by Fiona G. Holter, USAICoE Staff Historian
On December 15, 1947, the 526th Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) Detachment was activated on Okinawa. The new detachment replaced the 1135th CIC Detachment Field Office, which lost its counterintelligence (CI) jurisdiction over Okinawa ahead of a reorganization of Far East Command (FECOM) in 1948.
In early 1946, the 1135th CIC Detachment was activated in the Philippines after the War Department took over administration of the islands from the Department of the Navy. As the 1135th CIC assumed the mission of the former First CIC Region, they established a 1135th CIC Field Office on Okinawa, effectively replacing the 441st CIC Detachment. Despite being the same unit, the mission of the Okinawan field office differed from the unit’s headquarters in the Philippines. While the Philippines-based agents did focus on observing the actions of various political entities, most of their mission was dedicated to bolstering the morale of American troops in the country. In the Okinawan field office, however, the mission was much more traditional CI, as they investigated cases of espionage and sabotage and maintained security in the region.
On December 15, 1947, the 1135th CIC lost its CI jurisdiction over Okinawa when the Philippines-Ryukyus Command was divided into two separate commands: the Philippines Command and the Ryukyus Command. This action split the 1135th into two new CIC detachments: the 229th for the Philippines and the 526th for the Ryukyus Islands. Despite its redesignation, the CIC on Okinawa continued to support CI efforts across all fifty-five islands.
Members of the 526th CIC referred to themselves as the “Terry and the Pirates Detachment” after the famous comic by Milton Caniff because they believed the work of the 526th’s investigations section resembled that of Terry Lee, the protagonist of the comic series. Just like Terry, the members of the section worked for the postwar occupational governments in East Asia and undertook exciting adventures to outwit smugglers and other villains in the region. While Terry came face-to-face with a heroin smuggling operation in his last comic, the 526th’s villains smuggled common goods as opposed to narcotics.
The 526th’s anti-smuggling operations in the Philippine and East China Seas were conducted via U.S. Air Force Q-boats outfitted with .50-caliber machine guns and handheld automatic weapons. When the CIC agents observed smugglers off-loading goods from boats, the speedy Q-boats allowed them to catch the felonious vessels. Agent Ray Thielen recalled many of the ships were filled with contraband as Ryukyuans smuggled brass shell casings out of the islands to trade for gold and textiles in Hong Kong. Other smugglers transported cedar lumber from Japan into the Ryukyus, which was illegal because Japan needed the lumber to rebuild after the war.
While their anti-smuggling operations helped maintain order in the region, the CIC was concerned the criminal activities opened the door for communist Chinese agents and couriers to infiltrate U.S. occupied Japan, especially after the Korean War broke out in June 1950. The 526th CIC Detachment (later the 526th MI Detachment) remained on Okinawa throughout the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
|Date Posted:||12.12.2022 10:54|
|Location:||FORT HUACHUCA, AZ, US|
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