Freedom comes with a price!

In the 1950s and 1960s, Wakkanai, Japan was considered one of the most isolated duty stations for cryptologists of the U.S. Air Force Security Service and the U.S. Naval Security Group.

The following is a poem written by an U.S. Air Force cryptologist stationed at Wakkanai, Japan in the 1950s, titled ‘A Hitch in Hell,’ reflects not only the terrible living and working conditions, but also the feelings of loneliness and perhaps even despair which afflicted the airmen. Six of its stanzas are as follows:

It was just across the ocean,
Wakkanai was the spot.
We were doomed to spend our time,
In a land which God forgot.

In the land of snow and mud,
Down where man gets blue,
Right in the middle of nowhere,
Ten thousand miles from you.

We’re soldiers of Security,
Earning our measly pay,
Guarding millions of people,
For a few damn bucks a day.

We swear, sweat, slave and freeze.
It’s more than man can stand.
Supposedly we are not convicts,
Just defenders of our fair land.

Nobody knows we are living,
Nobody gives a damn,
I guess we are all forgotten,
For we belong to Uncle Sam.

But when we pass through those pearly gates,
You will hear St. Peter yell,
“Fall out men of Security,
You’ve spent your time in hell.”

Nevertheless, personnel retention rates at Wakkanai were remarkably high. In 1958, the 6920th Security Wing at Shiroi conducted a ‘morale survey’ to determine ‘why, since Wakkanai was a “remote tour”, no-one wanted to leave there’ For many young men, it was an exciting and exotic experience, with high group camaraderie.

Wakkanai, Hill 1, circa 1961


Wakkanai Air Station, 1960