A Pictorial History
As of August 11, 201
Although there were several famous Military Police
units that were authorized motorcycles, the 545th
MP Company was never authorized motorcycles on the TOE.
That did not stop the enterprising 545th MP’s
from obtaining and utilizing them. Throughout the
units history the 545th has been known to
come up with what was required to get the job done and
has always been known for the scroungers within the
unit. From the days at Fort Bliss until the units
deactivation at Fort Hood, the 545th
scroungers have always come up with what the unit needed
if it was not obtainable through normal supply channels
– sometimes to the embarrassment of the unit commander.
Before I go any further, a little historical
background is required to explain how it came about that
the 545th ended up with motorcycles.
During WW II in the Pacific Islands, the radios they had
were not too reliable and the land lines kept being
broken or cut by artillery fire. The Signal Corps
came up with the ingenious idea that couriers could be
mounted on motorcycles to transport messages quickly.
Keep in mind there were no computers or FAX machines in
those days. If a document needed to be sent to a
commander in the field, it had to be hand carried.
Runners on foot took too long and jeeps got stuck in the
bottle neck traffic that was so common during the war in
the Pacific. Motorcycles were the answer and the
government ordered thousands of them from Harley
After the war the occupation troops settled in to
barracks life and garrison duty in Japan. Land
lines and switchboards were once again established and
jeeps could once again be used if necessary to transport
documents. All the motorcycles were turned into
the salvage yard for destruction or return to the
The old MP Platoon (soon to become the 545th
MP Company), HQS Troop, 1st Cav Div was
assigned Post Camp and Station duties and in addition to
patrolling Camp Drake also provided patrols in villages
in and around Tokyo as well as Tokyo proper. There
were no hand held radios that were reliable in those
days and the only method of communication with the
patrol supervisor or the Desk Sergeant was land line, MP
Whistle or the night stick.
Tokyo was so small that not even a Rickshaw could
pass through them. Obviously a jeep would not
either. Now imagine yourself an MP on the midnight
shift on foot patrol in the black market district with
just one other MP with you. You have no radio and
there are no pay phones anywhere in sight. This is
an area where they will kill you for just your uniform
and boots and cigarettes. There are muggers and
thieves and worse in these alley ways, some of which are
over a mile long before you come to an intersection that
is big enough to allow a jeep to pass through.
There were many a close call before back-up could be
sent to assist a foot patrol in trouble until the
Platoon Commander, CPT Albert Daniel had a talk
with the Motor Sergeant, SSG “Pop” Schrade shown
here below on the left.
CPT Daniel asked Pop if he could manage to obtain
some of the salvage motorcycles for use by the MP’s and
Pop replied that one of his mechanics who everyone
called Snoopy (shown on the right in the photo above)
had owned a motorcycle before he joined the service and
was very familiar with their care and maintenance.
Many of our old time members remember Snoopy, but no one
can remember his real name. If SGT Lehman were
still alive he is probably the only one who would
remember. To make a long story short – CPT Daniel
gave Pop and Snoopy a few bottles of whiskey and a case
of Coke and off they went to the Salvage yard.
They returned several hours later and much mellower with
four bikes, of which only two were operational.
Snoopy had insisted on the two other bikes for spare
They painted them Cavalry Yellow and stenciled
Military Police on them and added sirens and red
flashing lights and saddle bags (also painted yellow).
They then presented them to CPT Daniel who invited the
PM, MAJ Phelps to have a look at the finished product.
MAJ Phelps was impressed with the results of their work
and immediately knew that this was the answer to the
narrow alley ways patrols. The Major asked CPT Daniel if
he could obtain more and CPT Daniel stated it would cost
another several bottles of whiskey and the PM obliged by
immediately providing four bottles himself. Within
a week there were 1st Cav MP Bikes
This is a black and white photo that has been hand
painted (as was the fashion before color film)
of the first two 1st Cav MP Bikes on patrol
duty around 1945/46 in Tokyo
famous yellow 1st Cav MP motorcycles on
parade at Camp Drake 1946
CPT Louis Mehl on one of the 545th yellow
bikes 1949 at Camp Drake
LTC (ret) Mehl (Deceased) was a member of our
association and the Assn Commandant
Note the 30 cal ammo cans mounted on the front wheel
fender with first aid supplies and the saddle bags for
DR’s, traffic tickets, witness statements, flares, a
545th CPL Frank Kane (with MP helmet on the
left) on a yellow MP Bike at Camp Drake 1949/50
SGM (Ret) Kane is a member of our Association
As was the custom in the 1st Cavalry
Division in Tokyo in those days, all the Regimental
Commanders and the entire General staff had horses and
went riding every morning before breakfast and that
included the Division CG. One fine spring morning
in 1950 just prior to the Korean War, the CG was riding
around the Division Hqs building and had come around the
corner towards the main street just as one of the patrol
bikes was proceeding down the same street and backfired.
The CG’s horse reared, almost tossing the CG off his
mount and the MP panicked and hit his hand brake a
little too hard and the bike fish tailed and slid out
from under the MP towards the CG and his horse.
Thanks to the general’s good horsemanship and quick
thinking by the MP who managed to divert the bikes slide
away from the horse, no one was physically injured.
But General Chase was heard to say “Those damned bikes
are a menace to good cavalry horses and have no business
in a Cavalry division” Needless to say – that was the
last of the MP motorcycles in the 1st Cavalry
Division at Camp Drake.
This is not the end of the story! Pop hid the
bikes in a shop in Tokyo in hopes that one day they
would come in handy again. As we all know, the 545th
was shipped off with the rest of the Division to Korea
and participated in the Korean War (that’s another
pictorial history). No one knows for sure how the
location of these bikes was passed from one motor
sergeant to another, but when the 545th
returned to Japan and set up shop at Camp Crawford, the
bikes mysteriously showed up on duty once again!
Thanks to one of our members (SGT Warren Sessler) we now
have some great photos of these bikes at Camp Crawford:
The yellow jeeps and motorcycles had gone out of vogue
by this time
MP Sessler on the famous MP Bikes at Camp Crawford
I hope you
all enjoyed this little bit of nostalgia and 545th
history as much as I did in putting it all together.
CPT MP USAR (Ret)
545th Military Police Company Association
626 1/2 South 9th Street
Richmond, Indiana 47374 USA
(765) 962 4627 phone & FAX