supplies that had been sent ahead from stateside warehouses. So we provisionally set up the lab on the 1st and 2nd floors of the east wings of Building B, the 2nd of the 4 barracks slated for use as wards. The smaller building in which we would later move was immediately beside Building B, to its north between it and Building C, across the street from the mess hall.

The east ends of Buildings A and B faced the large paved square where busses and helicopters would bring our patients. The mess hall was immediately to the north side of the square. Barracks for bachelor officers and higher rank enlisted men stood between the east side of the square and the tall cyclone fence and bachelor enlisted man, the 1st and 2nd stories of the 4-story barracks immediately to the smaller building.

The provisional set up utilized mainly the equipment that had been warehoused for the hospital as a field hospital. Everything except the tents were shipped ahead of us and was waiting when we arrived.

Everything was pretty much "vintage" to nurses and technicians who had worked at Army hospitals in the United States. The largest hospitals, like Letterman in San Francisco, where I did some OJT while training at Ft. Baker near Sausalito across the bay, had state-of-the-art lab equipment, including some mechanical blood-cell counters and early models of the sort of autoanalyzers that are commonplace everywhere today. At Ft. Baker, we learned to draw blood both with conventional needles and syringes and with the disposible needles and Vacutainer tubes that by then were used at most hospitals and clinics.

At Ft. Baker we learned conventional hematology and blood chemsitry. At the hospital at Ft. Ord, where I worked after finishing my training and until being assigned to the 106th General Hospital then building up strength at Fort Bliss in El Paso, and at the smaller hospital at White Sands Missile Range where I was seconded from the 106th until the unit was flown to Japan, we did all the blood chemistry the old-fashioned way with regeants we prepared ourselves, pipettes, test tubes, beakers, flasks, burets, and Bunsen burners. No pH meters or automatic titration machines. We made our own buffers and other stock reagents. The fanciest equipment we had was a spectrophotometer. Later we had blood-gas and electrolyte analyzers, but nothing comparable to the sort of machines available today.

We counted red and white blood cells by hand, using a microscope and a single-key hand-held counter. White blood cell differentials were done by fixing and staining a blood smear on a slide, and reading the slide in a microscope while tallying the percent distribution of visually distinct neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils with a multi-key counter that sat beside the microscope. Most labs today use automatic differential counters.

The crates we broke open at Kishine Barracks contained only needles, syringes, and test tubes with stoppers, for drawing blood. Vacutainer tubes come in various kinds, from plain tubes with no additives, to tubes with test-specific additives. But our supply line wouldn't begin to deliver such tubes for several weeks if not longer. So at first we had to carefully wash and rinse the syringes, needles, and tubes before reusing them. Of course we had to resterilize the needles in an autoclave, and occasionally resharpen them. And we also had to manually weigh and put in the tubes whatever additives we needed for specific tests, before transferring measured amounts of blood to a tube from a syringe.

We didn't have all the varieties of reagents and culture media we needed to do all the tests we were expected to do. And we didn't have sufficient supplies of the most frequently needed culture media. We also had, initially, only glass petri dishes -- plates and lids -- in an age where disposible plastic plates had become the standard for many reasons -- convenience, sanitation, and costs. We had to run the used glass dishes through an autoclave twice -- the first time to destroy the bacteria in the process of melting and boiling the media off the plates -- the second time after washing and rinsing the decontaminated dishes before filling the plates with sterile media under sterile conditons.

As it turns out, our serology and blood chemistry chief had been at Ft. Baker before being deployed to the 106th at Ft. Bliss. In fact he'd been one of my instructors, and he approved of my idea to ask the civilian head of the bacteriology lab at Ft. Baker, with whom I was on fairly good terms, to send us an emergency supply of media. We also asked for some other reagents, and for a supply of disposible needles and Vacutainer tubes, and a few of the plastic guides that facilitate the needles and tubes.

A couple of weeks later we received a large package from Ft. Baker -- personally packaged and shipped outside the official supply lines. We quickly went through the Vacutainer tubes, but I came up with the idea of recycling the tubes by first cleaning them in the same way we cleaned glass petri dishes, and then vacuumizing them with a heavy and very noisy vacuum pump I bummed from somewhere. The supply lines soon caught up with us, though, and we shifted to the use of disposible needles, syringes, tubes, and petri dishes.

We also had to make do with the buildings, most of which had been barracks. Remodeling the 4 large 4-story barracks that were pressed into service as wards had barely begun. Renovations of these buildings, and the construction of connecting passageways and elevators to permit the movement of non-ambulatory patients from floor to floor and building to building, would not be completed until late spring or early summer if my memory serves me correctly.

The 4 barracks that were used for wards -- called A, B, C, and D -- underwent a lot of remodeling, inside and out, to accommodate the specific medical needs of the various kinds of wards. Ground and elevated passageways with elevators were constructed between A and B and between C and D, and a ground passageway was constructed between B and C, as can be seen in the photograph to the right.

The passageways and elevators enabled the movement of patients on gurneys between floors and buildings without having to carry patients or gurneys on stairs or expose patients to the elements. They were not completed until spring, however, so that first winter at Kishine was rough on both patients and medical personnel. Ambulatory patients could walk, but others had to be carried from floor to floor, and were exposed to the elements when moved on gurneys from building to building.

The passageways were built by Japanese construction crews under the supervision of a man who I gathered was an American civilian. He gave orders and otherwise spoke to the workers in fluent Japanese, which inspired me to doubt the rumors that Japanese was difficult.

In the meantime, the short 2-story building just to the north of B -- closer to B than to C -- was renovated for use as a medical laboratory. I can't remember, but probably by no later than April, we moved to this building from our provisional quarters in B. Our new quarters were practically across the street from the mess hall, and were just off the corner of the large paved area, east of A and B, which busses and helicopters used when bringing patients.

The main entrance to the 2-story "lab" or "pathology" building was in the middle of the north side of the building facing C. The east end of the 1st floor of C housed CMS (Central Material Supply). The main entrance to CMS was from the middle of the south side of C facing B. But the autoclave, which I used a lot in the early weeks when I was doing bacteriology, was reached through the "back door" entrance on the east end of C smack in front of the mess hall.

In principle, we should have had our own autoclave, but we didn't -- at least in the early days. One of my duties, after we had set up and begun operating in B, was to lug the buckets of petri dishes and test tubes contaminated from bacteriology cultures to autoclave in CMS -- the same autoclave used to sterilize surgical instruments.

Lt. Hunt

The idea of sterilizing bacteriology material in the same autoclave that was used to sterilize surgical equipment didn't set well with Lt. Hunt, the chief of CMS. She was from the United Kingdom and spoke British English. I happened to be an anglophile when it comes to British English, and so her accent was music to my California ears. My desire to hear her talk -- or yell until she decided that I wasn't bent on polluting her autoclave -- neutralized my fear of the bite that was supposed to come with her bark, but never did.

She was short, proud of her status, and defensive about her territory. But her English entranced me, and to this day I say "ka-PIL-lar-ri" instead of "KA-pil-LAR-ri" for capillary. She also had me saying "la-BOR-ra-tor-ri" but sometime after I left Kishine I returned to "LA-bor-ra-TOR-ri". I never adopted her "naught" for "zero" but her "zet" for "zee" rang bells when I learned the alphabet in Japanese, which follows Bristish usage -- hence "ekkusu, wai, zetto" (エックス・ワイ・ゼット) -- though today, thanks or no thanks to the influence of American English in language education in Japan, a lot of people now say "ekkusu, wai, dzii" (エクス・ワイ・ズィー).

My memory is vague as to the arrangements that were finally made for the disposal of contaminated plastic petri dishes. I recall only that I had fewer opportunities to visit CMS, though I continued to encouter Lt. Hunt here and there. By spring her ice had thawed to the point that we could converse in civil tones. She would even stjop and talk with me when we passed each other somewhere. We talked about her nationality and as I recall she said she she had naturalized. She liked to take day and overnight trips, and she once suggested we go somewhere together, but I left before I could take her up on the offer. I felt it was more an overture to friendship than romance, which would have been fine with me. I rather liked her spunkiness.

Socializing with Lt. Hunt would not have been an unusual instance of off-duty fraternization between officers and non-officers, romantic or otherwise, at Kishine. There were even some marriages between the two military castes.

Friendships also formed around common interests, like hiking. I participated in two hikes to Tanzawa with a small group of non-coms and officers who accompanied some teenagers from a Catholic orphanage run by a non-Japanese priest.

We left our military identities and ranks behind us when off base, and even on base when off duty. Even on base, military protocol was minimized at Kishine. Non-medical units at Kishine were apt to observe ordinary military discipline, but medical units were more relaxed about being in uniform, wearing hats outside buildings, and saluting. Everyone, though, generally followed protocol when it came to referring to people by their ranks and family names.

The lab building, like several other buildings, had a few palm trees by it. The stairs to the second floor rose from the middle of the first floor directly off the entrance. The building had east and west wings relative to the entrance and stairs. The hematology, urology, serology (blood chemistry) sections were in the west wing of the 1st floor, where ambulatory patients could come to have their blood drawn for routine tests, or bring stool and other specimens -- the idea being to get those capable of walking and climbing stairs, out and about. The blood bank and cross-matching section, and supplies, were in the east wing of the 1st floor if I recall correctly.

Ms. Kamada

The microbiology section -- as I called the bacteriology and parisitology sections where I ultimately settled -- occupied the west wing of the 2nd floor. The glassware washing room was also located in this half of the wing. The laboratory chief's office was on the east end of the 2nd floor with a view of the mess hall and the paved square where busses and helicopters brought patients.

The laboratory chief was Capt. Allen Lewis Pusch, who was also the hospital's resident pathologist. As such he was responsible for the hospital's medical library, which was housed in a large room between his office and the stairs in the middle of the lab building.

The library stacks quickly filled with journals and reference books, which were cataloged and supervised by a full-time librarian. Her name was Kamada Hideko, and she lived in the Shinoharacho area to the east of Kishine.

Hideko was my candidate for the smartest dresser at Kishine. She was a couple of years older than I and very bright. I dreamed of dating her but never did. After I left in the fall of 1966, we corresponded. The picture of her to the left is dated Spring 1968. I had lunch with her in Yokohama when returning to Japan to study and work in 1970. By then she had married a man who was somewhat older than she, through what I gathered had been an arranged marriage. As I recall she was no longer working. I lost touch with her after that.

Kobayashi Tatsuji

Another person I will never forget from my time at Kishine Barracks is Kobayashi Tatsuji (小林辰二). He was employed as a glassware washer, and as the washing room was next to the bacteriology section where I worked on the 2nd floor of the laboratory building, I saw him and talked with him everyday.

Kobayashi was my first Japanese teacher and namesake. He taught me some Japanese and I taught him some English. I learned how to write katakana and hiragana, and some kanji, from him. And he kanaized William Owen Wetherall into ウィリアム オーエン ウェザロール. Little did I know at the time that someday ウェザロール ウィリアム (pronounced "Wezarooru Wiriamu" but written "Wetherall William" on my Japanese passport) would become my legal name as a Japanese national.

Kobayashi turned out to be more than a glassware washer. He'd been going to medical school in Manchuria when the war ended and he was repatriated to Japan. But there he was -- washing test tubes, flasks, beakers, pipettes, and petri plates. So I and then others in the bacteriology section began teaching him how to prepare culture media, plate and read cultures, and do virtually everything else that had to be done in microbiology section of the lab. Eventually his position was reclassified to that of a local national (civilian) lab assistant (see letter to me from Dr. Pusch below).

When I returned to Japan as a civilian in 1970, I met Kobayashi again, and he came to my wedding in 1971. Sometime after I left Kishine, an MSC officer named Harold E. Johnson joined the pathology laboratory staff. He met Kobayashi's daughter, Keiko, and after I returned to Berkeley for graduate school in 1972, I and my then wife spent a weekend with them at their home in San Bernardino, where he worked in a medical laboratory after getting out of the army.

Dr. Pusch

I also corresponded with Allen Lewis Pusch, who we called Dr. Pusch. Informally he was Lew.

As I recall, Dr. Pusch was in the Army through what was called the Barry Plan. A number of doctors at the 106th General Hospital were through the same program, in which the Army financed part of your medical education in return for a few years of service after you became a doctor -- and, in Dr. Pusch's case, completed a residency in a specialized field.

A few months after I mustered out, Dr. Pusch, a product of Johns Hopkins University, returned to civilian life as a professor and practitioner of pathology at Syracuse University. Before he left Kishine, we exchanged at least two letters that I still have, in addition to one he gave me when I left.

Dr. Pusch was always very frank with me about problems at the laboratory. His letters are true to character -- full of the sort of candid remarks and humor that I remember him by. As such they offer extremely interesting insights into the problems faced at the 106th -- not only by the pathology lab that he oversaw from the beginning as a member of the original party, but by the overall operation.

I would guess that similar problems have plagued all military units, not just hospitals, in all wars, not just in the Vietnam War. The demand for warm and fit bodies is one things -- getting sufficiently trained and motivated warm and fit bodies is another. And this is just talking about personnel. The same issues arise when it comes of equipment and supplies. There never seems to be enough of what you most need.

I am reproducing Dr. Pusch's -- as personal as they are -- verbatim, changing only the names and addresses of the individuals he mentions, except for the MSC OICs -- the Medical Service Corps officers in charge -- who figure elsewhere in my personal story of the 106th.

I am also marking spelling corection [sic = corrections]. I always do this -- as I did when reproducing my father's writing -- not to be pedantic, but to remind myself that I am not the world's best speller. And neither was Dr. Pusch in those days. In this sense, too, he represents the sort of professional I have always liked -- who doesn't worry about silly things like whether "i" comes before "e" except after "c" or when in "neighbor" or "weigh" or "their" and -- forget it.

still in Yokohama awaiting
the ides of June         
21 December 1966      

Dear Bill:

I judge by your recent communication that the craft that carried you away from these shores reached its destination. I am hoping that similar fortunes will befall me six months from now. Good to hear from you and to know that you are making some progress in moulding your future. It is a hell of a lot of fun to do such, but the art is in achieving something that continues to be fun and a challange [sic = challenge]. The field of communications between the races can be such, and especially in an academic environment. If you don't stay on your toes you will be lost, or plowed under by your students.

Speaking of fun, life at the 106 has ceased to be such. The fun of setting up has left and the army does not permit further improvements that I believe would improve the laboratory situation. The patient load increased markedly during October, to as high as 850, and with it an appropriate increase in the work load. This in turn proved that which was obvious to all of us, namely that our present personnel are not capable of handling a large work load. Our young and not so well trained technicians, both in the lab and other areas of the hospital, were not able to maintain the optimium [sic = optimum] in patient care and lab work. Things were so bad that AAAAA had two seizures in the lab and is now a patient awaiting evacuation to CONUS [continental United States]. Also I contracted with the 406 [406th Medical Laboratory at Sagami-Ono] to do all the routine stool cultures, stools for parasites, and malaria smears. Also we send them much of the serology. The blood bank and drawing off the serum for the serology has become a full time job for two men (?) ["?" meaning "can you believe it?"]

My job now is to keep the place in one piece for my replacement, whoever he may be. I do not enjoy being stalled so to speak. However, I can now begin to suffer the pains of the short timer's syndrome. All indications are that I will return to Syracuse and The Upstate Medical Center of the State University of New York. My old professor (actually he is only six years my senior) has offered me a job as assistant professor of pathology on very attractive terms for an academic job. I would like to give the teaching game a whirl. I enjoyed working with medical students and younger residents while I was in training and there is no time like the present to try such. I do not plan to make a living doing research and fortunately there is a need for academic pathologists to teach and do the routine work in university hospitals. After a few years in such a job I will be in even a better position to get a job in a non-teaching hospital. It is quieting to the G-I tract to have that problem settled

The more I think about it, the more I believe that you would waste many of your talents in the sometimes rigid atmosphere of the world of medicine. Your expressed interested [sic = interest] would seem to be fitting and proper for you, especially starting out in a rather broad area with somewhat general aims. This will let you develop in a proper perspective. Whatever you do, apply yourself with the same vigor you tackled the problems of the 106 lab. I hope that you will let me know from time to time how it all turns out.

Your room in the back is still vacant. Captain Terry (he was promoted) [officer in charge of microbiology, where I mainly worked] has changed the furniture somewhat; your bed has been replaced by a storage cabinet and the locker is gone. None of the old timers take your name in vain, not even SFC BBBBB. I am not sure if this is a good sign or not; most who contribute to progress are cursed by someone after they are "gone".


The rooster of lab personel [sic = personnel] has not lost anyone save for AAAAA. We acquired an E-5 from the nursing service and he is slowly coming around. CCCCC is his name. E-4 DDDDD arrived about the time you left, he has already surpassed EEEEE, but then he had the basic course two years ago. FFFFF has been running the hematology and doing an extremely conscientious job from my point of view. I will miss him very much when he leaves in Feb. BBBBB dislikes FFFFF, so the latter must be good. GGGGG finally put up and signed his 1049 [DA Form 1049] for RVN [Republic of Vietnam]. I expect he will go in early spring. When these two [FFFFF and GGGGG] plus Jim Terry leave we will be hurting. Ah but only three more months and this captain can leave the sinking ship.

You are fortunate that you left Yokohama before the winter smog [photochemical smog] set in. This has been taking its toll among the personnel of the hospital. Five or six of the Em's [enlisted men] in the hospital have the Yokohama asthma. Plus Dr. HHHHH of the orthopedic service has been a patient in the hospital for a month and now is walking about but only on significant daily does of steroids. He is awaiting evacuation to CONUS. Med command hates to see anyone get away and they have been dragging their feet on evacuation [sic = evacuating / the evacuation of] such sick personnel -- almost passed the point of mal-practice in the opinion of many of the MC's [Medical Corps officers, i.e., medical doctors]. This pulmonary problem seems to hit people during their second winter here, especially those who smoke (I have put away my pipe until I get my assistant professorial chair). Dr IIIII in radiology has been bothered a great deal with an asthmatic bronchitis. The literature, including all that written by army doc's, maintains that the victim of Yokohama asthma must be removed from this area to effect a cure, and failure to do so will probably result in permanent pulmonary damage.

Mr Kobayashi [Tatsuji] is to be promoted to the level of laboratory technician as of Jan. 1 with a slight increase in pay. I believes [sic = believe, or humor] that he is worth more than what a lab helper can make.

My best wishes for the holiday season and the new year. I shall be interested to see what becomes of your plans.


[ Signature ]

Allen L. Pusch

[ Handwritten postscript ]

P.S. I have no inclination to either teach nor practice pathology in the jungles!

DA Form 1049 (Personnel Action) is a Department of the Army form filed by an applicant to request all manner of actions, such as an extension active duty, a transfer such as in this case to duty in Vietnam, a discharge for any number of reasons, or a change of status such as to that of a conscientious objector, which in fact I applied for while serving in the 561st Ambulance Company at Fort Ord before the Vietnam War began. A number of 106th General Hospital personnel, including a few at the pathology laboratory, filed 1049 for duty in Vietnam. Most such applications were career Army personnel, or enlistees (more likely Regular Army personnel than inductees) who had decided to stay in the Army for a while.

10 April 67

Dear Bill:

T'was good to hear from you and I must apologize for being tardy in answering. First off to answer some (this is a bad day ["some" had an unwanted letter and overstriking] for my hunt and peck typing) of your questions. The book on lab diagnosis is entitled "Clinical Diagnosis by Laboratory Methods", edited by I. Davidsohn and B. Wella, and published by Saunders Co. in 1962. This is an excellant [sic = excellent] book in my estimation and it includes both procedures and some discussion of the clinical application. We used it in our course for second year medical students at Syracuse. I have just recieved [sic = received] word that a new edition of this book will be forthcoming in Jan. 1968 and edited by Davidsohn and J.B. Henry. The latter editor is my friend from Syracuse and whom I will be working under starting in July. The new edition will be more up to date. There have been many changes in the laboratory field recently and it is impossible to keep up with them all.

As for GGGGG, he is living at 01234. He goes by ABCDE F. GGGGG officially. He is working in the lab at the -- well I forget the name of the place. Maybe the Presbyterian Hospital.

We recieved [sic = received] word from Jim Terry [officer in charge of microbiology] to the effect that he is settling down in 56789. I was interested to hear that he is working in chemistry. He claims that his car arrived in good condition but did not mention anything about his hold baggage with stereo equipment etc. I have not heard of JJJJJ since he left.

Meanwhile the 106 continues on its merry pace. We are now the burn center for the far east and recieve [sic = receive] many severly [sic = severely] burned patients weakly [sic = weekly]. The policy is to stabilize them physiologically, treat the burns with silver nitrate and then send the patient on to Brooke Army Hospital. The volume of lab work has correspondingly increased, especially in the chemistry section. We do 20 or more sets of electrolytes a day and often have several sets at night. The night man is rather busy now and we have two men in the lab until 11 pm. EEEEE is taking permant [sic = permanent] night call all night starting this week with all the others rotating at [as] second man. Also we have divided the entire crew into two teams and have them alternate week-ends. This includes half crew on Saturday morning and thus on your week-end off you have all day Saturday and Sunday free. This is an experiment. Everyone is putting in very long hours, all are pooped-out, and I hope the mutiny occurs after I leave.

KKKKK has become a stalwart in chemistry. He has considerable potential and I hope that he uses it when he gets out. He plans to return to Lincoln, the school from which he came, and has been mumbling something about majoring in chemistry. He leaves May 15th. GGGGG has recieved [sic = received] an answer to his 1049 and reports to RVN on June 1st. His departure will severly [sic = severely] cripple us - his fingers have plugged more holes in the chemical dikes than I like to realize. He and KKKKK have been carrying the load on the electrolytes for the burn ward and have spent numerous nights assisting the man on call. LLLLL, MMMMM, Sgt GGGGG all retire in July and August. Poor Cpt Simon [officer in charge of chemistry and serology, one of my mentors at the 6th U.S. Army Medical Laboratory at Ft. Baker] is in for a long hot summer.

We received ["ei" hand corrected from "ie"] half of a Beckman gas analyzer [a popular blood-gas analyzer] with the idea of doing blood Ph Po2 and PC02 [pH = acidity, pO2 = partial pressure of oxygen, pCO2 = partial pressure of carbon dioxide in blood). The surgeons are all enthusiastic but who is going to run the damn thing if we do receive ["ei" overstruck from "ie"] the other parts. No doubt Simon will have to do much of the chemistry himself after June 1st. But I should not be so pessimistic, the Army might surprise me and send adequate replacements on time.


My replacement arrived about three weeks ago after sitting at Zama and the 406 for a month. He has his family in a private rental near the PX and seem ["s" in original "seems" crossed out hand] well adjusted. He is a great talker, mostly bull unfortunately, and seem [sic = seem] more interested in what is going on outside the Kishine compound than within. I have been trying to tell him that he must get off his butt and out of the office. He has Sgt GGGGG line up the cross matches in the Borner slides (used for serology) [Pusch has perhaps forgotten that I did cross-matching and also assisted him in a sternal tap in which such slides are used] so that he need only move said slide across the scope stage. All the while he is reading the newspaper. Well I am being unfair to the man. He impresses me as not caring what goes on in the clinical labs as long as he can look through the scope at tissue. Hopefully he will rise to the occasion when he is left alone.

Cpt Ohashi, Jim Terry's replacement arrived last week. He has worked as a lab tech in several hospitals in southern Calif., including Bio-Science, has an interest in bacteriology but no great amount of formal education in same. He is registered in the state of Calif. as a lab tech and has now re-inlisted [sic = enlisted] in the army so they will send him to graduate school (he had served 3 years after being in ROTC). All in all he comes with a background in bacti [bacteriology] similar to Jim's and with what appears to be a similar personality. He does have a family and will be living off post, however. I expect him to carry on in bacti much as Jim did. Meanwhile bacti has held together under my loose guidance. I have learned much bacti for which I am happy. I do not feel that the bacti section has slipped too far and Ohashi should be able to pull it up.

I am anxiously awaiting my ETS [estimated time of sailing, i.e., departure, hence today usually ETD]. I will return to Syracuse with the title of assistant professor and will be working in the division of clinical pathology. This will give me a wonderful opportunity to learn more about clinical pathology and to go into it in considerable depth. As I mentioned to you, the group there are all rather young and energetic. There will six pathologists to take care of the clinical pathology for the 500 bed hospital, teach medical students laboratory diagnosis, and teach a year long course for medical technologists. My address there will be: Clinical Pathology, Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, New York, 13210.

I wish you the best of luck with your future plans and hope that all turns out well with the U. of Cal. Your alternative plans sound appropriately complete. I will try to find some good malaria smears for you but I hope you will not be back in SE Asia diagnosing malaria.

My best,

[ Signed "Lew Pusch"]

I received the malaria smears as promised -- a nice selection of stained slides of peripheral blood showing malaria in various stages. The slides were in a small brown plastic single-row slide box. I myself had collected a number of slides representing various areas of lab work -- hematology, bacteriology, parasitology, and histopathology -- in a large white two-row slide box. I brought my personal collection back to the United States when I left the Army. I kept both boxes in corrugated cardboard box with bottles of various chemicals and glassware I had collected when working as a chemistry lab assistant in college before going into the Army. All this was thrown out when my father cleared the house to sell it a few months before he died at age 102 in 2013.



Whereas in the past many patients would go untested, or only a few tests would be ordered. today the tendency is to conduct a long list of tests done by batch processing the blood samples of many patients.

To be continued.





Blood chemistry



Antibiotic Therapy 1964 Antibiotic Therapy guide
This 23-page pamphlet is still in my possession --
proof that everyone I loaned it to returned it.


If, at the outset, I had been asked what I most wanted to do at Kishine, it would have been histopathology. Later I was grateful that I had been earmarked for bacteriology, which would have been my second choice. Bacteriology proved to be very exciting. At times we needed to identify bacteria we had never seen before. We would hit the books and journals until we came up with a name.

As advertised on the title page of the pamphlet shown to the right, "This pamphlet provides Medical Service personnel with the latest information on therapeutic use of antibiotics." It did indeed. I memorized practically every word, and practically all them have vanished from retrievable memory. But as I read this pamphlet 50 years later, the technical expressions ring bells.

Departments of the Air Force and the Army
Medical Service, Antibiotic Therapy
Air Force Pamphlet No. 160-17-1
Army Technical Bulletin No. Med 9
Washington, 1 October 1964
ii, 23 page pamphlet

Practically every methodology and therapy in it is history. Yet its fundamentals are still fundamental. It would still behoove a student of bacteriology and antibiotic therapy to become familiar with the principles of sensitivity that we practiced in our path lab to determine what antibiotics would best defeat the multiple bacteria that had invaded most of the wounds of the patients that came to Kishine.

Serratia marcescens

The colonies of most bacteria we saw were creamy or yellow in color and we could usually identify them simply by looking at their colonial morphology -- the way they grew and their appearance on various culture media. One day, though, we spotted some striking red colonies that totally stumped us. We isolated the bacteria, conducted sensitivity tests, and were able to give the burn ward doctor the names of antibiotics that would probably be effective in treating the infection. But we were unable to identify the pathogen by name.

Lieutenant (later Captain) James R. Terry, the MSC officer who oversaw the bacteriology operation, sent a sample of the suspect and our observations of its behavior in various diagnostic media to the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta. A few days later, CDC came back with the name of a fairly common bacillus that it had just recently flagged as potentially pathogenic in humans. The name of the culprit was Serratia marcescens.

Patients were suffering from horrible wounds and injuries, and here we were -- getting excited over the beauty and novelty of a microbiological species and the thrill of discovery, at least for us, since it didn't appear in any of our textbooks or journals, and we weren't otherwise familiar with it. At heart, though, we were scientists -- applied scientists, to be sure, but nonetheless curious and excitable but the prospects of knew knowledge.

Journal of Trauma report on "Bacteremia Due to Serratia Marcescens

The following journal article (first page only) is of special interest to me because it reports a study of Serratia marcescens infections involves a bacteria that was encountered in the bacteriology section of the pathology laboratory at the 106th General Hospital at the time I was there. David K. Ohashi, the MSC Captain who participated in the study, succeeded Captain James R. Terry, my immediate supervisor (see letters from Dr. Pusch below).

Only page 417 is shown here. For the full article, pages 417-421, see
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW) @ Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

The Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection & Critical Care
May 1971, Volume II, Number 5, pages 417-421
(Copyright © 1971 by The Williams & Wilkins Co.)



From 106th General Hospital, Yokohama, Japan

In the past several years, infections due to Serratia marcescens have been recognized more frequently. This Gram-negative bacillus of the species Enterobacteriaceace had generally been considered a nonpathogen for man. Recently, S. marcescens has been identified as the causative organism of clinical sepsis in various clinical conditions in which diminished host resistance and mechanical or hormonal predisposition to bacterial infections exist. These clinical conditions include prolonged systemic steroid or antibiotic therapy, use of intravenous and intraperitoneal catheterization, urinary tract malformations and obstructions, bronchietasis, and diabetes mellitus.

The previous scarcity of S. marcescens bacteremia in burned patients is documented by the data from Brooke General Hospital. S. marcescens bacteremia occurred in only one burned patient in the years 1954-1959 (19) and in three burned patients in the years 1963-1967 (11-13). However, there is evidence of increasing prevalence and pathogenicity of this organism. We have previously reported that in a Sulfamylon®-treated group of fatal burns, Serratia marcescens was the most prevalent organism found in positive blood cultures (6 out of 17 bacteremias) followed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa (4 out of 17).

Most of the earlier reports were concerned with the strains of S. marcescens producing the red pigment, prodigiosin. In fact, the organism is still referred to by some as Bacillus prodigiosus. However, biochemical and scrotyping methods have shown that the majority of strains do not produce red pigment (8). Their identification and separation from the paracolon bacilli have been well outlined by Edwards and Ewing (5, 7).

This report includes the clinical and bacteriologic features of 35 episodes of Serratia marcescens bacteremia documented in American military casualties at the 106th General Hospital in Yokohama, Japan in the years 1966 to February 1969.



The records of all patients with blood cultures positive for S. marcescens were reviewed. The presence of intravenous polyethelyene catheters, Foley catheters, tracheostomies, thoracostomies, open wounds, and burn wounds was noted. Cultures from these catheters, tubes, and wounds, and the results of all other bacteriologic cultures taken from these patients during their hospitalization were tabulated.


The laboratory identification of the S. marcescens was based on colonial morphology on blood agar and eosin-methylene blue agar and appropriate biochemical tests (5). All blood cultures were subcultured to broth and solid media at 1, 3, and 10 days. Iso- . . . [ continued on next page ]

The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Surgeon General, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.

* Present address and address for reprints: Theodore C. Whitson, M.D., Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32601.

† E. Y. Henjyoji, T. C. Whitson, and B. D. Allen: Clinical and pathological correlations in 101 fatal burns. Presented at at Association of Military Surgeons, Yokosuka, Japan, 1968.

Edward Y. Henjyoji

Edward Yoshimasa Henjyoji became a plastic surgeon in California after leaving the Army about the time the 106th left Kishine Barracks. As E.Y. Henjyoji, he and fellow 106th doctors B.D. Allen and T.C. Whitson presented a report titled "Clinical and pathological correlations in 101 fatal burns [at the 106th General Hospital]" at a meeting of the Association of Military Surgeons, Yokosuka, Japan, in 1968 (see Medical reports above). A version of this report was published as "Treatment of 1963 burned patients at 106th General Hospital, Yokohama, Japan" in the June 1970 issue of The Journal of Trauma (Volume 10, Number 5, pages 386-392).

According to the Biography on his professional website, "Dr. Henjyoji received his B.A. and M.D. degrees at Johns Hopkins University and his plastic surgery training at Stanford University Medical Center. He has been in practice in California since 1971 and he was certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery in 1974."

David K. Ohashi

David K. Ohashi became a career Army officer and then a professor of microbiology. He came to the 106th with a BA in zoology from the University of Colorado and medical laboratory experience (see letters from Dr. Pusch below). He was then one of the OICs (officers in charge) of the laboratory at the 24th Evacuation Hospital at Long Binh in Vietnam circa 1971-1972. He later obtained an MS in clinical microbiology from Thomas Jefferson University, and in 1983 he received a PhD in tropical medical and medical microbiology from the University of Hawaii in Manoa. He worked for many years in the Department of Pathology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. In 1990 became an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Campbell University School of Pharmacy in North Carolina.

Ohashi retired emeritus in 2001 and turned to other interests, including local history and photography. He is the coauthor with David W. Fredericksen of Wilmington's Carolina Heights (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2007). Ohashi is a resident of Caroline Heights, a suburb of Wilmington, North Carolina, and the black-and-white photographs in this study of the suburb are his.



The bacteriology section was also expanded to include parasitology, which hadn't been set up as an independent operation. With the addition of parasitology, the bacteriology section became in effect the microbiology section. Malaria smears continued to be processed in hematology, but we got all tissue and fluids that required culturing.

Mostly what you needed to do parasitology was a microscope and some knowledge of parasitology. A couple of us, including me, had some knowledge but it was rusty and dusty and unpracticed.

Most hospitals in the United States don't see a lot of intestinal parasites, and practically none have need to routinely screen for them. At Kishine we had no choice but to assume that everyone who had spent time in Vietnam had been exposed to a variety of parasites. All Japanese who were hired for work at the hospital also had to be screened for parasites that were still fairly common in Japan.

All matter of critters appeared in the dramas on my microscope stage. Toward the end of my tour of duty I got an attachment to take pictures.

I captured the eggs of several varieties of intestinal parasites (the morphology of the eggs for each species of worm is very specific). Now and then the worm itself appeared. The head of the tapeworm in attached photo, for example, clearly shows the hooks specific to this particular kind of tape worm -- the one related to hogs.

Most cases of clap and crabs were diagnosed and treated without lab tests. Now and then we got something that puzzled a clinician, or the clinician wanted more information. We also got a sample of some pubic lice.

The photograph shown here came out pretty good considering the primitive set-up. The equipment available today would enable a photographic image. It shows the louse as an image of the light that passed through its body, which was mounted on a slide that sat on the stage above the light, or rather the mirror that directed the light on the object from below the stage. Such lice use their crab-like feet to cling to hair, and swing from hair to hair like tree monkeys. The oldest known representation of treatment for pubic lice is found in a 12th century Japanese representation showing a man shaving his pubis. This is still the most essential treatment.

Photographs forthcoming

To be continued.



An entire month of my training at the 6th U.S. Army Medical Laboratory at Ft. Baker was devoted to histopathology, which generally wasn't covered in the basic laboratory technician curriculum. Because of this, as I recall only two other lab techs in the unit had had such training. One had actually worked in histopathology, and so he was assigned to oversee what would be a one-man operation. He broke the manual tissue processor and microtome out of their crates and I helped him prepare the staining baths. For a while I was his back-up in case something happened to him, but he there wasn't that much work. In the meantime, I turned my full attention to bacteriology, which was my primary assignment.

After moving to our permanent quarters from the 2nd floor of Ward B, to the small building beside it between Wards B and C, histopathology remained a one-man operation. It was separated the bacteriology section, which was on the west side of the 2nd floor, in a room near the chief's office on the east side. The room included a dissection table for processing autopsy specimens.

We didn't do a lot of PAP smears at the 106th, where practically all patients were young men wounded in Vietnam. Nor was there a great demand for other examinations of cells scraped from tissue, which would be the province of cytology or cytopathology. There was, however, occasional demand for examinations of tissue for signs of disease or other problems that fall within the scope of histology or histopathology.

Murray autopsy

I recall only one autopsy during the time I was with the 106th General Hospital at Kishine. A patient named (Geoffrey?) Murray had died following what was supposed to have been a routine operation for a gastric ulcer. It fell to Capt. Pusch, the lab chief and resident pathologist, to perform the autopsy.

There were no autopsy facilities at the lab, but this would not have prevented Dr. Pusch from doing Murray's autopsy at Kishine. There were all manner of doctors and surgical technicians at the 106th who could have assisted him.

As I recall, Murray's autopsy was performed at an army hospital at Johnson Air Station in Iruma in Saitama prefecture just north of Tokyo prefecture. Yokohama is in Kanagawa prefecture just south of Tokyo. The drive in those days could take 3 or more hours. I vaguely recall that Dr. Pusch spent a night or two there.

I also recall that the reason Dr. Pusch opted to perform the autopsy at Johnson was to avail himself of the assistance of another pathologist on neutral territory. Johnson was then the home of the 7th Field Hospital, which had about 400 beds. The 7th Field Hospital had been deployed to Japan in November or December 1965 shortly before the 106th arrived at Kishine. By March 1968, it moved to Camp Oji in Kita ward in Tokyo and became the U.S. Army Hospital there. And it faced widely reported riots by radical student groups, supported by local people, who believed the hospital was treating contagious diseases that would spread to the general population.

See Radical Japanese Students Score Another Victory (above) for contemporary reports student and other protests.

Murray's body was returned to Kishine but his brain came to the lab. I will never forget that day, when Dr. Pusch called me and a few other lab techs over to a corner of the histopathology section and gave us a two-hour lecture on the anatomy of the human brain. Slice by slice, we probed the depths of Murray's gray-pink mind, parts of which ended up in jars of formaldehyde.

I would later summarize my experience at Kishine, and this particular incident, in a column I contributed to a medical journal in Japan for students about to take the national board exam. See Facets of Medicine 3, Vampires (1995).

Sternal tap blood marrow biopsy

On another occasion I recall very clearly, Capt. Pusch came to me with a request to assist him in a sternal tap the following day to aspirate some blood marrow for a blood marrow biopsy. I'd never done one -- it wasn't something lab techs or even nurses did. As I recall, Capt. Pusch himself had to review the procedure, possibly for the first time since medical school. It is not an especially difficult procedure, and as he explained it, he just needed a couple of extra hands -- namely mine -- to hand him a few instruments and make on-site smears.

Of course I knew how to make ordinary peripheral smears -- meaning smears using blood drawn from veins or by pricking a finger. Blood marrow, however, is thicker and I worried a bit, but had no trouble producing suitable smears.

To make a blood smear, you put a drop of blood in the middle of glass slide, and use the end of another glass slide to smear the drop across the first slide. The smear is then dried, stained, and mounted with a cover glass for microscopic examination. Some stained smears are left unmounted and examined under oil, meaning drops of oil are deposited on the smear and the microscope lens is immersed in the oil. The manner of staining will depend on the objection of the examination, such as white cell differentials or malaria.


Looking back

Crossing the tees and dotting the eyes of a life half lived half a century ago

I am now Japanese. At the time of the events I have written about, it never occurred to me that someday I would settle in Japan and naturalize.

Now that I think about it, though, even before I first came to Japan -- by the time I dropped out of college in 1963 and my local Selective Service Board slated me for induction -- the country had already become part of me. From the time I was born, my life had been influenced by Japan more than by any other country outside America.

Japan's Imperial Navy attacked Pearl Harbor when I was going on nine-months in San Francisco. I didn't know this until I was older, when I asked my mother about the sirens on the roof of Lincoln High School just up the hill from where we lived on 24th Avenue.

I might have been five or six, maybe seven. I recall the sirens were still being tested in the late 1940s. I can only image what we said.

"What are those sirens for?"

"An air raid. But they're just testing them."

"An air raid?"

"We were at war with Japan. Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor. We thought they might also attack San Francisco."

"Did they?"

"No. And the war is over."

"Where is Japan?"

"On the other side of the ocean."

"Can planes fly that far?"

Wing green
Wing red
Letter opener 1
Letter opener 2

War souviners

I played war games in my childhood and wrote about naval battles and island-hopping operations in high school.

A sort of uncle on my mother's side had given me some Pacific War souviners when I was 6 or 7 years old. They consisted of a piece of aluminum from the wing of a Zero and two brass casings with Japanese writing stamped on their bottoms. The larger casing, from an artillery shell, had been cut and shaped into an ashtray. The smaller had been used as the handle of a letter opener fashioned from a piece of aluminum, said to have been from a Zero in New Guinea, which had been made to look like the blade of a cutlass.

When a boy I imagined a flaming Zero plunging into a Pacific island jungle. Today it haunts me to think that I am separated from the pilot's death, if not also the deaths of those he may have killed, by souvenirs cut from a killing machine that became its operator's coffin.

I was 9 years old when the Korean conflict began. It quickly became a "war" and then a "War" in The San Francisco Call Bulletin. "Japs" became "Reds" in the war games I played with my neighborhood friends.

I was a Straight Arrow fan at the time. I collected Injinuity Cards from boxes of Shredded Wheat. The cards explained how to make a fire without matches, track animals, carry a papoose, and otherwise survive like an Indians did. Or so I believed in my romantic mind.

I made an arrowhead from a piece of slate and bound it to a shaft of wood I had notched and fitted with seagull feathers. I planned to shoot it into the heart of the first Commie who waded ashore on Ocean Beach. I later mounted it on the wall of a room I shared with my brother at the family home in Grass Valley, a 2 or 3 hour drive from San Francisco.

Some adults watching us play war games may have thought we were learning to be patriotic. But we were not patriates. Patriotism is a love of ones country. I and my friends had no understanding of country or even love for that matter. We were merely acting out dramas we'd read in comic books and heard on radio, and imitating adult concerns about the spread of communism, which for sure we knew nothing about.

The Korean War, like remnants of the Pacific War, were everywhere evident in San Francisco when I was growing up. I saw all kinds of ships in San Francisco Bay that had fought in the Pacific War. On a Cub Scout outing we visited an aircraft carrier. I heard war stories from adults who had served in Europe or the Pacific, or in Korea. I built Monogram Model Hellcats, Mustangs, and Corsairs.

I wrote school reports on famous sea and island battles. The manager of the shoe store where I worked in my teens had been in the Merchant Marine that supported America's invasion of Tawara in the Gilbert Islands. He gave me his copy of the photographic record that was published shortly after the invasion. It showed pictures of bodies mangled bodies and of Japanese soldiers who had killed themselves. I used it to make a report in my high school history class.

My favorite Korean War fighter was the Saberjet. I read the comic strips in the Call Bulletin only after checking the front page for updates on the numbers of Migs shot down.

A couple of older boys in the neighborhood went off to Korea. A young man at the Lutheran church where I was a Cub Scout went to Korea. We sent him cookies. By the time he returned, I was a Boy Scout and he became our scout master. He'd been a mortarman, and when taking us on hikes and camping trips to Mt. Tamalpais he'd tell war stories and show us how he fired mortars and threw grenades.

The scout master had been through Japan on his way to and from Korea. He'd brought a few souvinirs from Japan to people at the church.

Many of the metal toys in my childhood were made in Japan from American beer cans. This truly puzzled me. Of course I had no idea why. I heard of atom bombs before I learned that they were first dropped on Japan. I wouldn't hear about the Allied Occupation of Japan and Japan's role in the Korea War until high school, and the significance of these and other events in East Asian history wouldn't really register with me until I began to study them, after I completed my military service and returned to college.

By the time I finished high school and started studying engineering, in hopes of being an electrical engineer, Japan had become known for more than just toys. In addition to the war souvenirs, I owned several other things that commonly identified with Japan, including some rubber beach thongs and a transistor radio. I continued to treasure the war souviners, which are now at my home in Japan, thus back in the country where the weapons they were made from had been manufactured.

As a member of the Sputnik generation, I dreamed of designing rockets that would carry people to the planets and stars. From Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley I went on to study engineering at Sierra College, in nearby Auburn, then electrical engineering at the University of California at Berkely.

During the summers I worked for the Department of Navy, at Hunters Point in San Francisco, as an engineering aid to electronics engineers responsible for fire control systems, which controlled the targeting and firing of missles, torpedoes, and anti-aircraft and other naval gunnery. I took a year off between Sierra and Cal to work at the shipyards, during which time I went out on a number of Navy vessels on sea trials and other test runs. This was the start of my interest in cybernetics.

I began my studies at Cal from the fall of 1962, just in time to witness the Cuban Crisis. By then I had already begun to lose the political innocence that had dogged me as a nerd interested only in math and science and astronmy and space exploration. The Cuban Crisis alienated me from the prospects of spending my life designing circuits that would guide missiles with nuclear warheads. I dropped out, but not before learning a few Chinese characters from a friend who had been studying math before turning to Chinese. We had a common interest in ancient languages and writing systems, which inspired my fascination with semantics.

After dropping out of college I was called for the draft and enlisted in the Army for training as a medical corpsman. After completing basic combat training, and becoming a medic and ambulance driver, and also a stand-in company clerk, I cut my own orders for reclassification as a conscious objector. When the Vietnam War began a few months later, I was re-trained as a lab tech, and I spent the last 9 months of my 3-year enlistment working in the clinical laboratory of the 106th General Hospital at Kishine Barracks in Yokohama, where practically all the patients were wounded young men my age.

After finishing my active service, I considered studying pathology or microbiology, but ended up studying Japanese -- classical and modern literature, and psychological anthropology, at Berkeley -- another story.

Fussing off

Engineers are not supposed to write, but while I was in the army, I wrote a long article for my home town paper, which also published a column on my life in basic training, and I also contributed a couple of cover stories to the student engineering journal at Berkeley.

My first writing, though, was in a diary I kept when in my early teens. The longest sentence I wrote was "I fussed off at the sand dunes." It was longer than "I fussed off at the park" and "I fussed off at the beach." Practically every entry in the diary was about fussing off.

Those were days when there was a very respectable sand dunes in the middle of the Sunset District. My friends and I could bike there in minutes. We also had free rein of Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park. We created all manner of imaginary worlds in which there were few signs of civilization.

Abe Kobo's "Woman in the Dunes" had come out in paperback by the time I starged studying Japanese at Berkeley in the fall of 1967. It was one of the first novels I read in a course on Japanese literature in translation. I remember reading it with the enthusiasm of someone who had spent many days of his childhood romping around natural dunes in which the cityscape disappeared. Never mind that "Woman in the Dunes" was fiction. I imagined there were sand dunes in Japan, and in fact there were.

The Japan I wrote about in college was partly one I had experienced, partly one I read about, and partly one I imagined. Looking back, the Japan I read about now appears to have been a Japan others had mostly imagined. Even the Japan I experienced now seems to be more imaginary than not. Practically all of the photographs I took in 1966 while stationed at Kishine Barracks were of people, especially of children with parents or grandparents, and of lovers, on the streets, in parks, and at waterfalls.

I also took pictures of homeless people, thatched rooves, mountains and fields, a squat toilet at an inn, a girl I met in a park and another I met in a cabaret. I say "girls" because that was what they were to me, who was then just a "boy" or maybe a "guy" to them.

I don't know how many times my views of the Pacific War and everything else I've experienced, read, or imagined about the United States and Japan, and other parts of the world, have changed in the course of my studies and observations of life. Some things have now become clear to me, though.

I know, now, that the Pacific War was much larger than the Pacific. I also know that it was more than merely a response by the United States and some other countries to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, though of course the attack was the spark that ignited the East Asia - Western Pacific tinder box. And notwithstanding the San Francisco Peace Treaty Japan, living in Japan today, a hop, skip and jump from the Korean peninsula and the Chinese mainland, I am keenly aware that the Greater East Asia War is not yet over.

I also know a lot more about myself, now, than I did in the past when I was struggling to make sense of my life. Which is not to say that I understand myself any better now than then. One important lesson I've learned is that knowledge is not the same as understanding.

As for how I might have fussed away the past 50 years of my life differently -- had I been less naive, less cynical, less selfish, and less of a hermit -- I frankly have no idea.