My dad, A1/C & SSgt Robert A. Underwood, served from 1953-55 at Tachikawa East/FEAMCOM AFB. He was a physical therapist, hospital ward, and neurosurgical assistant at the 6407th USAF Hospital, and sometimes (like most of the Hospital staff) did detached duty in the 801st MAES/6481st MAEG (Medical Air Evacuation Squadron/Group). He is 84 now, and still kicking---and as long as he doesn't kick Mom (age 80), he'll be OK (or else she'll kick him back!)
Sometime later this year---Lord willing---I plan to post some of the little known or seen insignia of some of the various units from Tachi during this period. (I have to take some time to re-do and upgrade some of my graphics on them.)
I have also been trying to put together a good organizational command chart (sometimes known as an O/B = Order of Battle) for Tachi in the Korean War years especially, both before and after the major command name and number changes in 1952/53. I know FEAMCOM was created late in WWII under FEAF, then was re-designated FEALOGFOR, and so forth. The 13th Air Depot Group and 376th U.S. Army Surgical Hospital was assigned here at the beginning of the Occupation, and the 13th grew to Wing size, where it was redesignated the 6400th Air Depot Wing, at the FEAMCOM AFB (i.e. Tachikawa East), and the 6000th Air Base Wing was also assigned. The 376th was turned over to the Air Force and redesignated the 6407th USAF Hospital (operated by the 6407th Hospital Group, which included the 6407th Hospital Squadron, and I want to say the 6408th Dental Lab [Squadron], plus whatever the Pharmacy unit was.) Anyway, this is the kind of thing I've been working on for years. Come to think of it, I haven't done any work on it for about two years, so am a little rusty.
If you or fellow members have anything on these subjects in the way of help (on insignia, order of battle/organization), I would love to hear from you all and incorporate your data accordingly---with all the credit due to individual members of the team.
I have always felt, as a historian, that the Tachikawa units have long been overlooked and publicly ignored. Matt Underwood
United States military use
Emblem of the Military Air Transport Service
USAF 1503d Air Transport Wing emblem
MATS C-118A Liftmaster, AF Ser. No. 53-3265
MATS Navy R7V-B1, BuNo 131654
MATS C-124A Globemaster II, AF Ser. No. 50-1256
MATS C-133B Cargomaster, AF Ser. No. 59-0528
After the war, the United States occupied the base, with the airfield being a shambles. Given its proximity to Tokyo, Tachikawa Airfield was designated as a transport base, with a mission to provide transportation for priority passengers and cargo in and around the Tokyo Area; to support the Occupation Government in Japan, and provide strategic transport to the United States.
Air Transport Command (ATC) was given the assignment to get the airfield cleaned up and operational. ATC established the 1503d Army Air Force Base Unit (AAFBU) to manage the cargo and personnel operations at the airfield, and by 1 January 1946 the base was ready enough to permit C-47 Skytrain and C-46 Commando aircraft to operate from the base. Larger C-54 Skymasters began using the base by April 1946, and a day/night lighting system was installed and in operation by November 1946.
In 1947, Air Transport Command began to support the Seventh (Fifth Air Force) Air Force Service Command Japan Air Materiel Area (JAMA) at Tachikawa, which eventually became the major tenant unit at the base, and by 1948 was providing depot-level maintenance for aircraft in Far East Air Force and logistical support from Air Materiel Command. In July 1949, JAMA was redesignated Far East Air Materiel Command (FEAMCOM).
The western sector became Tachikawa Air Base, while FEAMCOM took the eastern part. They became a single base again in 1956. With the inactivation of Air Transport Command in 1948, Military Air Transport Service redesignated the 1503d AAFBU the 540th Air Transport Wing, later 1503d Air Transport Wing. The wing became the host organization at Tachikawa Air Base upon activation.
The 1503d ATW became the main MATS organization in the Western Pacific, supporting numerous tenant organizations such as the Air Rescue Service; Air Weather Service, and Far East Air Force theater Troop Carrier Groups (later Wings) which transshipped supplies and personnel from the MATS Aerial Port at Tachikawa throughout the 1950s. The first major mission by the 1503d was the evacuation of large numbers of Americans out of China in 1948 after the Communists defeated the Chinese Nationalist forces during the Chinese Civil War.
In addition to the MATS operations, Far East Air Force operated numerous Troop Carrier units from Tachikawa, providing theater airlift within the command flying C-46 and C-47 transports during the late 1940s under the 6000th Support Wing.
The Korean War saw operations increase, with Troop Carrier units carrying out the evacuation of American civilians and then transporting the torrent of Allied military men and material flowing into the war zone. Around the clock planes arrived and departed. A typical flight might carry 35,000 pounds of hand grenades to South Korea, with 80 wounded personnel arriving to be transported to the USAF Hospital on the base. For thousands of servicemen whose tours took them into, through or out of Tachikawa, the USAF hospital became the best barometer of American military activities in the Far East.
After the Korean War, the Far East Air Force 6100th SW became the host unit at Tachikawa in 1953, with MATS and Air Materiel Command becoming tenant organizations. MATS flights arrived and departed 24 hours a day operating C-118, C-121, C-124 and C-133 from Hickam Field, Hawaii or being staged through Alaska. From Tachikawa, outbound MATS flights headed to Clark Air Base heading to Saigon, Bangkok, and on to Karachi Airport, Pakistan or to Guam, Wake or Midway Island in the Central Pacific Region.
Disaster struck Tachikawa on June 18, 1953 when a U.S. Air Force Douglas C-124 Globemaster II transport experienced an engine failure after takeoff and crashed into a field near the base. The accident claimed the lives of 129 people, and was the deadliest air disaster in history at the time.
With a runway only 1,500 m (4,900 ft) long, Tachikawa was not adequate for the largest aircraft, and the U.S. decided to extend the runway into the neighboring town of Sunagawa (now part of the city of Tachikawa). The July 8, 1957, Sunagawa Riots (also known as the "Sunagawa Struggle") resulted in cancellation of the plan.
As United States military forces began to increase in Indochina, more and more equipment moved into first Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam, then to Don Muang Royal Thai Air Force Base, near Bangkok, and in early 1965 to the huge new Cam Ranh Air Base with the jet C-141 Starlifter transports.
In 1964, operations from Tachikawa began to phase down as its location in the urban area of Tokyo made heavy transport operations undesirable. In addition, Tachikawa's short runway made jet transport operations difficult. As a result, the Air Force chose to develop nearby Tama Airfield (the present-day Yokota Air Base) with more and more heavy transport operations going there.
The 1503d was reduced to Group Level, and operations at Tachikawa focused more on Aeromedical Transport operations from the Philippines, and supporting MATS units at deployed locations in the Pacific. C-130E troop carrier units from Pacific Air Forces continued to operate from the airfield. With the inactivation of the Military Air Transport Service in 1966, the aerial port facilities were turned over to the Pacific Air Forces 6100th Support Wing (formerly 6000th), which had taken over base support duties from the 1503d ATW in 1953. Military Airlift Command operations were reassigned to Yokota Air Base.
In the late 1960s, more and more transport operations were shifted to Yokota, and by 1969 the use of the airfield ended with the exception of light aircraft use. On 3 October 1969, Fifth Air Force announced that the flight activity at Tachikawa would be halted until the end of the year. During the 1970s Tachikawa's mission changed to being a support base, primarily USAF military housing for Tokyo and the large USAF hospital remained.
On 23 January 1973, the Kanto Plain Consolidation Plan (KPCP) was endorsed by the 14th U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee, both the U.S. and Japanese Government agreed to return of Tachikawa Air Base. KPCP was a primary Fifth Air Force program which consolidates major USAF activities at five facilities in the Kanto Plain (Tachikawa, Fuchu Air Station, South Camp Drake, Kanto-Mura Dependent Housing Area, and Johnson Housing Annex) into Yokota Air Base. Following the completion of the USFJ Facilities and Areas Adjustment Program (1968 to 1971), the plan was developed through the U.S.-Japan Joint Committee and its Facilities Subcommittee. As the first implementation of the KPCP, Yamato Air Station (Tachikawa AB school annex and unaccompanied personnel dormitory area) was returned to the Japanese Government on 30 June 1973.
After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, plans were made to close Tachikawa for budgetary reasons. The base was officially closed on 30 September 1977 (Special Order GA-45, Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces, 27 September 1977); on 30 November 1977, Tachikawa Air Base was formally returned to the Japanese government.
Major USAF units assigned
•Japan Air Materiel Area (FEAF), c. 1946
Far East Air Materiel Command (FEAF), 1 July 1949
Far East Air Logistics Force (AMC), 1 July 1952
Air Materiel Force, Pacific Area (AMC/AFLC), 1 October 1955-1 June 1957; 1 April 1960-1 July 1962
Northern Air Materiel Area, Pacific (AMC), 1 June 1957-1 April 1960
•6401st Ammunition Supply Group (Depot), 1 December 1954 (stationed at FEAMCOM AB)A
2714th Ammunition Supply Group (Depot), 1 Oct 1955-1 Jun 1956.
•315th Air Division (Combat Cargo), 24 Apr 1954
315th Air Division, 1 Aug 1967-15 Apr 1969
•54th Troop Carrier Wing, Sep 1945-25 Jan 1946 •71st Reconnaissance Group, 25 Oct 1945-15 Jan 1946 •433d Troop Carrier Group, 11 Sep 1945-15 Jan 1946 •375th Troop Carrier Group, Sep 1945-25 Mar 1946 •317th Troop Carrier Group, 15 Jan 1946-21 Sep 1948
317th Troop Carrier Wing, 18 Aug-2 Dec 1948
•374th Troop Carrier Group, 5 Mar 1949-18 November 1958
374th Troop Carrier Wing, 5 March 1949-1 July 1957
•61st Troop Carrier Group, 26 Mar-18 Nov 1952•1503d Air Transport Wing (Heavy) (MATS), 15 Jul 1957B
1503d Air Transport Group, 22 Jun 1964-8 Jan 1966
•65th Military Airlift Group (MAC), 8 Jan 1966-14 Aug 1967 •USAF Hospital, Tachikawa, 1 July 1953 – 1 April 1976C •2710th Air Base Wing, c. 1956
6000th Operations Squadron
6100th Air Base Wing, 1 Jan 1961
6100th Support Wing, 1 Jul 1961-31 Jul 1970D
•Under the control of:
347th Tactical Fighter Wing (Yokota AB), 1 Jul 1970
6100th Air Base Wing, Provisional (Yokota AB), 15 May 1971E
475th Air Base Wing (Yokota AB), 1 Nov 1971-31 Aug 1977
A. The eastern portions of Tachikawa AB were redesignated as "JAMA Army Air Base" on 27 February 1947.  It was redesignated as "FEAMCOM Air Base" on 1 July 1949, and was consolidated again with the western portion of Tachikawa AB on 1 January 1956.
B.^ 1503d ATW was moved from Haneda AB to Tachikawa AB on 15 July 1957.
C.^ Consolidated with 347th USAF Dispensary, Yokota AB.
D. The 6000th Support Wing (Fuchu AS, Tokyo) and the 6100th Air Base Wing combined to form the 6100th Support Wing.
E.^ The 6100th Air Base Wing reactivated at Yokota AB as provisional status, replacing the 347th TFW.