JICPOA Annex Story by Sam Isokane, T3
The June 1943 Class of Hawaii volunteers graduated from Camp Savage MISLS in December1943 and moved to Camp Blanding, Florida, for basic training. An initial MIS team of 17 men, all from Hawaii, were shipped out in April 1944 for an unknown destination. They were Tsugio Aoyama, William Fujita, Sam Setsuo lsokane, Benjamin Kawahara, Tameo Kawasaki, Tamotsu Koyanagi, Fred Kuga, Jiro Matsui, Nobuo Nagata, Kenneth Nakada, Don Okubo, James Saito, James Shigeta, Tetsuo Shimamoto, Norio Terao, Katsumi Tsutsui and Henry Yokoyama.
JICPOA Group in Tinian Campaign with 3rd
Nobuo Nagata, Tameo Kawasaki, William Fujita, Unknown,
and Setsuo Sam Isokane.
Tinian Campaign. L-R. William Fujita, Nobuo
Don Oka, Setsuo SAm Isokane, and Tameo Kawasaki
Iwo Jima - February 1945. Front
Ben Kawamura, Tamotsu Koyanagi, George
Kawamoto, and Tad Ogawa.
To their surprise they were sent to Hawaii and assigned to JICPOA (Joint Intelligence Center Pacific Ocean Area), a joint Army-Navy-Marine rear echelon intelligence center directing the intelligence war against Japan in the Central pacific. JICPOA was located in Pearl Harbor under Navy command, but the Navy still distrusted the Nisei and barred them from access to Pearl Harbor; so, the MIS personnel were organized as an Army Detachment and assigned to JICPOA Annex Group, headquartered and housed in a former furniture store building on Kapiolani Boulevard. This JICPOA Annex Group consisted of 10 officers and 49 NCOs (the original 17 were joined by 32 other MIS-ers). Those from Hawaii were: Edward Kawamoto, George Kawamoto, Hisashi Kubota, Raymond Shogo Nagata, Harry Okada, James Tamashiro, Stanley Tanaka, Larry Kazuo Watanabe, Mineo Yamagata, Ben Yamamoto and Stanley Yamamoto.
From the mainland were: Roy Akiyoshi, Terry Doi, Nobuo Furuiye, Shunji Hamano, Joe Harada, Fred Hirano, George lnagaki, Masao Kuroki, William Makino, Thomas Miyagi, Roy Miyata, Pat Morishita, Tad Ogawa, Don Oka, Hitoshi Okimura, John Otani, Tony
Sunarnoto, Torao Torakawa, Steve Yagi, Takeshi Yamashita and James Yoshinobu.
The JICPOA Annex mission and objectives included the translation of captured secret or top secret Japanese documents, as well as technical manuals and the preparation of psychological warfare activities. Furthermore, three teams received assignments to join the U.S. Marines as interpreters, translators and interrogators in the Saipan, Tinian, Peleliu, Guam, Palau, Okinawa and Iwo Jima campaigns. Those men engaged in psychological warfare flew over enemy lines, dropped surrender leaflets, and used loudspeakers from the air to urge the Japanese soldiers to surrender.
Don Okubo, Hisashi Kubota and Tony Sunamoto were assigned to the Marshall-Gilbert Islands campaigns. Don Okubo was awarded the Bronze Star Medal from Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Forces, for rneritorious achievement as a Japanese language interpreter who carried outmany highly dangerous missions in combat psychological warfare. Okubo went ashore on Airik Island in a whale boat and talked a Japanese rear admiral into surrendering his command that numbered over 1,000 troops. Okubo was then promoted to Master Sergeant, the highest ranking NCO of the JICPOA Annex Group.
With officers during
10th Army in Okinawa. L-R Kneeling: Kenneth
Nakada and Fred Hirano.
Americans and Japanese Officers
repatriate 5,000 Japanese Troops on Yap Island.
Conference Room, aboard Destroyer Escort Tillman,
September 1945. Interpreter T/3 James Shigeta
War Crimes Trial conducted at
T/3 Sunamoto on extreme right. He was
attached to the Navy. Photo taken December 4,
1945 at Kwajalein.
After cessation of hostilities in Saipan, Don Oka, Kenneth Nakada, Shogo Nagata, Benjamin Kawahara and James Shigeta arrived on the island to provide intelligence support to the Marines, and subsequently participated in the invasion of Tinian. At the Tinian POW stockade, Shogo Nagata was surprised to meet a Japanese POW originally from Hawaii, who was a Hawaii classmate of Nagataís older sister and whose brother-n-law was Nagataís classmate. The POW was stranded in Japan at the outbreak of World War ]l, conscripted into the Japanese Army and sent to the battle to gain intelligence data. Tony Doi and Henry Yokoyama won Bronze Star Medals for flushing the caves and convincing many Japanese soldiers to surrender.
Immediately after the Emperorís declaration of capitu!ation in early August 1945, Ben Yamamoto and Sam lsokane reported to Guam Command Headquarters. Yamamoto acted as interpreter for the Guam Commander, addressing about 1,400 Japanese POWs captured on Rota Island, while Isokane was assigned to interrogation in the Guam POW stockade for Navy Intelligence. A week prier to the surrender ceremonies aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, lsokane accompanied a Marine Brigadier Generalís party on board a destroyer to Truk, to participate In surrender negotiations with the Japanese Navy and Army Commanders on Truk. On September 2, 1945, lsokane went to Rota with the Guam Command staff for the signing of surrender instruments. Thereafter, lsokane and Yamamoto joined the JICPOA Annex Group at Sasebo, and then transferred to Shibaura Port in Tokyo to serve NAVTECHJAP.
Upon the surrender of Japanese military forces in the Pacific Theater of Operation, Tamotsu Koyanagi, James Shigeta, Katsumi Tsutsui and Harry Okada went to Yap Isand to prepare for the evacuation of about 5,000 Japanese Army and Navy personnel.
Japanese Navy on board a destroyer
offshore Truk, August 1945.
Setsuo Sam Isokane as interpreter
On Yap Island, September 1945,
American and Japanese medical officers.
Left forefront: Tomotsu Koyanagi
The men of JICPOA, the Navy's
Base in Honolulu
for linguists, celebrate at a party around the end of 1944.
Pictured from left are:
Front row: Nobuo Furuiye
of Denver (a team leader), Tamotsu Koyanagi,
Hisashi Kubota, Hitoshi Okimura (Chicago),
William Makino, Torao Torakawa, Eddie Kawamoto, (unidentified)
Second Row: Steve Yagi (W.
Los Angeles), Tetsuo
Shimamoto, Fred Kuga, Jiro Matsui, James Yoshinobu
(Monterey), George Kawamoto, Takeshi Yamashita,
Harry Oka, Shogo Nagata, James Saito, Masao Kuroki,
Don Oka (Los Angeles - a team leader), Ben Yamamoto,
Tad Ogawa and Roy Miyata (Los Angeles).
Third Row: Butch Terao, Benjamin Kawahara, Joe Harada, Thomas Miyagi, John Otani, Henry Yokoyama, Kazuo Larry Watanabe, Stanley Yamamoto, and Tsugio Aoyama (top insert). Bottom inserts: L-R. George Itagaki (a team leader), James Shigeta, Fred Hirano, Roy Akiyoshi, and Mineo Yamagata. Not shown: Pat Morishita and Shunji Hamano.