In Action in the Pacific Ocean Areas Introduction
Admiral Chester W Nimitz's Pacific Ocean Areas (POA) theater covered all of the vast Pacific Ocean not included in MacArthur's SWPA command. It was so large that it was divided into three sub-theaters: the North Pacific, Central Pacific, and South Pacific commands, each of which saw considerable fighting. Unlike SWPA, POA was essentially an American naval theater, with few Allied elements included but with large U.S. naval and Marine Corps forces assigned to it. MISers served widely in POA yet were not organizationally assigned to Navy or Marine units since neither service included Japanese-Americans in their ranks. Nevertheless, in addition to MISers in POA Army divisions more than 100 Army Nikkei (along with a number of Hakujin MISers) were attached to or on temporary duty with POA naval and Marine units.
The following accounts illustrate the diversity of assignments and experiences of MISers in POA. Roy Uyehata, Nobuo Kishiue, and Ben Hazard all served with Army units: Uyehata on Bougainville in the South Pacific, Kishiue on several islands of the Central Pacific, and Ben Hazard in both SWPA and the Central Pacific. Nobuo Furuiye was attached to the Marines and saw action in the Central Pacific. Their activities covered at least five different islands spread over thousands of miles across the broad Pacific.
Interrogation of POWs on Bougainville Island - Roy T. Uyehata
In February of 1944, the U.S. 37th Division and the Americal Division under XIV Corps were engaged in combat against the Japanese 6th Division from Kumamoto on Bougainville Island, the northernmost of the Solomons Islands group.
We were capturing an unusually large number of Japanese POWs.
On the morning of March 8 as I was interrogating a private first class, the POW interrupted by asking how he could get off the island. The question surprised me. I knew that most POWs lied in giving their surnames and I also knew through experience that no POW ever wished to be recaptured by Japanese units. He was apparently fearful of being retaken in a counterattack. I told him that it would take approximately one week to interrogate him and another three or four days to cut orders for shipment to the rear. Moreover; it would take several more days to assemble enough POWs to warrant their shipment to the rear.
Worried about the dilemma in which he seemed to find himself, he blurted out that he guessed we knew that we were going to be attacked at dawn on March 23 -- a very auspicious day to mount an attack since it is a holiday, special to the Japanese Emperor, known as Shunki Koreisai (Spring All Imperial Ancestors Day).I knew that this top secret information had not been given to our Army commanders, so I misled the POW and told him that the attack was not "new" information since a number of other prisoners had also provided the same news to me previously.
I continued the interrogation for approximately thirty more minutes, and then, feigning a headache, told the POW that my headache was so bad I wanted to return to my office to get some aspirin. When I returned to my office and relayed the advance warning of the impending attack to Captain William Fisher; he was astounded and wondered aloud whether any Japanese soldier would ever reveal such a thing. I insisted that the information was reliable and that if he did not believe me he should send someone else to the POW compound to verify it.
Shortly after supper; T/Sgt Hiroshi Matsuda went to the POW compound and returned after confirming the attack plan after interrogating a sergeant POWCaptain Fisher then passed this top secret information on to Colonel Edgar J. Treacy, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 Section, who in turn passed it on to General Oscar Griswold, commander of XIV Corps. That evening General Griswold canceled the showing of all movies by Army units on Bougainville Island until further notice in order to prepare for the anticipated Japanese attack on March 23.
Several probing attacks were made by Japanese frontline units during the period from March 8 to March 20, but they were not taken too seriously since we knew that their main attack was scheduled for the 23rd.In order to launch their attack at dawn on March 23, all Japanese units cautiously approached the defense perimeter on March 22, concentrating their forces along three avenues of approach -- the Piva trail and the Numa Numa trail in the 37th Division sector; and an unnamed trail in the Americal Division sector.
At precisely 7:45 p.m. on March 22, we launched our counterattack beginning with artillery fire from the 37th and Americal Divisions and naval gunfire from six destroyers anchored in Torokina Bay. The combined artillery and naval gunfire barrages were so thunderous that the ground under XIV Corps headquarters, which was located approximately two and a half miles from the front, shook with the rolling motion of anearthquake. The front lines were brilliantly lit with thousands of illuminating flares. The barrages continued for more than an hour.
Our victory was decisive. The Japanese soldiers were totally unprepared for the artillery barrages which caught them without cover of foxholes and bunkers.
When casualties were counted after the battle, there were more than five thousand enemy dead and more than three thousand wounded. Some of the enemy wounded were captured and brought to the Division Mobile Army Surgical Hospital where I conducted POW interrogations. U.S. casualties were reported to be two hundred and sixty three.
T/Sgt Hiroshi Matsuda and I received Bronze Star medals for providing the advance warning that saved more than one thousand American lives.
Several weeks later, Colonel Kai Rasmussen, Commandant of the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Camp Savage, Minnesota, came to Bougainville to congratulate me for what I had done. I was the only MISer to have been honored with a personal visit by Colonel Rasmussen. Captain Fisher sent his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher; to the Poston Relocation Center in Arizona where my parents were interned to tell them that I had performed a very patriotic deed for our country -- even though they were not permitted to describe the nature of the deed.
As the direct result of another successful POW interrogation in April 1944,1 was able to assist a Signal Corps captain who had been sent to Bougainville by Signal Intelligence in the Pentagon in identifying four digit Japanese code designators being used by Japanese units in the field. So important was this feat that the captain was awarded the Legion of Merit for outstanding performance of duty.
Island Hopping from Makin to Saipan to Okinawa - Nobuo Dick Kishiue
I was inducted to serve in the Army on November 4, 1941, at Sacramento, California, and was sent to the Presidio of Monterey for processing. It was during my 13 weeks of basic infantry training at Camp Roberts in Paso Robles that the attack on Pearl Harbor took place on December 7,1941. All Nisei trainees in my training battalion were called together and taken off KP and guard duty. At Camp Roberts, I was interviewed by Captain Dickey of Army Intelligence on my skills in reading and translating Japanese. Upon completion of basic training, I was sent to Camp Robinson, Arkansas, along with other Nisei servicemen from the Western Defense Command. On February 19,1942, President Roosevelt had signed Executive Order 9066 ordering the evacuation and internment of over 120,000 Japanese and Americans of Japanese ancestry from west coast areas bordering the Pacific Ocean.
At Camp Robinson, I was assigned with 20 other Nisei to take care of firing ranges. Our responsibility was to maintain and repair the rifle range, as well as a variety of other firing ranges used for other infantry weapons. In December 1942, I was sent to Camp Savage, Minnesota, after a further interview by then Colonel Dickey, for 26 weeks of schooling in the Japanese language. Upon graduation in June 1943, I was sent to the port of embarkation on Angel Islandlocated in San Franciso Bay. I was accompanied by our language team leader, Tim Ohta, and Hoichi "Bob" Kubota, Richard Moritsugu, Jack Tanimoto, Joe Fujino, Larry Saito, Roy Higashi, and William Nuno. The team was sent to Hawaii on September 20,1943, the voyage taking 10 days by troop ship. We arrived at Schofield Barracks on Oahu and were assigned to the 27th Infantry Division.
In November 1943, Jack Tanimoto, Hoichi Kubo and I were sent with the 2nd Battalion of the 165th Infantry Regiment to participate in the invasion of Makin Island. Although we had undergone intensive training, including staged amphibious beachhead landings, this was to be more of an adventure than anyone could have imagined. The convoy took 10 days to arrive at our destination and the journey actually was quite boring. We were aboard the USS Leonard Wood and the crew included a famous Hollywood actor named Caesar Romero who was serving as a seaman. The troops constantly were on Romero asking about Hollywood and its people, making it difficult for him to carry out his assigned duties. On the morning of the landing, we had a special breakfast of steak, eggs, and all the trimmings. I went topside to observe the bombardment of Makin Island by naval ships and aircraft. Many of the tall coconut palms, which were gracefully outlined against the sky in the early dawn, were being torn apart, as were the inhabitants of the island. It was a wonder that anything could survive such an attack.
Once the bombardment let up, we took to the rope ladders over the side of the ship. It was a tricky feat to climb down from a rolling ship in full field gear onto the deck of a pitching landing craft. The landing craft got underway towards the beach and then ran aground on the shallow reefs. Under intense enemy fire, we were forced to wade chest deep some 100 yards to the beach. We were scared but had no time to think about it-just to get the hell out of the water and on to the shore. Once on shore, we dug foxholes to get out of the line of fire.
By nightfall, the beachhead and most of the island had been secured. A group of Korean laborers attached to the Japanese forces had been rounded up and they were interrogated for information but not much was revealed. No POWs were taken but we were able to seize important documents at the enemy command post, and these proved to be of assistance to our forces in the campaign.
Jack Tanimoto and I stayed with the garrison force to help with the clean up. We experienced bomb attacks every night for two weeks. "Betty" bombers would come over our position and drop their loads somewhere on the island. Our bodyguard, Pvt. Fred Narruhan, who was a native of Makin, was with the British Army, and he accompanied us constantly. We became very good friends. Jack and I visited his family and had a meal of native foods. On a reconnaissance to the outer island by landing craft, I went to Special Services and managed to obtain fishing poles and jigs. We caught barracudas and jack crevelles and feasted on fresh fish instead of our routine canned rations.
After a two month stay, we were ordered to rejoin the 27th Division in Hawaii. We flew by Navy transport plane from Makin to Tarawa, where we saw the aftermath of the recently waged battle to take that island. From Tarawa, we proceeded to Funafuti and then to Fiji Island to catch a PB4Y seaplane going to Pearl Harbor by way of Australia.
Upon our arrival at Pearl Harbor; Jake Herzog, an intelligence officer; met us and we asked why he was there to greet us. Hergoz was there to provide identification and to get us quickly out of Pearl Harbor because Nisei were not allowed in the area.
The three of us who had participated in the Makin invasion received letters of commendation from the S-2 battalion officer and the G-2 division officer, Col. Van Antwerp. Our names were also submitted for the Combat Infantryman Badge Award. This award was stalled because we were supposed to have been assigned to division headquarters and not to the front lines as infantrymen. The colonel explained the combat situation and working conditions and places we were ordered to go during the invasion, and after eleven months of delay, the War Department finally awarded the badges. This meant an additional $10.00 pay each month. In Hawaii, the language team was kept busy translating documents and diaries seized on Makin and Kwajalein while the division was resting in Hawaii awaiting our next assignment.
At the end of May 1944, the entire 27th Infantry Division boarded troop transports which joined a convoy for an unknown destination. In a few days we found out that we were headed for the Marianas Islands. On June 16 we arrived at Saipan where the Marines were already pushing inland from their beachhead with the enemy counterattacking during the night. The Army was called in for reinforcement. When a Japanese command post was taken at Aslito Airfield, I went to search for documents with a squad of bodyguards to the chatter of machine gun fire. On another occasion, I remember watching a dogfight involving American and Japanese fighter planes. When it ended, a Zero landed on the airstrip, the pilot was captured, and I proceeded to interrogate him. When I asked why he had landed at Aslito, the pilot responded that he had taken off from Guam and thought the airfield was still in Japanese possession.
During the battle of Saipan as a result of command differences the 27th Division commander; Gen. Ralph C. Smith was relieved and replaced by Gen. George W Griner, whom I had never met. My duty was to sort out the various documents, magazines and papers that funneled into the language section before sundown and to send appropriate information to Corps headquarters. One day a man appeared and started asking all sorts of questions about the captured documents. Thinking that he was a war correspondent, I told him to get the hell out because I was in a hurry to sort out and send my findings to headquarters, and he left me alone to finish my sorting. The next day, the general's aide sought me out with a message that the commanding general wanted to see me. When I was escorted into Gen. Griner's quarters, I realized that this was the same person I had ordered to get the hell out of the way the day before. Gen. Griner apologized to me for interfering with my duties and asked me to translate a surrender leaflet that a captured enemy major had written intended for his remaining soldiers.
In the early morning of July 7, I was at the POW collecting area in the town of Tanapag with Lt. Ben Hazard, our language team officer; when the Gyokusai (final suicide attack) came off. We had warned higher headquarters of this potential the day before. Fortunately the drive was stopped on the outskirts of town and I did not get directly involved in the firefight. At daylight, accompanied by Major Herzog of G-2 we proceeded to the site of the Gyokusai and surveyed the bloody mess. I was checking for unit identifications on the dead bodies, and as I walked by a pile of brush a grenade blast went off. I pulled the brush back and found a soldier who had hidden in a hole and who had committed suicide with his grenade.
After Saipan was secured, the language team was detached to the garrison force, and we spent nearly six months assigned to various duties, including registering and interrogating the civilians of the compounds. During this period, I once was on my way to garrison headquarters when I encountered of all people Ensign Myron Dutra, a Hanford High School classmate, the both of us so far away from home.
On Saipan, I witnessed a kamikaze raid by thirteen Zeroes on Thanksgiving Day and also a surprise raid when I rejoined the 27th Division in New Hebrides. We were eventually airlifted out of Saipan by way of Eniwetok, Palau, Rabaul, and Guadalcanal.
April 1, 1945 marked the invasion of Okinawa, and once again the team and the 27th Division were involved. The Battle of Okinawa was a fierce one and the troops were pulled out for a much needed rest when the fight got close to Naha, the capital city. Eventually the division was sent to Nago for some R&R, but I was detached and sent to higher headquarters to work with language personnel that were still engaged in battle. I was paired up with Bob Sugimoto until the island was declared to be secured. I was then sent back to the 27th Division with a "mop-up" unit to the northern sector of the island. I was at a crossroads set up as a POW collecting point when Gen. Joseph Stilwell, who had taken over the Tenth Army command after Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner had been killed, arrived in a jeep. I had a long talk with Gen. Stilwell, and found that he fully understood the work that we were trying to do.
When war ended on V-J Day, I had enough points built up to get discharged and was looking forward to going home but was disappointed when orders came stating that language specialists were considered essential and that the points I had earned were frozen. We did not know when we were going to be released.
In mid-September I was airlifted with the 27th Division to Japan to serve in the Occupation. Stationed first at the naval facility in Hiratsuka south of Yokohama, we were then sent to Nugata on the Japan Sea side of Honshu in October. While there, Gen. Griner was summoned to attend a meeting in Sendai on the Pacific side, and I accompanied the general on the trip, which was made by train, designated as his personal interpreter. It was considered a nice trip with not much to do. Every place we stopped on the way to Sendai, the dignitaries who met the general had their own interpreters and I was on standby for emergencies. At Sendai, I met up with Ken Oka and others from Camp Savage.
Upon returning to Nugata, orders came which declared the status of language specialists unfrozen and we were eligible for discharge. G-3 informed us that
anyone desiring to stay could do so by serving another year; offering a field commission as second lieutenant as an incentive. I decided it was time to head for home after over two years overseas and three campaigns. Fortunately, I came out without a scratch even though I'd had a few narrow escapes. I was discharged at Camp Beale on November 12, 1945 with the rank of T/3, having been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with three stars (Central Pacific, Western Pacific, and the Rynkyns), the American Campaign Medal, the American Defense Medal, the Victory Medal WW II, and the Good Conduct Medal.
Commanding MIS Teams in the Ikyte and Okinawa Campaigns - Benjamin H. Hazard
In June 1944,1 landed with the 27th Infantry Division's language team on Saipan. When the division was sent to Espiritu Santo in September and early October; the team and I were relieved and attached to Garrison Force, Saipan. There had been 24,000 civilians on Saipan working for the South Seas Development Company. Most were Okinawan indentured laborers working on the sugar plantations. Only 10,000 survived the fighting and were collected at Camp Susupe. The team interrogated them on the Ryukyus with special attention to fishermen on beach conditions of Okinawa. In late December I was ordered to Leyte to take over the XXIV Corps language teams.
Two Japanese language teams, the 306th Headquarters Military Intelligence Detachment and the 307th Headquarters Military Intelligence Detachment, less equipment, led by George Takabayashi and Daniel Nakatsu arrived in Hawaii in July 1944 and were assigned to the Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Area (1ICPOA). They were attached to the G-2 Section, Headquarters, XXW Corps, which passed to MacArthur's control for the Leyte Operation. XXIV Corps (C.G. Lt. Gen. John R. Hodge) and X Corps (C.G. Maj. Gen. Franklin Sibert) formed General Walter Krueger's Sixth Army, which landed on Leyte 20 October 1944. The two teams under the command of a single officer constituted a composite integrated unit, with personnel from both teams forming three task groupings: administration, translation, and interrogation. The Standard Operating Procedures were those of ATIS. The teams were attached to the Corps Headquarters Company for all logistical support. They did have carbines and one M-1 rifle, a field safe, and folding chairs and tables as well as two field desks. By late December the campaign was officially considered over (mopping up continued until the following April), but by then the XXIV Corps language officer had been medically evacuated and I was ordered to replace him.
I left Saipan on a C47 on New Year's Eve and landed at Tacloban the morning of New Year's Day, January 1945. I spent two weeks with the Sixth Army language detachment learning ATIS procedures. The major military operations were over by the time I joined XXIV Corps. Prisoners were still being taken. It was clear that we would be destined for Okinawa. Prisoners from Okinawa were given intensive interrogation. Okinawa could not be discussed on the phone and all information pertaining to Okinawa was hand carried. Prior to XXIV Corps' departure from Leyte for Okinawa the language detachments were augmented by Lt. Joseph Bothwell, three other officers and three Okinawan dialect-speaking enlisted men. The order put me in command of the 306th and Bothwell in command of the 307th.
The teams landed on Okinawa in two echelons on D+2 (D Day was 1 April 1945), operating under JICPOA, rather than ATIS, SOP. XXIV Corps joined the III Amphibious Corps (Marines) to form Tenth Army (under General Simon Bolivar Buckner). XXIV Corps Headquarters first set up its headquarters in defilade to the enemy to the south, but open to the sea where the landing force ships sat. That evening at chow time a carrier-based F4F fighter stupidly buzzed the beach and all the kamikaze-happy ships offshore opened up and shot it down. Anti-aircraft shells of every caliber were bursting over Corps Headquarters.
Hiroshi Itow, a Japanese university graduate and our top man in reading sosho (running cursive script) documents, who would read for the edification of the rest of the two teams in the wee small hours of the morning after the work day from captured handwritten erotica, which he verbally annotated, jumped with several men from the photo interpreter team and the Order of Battle Section into a trench evacuated by theJapanese as a five inch shell exploded over them. The photo interpreter master sergeant was killed and several others were wounded. Hiroshi Itow came away without a scratch. Corps Headquarters lost two killed and twenty-four wounded from friendly fire that evening. Only two men were subsequently lost to enemy fire.
When its forward divisions advanced several miles to the south, Corps Headquarters moved into Nakagusuku Castle where it remained until it moved to Seoul when the war ended.
Lt. Gen. Ushijima Mitsuru had relieved the commanding general of the Japanese Thirty-second Army on Okinawa in August 1944 and brought in as his chief of staff Lt. Gen. Cho Isamu, a firebrand in the rape of Nanking. He replaced the staff with young officers from Imperial General Headquarters, but retained as his chief of operations, Col. Yahara Hiromichi. Yahara was the architect of the defense of the south end of the island, digging in deeply all artillery pieces and heavy mortars, making the Americans pay dearly for every foot of ground they gained.
On the evening of 18 April 1945, a captured Japanese artillery forward observer's chart arrived from one of the divisions at the Corps language center. The chart had the location of artillery and heavy mortar positions from the Naha-ShuriYonabaru Line. During 18 April Japanese artillery fire had been light. The chart's importance was quickly recognized and all pertinent personnel were mobilized. Through the night, Lloyd Shinsato, Tom Higashiyama, and Saburo Okamura, the draftsmen, transposed the Japanese Army map symbols to those of the U.S. Army on to a U.S. Army map grid. Meanwhile others translated marginal data, with Hiroshi Itow handling the handwritten notes on the chart.
The overlay was ready to be superimposed on U.S. Army maps of Okinawa at 0500 (5:00AM) 19 April 1945. It was hand carried to the Assistant G-2, who commented, "Too bad, we are jumping off in two hours." He did not see fit to expedite the overlay, but routed it routinely to Gen. Hodge. It reached the general at 1700 (5:00 PM). In spite of an artillery barrage of 190,000 artillery shells, the Japanese line held and the corps suffered heavy casualties. General Hodge was furious, noting the time the translated overlay had been logged as being received by the G-2 Section. He stated that if it had been delivered in the two hour time frame before the attack, he would have ordered the attack to be halted and replanned the assault. The overlay eventually came into its own; the general did replan an attack using the overlay and a few days later the Naha-ShuriYonabaru Line was breached.
As the weeks ground on, Gen. Ushijima's Chief of Staff, Cho, egged on by the young officers filled with Yama to-damashii (1apanese fighting spirit), persuaded Ushijima to launch a counter-offensive and mass their artillery over the strong objections of Col. Yahara, whose artillery had inflicted such heavy casualties on Tenth Army from dug in positions that protected them from counter battery fire. A last major offensive was launched involving a frontal assault, a double envelopment by small boats on both flanks, and parachute assaults on Kadena airfield. I happened to be night duty officer; and every phone was ringing off the hook. I got the CQ to bring the senior intelligence officers back to G-2 tent and they took over. To mass their artillery fire the Japanese had brought pieces out into the cane fields and camouflaged them. The attack failed for lack of coordination and failure to know where the Tenth Army flanks were anchored on the beaches. They landed in front of our line, rather than behind, as planned.
The Japanese prisoners had an excellent ability to read maps and aerial photographs and our interrogators were able to plot artillery battery locations on our maps with their assistance. Corps artillery aerial observers could not locate any pieces, but we of the 306th and 307th assured them they were there and suggested they fire on the coordinates we provided. They ordered a few pieces to fire and their rounds blew off the camouflage and the observers called for fire for effect. This greatly reduced the remaining artillery and the end of the battle for Okinawa was in sight. Gen. Ushijima, before he committed suicide, apologized to Col. Yahara for not listening to him.
As the fight for Okinawa came to an end, George Takabayashi, the 306th NCO team chief, received a battlefield commission. Meanwhile, Army Civil Affairs had impounded all Japanese Army rations and moved them to a central dump from which U.S. 2½ ton trucks distributed food to the various civilian camps. Okinawan laborers were carrying taru (barrels) of soy sauce from the docks to the trucks. Tom Sasaki took off his fatigue jacket and got in line and carried a taru to a waiting 306th jeep; thereafter the teams could cook liberated chicken hekka (Hawaiian style sukiyaki).
At the end of the war XXIV Corps was assigned the task of occupying Korea and arranging the surrender of Japanese troops south of the 38th parallel as well as repatriation of all Allied prisoners of war in the American zone. The XXIV Corps teams played a prominent role in carrying out these missions.
An ironic aspect of moving the headquarters to Seoul, but one that gave great satisfaction to the two teams, was that they were billeted on one floor of the Bando Hotel and their office was on another. They then had their full TO & E equipment dumped on them. The war was over. Each team had four jeeps, a 1½ ton truck, a one ton trailer; a squad tent, camouflage netting, gas alarm, and field telephones. Each officer and enlisted team chief had his own jeep. As they looked back on Leyte and Okinawa where all transportation had to be begged from Corps Headquarters Company, the situation seemed to have been a great War Department joke.
Winning the Purple Heart with the Marines on Iwo - Nobuo Furuiye
I was working in a Denver Japanese store when war broke out and was in the first Army draft after Pearl Harbor in our county. Sworn in on January 12, 1942, I was sent to Camp Roberts for basic training in a howitzer battery, but in late February or early March was shipped with other Nisei GIs to inland posts. My destination was Camp Robinson, Arkansas, where I had to begin basic training all over again, this time in the infantry. Upon completion of infantry basic, I was assigned as driver of the commander of the base quartermaster corps -- an ideal job for a private first class, I thought, with no guard or KP duties so long as I remained the commander's driver. It didn't last too long, however, because of an interview with a recruiter from Camp Savage. I told him that I really did not care to go as I had it made with easy duty and weekends off. But my plea made no impression on the interviewer; especially after he learned that I had been graduated from middle school in Japan. I arrived at Camp Savage on a bitterly cold Thanksgiving day and studied there until graduation in June of 1943.
My first assignment was to the Aleutians in the invasion of Kiska Island where I was on detached duty to the Canadian Grenadiers (cannon). When we landed there were of course no enemy troops on Kiska since they had all escaped from under the very nose of the U.S. fleet. I returned to Ft. Snelling in January 1944 for reassignment, and was sent a little later at the end of April to Honolulu as the team leader of a Japanese language group along with two other groups. We were the nucleus of the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific Ocean Area (1ICPOA) Annex located in Honolulu. Nisei were denied entry to the main center at Pearl Harbor; and so the Annex was set up to house MISers. We opened the Annex for operations on May 10, 1944.
The JICPOA Annex was under the direction of the U.S. Navy, so all our orders came from the Navy. Our pay was also through the Navy, as well as our per diem payments since we had to eat at a civilian restaurant because of the lack of kitchen facilities in our office. We were sent out on different assignments from the Annex. We were also assigned responsibility for translating all Japanese documents sent to us from Pearl Harbor. I was acting first sergeant at the office while I was there, but soon left for duty on Saipan in July and then to Guam and back to the Annex. I was then sent back out for 45 days aboard a cruiser for radio intercept duty, and then returned for four weeks training with the 5th Marines preparing for the invasion of Iwo Jima -- which was carried out with landings beginning on February 19, 1945. On February 25, my bodyguard and I were wounded by mortar shrapnel, and we went to the Navy aid station to have our wounds treated. I did not receive any official documentation from the aid station regarding my wound since I was attached to the Marine Corps but not a member. The only thing I received was a note stating that I had been treated at the aid station on such a such a date and had been returned to duty a couple of days later. Since I did not receive an official document to prove that I had been wounded, the fact that I had been wounded did not go on my service record. And so while my bodyguard received the Purple Heart, I did not -- at that time. Some time was to pass before I was to receive my Purple Heart medal, belatedly in 1948, through the efforts of a Marine Corps general.
After serving with the 5th Marine Division, I returned to the JICPOA Annex for a short term of duty, and then was sent to Saipan to assist the people in bringing some sense of order to their lives. At the end of July or in early August, I was dispatched to Guam as an interpreter and observer for three Japanese soldiers charged with cannibalism. They had confessed to the crime after being captured by Seabees (Navy Construction Battalion seamen) who came upon them trying to steal food from a Navy galley. The prosecuting attorney was Col. Teller Ammons, a former governor of Colorado. We were to become fast friends and remained friends for years after the war until he passed away in the late 1970's. At the time we served together on Guam, the island commander was his brother-in-law, Maj. Gen. Henry Larson. Col. Ammons took me to headquarters to introduce me to General Larson.
After the war; the colonel resigned from the Marine Corps to become Colorado Civil Defense Commander. The three of use would get together occasionally in Denver for lunch, but Teller Ammons and I would meet for lunch every second Tuesday of each month if he was not tied up in court. It was during one of these lunch meetings that I told Gen. Larson of my experiences on Iwo, and it was through his efforts that I finally received my Purple Heart medal in the latter part of 1948.
Back in Guam, just about the time the cannibalism trial was winding up the war ended and I was ordered to go to Marcus Island for the surrender of the island. I went aboard the USS Bagley (a heavy destroyer), which was to be the vessel where the surrender ceremony would take place. I worked with a Commodore Grant, who was the chief of staff for Rear Adm. F.R.M. Whiting, the officer in charge of receiving the surrender. It took almost two days of effort by the Japanese chief of staff and me to translate the minute details of the terms in the official surrender document into Japanese. After the Japanese garrison commander approved the wording of the document, we were able to proceed with the formal surrender of Marcus Island on the 31st of August, 1945.
At the surrender ceremony, the official Japanese garrison party presented three boxed katana (samurai swords) as gifts tagged with the names of Rear Adm. Whiting, Commodore Grant, and myself. The Japanese chief of staff presented the sword to me for my efforts in the negotiation of the surrender terms. After the Japanese party left the ship, however; Adm. Whiting confiscated my katana, remarking that enlisted men did not qualify as recipients of such rewards, and saying that he would donate the sword to the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Later; when I related this story to General Larson, he investigated to determine if he could retrieve the gift, but was unsuccessful. Hechecked at the Naval Academy to see if such a gift had been made by the admiral, but found that no such gesture had been recorded as having been made by Adm. Whiting. (General Larson was also a graduate of the Naval Academy.) He went to great lengths on by behalf, but to no avail. This one incident has been a sore spot for me during my years of service with the Navy Department. It is doubly sad because I understand there is no official documentation by the Marines or the Navy on the work of the Nisei done on their behalf.
I was sent to Japan on September 2,1945 to Sasebo via Yokosuka on assignment to the Naval Technical Mission to Japan (NavTecJap), remaining there only until the middle of November when I was allowed to return home because of the number of service points I had accumulated. Discharged in December 1945, I was recalled to duty during the Korean War; and spent the period from September 1950 to November 1951 as an instructor in the Japanese language at the Defense Language Institute, Presidio of Monterey.