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Thread: Okinawa, Japan - Camp Foster
07-14-11, 07:28 AM #1
Okinawa, Japan - Camp Foster
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
07-14-11, 07:46 AM #2
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.
07-14-11, 07:53 AM #3
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.
07-14-11, 10:20 AM #4
@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.
07-14-11, 10:25 AM #5
More info please
07-14-11, 10:38 AM #6
Could be Joe..preserved maybe.
07-14-11, 12:38 PM #7
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.
07-14-11, 02:08 PM #8
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.
07-14-11, 02:16 PM #9
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.
07-14-11, 02:26 PM #10
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.
07-14-11, 05:41 PM #11
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 .
07-14-11, 07:52 PM #12
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.
07-14-11, 08:55 PM #13
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.
07-14-11, 09:46 PM #14
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
07-14-11, 09:47 PM #15
sorry that was in 72-73
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