The 18th PsyWar Platoon/Company

Another piece of the historical puzzle has been solved with regard to the role of the 18th PsyWar Platoon/Company within the 14th Bn before the reorganization to the 7th Group. For a number of years I was incorrect in thinking the 18th was the Loudspeaker Detachment of the battalion within the 16th Company. Some of the confusion must have been related to training the 18th did at Deragawa (16th Company Site). Some of the confusion no doubt was due to my memory of events so long ago.

It wasn't until I received an e-mail from Warren Rucker on 7/23/06 that I begin to question my understanding. Warren stated the 18th was a separate unit and worked at HQ (Machinato) and not at Deragawa (16th Company). The 18th did however conduct training at Deragawa.

More information was received about the 18th from Thomas Unthank on 2/19/08. Thomas was one among the first of the personnel to be assigned to the 18th Detachment of the 14th PsyWar Battalion. He confirmed much of what Warren Rucker reported but added new detail and a new fact to the 18th's history.....That of a mission to the Philippines in 1962. Both Warren and Thomas served in the unit at the same time and both accounts are posted below.

18th Mission in the 7th Group

After reorganization of the 14th PsyWar Battalion to the 7th PsyOp Group in 1965, the mission of the 18th took a more specific role. The 1967 Mission Profile of the 7th Group states the 18th Company was "Advisory and Support Airborne". Men of the 18th as the airborne element of the battalion, made more than 225 parachute jumps during the year on drop zones in Okinawa, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Thailand. Ten men completed basic airborne training conducted on Okinawa, and two completed Jumpmaster School.

In 1967 the 18th PsyOps Company sent an audio-visual team to the Republic of Korea to assist various departments of the ROK Government in keeping villagers in remote areas informed of the dangers of communism and to inform them of ROK Government actions in their behalf.

The 18th also had its own company barracks and orderly room approximately 5 miles north of the Machinato Compound in the Sukiran Service Area.

I would appreciate hearing from others who served with the 18th.



Warren Rucker's Account of The 18th Company
(With Comments From Editor)


I just came across your site. Most interesting. I was in the 18th Psy War Platoon which was co-located with B&VA (we called it Basketball and Volleyball Association) Pacific....1962 and 63. The 18th was an "independent platoon" with its own TO&E, not officially a part of the 14th. Though we lived in the 14th barracks and got pay and personnel and admin support through the 14th, we somehow really did not belong to them. 

We were located in a dismal Quonset  on the flats between the EM club the B&VA compound. In the fall of 62, half-a-dozen or so of us went through jump training at the Special Forces jump school in Sukiran. I ended up with orders attaching me to the 1st SF Group "for jumping and training"  but otherwise I remained with the 18th in Machinato (now called Makiminato). Somewhere I have a few photos that you might find interesting. In fact, several were taken out at your digs in Teragawa. I was one of six psy warriors selected to form a "balloon team" and we did some training at your site (Deragawa 16th Co). The balloon caper was highly classified at the time, but now memorable mainly for some of the zany incidents related to our training and deployment.)

I later married an Okinawan woman and returned to Okinawa to work several years  as a civilian educator in the late 60s. Like you, but with less persistence, I searched a bit to find more about B&VA. Even tried without success to locate back issues of Shurei no Hikari. I do have the final "Reversion" issue from 1972. I'm writing this without having fully explored your site. Will start that now.

Cheers. Warren Rucker

I responded to Warren who served in the 18th the same time as my tour and said I could not remember him. I also told him i remembered the 18th as a detachment and not a platoon. Warren's reply reminded me that the Ryukyu Review article on my page referred to the 18th as a "Consolidation Platoon". Warren did not remember his unit being addressed as such but indicated his DD 214 referred to unit as the 18th Company.

A few more thoughts with a couple of attachments, and then I promise I'll shut up and snail-mail you some photos and papers before long. I noticed in one of the Ryukyu Review articles on your site that the 18th is referred to as the "18th Consolidation Platoon," a term I don't remember...or understand. In my DD 214, my "Last Duty Assignment and Major Command" are shown as "18th PsyWar Co APO 331 USARYIS."  (Company!) The B&VA special orders attaching me to 1st Special Forces Group show me as being in the "18th PsyWar Plat."

The 1962 Ryukyu Review article may have been the basis for my thinking the 18th's role was in the use of loudspeakers. This was recently supported by Larry Bullinton who served with the loudspeaker section during 1962. Larry also confirmed that his group was not part of the 18th platoon and were assigned to the 16th Company.

We had the equipment that they talked about in the article, but we seldom used it.  We didn't have the occasion to do those things and most of our duties were directed toward tactical loudspeaker operations during my tour.

Mission of the 18th Platoon/Company in the 14th Bn

If the mission of the 18th was not loudspeaker operations what then was its role? Warren Rucker said most members of the 18th during his 1962-63 tour were in the categories listed below but he indicated his group never understood their mission.

According to my DD 214 and my memory, I was a "701 Info Spec." I picked up that MOS when I was assigned to the Army Education Center at Ft. Bragg. (The old Troop Information and Education concept wasn't quite dead.) When I was sent to Okinawa in the spring of 62, I was assigned to RASP (Ryukyu Armed Services Police) as an information specialist. They had one slot, already filled, so told me I could find myself a home if I wanted to. Luckily, I did find a home at B&VA. Among the 18th personnel, the only individual's whose MOS I vividly remember were my own (701), Ransburg's (701), and Thompson's (illustrator). I do know, however, that Tackos, White, and Erresy, were "broadcasters" with good on-air voices and studio experience. (I even went with them once during a typhoon to the AFRTS studio where they manned the station as a backup crew during the storm.) There were several other 701s (perhaps Unthank and Grabner, but I'm not sure). Also several more illustrators, but I can't remember who. Thompson was the one who made the "18th Tigers" sign.

Upon assignment to the 18th, I was told I'd be a propaganda writer. That was fine with me. I had a B.A. in journalism. I can't recall, however,ever having to write a word while with B&VA. Our writers, photographers, broadcasters, illustrators, and perhaps several others, had few if any mission responsibilities. In fact, I don't think we ever understood what the Platoon's mission was. As I've mentioned before, we were all in E-4 slots, and our TO&E called for more vehicles than men. We were sorta an odd-job platoon. We found a variety of "stuff" to do or were assigned "ash and trash" within B&VA. I knew nothing about loudspeakers or broadcasting....but was pretty mature and a good worker so the shiny new broadcast vehicle was mine for a while (along with another vehicle or two).

Our vehicles included jeeps, three-quarters, deuce-and-a-halfs, deuce-and-a-half vans, generator trailers, and just plain the neat little loudspeaker vehicle. Twenty some vehicles in all. These belonged to the 18th but were housed in the 14th's motor pool along with their vehicles which were fewer than those of the 18th. ( I realize that it makes little sense that the platoon had significantly more vehicles than the battalion, but that's the way it was.)

I continue to think that the 18th Platoon was an anachronistic oversight on some higher-up organizational document left over from WWII or Korea..that was eventually corrected with formation of the 7th. We were a bastard little unit of talented misfits with scant real work to do. Those of us who found meaningful things to keep us busy and sane, probably look back on our time in the l8th with fondness and amusement. Several weeks before I left Okinawa, I was told to report to the office of the USARYIS Commander....who also wore the hat of High Commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands. In the office were a bird colonel, a sergeant-major, and a civilian secretary. The colonel offered me a job as speech writer for the three-star general...with a promise of  E-5 on acceptance, E-6 one year later, and E-7 one year later. (Three-stars could make such things happen.) The colonel got huffy when I refused. That was as close as I ever came to writing for the Army though I was an information specialist.

Warren also indicated that he was one of seven battalion-wide "Balloon Team" members who were selected by "GT" scores. This team practiced sending balloon aloft filled with leaflets and were deployed to Korea. The team actually practiced with hydrogen and helium filled condoms until larger plastic and rubber weather balloons were provided.

The Balloon Team capers were great fun. Our first trial launch was from your site (16th Company Deragawa). We neglected to notify Air Defense, and Col. Emmerich had to explain (or so the story went) to USARYIS that the unidentified objects picked up by missile-site radars were clusters of condoms, inflated with hydrogen, and equipped with homemade firecracker trip devices.  

Photos provided by Warren Rucker

The 14th Bn Balloon Team at Deragawa Okinawa 1963
Balloon Team TDY Korea
Balloon Team Patch
The 18th Platoon
18th Broadcast Vehicle
Tom Ransburg 18th Member
Univ. Ryukyu English Club and 14th Sponsors


Tim Yoho

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