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1947 Timeline
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This Page Last Updated  31 August 2015
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8th U.S.
Army
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720th MP
Battalion
720th
Bulldogs
     All major theater improvements, Cold War events or incidents, including those leading up to the Korean War that affected the 720th MP Battalion’s force allocations, training, operations, deployments, morale or history are shown in blue American Typewriter Font.
     To better understand the situation in Occupied Japan that affected the mission of the battalion, one must also be aware of the diplomatic, political and civil climate of the United States, world and Japanese theater of operations at that time.
Occupation Duty, Tokyo, Japan
January
     At the start of the year the 720th Military Police Battalion and its organic units, HQ & HQ Detachment, Able, Baker, Charlie and Dog Companies and the Medical Detachment, was performing occupation duty in Tokyo, Japan.

     Throughout the year the battalion had an extremely high percentage of turnover in personnel. This not only created shortages of personnel, but also required an extensive training program to train the replacements.

Personal Reflections
    “During my eleven months in Tokyo there was no field training at all. We were on 12 on-12-off most of the time, and the off was mostly trying to sleep. Training what there was care and cleaning of the pistol and the Thompson [sub-machine gun] we carried on motor patrol.”   T/4 Francis J. Boucher, Able Company, 1947-1948.
T/4 Boucher
Personal Reflections

      CPL Geryl "Jerry" Perkins was on his second enlistment after having seen combat in Europe in the artillery branch, and being discharged at the end of hostilities. His reenlistment brought him to Japan and a change in duty to military police work.

     “I was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, Headquarters Battery, artillery, at Nara. That was in January 1947. Soon after, the 8th Army was short of men and I was sent to the Replacement Depot where they lined us up for an inspection. LTC G. H. Meek inspected each line of men and picked the ones who were six feet tall, or better.

     He took me, and I went that same day to Headquarters Company, 720th MP Battalion. I was the radio operator at the PMO and worked with some good old soldiers like SGT Sergeant “Double Barrel,” we called him."  CPL Geryl “Jerry” Perkins, HQ & HQ Detachment, 1947-1949.

CPL Perkins
Personal Reflections
     “I was trained at the Quartermaster School in Camp Lee in Virginia when I received my orders for overseas occupation duty in Japan. I disembarked from the troops ship ‘Frederick Funston’ at Yokohama, and was transported to the 4th Replacement Depot. I remember the cold breakfast of hot cakes, bacon and eggs, and coco made with water. Since we were standing outside in the freezing weather, the metal chow trays the put the food in made the bacon congeal as the hot food hit it. Before I could be assigned to a unit, I came down with a bad case of laryngitis and a sore throat, so they sent me to the Replacement depot hospital where I recuperated for the next seven days.
     On the 30th I was released from the hospital and expecting to be assigned to a Quartermaster company, instead, I found myself and two other privates from Quartermaster School assigned to Able Company, 720th MP Battalion. We now had a lot to learn about being MPs.” My buddies, PVT Art MacGregor was assigned by the battalion to Sugamo Prison duty, and PVT Tom Howe served with me at Able Company.
     When I first arrived at Able Company with other replacements, we lined up and the battalion veterans came out to look us over. One tried to buy my “Florsheim” shoes right off my feet. They also wanted all the Kiwi shoe polish that we had. They said the local brand was more like grease.” We were issued uniforms and our typical duty outfit at that time was a white helmet, brassard, white spats, a .45 caliber pistol with a white braided rope, white web belt and white Billy club.
     With no training as an MP, I was standing inspection at my first guard mount and ordered to present arms. Having never done it before I made some errors, and was severely reprimanded by the officer in charge.

     I also recall having an unpleasant experience riding a bicycle on the rough cobblestone streets of the city, while following our company laundry man to his place of business. He was having problems due to the rationing of utilities at that time, and I tried my best to convince the local power company to give him enough electricity to iron our uniforms.

     When we were on pass we would meet at the nearby train station, and when the train arrived we often had to push our way on when the car doors opened. At one time the train was going so slow that a couple of our troops took over and ran the train their own way. It was good that no other traffic was around at the time.

     It wasn’t long before the office personnel found out that I could type, and I was transferred from MP to clerical duty. I didn’t particularly like MP line duty guarding the Ernie Pyle building, riding trains, and raiding hotels. I never got to the office, I again became ill and was sent to Tokyo General Hospital where I was diagnosed with acute rheumatic fever. On 30 March I was put aboard the U.S. Hospital Ship “Hope,” and sent to Letterman Hospital in San Francisco.”    PVT Robert Foss Hansen, Able Company, 30 January-30 March 1947.

PVT Hansen
Personal Reflections

     “Company B was assigned to highway patrol duty, and when I first reported, my assignment included working the patrol’s radio signal, “Guam 20” and “Guam 21.”

     Guam 20 was the route from Tokyo to Haneda Air Force Base (later, Tokyo International). Guam 21 was the route from Tokyo to Tamagawy River, where the 720th and 519th MP sectors met. I used to try to wind up at Haneda when the mess hall opened, to enjoy the Air Force chow.

     Later when it came time to reenlist, I remembered that the Air Force had more luxuries that the Army, and I switched services.”   CPL William J. Piper, Baker Company, 1947-1948.
     The battalion provided a detail of officers and enlisted men to perform duties at the International Military (War Crimes) Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in Tokyo.
     They also furnished numerous special details to escort VIPs and the Emperor and the Empress of Japan. The VIPs included many high ranking military officers and civilians from the U.S. and allied countries.
Personal Reflections

     “There was an effort made in 1947 to have members of the 720 buy collar brass with the company letter below the crossed pistols. I have one for A Company, and also several with U.S. and 720 below that. To instill pride in organization I suppose. I never saw the IMTFE collar brass but I assume it came from the same source.

     I went to IMTFE once to trade jeep parts as we had resorted to acquiring unattended jeeps to strip down for parts. Air Corps vehicles in particular were a favorite. We did the same thing with the 8th Army Stockade, trade that is, but that was a creepy place to get in and out of.

     There was also a relationship between Company A and the IMTFE. I can remember going to the Sugamo Prison with Jeep parts for their use. You had to be escorted at all times. It was as creepy place as was the 8th Army stockade not too far from our location in Nagano.

     We also swapped parts with them, as parts were hard to get, and the commanding officer was insistent that all vehicles would be kept operable. Our patrols would tell us when a vehicle was disabled or left unattended. We would respond with a tank retriever and rescue the vehicle. It was usually dismantled within hours if we didn’t.”    T/4 Francis J. Boucher, Able Company, 1947-1948.
Personal Reflections
     “I was at the trial in 1947 but cannot recall anything extra on our collar brass. However, we did have a cuff patch that said IMTFE, and a patch above the 8th army insignia that said "WAR CRIMES TRIAL" on our left shoulder.”   PFC Ralph J. McKenna, IMTFE, 720th MP Battalion, 1947-1948.
Personal Reflections

     Anytime I was off duty in the afternoon, I could be found either at the war crimes trials or in the Ginza beer hall.

     As for the war crimes trials, each country had its own section in the courtroom. Everyone put on headphones and every word spoken was instantly translated into whatever language the country spoke. The trials went on for about twenty-eight months, and Tojo himself was on the stand for many months.

     When the court wanted him to stop talking, a red light came on. If he did not stop, one of our boys on duty would tap him to make him stop.

     Man, our boys were sharp! It made you proud to be an American.”   CPL Geryl “Jerry” Perkins, HQ & HQ Detachment, 1947-1949.

February
1 February The new labor unions bosses under control of the JCP planned a massive strike to protest the U.S. occupation; it was scheduled for 1 February. However, there was a riff between the hardcore communist leadership and many of the workers who had become more grateful to MacArthur for their new freedoms and jobs. GHQ learned of the plan, issued a public ban, and readied the civil and military police to respond. The militants lost their support and the strike was cancelled.
     Undeterred by the loss of momentum, the young college students that followed the JCP were now disappointed in its leadership. They began to form their own separate movement under the name of Zengakuren; a loose confederation of young militant Marxist students. Although they would participate in public demonstrations, unlike the JCP, their movement would never attain the political power needed to support their many radical demands during the years of occupation.
March
Personal Reflections
      "It was sometime in the spring. The railroad station at Nakano was busy all the time, it was the hub of all rail traffic to Northern Japan. One night it went from calm to chaos as hundreds of young men in Japanese Army uniforms (without insignia) arrived on a train. They spit at us and gave us an elbow as they walked by. We were surprised to say the least. The station attendants sorted it out and it ended. It was later explained to us that they were the Japanese 2nd Army which had been held as POWs in Korea after the war and had just been released by the Russian Army. GHQ in Tokyo must have known, and we were not informed. T4 Francis J. Boucher, A Company, 720th MP Battalion, 8th Army, Occupied Japan, 1947-1948.
10 March The second Conversion Day in Japan, Military Payment Certificates series 461 was withdrawn from circulation and series 471 was issued to replace it.
Series 461
Series 471

12 March President Truman delivered a speech before a joint session of Congress that became known as the Truman Doctrine. The immediate cause for the speech was a recent announcement by the British Government that, as of March 31, it would no longer provide military and economic assistance to the Greek Government in its civil war against the Greek Communist Party. Truman asked Congress to support the Greek Government against the Communists. He also asked Congress to provide assistance for Turkey, since that nation, too, had previously been dependent on British aid.

     In light of the deteriorating relationship with the Soviet’s, and the appearance of Soviet meddling in Greek and Turkish affairs, the withdrawal of British assistance provided the necessary catalyst for the Truman Administration to reorient American foreign policy from its usual stance of withdrawal from regional conflicts not directly involving the United States, to one of possible intervention in far away conflicts. Accordingly, in his speech, President Truman requested that Congress provide monetary aid to both the Greek and Turkish Governments, and support the dispatch of American civilian and military personnel and equipment to the region.

     In his justification the president argued that a Communist victory in the Greek Civil War would endanger the political stability of Turkey, which would undermine the political stability of the Middle East. This could not be allowed in light of the region's immense strategic importance to U.S. national security. Truman also argued that the United States was compelled to assist "free peoples" in their struggles against "totalitarian regimes," because the spread of authoritarianism would "undermine the foundations of international peace and hence the security of the United States." In the words of the Truman Doctrine, it became "the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."

    Truman argued that the United States could no longer stand by and allow the forcible expansion of Soviet totalitarianism into free, independent nations, because American national security now depended upon more than just the physical security of American territory. Rather, in a sharp break with its traditional avoidance of extensive foreign commitments beyond the Western Hemisphere during peacetime, the Truman Doctrine committed the United States to actively offering assistance to preserve the political integrity of democratic nations when such an offer was deemed to be in the best interest of the United States.

17 March LTC Emory D. Middleton passed command of the Battalion to LTC G. H. Meek.

LTC Meek
May
From Occupation to Security Duty

3 May The new Constitution of Japan came into force. To commemorate the event, the date was celebrated as a national holiday.

     Unlike the Meiji Constitution that it replaced, the new Constitution declared that sovereignty lies with the people; the Emperor is "the symbol of the state and the unity of the people" who has no "powers related to government."

     It asserted that people have fundamental human rights, and renounced war. It was a very democratic document modeled on the American and British constitutions.
     As a result of the newfound freedoms, the silent wall of animosity that existed between the city populace and the occupying troops began to slowly crumble.

     CPT (MAJ Retired) Joseph J. Kingsbury first arrived in Japan in 1946, and was assigned to the Headquarters Detachment staff as the battalion adjutant. Once dependent housing was set up he sent for his family to join him in Tokyo. In May his wife Anita and his five children, two girls and three boys, arrived by ship at Yokohama.

Personal Reflections

      “The crossing took eight days, during which we met other dependent families who were also going to see their husbands and fathers.”

      Nothing prepared us for what we saw on reaching the dock in Yokohama. There was Dad, in full uniform with his 720th MP patch on his shoulder. He looked wonderful to all of us. Prior to disembarking, and before going to the Mount Fuji Hotel for the family reunion, he told us to ignore whatever we saw on land. Coming from the United States, we were amazed to see the extent of the damage from the bombings. One side of the street would be fine, the other side completely gone.

MAJ Kingsbury

      He took us all around Yokohama, Tokyo, and to the Mount Fuji area to see what had been done by the bombs and how the Japanese lived. We saw many MP’s and it took us a while to understand whet they were all doing. Dad told us that they were there not only to protect the military, but also to ensure that all sectors of the city were secure.

     After a short reunion, we went to live in the housing area called Washington Heights. The housing was for officers and enlisted personnel, one area for each. There were many MP families as neighbors, and in two years were there we all became close friends. We children attended the Tokyo American School, and that was an experience in itself. There were children at the school from all parts of the world. From whet I understood my father to say, only crack troops from the various Allied countries were sent to Japan for Occupation duty, and many of their families came with them, along with business men and their families.

     The MP’s were wonderful to all the young people who lived in Washington Heights. Some of them were not much older than we were and understood the problems that sometimes confronted us. There was a great deal of “Yankee Go Home,” yet the MP’s always seemed to be around when we needed them.”    Patricia Kingsbury Ferguson.
Personal Reflections

     "I was a private just assigned from Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia to Camp Drake 1st Cavalry Division near Tokyo, Japan. They asked for MP’s, I volunteered, and was transferred to Charlie Company, 720th MP Battalion.

      At Charlie Company I worked patrol in Tokyo out of the Ueno sub-station. My most memorable moment was when I was selected by my commanding officer, CPT Ra Zor, to pose for a statue that was made for the monument to recognize the battalion’s soldiers killed in WW II. When my service commitment ended I returned to civilian life.

      I reenlisted, and in January 1949 I was sent back to the 720th and Charlie Company. In March I transferred to the MP Investigation Section of the 23rd CID, also stationed in Tokyo.

      My next tour sent me to Korea where I served as an investigator with the 519th MP Battalion. I again left the Army to return to civilian life and worked for the ETNA Life Insurance Company, and retired as a Regional Manager.”   SGT Bernie R. Harrell, Charlie Company, 1946-1949.
Program Cover
Program
Charlie Company
Roster - pg. 1
Charlie Company
Roster -pg. 2
Dedication of the Soldiers Statue

30 May, 1500 hours On Memorial Day, Charlie Company presented to the battalion a statue dedicated to the troops who had lost their lives in World War II. The statue depicted a soldier, helmet strapped to his right wrist, feet spread apart.

    The statue was carved from native Japanese granite by Mr. Kyoji Yatsuyanagi of the Ishikatsu Stone Company, Shibaku, Tokyo.

     The Memorial Service participants were Chaplain John A, Ryan, (Sugamo Prison) who gave the Invocation and Benediction; BG Charles F. Ferrin (Provost Marshal Greater Tokyo Area) who gave the opening address; followed by brief addresses given by LTC C. H. Meek (Battalion Commander), and CPT Jay F. Ra Zor (Commander of Charlie Company).

     The National Anthem was played by the 720th MP Battalion Band under the direction of PVT Henry J. Becker.

     The dedication read, "With the passage of time men are prone to nullify or disregard the sacrifices others have made, so that we may live in peace. The officers and men of Company "C" 720th Military Police Battalion, in an effort to counteract this condition, have erected a replica in granite of an American soldier, to serves as a constant source of inspiration to us by reminding us that others possessed devotion to our country to the extent that they were willing to lay down their lives for its principals.

    This thought in turn will give us the desire to carry on our duties in a manner which will reflect credit not only upon ourselves, but to our organization and country. It will be our thought on this and every Memorial Day; to thank God and to pray for our comrades in arms who unselfishly gave their lives for our country and its doctrines."

     On 13 March 1948 when the headquarters moved from Camp Burness-Nakao, the statue was positioned at the front entrance of the Camp Burness-Tokyo main building (#100).

Editors Note: After an extensive investigation in 2010 through battalion Occupied Japan veterans stateside and in Tokyo, including the original stone company, no record has been found by the Reunion Association on the fate of the statue after the battalion departed Japan on 21 February 1955.

July

Exact Date Unknown Battalion patrol were notified to be on the lookout for PVT Lewis Tryon age 19 of Dog Company who failed to return to the cantonment from his motorized patrol duties at the end of shift. He was last seen in uniform riding his patrol jeep and armed with his .45 caliber sidearm. As time went by the investigation into his disappearance changed his status from Absent Without Leave, to being wanted by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for desertion. Investigators suspected that PVT Tryon was on the run with his 28-year-old girlfriend, Mariko Kataoka of Tokyo.

     No reports were found as to the disposition of the patrol jeep he was using at the time.
15 July CID investigators identified PVT Tryon as the American soldier that robbed the Nomura Bank in downtown Tokyo at gunpoint, and fled with a total of 2,000 Yen ($40.00). The CID had his photograph printed on the front page of the Stars & Stripes Newspaper with the heading “Watch For This Dangerous Man."

26 July President Truman signed the National Security Act, which became one of the most important pieces of Cold War legislation. The act established much of the bureaucratic framework for foreign policymaking for the next 40-plus years of the Cold War.

     The act mandated a major reorganization of the foreign policy and military establishments of the U.S. Government, creating many of the institutions that future Presidents found useful when formulating and implementing foreign policy, including the National Security Council (NSC), formation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the merging of the War Department and Navy Department into a single Department of Defense, under a Secretary of Defense, and created the Department of the Air Force.

     Although the three branches maintained their own service secretaries, the act was eventually amended to give the Secretary of Defense more power over the individual services and their secretaries. The act formally took effect in September.
August

1 August CID investigators identified PVT Tryon as the American soldier that robbed a branch of the Usada Bank in downtown Tokyo at gunpoint, this time taking a total of 20,000 Yen ($400).

     During his getaway he stole a truck at the Shinjuku Rail Station (Shinjuku City a ward of Tokyo) and killed a Japanese mail carrier when he accidentally backed over him during his escape.

     PVT Tryon was now wanted for desertion, two counts of bank robbery and one count of manslaughter. The CID continued to run his photograph on the front page of the Stars & Stripes Newspaper with the heading “Watch For This Dangerous Man.”

15 August The CID finally tracked down PVT Tryon and his girlfriend at a beach in Sasebo near Hiroshima, where a detachment of local MP’s apprehended him as he came out of the surf ending his crime spree.

     There was no further record of him or the disposition of the charges in available record.
Personal Reflections

     “As yes, Lewis Tryon . . . that case I remember very well indeed. Pvt. Tryon was in "D" Company the same time I was there in 1946 and early 1947, he bunked in the room next to ours and I knew him slightly . . . never a buddy though. He was a rather quiet fellow, and we mainly chatted about upstate New York. I was already in "B" Company by July 1947 when Tryon took a battalion jeep while on patrol and went over the hill with his .45 sidearm.

     We all followed the case closely, particularly his shacking up with an older Japanese girl, the bank robberies, and his killing of a Japanese civilian at Shinjuku Station while making his escape in a stolen Japanese truck. The report was that Tryon smashed the Japanese into a pillar while backing up at the station.

     We later heard reports that his girl friend had obtained passage for she and Tryon on a boat leaving Tokyo for Kyushu in early August, and that a 720/CID team had raced to the reported dock . . . but the boat had already sailed.”   PFC John E. Marquardt, Dog, Baker and HQ & HQ Detachment, 1946-1948.

PFC Marquardt
September

Exact Date Unknown The battalion changed its operational plan from that of a static company zone, to a company specific duty rotation plan. Each of the battalion’s organic companies was now assigned specific responsibilities throughout the entire city, and would rotate responsibilities on a regular schedule.

     The new assignments were: Able Company, patrol all beer halls and cabarets; Baker Company, all traffic control and motor patrol functions; Charlie Company all foot patrols and train guard functions; Dog Company, patrol of the Ernie Pyle Theater & snack bar, and the Tokyo Post Exchange & snack bar.

     The rotation improved overall operational efficiency and communications, while providing each company and line duty MP with a broader knowledge of area needs throughout the city in the event of a major emergency.

Personal Reflections

     "The patrol routine at that time was to rotate sectors in Tokyo from one company to another. I started in the area from the Ginza (Avenue "A") to the Haneda River along the harbor. It was an area bombed out with only chimneys sticking up and rubble around the base, very eerie at night. We would drive to the Haneda River and wait to meet a patrol from the 519 MP Battalion, exchange greetings and go back to drive around. Some times we were a walking patrol. Very dull duty.

     One night we were checking hotels/whore houses and saw some American style shoes someone had left outside the room, as was the custom in Japan. It turned out to be an American civilian sailor. We notified the Duty Sergeant and left it up to him. Then we rotated to the Ueno Police Station (10th and 22nd Streets) area."

     “It was sometime in the spring. The railroad station at Nakano was busy all the time; it was the hub of all rail traffic to Northern Japan. One night it went from calm to chaos as hundreds of young men in Japanese Army uniforms (without insignia) arrived on a train. They spit at us and gave us an elbow as they walked by. We were surprised to say the least. The station attendants sorted it out and it ended.

     It was later explained to us that they were the Japanese 2nd Army that had been held as POWs in Korea after the war, and had just been released by the Russian Army. GHQ in Tokyo must have known, and we were not informed.”   T/4 Francis J. Boucher, Able Company, 1947-1948.

17 September Communist North Korea, led by Kim Il Sung, proclaimed itself the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, denying the legitimacy of South Korea, and claiming sovereignty over the entire Korean Peninsula.

     PFC Stephen F. Lydon, Sr. of Charlie Company was presented a Certificate Of Achievement by his commanding officer, CPT Jay F. Ra Zor for excellent performance of duty in the apprehension of an AWOL soldier who had been hiding from military authorities for 30 days.

25 September In the southern American Occupation Zone of Korea, under orders of President Truman the U.S. occupation forces begin to prepare to withdraw, hoping to leave the South as an independent state under the leadership of the pro-American conservative Dr. Syngman Rhee.

PFC Lydon
Personal Reflections

     “I also remember Dad [Battalion Adjutant CPT Ferguson] taking me to the Provost Marshal’s Office one day, in Tokyo. He said he had to go there on business and that I was to sit outside in the hall and wait for him. I was sixteen years old at that time.

     The wait was a long one, during which I saw the MP’s bringing in service men, prostitutes, people who had been in fights, and all sorts of other things like that. It turned out that he had taken me there deliberately, wanting me to see what could happen to a young woman in Japan-and in the United States. He said, that being in the service and not being around his family very much, he didn’t know any other way to explain to me the facts of life. Needless to add, I was impressed.

     The time after the war and the beginning of reconstruction was a difficult time for Japan, and for Americans.”   Patricia Kingsbury Ferguson.
Battalion "Paddy Wagon" and Armored Car
Guard Mount
Ginza Intersection
720th MP's Cartoons ~ Life as an MP in Tokyo by Sig Arnesen
PFC Sig Arnesen
Click on each cartoon to enlarge
1947 Miscellaneous Photographs Index
This Index contains miscellaneous photographs from 1947 that have yet to be directly linked to any specific Battalion Timeline event. If you can date any of the events depicted, or identify them as part of a specific event, operation, exercise or special duty assignment, please use the Email Link on the photograph or this page to notify the History Project Manager.
A "?" preceding the photo number denotes further identifications are needed, and an Email Link is provided.
A0115
 A Company Barracks, Camp Burness, at L and 48th Street, Nakano Tokyo.
A0117
 SGT Kern at guard mount for A Company, at Camp Burness, Nakano Tokyo.
A0118
 PFC Sig Arnesen of A Company, at Camp Burness, at L and 48th Street, Nakano Tokyo.
A0120
 SSG Inman (left) and CPL Berkessel of A Company, 720th MP Battalion enjoying a pass in Tokyo.
A0138
 T4 Francis Boucher, at the A Company sign
A0139
 CPL Gene Austin, SSG Calvin Reese, T4 Francis Boucher, and T5 Jack Hoffman.
A0140
 T4 Francis Boucher and PFC Lionel C. Beauchemin at the Motor Pool.
A0141
 PFC Louis G. Canavari, PFC Earl O. Lowenhagen, PFC Glenn M. Konff, Jr. at the Motor Pool.
A0142
 PFC Herbert E. Cooper, PFC Earl O. Lowenhagen, PFC L. Loehnbolb, PFC Louis G. Canavari.
A0145
 SSG Johnson.
A0167
 D Company group photo at Nakano.
A0168
 CPL William D. Lowe
A0169
 D Company standing guard mount at Nakano.
A0170
 D Company standing by their M8 Armored Car at Nakano.
A0171
 Battalion HQ building at Nakano.
A0180
 Rear gate at Camp Burness, Z & 20th Street.
A0230
 PFC Julius P. Long, Jr.