Atsugi - The Beginning of the Occupation of Japan
By Robert Litherland of the 188th GIR

My mind is very clear on the Atsugi landings during the Occupation of Japan.  At that time I was MG (Machine Gun) Platoon Leader, of the 1st Battalion 188th. Early on the morning of August 28, 1945 we loaded into a C-54 at Yonoburu Airstrip on Okinawa.  It was a civilian aircraft that most of us had never seen before; we were in awe of its size and the cushioned seating.  In flight, I was handed an aerial photo of Atsugi Airdrome by an officer I didn't know and was ordered to take the MG Platoon to the north end of the main strip and dig in.

I still have that aerial photograph...marked "secret."  Upon landing we disembarked and unloaded all our gear. There were only 22 men in the platoon and we had taken all four of our 30 caliber water-cooled heavies, two A/4 tripod mount lights and two A/6 lights that we had just recently been issued on Luzon.  These along with all the ammo boxes and several crates of grenades proved to be more than we could walk with.  I trotted toward the hangars to seek some transport. The first thing I noticed was a sign on one of the small entry doors saying, "Kilroy Was Here"! The next thing I noticed was a Marine Hellcat parked inside the big hangar. The pilot had the cowling open and explained to me that he had been forced to land there two days before and that now he was trying to fix an oil leak with gum and some rags so that he could fly back to his ship and get something decent to eat. He said the Japanese had been polite.  Then he pointed to the rear of this gigantic hangar. I saw a long row of Japanese marines on their haunches, backs against the hangar walls with their rifle butts on the concrete, muzzles all pointed skyward. Officers paraded in front of them. I looked at them and they looked at me.

I than located a Japanese civilian who spoke English and he rapidly procured a school bus-type  vehicle with a Japanese naval driver who hauled us all over to our destination. We didn't dig in. Instead we took over some concrete beehive installations...each one housing a Zero. This proved to be beneficial because of all the rain we had to put up with during the three days we were there.

At the time, we had Sgt. Wong with us. Wong was  the 1st Battalion's 188th Commo Sgt  and a genius at improvisation. In short order we had music coming at us powered by Zero batteries. Also lights. It was Armed  Forces Radio, Manila. At this point I should say that were all issued one "D" ration bar when we left Yonoburu and I was told that this ration would have to last us awhile. Of course, most of the men were so hungry for chocolate that they gnawed away on the "D"s and ate it all before we even got to Atsugi. It was lucky we were all carrying three canteens because we had to use one canteen to clean ourselves with the next two days. We also used a lot of rain water.

When McArthur's plane landed I was alerted by all the hullabaloo and
ran up the strip to a point just behind where the 11th A/B Band was drawn up.  The band did a fine job that day.


Robert Litherland the Virtual Reunion 5/98