I was inducted through Camp Sheridan located northwest of Chicago, IL. My
first military assignment was standing guard at the edge of Lake Michigan. In
addition to the "General Orders", I was instructed to be especially alert for
any Japanese submarines, laying offshore, that may attempt a troop landing.
Following a battery of evaluation (and I must assume suitability) tests, I
was assigned to Ft. Lewis, WA for Basic Training. The rigors of Basic
Training, and a well rounded diet of mashed potatoes, soon gave me the
stamina to carry out the daily tasks. I was not sure of where I would be
finally assigned - perhaps the rain forests of South America, because the
motto of Ft. Lewis was "If it ain't raining, we ain't training." As
usual a two weeks furlough was granted upon the completion of Basic Training,
along with travel orders to report next door to Ft. Lawton, WA.
This arrangement was good for the Army, as they only had to adevance me
transportation costs for 60+ miles. My home was nearly 2,000 miles away.
However, I was able to spend some time at home and safely return to Ft.
Lawton, only to face a barrage of more paper work in order to evaluate where
I would be sent overseas and finally a series of medical shots. Within a week
I received my orders and, with a new issue of equipment and clothes that made me to look like a real
soldier, I began my journey.
The journey from Ft. Lawton, WA began as our truck took its position in line
with a convey moving to Pier 51, Seattle, WA. Arriving at the dock, I jumped
out of the truck and was confronted with the largest ship that I had ever
seen. A MP noticed my hesitation and gave me needed encouragement with the
comment: "OK soldier you have seen enough. Up the gangplank and sound out your
name !". My ship, the SS Central Falls Victory, was one of the Victory
Ships built for the US Maritime Commission during World War II. Officially
designated as a Class VC2, the ship was 455 feet long, 62 feet wide and was
powered by a steam turbine system that could move the ship at a top speed of
20 knots per hour.
|SS Central Falls Victory Ship Departs|| |
The first of 534 Victory Ships was launched on February 28, 1944. Built by the
Kaiser Shipyards used mass production line techniques to reduce the "time to
launch" to an average of 40 days. The first 34 were named for each of the
Allied nations. The subsequent 218 were named after American cities. In that
series, the SS Central Falls Victory was christened on 26 March, 1945 and
named in honor of Central Falls, Rhode IsIand residents who had purchased an
outstanding number of War Bonds. The next 150 were named after educational
institutions, and rest received miscellaneous names.
Troop loading took about 4 hours and we were soon underway by noon of 21
December, 1946. The ship moved out into Pudget Sound. By the late afternoon ,
we left the smooth inland waters and into the Pacific Ocean. At formation the
next morning we were informed that our destination was Yokohama, a seaport
located on Tokyo Bay in the island of Honshu, Japan. Our final destination
would not be known until each of us were processed through the replacement
depot. About ten days out, we had sailed far enough south to be able to see
the constellation of the Southern Star which I had never seen before. We also
found out that sometimes the Pacific Ocean did not represent a seascape of
tranquillity and always remain calm as our path crossed through a major storm
area. The sea swells came over the sides and everyone was ordered below for
the day and following night.
|1st Cavalry Division Welcome|
|8th Cavalry Regiment Hdqtrs - Tokyo|
The long open sea journey ended as the distant shorelines of Japan came into
view. On 07 January, 1947 our ship entered Tokyo Bay, still littered with
sunken ships,and headed into Yokohama Harbor and moved toward the dock areas.
Arriving at Yokohama, my group was loaded on trucks and taken to a local rail
switching yard and boarded an Army Transport train. About fours later, we
transferred back to trucks for transport to the 4th Replacement Depot (later
to be known as Camp Zuma) which was located about 25 miles southwest of
central Tokyo, in the country, surrounded by Japanese farms. Following two
days of processing, I joined eight others in a truck ride, arriving at the 8th
Cavalry Regiment post located in the Imperial Guard Barracks Building,
district of Roppongi, Tokyo. There, I took more tests and was assigned to "F"
As a matter of happenstance, while being processed out of the 4th Replacement
Depot on the way back to the States, a Japanese tailor sewed the insignia
patch of the Americal Division, the Southern Star, on my right sleeve. "What
did he know and when did he know it", - I never knew why.
|| 3rd Imperial Guard Barracks Building
|| Roppongi District of Tokyo, Japan
Within the first month of the Japanese Occupation the 3rd Imperial
Guard Barracks Building, located in the Roppongi District of Tokyo,
was taken over for the 2nd Brigade Headquarters Command Post and the
8th Cavalry Regiment.
In Japanese, Roppongi means "six trees", and although the exact
origin of this name has been lost, there are two theories as to
where the name came from. The first suggests that "six trees" refers
to six mythic trees that once stood where the Roi building now looms.
The second, more likely theory, is that each tree denoted the name of
a local feudal lord who had lodgings in the area, and especially on
the ridges surrounding Roppongi. Like the good feudal lords they were,
they mostly stuck to the high grounds, and left the lowland valleys to
the farmers and the workers. One hill, sloping away from a road near
Roppongi crossing is called Imoaraizaka, literally, "potato washing
slope", so named because of an annual potato festival held at its
The feudal lords of the Edo-era left their mark when they housed and
trained troops in the valley of Roppongi. These troops eventually
came under the control of the Emperor when the capital moved from
Kyoto to Tokyo, but the troops and the barracks remained. In 1928,
the Japanese Army replaced the existing facilities with a modern
three story building with a ground level basement, the first in Tokyo
built using reinforced concrete, for the 3rd Imperial Guard Regiment
of their 1st Infantry Division. The history of Roppongi being a
garrison town continued when, in the post-war years of the 2nd World
War, American occupation forces requisitioned the barracks for use by
the commands of the 1st Cavalry Division.
Later, during the early stages of the Korean war, the Imperial Guard
Barracks Building was renamed Hardy Barracks, in honor of Cpl. Elmer
Hardy who was killed in a C-54 transport crash at Kimhae Airfield
located in Pusan, along with 17 other members of the 71st Signal
Service Battalion who were setting up a radio communications network
for all of South Korea. In 2005 the majority of the main building was
torn down to makeway for new construction in the expanding Rappongi
District of Tokyo.
| "My Home Away From Home" |
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Copyright © 1996, Wm. H. Boudreau "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment
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Revised 19 Apr '12