ORIGINAL WOMEN "M.I.S." LINGUISTS WERE DEPT OF THE ARMY CIVILIANS

by Grant Ichikawa

(Courtesy of "Secret Valor, MIS Personnel WWII Pacific Theater" by MIS Veterans Club of Hawaii.)

 

Koloa, Kauai’s Mildred "Millie" Shigeko Yamamoto (Mrs. Grant lchikawa) was in the group of 14 women from Hawaii. who were recruited before the end of WW II for their Japanese language ability (much higher than most MISLS graduates) since their ultimate job was to censor Japanese mail. They were undergoing censorship training when the war ended. They were then shipped to Tokyo where they helped establish the Civil Censorship Detachment (COD). It was in November 1945. They were the first Nisei women to be assigned to Japan. They did not have benefit of training at the Army’s Language School. They were all GS-07, which made them equivalent to lieutenants, so they had officer privileges. They wore women’s officer’s uniforms with only the insignia US on their lapels. They were known as DACs (Department of Army Civilians). In the early occupation days, I remember many of the male civilians also wearing army uniforms with US on each lapel. That differentiated them from Army officers. This group was the first Nisei women to arrive in Japan.

Elaine Yagawa (nee Ranko Taketa) found the travel orders shipping 14 linguist women from Hawaii to Japan. The Order, classified RESTRICTED, was issued by Hqs United States Army Forces, Middle Pacific, Office of the Commanding General, APO 958 dated 23 Oct 1945. It reads:

"Para 1: The following female linguists, War Department civilian employees, CAF-6, with assimilated rank of second lieutenant, are authorized to proceed via government aircraft on or about 29 October from APO 953 to Tokyo, Japan, and upon arrival will report to the Civil Censorship Officer, HAFPAC:

"1. Lily N.S. Lee, 2. Chisato Furukawa, 3. Dorothy H. Nakama, 4. Inez Yae Ahn, 5. Sumi Serizawa, 6. Masae T. Green, 7. Daisy Yŕmanaka, 8. Midori Kawaguchi [deceased], 9. Thelma T. Towata [Kugizaki-deceased], 10. Mildred S. Yamamoto [lchikawa], 11. Ranko Taketa (Elaine Yagawa], 12. Alice Hyun, 13. Misao Kuwaye."

According to notes taken by Elaine Yagawa, the group left Hickam Field on Oct 29, 1945 on a C-54 plane at 1:45 PM; arrived at Kwajalein at 2:00 AM; stopped at Johnson Island and then returned to Kwajalein due to engine trouble; left Kwajalein at 6:00 AM; arrived in Saipan at 11:30AM; stayed overnight at the Army nurses quarters; and [finallyj arrived at Atsugi Airbase, Japan on November 1,1945. After a long wait, a truck took them to Dai lchi Hotel in Tokyo which was quarters for higher officers. The group stayed at Dai lchi Hotel for about a week and then moved to permanent quarters at the Shufunotomo building in Tokyo. They reported to the Civil Censorship Detachment (COD) office, headed by a Colonel Blake, They censored mail written in Japanese at the main Japanese Post Office in Tokyo. On one occasion, they were sent to Uraga Port to process women returning from abroad on repatriation ships. The Hawaii linguists were assigned to that task because they were the only female Nisei linguists in

Japan at that time. By Mister Grant lchikawa, Vienna, VA,