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07-15-03, 07:01 AM #1
Saying hello and goodbye at Camp Fuji
Saying hello and goodbye at Camp Fuji
By Jennifer H. Svan, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Monday, July 14, 2003
CAMP FUJI, Japan — Since 1977, this tiny Marine Corps base on the Kanto Plain has had 29 commanding officers. All stayed for a year or less on a remote, unaccompanied tour, except Col. Henry J. Donigan III.
Because he was single, Donigan, who turned over his job to Col. John J. Jackson at a change-of-command ceremony here Friday, agreed to a two-year tenure when he arrived at Camp Fuji in July 2001.
But a funny thing happened to Donigan in Japan: He got married.
Donigan now reports to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he’ll become the future operations officer.
For his service to Camp Fuji, he was awarded the Legion of Merit on Friday. Under Donigan’s leadership, Camp Fuji’s 225 Marines and sailors saw major quality-of-life improvements, including the opening of a Community Services Center with a small exchange, food court, barbershop and restaurant.
Donigan said he’s most proud of helping to bring higher education to Camp Fuji. With the opening of the new education center, college enrollment expanded from four students — who traveled to other installations for classes — to 73 students, who took most of their courses at the camp.
Still, Camp Fuji is without some amenities taken for granted at other U.S. military installations in Japan, including a commissary, movie theater and golf course.
Though there’s always room for improvement, Donigan said, “Camp Fuji will never have these things because it’s designed as an expeditionary camp.”
Camp Fuji’s military personnel support Marine units from Okinawa that deploy there for training. A combined-arms facility, Fuji is the only U.S. Marine Corps installation in Japan where certain live-fire artillery training is permitted.
“This is probably the best place we have in Japan” for training, Donigan said. But “there are some things that we can’t do that would be nice to do,” he added, such as aviation-ordnance training in which Marines drop live ammunition.
Jackson, for his part, said he wants to carry on the training traditions at Camp Fuji and maintain the cooperation with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and local government officials. The new commander said he isn’t planning any immediate changes.
“I’m going to get a good feel for the training environment, and then we’ll determine any rudder steers that we need to do from there,” he said.
Jackson comes to Camp Fuji from the Pentagon, where he worked in the Office of the Director, Joint Staff. He was commissioned into the Marine Corps in 1977 after graduating from the University of Utah and serving briefly in the Army.
He’ll lead Camp Fuji for a year while his family remains in the United States.
Jackson’s biggest accomplishment to date?
“Being married for 27 years and raising four children amongst all the deployments, conflicts and hours away from home,” he said.
07-15-03, 08:39 AM #2
Two years on Fuji is enough for anyone! When I was there, we did have an outdoor theater!
07-15-03, 09:30 PM #3
Crap! It sounds like they are turning Camp Fuji into a country club.
Just a comment from the Old Corps. LOL
I have a lot of good memories of that "tent camp".
07-15-03, 11:16 PM #4
There is an actual PX (small one) and barracks there. I do miss the place. Ever take the train to Numazu or Tokyo? If nothing else just stroll out the gate to the White Tiger or get some soba downtown Gotemba!
Note to all - White Tiger - A bar / cafe that played non-stop vhs movies, served chow and much drink.
07-16-03, 03:42 AM #5firstsgtmikeGuest Free Member
Been there, done that, but I was damn glad to get back home to Okinawa.
04-19-08, 12:08 AM #6
My Memories of Fuji
When was the last time anybody saw Fuji with absolutely no snow? It can be a rare occurance, but a spectacle to see and climb. I have four fuji sticks. That's what happens when you stay with a CSSD unit. The first time I ever went to Fuji was from a liberty tour in the Philippines in 1982. I can't believe that 1982 sounds and feels like a hundred years ago, but when I really have the chance to think about that time, it's crystal clear. How can anybody forget the Fuji Burger? Or drinkin a bud at club that was actually some type of bingo hall. I used to go to the White Tiger every weekend. Infact the second tour to Fuji I lived right behind the Tiger with my new Japanese wife. What a trip that was. I think I was the only active duty Marine to ever get permission to live off base while on my six month tour. I miss Fuji and all that I learned while training there. It was the first grenade range I went to from bootcamp and also it was the first time I qualified with the M-203. I can remember how fun it was to blow the crap outta those targets. I have been out of the Corps for ten years now and have a strong desire to move close to Camp Pendleton, wanting to be closer to my brethern. Semper Fidelis to all the Marines who are Leathernecks....Rick
04-19-08, 01:45 AM #7
Myself and a buddy went out the gate because of a big festival they were having. It was great except that we kept getting dirty looks. Asked a vender what the celebration was for...... "The anniversary of Nagasaki." We returned to the camp asap.
04-28-08, 03:54 AM #8
I never have forgotten that little resaurant across the road from the white tiger that had a sign on the window that said "Sand Witch". Cracked me up everytime I saw it.
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