Department of Pacific Areas History

Written by Tom Bergam

    The Provisional Department of Pacific Areas was formally instituted on 3 December 1966 at VFW Post 9467 in Yokohama, Japan. The formation of the Department was a direct result of the continued cooperation of VFW Posts in the Far East Area over many, many years starting in 1948. Following the end of WWII and with the surge of occupational U.S. Forces throughout the Far East it seemed only natural that the VFW would establish itself and become an active stalwart in the support of U.S. Forces and veterans throughout the Pacific basin. The first Posts organized were in Yokohama (Post 9467) and Tokyo (Post 9450) during the summer of 1947. Posts in Nagoya (Post 9794), Osaka (Post 9876), and Yokohama (Post 9612) were established during 1948. In October 1948, an “All Japan Muster” involving these five Posts was held. They petitioned National Headquarters for a Department Charter. However, due to the constant shifting and reduction of occupational troops, resulting in the relocation and reorganization of many Posts, the petition was held in abeyance until activities in the Far East settled down. Then the Korean War started. Once again the influx began with changes and moves being made everywhere. Post 9794, originally chartered at Nagoya, was moved to Tachikawa Air Force Base, Japan and re-chartered in October 1952. Post 9612, which was chartered in Yokohama, lost its charter but was re-chartered at the Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan in February 1952. Post 9876 in Osaka was moved in 1958 to Yokota AFB, Japan and re-chartered in November of 1958.

In October 1953, the first Far East VFW Convention (Encampment) was held in Tokyo, Japan. The object of this meeting was to discuss and set forth ideas for accomplishing the many VFW programs necessary for the good of our organization, and also to achieve that one ultimate goal – to establish the Department of the Pacific Areas. The first step in this process was accomplished in 1960 when a quasi-official liaison unit, The Far East Provisional District, was organized and was the direct forbearer of the Provisional Department of the Pacific Areas formed in October 1966. Its jurisdiction encompassed the areas 160 degrees longitude to 90 degrees longitude, and from 50 degrees north latitude to 50 degrees south latitude, but not to include the Hawaiian Islands. During this period membership and new Posts began expanding due mainly to the buildup of U.S. Forces and logistical support for the war in Vietnam. In addition to the Posts previously mentioned, Post 9689 at Itazuke Air Base Fukuoka, Japan was chartered in 1955 and became part of the Provisional District in August 1960. Post 9681 Misawa Air Base Japan was chartered and became part of the Provisional District on 30 November 1961. Post 9555 Johnson Family Housing Annex, Japan (located near Yokota AFB) was chartered 9 May 1962. Post 9985 Seoul, Korea and Post 9951 Bangkok, Thailand were also chartered during this time frame. And in 1966, a significant first for the VFW occurred. Bien Hoa Post 3883, Bien Hoa, Vietnam became the first Post in the history of the VFW to be chartered and installed in an active combat Zone. It would not be the last.

In 1967, prior to the first Department Convention, George W. Molter, Chief of Staff for the Provisional Department of Pacific areas wrote: “As realized this is our first charter as a Provisional Department and whether we receive a full Department Charter at the next National Convention or we continue as a Provisional Department will be predicated on how well we conduct and transact pertinent V.F.W. business matters during this convention We were pre-warned that many eyes would be focused on us from the hierarchy of our National Organization.” And work hard they did, but it would be another three long years before their goal was attained. On 8 January 1970, the Department of Pacific Areas was formally chartered. Two days later, in an impressive ceremony at Post 9794, Tachikawa AFB, Comrade Robert L. Williams was installed as Department Commander by Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Herbert R. (Chief) Rainwater under the permanent new Charter. Currently the Department of Pacific Areas has twenty-six active Posts stretching from Japan to Korea, to Thailand, and over to the Philippines and Guam. Throughout the years the number of Posts and membership has fluctuated due mainly to the changing tides of America’s military commitments, but the mission has always remained the same: To insure the national security through maximum military Strength To speed the rehabilitation of the nation’s disabled and needy veterans To assist the widows and orphans, and the dependents of disabled and needy veterans To promote Americanism through education in patriotism and constructive service to the communities in which we live. If you have anything to add to the History of the Department of Pacific Areas, either to the Department, Districts or Posts, Please Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the information in Document format.


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