On Assignment
Tokyo, Japan

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.

SS Central Falls Victory Ship Departs
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.

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" Troop.

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
Click On Map To Enlarge
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 base.

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 (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. Other references to computer manufacturers or products use trademarks owned by their respective manufacturers. The technical information contained herein is subject to change without notice.

Revised 19 Apr '12