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267th Chemical Company
Country United States
Branch U.S. Army
Type Chemical platoon
Mascot(s) Thumper

The 267th Chemical Company was a military unit of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps responsible for chemical and biological weapons (CBW) deployed under Project 112[1] / Project SHAD and Operation Red Hat on the Islands of Okinawa, Japan and Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean during the Vietnam War.[2] Project 112 activities on Okinawa have never been officially acknowledged by the US Department of Defense.[3]

File:267th Chemical Company.pdf

Unit History[edit | edit source]

On April 20, 1945 the 267th Chemical Service Platoon was activated at Fort Richardson, Alaska, but the platoon was inactivated on Nov. 1 of the same year, primarily because of the end of World War II.[2] The platoon was reactivated on Okinawa on December 1, 1962 as 267th Chemical Platoon (SVC)[2] and assigned to the Chibana U.S. Army Depot, Okinawa.[1] The 267th Chemical Platoon (SVC) had the mission of operation of Site 2, U.S. Department of Defense Project 112[1] a top secret Cold War testing program which was aimed at both human, animal, and plant reaction to Biological Warfare.[4]

Prior to assignment, to Okinawa, key personnel attended an on the job training (OJT) depot operations course at Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Colorado.[1] The platoon leader; 1/Lt James D. Saunders, CmlC, along with thirty-five NCOs and EM [enlisted men] been establishing operating procedures for the newly activated unit.[1]

In a response letter, sent March 26, 1966 by Capt. Charles H. Vogeler, Commander of the Army Chemical Corps, to the commanding officer of the 196th Ordnance Battalion, the history of the 267th Chemical Platoon was outlined as follows:[1]

267th Chemical Company building on Okinawa. Mascot Thumper is depicted on the sign.

USNS Sealift with nerve agent at Tengan Pier during operation Red Hat, Okinawa, July 1971

In compliance with para 6, 2nd Log Comd Bulletin, dated 11 March 1966, the following data is submitted.[1]

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY - 267th Chemical Company:

The 267th Chemical Company was activated on Okinawa on 1 December 1962 as 267th Chemical Platoon (SVC).[1]

The 267th Chemical Platoon (SVC) had the mission of operation of Site 2, DOD Project 112. The Unit was assigned to the U.S. Army Ordnance Group, USARYIS [ United States Army, Ryukyu Islands ] and Unit personnel attached to Chibana Troop Headquarters for rations and billeting. All Unit personnel were actively engaged in preparing RED HAT area, Site 2, for the receipt and storage of first increment items, YBA DOD Project 112. A security officer, 1/Lt Samuel Negra, Inf, was assigned to the platoon.[1]

First increment items, designated Code YBA arrived on Okinawa in May 1963. Due to limited assigned personnel, the Platoon was augmented with Army and other Armed Forces personnel to assist in storage of these items. Marine Corps personnel were utilized as security guards for the RED HAT Area. Upon completion of storage of YBA items, normal duties were exercised in the Unit, pending arrival of second increment, YBB, items.[1]

During the interim period between completion of YBA and arrival of YBB in May 1964, Unit Security Section was augmented with temporary duty personnel to function as security guards and sentry dog handlers. Such personnel were usually assigned to the Unit for a ninety (90) day period.[1]

Second increment items arrived on Okinawa in May 1964. The platoon was again augmented with Army and other Armed Forces personnel to accomplish storage of these items. Upon completion of storage of YBB items, the Platoon Leader was reassigned and replaced by 1/Lt Samuel Negra, Inf. An additional officer 2/Lt Ronald Minkow, CmlC, was assigned as Storage Officer. The platoon was reassigned to the U. S. Army Supply Services Command.[1]

1/Lt Charles H. Vogeler, CmlC, was assigned to the platoon in February 1965 and assumed command shortly thereafter. 1st Lt. Willie D. Greene, CmlC, was assigned in April 1965. Preparation was being made for the receipt of 3rd Increment, items, designated Code YBF, in May 1965. Storage of YBF items was completed in August 1965.[1]

The unit was reassigned to the U. S. Army Supply Maintenance Command in September 1965. This command was redesignated U. S. Army Depot, Okinawa shortly thereafter with assignment, to the 2nd Logistical Command.[1]

The 267th Chemical Platoon (SVC) was redesignated 267th Chemical Company, 16 November 1965, pursuant to U.S. Army Pacific General Order 323 (USARPAC GO #323). Authorized strength was increased from two (2) officers and seventy-two (72) EM to four (4) officers and one hundred fifty-five (155) EM. In January 1966, the Unit was assigned to the 196th Ord. Bn. (Ammo) (DS), which arrived on Okinawa in December, 1965.[1]

[signed]

Charles H. Vogeler Capt, CmlC, Commanding

The U.S. Military Sealift Command auxiliary crane ship SS Gopher State (T-ACS-4) arrives at Johnston Atoll during "Operation Steel Box" also known as "Operation Golden Python", a 1990 joint U.S.-West German operation which moved U.S. chemical weapons from Germany to Johnston Atoll for storage and disposal.

USNS Private Francis X. McGraw is loaded with chemical weapons at Tengan Pier, Okinawa during Operation Red Hat in September 1971

The 267th Chemical Company deployed to Vietnam from February 1966 to August 1967 and from July 1, 1970, to December 31, 1971, receiving two Meritorious Unit Commendations. In 1971, the 267th Chemical Company participated in Operation Red Hat the highly publicized removal of chemical weapons from Okinawa.[4] Beginning in January 1971, the CBW munitions and the 267th were relocated to Johnston Atoll in the Pacific. Completion of cargo discharge from the USNS Private Francis X. McGraw (T-AK-241) at Johnston Island on September 21, 1971 completed the movement phase of Operation Red Hat, and the 276th completed its redeployment to Johnston Atoll on Sept. 27, 1971.[2]

A May 1975 letter to a member of the 267th Chemical Corps from his Commander notes that the primary mission on Johnston Island consisted of maintaining a forty-one acre chemical munitions storage area, called Red Hat, having forty-three storage structures containing about 13,000 tons of munitions.[5] A Johnston Atoll orientation packet from the same time period explains that the mission of the 267th Chemical Company, noted to also be known as "Red Hat," was to provide for the storage, maintenance, security, issuance, and surveillance of chemical munitions.[5] In October 1983, the company came under the 45th General Support Group in 1976 and was re-designated as Johnston Island Chemical Activity. Two years later, in 1985, the unit was reorganized and activated as the U.S. Army Chemical Activity, Western Command.[2]

The unit was renamed the U. S. Army Chemical Activity, Pacific, in 1990, to coincide with the redesignation of U.S. Army, Pacific. Worldwide attention was focused on Johnston Atoll that same year, when chemical munitions were moved from West Germany, under the code name Operation Steel Box."[2]

References[edit | edit source]

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