More History of Deragawa, The 16th Company Transmitter and Loudspeaker Site By Tim Yoho

I was present when the 16th Company of the 14th PsyWar Bn took possession of an Air Force communication site in Deragawa Okinawa in 1962 (See 16th History). The site was about 20 miles North of Bn Headquarters at Machinato.

Photo 1

 

The blue circle on map shows the 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.

I received the following email on 5/21/17 from Donn Cuson:

Saw your website info about Deragawa and wondered if you were still interested in historical information about it.  I recently obtained a photo album which appears to have a lot of photos of the original transmitter building that date from 1949 when the transmitters were being installed.

The album belonged to an Army Lt. with the Rycom Signal Service, 11th Signal Bn. as far as I can tell so far.  He spent at least 4 months on the installation of the transmitters at the site which I believe is Deragawa.  I have one photo of a village with the notes "Deragawa near where I work".  Attached are the main photos of the exterior of the building which seems to be quite similar to the 1956 Deragawa photo on your site.  This is the primary information that leads me to believe this may be your Deragawa.  I will also send copies of his notes on the backs of some of the photos but in general most do not have any notes and none actually say Deragawa except for the village photo.

I was stationed at Kadena AB from 63 to 67

Donn

Below are two pictures of the 1949 Transmitter Building provided by Donn. Notice the stone wall to right of Jeep and the mountains to right of building in background of second picture (Photo 3).

 

Photo 2

Photo 3

Pictures below were provided by Air Force personnel Dick Himes and Jack Sokol during their posting at the site in 1955. With the exception of a newly built microwave tower (shown above in first picture), none of the new buildings in 1962 were present during Dick and Jack's tour (AF Account ). Notice the stone wall to left of car in top picture and same stone wall to right of car in second picture. This wall appears to correspond to wall to right of Jeep in above picture.

Photo 4

Photo 5

Not being sure the Transmitter Building in 1949 and 1955 photos were the same, I contacted Jack Sokol and asked his opinion. Dick Himes died in 2015.

Hi Tim,
Good to hear from you under any circumstances.
I was on Okinawa from October 1955 to June 1957. Dick was there for the majority of the same time. In looking at the pictures, I believe the transmitter building in his pictures and the ones that you got from either Dick or myself are one and the same. This was not a sturdy structure, it was a glorified Quonset hut and would have required a great deal of maintenance from 1949 to 1955 when I got there. Over that period of time, outside painting, and changes in the surrounding landscape would account for any exact look to 1949. You might note that one of the front doors on "our" picture is hanging off it's hinge to one side. This picture was taken right after a typhoon, whose name was I believe "Emma." The doors shown on "our" picture seem to be different from the earlier picture, which I believe supports my position. Changes to the building were indeed made as necessary. 
We, the Air Force did not build this structure. It was there for several years before I got there, and I can tell you that the flimsy clapboard six man huts we lived in were definitely built not long after the war in the Pacific ended.  What was built during our time at the site, was the concrete MicroWave building, which you may be more familiar with.  We were all living in this building during it's construction because "Emma" (if I'm correct) had destroyed our plywood huts.
Finally, I will say this. The entire environment at the site was consistent with what kind of building there would be for the transmitters etc. What I mean by that is that we had the aforementioned clapboard huts, two showers for 22 men, one wash sink, no running water except that which was brought in by water truck, and a six hole outdoor latrine. I would not think that the transmitter building would be anything more than is shown is any of the pictures. 
Hope all of this helps, and feel free to contact me at any time while I'm still around!
Jack Sokol

 

Jack Sokol confirmed the buildings were the same which supports the pictures from 1949 are indeed of the Deragawa site. The remainder of the newer concrete buidings were constructed by the Air Force about 1957 or 58 as Alan Champagne was at the site from 1958 to 1960 when the new buildings were present. A picture of Alan and his group shows part of the new transmitter building (AF Account ).

Hi, I'm Alan Champagne and I was stationed at Deragawa Transmitter Site as a technician from 9-'58 to 3-'60, the site was operated by AF 6313th Commron Squadron and later by 1962nd AACS Squadron/Group.  There were about 20 transmitters, 600W to 2.5KW, and a large antenna farm, mainly delta match doublets and rhombics.  We shot to Philippines, Japan, Guam and Hawaii and had air-to-ground and ship-to-shore circuits. We used the Phico CLR-7 MW as backup to landlines because the weather radar interrupted the MW signal ever 11 seconds.  Our sister site was Awase Transmitter Site and the receiver site was on Ie Shima. I hope my 50 year old memory is some what accurate.  After leaving the service in '61, I worked in Alaska, first on the White Alice System and continued with RCA/Alascom after they bought it from the Air Force till I retired in '88.  I also remember the bull fights and the Christmas party for the kids at the gate (AF Account )

 

Donn Cuson provided more pictures of the site one of which further fixes the location of Deragawa. Notice the mountains and ocean in background of antenna field. These are the same mountains shown in photo 3. Compare the picture below (Photo 6) with one taken in 1963 showing antenna field and mountains (poor quality picture Photo 7).

Photo 6

Photo 7

The two pictures above most likely show the bay and coastline of Okinawa in map below (black arrow). Location of Deragawa is circled in blue.

Additional pictures can be viewed below:

Deragawa 1945: US Military Films of bomb demolition near Deragawa Okinawa in 1945. Unfortunately no landmarks are discernible. (Click For Site)

Summary: The above account almost completes the history of Deragawa Okinawa as a communication site used by the US Military. The only gaps in the history are from 1945 to 1949 and from 1972 until the site was turned back to the Okinawans. The history shows the Deragawa site was first established by the US Army and consisted of crude buildings including quoset huts probably erected soon after the war ended. The site was then turned over to the US Air Force in the early to middle 1950's. During that time the more modern concrete buildings were constructed. Deragawa was once again turned over to the US Army in 1962 and used until 1972 or later when the area was returned to the Okinawans.

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