Sendai, Japan – 172nd Station Hospital.

Last Friday afternoon, a magnitude 8.9 earthquake rocked Japan.  The resulting tsunami no doubt dealt even more destruction to the northeastern coastline.  The city of Sendai, population one million, felt the full brunt of the blow. Our prayers are with the people of Japan.

The area is certainly familiar to many American veterans.  For some, the memories of Sendai and the Northern Honshu region are not fond ones.  In 1944, American POWs were transported in “death ships” to mainland Japan.  Those fortunate enough to survive the voyage would spend the remainder of the war in Sendai Division – POW Work Camps.

Post World War II, multiple American military installations were set up within the city and surrounding region.  Camp Schimmelpfennig would serve as a base for elements of the 1st Cavalry Division.  Others would call Camp Sendai home.

Jerry Morr served at the 172nd Station Hospital - Sendai, Japan in 1946 .

A postal insurance building in the city was turned into the 172nd Station Hospital.  U.S. Army veteran, Jerry Morr arrived in Sendai in 1946.  “I was told that I was to be assigned to a medical laboratory,” he said.  “I thought to myself, what are they doing to me.  I had no clue what a laboratory even was.  Anyway, I met all in the lab and one of them said that I was to be the new bacteriologist.  He explained to me that he was on his way back to the States and said this black book would explain everything that I should or could do.

“Within the next month, I was drawing blood, testing guys for gonorrhea and syphilis, plus doing blood cultures, checking for staph and strep infections.  …You had to learn to do these things yourself.  A doctor had to rely on us 100 percent.  No one showed us anything.”

A tragic fire in the nurses’ quarters seared Morr’s memory forever.  “We lost a lot of good people in there,” he said.  “One in particular, he and I were working on an experiment.  This was a doctor and I wasn’t supposed to know anything.  We were just ready to send some results back to the States for testing.  He got burned up real bad and they sent him back to the States.  I wasn’t smart enough to follow through with it and finish up.  …Never heard from him again and don’t know if he lived or died.

“Another doctor, he was all burned up.  All his veins had collapsed and I had to go into his leg to get blood.  His face was badly burned and all wrapped up.

“A nurse comes in and says she has to go back and see this guy.  So I say, ‘No problem, go on back.’

“Later, I’m working on another guy and she comes back again.  This time, she walks right back without saying anything.  I’m wondering what’s going on, so I go back to check it out.  She’s got this guy’s face unwrapped and is kissing on him.  She had just lost it.  We got her evacuated back to the States.  He died during the night.  Our lab served as a morgue too.”

Whether the memories are good or bad, many American servicemen still hold ties to Sendai, Japan.  In this time of unparalleled tragedy, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of this region.

44 Responses to “Sendai, Japan – 172nd Station Hospital”

  1. Mike Worley says:

    Your story is a fascinating one of getting the job done. No excuses. Many today lack that ethic.

    Sendai and its people have been in my thoughts since I first heard about this tragedy. My link to Sendai is that I was born there 5/7/49. At the 172nd Station Hospital. Delivered by Capt. H.H. MacDougall.

    My father was a 1st Lieutenant in CIC, primary MOS Japanese linguist and interrogator. All the names I hear on the news – Miyagi, Fukushima, Daiichi – are names I grew up with. In addition to Camp Schimmelpfennig, etc.

    I also became a linguist and worked in the intelligence area. Arabic of all languages, even though I already spoke German. The Army sent me to Ethiopia where I worked out of Kagnew Station.

    The recent and ongoing tragedies have made me wonder what became of the 172nd Station Hospital. And where it was exactly. I understand that Abe Lincoln operated a web site until about 2005 that had a pictorial history of the structure from before the U.S. took it over through after its return to the Japanese.

    • mikemccoy says:

      Mike,

      Thanks for the interesting, and timely, comments. I’ve seen a couple of pics of the old 172nd Station Hospital. If I remember the photos, it looked like a big office building.

      Also interesting that you worked at Kagnew Station. I talked with another vet that was once stationed there. I’d like to do a blog post on it sometime and would like to talk with you more about it. I’ll be in touch.

      • Mike Worley says:

        Mike,

        I experienced Kagnew Station in its decline, 11/72 to 8/73, when I separated from service, flew to Nairobi, and traveled by road with a truly motley and international crew through eastern and northern Africa back to Europe. Two of those months were spent TDY in Germany on the East German border on a special little project that, as usual, turned out to be really nothing.

        I had a great time in Asmara, Ethiopia [now Eritrea] and I’d be glad to give you my insights into that period. Filtered, of course, through the mists of almost 40 years of memory.

        During my time, it was mostly just us 04B2LAE/98G types, along with some ditty-boppers, listening in on Egypt, mainly to learn about the USSR. Llittle was going on and the Army gave us all early outs. Hardly over a year later [when I would have still been on active duty], the Yom Kippur war flared up and there was no one there to listen in on it.

        The Defense Department definitely lost money on me. But I had a good time. To communicate with me directly when you want, just put a dot between my first and last names and add @yahoo.com.

  2. Mike Worley says:

    Looking at the rest of the hits on my “172nd Station Hospital” search, I found the following oral history done by Rutgers University of the Capt. H.H. MacDougall who delivered me.

    He has quit a bit to say about his time in Korea and Japan.

    http://oralhistory.rutgers.edu/Interviews/macdougall_howard.html

  3. J. Neil Hammitt says:

    I was stationed in Sendai with the 5th Cavalry in 1954. It during that period of time when the Japanese were very busy trying to replace WWII damages. We were paid each month in script, which required being changed from time to time due to the black market for green backs. I appreciated the endurance of the local populace and was not surprised to see their emergence as an economic power. During war game exercises the young Japanese girls would follow behind the troops and pick up spent shell casings that were converted into a multitude of items to re cycle.

  4. Judy Gernon says:

    Anyone been able to figure out the Latitude and Longitude of the 1950′s Camp Sendai or the hospital?

    I was there in 1952-1953 as a 1st and 2nd grader. We met my dad there after he was wounded in Korea.

    I remember a river, the Hirose, next to the camp, with rice paddies? The general and his family lived up on a hill in a beautiful Japanese house.

    There was also a Shinto shrine ruin on the base.

    I still have script money from there.

    • mikemccoy says:

      Judy,

      Welcome aboard. Good question. Sorry I don’t have an answer, but I will look into it.

    • Tomiji Abe says:

      CAMP SENDAI) :
      At the Spring of 2010, I have been to see the place where the Camp Sendai was formerly located.
      It had been long times since I saw the Camp Sendai at the last time.
      When I arrived in the Kawauchi area where former Camp Sendai was located, I was very surprised that the area was completely changed at all and there is no image of the good old days.
      It was very hard for me to find former individual locations for the US army buildings, facilities and barracks in the new existing location.
      (OLD DAYS MEMORIES)
      If you cross the Hirose river bridge, you will get to the main entrance to the check points and show your identification card to the security guards to obtain permission to enter the Camp Sendai.
      You will walking along the buildings of the Labor Office, Dormitory, PX Garage and reach to the MPIS Office (Military Investigation Section) then you walk to the Fire Station.
      An opposite side of the Fire Station, you will see the dependent housing area where the places covered by the beautiful green grass all over.
      In a front of the houses, you will see private sedan and inside of the houses, you will see wealthy and a happy American family life.
      If you walking through the beautiful housing area, you will get to the center of the Camp.Sendai.
      In this center, you will see daily activities of the Chapel, Commissary, PX (Post Exchange), FEN (Far East Net work-Radio Station), Dispensary, APO (Army Post Office).
      Then, you will reach to the Barracks for WAC Detachment (Women’s Army Corps)
      Signal, MP (Military Police), Motor Pool, etc.
      At the edge of the Camp Sendai, there is the 8012th Motor Pool.
      There are jeep, weapon carrier, truck, dump, bus, (Shuttle bus run Camps Sendai, Camp Flower, Camp Shimm. Tagajyo, Yamoto (Matsushima) Air port, wrecker, road grader and heavy weapon carrier.
      If you move against motor pool, you will get to the Enlisted Men’s Club, and then reach to the IX Corps Headquarters.
      (CURRENT DAYS)
      All the related US Army buildings, housings, facilities, and properties had been destroyed long time ago.
      The former places where US Army stationed are now widely developed.
      There are apartment houses and buildings of the Tohoku University.
      (Note)
      This time, I have no time to visit the former place of the 172nd Station Hospital.
      Corporal Wayne J. LaBorne who from Oklahoma was my best friend, he worked with me together at the motor pool.
      We visited see his friend who injured and stayed as a patient in the 172nd Station Hospital.
      I heard that the fire occurred at this hospital was only limited area, probably kitchen.
      There is no official news to the public about this fire.

      I worked as a Japanese dispatcher at the 8012th Motor Pool for the 1951 to 1954.
      My current residence is Kawasaki near Tokyo, Japan.

      • Paul E Danel says:

        I am a bit confused by your account of what you called Camp Sendai. When I served with the 1st Cavalry,545th MP company I was stationed at Camp Schimmelfenning Just about 10 miles outside the City Of Sendai, Japan. I never heard of a Camp Sendai.

    • Tomiji Abe says:

      I read Mr. William J. Hoppe and Mr. Leon H. Shisler’s notes for the old memories when you were stationed in the Camp Shimm.
      In your notes, I remembered nostalgic my old days when I worked at Camp Shimm. as a part time workers in the summer vacation days when I was in my High School days.
      My main job assignment was cutting grass around barracks.
      How ever, 2 or 3 days I was assigned to the new installed Bowling Ally.
      My job was, clean and polish wooden plates using sand papers at the Bowling Alley.
      .The 11th Airborne Division 187th Paratroop Infantry Regiment was stationed at the Funaoka town where I lived.(There was former Japanese Navy Powder Manufacturing Depot )
      .

  5. Donald Wood says:

    I am ex. Corporal Donald Wood Ra 11145258. I was stationed at the 172nd. Station Hospital during May 1949 through September 1951. I worked all over the hospital but mostly in the orthopedic clinic for Major Adolf Shoeflin. I lived in the hospital until shortly after June 25, 1950. The start of the Korean War. Then I was sent to Eta Jima in southern Honshu to attend an Army school for Unit Supply specialist. When I came back to the hospital I was moved to Camp Sendai to live in barracks there. We had a 250 bed hospital during the WWII occupation. When the Korean War started we became a 500 bed hospital with 250 bed personel to run the hospital until we received Enlisted Reserves from the States. Sendai was leveled with incindiary bombings from B 29s. The camp sendai was once a Japanese army elite troop camp called something liks Kawauchi. That too was bombed to destruction. I am available to answer any questions, But hurry, I will be 80 years old in September. When I got to Sendai, I was just 17. So long, Don.

    • mikemccoy says:

      Don,

      Welcome aboard and thanks for the kind offer. I know back a few weeks ago, Judy Gernon had posted a request for the longitude and latitude for Camp Sendai or the hospital. Any ideas?

    • Donald Wood says:

      Hi, Don Wood again. 1/13/2018. I am now 86 years old. I may be the last one alive who worked at the 172nd. Station Hospital between may 1949 and August 1951. Some of the guys who worked there then = Alphonso Tosiano,Company clerk, Burlington, N.J. Wilfred Saulnier, company supply clerk, North Adams, Mass. Joe Gonzales, Dental clinic, San Antonio, Texas. Ivan Vidrine, surgical tech. Apaloosa, La. Robert Simpson, Wheeling, West Virginia. Capt. Ebert, Company Commander. Donald Frazier, Cambridge, Mass. We called our first sergent, Bulldog. The Chief Nurse was Major Madelene Desmond. She went to Korea and made Lt. Col. The rest escape my memory. Take care, Don.

  6. Clete says:

    I am trying to get pictures of Sendai. I was stationed there in 1945-46 with the 54th Engineer Maintenance under Captain Marsh and General Rider. I would appreciate any information. Thank you.

    • mikemccoy says:

      Hi Clete,

      I personally don’t have any pics from Sendai. But other visitors of the site, Donald Wood comes to mind, might be able to help. Were you at Camp Sendai, Camp Schimm, the Hospital, where specifically?

    • William J. Hoppe says:

      Hi Clete;
      I was stationed at Camp Schimmelpfennig in 1946-47 with the 11th airborne Division. I have some pictures of
      the camp. I was in Hq,@ Hq.company. Played basketball
      on the regimental team. General Swing was in command

      • Leon H Shisler says:

        In May 1946 I was assigned to Co A 127A/B Engr Bn of the 11th A/B div at Camp Schemmelpfinnig . We were then still engaged in Clearing bldgs. in the old ordinance factory and turning them into Camp bldgs. I had come from Korea where I was in the 35th Military Govt unit near Tageu. We built the Camp swimming pool and I recall installing a bowling alley. Also I remember grading up athletic field areas around other units in Sendai. The streets were filled with rubble which we simply bulldozed to the sides so that street cars could be put back into operation. Lots of memories. My points allowed me to leave Sendai for home in August 1946

      • Leon H Shisler says:

        Seems we may have been there at the same time. I did not have a camera and could not get one before I left. I have a few pics of a R&R trip I took to Kamakura on Tokyo bay but would really like to see the old Camp I helped build. I was jack of all trades on dozers–graders- cranes– heavy trucks and even a side boom cat . Hope you are able to reply as I know we are quite old now. Greetings to you L.Shisler

      • Barry Hansen says:

        My father, Norman Hansen, was stationed in Camp Schimmelpfennig as a paratrooper in the 11th Airborne in 1946-47. He was primarily a clerk typist in the G-4 (general staff office) in charge of supplies and equipment.
        I have a collection of his pictures to share, hopefully in exchange for other pictures around that time and place. I’m working with Norman, now 88, to publish a book of his recollections.
        Pictures, anyone? Please write, thank you!

  7. Patricia & Marcia Taranto says:

    My sister and I were the first twins to be born at the 172d Station Hospital Sendai Honshu Japan to Major Salvadore S. Taranto. My dad was S-4 of the 7th Infantry Division Artillery at Camp Younghans, Jinmachi, Japan. I do have a picture of the hospital.

  8. Patricia & Marcia Taranto says:

    Our father was stationed in Japan and my sister and I were the first twins born in the 172nd Hospital. I have a photo of the hospital that was given to us at birth which was in 1949.

  9. Edward J Foreman says:

    My father, Captain George E Foreman, was one of the victims of the 1947 hospital fire in Sendai. If anyone has additional information about the fire, I would appreciate hearing from you.
    Thank you,
    Ed Fore;man

  10. I was in the 172nd hospital in 1951, I have picture of the hospital. Trying to get more information for records of that time. Would like to talk to any one from that time.
    I was in the 40th division, 223rd Infentry regement,3rd battilion Head Quarters co.

    Thank you Ken Baker

  11. Stephanie Davis says:

    What a fascinating website! I have found a Wikimap website with the lat/long coordinates of current day Camp Sendai embedded in the URL. See http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=38.265242&lon=140.919399&z=16&m=m. Hope this is helpful to Judy Gernon.

    I have a personal interest in this great website of yours because my parents met and were married in post-WW II Japan. My brother was born in Utsunomiya in 1948 (G-2 HQ 40th Infantry Division) and my sister in the USA Hospital at Camp Sendai in 1952. My Dad was stationed as a Nisei MIS linguist in the 509th MIS Platoon at Camp Sendai. They lived in the dependent housing at the Kawauchi Housing Area. Later we have photos of them living in the Tagajo Dependent Housing. At some point, they lived in the subdivided former home of the Japanese Count Sakuma Samata. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

    In between the two births, my Dad was detached from the Army to serve with the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade during the outbreak of the Korean War. He survived Pusan, Inchon, and the breakout at the Chosin Reservoir.

    Later, after my other sister and I were born, we lived in Kagnew Station from 1961-1965 (Asmara, Ethiopia – now Eritrea). I’d love to hear from anyone with an interest in any of these experiences.

    Thanks! Stephanie Davis

    • Barbara Beach says:

      Interesting to find your post today. My brother was born in Camp Sendai in 1955 and our family also lived in Kagnew Station from 1963?-1965?

  12. Debera McCracken Tredennick says:

    Wow – it is great to find this site. I was born in the 172nd station hospital in 1950. We left Japan when I was six weeks old. The number one thing on my bucket list is to get back to Japan to visit Sendai. I have pictures taken in that time period just don’t know the subject. Is there a place to post pictures and find out what and where they were?

    • Mary Eutize Shortis says:

      I was born in July 1950. Nice to know someone who was born where and close to when I was. We ended up leaving when I was around 1.

  13. I was at camp Schimelphenig an was married in a Catholic Church there that was 1953 I do not recall the church I think it was Peter and Paul.
    I am 84 and was in North Korea in 1951

  14. Bernard King, Jr says:

    My father, Bernard King, was a doctor at the 172nd hospital and was badly burned in the 1946 fire and was sent back to the states for treatment. He almost died, but eventually made it, was married and had 10 children! He always told us that he and a dentist were the only ones who survived that fire. I am hoping that Jerry Mohr is still alive and might remember my father? Thanks much, Bernie King, Jr.

  15. John R Roes says:

    I was stationed at camp Sendai from 1952 to 1953 and would like to hear from some of my old friends that are still around managed to keep in touch with anumber of old fiends.

    • Rita West Myers says:

      My late father was there at Sendai (Schimmelpfennig) from Nov 1952 to April 1953. Co. F 21st Infantry. Richard West. What was it like there? My father died in 1973 from radiation exposure.

  16. Arthur Opanowicz says:

    I was at the 172nd.Station Hospital from Oct. 1946 until
    May 1947 and saw the fire that burned down the Officers
    Club and Quarters.I Saw a Captain from the 11th Airborne Div. go into the burning
    building shortly before it collapsed.
    I believe that Jerry Morr were assigned to same room As
    I was in our barracks along with Wally Uno.

  17. Henry Henderson says:

    I lived in Sendai 1956-7, 1st grade there. My dad was a doctor at the hospital there.Remember building snow forts.

  18. Yuki Matsuura says:

    I came across this website recently while researching my mother’s family history. I am Japanese, and my mother was born and raised in Sendai. In 1950, my uncle, who was 12 at the time, was asked by his music teacher to play violin at the 172nd Hospital. My mother, 14 years old then, accompanied her brother and played piano. The teacher played the beer barrel polka on the accordion, and my uncle played Ave Maria, Boccherini’s Minuet, among others. They were well received and were invited back several times after that in exchange for bags of chocolate! I was wondering if anybody remembers little Japanese musicians visiting the hospital?

    The hospital building was preserved and still stands at the same location, housing a postal insurance business. (The government owned business was since privatized and became Japan Post Insurance Co., Ltd.) This is what the building looks like today (the same!):
    http://archwindow.blog.fc2.com/blog-entry-204.html

    I currently live in California, but my mother still lives in Sendai. I was also born and raised in Sendai, and both my mother and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about Sendai.

    • Barbara Beach says:

      My brother was born in Camp Sendai and my mom was from Sendai. I also live in California (Mill Valley). Where are you?

  19. Davin Lammey says:

    My Father Cullen Lammey was in 1st Cav Medical Hdqts starting at Camp Crawford in 1953 then moved to Camp Schim . He worked for Col. Hackett as Chief Clerk and rotated back to the States in 1955.

  20. David Bca says:

    I’m trying to find anyone who knew Antonio L.Baca and or his wife L.C. Baca. His baby son Patrick passed away at the 172d Hospital, Sendai in June 1949. I m wondering where Antonio is from. We may be related. I visited his son’s grave in Yokohama.

  21. Lemuel tant says:

    Interesting thread
    I was in shimp last of 52 after a stint in korea back to states march 53
    I was in 24th div while there cant believe pictures from there now. Enjoyed reading about changes.

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