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Memories / Misawa Stories

1st RSM Moves to Misawa

Ralph Pittenger
Misawa 52-53

I vividly remember the move from Johnson Air Base in December 1952 . We packed up a receiver, our duffle bag, and not much more. Climbed aboard a C-119 and headed for Misawa.

We arrived shortly after noontime in snow up to our "you know whats". Proceeded to get some chow on main base and cleared into necessary main base facilities, then on to "Ichi RisimSquizim" where we spent the rest of the day clearing there.

I went to work the next evening on swings, I think. At the time, I was "Trick Chief" of Trick 4. Lt. Col. Charles W. Shepard was the commander, Ops Officer was William Madole, and Major William Hamilton was Exec Officer. He had been commander of the detachment at Misawa until we moved. I can't remember the 1st Sgt. Ben Candelaria was the NCOIC of Operations - I think he was an E-6 at the time.

The whole operation was moved to Misawa in about 6 days as I remember. A trick at Johnson would go on 3 day break, pack up bag and baggage, clear the base at Johnson, then move to Misawa. As soon as that trick went to work, the next one due for 3 day break made the move. That way, the move was accomplished during 3 day breaks. It worked pretty well.

I remember some of the operators could not find their mission assignments at Misawa. It took a while to realize that what we were having to dig out of the noise and local interference at Johnson was coming in "too loud" to be our assigned intercepts. The operators were just tuning right on by their assignments. Copying the mission at Misawa was a breeze compared to Johnson.

MSgt. Ralph Wagnon was at Misawa. I wonder if anyone remembers him. He was the 1st Sgt. at Johnson. I can remember a few names but, after almost 50 years, things have faded.

I rotated to San Antonio in July of 1953. Though I wasn't at Misawa long, I do remember enjoying the area. I made a couple of TDY trips to Wakkanai and of course back to Tokyo. Japan was a very memorable and enjoyable assignment. I managed to get in 6 months TDY at the Detachment in Korea and also some flying time aboard the B-29 test ACRP that was there in 1952. That came about while stationed at Johnson however.

I really chuckled at the comments concerning the white tiles in the "New Ops" building. I was working in the Plans and Programs Division at Headquarters when we heard about it. We couldn't believe that it was happening. The choice of color was a local thing as I remember. And yep, word went down from on high that shoes could and should be worn in the ops area. Tabis (I think the bigtoed Japanese slippers) were OK on tatami mats but not on hard floors. Have I got the words right? I used to speak it pretty well, but as they say, "use it or loose it".

Does anyone remember what the 1st RSM patch looked like? It has quite a history.

[DutchNote ~ For a good look at the 1st RSM patch from 1952, click here.]

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