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NSG Det Sakata, Japan
Narrative from Bob Horan

The official SECNAV Notice 5450 of 7 Sept 62 disestablished the Activity. That notice referenced its
establishment in November 1956 (probably as a Det of KamiSeya) and later modified in December
1959 (probably as an Activity). Although operating as an NSGA under an OIC, it remained under
admin control of NSGA Kami Seya.

I was a Lt at Kamiseya in 1961 and as a russian linguist, involved in submarine and flight (VQ 1)ops
and served as head of the Direct Support Division. In Oct 61, an urgent need for the services of the
then OIC Sakata, Cdr Bill Burns to serve as ops officer at Kami Seya developed and I was dispatched
to relieve him which I did in November 1961.

NSGA Sakata was a small Elint station, about 30 acres right on the sea of Japan on the edge of the
farming and fishing city of Sakata. Two 60 ft dish antennae highlighted our landscape. There were
approximately 55 to 65 men and 3 to 4 officers. In my tenutre through disestablishment in October
1962 were Lt Andy Michaels, LTJG Al Moses and Ens Charlie Press. CT1 Cec Draper was the
Admin Dept.

Besides the Ops building, barracks, and the Public Works complex, we had a quonset for the Chiefs
quarters and one next door for the OIC and Admin. There were two sets of duplex living quarters on
the base. The men (no women yet) were very well integrated into the Japanese community since
recreation and diversion on base were minimal. Pinnacle of recreation was the infrequent shows of
USO touring groups. We received especially good press from the devoted efforts of the sailors
supporting the "Blue Bird" home in Sakata caring for physically and mentally disabled children.

An interesting (to me) sidelight. When I arrived in Oct 61, there was a small group of marines out of
Cincpacflt on temporary duty testing antennae on Mt Chokai near the base and attached to us for
support. The marine captain in charge, Capt Al Gray, used to pop in periodically for supplies.
Capt Gray went on to be a four star general and Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Dependent children (including my five sons) both on and off the base attended the Japanese
kindergarden and elementary school and additionally many were taught by their parents using the
Calvert Correspondence courses for part of each day. They became so proficient in Japanese that I
often used them as interpreters.

Ultimately, increased VQ elint flight ops and other sophisticated technologies doomed the mission
of NSGA SAKATA. By mid summer 1962, the decision was made in Washington to pull the plug.
As I was already in Japan 3 1/2 years, I was scheduled to be relieved by LCDR Joe Devonchik,
then at NSA, Ft Meade, but his orders were subsequently cancelled.

In late August 62, we moved 2/3 of the personnel out on pcs orders and a skeleton crew began
dismantling the base. Before the dependents left, we gave them a tour of the emptied heretofore
classified ops spaces. They were totally unimpressed. Most material was crated and shipped to
Kami Seya. A lot of useable material was turned over to local hospitals and the BlueBird home.
The land reverted to the Japanese Self-Defense Force. The mayor and the city of Sakata put on a
glorious farewell banquet for the remaining crew.

In October 1962 we loaded into a convoy of 12 trucks and passanger vehicles, locked the gate,
and drove through downtown Sakata where large numbers of locals lined the street and stopped
us to present flower bouquets. (not a dry eye around). We then drove straight through from the
west coast across the mountain range down in to the Kanto plain on the east coast to Kami Seya.

By this time, Capt Ed Knepper had been relieved by Capt Karl Smith and Cdr Tommy Butler
was XO.

I left Kami Seya in November 1962 and reported to Navsecgru Hq for duty.

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