16th PsyWar Company Deragawa Transmitter Site 1963. View From Microwave Tower
Click For View of Compound From Entrance Road
Deragawa Before The 16th: USAF 1955-60. UPDATED 3/2009
HQ and 16th Experiences 1961-62 by Larry Bullington
The 16th from 1963-65 by Ray Ambrozak
The 16th from 1964-65 by Charlie Thun
The 16th from 1965-67 by Charles Skittino Jr
More on the 16th's Final Chapter: Thailland/Cambodia 1971-73 by Roger Henson 10/10/07
16th Company Operation at Machinato (1961-62) Move To Deragawa in 1962
Operation Aumee 1962-63
by Tim Yoho
Tim Yoho at Deragawa Barracks 1963
From the time of my arrival in the unit in 1961, the 16th Company was housed at HQ barracks in Machinato and operated at the Communication Compound just down the road. My first duty was that of a Fixed Station Operator. I monitored shortwave receivers and teletype messages. I found this duty to be somewhat monotonous, but the tour became much more interesting when I and 8 other personel were sent TDY to the Korea Unit in April 1962. For a complete account of Korea TDY and Batallion HQ tour from 1961-62 CLICK HERE
In 1962 the 16th PsyWar Company took control of an Air Force site at Deragawa Okinawa about 20 miles North of Bn Headquarters at Machinato.
The blue circle on map shows general location of Deragawa which was near Kadena Air Base and the small village of Tairagawa. The blue arrow shows location of present day Camp Kinser, the former site of Machinato and Hq Bn.
The Deragawa site was utilized by the 16th until at least 1972 but the fate after this date is unknown. It may have been used by the 18th Detachment until 1974.
It was reported by several who revisited the area in the 1980's and 90's that a daycare center was located where the compound was located.
Move To Deragawa and Facilities
In 1962, approximately 30 men of the 16th including myself moved personal belongings and mobile equipment to Deragawa..The facilities located in a fenced-in compound consisted of a barracks, mess and recreation hall, a building housing a 50 kw SSB transmitter, a quonset hut which was later converted into an EM Club and a motor pool area.. A rhombic antenna was located outside the compound..We brought with us a 5 ton transmitter and a 5 ton studio van and several 60 kw portable generators, and mobile loudspeaker equipment.
To say the least, the facilities were much better than at Machinato. The barracks housed two men to a room unlike the open bays at Hq. We used to kid that the Air Force must live like Kings and we were now two steps above the Marines who lived in quonset huts. .
We even had top run movies that were shown five days a week in the transmitter building. The mess hall also served as a rec room..The food was excellent and the rumor was the mess sergeant was once a cook for General Eisenhower.. Regardless of the truth, the meals were not typical of an Army Mess and officers from Hq would often stop by "to inspect us" in time for chow.
The story of our EM club is a funny real life parallel to the movie "Wake Me When its Over" staring Ernie Kovacks.. We asked Hq if we could use an old quonset hut in the compound for a "Day Room".. We could not ask for an EM Club because that was not permitted in a military compound.. The Battalion Commander Col. Emmerich gave his approval for our "Day Room".. The first sergeant (whose name will remain anonymous) must have written the script for the Kovacks movie since he managed to "find" air conditioners, a full size bar, tables, chairs, tile for the floor, plywood, Philippine Mahogany for the walls, amplifiers, speakers, mikes, latrine equipment, glasses, ash trays, curtains, a bricked in fire place and a 250 pound hog! He said the hog would be traded for future furnishings.. What makes the aquisition of these items so incredible is that he said he did not pay anything for them..
The building when refurbished was called the "Day Room Club".. We were planning to paint the outside of the building pink and had the paint ready, but word got out before the first brush stroke and that part of the operation was nixed.. Unfortunately, I lost my pictures of this monument....
While landscaping this club, a WWII Japanese machine gun emplacement was uncovered complete with skeletons, machine gun and ammunition.. We surmised that this was probably one of many cases in which dead Japanese were covered by a bulldozer to prevent the spread of disease.. A team from Ft Buckner removed everything from the site and as far as we know gave proper burial of the Japanese remains.
Deragawa had a two fold purpose. The major use was to broadcast taped VUNC radio shows and other information to Korea and mainland China with the 50KW SSB transmitter. The majority of these shows were produced at the VUNC studio in Machinato but a few were done in the mobile van studio at Deragawa.
The other purpose was to train foreign nationals to use the broadcast equpment in our mobile vans. The 5 kw AM transmitter was also used to broadcast locally to troops on the island. My job was to monitor and maintain equipment in both facilities as well as being a studio engineer during broadcasts. We rarely knew what was being transmitted on the 50kw transmitter since most of the transmissions were in Korean or Chinese.
Fixed Station Transmitter
The transmitter used to send short wave boradcasts off Island was a Gates 50 KW SSB Transmitter. The maintenance of the large transmitter was usually routine except for two events. In one case, I was checking components inside the transmitter and was knocked on my butt. The transmitter was very large and consisted of several bays over six feet high. To service the transmitter, we would open doors on the back and physically walk part way inside. The doors had safety interlocks that were susposed to short out large storage capacitors. Touching one of these even with the power turned off could be fatal if the capacitor was charged. As a backup we used a metal bar with a plastic handle to ground the terminals. I used the bar every time I entered the bay and never had a problem until the day the interlocks evidently did not work. When I shorted out the terminals, the force of the arc was enough to hurl me backward out of the transmitter and against the wall of the building. I was not shocked only stunned. On investigation, the interlocks were faulty and the shorting bar had about an inch of metal melted. It scared the crap out of me but probably saved my life.
The other event with this transmitter concerned one of the other repairman (can't remember name) who was on top of the unit checking the antenna feed line while the transmitter was on. . Some how he came in contact with the antenna and the resulting RF burned a hole through his arm from his wrist (where he made contact) to his elbow.. Fortunately RF burns and does not shock like AC from a power line.. He not only survived but received no major damage to bone or blood vessels.
Mobile Broacasting Units
The mobile broadcasting units were manufactured by the Gates Company* and consisted of a 5KW AN/MRT-5 AM transmitter and studio van moved by GMC tractor trucks. In addition, there was a tuning hut, a generator hut, and a communications hut containing short wave receivers and RTTY. These huts were transported by Duce and a Hlaf (2.5 ton) trucks. Besides using the equipment for daily broadcasts and exercises, the equipment saw use from a host of visiting members of Asian countries. The equipment was also transported off Island to Taiwan for a joint exercise with our unit, the 1st Special Forces and the Nationalist Chinese Army.
Some of our training of visitors was done through the use of an interpreter since very few of us spoke their native language.. Sometimes simple sign language would work. One time we decided to play a joke on a female Chinese trainee. During her broadcast we pretended we were having trouble by holding up a tangled reel of audio tape she was susposedly using as background information. .When she saw the tape and our anguished looks, she burst into tears..She later thought it was funny, but at the time was quite upset.
*For the US Army Gates designed and manufactured a large number of complete mobile 5000 watt radio stations designated AN/MRT-5. A van containing a combined mobile studio and control room was acoustically treated and completely air conditioned. The transmitter van housed a 5000 watt AM broadcast transmitter. Military shelters contained the portable 200 foot antenna tower, tuning unit, baloon antenna and other apparatus. The first contract was received in 1951 and four systems were built at old Monroe Airport in 120 days for the U.S. Signal Corp. http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Catalogs/Gates-Harris/Gates-Catalog-98-1970.pdf
The daily use of our equipment consisted of music and information broadcast to local troops on the island. We used the call sign, B&VA or Broadcasting and Visual Activity. Two of my close friends, Jay Eubanks and Steve Southerland had undergraduate degrees in broadcasting (I think Brigham Young and Kansas State).. After I left the Rock, Steve was transferred to Armed Forces Radio and Television (ARFT).. Jay remained in radio after returning to civilian life, but I am not sure what became of Steve. Others in the unit (including myself) had a turn at being a DJ.. I didn't think I was very good at it and find it almost funny that later I would became a professional "broadcaster" as a college professor.
The Antenna for the AM transmitter was a fixed tower at Deragawa, but in the field we either strung wire or used a weather balloon raised to a height of 180 feet.. The use of the balloon produced some swearing and anxious moments on windy days.. Not only did we lose several, every time the baloon nosed dived cose to the ground, the transmitter would shut down.. I expect many of the listeners wondered what kind of two bit operation we were running..
The antenna for the 50kw Gates transmitter was in a field adjacent to the compound. This antenna (Rhombic) was quite large and consisted of wire mounted on telephone poles in a diamond shape. . An Okinawan farmer who lived close to the antenna said he did not need to turn on his lights at night since radiation from the antenna would cause his light bulbs to glow.. This was long before people worried about the health effects of power line or HF radiation.
The 16th took part in numerous training activities throughout Okinawa. We usually operated as a "neutral army" and attempted to disrupt communications on both sides of each "conflict". We also broadcast propaganda with radios, loudspeakers and leaflets. The 16th also used loudspeakers to convey emergency information such as typhoon alerts and water rationing. Some of the loudspeaker operations are discussed by Larry Bullington in his account (Above Menu)
One of our favorite "scare tactics" was to tell the enemy about the dangerous indigenous snake the Habu.. We said this snake would seek the warmth of a human body at night and often crawl into a sleeping bag or tent. We had reports from guys in the field that we had indeed scared the Hell out of some of them. I broadcasted about this snake so many times I began to see them in my sleep. .
Our operations included working with 173rd Airborne and the 503rd Airborne Infantry Combat Team, and the relatively new (Oct 1960) 1st Special Forces units as well as various Marine units. Even though we flew white flags on our vehicles during these field exercises, there were a few times when some Marines threatened to do us harm after our "capture".. I also remember one day watching a F 101 fly very low over my position. A few minutes later an "umpire" walked to my jeep and said I was just strafed by that figher and was dead! After I explained I was neutral and not a "combatant" he allowed me to be "reborn" and continue harrassing both sides of the war games. Because of our close association with 173rd and 1st Special Forces, some members of our unit, George Brand for one, took the recommended jump training offered to our unit and earned their "wings".. I regret that I did not.. i understand that most if not all members of the 16th were airborne during the period from 1965 to 71.
In June of 1962, the 16th packed up equipment and vehicles and made ready for Exercise Aumee, a month long joint operation with the 1st Special Forces and the Nationalist Chinese Army on Taiwan.. I had a crash course in tractor trailer driving and drove the 5 ton transmitter van.
On June 7th we loaded aboard LST 1165 Washoe County at Naha and made the two day journey to Keelung Taiwan. I had some anxious moments as a fledgling "big rig" driver backing up the semi onto the LST with the loading ramp under water.
From Keelung, the unit as a convoy, drove 80 miles north (40 miles north of Taipai) to a Chinese Special Forces training camp near the Chungyang Mountains.. The U.S. 1st Special Forces operated mainly in these mountains north of our camp.. Some of our unit joined the 1st while most of us conducted operations in the training camp..We worked closely with the Chinese Army to share our PsyWar techniques and equipment..
We saw much of Taiwan and made many friends..Some pictures of the exercise follow...All members of the 16th were awarded two pins at a celebration and ceremony held at Sun Moon Lake also located in the Chungyang Mountain Range.Exercise Aumee was evidently a great success since Radio Peking (Beijing) denounced our participation.
We returned to Okinawa on July 22th aboard Westchester County, LST 1167. The unit actually boarded on the 17th but had to wait in Keelung harbor until the 21st because of a typhoon.. We still saw heavy seas and were not permitted top side for a portion of the journey.. All of us including some of the sailors were more than a bit anxious riding those waves in a flat bottom boat.. We were also disappointed since the original plan called for a stop in Hong Kong, but that changed because of the storm.
I was a frustrated Ham Radio Operator on Okinawa. As a licensed Novice Class KN8CTK I took the written and code exam for General (Conditional) Class while on the Island.. I then requested and received a US Forces Amateur Radio License for a KR6 call.. In spite of all the communications equipment in our unit, none was useable on the Ham Bands.. I requested equipment from the Army and Captain Lenoch, the 16th CO was able to get me an old unused communications hut. We put my "shack" outside the barracks (seen in top picture) and I spent many hours making it ready for a station.. Two weeks before I was to return to the states in 1963, Capt. Lenoch told me my request was granted and I was getting all new Collins (best there was) equipment.. I did not see any of that equipment but made up for my grief by returning home after two years on the Rock.
Individual members and teams from the 16th and Hq traveled throughout Asia observing and training others in PsyWar techniques. Some of our unit were among the first advisors in Viet Nam.. The 16th PsyWar Company became known as the 16th Psyop Company in 1965 with the reorganization of the 14th Bn into the 7th PsyOp Group.
In 1970, the 16th moved transmitter and studio equipment, generators and most personnel to the Thailand/Cambodia border where they operated a broadcast station until 1971 when they returned to Deragawa. This exercise may have marked the final chapter in the operation of the 16th in Asia although the unit may have remained until 1974 when the 7th was reorganized to the Reserves. The "Last Chapter" can be found in the above menu although it may be under construction.