Adventures of U.S. electronic spooks in 1960s Japan
Second in a four-part series
As a U.S. Air Force enlistee who’d just graduated from the electronic intelligence school at Keesler Air Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, I arrived in Japan in 1962 and reported for work at The PACOM (Pacific Command) Elint Center.
A two-story building near the rear gate of the Fuchu base west of Tokyo, the windowless structure had walls three feet thick. The solid steel front door was manned around the clock by Air Police guards, wearing Smith & Wesson Model 15 six-shot revolvers, who inspected the special IDs that the Elint Center personnel had to show in order to gain entry.
The Elint Center was a tri-service electronic intelligence-gathering-and-analysis unit. The spy operation was under the joint direction of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. Inside were several large computer bays and another solid steel door that could only be opened by punching a secret code (changed weekly) into a panel of buttons. Behind that door was where war plans were made.
You had to have a Top Secret security clearance to get in the building. In my case the FBI had sent agents to Eureka, California, to interview family members, neighbors, friends and high school officials to make sure I was a loyal, red-blooded American without any subversive leanings.