Yontan Airfield Marine Corps Base in Okinawa
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Yontan Airfield Marine Corps Base in Okinawa, Japan US Military Bases in Japan
Located in the island of Okinawa, Yontan Airfield is one of the military facilities lost by the Japanese forces during the battle of Okinawa, in World War II. The battle was the most intense one in World War II in the Pacific zone. It also came as the most important victory of the United States of America in the area, but with the price of thousands of casualties. The airport is also referred to as Yomitan. It is located in the western side of the island, in the immediate proximity of Sobe. While under American domination, it was run by the United States Air Force.
Yontan Airfield was a civilian airport before the Japanese forces joined World War II. It was only used with civilian purposes, without any military connections. When World War II began, the Japanese forces commissioned it and turned it into a military facility. The American domination began after the battle of Okinawa. It was one of the first facilities the US Army and the US Marine Corps took over, on April, 1-st, 1945. After a series of bombardments, the facility was restored and turned into an American installation. It was also used by the US Air Force. This is where the Americans first found the plans for the powerful and amazing Ohka rocket aircraft. It was one of the most powerful weapons of Japan and almost had 100% effectiveness. The rockets were mostly used against ships. Seven of them were sunk during World War II.
After World War II reached to an end, the United States Air Force remained at Yontan Airfield for about one more year. In 1947, the place was relatively abandoned. No major units were left there, but just a few tenants for maintenance and general operations. The airfield was no longer working on itself. Instead, it was turned into an adjacent facility for Kadena Air Base. During the ’50s, it adopted a standby position. The relationships between Japan and the United States of America were significantly improving, so the Americans gave up the airfield to the Japanese government in 1972.
Today, Yontan Airfield is no longer a military installation. Soon after it was handed back to the Japanese, the place was fully abandoned. There are no units or military troops deployed there, while the runways were turned into roads. The place is open and used by civilians.
There were dozens of important units deployed at Yontan Airfield over the years. Some of the most important ones include the Bombardment Group 38, the Bombardment Squadrons 71, 405, 822 and 823, the 413-rd Fighter Group or the 4-th Fighter Squadron, but the list can easily go on. Around 40 different units came and left the base during the American domination. Some of the most important aircrafts that were used on site include the F6F Hellcats, the F4U Corsairs and the PBY Catalinas.
Over the years, Yontan Airfield had a huge potential in the area. It was abandoned and disestablished due to the low military actions in the Pacific.