Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953). Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).

<- PREVIOUS LETTER September 9, 1945*
Atsugi Airfield, Honshu, Japan

* Estimated date, based on his mother’s sequential numbering of the letters. She received this one before a letter dated September 10, 1945. The letter says he’s been at that location since August 30, and the activities that he describes in the letter probably took at least a week to accomplish.

August 31, 1945: General MacArthur takes over command of the Japanese government in Tokyo.
September 2, 1945: Japanese surrender is signed.

Atsugi Airfield,

Hello Ma:

      Well, I am now in Japan and have been at Atsugi Airfield since August 30th. I left Ie Shima Aug. 28th and flew to Iwo Jima. The trip took five hours and 12 minutes. We took off for Japan on the morning of the 30th and landed at my new base in the afternoon. This hop took 4 hours and 30 minutes. I landed at about 5:30 P.M.

      The strip is of cement measuring 250 feet in width and 5,000 feet in length with plenty of taxiways. So, far, we have not been permitted to leave the base. The nearest large town is Yokohama, and from what I hear it is pretty well bombed out. There are about 500 wrecked Jap planes here. Mostly are of old types (two from the last war). Up until recently, we had Jap soldiers armed with clubs and knives to guard us. But now that the 11th Airborne Division and 32nd Division are here, they took over the job of guarding the field. Most of the civilians seem to be afraid of us, and each, young and old, politely bows before passing us. This base used to be an air-technical training school and there are many large modern hangars and barracks. Under ground, there are miles and miles of tunnels and rooms. Anything can be found in this underground city from machine shops, showers, mess halls, sleeping quarters, sheet metal shops, offices, schoolrooms, printing rooms, photographic laboratories, hospitals, dentists' offices, and various types of store rooms. A big underground diesel power plant supplies the electrical lighting system. I spent about 3 hours in a library there looking through all of the Jap aeronautical books. I have about 25 books which I took for myself. These books were bought from the United States and are of course printed in English. Also, I found all kinds of books printed in German, Spanish, and French - besides those of Jap and English. The Japs really are good at copying other nations' scientific methods. Books on chemistry, physics, electricity, engines, mathematics, among other subjects were there.

      Some of the boys have their private vehicles - once owned by the Japanese. We drive back and forth to the field in a Jap bus. My squadron occupies three large barracks, each having two floors. In each barrack once lived 500 aviation students. The 250 men of my outfit live in two of these barracks, while the mess hall and officers' quarters are in the third. I do not particularly care for the native drink (sake), although the beer, what little there was, is as good as Australian. Many of the boys had a five-gallon jug of whiskey under their beds. Every night a drunk party. The officers finally got wise and broke it up when attendance at the airfield became less and less each morning. I had my own private airplane up until today. Some souvenir hunter stole the magnets off the engine and ripped some of the fabric from the wings. I could have had it in flying condition in about two weeks as it was. Right now, I am looking for another to patch up. Since I have been on this base, I have worked at nights, averaging anywhere from 8 to 13 hours of work each night. Tomorrow, I start day work. Planes are coming and going, day and night. Mostly bringing in equipment and occupation troops. I do not have any idea when I will get home. Maybe by St. Valentine's Day (1946) if I am lucky. I don't have enough points just now.

      Well, Ma, letters are no more being censored, so I can say anything that I like without anyone cutting parts out.

      I have received two Life magazines and several Newsweeks. Also, your letters of Aug. 15th and 19th, 17th, and your postcard of Aug. 6th written in Washington. Also, received Yvonne's little letter of Aug. 15th. Received a letter from Gillie Yates. He didn't have very much to say. I haven't had time yet to answer him. I received a card from Reader's Digest telling me that my subscription had been renewed. Tell Phus thanks for me.

      Well, Ma, this is about all for the first letter from Japan. So, until a little later -


[According to his mother's notation on the envelope, there was a Squadron Pulse newsletter enclosed. It is no longer in the envelope. However, all of the Squadron Pulse newsletters have been collected from other sources and can be found on the Squadron Pulse page. - Ed.]

The Base Operations building at Atsugi Airfield, about 30 miles southwest of Tokyo, with 3rd Airdrome Squadron sign.

The 3rd Airdrome Squadron's "First In Tokyo" sign at the engineering tech supply hangar in 1945. In smaller print, the sign lists
the previous places where the squadron had been based during its overseas service, including Brisbane, Amberley,
Charleville, Oro Bay, Lae, Saidor, San Pablo, Tanauan (misspelled as "Tanuan"), Floridablanca and Ie Shima.

From the family archive. This appears to be one of the books that he retrieved at the Atsugi base.


The Kindle book includes the letters; all 23 issues of the unit’s wartime newsletter “The Squadron Pulse,” which was originally edited by Leonard Stringfield; all 12 issues of the “Pennant Parade” newsletter that Stringfield published while sailing home after the war; complete text of the U.S. government booklet “Pocket Guide to Australia,” which soldiers heading Down Under were given to read; more than 200 photos; pre-war and postwar family history; and over 700 explanatory endnotes.


This page established: November 11, 2018             Last updated: February 23, 2023

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