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Devillpupp
07-14-11, 07:28 AM
I'm currently stationed on Camp Foster in Okinawa. the other day I found caves behind that chow hall that a friend had told me about. personally I love to explore, and this is the chance of a lifetime.
But before I go walking into the home of strange Japanese creatures, I am wondering if any of you gentlemen have already gone in. they are located behind the chow hall, right next to the stream. i'm making arrangements with MCCS to go on a "Tunnel Rat" tour and will ask them as well.

*I will not be doing anything until I have sufficient PPE and know what I may find as far as wildlife

Ray Merrell
07-14-11, 07:46 AM
1945...From my book "My Three Years in the Marine Corps"

"I didn't go in, but carried explosives for the demolition crew. If we thought there were Japs in the brush piles, we would throw grenades into them.. When we found a cave, we would holler, 'Come out'
in Japanese. If they didn't come out, we blasted the cave shut. One patrol jumped up three Japs, and they shot at them as they were going over a hill. Later the three Japs came back over the hill waving a white flag to surrender. We continued the day, carrying the 60-80# explosive packs."

This was when the island was about secure and we were mopping up.

Gung Ho,

Ray

Tennessee Top
07-14-11, 07:53 AM
I was stationed on Camp Foster/Zukeran twice. Worked at the 1stMAW HQ building (Wing Adjutant's office). Don't know if the Wing HQ is still there; they were talking about relocating it to Futenma last I heard. Anyway, I know where the messhall is you're talking about but was not aware of any tunnels in that area.

jp2usmc
07-14-11, 10:20 AM
@Ray Merrell: Ya think he'll find any old, ****ed off Japs in those caves? LOL

Cave exploring sounds fun! Bring a big spool of kite string or something so you don't get lost.

William Hardy
07-14-11, 10:25 AM
I was stationed on Camp Foster/Zukeran twice. Worked at the 1stMAW HQ building (Wing Adjutant's office). Don't know if the Wing HQ is still there; they were talking about relocating it to Futenma last I heard. Anyway, I know where the messhall is you're talking about but was not aware of any tunnels in that area.

Same here - I was at Foster in 1973. I never heard of tunnels behind the enlisted mess hall - as I recall the land was flat between it and the next building. I made staff there and I don't recall any tunnels behind that mess hall either. Back then it was located on the end of the street across from the SNCO club. Please locate the mess hall - it may have moved over the years. Parts of Foster were very flat and parts were on the bottom part of hills that went up to where sick call was and then you hit the housing area. When I was a SGT I was in the barracks across from the parade field. The PX was very small and was in a barracks building one or two rows up the hill. I'[m sure things have changed.

Ray Merrell
07-14-11, 10:38 AM
Could be Joe..preserved maybe.

jp2usmc
07-14-11, 12:38 PM
I was at Camp Hansen, and the rear fence backed up to a nice stretch of hills that I always wanted to poke around on. We were always told that it was private land and to kindly keep our ...selves off of it.

elliscraig12
07-14-11, 02:08 PM
I was at both Camp Hansen and MCAS Futenma. You should be very careful around those caves, they could still have unexploded ordnance in them. I remember a few years back, there was a couple of Marines testing a metat detector and found a WW2 hand grenade right next to a well used path. Okinawa is still full of unexploded stuff.

Zulu 36
07-14-11, 02:16 PM
I've been through a lot of caves on Okinawa. The majority were around Naha AB in early 1972. However, there has been significant civilian buildup in those areas since then (per Google Earth). I often wondered then (as an 18-year old PFC) how in the world the 6th Marine Division managed to take the Oroku Peninsula with the fields of fire the Japanese had from those caves (both natural, man made, or improved).

As I researched deeper into the battle over the years, I learned that Japanese Naval forces had occupied Oroku as part of the original defense plan and it was heavily armed with all types of artillery, infantry machine guns, and rapid fire AA cannons that could be used in ground roles. However, as the battle progressed, the Naval commander, against his better judgement, agreed to abandon Oroku, take all of his heavy weapons, and join Japanese Army forces further east.

When it became obvious the Americans were going to make an assault on Oroku, the Naval commander brought his troops back to the Oroku positions (against Army orders), but only had time to bring very few of the heavy weapons back. This is a major reason why the 6thMarDiv was able to take the Oroku in "only" ten days. If the Japanese Naval forces had stayed or had time to bring all of their big guns back, the Oroku fight would have been a blood bath that might have exceeded the Shuri line fight.

When I went back to Okinawa in 1974-75, I explored caves in the vicinity of MCAS Futenma. Most of these caves were natural and were reported to be primarily civilian shelters during the battle. I did not note any military improvements to most. One cave extended literally under the air station. I was invited to join a team exploring this cave as part of a counterintelligence security survey of the MCAS.

The cave was very spacious at the opening and for about 200-meters inward, but became narrower the further we went in. As I remember the entrance to the cave was in a civilian area between MCAS Futenma and Camp Foster. Google Earth shows the area much more developed now than in late 1974.

We did get well under the air base, but the cave was crawling level then, wet, and that part of the cave was at least 100 meters beneath the base, if not more. Our guess was we traveled about 1.5 kilometers through to the end of the cave that could be traversed. There was more cave, but too narrow for humans. If we got as far as we estimated, we ended up somewhere under the northeastern half of the runway or aircraft ramp.

Note to Okinawan cave explorers: Wear a caving helmet, stout clothing, elbow and knee protection, and gloves. I had so many coral cuts on my head from that trip it was ridiculous. I also had coral cuts all over my hands, arms, knees, and back. All of us had to visit sick bay to get the cuts properly cleaned out. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

One other point. In early 1975, the Japanese were digging foundations near Shuri Castle to build a hotel. The construction people came across what they thought was an old Japanese Army artillery ammo dump and called in the Japanese EOD people. They determined the rounds were dud US Navy 5" shells fired into the Castle area during the battle. So US EOD had to get involved to help. The point here is, if the US Navy fired so many 5" shells into that one rather small area that were duds, making people think it was an ammo dump, how many shells did they fire that exploded?

I know history records a tremendous expenditure of US Naval ordinance, but, wow! The EOD people found huge amounts of 5" fragmentation in the vicinity too, so we know a lot of shells did explode. Incredible.

The point here is if you explore caves on Okinawa, particularly those within the battle areas, use caution and watch for UXO. To this day, they are still finding unexploded ordinance from both sides all over the island. This shouldn't be a big surprise seeing as they are still finding World War One UXOs in France, never mind the WWII stuff all over Europe.

If you find human remains in caves, you MUST leave them in place and immediately report them to the Japanese Police. They have absolutely no sense of humor if you decide to take a few pieces for souvenirs - whether the remains turn out to be American, Okinawan, or Japanese.

jp2usmc
07-14-11, 02:26 PM
Good post, Zulu.

I remember rumors that the underside of Oki was hollow and that Naval subs had a passage under it.

I always assumed that was a crock of crap, but I still did like everyone else and told the new troops the same tail.

Zebra29er
07-14-11, 05:41 PM
I was stationed at Hansen in 63-64 before country and we were told the caves were off limits as they where used for burial purposes .

devilbones2
07-14-11, 07:52 PM
I was at Camp Hansen and went on the tunnel rat tour. It had just rained and we went in one of the hospital caves. I found a complete Imperial Japanese Beer bottle and I have it in my collection to this day. You can see one in the Museum tour just before you go to the caves.

allengreen65
07-14-11, 08:55 PM
I was at Hansen back in 1975-1976,,,,we used to use the caves to party in,,,,,,,,,if you get a chance go see kin cave in kinville,,,,,its a big cave, thats open to the public,,,,i thought it was pretty cool.

semperfiman
07-14-11, 09:46 PM
I was stationed at Camp Courtney we found caves and went in, some parts were so then we had to squeeze thru . And some were wide open something i will never forget

semperfiman
07-14-11, 09:47 PM
sorry that was in 72-73

jp2usmc
07-14-11, 10:46 PM
I was at Hansen back in 1975-1976,,,,we used to use the caves to party in,,,,,,,,,if you get a chance go see kin cave in kinville,,,,,its a big cave, thats open to the public,,,,i thought it was pretty cool.

LOL That didn't happen to be a BAR called "The Cave", did it? I went to "The Cave" and got drunk quite often. If I recall correctly, it was over by the "Kick Ass East Coast Rock And Roll" club.

I could really go for some Taco Rice & Cheese or 3 Rolled Tacos.

airwinghma
07-15-11, 06:02 PM
Habu's, watch out for snakes in the caves or at the mouth of the caves, other than that take some pics and post.

Scott

Zulu 36
07-15-11, 07:11 PM
Habu's, watch out for snakes in the caves or at the mouth of the caves, other than that take some pics and post.

Scott

Oh, yeah. Got to watch out for those Habu snakes. Never saw one in or around any cave I explored, but that doesn't mean they weren't watching. You need a long stick when beating the bushes for them, they have a good length strike distance.

They're pretty nocturnal and I used to see them a lot crossing the perimeter road at Futemna in the evening. Snakes and feral dogs.

EGTSpec
07-15-11, 10:39 PM
When I was on the Rock in 75-76 a Marine exploring in the jungle found a cave that had been blown shut in WWII but with erosion had opened back up. He found two dead Jap skeletons in uniform and a rusty machine gun, ammo, and other stuff. I think they put all the stuff he found, except the skeletons of course, in a Museum on the Island. Can't recall the name of the base anymore. Only remember it was near or possibly on Kadena.

Zulu 36
07-16-11, 10:33 AM
When I was on the Rock in 75-76 a Marine exploring in the jungle found a cave that had been blown shut in WWII but with erosion had opened back up. He found two dead Jap skeletons in uniform and a rusty machine gun, ammo, and other stuff. I think they put all the stuff he found, except the skeletons of course, in a Museum on the Island. Can't recall the name of the base anymore. Only remember it was near or possibly on Kadena.

I'm quite certain there are many more caves like that waiting to be found. I'm equally certain that many have been found as development on Okinawa has expanded over the past 40-years, they just won't get big press in English language media unless found on US military bases or by US personnel (or if they involved American remains).

I was told by a US civilian civil engineer that most of the caves I explored at Naha in 1972 had been pretty well discovered and explored. Significant amounts of Japanese remains and military equipment had been removed in the late 1940s and early 1950s as the Air Force base at Naha was being constructed. The remains were repatriated to the Japanese, the equipment and weapons were dumped at sea or otherwise destroyed. There was just so much stuff adrift all over the island it wasn't unique or seen as historical at that time. Just trash.

Naha AB also had a number of well-beat up reinforced concrete bunkers still scattered about the base proper. I remember at least one still (sorta-kinda) mounted an artillery piece about 4" in bore. These bunkers were primarily sited to defend against a sea landing. I would guess these artillery bunkers were pretty much rendered ineffective for their original purposes by the time the 6thMarDiv landed through bombing or removal of weapons to the east, although they were still mostly suitable for infantry positions.

I had a ton of photos from Naha, but I haven't been able to find all of them for years. Unfortunately, the missing photos are of the caves and bunkers.

EGTSpec
07-16-11, 10:42 AM
I'm quite certain there are many more caves like that waiting to be found. I'm equally certain that many have been found as development on Okinawa has expanded over the past 40-years, they just won't get big press in English language media unless found on US military bases or by US personnel (or if they involved American remains).

I was told by a US civilian civil engineer that most of the caves I explored at Naha in 1972 had been pretty well discovered and explored. Significant amounts of Japanese remains and military equipment had been removed in the late 1940s and early 1950s as the Air Force base at Naha was being constructed. The remains were repatriated to the Japanese, the equipment and weapons were dumped at sea or otherwise destroyed. There was just so much stuff adrift all over the island it wasn't unique or seen as historical at that time. Just trash.

Naha AB also had a number of well-beat up reinforced concrete bunkers still scattered about the base proper. I remember at least one still (sorta-kinda) mounted an artillery piece about 4" in bore. These bunkers were primarily sited to defend against a sea landing. I would guess these artillery bunkers were pretty much rendered ineffective for their original purposes by the time the 6thMarDiv landed through bombing or removal of weapons to the east, although they were still mostly suitable for infantry positions.

I had a ton of photos from Naha, but I haven't been able to find all of them for years. Unfortunately, the missing photos are of the caves and bunkers.Yeah, I have a picture I took of the bay off Camp Schwab looking north. In my picture all you see is jungle across the bay. I found a picture on Goggle Earth taken at the same exact location just a couple years ago. The whole area across the bay is now covered in buildings. Also I have searched and searched and can't find the area where Camp Hauge was. I suspect it is now a houseing area, but not sure. There was a huge Rocky area fenced off in the middle of the base as I recall that was off limits because of dangerous caves, habu snakes and the like. I wander if it was cleared or is still there.

tripledog
07-16-11, 03:51 PM
I was there in 62-63 and the caves were a no no to military.

I Remember when survival was taught there and the forrest were real then.
I suspect it is all housing now.

Thought about going back many times, but remembered the way they drove those dam Datsun cabs and changed my mind. And besides, I suspect that steam baths, massage and honk jobs have gone up quite a bit anyway.

Ray Merrell
07-16-11, 04:47 PM
1945...In the Northern end of Japan at Nago, just before we started up Mt. Yaetake, the Japanese knowing we were coming left their Barracks before we arrived. They left everything just as it was except they took their weapons. I picked up a photo album of good Japanese pictures and a good Japanese flag. The pictures are now in my photo album.

Gung Ho,

Ray

Zulu 36
07-16-11, 05:35 PM
When Google Earth came along, I went on and checked the places I had been. Okinawa was the one place that really stunned me by the extent of development.

I had known, of course, there had been significant development just between May 1972, when I left Oki after my first visit, and Oct 1974 when I returned. But the Google Earth views really astounded me.

Some of the familiar terrain features around Naha AB are totally gone, including one very large coral pinnacle that had been an absolute ant farm of tunnels and fighting positions. Such is the price of progress I suppose.

EGTSpec
07-16-11, 10:16 PM
1945...In the Northern end of Japan at Nago, just before we started up Mt. Yaetake, the Japanese knowing we were coming left their Barracks before we arrived. They left everything just as it was except they took their weapons. I picked up a photo album of good Japanese pictures and a good Japanese flag. The pictures are now in my photo album.

Gung Ho,

RayPost the Pics Ray I would love to see em. SF

Ray Merrell
07-17-11, 05:32 AM
EGTSpec, I have posted a couple of pages from my scrapbook of pictures found on Okinawa and also a picture of a page from my mothers scrapbook of pictures found on Bougainville. I will post more pictures from Okinawa later. You will find them on my profile in my photo album page. Ray

EGTSpec
07-17-11, 11:03 AM
EGTSpec, I have posted a couple of pages from my scrapbook of pictures found on Okinawa and also a picture of a page from my mothers scrapbook of pictures found on Bougainville. I will post more pictures from Okinawa later. You will find them on my profile in my photo album page. RayCool pictures Ray, Thanks for sharing. SF

Reddog48
07-18-11, 02:17 PM
I explored the caves near Foster back in 81. I was with Delta 2/12 and the caves were near there. The caves I went into were not very deep. Some contained clay pots with human ashes in them. I took a metal detector there and found some brass, a piece of a rusted US helmet, and a US hand grenade. Dumb?... yep. EOD took the grenade from me.

William Hardy
07-18-11, 03:32 PM
I'm confused...
When I was there it was 3rd FSR and nobody mentioned anything about caves. I checked out Google Earth and found the two "H" shaped HQ bldgs. Between them is a long bldg. Behind that is a building that is surrounded by a fence. (zoom all the way in). When I was there, that was the Comm Center where I worked. We had our own compound inside the base. To the right of that area is a line of bldgs that were barracks. The one closest to the HQ buildings was the Comm barracks. In front of those is the parade deck and what use to be our PT area. This is the area where I have no knowledge of caves. It was too built up. Unless they were "hidden" or something, I think you guys are talking about a different area. If they were there, please give more information. Thanks guys.

jp2usmc
07-18-11, 05:09 PM
What are the map coordinates of Camp Foster?

Zulu 36
07-18-11, 05:36 PM
It's really hard to tell with a place like Okinawa. The geology by itself makes for interesting finds, but add a battle like there was in 1945 and things can really get unusual.

I did a little memory refreshing over the past couple of days using references and good old Google Earth. At Naha, I was reminded that the area where my barracks were (and actually, still are), was where some of the worst fighting on Oroku Peninsula took place.

Obviously when the barracks area was constructed, the area was smoothed out and generally cleaned up, but not flattened to sea level. The barracks area is hilly and right where the fights for Hills 57 and 62 took place. I can clearly recall having to walk up and down a steep flight of concrete stairs to get to the street from the front hatch of the barracks. The stairs are still there, but Google Earth doesn't visually show the changes in elevation well (no street level views there).

I imagine, if one were allowed to bring in a backhoe and do some digging, we could find all manner of old caves and fighting positions that had been filled up and smoothed over. There are a couple of the old reinforced concrete artillery positions still there on top of hills within easy rifle shot of my barracks.

It might also be noted that the area where Camp Foster is was not part of the heavily contested area of Okinawa. Yes, the Japanese had small units posted all over for harassment purposes, but the really ugly, serious fighting didn't start until a klick or two south of where MCAS Futenma is now. Exception: The Motobu Peninsula, of which I believe Ray Merrell would be the expert on operations there.

Based on what I learned in 1974-75, most of the caves north of Futenma were primarily used as shelters by civilians, with some exceptions, of course.

Zulu 36
07-18-11, 05:39 PM
What are the map coordinates of Camp Foster?


On Google Earth this will put you on the base:

26 degrees, 18 minutes, 00 seconds North

127 degrees, 45 minutes, 00 seconds East

You can't miss MCAS Futenma south of it and Kadena AB north-northeast.

koedyker89
07-18-11, 11:03 PM
Marines go back in there all the time, same thing for the area behind Brks 472 and 473. I never done it but wanted to . I had friends that would go get drunk back there.

Ray Merrell
07-21-11, 08:15 AM
I uploaded a couple more pages of pictures from Japanese
Photo Album found in Barracks, on my Pictures and Albums.

Yonkers
07-21-11, 08:52 AM
I'm currently stationed on Camp Foster in Okinawa. the other day I found caves behind that chow hall that a friend had told me about. personally I love to explore, and this is the chance of a lifetime.
But before I go walking into the home of strange Japanese creatures, I am wondering if any of you gentlemen have already gone in. they are located behind the chow hall, right next to the stream. i'm making arrangements with MCCS to go on a "Tunnel Rat" tour and will ask them as well.

*I will not be doing anything until I have sufficient PPE and know what I may find as far as wildlife

Rah from futenma cpl

jp2usmc
07-21-11, 09:58 AM
I uploaded a couple more pages of pictures from Japanese
Photo Album found in Barracks, on my Pictures and Albums.

Hope you don't mind me posting one up real quick:

http://www.leatherneck.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=3019&pictureid=15474

Ray Merrell
07-21-11, 10:45 AM
Thank you for posting jp2usmc!

Gung Ho,

Ray

Yonkers
07-21-11, 11:12 AM
Thank you for posting jp2usmc!

Gung Ho,

Ray

^^

pyrojackelope
07-26-11, 01:36 AM
I left Oki earlier this year, and for the entire time I was there, you "couldn't" go into any of the caves or tunnels unless there was something specifically permitting you to do so. I use the word couldn't lightly because of course, people would still do it, and by that I mean they would destroy the fences or whatever other measures were used to close the caves or tunnels. Perhaps I just took the TL;DR route with this thread, but I don't think there was a single person advising him to stay the hell away? I say that because in most cases it's illegal. Good luck though I guess...

jp2usmc
07-26-11, 09:14 AM
Well, I came close with my post below.


I was at Camp Hansen, and the rear fence backed up to a nice stretch of hills that I always wanted to poke around on. We were always told that it was private land and to kindly keep our ...selves off of it.

suzkaw
08-29-11, 06:33 PM
I was in Camp Sukruan in 60 & 61. "B" Company, 9thMTBN. I was in the last building going up the hill on the left. You could go on up the hill to fatuma. There was tombs behind the barricks. If you go in them be very watchful of Habu Snakes.