1954 Timeline
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This Page Last Updated  19 October 2015
Army Forces
Far East
720th MP
     All major theater improvements, Cold War events or incidents 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.

Security Duty, Tokyo, Japan

     At the start of the year the battalion and its organic units, HQ&HQ Detachment, HQ Company, Able and Baker Companies and the 2nd and 3rd Platoons of Charlie Company under the command of LTC Weldon Cox were still stationed in the NYK Building, Tokyo, subordinate to Camp Tokyo, Army Forces Far East Command (AFFECD). The battalion motor pool was at Camp Burness; a detachment of Charlie Company was stationed at Camp Zama, and the Headquarters Platoon of Dog Company at Camp Drake.

     During a seven-month period it is recorded that the battalion’s vehicles traveled a total of 899,914 miles while experiencing only 80 traffic accidents. During a six-month period the battalion had 244 troops graduate from their organic Military Police School.

Exact Dates Unknown During the year the following troops were selected as Battalion Drivers Of The Month: SGT Dale J. Seifer of Dog Company from Gervais, Oregon for 30,000 miles over two-years without an accident; CPL Jack C. Oler, unit unidentified, of Greenville, Tennessee who drove 2,500 miles for three-months without an accident. CPT Sidney Craw presented the award to Oler.

     During the year the following troops were selected as Battalion Soldiers Of The Month: PFC Axel G. Bergum age 21 of Baker Company from Viroqua, Wisconsin; CPL Darwin H. Seehaver age 29 from Neshkoro, Wisconsin an administrative specialist of HQ Company; SGT Samuel L. Barr from Commodore, Pennsylvania of Baker Company.

Wanted: Photographs of the other award winners. Please contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.

     Based on several of the battalion’s organic Public Information Office media releases, the following battalion troops arrived for duty, departed or promoted during the year.

SGT Seifer
     Arrivals: 1LT John G. Watson from Troy, New York, unit unidentified; PVT Melvin O. Warnke age 19 from Maynard, Iowa, unit unidentified; PVT A. D. Sanderford age 22 from Malakoff, Texas to Able Company; PVT Robert E. Lee, Jr. age 21 from Cowpens, South Carolina, unit unidentified;  PVT Jack M. Sipe age 21 from Cherryville, North Carolina, unit unidentified; PVT David E. Shearer age 20 from York, Pennsylvania, unit unidentified; PVT Adrian B. Ransom from Rowland, North Carolina to Baker Company; CPL Harold Ayres age 26 from Appalachia, Virginia to Able Company.

     Departures: PVT Walter S. Lenik of Chicago, Illinois, unit unidentified; CPL Richard A. Yates of Daily City, California; PFC Harold F. Howe of Syracuse, New York, unit unidentified.

     Promotions: PFC Thomas E. Tyler age 22 from Altoona, Pennsylvania, unit unidentified, to the rank of Corporal; PFC Clarence Umbarger from Peru, Indiana, unit unidentified, to the rank of Corporal.

     Training during the month included practice in the use and operations of crew served weapons at Camp Drake, and two practice passive air defense alerts.

     Increased attention was directed towards campaigns for safety, cost consciousness and moral awareness. In this connection, a weekly supply meeting was initiated to discuss procedures, practices, and problems in supply administration.

1 January MAJ James L. Mellon assumed duties as the new battalion executive officer. Also during the month, sixty-five enlisted men graduated from the Battalion MP Schools one-week indoctrination course, while sixty-three graduated from their two-week MP course.

15 January Dog Company was tasked with providing a seven-man commitment at Camp Omiya, 17 miles north of Tokyo.

16 January A five-man prisoner guard detail was assigned to the 8167th Army Hospital, Tokyo, located on the Sumida-ku River.

18 January Battalion patrols had their hands full escorting U.N. security personnel and dependent’s, out of the area of the Ueno Railway Station and it surrounding streets as over 400 Japanese police conducted a raid of the stores and street vendors specializing in black-market goods. Members of Japan’s city police, custom officials, and monopoly corporation agents arrested a total of forty-nine vendors. The raid resulted in the seizure of nine truckloads of foreign goods valued at ten million Yen. Charges against the suspects included violations of the customs act, liquor tax laws, commodity tax, and monopoly corporation laws.

19 January Earthquakes are a common occurrence in the Japanese islands, and have been for thousands of years. The Japanese people have learned to live with the fear, especially when they occur during daylight hours. However, when they occur at night the fear factor is multiplied ten fold because of the chance of fires. Many of the people in the cities still live on the edge of abject poverty, and open flames used for cooking and lighting in the wooden homes of the densely packed suburbs of the city is a recipe for disaster.

     For the past two nights the city of Tokyo was shaken by evening quakes, chasing many of its occupants into the streets until their fears were calmed by the short duration and lack of emergency sirens. The city police and battalion patrols heightened their alert searching for damage and smoke. Fortunately the center of the quakes was located off shore, and no severe damage or injuries occurred on either night.
20 January The battalion’s formal 12th Anniversary celebration began with a reception and open house at the Enlisted Club in the NYK Building. An anniversary party on the 22nd was held at the Washington Heights Officers Club with BG Homer Case commander of Central Command and COL R. H. Krueger commander of Camp Tokyo as guests. A separate celebration was also held at the battalion’s Enlisted Men’s Open Mess.

24 January Army Force Far East Headquarters alerted all commands of a sudden influx of counterfeit $10.00 Series 481 Military Payment Certificates (originally issued 20 June 1951) being circulated within the Japan-Korean theaters. The Army Far East Criminal Investigation Laboratory provided a list of telltale signs to look for to all military police commands and agencies authorized to handle transactions involving large sums of the currency.

     Within two weeks Japanese police working in conjunction with Army CID arrested seven Koreans and one Japanese in Osaka on charges of counterfeiting the military script notes. The suspects admitted printing the notes at a secret location in Japan between March and September of 1953. Approximately $80,000 worth of the notes had been already smuggled to Pusan, South Korea.

     By the end of February Japanese police and Army CID agents arrested two more suspects, and confiscated approximately $18,000.00 in ten-dollar Military Payment Certificates notes in downtown Tokyo. The suspects were part of the ring whose members were previously arrested in Osaka. In all, over $100,000.00 in counterfeit notes had been manufactured.

     The concern wasn’t just that the trade in illegal notes would generate American greenbacks to finance a booming black-market drug trade; there was also the historical use of the converted funds to directly finance the Communists insurgency in both Asian countries.
     With over 110 million worth of Military Payment Certificate notes in use throughout the Far East alone, the series 481 had been badly compromised, and the Pentagon immediately began top secret plans for conversion to a new series.

Exact Dates Unknown Operations for the month continued normally. The average total strength of the battalion was 649, including twenty-four officers. Added military police commitments included meeting Rest & Recuperation busses and patrolling train station platforms during troop movements.

     Forty enlisted men attended driver’s school, sixteen attended an indoctrination course, and forty-eight attended MP School.

2 February The battalion provided a security escort detail for LG Thomas F. Hickey, Commander IX Corps.

3 February The battalion provided a security escort detail for LG Charles E. Hart, Commander V Corps.

8 February Battalion patrols in Tokyo responded to the report of an early morning fatal vehicle crash at 40th St. near K Avenue. The victim, James B. Manning age 27, the Camp Drake manager of the Chase National Bank, drove his car into a parked truck. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No witnesses to the accident could be found. Mr. Manning was a native of Astoria, Long Island, New York.

11-12 February Night training problems were part of a training program aimed at combat readiness as a provisional infantry organization.

23 February The battalion provided a security escort detail for The Honorable John Slezak, Under Secretary of the Army.

25 February The battalion provided a security escort detail for LTG K. S. Thimayya, Indian Army, Chairman of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission.

     Normal military police duties were carried out during the month, with the companies in the following locations: Dog Company in Camp Drake and Omiya; Charlie Company in Camp Zama; and Able, Baker and HQ Companies in Tokyo. Average strength during the month was 647 with twenty-three officers. The battalion was also ranked second among thirty-three units in the Tokyo area in public information office activity and news releases for the month.

     At Camp Zama the Charlie Company Detachment mission consisted of: main gate duty; escort, security and traffic control for GEN Maxwell D. Taylor, from his office to his home and return, to include special events hosted at his residence; combined motorized and foot patrols with the Japanese police in the villages outside the camp.

     The Japanese police had no vehicles of their own at the time except for a few motorcycles. Their police station was located just outside the gate in the village. At the camp PMO the detachment provided a desk sergeant, desk clerk and radio dispatcher. On special occasions and some national holidays the garrison flag at Camp Zama would be raised. The detachment detailed a platoon due to the 20 x 38 foot size of the flag.

Personal Reflections

    “I was assigned to Company C at that time under the command of CPT [COL retired, Francis E.] Frank Payne, and I worked one week each month at the Provost Marshals Office in the Headquarters Building, up-dating the Provost Marshal Generals charts used in his presentations at the H.Q. Some of my part time duties included driving the PM General to and from various functions both on and off the Post.

     CPT Payne was a great no nonsense CO, he had a way of looking at you, and you knew when you were in trouble. Myself, and a fellow C Company radio repairman were the butt of his jokes at his monthly payday meetings, for being locked up by the Marines at Atsugi Navel Air Station, for being off base without a PASS. It was embarrassing to put it mildly.

     There was always a little tension between us at Zama, and the Marines at Atsugi. We had a WAC [Women’s Army Corps] detachment and many female dependents of Army civilian workers at the AFFE Headquarters. We also had an NCO Club that attracted the Marines to Camp Zama. This resulted in just a little inter-service rivalry for the attentions of the females every weekend.”   SP3(T) Theodore Costa, Charlie Company, 1954-1955.

     In Indochina (Vietnam), the communist Viet Minh forces surrounded the French Colonial Forces at Dien Bien Phu to begin a siege and final victory. President Eisenhower, unhappy with the way the French squandered previous aid and blundered tactically, declined requests for direct U.S. military intervention. However, the U.S. did provide covert assistance through the Central Intelligence Agency.
1 & 3 March Night infantry training problems were held at Camp Drake involving Able, Dog and HQ Companies
11 March Seven MPs were deployed for temporary duty for five days at Camp Fuji.

15 March Ten enlisted men and one officer went on temporary duty to U.S. Army Forces Far East to participate in a field tactical exercise at Yokohama.

     A six-man detail was assigned as guard at Hardy Barracks that lasted through the 27th. They were providing security for the notorious murder trial of MSG Maurice L. Schick.

     MSG Maurice L. Schick age 29, a nine-year Navy and Army veteran who was wounded during WW II, lived with his wife Jeanne and two young adopted Japanese girls in the same Sagmihara housing complex as the victim’s family, admitted after intensive interrogation that he murdered Susan Rothschild on 24 November 1953. Schick worked as a chief ward master since November 1952 at the same hospital where the victim was taken after her discovery. Schick and his family were due to return stateside in January 1953. Far East Headquarters released very few details of the suspect’s statement other than Schick said that, “he had no intentions of sexually assaulting the victim.” No motive for the attack was released to the public because investigators were still finalizing the case.

17 March The battalion held a passive air defense drill.

18 March LTC Cox announced the continuing success of the battalion’s Driver of the Month safety program, and its expansion under his command to include in-house driver testing and training for all organic troops. The testing program and troop driving records allowed the battalion to establish a continuing forty-hour weekly training program for all troops having a below standard score or record, and any who were involved in recent vehicle crashes regardless of their driving record.
29 March The battalion underwent reorganization with new TO&E’s 19-55A, 19-57A, 19-56A issued 23 March, under General Order No. 37 by Headquarters Central Command. The new changes required a thorough revamping of supply and personnel records, turn-in of excess property and rearrangement of personnel charts.

     During the month operations remained at a constant level, and thirty-one enlisted men attended the MP School.

7 April With the a French victory against the Communist Viet Minh in Indochina appearing unattainable, President Eisenhower gave an historic press conference linking the fall of Vietnam in Indochina to that of a falling domino. "You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is a certainty that it will go over very quickly." This would lead to disintegration in Southeast Asia, with the "loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following." President Eisenhower suggested that even Japan, which needed Southeast Asia for trade, would be in danger.

26 April The Geneva Conference convention opened talks for the settlement of the armistice and reunification of North and South Korea, and to discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina.

27 April COL Weismann, Provost Marshal of Central Command conducted a command inspection of battalion units in the NYK Building, and the Motor Shop at Camp Burness.

30 April Special operations were prepared for Condition Green (May Day), and put into effect. As in past years when the Japanese Communist Party conducted huge demonstrations additional MP’s were posted around the dependent housing areas. The armored car section was dispatched for duty, and additional troops were deployed to the Washington Heights dependent housing area for emergency use.

1 May The condition Green alert force remained ready and in place, with an advanced command post established at the Camp Tokyo Provost Marshal Office along with the battalion’s provisional infantry platoons, yet once again, the gatherings and demonstrations did not get out of hand.

5 May A practice Red Alert was held simultaneously in the battalion Motor Pool (shop) at Camp Burness, and Dog Company areas at Camp Drake.

7 May In Northwest Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh forces decisively defeat the French Colonial Forces at Dien Bien Phu, a French stronghold besieged by the Vietnamese communists for 57 days thus ending the First Indochina War. The decisive Viet Minh victory at Dien Bien Phu signaled the end of French colonial influence in Indochina, and cleared the way for the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel at the conference of Geneva.

     Use this link to view the video file of the Fight For Dien Bien Phu

10 May Approximately 600 Boy Scouts from Japan, the U.S. and other countries attended a Kanto Area World Brotherhood Court of Honor at the Rocker-4 Open Mess at Annex Avenue near A Avenue in Tokyo. The program was coordinated by MSG Edwin E. Winterling, of the battalion, who served as the Explorer Advisor for Troop 11 in Tokyo.

     Approximately fifty awards for Advancement, God and Country, and Emergency Service were presented to the scouts during the event.

18 May In South Korea a Russian MIG-15 fighter jet flew over the capital of Seoul prompting a Red Alert. Within weeks the South Korean Foreign Minister announced that they are no longer obligated to abide by the Armistice, prompting great concern in Washington.
19 May Two battalion MP patrols were assigned for security and escort to a ceremony for MG M. Carr, Commanding, of the 7th U.S. Infantry Division.

25 May, 1300 hours GEN John E. Hull, commander Far East, brought a halt to all military script transactions throughout his command with the order for all Army, Navy and Air Force installations to cease any money transaction and close their gates until the fifth theater-wide Military Payment Certificate conversion in Japan was completed. Series 481 was withdrawn from circulation and the new series 521 was issued. Sailors were kept aboard their ships, and mobile teams were sent to convert the funds of soldiers along the front in South Korea.

Series 481
Series 521
     The same order from the Pentagon was issued throughout the worldwide U.S. military community, including installations in Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Morocco, Scotland, Trieste and Yugoslavia.
      The conversion went smoothly in the Far East Command with only a few glitches being reported. Most involved those personnel in transit or on casual (leave) duty status. Reports from sources in Japan, South Korea, China and other Asian countries indicated that the black-market operators and Communists underground movements took a severe financial loss.
Personal Reflections

     “I remember the 1954 conversion and the shock it caused to the girls in Yoshiwara [red light district], they had lots of script. The day before the change over everyone was called back to their quarters. We were sent out to find any G. I. that was on the street and bring them in. Yoshiwara was off limits, but some guys were always shacked up there. The following morning the now useless script was laying everywhere, and blowing in the wind.

     Some times we would have to enter a hotel in Yoshiwara, and because of the "no footwear" custom we had heavy zippers on the side of our boots so we didn't have to unlace them.

     The little alleys in the area were hard to navigate even with a jeep, one night we got in a situation so tight that we had to remove part of a fence to get our jeep out. You had to be careful in this area to not get in trouble by stopping some one just because he looked like a GI. We stopped one guy that turned out to be a KLM [Royal Dutch Airlines] pilot.”    CPL Russ Finch, 720th MP Battalion, 1953-1954.

     In a press conference a correspondent recalled to Secretary of State Dulles his report to the Nation following his return from the Geneva Convention in which he set forth the conditions under which the United States intervened in Korea. Mr. Dulles was asked to relate those conditions to the Indochina [Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam] situations. Mr. Dulles made the following reply:

     “The general conditions under which the United States is prepared to participate in collective defense there or elsewhere, for that matter, are quite well known. We are willing to participate in collective defense basically upon the terms that are laid down by the Vandenberg Resolution of 11 June 1948, which laid down basic conditions under which the United States would be prepared to participate on the basis of mutuality and in accordance with the principals of independence and freedom.

      We are not prepared to go in for a defense of colonialism. We are only going to go in for defense of liberty and independence and freedom. We don’t go in alone; we go in where the other nations, which have an important stake in the area, recognize the peril as we do. We go in where the United Nations gives moral sanction to our action. All of those conditions are known. They have been known. They are a basic part of American foreign policy, and they are, as the President said in one of his 0 conferences, a “stable” element in the situation.”


Exact Dates Unknown During the month nineteen enlisted men attended the MP School. On the 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th of the month, night infantry training and compass problems were conducted at Camp Drake with provisional infantry platoons from companies Able, Baker, Dog, and HQ Company participating as the aggressor force. The maneuver was accomplished with very satisfactory results.

     Towards the end of the month, the new AN/VRC-2X radio sets were received and installed in the 24-volt system vehicles.

5 June The Headquarters Detachment operations section (S-3) was moved from the NYK building, to the offices of the Provost Marshal in the Finance Building next door.

15 June Another practice Red Alert was held simultaneously in the Motor Shop, and Camp Drake areas.

30 June The U.S. Defense Department reported that the total authorized strength for all services at the end of the fiscal year (30 June) was 3,339,000.

     At the Geneva Conference, the Soviet Union, United States, France, United Kingdom, and the People's Republic of China discussed the Korean unification question. The conference ended without adopting any new declarations or proposals.

     The Indochina question produced three separate cease fire accords covering Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. It was decided that Cambodia and Laos would become neutral countries, and Vietnam would be divided into two separate zones, the northern to be governed by the Communist Viet Minh, the southern to be governed by the State of Vietnam.
     A repatriation program was established, and a "general election" to create a unified Vietnamese state was scheduled for July of 1956. The U.S. and new State of Vietnam did not sign the agreement knowing the Viet Minh guerillas in the south would use their control to influence the election results for the northern Communist. The government of Ho Chi Minh continued to deny it had any troops in the south.

     Battalion operations for the month continued normally. The average total strength was 478, including twenty-four officers. The battalion provided twenty-two prisoner escort details, making an aggregate total of seventy-three for the year. There was also another practice Red Alert.

23 July Two MP patrols were assigned as security and escort for a departure and decoration ceremony at Camp Fuji for MG Robert E. Pepper, Commanding, 3rd Marine Division.

Exact Dates Unknown Battalion operations for the month were handicapped by an increasing shortage of personnel. Difficulties were also experienced in the procurement of radio parts, sirens, and other emergency equipment. The Motor Pool personnel, who until then were billeted at the NYK Building, were transferred to quarters at Camp Burness.

     Due to a rise in battalion related vehicle accidents, an intensive prevention campaign was initiated, including a designated map route to the Motor Pool, reduction in allowable patrol speeds, establishment of an accident review board, and severe disciplinary action against personnel found at fault.
     The battalion’s softball teams season came to an end in the first round of the Camp Tokyo Company-Level championship, knocking them out of a chance at the quarterfinals. There was no information available to identify which company sponsored the team.

2-4 August The annual IG Inspection was conducted in the battalion (less Dog Company at Camp Drake). They passed with flying colors and received a Superior rating.

5 August The battalion’s rifle and pistol teams competed in area matches scoring some wins in the Camp Tokyo Small Bore Rifle and Gallery League’s. Overall, the pistol team had a lackluster season while the rifle team lost their last match in a completion for second place, finishing third in the Gallery League with a record of 6 and 5.

8 August In intramural sports, the battalion “Bulldogs” baseball team ended their winning season in second place with a closing day 4-2 loss to 5th Service Group in the Camp Tokyo Battalion-League 1954 championship game.

16 August LTC Weldon Cox  was reassigned to the Camp Tokyo Provost Marshal Office replacing COL Franklin Winnie. The Battalion executive officer MAJ James L. Melloh assumed interim command of the battalion.

23 August MAJ Melloh passed command authority of the Battalion to LTC George E. Painter.

24 August Stateside, in what at the time was called the most direct statutory attack on internal communism, the U.S. Congress passed the Communist Control Act of 1954. Unlike the Alien Registration Act of 1940 or the Internal Security Act of 1950 that were general in nature, this new law directly established a description of the threat of communism, and set categories and penalties for its actions and membership standing.

South Korea, as 100,000 protesters hit the streets of Seoul, the South Korean government strongly objected to a U.S. Defense Department announcement that the U.S. would withdrawal four of the six U.S. combat divisions remaining in the country.

MAJ Melloh
LTC Painter

     The battalion mission remained unchanged during the month. Average strength continued to drop to 439, with twenty-one officers, necessitating cuts in patrols, using one-man patrols, cutting off duty time, and consolidation of administrative and overhead requirements.

     Patrol vehicle accidents dropped to eleven, as the driver safety campaign continued with emphasis on defensive driving, safe driving techniques, and lowered patrol speeds.

     Two passive air defense drills were held as part of the Camp Tokyo practice alert.

13-14 September The Zenchuro called for a national strike against the U.S. Security Forces. Zenchuro was the name used by the Japan’s National G son Forces Workers Union founded in 1952. They represented all Japanese Security Guards under U.S. contract. During this job action they were protesting better working conditions.

     The strike created an immediate need to provide additional guard teams throughout all military installations and dependent housing areas in the Camp Tokyo area so all normal battalion administrative functions were suspended. In addition, some of the battalion personnel were also used as bus drivers.

26 September The battalion celebrated the 13th anniversary of the Military Police Corps at the Army Forces Far East Command Headquarters building, 8th Army (Rear Command) Camp Zama.

     To highlight the celebration at the entrance of the building, the battalion had two life-size cutout representations of CPL Koyei Tome of Charlie Company displayed at each side, with three additional enlarged photographs of MPs in action above the doors. The three photographs were labeled, ‘communications,’ ‘mobility’ and ‘firepower.’
     Photo courtesy of SP3(T) Theodore Costa, Able & Charlie Companies, 720th MP Battalion & 392nd MP Detachment, AFFEC, 8th Army, Camp Zama, Japan, April 1954-March 1955.
     Inside the building there were also displays of various MP equipment and a display case of drug paraphernalia that was seized in various investigations by the battalion. A film entitled “The Military Police Story,” was also shown. Representing the battalion at the cutting of the enormous ceremonial four-layer birthday cake by AFFE Provost Marshal BG F. A. Kreidel, was CPT (COL Ret.) Francis E. “Frank” Payne commander of Charlie Company, as other senior AFFE staff members looked on.

     To commemorate the day BG Kreidel made the comments, “They have undertaken major combat assignments, prisoner of war activities and police action during the armistice period in Korea in addition to occupation duties throughout the Far East, in a manner which reflects great credit upon the corps.” The Far East Commander, GEN John E. Hull commented that, of the thirteen years since the establishment of the Military Police Corps in 1941, seven years have seen its members serving under combat conditions around the world- from Europe to Korea. Six more have been spent in the exacting duties connected with the occupation of former enemy territory.

     With everlasting responsibilities, whether in war or during an uneasy peace, the Military Police Corps has demonstrated a growing capacity for service for the Army, and I wish to extend my appreciation and congratulations to the members of the Corps in this command on its thirteenth birthday anniversary.”

     The mission of the battalion remained unchanged during the month. Average strength, less Charlie Company was 318, with eighteen officers, and COL Weismann the Provost Marshal Central Command was replaced by COL Schultz.

     Vehicle accidents for the month dropped by one from the previous month, with only ten reported.

Labor Unrest At Camp Drake

8-9 October A wildcat strike and unrest emerged within the ranks of the U.S. Garrison workers (Japanese nationals) at Camp Drake in Tokyo. The union, upset by an announcement of reduction in force for civilian workers, claimed that two Japanese who were injured as the result of an accident with a cement mixer was related to the force reduction and non-qualified workers having to operate the machine. The 600-striking workers returned to their job the next day. Camp Drake administrators said the reduction had yet to begin and that the strikers would not be paid for the day. Then tensions continued and it was feared the labor unrest would grow.

     Earlier that morning at 0700 hours battalion patrols responded to a vehicle crash in downtown Tokyo. A 32-passenger Camp Tokyo Army bus jumped the curb at 30th Street and L Avenue smashing into a candy store. The lone occupant was the driver, a U.S. Army transportation company private who claimed he was headed on a normal run for Camp Crake when he had to swerve to avoid hitting a Japanese bicyclist and lost control. No injuries or major damages were reported.

10 October Members of the Zenchuro (Japan Garrison Forces Labor Union), the bargaining unit for the Camp Drake workers, gave notice of a 48-hour walkout starting at 0600 hours on the 11th and ending on the 12th. The Union stated it was striking to protest the reduction in force and to demand an 80-percent increase in retirement allowances. The Union was expected to stop all vehicles operated by Japanese Nationals from crossing the picket line to enter the post. Camp Tokyo officials issued a statement that the strike would not affect services.

     Approximately 30 troops from HQ Company and Baker Company were deployed to assist Dog Company with security during the strike.

     As a prelude to the upcoming strike, late that afternoon approximately 40 Japanese Union members that were present outside the main gate to conduct informational picketing, instead tried to block all vehicles from entering the post. Many of the strikers were armed with bamboo poles and began striking the vehicles, and one vehicle operated by a U.S. serviceman received a broken windshield. When the MP’s intercede to stop the assault on the U.S. serviceman’s vehicle, some were struck with the poles by the pickets. In self-defense the MP’s responded with their nightsticks sending at least one picket to the hospital. No U.S. military personnel were injured, however, a press service staffer reported that one American television cameraman covering the confrontation, was roughed up by the union pickets.

     Japanese Police authorities at first alleged the MPs acted without orders and threatened to prosecute them. U.S. authorities issued a statement that the MP’s acted under orders to protect U.S. personnel and property, and to keep the roadway to the post open. No charges were filed.
11-12 October It was estimated that 150 pickets protested outside the Camp Drake main gate, and no further incidents were reported.
13 October There was one practice Red Alert that also included a simulated gas attack.
27 October
Personal Reflections

     “Immediately after MP school I was assigned to Japan and was transported there by Navy ship. We landed in Yokohama, Japan on 27 October 1954, and I was assigned to the 720th Military Police Battalion’s Company C at Camp Zama.

      Camp Zama was AFFE, 8th Army Rear Headquarters. GEN Maxwell Taylor had his offices there, and we wore the 8th Army patch on our uniforms. I did patrol duty, gate duty, desk clerk duty and radio clerk duty while there. I remember doing security and parking duty at GEN Taylor's home at the Segami Hara Housing area near Camp Zama. We also did traffic duty in front of General Taylor's office building.

      We had a 55-gallon drum cut in half and painted white with red stripes that we stood on in the middle of the intersection. At that time we wore summer khaki uniforms with green ascots and white hats. We had what was called Sam Brown leather gear, which consisted of a .45 Cal. pistol holster, handcuff holder and nightstick holder. All were highly polished brown leather. Brown boots with white laces were the foot gear of the times.”   PFC (SFC Ret.) John E. Stafford, Charlie Company, 1954-1955.

PFC Stafford

     Battalion activities remained unchanged for the first three weeks of the month. Staffing shortages remained and normal training and scheduled alert drills continued. There was no indication in the records that anyone beyond higher headquarters knew of the impending status change about to be made.

17 November The battalion participated in a Practice Warning Red in which a simulated gas attack was given.

20 November The U.S. 8th Army Headquarters was combined with U.S. Army Forces Far East (AFFE) as the major Army command in the Far East, with GEN Maxwell D. Taylor commanding. GEN John E. Hull, commander AFFE remained in the headquarters and was reassigned as commander of the Far East Command (FEC) and United Nations Command (UNC). The move was part of an overall regrouping of U.S. forces to improve the strategic position in the Pacific. The Camp Zama Headquarters was redesignated Headquarters, Army Forces Far East/Eighth Army (Rear).

     At the change of command ceremony held in the Field House at Camp Zama, the honor guard duties were performed by a detachment of the 720th, along with troops of the 8030th Army Unit WAC Detachment, and the Honor Guard of Headquarters AFFE Special Troops. The pass and review originally scheduled for the parade field outside, was canceled due to heavy rains.

     The 8th Army headquarters element was then redeployed to Seoul to oversee the security mission in South Korea.

24 November The 519th MP Battalion was deployed to Japan from duty in South Korea, preparatory to supplanting the 720th in the Camp Tokyo area.

     Editors Note: The 519th had previously seen service in late 1945 during the battle for Okinawa, before being sent to Pusan at the start of hostilities in Korea.
25 November, Thanksgiving
Personal Reflections

     “A memorable Thanksgiving took place while we were in the NYK building. It was early in the morning and I was walking through the mess hall when an earthquake started. It was the first of many such occurrences during my time in Japan.

     The turkeys were all roasting when the ground began to shake and pots and pans started to fly through the room. The birds themselves flew right out of the ovens, but to the credit of the mess sergeant, we still had a beautiful Thanksgiving.”   CPL Harold G. Fahey, Dog Company, 1952-1955.

CPL Fahey

Exact Dates Unknown Department of the Army instructions were received directing the 720th to familiarize the 519th with their Camp Tokyo operations while preparing to deploy to the ZOI, less personnel and equipment, to replace the 307th MP Battalion at Ford Hood, Texas. The movement was to take place no later that 21 February 1955. The battalion’s remaining weeks in Tokyo were now spent downsizing.

18 December Since the first dependent wives arrived in Japan sometime in 1946, the battalion officers wives club held their monthly meetings, for the most part, at their private residences while taking turns being the hostess. And, for the most part, their luncheon meetings have always had a special theme, special guests speakers, cookie and cake bakes, crazy hats, dressing in costumes of foreign lands, low end fashion and jewelry shows, etc. All were relatively low keyed and inexpensive, like the Revlon makeup, Tupperware and Amway home demonstrations of the 1990’s.

     However, on this day the wives launched a moon shot, and many an enlisted man would have probably given a months pay to be a fly on the wall at the next battalion commanders staff meeting to witness the finger pointing and conversations.

     The December luncheon, held in the battalion clubroom at the NYK Building, was decorated with the latest in high-end and high-dollar mink and sable furs from the renowned Yamaoka collection normally found on display in their stores at No. 2-8 Chrome, Ginza, and the Imperial Hotel. And to add fuel to the fire, the officer’s wives were filling in as the display models. Also in attendance and sitting at the table with Mrs. George Paynter, wife of the battalion commander, was the wife of BG Kreidel, the Far East Command provost marshal, who was their special guest speaker for the event.

     There was no mention of how many orders were placed, but you can almost be certain that with Christmas just around the corner, many a bank account was tapped by their spouses before the end of the year.

20 December The official ceremony of transfer of mission and authority to the 519th was conducted at the NYK Building. As part of the downsizing, LTC Painter was reassigned as the new commander of the 519th. A majority of the battalion personnel were also reassigned to the 519th prior to closing out all records and zeroing the strength. Only a cadre of fourteen men and those personnel scheduled for rotation or discharge in the ZOI for the month of January 1955, were retained on the battalion rolls.

     The certainty of the date of departure and status of the battalion precluded any need for additional operational reports during the period, so any official activities transpired during this brief period, they remain unknown.

29 December Even though the battalion was in transition, its Bulldog basketball team continued its play in the 1954-1955 Tokyo Battalion League. The Bulldogs downed the 43rd Engineer Battalion 52-48 boosting their standing to a second place tie with the Far East Command Signal Service Battalion. The Bulldogs Jim Mosely was the high scorer with 14 points.

     No additional information on the team was found for January 1955 as the battalion readied for stand-down to the 519th MP Battalion.

Personal Reflections

      "The early years with the battalion probably did more to shape my character and subsequent Army career than any assignment that came later. The 720th was always at the forefront with generosity when it came to times of need. For instance, we sponsored a Japanese orphanage and the guys gave of their money and companionship and their free time to see these youngsters. The orphans were always invited to the battalion on special occasions, and not-so-special occasions. Those were difficult years for the Japanese, as they worked themselves free of destruction of the war. We were conscious of the need all around us, and did our best.”   CPL (SPC/7 Retired) Harold G. Fahey, Dog Company, 1952-1955.

1954 Miscellaneous Photographs Index
This Index contains miscellaneous photographs from 1954 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.
 DAC Shack, Tokyo.
 Diet (Japanese Parliament) Building.
 PFC John M. Blake, Baker Company.
 U.S. Forces Identification Card of PFC John M. Blake, Baker Company.
 PVT Costa of Able Company completes his Military Police Instruction course.
 CPL Joseph Scarapaci atop the NYK Building.