report by : Thierry LETELLIER
Naval Air Facility Atsugi is the largest Naval Air Facility in the Pacific and is home to Carrier Air Wing Five, the Navy s only permanently forward-deployed air wing. Carrier Air Wing 5 operates from the USS KITTY HAWK, conveniently stationed in Yokosuka, only fifteen miles from Atsugi. NAF Atsugi has been home to Sailors and their families for 50 years. For 28 years NAF Atsugi has also been the only Naval installation supporting an entire permanently forward deployed, co-located Air Wing, Carrier Air Wing Five.
The 1,249 acres of Naval Air Facility Atsugi lies in the heart of the Kanto Plain on the main island of Japan, Honshu. The Base was used to train the Emperor’s pilots the 302 Naval Aviation Corps, who flying their Zero and Gekko fighters, were the most formidable factor in Japan’s air defense during World War II.
General Douglas Mac Arthur landed at Atsugi in August 1945 , in his C-54, the “Bataan” to accept the formal Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri and assumed the duties as Military Governor of Japan. At the outbreak of the Korean War, June 25, 1950, Atsugi was selected by the Navy as its major Naval Air Station in the Far East.
When the USS Midway (CV-41) was forward deployed to Yokosuka in 1972, Atsugi became a support base for her Air Wing. In 1991, the USS Independence (CV-62) replaced the Midway. Originally commissioned as Carrier Air Group Five (CVG-5) in 1943, CVW-5 embarked on the USS Midway to become part the first Carrier/Air Wing team pemanent forward deployed overseas. In 1991, the USS Independence (CV-62) replaced the Midway. In August 1999, the Air Wing again swapped to the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) until last year when it was replaced by CVN-73 George WASHINGTON.
Now in december 2009; an important change is happening to CVW-5 , VFA-192 “ Golden Dragons “ with it FA-18C(N) in leaving to give the place to VFA-115 “ Eagles “ equiped with Super Hornets .I was lucky enough on my first day to see the final departure of VFA-192 and the f ollowing one the arrival of the VFA-115. The only remaining squadron in CVW-5; equiped with FA-18C(N) is VFA-195 “ Dambusters “ .
Even if it was my second time there; i feel always the same good and relax athmosphere around this base. The local poeple are so helpful that it is a real pleasure to spot around JMSDF Atsugi .