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Chemical Ammunition Company History

Unit Background

Unit background is broken down into five major areas:

  1. Johnston Atoll Geography
  2. Johnston Atoll History
  3. Chemical Ammunition Company History
  4. Demilitarization and Deployments
  5. Other Major Events

Johnston Atoll Geography

Johnston Atoll (JA) is approximately 717 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. It is a possession of the United States and is designated as a Naval Defense Sea Area and Airspace Reservation.

JA consists of four small islands: Johnston, Sand, North (Akau), and East (Hikina), enclosed in an egg-shaped reef approximately 21 miles in circumference. The reef extends in a northeast-southwest direction and is approximately 9 1/4 miles long and 2 1/2 miles wide. The atoll has a total area of 691 acres.

Johnston Island (JI), the main island, has been increased from its natural 42 acres to over 625 acres by a number of dredging projects. The last dredging project in 1964 developed JIís current shape.

Sand Island, which is to the northeast of JI, consists of a natural coral island and a dredged filled island connected by a narrow causeway. The barbell-shaped island is approximately 22 acres in size.

North and East Islands are man-made, generally square, islands formed entirely from coral dredging. North Island, approximately 25 acres in size, is located north of Sand Island. East Island has approximately 18 acres and lies northeast of Sand Island.

JA has a hot and humid climate, with little seasonal change in temperature or precipitation. It is located in the easterly tradewind zone of the central Pacific where winds are active year-round. Temperatures are uniformly high, usually ranging from 73 - 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity is constantly high, averaging 76 percent, and usually ranging from 75 - 77 percent. Average rainfall is approximately 28 inches per year.

Johnston Atoll History

When first discovered, JA was very much like many other Pacific atolls. Its importance grew with the onset of World War II, and continued through the days of atmospheric nuclear testing in the Pacific. It has grown into a highly technical and sophisticated base of operations in support of various Departments of Defense, Energy, and Interior missions.

JA was first sighted on 02 September 1796, by the American Brig Sally of Boston. JA is named for Captain Charles Johnston, a British sea captain, who is credited with its official discovery on 14 December 1807. The 10 mile long atoll was claimed by the United States in 1858.

In 1926, Johnston and Sand Islands were identified as the Johnston Island Reservation and were reserved and set apart for use by the Department of Agriculture as a refuge and breeding ground for native birds.

In 1934, the President placed the atoll under the Navy Department by Executive Order. Subsequently, the airspace above and the waters within the three mile marine boundary were designated a naval airspace reservation and a naval defense sea area, respectively.

The atoll remained uninhabited until 1939, when the U.S. Navy began construction of an air base. The atoll was also used as a submarine refueling base.

Johnston Island Reservation was proclaimed a national refuge in 1940.

By 1944, JA was an important midpoint and communication center on the aerial highway for tactical aircraft. In order to support the increased air traffic, the existing land mass was expanded by dredging coral from the lagoon.

In 1948, management responsibility for the base was transferred to the United States Air Force and JA became subordinate to the Pacific Air Command and the Military Air Transport Service. It played an important role during the Korean airlift in 1951 and 1952.

In 1958, operational control of JA was transferred to Joint Task Force Seven, a special organization composed of the military services and the Atomic Energy Commission, which was formed to conduct a series of atmospheric nuclear tests. Two high-altitude events were conducted from JA. On completion of the operation, control of JA reverted back to the Air Force.

On 25 January 1957, the Treasury Department was granted a permit for the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to operate a Long Range Aid to Navigation (LORAN) transmitting station on JA. Two years later, The USCG was granted permission to install a LORAN A and C station on Sand Island through 30 June 1992.

In 1962, the United States resumed atmospheric nuclear testing after the nuclear test moratorium was abrogated by the Soviet Union. Joint Task Force Eight (JTF-8) assumed operational control of the atoll on 18 January 1962. JA served as a support base for the 1962 nuclear test series. Five air drop tests were conducted in the vicinity of JA, and JA was the launch point for five high-altitude nuclear test events.

In 1963, the Limited Test Ban Treaty brought a halt to atmospheric testing.

By 1966, the land area had been enlarged to 691 acres, including two man-made islands, North (AKAU) and East (HIKINA).

On 01 July 1970, JTF-8 was deactivated and operational control of the atoll was again transferred to the Air Force.

During the next three years of Air Force management, use of the atoll was expanded. In 1971, the Army was granted a permit to use 41 acres of JI to store chemical weapons formerly held in Okinawa. That same year, the Air Force moved Agent Orange stocks from Southeast Asia to JI, where they were stored until incineration at sea in 1977.

The Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA), formerly the Defense Atomic Support Agency (DASA), assumed host-management responsibility for JA in July 1973.

From that time until the start of planning for the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS) in 1981, efforts at JA concentrated on maintenance of facilities, many inactive, and support of chemical munitions maintenance. Major facility upgrades and infrastructure improvements soon followed, and in 1986, construction of JACADS began. JACADS became operational on 30 June 1990.

Subsequently, chemical weapon stocks from the Federal Republic of Germany were transferred to JI for destruction in November 1990.

In 1992, the LORAN A and C station on Sand Island was dismantled and removed.

On 26 June 1996, the DNA was renamed the Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA), and in late 1998 was once again redesignated as the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

The DTRA mission at JA is to maintain facilities in an appropriate state of readiness to provide a basic capability to resume nuclear test activities which are prohibited by treaties, should the United States cease to be bound to adhere to those treaties, and to provide base support for chemical demilitarization activities and other tenant operations.

Chemical Ammunition Company History

The unit had its beginning on 20 April 1945, when the 267th Chemical Service Platoon was activated at Fort Richardson, Alaska. However, the platoon was deactivated on 01 November of the same year, primarily as a result of the ending of World War II.

On 30 November 1962, the 267th Chemical Platoon was designated and reactivated on 01 December 1962 in the Ryukyu Islands. The platoon became a company on 22 November 1965, when it was designated as the 67th Chemical Company.

On 04 March 1965, the 267th Chemical Company was reassigned from the United States Army Depot to the 196th Ordnance Battalion, 2d Log Command, Okinawa. For its outstanding contributions to fulfillment of the 2d Log's mission, the 267th Chemical Company was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation for 18 military operations in Southeast Asia during the period of October 1965 to December 1966.

In 1971, the United States Government directed relocation of the chemical munitions from Okinawa. This relocation brought about Operation Red Hat which was the deployment of the 267th Chemical Company and all chemical munitions from Okinawa to JI. Completion of cargo discharge from the USMS McGraw at JI on 21 September 1971 flagged the completion of Operation Red Hat. The company itself completed redeployment on 27 September 1971. For outstanding execution of Operation Red Hat, members of the 267th Chemical Company were commended by General Westmoreland, General Rossen, Lieutenant General Lambert, and Major General Hayes. The unit was awarded its second Meritorious Unit Commendation.

The company was assigned to the 45th General Support Group in 1976.

In October 1983, the company was redesignated as the Johnston Island Chemical Activity that included a platoon of Military Police for security.

On 09 November 1984, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General Maxwell Thurman, visited JI and initiated significant changes to the structure of the organization.

On 08 July 1985, Johnston Island Chemical Activity became the United States Army Chemical Activity, Western Command, a major subordinate command of Western Command, which included the reorganization of the activity to a Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), a Chemical Ammunition Support Division (CASD), and the activation of a Military Police Company (MPC).

Subsequently, on 30 August 1990, the unit was renamed the United States Army Chemical Activity, Pacific (USACAP).

During the period of June 1990 to June 1991, USACAP again performed in an outstanding manner by assisting in the start-up of the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS), the retrograde of chemical munitions from Germany during Operation Steel Box, and the recovery of chemical munitions from the Solomon Islands in Operation Kalama Express. These events resulted in the Army Superior Unit Award on 20 July 1992 by the Secretary of the Army.

Demilitarization and Deployments

On 27 March 1992, USACAP completed the M55 VX Rocket Campaign. The campaign lasted from 31 October 1991 until 27 March 1992. A total of 13,889 M55 rockets were shipped to and demilitarized at JACADS.

On 08 July 1992, USACAP completed the 4.2 inch HD Mortar Reconfiguration Project. A total of 43,660 rounds were reconfigured for demilitarization during this two-year project.

On 10 July 1993, USACAP completed the 105mm HD Projectile Campaign. A total of 45,108 105mm HD projectiles were shipped to and demilitarized at JACADS.

On 26 June 1993, USACAP completed the M32 MC-1 Bomb Burster Shipment Project. The bursters were shipped to Hill Air Force Base, Utah because they were no longer required on Johnston Island. The project lasted from 01 May 1993 until 26 June 1993.

Between 14-15 August 1993, a precautionary evacuation of 904 military and civilian personnel from Johnston Island to Honolulu, Hawaii was conducted in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Keoni. One hundred and thirty-three mission essential personnel remained on the island to sustain base operations and to protect military property and chemical surety material. There was no major damage to the island and no personal injuries. Redeployment of all evacuated personnel began on 18 August 1993 and was completed on 21 August 1993.

Between 11 August 1994 and 25 August 1994, a 100% evacuation of over 1,000 military and civilian personnel from Johnston Island to Honolulu, Hawaii was conducted in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane John. There was extensive damage to the Island due to Hurricane John. Redeployment of all evacuated personnel was completed in September 1994.

On 01 November 1994, USACAP reorganized by combining the HHC and CASD into one unit called the Chemical Ammunition Company (CAC).

In Fiscal Year 1995, CAC completed the M55 GB Rocket Campaign.

In Fiscal Year 1996, CAC completed the MC-1 750lb GB Bomb Campaign and the MK-94 500lb GB Bomb Campaign. A total of 3,047 MC-1 750lb GB bombs and 2,570 MK-94 500lb GB bombs were shipped to and demilitarized at JACADS.

Also in Fiscal Year 1996, CAC completed the M426 8 inch VX Projectile Rewarehousing Project and the M23 VX Land Mine Repalletization and Rewarehousing Project. CAC also assisted EOD with the destruction of two 75mm projectiles encased in cement that were sent to Johnston island for disposal. These projectiles were souvenirs taken home from France and the chemical agent started to break down the projectile, so the owner encased them in cement and turned them over to the U.S. Army.

CAC completed the 155mm GB Projectile campaign in 1997 by shipping the final 24,822 rounds to JACADS for destruction. Additionally, CAC shipped all 49,347 105mm GB Projectiles to JACADS to complete the campaign.

CAC shipped for destruction a total of 38,411 rounds to the JACADS plant in 1998. The 105mm GB Campaign was completed with the shipment of the final 33 rounds to JACADS. Additionally, the following campaigns were started and completed in 1998; 8 in GB ( 13,020) and 155mm GB (6,386), as well as over 19,000 4.2 in. HD (mustard) mortars..

In 1999 CAC completed the destruction of 43,660 4.2 in HD Mortars as well as 5,869 155mm HD rounds.

Also in 1999, CAC sent a team of soldiers to Guam for Operation Guam Express during which over 20 Chemical Agent Identification Sets (CAIS kits) were retrieved and brought to Johnston Island for destruction.

The year 2000 began with the excitement of the approaching end of the Army's mission on JI. The destruction of 42,682 155mm VX projectiles was completed as well as 14,519 8 in. VX projectiles and 66 One-Ton containers. Operation Guam Express II also took place in 2000 during which 19 more CAIS kits were retrieved for destruction.

The final campaign, the destruction of 13, 302 M23 VX Land Mines began in September of 2000 and was finished 28 November 2000, marking the end of chemical munitions on Johnston Island.

Other Major Events

Off-Island Ranges. CAC deploys personnel to participate in off-island ranges. The ranges are conducted at Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii. These ranges are conducted twice a year to qualify personnel from the Chemical Ammunition Company (CAC) and the Military Police Company (MPC) on the M203 Grenade Launcher, M60 Machine Gun, MK-19 Grenade Launcher, and M2 50-cal Machine Gun (familiarization only). These ranges cannot be conducted on Johnston Island due to range limitations.