NSGA SAKATA- 1961-1962 Narrative by Bob McDaniel
In June of 1961 I was at Anacostia Receiving Station, Washington, DC awaiting orders. At that time
I was a Storekeeper 2nd Class and was just starting my 2nd enlistment.
One day a PN called me in to tell me I had orders to Naval Security Group Activity, Sakata, Japan. I
had no idea what that was and apparently the PN did not either. He told me It was permanent
Shore Patrol duty.
Anyway, he gave me a bunch of forms to fill out that asked all kinds of questions about my life
todate (which I later found out was needed to start getting me a clearance).
The orders also required me to go to Motion Picture Operator's School in San Diego, CA. I was
really intrigued now. At Motion Picture Operatorís School they spent 2 weeks training me on how
to run a 35mm projector (like they used in regular movie theaters at that time) and 1 week on the
16mm projector. By this time I figured I must be going to be in Special Services somewhere in
After that I went to Travis AFB and then on to Kamiseya, Japan. There they told me I would have
to wait for the next courier run to Sakata. After a couple of weeks at Kamiseya, and a interview
with the Supply Officer, I was getting a better idea of where I was going and what I would be
One day LT Michaels got in touch with me and said we would be leaving the next day for a train
ride to Sakata. He and I went to the Tokyo train station (which was an experience) and got on a
train that eventually got us to Sakata, Japan.
Upon reporting I met CDR Burns (OIC) and my supervisor SK2 Roger Leach. Thus began a tour of
duty that I will never forget. Under Rogerís guidance I soon learned how Supply matters where
conducted at NSGA Sakata.
In addition to my supply duties, I learned that I was in charge of the movie schedule, setting up a
roster of movie operators, shipping and receiving movies. (CT2 Charley Lawson was glad to see
me arrive). I found that I could forget everything I knew about 35mm projectors as the only thing
we had were 16mm. Movies were shown In the combination messhall and All Hands Club. The
Chiefs had their own projector.
I also ran the small branch Navy Exchange/Shipís Store. This was a closet sized space in the
combination recreation room/chapel. We carried the basics only. Cigarettes, toiletries, candy and
snacks. Stock was received about once a month from Yokosuka. There was also a liquor store
that Chief Fordyce (later Chief Spenser) ran.
It was a great duty station and everyone really worked together to make it work. If you were the
duty driver on Sunday, you drove the right hand drive Chevrolet sedan to town and picked up one
of the missionary Priests or Pastors to come out to the base and conduct services.
There were not many American children around. I believe Chief Malloy had two, but they lived off
base. In Oct 1961 LI Horan arrived to relieve CDR Burns, and things got a little livelier with his 5
boys around. They were apt to show up anywhere. Those little guys would be middle aged by
All good things have to come to a end. In the summer of 1962 word was received that NSGA
Sakata was closing down. By this time Roger Leach and I had been promoted to SKI and Roger
had been transferred. SK2 Robert Forcier had been sent in to replace him.
We then proceeded to close down the base, soon SK2 Forcier was sent on to Kamiseya and I was
left to pack up the supplies and equipment to be shipped out. A good portion of the ops people
were transferred, so everyone that left was involved in shutting the place down. The big dish was
disassembled and crated up. Household goods of the families crated up and most of the other
material and supplies shipped to Kamiseya. The Nippon Express company would drag the stuff to
the rail yard for loading on rail cars. It seemed that it was difficult to find enough rail cars to
handle our stuff. My Japanese assistant said it was because it was rice harvest time and we were
competing with the farmers for tailraces. At that time the typical Japanese rail car was not very
big (about the size of a 20 ft container) so we needed a few.
A sales contract was awarded to cleanup our scrap yard, which started growing as we got closer
to shutdown, to a local salvage company. They seemed to be pretty happy with what they were
The Navy Exchange at Yokosuka said we should ship back all the unopened bottles of liquor, I
believe a few extra bottles got opened so we would have some bar stock to get us through the
final days. At the end it seemed we were down to Lime Vodka, Apricot Schnapps and other weird
stuff. Some of the local companies and organizations sent out huge bottles of Sake as going away
presents. I seem to remember a 32 cup coffee urn being filled with Sake.
In the final couple of weeks we were down to 10 or 12 people and had closed up the mess hall.
Meals were prepared in the kitchen of one of the family quarters.
One the 1st of October the U.S. flag was lowered and the remaining personnel got in the trucks
and other vehicles. We traveled in a caravan from Sakata to Kamiseya. It was a trip that took all
day and I believe we arrived at Kamiseya about midnight. LT Bob Horan has posted some photos
and notes on the closure of the base and the trip to Kamiseya.
In all it was a very interesting time. Some day I would like to make a trip back to Sakata, but in
some cases the memories are better than a trip back.