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Nisei – conclusion – Nisei WACs

If you were asked to describe a “soldier,” what kind of image does that word conjure up in your mind? Popular media has generally portrayed the American soldier as a muscular white male, or sometimes a white female, and while they may have constituted the majority of the U.S. military force, history fails to give recognition to the Asian American women who contributed to the U.S.’s victory by taking on many different roles during World War II to assist the armed forces.

Starting in 1943, Japanese women, known as “Nisei” or (first generation born from immigrants), were accepted by the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) and the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) to work as nurses and doctors to provide medical care and as Military Intelligence Service officers and linguists.. Though Asian American women served many important functions in World War II, they are still overlooked or completely ignored in modern discourse.

This post focuses on the Nisei women who served as linguists and their struggles balancing their identities as an American woman and a Japanese woman, while studying their mother tongue under considerable pressure at the U.S. War Department’s Military Intelligence Service Language School in Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

Their histories and struggles during the war are just as valid as any other American war veteran’s experiences out on the field. Women began turning them away from their traditional societal roles as homemakers and caretakers towards more proactive roles opening up in the factories and the military.

Private Shizuko Shinagawa, 21, of the Women’s Army Corps, who was sent to Denver to recruit Japanese-American women for the WAC. May 22, 1944, Denver, Colorado. Courtesy of WRA no. G-563, War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement, BANC PIC 1967.014–PIC, the Bancroft Library

For Japanese Americans, on the West Coast, however, with Japan being the “enemy nation” after bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941, they were labeled as “enemy aliens” and by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, forced from their homes into internment camps. The military recognized the need to improve intelligence operations and trained and recruited specialists in the Japanese language to serve as interpreters, interrogators, and translators, and so around 5,500 Nisei were assigned to the Military Intelligence Service.

Nisei soldiers in Oregon

With struggles against racism combined with normalized sexism in the military, Nisei women, and many other Asian American women, had a unique experience while serving their country. While Military administrators rationalized the idea of accepting women, especially Japanese American women, it was under gendered and racialized reasoning. The WACs were given assignments that “did not transcend the domestic sphere”, therefore stuck behind desks doing clerical work. Furthermore, they were expected to emphasize their femininity through their physical appearances, “feminine” meaning short skirts and makeup. Along with these demands, the Nisei WACS were also expected to act as “American women” but retain their Japanese linguistic heritage in order “to serve as role models as Japanese women.

Nisei WACs

Like many second or third-generation Asian Americans today, Nisei WACs did not all possess fluency in Japanese, especially not at the level needed to comprehend military-related documents, hence they were sent to MIS school to learn Japanese.

Difficulties:
“I wasn’t very strong in Japanese, coming from an area [Idaho] where there were no Orientals. We just didn’t speak the language… And so, when we were sent to Japan, I had an awful hard time working with [Japanese] military terms…Some of the girls from Hawaii used to work as radio announcers in Japanese. They had a lot more training and they could read and write [Japanese] fluently. At Fort Snelling, I was in one of the lowest classes, just learning the basics.

Nisei Women’s Army Corps, Ft. Snelling

After they graduated from MISLS, they were assigned to various military sectors and helped the military forces immensely. Many of the graduates worked at war crimes trials as translators and interrogators and helped link a number of atrocities to individual Japanese by the captured diaries and letters, written during wartime, that they studied. Maybe one of their most impressive contributions, in the Civil Affairs branch, was censorship- screening the press, inspecting the postal system, watching communications of all kinds, and helping to find out what “has gone on in Japan these many years.” These linguists classified approximately 2,000,000 Japanese documents according to tactical, strategic, or long-range value. In all, they translated some 20,000,000 pages.


The WAC’s and other Nisei linguists’ work for the United States should be honored and remembered. They wanted to serve in the U.S. military for various reasons, but mainly to show their loyalty to the United States. Some were also motivated by reasons that were rooted in their culture and status in their family and community. One former Nisei WAC, Grace Harada reveals her discussion with her parents on why she felt the need to serve in the military:
“They just felt that I shouldn’t be doing something like that, and going so far away from
home. But I told them that I just couldn’t stay home and do housework. I wasn’t accomplishing anything. [Harada’s brother had already joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.] I said [to my parents] “There is a war going on and he can’t do it alone.” …I said what I would be doing is replacing all these men to help end the war. I tried to talk with my parents into letting me go, and finally they released me and signed the consent for me to go in.”

Nisei female nursing cadets

With political circumstances so against them, the Nisei had made every effort to forget their Japanese heritage and prove they are “American.”  The experience of attending the MISLS was both a challenge and a chance for the Nisei, to balance both of their identities for a cause and prove their loyalty to their homeland, the United States. Furthermore, as Nisei women, they constantly had to navigate social norms and persevere against sexually and racially intertwined expectations to serve as model American women in Japan, yet maintain their “Japanese-ness” to be competent translators. Their experiences are invaluable in that they not only but also expand one’s perspective of what kind of people serve in the military but also add another complex layer to the Asian American narrative.

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Military Humor –

Saturday Evening Post, 1943

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Marley Arthurholtz – KY; USMC, WWII, Pfc., USS Oklahoma, KIA, Pearl Harbor

Leonard Brink – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, WWII, 110/28th Division

Last Flight

Carmen J. Covino (102) – Hamburg, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Robert Hatch – Woods Cross, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., D Co./6th Marines, machine-gunner, KIA Tarawa

Rosario Lindberg – Davao, P.I.; Civilian, WWII, PTO, Filipino guerrilla fighter, interpreter for Allies during Japanese trials

Miles Riley – Gooding, ID; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Joseph Rogers (101) – Royal Oak, MI; US Army, WWII, 95th Chemical Mortar Battalion / Korea, 24th Infantry, Col. (Ret. 31 y.)

Arthur Schaeffer – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, Korea, 82nd Airborne Division

Edward Tyree – Lexington, NC; US Army, Vietnam, 173rd Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Maria Winship – brn: GER/Denver, CO; Civilian, WWII, ETO, translator

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Nisei – part 3 Nisei ROTC in Hawaii

HI Territorial Guard, UH, 1942

 

On 7 December 1941, the UH ROTC Regiment over 600 strong was called out over the radio to report to duty. We reported to the ROTC Armory, which is that little wooden building now standing at the end of Sinclair Library parking lot. We were greeted by the sight of Sgt. Ward and Sgt. Hogan feverishly inserting firing pins into Springfield .03 rifles. I reported to my unit, Company “B”, 1st Battalion, commanded by Captain Nolle Smith. We were issued a clip of 5 bullets with our rifles.

It was reported that Japanese paratroopers had landed on St. Louis Heights. Our first order was to deploy down across Manoa Stream where Kanewai Park now stands and to prevent the enemy from advancing into the city. We were crouched down among the koa bushes for long hours in the hot sun, waiting for the enemy which never showed up. This turned out to be just another one of the many hysterical rumors that spread across Honolulu that day.

During those few hours of service, we had no military status or standing, federal or territorial. We were just University ROTC boys heeding our country’s desperate call to arms. For our participation in “the campaign for St. Louis Heights,” many years later in 1977, the University ROTC was awarded with a battle streamer distinguishing it as the first and only ROTC unit in the United States to engage in active war service during World War II!

Richard Okamoto at HI firing range, 1943

On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, the University ROTC unit was converted into the Hawaii Territorial Guard and we were trucked down to the National Guard Armory where our State Capitol now stands. We were issued those pie-plate tin helmets and gas masks and immediately assigned to guard Lolani Palace, the Courthouse, Hawaiian Electric, Mutual Telephone, and Board of Water Supply, and all other government buildings and utilities all over the city. Company B was headquartered in the Dole Pineapple building and assigned to guard the Iwilei industrial district and the waterfront and to defend against a Japanese invasion attack. Just imagine the pitiful sight of a greenhorn teenage soldier who never fired a gun crouched behind a sandbagged emplacement at Pier 10 defending against a Japanese invasion of Honolulu Harbor with a measly 30 caliber rifle and five bullets.  Mercifully and thankfully, the enemy never invaded!  But the important thing was that we had responded to the call, we were proud to wear the American uniform, and we were serving our country in its direst hour of need!

We served for six weeks after Pearl Harbor, but by January 19, 1942, the high brass in Pentagon had discovered to its horror that the city of Honolulu was being defended by hundreds of Japs in American uniforms!  It should be mentioned here that over 75% of the HTG guardsmen were men of Japanese ancestry. The order came down that all HTG guardsmen of Japanese ancestry were discharged.   If they had dropped a bomb in our midst. it couldn’t have been more devastating. That blow of being rejected by your own country only because of your name, your face, and your race, was far worse than Pearl Harbor itself. Every Nisei who suffered that indignity will attest to the fact that that rejection was absolutely the lowest point in our long lives!

7 Who Gave Their All

 

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We could do nothing else but return to the University.  But books and classrooms made no sense, when our country was crying for military and defense manpower, and yet we were distrusted, unwanted, useless. But within a week’s time, Hung Wai Ching, who was then Executive Secretary of the Atherton YMCA near the UH campus, met with a group of the discharged Nisei, and soon inspired and convinced them why not offer themselves as a labor battalion.  His key pitch was “So they don’t trust you with a gun. Wouldn’t they trust you with picks and shovels?” By February 25, 1942, a petition signed by 169 University students offering their services as a labor battalion was accepted by the Military Governor.

This group known as the “Varsity Victory Volunteers” was assigned to the 34th Combat Engineers Regiment at Schofield Barracks performing vital defense work on Oahu. For the next 11 months, they dug ammunition pits, built secondary mountain roads, repaired bridges and culverts, built warehouses and field housing. and operated the rock quarry. One day in December, 1942, Secretary of War John McCloy, making a field inspection of Oahu defenses, witnessed the VVV Quarry Gang operating the quarry up at Kolekole Pass, and was told the story of the VVV by his escort, Hung Wai Ching. By some coincidence or otherwise, just a month later in January, 1943, the War Department announced its decision to form an all-Nisei combat team and issued a call for volunteers. On January 30, 1943, members of the VVV voted to disband so they could volunteer for the 442nd Combat Team. Most of the men were accepted and served the duration of the war with the 442nd, and also with the Military Intelligence Service. The rest is well known history.

 

Editors note: The words above were delivered on 3 December 2001, at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Visitor’s Center as part of the 60th Anniversary remembrance of the Dec. 7th 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Military Humor – 

‘Hey, most climb over, but whatever works for you.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Allen Bradley – Dillon, MT; US Army, WWII & Korea, 82 Airborne Division

Jack Crawford – Phoenix City, AL; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Grant Ichikawa – Suison Valley, CA; US Army, PTO, MIS’er, Lt.,/ Korea / CIA

Trevor Joseph – Collierville, TN; US Army, Afghanistan, 1/5th Aviation Regiment, “Cajun Dustoff” MEDEVAC, Major, KIA Fort Polk

Shiro Kashino – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd Regimental Combat Team

John L. Keenan – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO / NYPD, “Son of Sam” Task Force Cmdr.

Michael Meehan – brn: IRE/Edison, NJ; US Army, Occupation, 25th Infantry Signal Co./11th Airborne Division

Kelly Richards – Grayling, MI; US Army, SSgt., medic, Iraq & Afghanistan, KIA

Ephrain “Hank” Royfe – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, translator

William Tinker – Caney, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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Nisei – part 2

306th HQ Intelligence Detachment, XXIV Corps, Leyte, Philippines, November 1, 1944. Front row, l to r: George Shimotori, Saburo Okamura, Thomas Sasaki, Francis Yamamoto Herbert Nishihara, Warren Tsuneishi. Back row, l to r: Hiroshi Itow, Joe Nishihara, Lt. Richard Kleeman, TSgt George Takabayashi, Lloyd Shimasato.
(Signal Corps photo)

When the first graduates were sent to the Pacific and landed in Australia, they were part of the Americal troops. Many were sent to help with the fighting on Iwo Jima, which MacArthur felt was taking far too long to complete. Some stayed and worked with the Australian troops and others went to British or Canadian units. (Canada also had their own S-20 Japanese Language School in Vancouver, British Columbia to train interpreters.) Only the U.S. Navy rejected the linguists. Admiral Halsey did in fact understand their importance and requested some MIS’ers for his fleet, but as a whole, Nimitz and the rest of the navy wanted to continue using their own intelligence personnel. (A very serious mistake in Leyte Gulf.)

It was difficult to locate the Nisei that worked G-2 specifically for the 11th Airborne and when because the men were rarely ever put on the official rosters. A MISer could train with the 11th Airborne on New Guinea and by December he was in Burma or up in the Aleutians. They were as difficult to track as the 11th A/B themselves. One Nisei found himself stuck at the Panama Canal, not at all certain what he was supposed to do there.

Nisei at work in Manila, P.I.

But, I did manage to locate a fair number of fellow paratroopers from Smitty’s division: Clarence Ohta and John Nakahara jumped with the 11th on Luzon. George Kojima, Koshi Ando and James Harada were with the 503d Regiment. Harry Akune jumped on Corregidor without any training, injured his ankle and went to work translating immediately. He was later at Atsugi airfield with MacArthur. After the service he went back to college. There was also: Robert Kimura and Mitsuo Usui; Takeshi “Jim” Fujisaka (lived in Fresno, CA and passed away 7 Sept. 1996); Tetsuo Koga; Norman Kihuta (with the 511th G-2 was discharged 6 Jan. 1946); Mike Miyatake went back to his customs job after his discharge; Akira Abe took his parachute training, flew to New Guinea and continued with the 11th A/B throughout Leyte and Luzon. Jiro Tukimura and Eddie Tamada were also noted in the records.

Nisei, saving lives by flushing out the caves.

In February of 1943, the Taiyo Maru, a Japanese transport ship, was sunk and a lifeboat washed up on Goodenough Island, north of New Guinea;s eastern tip. On that boat was a document that included a list of 40,000 Imperial Army officers from Hideki Tojo on down. These papers, once translated, gave the rank of each officer, unit assigned, the order of battle and the amount of men in each of these units. This information along with documents previously acquired and translated established the exact location of all Japanese units. This work alone was worth the time and effort of forming the MIS.

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SHOUT OUT !!!

James South, 99 year old veteran, is about to turn 100 on 7 October.  He has asked for one thing for this occasion — to receive 100 birthday cards!!  Help him have his wish come true……

James South, 5800 North Park Drive, Watauga, TX  76148

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Military Humor – 

“Thank you, sir — all we needed was somebody blowin’ his horn.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alvie Boles (100) – Rosedale, OK; US Army, WWII. Purple Heart

William Davis – Topeka, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-51

Dorothy Doerr – St Clair, MO; Civilian, “Rosie” at Curtiss Wright Aircraft, WWII

Robert Engel – E. Greenbush, NY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Harold Hayward (101) – Lower Hutt, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 74142, WWII, Wing Commander

Herschel Mattes – Pittsburgh, PA/Avon, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot, 1st Lt., 525 FS/86th Fighter Group, KIA

W. Ray Painter (100) – Augusta, GA; US Army, WWII

John Runkle Jr. – Washington D.C.; US Navy, WWII, APO / Korea

Henry C. Smith – Manistee, MI; US Army, WWII, CBI; Sgt., Merrill’s Marauders, Silver Star

Maurice ‘Migs’ Turner – Winnipeg, CAN;  RCNVR, WWII, Sub-Lt., HMCS Guelph / NATO / RC Coast Guard

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Nisei – part 1

Nisei soldiers

Smitty held the Nisei in very high regard and I would be remiss in neglecting to tell their story. Beside, one of these men might have been directly responsible for the safe return of my father. In reality, it would be near impossible to relate a story of the Pacific War without mentioning their service. Some of this unique intelligence force worked ‘behind the scene’ stateside U.S.A. or Australia, but many were up front and fighting at and behind enemy lines.

Smitty always had extreme appreciation for the courage, resilience and down-right crazy stunts they pulled off. They were capable of going behind the lines to acquire information or cut into the radio lines and all the while they remained quite aware that their own units might mistake them for the enemy when they returned. This did happen more than once.

Most everyone is aware of whom the Nisei are, but for clarification purposes, here are some of the terms that might be used in this section or if you continue with your own research:

AJA – Americans of Japanese Ancestry
MISers – the name used for students and graduates of the Military Intelligence Service Language School
Issei – first generation Japanese-American
Nisei – second generation Japanese-American, (this term is for definition only – Nisei prefer to state that they are American)
Kibei – Japanese-American who received education in Japan

At the language school, the students were crammed with courses and put on a strict schedule. Some courses included:

Kanji – a Japanese method of writing based on Chinese logographic characters
Kaisho – the printed form of Kanji and can only be read by someone who has memorized a great number of ideographs
Gyosho – hand written Japanese, very similar to the Palmer Method of Penmanship and is very difficult for Americans
Sosho – the shorthand version of Kanji and almost impossible for an American to learn. Most Japanese field orders were taken down by this method.

Kai Rasmussen (center)

It must be noted that many of these men had family incarcerated in detainment camps and serving in the Imperial Army & Navy, but in school, on the job and in combat they loyally worked to do their level best. The language school began 1 November 1941 at Crissy Field, with Lt. Colonel John Wickerling in charge. His right hand man, educator and recruiter, Kai Rasmussen, was a primary force in the success of the school. He was a West Point grad who spoke Japanese with a Danish accent and would eventually earn the Legion of Merit for his efforts.

 

 

A move was necessary from San Francisco to Camp Savage, Minnesota. The change in location was largely due to the bigotry that had overwhelmed California at the time. The most influential white supremacists included: Earl Warren; The Natives Sons and Daughters of the Golden West; William Randolph Hearst and his newspapers and Congressman Leland Ford. Eventually, the school needed to expand and moved to Fort Snelling, St. Paul.

Rasmussen’s right hand man was John Fujio Aiso, an attorney out of Brown and Harvard and had studied at Chuo University in Tokyo. (He was originally assigned to a motor pool because the Army felt they had no need for additional lawyers.) Rasmussen traveled across the country in attempts to find candidates for the school. The Pentagon had kept the paperwork for the operations of the Nisei secret for three decades, but Smitty began talking about them once I was old enough to ask questions.

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Military Humor – 

“AIM FOR THE CAT!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Malcolm Armstrong – Ardmore, OK; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

John Bagwell – Arab, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Milo Durant – Manawatu, NZ; NZEF #453408, WWII, Pvte.

Virginia Fallon – New Haven, CT; Civilian, WWII, Winchester Repeating Arms, ammo inspector

Raymond Goulet – New Bedford, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 85th Infantry Division

Ralph Hatcher – Indianapolis, IN; US Army, Vietnam,101st Airborne Division, medic

T. Chester McKeon – Prairie Grove, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-25 crew chief, MSgt.

Harvey Nichols – Braxton, MS; US Army, WWII, PTO, POW, KIA

Charles Peck – Hansville, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, gunner

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Nisei in Alaska

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Condensed from Yankee Samurai, by Joseph D. Harrington

With Attu secured, Kiska was next in the Aleutians.  An exercise in total futility ensued.  More than 29,000 US troops and 5,000 Canadian ones were assembled, plus some Eskimos and Alaska Scouts.  Nobuo Furuiye served with the Canadians.

The invasion of Kiska was preceded by a fiasco called “The Battle of the Pips”.  A Fire Controlman who served on the battleship Mississippi during the shoot-up said, “We fired a million bucks worth of ammunition into a rainstorm!”

For the Canadians, the taking of Kiska was a biter blow.  Don Oka was with the Alaska Scouts.  He stood offshore in a ship, listening to the tremendous firing ashore.  Tad Ogawa, Ted Ishida and Shigeo Ito also participated.  All were certain, from the noise, that a battle as bloody as Attu was taking place.

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None was, the Japanese had left.  But, they did leave the Nisei a gift however, a cave full of food with a sign in Japanese that said: “Help Yourself.  This is not poisoned.”  John White’s (Nisei commander) men did not seal the food caves.  Instead, according to Shigeo Ito, “we partook voraciously.  Such things as tsukemono, Mandarin oranges, nori, bamboo shoots, and so forth.”  White said there was “lots of rice, clams, and canned meat.  The Nisei were their own chefs and our intelligence detachment became the most popular unit in the command.”

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Shigeo Ito was among those that returned to the US with some of the prisoners taken at Attu, while the more experienced  men were sent elsewhere.  Yoshio Morita was one left behind, but he didn’t mind.  Yutaka Munakata, head of the translation section at MISLS, expressed gratitude for having “huts to sleep in, warm clothes and wholesome food.”  He had a pretty good idea where Nisei who left Alaska were headed and malaria, dysentery and dengue fever did not inhabit the Arctic.

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Contributed by Pierre Lagacé – video about the Alaskan campaign!!

Excellent addition for this section!    CLICK HERE!!

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WWII female pilots now banned from burial at Arlington Cemetery ____

http://features.aol.com/video/group-heroic-wwii-pilots-are-now-banned-arlington-national-cemetery?icid=aol|carousel|dl1

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Cold Humor –

Sign reads: "TREE - only one on Attu"

Sign reads: “TREE – only one on Attu”

"Are you sure it's worth it, Joe?"

“Are you sure it’s worth it, Joe?”

 

 

 

winter-humor-1

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ronald Abbott – Rutland, VT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne, G-2 / CIA

Raymond Clark – Wellington, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4211662, WWII

Thank You Veterans for walking the walk.

Thank You Veterans for walking the walk.

Raymond Delano – Lee, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII

George Dunn – Ottawa, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, HMCS Antigonish

Calvin Lien – Edwina, MN; US Navy, WWII

Andy Morales – Longwood, FL; US Army, Iraq, Sgt., 143rd Sustainment Cmd., KIA

Frederick Robins – W. AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, Catalina pilot

Isadore Troise – Wilmington, DE; US Army, WWII, ETO, MIA/POW, 16th Cavalry Recon, Purple Heart

Ennis Warren – Mobile, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 top turret gunner

Wayne Watson – Riverside, CA; US Army, Vietnam

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Angel Island

Angel Island, CA

Angel Island, CA

The story of Angel Island as a center for processing US immigrants did not end with the Administration Building burning down in 1940.  Almost 700 Japanese immigrants were sent from Hawaii 7-8 December 1941 and over 98 from the mainland; another 105 were sent to Sharp Park, near Pacifica.  This was a layover point before those interned moved on to such places as Tule Lake and Manzamar.

public-proclamation-no-3

They were part of 17, 477 people of Japanese descent who were interned for all or part of WWII.  According to Tetsuden Kashima in “Judgement Without Trial”, 13,798 Germans and Italians were also imprisoned as ‘enemy aliens’.  “We have found the names of about 81 Germans and Italians who were interned at Angel Island for at least a short time…”   These civilians were sometimes housed alongside POWs.

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An account from Yasutaro Soga describes: “Living quarters for all 49 of us were 2 rooms measuring about 36 feet by 70 feet on the second floor of an old building that had once been the Immigration Bureau office.  Because there were about 90 internees from California already housed there, space was very tight.  The beds were tri-level bunks with barely enough walking space in the aisles.  There were about 10 windows and one ventilator, but with 140 occupants, air circulation was poor.”

Arrival

Arrival

Patsy Saiki described that the internees decided to do something about the food by volunteering to help in the mess hall and cooking rice the way the Japanese liked it.  “The men were allowed to walk the grounds around the dorm for ½ hour three times a day.  They exercised loudly and joyfully.”  Within 5 days of arrival, Group 1 was on it’s way to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin.

ngarrison2

Curtis Burton Munson submitted two reports to Pres. Roosevelt, he wrote, “There is no Japanese problem on the West Coast.  There will be no armed uprising of Japanese…  For the most part, the local Japanese are loyal to the U.S….”  But, this did not to halt the continued arrest and incarceration.

Angel Island carvings

Angel Island carvings

A few of the internees left writings on the walls of the former immigration barracks.  Professor Charles Egan of the San Francisco State University has found some writings in a former closet that now houses an elevator, so these are unfortunately not accessible to the visitors walking the grounds today.

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The Angel Island organization is the source of this information.  On their website, they provide videos and first hand accounts that can be searched by name or photo.  Should you or a family member wish to contribute to Angel Island’s index, they welcome hearing from you.

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Political Cartoons – by Dr. Seussrighteous-protest

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Dr. Seuss apologized to the Japanese people for his attitude during the war by writing, Horton Hears A Who!

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A Hug From Home for deployed servicemen – a PIZZA____

http://www.aol.com/article/2015/07/04/retired-sergeant-sends-pizzas-7-000-miles-for-airdrop-to-us-troo/21204996/

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Personal – Shout Out – 

To the veterans of Little Rock, Arkansas – I hope you enjoyed your 4th, ate too much at the River Market, listened to that fine music and library personnel!!  Thank you for helping to ensure our freedom!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bartle – Okeechobee, FL; US Army, WWII

William Carroll – AUS; RAA, Ist Battalion, Vietnam, KIAMemorial_Day_Art_American_Soldier_Salutes_Half_Mast_US_Flag-01

Samuel Crews – Prattville, AL; US Air Force, Vietnam

Robert Eickelkamp – Sioux Falls, SD; USMC, Korea

John Georgette – Stratford, CT; USMC, WWII, PTO

James Jones – Seligman, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 188th Reg,/11 A/B,

Edward Lambert – Knoxville, TN; US Air Force (Ret. 20 years), Vietnam

Harris Daniel McGirt – FL & Ashville, NC; US Navy, USS Antietam, navigation

Normand Phelps – Rosemère, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Michael Runyan – Newark, OH; US Army, Iraq, 25th Inf. Division, Sgt.

Burt Shavitz – ME & NC; US Army, (Burt’s Bees)

Keith Whiting – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII

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Honoring those that serve us

"1. Theme float, sound car and pace car

Tournament of Roses 2015

Alhambra, California honored the Japanese-Americans in WWII with their “Go For Broke” display:

Go For Broke!

Go For Broke!

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Please click on photos to enlarge!

Honoring Louis Zamperini

Mr. Zamperini was made Grand Marshall

Mr. Zamperini was made Grand Marshall

Rose Parade-7 (800x616)

 

 

 

 

For those who care!

Pasadena-Police-and-Fire-Dept-Rose-Parade-Safety-Tips

Parade Watch Logo 2015 4 web

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Marine Mounted Honor Guard

U.S. Marine Mounted Honor Guard

Helsingor Pigegarde Elsinore Girls Marching Band from Denmark playing "Anchors Away" while marching in an anchor formation.

Helsingor Pigegarde Elsinore Girls Marching Band from Denmark playing “Anchors Away” while marching in an anchor formation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You !

Stealth B-2 Flyover

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Military Humor – cut-backs are international!

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defence_cuts_boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – borderKenneth Bridgham – Rutledge, TN; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Brian Carrothers – Vancouver, CAN; Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s), WWII, D-Day

Cecil Corts – Leslie, MI; US Navy, WWII20140525_104827-10 (600x800)

Gordon Douglas – Veedersburg, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Terry Lewis – Little Rock, AR; US Navy (Ret. 25 years), Vietnam

John Mcrath – Canton, GA; US Navy, WWII

Robert Thomas, Melbourne, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI/US Air Force, Korea

Hugh Young – Vienna, VA; US Army, Korea, CIA

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G-2 Intelligence/ Nisei part 2

Ben Hazzard (mustache) w/ the 306th Language Detachment

Ben Hazzard (mustache) w/ the 306th Language Detachment

In the Solomons, a think document emerged from a grounded Japanese submarine. It contained a list of the enemy’s submarines with the code names, ship types that were unknown to the Allies and air squadrons and their bases. Three Nisei enlisted men of the Army translated all the paperwork.

MIS translations included: artillery charts, the Japanese Z Plan, mine field layouts and shipping schedules. The Nisei wrote surrender instructions and even decoded the documents that resulted in the aerial ambush that killed Admiral Yamamoto. Maps were deciphered and read mail. The Nisei donned headphones in the field and listened for that all-important “one-word” signal order directed to the enemy troops.

interrogating a Japanese general

interrogating a Japanese general

The Nisei flushed the enemy out of caves and bunkers, often while they themselves were unarmed. They fought alongside their fellow soldiers, interrogated prisoners and helped to empty munitions factories on Japan before the G.I.s went in to dismantle them. They endured the racism of the American citizens, some of the soldiers, the navy and even the taunting of the Filipino people. Yet, the Higa team went on to flush 30,000 Japanese men out of the caves and tombs on Okinawa. On 19 April, at 0640 hours, General John Hodge ordered his troops to break through the Naha-Shuri-Yonabaru line. The attack was shattered and 750 Americans died. According to Hodge himself, if the work the Nisei had done was given the attention it deserved – “it would not have happened at all!”

Nisei Soldier of WWII Bronze medal

Nisei Soldier of WWII Bronze medal

reverse side of bronze medal

reverse side of bronze medal

Outside Washington D.C. at Vint Hill Farm Station, MISers translated wires from the Japanese Ambassador, Gen. Oshima, sent to Berlin (via a station in Turkey). They were thereby reading Hitler’s mail to and from Tokyo almost before he did. The Pacific Military Intelligence Research Service (PACMIRS) was situated at Camp Richie, Maryland (later known as Camp David). At PACMIRS, Kazuo Yamane received documents ignored by the Navy and was found to be the Imperial Army Ordnance Inventory. The OWI used MISers and the Nisei proved themselves in the Allied Translator and Interpreter Service (Australia) and the Southeast Asia Translator and Interrogation Center (India).

During the occupation, Nisei helped to track down many of the war criminals. Shiro Tokuno, for one, improved Japan’s agriculture in the Natural Resources Section and later in the fisheries, forestry and boat construction areas. By the end of the war, twenty million pages of documents, diaries, etc. had been examined by the linguists. MacArthur’s Chief of Staff for Military Intelligence gave credit to the MIS graduates by saying that they had shortened the war by two years, saved a possible one million lives and probably billions of dollars. With the occupation still in progress, the MISers continued to be of assistance in Korea, although most Koreans did speak Japanese.

S/Sgt, Dick Hamada, Sgt .Fumio Kido w/ Blakenship 3 Jan. 1946 for Soldier's Award

S/Sgt, Dick Hamada, Sgt .Fumio Kido w/ Blakenship 3 Jan. 1946 for Soldier’s Award

They were not without a sense of humor, as James Tsurutani showed. He would lie down on the ground for his buddies while they held a bayonet to have a picture taken to send back home with the caption, “Captured another Jap!”

Upon returning home from Japan, my father and several other troopers from the 11th A/B, including two Nisei, went to a saloon to celebrate their return to San Francisco and the good ole U.S. of A. The drinks were put up on the bar, free of charge for returning veterans, and Smitty began to distribute them. He said he stopped laughing and talking just long enough to realize that he was two drinks shy of what he ordered. He knew right off what it was all about, but he tried to control that infamous temper of his, and said something to the effect of “Hey, I think you forgot a couple over here.” The reply came back in a growl, “We don’t serve their kind in here.” Dad said he was not sorry that lost control, he told me, “I began to rant things like, ‘don’t you know what they’ve been through?’ and ‘what the hell’s wrong with you?'”

By this time, the other troopers had heard Smitty yelling and it did not take them long to figure out the scenario between my father and the bartender. No explanation was necessary. In fact, dad said the entire situation blew apart like spontaneous combustion. The drinks hit the floor and all hell broke loose. When there was not much left in the bar to destroy, they quieted down and left the established (such as it was). The men finished their celebration elsewhere. Smitty said he never knew what, if anything ever came out of the incident. He never heard of charges being filed or men reprimanded. (I’ve wondered if Norman Kihuta, who was discharged on the same date as Smitty, was there on the scene.)

back at the office...

back at the office…

There were very few pictures taken of the Nisei soldiers for two main reasons. many of them had family in Japan and some relatives fighting in the Imperial Army and Navy, therefore their picture, if recognized, could possibly cause undue harm to those families. Another reason was the greed of the press for a spectacular story, which usually meant they were covering the actions of the Marines. The fighting in the Philippines did not seem as glamorous; with the Marines they could cause much more dramatic headlines. (ergo: less print, less photos). The linguists sent to China received very little recognition because the War Department would not admit they had American troops there.

By 1977, the MIS school produced 75,000 linguists speaking fifty languages.

…………………………..Dom’ arigato gozaimashita.’…………..

(Thank you very much for what you have done.)

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Resources: “Yankee Samauri” by Joseph D. Harrington; National Archives; cia.gov; NPS.gov; nisei.hawaii.edu; niseiveterans.blogspot.

I also located a very interesting blog by CGAYLEMARIE who is researching the Japanese-Americans at Oberlin College, if this subject interests you, stop in for a look… http://cgayleguevara.wordpress.com

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G-2 Intelligence/ Nisei part 1

Kai Rasmussen (center)

Kai Rasmussen (center)

Smitty held the Nisei in very high regard and I would be remiss in neglecting to tell their story. Beside, one of these men might have been directly responsible for the safe return of my father. In reality, it would be near impossible to relate a story of the Pacific War without mentioning their service. Some of this unique intelligence force worked ‘behind the scene’ stateside U.S.A. or Australia, but many were up front and fighting at and behind enemy lines. Smitty always had extreme appreciation for the courage, resilience and down-right crazy stunts they pulled off. They were capable of going behind the lines to acquire information or cut into the radio lines and all the while they remained quite aware that their own units might mistake them for the enemy when they returned. This did happen more than once.

Most everyone is aware of whom the Nisei are, but for clarification purposes, here are some of the terms that might be used in this section:

AJA – Americans of Japanese Ancestry
MISers – the name used for students and graduates of the Military Intelligence Service Language School
Issei – first generation Japanese-American
Nisei – second generation Japanese-American, (this term is for definition only – Nisei prefer to state that they are American)
Kibei – Japanese-American who received education in Japan

At the language school, the students were crammed with courses and put on a strict schedule. Some courses included:

Kanji – a Japanese method of writing based on Chinese logographic characters
Kaisho – the printed form of Kanji and can only be read by someone who has memorized a great number of ideographs
Gyosho – hand written Japanese, very similar to the Palmer Method of Penmanship and is very difficult for Americans
Sosho – the shorthand version of Kanji and almost impossible for an American to learn. Most Japanese field orders were taken down by this method.

Kai Rasmussen recruitment letter - date  6/14/74  at bottom is when this letter was de-classified

Kai Rasmussen recruitment letter – date 6/14/74 at bottom is when this letter was de-classified

It must be noted that many of these men had family incarcerated in detainment camps and serving in the Imperial Army & Navy, but in school, on the job and in combat they loyally worked to do their level best. The language school began 1 November 1941 at Crissy Field, with Lt. Colonel John Wickerling in charge. His right hand man, educator and recruiter, Kai Rasmussen, was a primary force in the success of the school. He was a West Point grad who spoke Japanese with a Danish accent and would eventually earn the Legion of Merit for his efforts.

A move was necessary from San Francisco to Camp Savage, Minnesota. The change in location was largely due to the bigotry that had overwhelmed California at the time. The most influential white supremacists included: Earl Warren; The Natives Sons and Daughters of the Golden West; William Randolph Hearst and his newspapers and Congessman Leland Ford. Eventually, the school needed to expand and moved to Fort Snelling, St. Paul.

Rasmussen’s right hand man was John Fujio Aiso, an attorney out of Brown and Harvard and had studied at Chuo University in Tokyo. (He was originally assigned to a motor pool because the Army felt they had no need for additional lawyers.) Rasmussen traveled across the country in attempts to find candidates for the school. The Pentagon had kept the paperwork for the operations of the Nisei secret for three decades, but Smitty began talking about them once I was old enough to ask questions.

When the first graduates were sent to the Pacific and landed in Australia, they were part of the Americal troops. Many were sent to help with the fighting on Iwo Jima, which MacArthur felt was taking far too long to complete. Some stayed and worked with the Australian troops and others went to British or Canadian units. (Canada also had their own S-20 Japanese Language School in Vancouver, British Columbia to train interpreters.) Only the U.S. Navy rejected the linguists. Admiral Halsey did in fact understand their importance and requested some MISers for his fleet, but as a whole, Nimitz and the rest of the navy wanted to continue using their own intelligence personnel. (A very serious mistake in Leyte Gulf.)

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

It was difficult to locate the Nisei that worked G-2 specifically for the 11th Airborne because the men were rarely ever put on the official rosters. A MISer could train with the 11th on New Guinea and by December he was in Burma or up in the Aleutians. They were as difficult to track as the 11th A/B themselves. One Nisei found himself stuck at the Panama Canal, not at all certain what he was supposed to do there. But, I did manage to locate a fair number of fellow paratroopers from Smitty’s division: Clarence Ohta and John Nakahara jumped with the 11th on Luzon. George Kojima, Koshi Ando and James Harada were with the 503d Regiment. Harry Akune jumped on Corregidor without any training, injured his ankle and went to work translating immediately. He was later at Atsugi airfield with MacArthur. After the service he went back to college. There was also: Robert Kimura and Mitsuo Usui; Takeshi “Jim” Fujisaka (lived in Fresno, CA and passed away 7 Sept. 1996); Tetsuo Koga; Norman Kihuta (with the 511th G-2 was discharged 6 Jan. 1946); Mike Miyatake went back to his customs job after his discharge; Akira Abe took his parachute training, flew to New Guinea and continued with the 11th A/B throughout Leyte and Luzon. Jiro Tukimura and Eddie Tamada were also noted in the records.

In February of 1943, the Taiyo Maru, a Japanese transport ship, was sunk and a lifeboat washed up on Goodenough Island, north of New Guinea;s eastern tip. On that boat was a document that included a list of 40,000 Imperial Army officers from Hideki Tojo on down. These papers, once translated, gave the rank of each officer, unit assigned, the order of battle and the amount of men in each of these units. This information along with documents previously acquired and translated established the exact location of all Japanese units. This work alone was worth the time and effort of forming the MIS.

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