Leo L. Dillon
Blockton, Iowa Specialist 5, U.S. Army
Served with 563rd Ordnance Detachment in Japan from 1956 to 1959.
Memory: “During the fall after graduation from high school, I really started worrying about the draft. ... At this time the service obligation was for six years total, with active time of two years for everyone being drafted followed by four years of active reserve. I was in a hurry to get my military obligation over with and decided to beat the draft by enlisting in the Army and started talking to a recruiter, telling him I wanted to become a mechanic. ... At the end of our 10 weeks training, I got orders to go to Alaska. I had nearly processed out and since Alaska is a part of the U.S., no shots were required to be given. Then new orders were issued, I was going to Japan. Guess what, ALL shots were needed and in a hurry.
“In 1957, the Army in Japan was cut back and ... I was waiting for my new assignment. I took a week of leave and went to see my cousin Brice Johnson, who was stationed with the Army in Chitose, Japan, on the far northern island of Hokkaido. When I got back, the 563rd Ordnance and 1st Cavalry were history, and I had orders for the army transmitter site at Camp Tomlinson. Camp Tomlinson was near Kashiwa, Japan, about 30 miles north of Tokyo and the new site of the largest radio station in the world, ADA (Alpha Delta Alpha). We were told it had been a kamikaze training site.
“The airfield had been made into a large radio antenna field with a great many antennas dedicated to the different frequencies of the transmitters and the locations of the other army radio stations. A few of the other ACAN (Army Command and Administration Network) stations were Korea, the Philippines, Hawaii, Alaska, San Francisco and Seattle, and we kept a dedicated link to Columbine, President Eisenhower's plane before Air Force One became the presidential plane.
“While this was a quiet time in the world, some things come to mind of the happenings worldwide of which we were aware: the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, the shelling of Quemoy island by China, the launch of Sputnik. We could hear the pings, piped in from our receivers site. The U-2 flights from Japan over Russia and China were launched from a naval base about 30 miles away. Russia jammed our radio communication circuits.
“I wonder (what would have happened) if I had not enlisted to ‘beat the draft.' ... I know that very few soldiers were given the opportunities I had in my three years of active military service.”
Order ‘At War, At Home'
The World-Herald's “At War, At Home: The Cold War” is a special look back at the Nebraskans and Iowans whose courage and commitment helped prevent nuclear war and lift the Iron Curtain.
The 330-page book is packed with:
» Gripping stories and compelling photographs from The World-Herald archives.
» Service memories submitted by Nebraskans and western Iowans.
» Commemorative coverage of the Cold War Victory Salute held in July in downtown Omaha.
The book, which costs $29.95, can be ordered online at www.OWHstore.com or by phone at 402-444-1014 for delivery in November.