708th Military Intelligence Detachment says farewell
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 708th Military Intelligence Detachment will be closing its doors after more than 50 years of service at Misawa Air Base, Japan.
The 708th MI Detachment will host a deactivation ceremony in the Tohoku Ballroom at 3 p.m. Friday, June 6, 2014.
The ceremony will celebrate the military heritage on Security Hill with a reading of the unit's history, a flag casing to officially deactivate the unit and feature honored guests from surrounding MI detachments in Japan.
Initially activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on September 25th 1964, this unit was named the 403rd Army Security Agency Special Operations Detachment. This unit was responsible for providing cryptological support for over 30 years and included members who were Special Forces qualified, in addition to intelligence specialists.
In 1966, the 403rd worked alongside the 5th SF Group headquartered at Nha Trang, Vietnam, and due to the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the 403rd ASA Special Operations Detachment was deactivated.
Although deactivated after the events in Vietnam, the 403rd found a new opportunity with the rising need for intelligence gathering in Japan.
In September 1970, in light of the US wanting to consolidate its assets in Japan, Soldiers from Army Security Agency Field Station Chitose were moved to Misawa after Chitose Air Base was returned to Japanese control. Misawa was chosen because it had both the space and the facilities to hold the Army's mission and personnel. In 1972 Field Station Hakata was also absorbed into the Misawa mission and the unit was firmly set to the mission and location.
As a result, the newly designated U.S. Army Security Agency Detachment Misawa was activated in September 1970. Throughout a 16-year history, the unit was re-designated as USASA Field Station Misawa in August 1972, then U.S. Army Field Station Misawa in October 1977.
In 1986, as part of the Army of Excellence program, the 750th MI Battalion was organized as the operational unit at USA Field Station Misawa. In 1992, as a result of the Cold War ending, the unit reduced numbers at the 750th MI Battalion, transforming it from a battalion-sized unit to a company-sized element.
As a company, and later a detachment in October 1997, the unit became fully integrated into the operations of the Misawa Cryptologic Operations Center, which later became known as the Misawa Security Operations Center.
Besides the Army's primary duty of cryptological support at Misawa, they also participate in bi-lateral events around Japan.
"We engage in regular training exercises with members of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Fannin, 708th MI Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of supplies.
Undergoing two more name changes before settling as the 708th MI detachment in 2009, members of this unit augmented operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and provided support for Operation Tomodachi in 2011 after a 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami struck Japan.
"We knew that the Tohoku area was in trouble, but we didn't know the extent of the damages or the amount of casualties," said U.S. Army Capt. Jeffrey Anderson, 441st MI BN, alpha company commander. "We had to be ready and have our equipment operational in a short amount of time to assist anyone who needed help."
Throughout their long history and changing missions, the various incarnations of the unit has earned numerous awards and decorations such as:
- Presidential Unit Citation for their service in Vietnam from 1966-1968
- Meritorious Unit Commendation for their service in Vietnam in 1968
- Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, for their service in Vietnam from 1966-1970
- Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class, for their service in Vietnam from 1968-1970
- Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
- Army Outstanding Unit Award
"Though the 708th MI Detachment will inactivate on October 28, 2014, its legacy lives on through the highly trained Soldiers that continue to serve in the various operational units throughout the Army," said U.S. Army Capt. Timothy Parker, 708th MI detachment commander.