(from the July 1969 edition of The Hallmark)
(additional comments by the maddog - Torii Station Jan69 - Dec69)
Sobe, Okinawa, once a battlefield for the largest (and last) Pacific
Theater engagement of World War II, (You could take a Glass Bottom Boat tour
and see the seafloor littered with an incredible amount of expended ordinance,
shell caseings, and beer bottles .. it is carpeted with them - ED)is today the site of one of the
best-equipped Agency field stations in the world.
(equipped with more NCO's and Officers per square foot than any other overseas field station - ED)
Since 1958, it has been known as Torii Station, but it had also been called the 51st ASA SOC, the 3rd USASA Field Station and still earlier, the 8603 Departmental Unit (Called FS Sobe on my orders, but mainly called "the Rock"..just like Alcatraz-ED). That was when the station consisted of only four troop barracks and an operations building: 1952.
While searching for a permanent name, Torii Station leaped into adolescense with a growth in facilities that by the early 1960s had seen the construction of a headquarters building, a second operations building, more barracks, warehousing and maintenance facilities and a 1000-man consolidated mess.(and my favorite ..the NCO section in the mess hall .....complete with waitress, never missed steak night-ED)
Also, either in operation or approaching completion were an NCO Club, Service Club, post library, chapel, 315-seat theater and a swimming pool. A gymnasium (one of the best on the island) and the Officers Club were completed in 1967.
Torii Station also boasts a craft shop, bank, bowling alley, illuminated softball field and a nine-hole miniature golf course.
In addition to ASA FS Sobe personnel, Torii Station is also home base for the Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA), Okinawa; Co. D, U.S. Marine Support Battalion; (Jarheads CO would volunteer his company to be aggressors for the doggie trainers after duty hours were finished and ordered all of them to get 3/16 of an inch basic training haircuts... oh they loved him allright! -ED)and the Joint Sobe Processing Center, activated in 1961 and staffed by Army, Navy and Air Force personnel.
With so many Americans on the island, Okinawa has lost some of its Oriental atmosphere.(More like a stationary multi-service aircraft carrier with bomb laden B-52's taking off constantly and GI's going and coming from "Down South" for Special Ops..but on the plus side so many houses of ill repute and bars that it was said you could visit a different one evey nite and never see them all in an 18 month tour! - ED)
"It's almost like not being in a foreign country at all," observed SP5 David Hall, who recently ended his 18-month tour of duty at Torii.
Perhaps it is the combination of the Oriental mystique with the familiarity of "home" that presents those about to leave Okinawa with mixed emotions.(No mixed emotions with me ...I couldnt wait to leave and ETS back to what was left of "the World" - ED)
Okinawa is not an easy island to leave. (Easy when you are ETS'ing!!! - ED) In addition to the diverse recreational facilities at Torii Station, the island offers three rewards always topping the list of crucial criteria for the overseas-bound soldier: (Cheap booze, cheaper women...cant think of the third one! - ED) scenic beauty, places to visit and things to do. Okinawa has plenty of all.
The town of Nago near Sobe is popular for its beaches. Suicide Cliff, south of Naha, Okinawa's capital, is a World War II-era monument of a sort: from the ledge, numerous Japanese soldiers(MOSTLY Okinawan women, children and old men[civilians] -ED),leaped to their deaths upon impending defeat in 1945. The Torii Station Special Services offers a tour almost every weekend to somewhere in the area.(on an Island 12 miles wide and 60 miles long dont take much to see it all, all you had to do is go to the 5 story shopping mall and see the whole place from the roof - ED)
Okinawa is also an ideal starting place for flying to such popular tourist attractions as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Bangkok and the Philippines. (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam! - ED)
Deep-sea fishing fans at Torii can check out a Special Services inboard, while those who would rather spend time underwater can make use of skills learned as members of the Torii SCUBA Club.(Or Seal teams and Special Forces! - I learned SCUBA from Jerry Wilkinson at Kagnew in the Red Sea..after seeing the intro film for the SCUBA Club "21 Creatures That Can Kill You in Less the 6 Minutes "- about stone fish ,poisonous sea snakes etc. , I decided to sell my tanks and SCUBA gear!- ED)Military personnel are active in community relations, having founded the Yomitan-Son Community Relations Committee composed of local Okinawan leaders and representatives of the military organizations located in Yomitan-Son.
The Committee has been responsible for such projects as clearing of school playgrounds, erection of an antenna tower for a high school meteorology class wind-measuring device and the arrangements for bilingual signs warning of traffic hazards.
The Committee is headed by the Torii Station Commander, COL Jack P. Lansford, (my buddy....had me sent to Torii to compete in the Tri-Service Ditty Bop contest, which the Army had never won until myself and my team won it. Being "volunteered" for the contest by Col. Jack , cost me 5 months of E-5 pay , in return I got a 50 dollar savings bond and a watch for taking top individual score, and about 4 weeks before ETS', a choice between a wall job hairdo or an Article 15. I took the haircut...and still ended up with the orders "missing" for a good conduct medal from my 201 when I processed out at Oakland, thanks Jack - ED) and the mayor of Yomitan-Son. During 1968, working through the Committee, Torii Station ASA personnel presented 358 pieces of athletic equipment and 17 musical instruments to seven schools in two local villages.
The multi-service make-up of the field station has given birth to both competition and cooperation among the services. In the area of sports, the spirit of has progressed to real rivalry, with teams competing in several different sports throughout the year in the Torii Station Service Cryptologic Agencies (SCA) Athletic Competition.(See Above - ED)
Teams are drawn from three Air Force security units, the ASA, NSGA and Co. D. Points are awarded first and second-place teams, and at the end of the year the SCA trophy is presented the service totaling the most overall points. This year's battle seems to be between the Army and the Navy teams, running neck and neck.
Company-level events in many sports are also held at Torii Station and teams compete in the U.S. Army Ryukyu Islands (USARYIS) company-level sports program. FS Sobe's Co. C team won this year's USARYIS volleyball contest.
Performing their mission, bettering community relations or competing in athletic contests, the men of Torii Station - FS Sobe, Okinawa - live up to their motto as "The Best in the Business."(Sobe Rangers -"We Fly By Night "- ED)