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From Camp MacKall to Tokyo…

11th A/B guarding the New Grand Hotel

11th A/B guarding the New Grand Hotel

Just as General Douglas MacArthur said to Gen. Robert Eichelberger that it was a long road to Tokyo, so it was for Smitty. Yes, the stretch from Broad Channel to Camp MacKall and finally Atsugi Airfield was a long and arduous road, but here, the 11th Airborne Division arrives in Japan to begin the Occupation and to help start the rebuilding of a country.

With the initial arrival of the division, rarely was a female between the ages of 8 and 70 seen on the streets. The Japanese had heard their government’s propaganda for years as to the American looting and raping, so they were understandably afraid of the conquering troops. But many were confused about the peaceful attitude of the soldiers and a member of the 511th regiment was stopped one day by a Japanese officer, he asked, “Why don’t you rape, loot and burn? We would.” The trooper answered that Americans just don’t do that.

MacArthur exiting his plane, the "Bataan"

MacArthur exiting his plane, the “Bataan”

With the New Grand Hotel surrounded by troopers, the manager and his staff bowed to Gen. MacArthur and his party and directed them to their suites. Tired and hungry from their long flight, the Americans went to the dining room and were served steak dinners. Gen. Whitney remembered wanting to take MacArthur’s plate to make certain it hadn’t been poisoned. When he told the general his concern and intentions, MacArthur laughed and said, “No one can live forever.” The hotel would become his headquarters and later that evening, MacArthur told his staff, “Boys, this is the greatest adventure in military history. Here we sit in the enemy’s country with only a handful of troops, looking down the throats of 19 fully armed divisions and 70 million fanatics. One false move and the Alamo would look like a Sunday school picnic.” (The fact that nothing happened, I believe, said quite a bit about Japanese integrity.)

Camp_Mackall_Sign (640x470)

The division Command Post was moved from the Atsugi Airfield to the Sun Oil Compound in Yokohama. This compound had about 15 American-style homes complete with furniture, dishes, silver and linens. The senior staff officers were not so fortunate. They were put up in warehouses on the docks, often without heat.

Aerial view of Atsugi Airfield, 1945

Aerial view of Atsugi Airfield, 1945

In the Philippines, the Japanese emissary General Kawabe, finished their surrender talks. Kawabe’s aide, Second Lt. Sada Otake, introduced himself to a Nisei G.I. standing guard outside. The guard, in response, said his name was Takamura. Otake said he had married a Nisei by the same name and did he had a sister named Etsuyo? The guard nodded and Otake said, “I’m her husband. Look me up in Japan.” And the brothers-in-law shook hands. (Small world or fate?)

Smitty, 2nd from the right

Smitty, 2nd from the right

On the reverse side of this photo, Smitty wrote: “A picture of the General”s gang taken in the living room at Yokohama. Reading left to right – baker, first cook, Mess Sergeant, me headwaiter and on the floor, second cook. Those glasses you can see were always full. You can’t beat this Japanese beer.

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On 1 September, newsmen Harry Brundige and Clark Lee, with the help of a Japanese newsman, located Tokyo Rose with her husband in their hotel, the Imperial. Brundige offered her $2,000 for an exclusive interview for “Cosmopolitan” magazine. She agreed and together they typed out 17 pages of notes. The editor of the magazine was so astounded that Brundige had made a deal with a traitor that he rejected the story. The notes were handed over to Lee, who wrote his own version of the story for the International News Service.

Smitty 2d from the left

Smitty 2d from the left

On the reverse side of this photo, Smitty wrote: “Another picture of the gang. This was taken while in Yokohama at the Oil Co’s homes. This was really the best we ever had. Private ten-room home with all the trimmings.”

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RESOURCES: “The Rising Sun,” by John Toland; “Rakkasans” and “Angels” by E.M. Flanagan; flightknights.net and Everett’s scrapbook.

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Next Guest Post - "It was hard to keep the good times rollin'"

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