Apr
29

Brian Kagen pick: “The Fairchild Air Force Base Judo Club, 1951-1960″ by Joseph R. Svinth

“The US Army Air Corps established the Spokane Air Depot on Sunday, March 1, 1942. The location was selected because Spokane businessmen donated $101,078.66 worth of land and standing crops to the Army for its construction. (Which was hardly as charitable as it sounds, as the post soon employed 15,500 civilians, and had a payroll of nearly a million dollars a month.) The post was 95% complete by July 1943, and served throughout World War II. Although deactivated in 1947, it was reactivated in January 1948 as Spokane Air Force Base, and given to the newly organized Strategic Air Command (SAC) as a bomber base.

SAC of 1948 was more bark than bite, and planes and crews were not in the best of shape, as was proven when its B-29s deployed to Japan for missions over Korea in 1950. The new commander of SAC, Lt. Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, decided that if SAC was to be America’s nuclear deterrent, its men and equipment should be the best available. Therefore he started a slew of new programs.

For Spokane Air Force Base, the first action was to change its name to Fairchild Air Force Base. (The name honored a recently deceased Air Force general named Muir S. Fairchild.) The second was to start a major upgrade of training and readiness. To support SAC’s now much harder working airmen in their off-duty hours, LeMay ordered significant improvements in their living conditions. Thus the base’s first true gymnasium, complete with basketball court, lockers, and bleachers for 550 spectators, was contracted in November 1950, and opened a month later.”

Please click here to read entire article.

Aikido Journal Members Site
For nearly 40 years, we have been researching and documenting every aspect of Aikido!
We hate spam just as much as you

Comments

  1. Taisho says:

    A little more here…

    http://www.asjja.com/other.htm

  2. Taisho says:
  3. “Thus the base’s first true gymnasium, complete with basketball court, lockers, and bleachers for 550 spectators, was contracted in November 1950, and opened a month later.”

    I arrived at the Physical Conditioning Unit (PCU) in December 1952. The “New” gymnasium was actually a gigantic warehouse that incorporated both the PCU and the sports/gymnasium facility. The PCU and combatives program utilized instructors identified with the military occupational code (MOS)741X0U. If I recall correctly, we were assigned to the 714th Operations Squadron supporting the 92nd and 99th Bomber Squadrons. The Wing was commanded by Colonell Robinson (no relation).

    Sports personnel MOS were identified as 741X1 period. I believe they also were in a different squadron! When the Japanese team of martial arts masters along with Mel Bruno, HQ, SAC visited Fairchild in 1953, they used part of the main gymnasium for demonstration purposes. Otherwise, all combatives training was accomplished in the PCU area and out of sight of the main base personnel. When not in a Judo Gi, we wore white t-shorts and blue pants and white Keds :-)

  4. I would like to add some first hand knowledge concerning the Fairchild AFB Physical Conditioning Unit and Combatives program. In 1952 former PFC George Robert’s rank was converted to TSGT E-6 and he did not instruct classes during the time I was assigned to the PCU as a combative instrcutor and physical conditioning specialist. That would be around Jan 1953 – December 1955 when I shipped out to Chitose, Japan on the troop ship USS Anderson. Roberts claim to martial arts was his former boxing experience. I always believed he was former Navy, not Army, Could have been both!

    I was a member of that select 8 man team team that traveled to Travis AFB in January 1954 to the Fifteenth Air Force judo tournament. “Fairchild could field just eight judoka, nearly all of whom worked at the base gym.” Airman Lemuel Robson from Bakersfield, CA, was my barracks roommate and close friend. He was also the best man at my wedding. He and I used to hit the apple orchards in the area and load up on apples. He had a huge black sort of old time suit case that we kept full of apples in the truck of his car. He was shodan before I left in Decemebr 1955. He was an excellent athlete and probably weighed close to 180 pounds. He got engaged and was married before I shipped out for Japan. I was promoted by Kodokan to Shodan in 1956.

    I was a member of this demo team: “On Wednesday, January 27, 1954, the Fairchild team raised $150 for the March of Dimes with a judo demonstration given at Spokane’s Rogers High School. That floor was real hard and the thin mats that we brought to the school from the base in an USAF pick up truck was okay cause we were young and daring and undaunted by pain. We also broke lots of 12″ x 12″ x 3/4″ pine boards. We were supermen – not many people in those years had a clue as what martial arts were.

    “In February 1955, the Fairchild Air Police received a new chief instructor. (Air Police instructors were separate from gym instructors.” Lemuel Robson,was a Airmen First Class (or sergeant E-4) and a Nikyu. He was the senior gym instructor.) Staff Sergeant (E-5) Martin Di Francisco was an air policeman with a different MOS 771X0 than us (741X0) and by this time was ranked nikyu in Judo.

    I was also at the Ft. George Wright NCO Club and probably at the other mentioned below. The annual USAF ROTC training was held at Ft. George Wright, a former calvary post. I was the lead combatves instructor teaching the same SAC course we trained the aircrews.

    “Spokane’s Fort George Wright NCO Club on February 27, 1955. Next came shows at the Spokane Moose Lodge on March 26, 1955, Gonzaga University on May 25, 1955, and the Good Shepherd’s Home on May 27, 1955.”

    Just thought I would add some of the first hand information that is missing from an otherwise excellent article. I owe Joe a copy of the SAC manuals which I have (all of them). They are slowly turning orange!

    H. G. Robby Robinson, MSGT, USAF (Ret.)
    Pensacola, FL
    robin0305@aol.com

  5. Correction in terminology:

    “Lemuel Robson,was a Airmen First Class (or sergeant E-4) and a Nikyu. He was the senior gym instructor.)”

    Lemuel was the NCOIC in Charge of the PCU or Physical Conditioning Unit. We had nothing to do with the gymnasium. The term “Gym” was never used and the acronym PCU quickly became identified with aircrew and air police training. Most of the airmen working in the “Gym” were either without regular jobs, waiting to be disharged, shipped out or in many cases “command problems”.

  6. I must correct myself when I wrote below:

    “I would like to add some first hand knowledge concerning the Fairchild AFB Physical Conditioning Unit and Combatives program. In 1952 former PFC George Robert’s rank was converted to TSGT E-6 and he did not instruct classes during the time I was assigned to the PCU as a combative instructor and physical conditioning specialist. That would be around Jan 1953 – December 1955 when I shipped out to Chitose, Japan on the troop ship USS Anderson. Roberts claim to martial arts was his former boxing experience. I always believed he was former Navy, not Army, Could have been both”

    I just had a flash back to the past and I must have confused George Roberts with a TSGt who’s last name was Woods. He did absolutely no combatives nor Judo but was a Navy boxer at one time hence being picked up by SAC. In those days personnel with martial arts backgrounds were rare. This was also the 1950′s and certain prejudices prevailed both on and off military bases. However, that’s another story for another time.

    Robby

Speak Your Mind

*