Ted T. Tsukiyama resides in Honolulu and is an active member of the 442nd RCT Veterans Club and the MIS Veterans Club. During World War II, he was a member of the Varsity Victory Volunteers, the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd RCT, and the Military Intelligence Service. Throughout the years, Ted has served as a wartime historian, often writing about his own experiences.
Here is his latest article:
“Senpai” translated into English means “elder,” “senior,” “predecessor” or “pioneer,” and the word “gumi” means “group,” “team,” or “class,” so “senpai gumi” as referred to herein means “pioneer group” or “pioneer class.” “Senpai Gumi” is also the name of a historical booklet edited by 100th/MIS veteran Richard S. Oguro which tells the story of the fifty nine Nisei soldiers of the 100th Battalion who in December 1942 were transferred out from their CampMcCoytraining over to the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Camp Savage (MISLS) to become the first group of Nisei from Hawaii to be trained for MIS service, hence the “senpai gumi” of Hawaii Nisei to enter the MIS.
These MIS Senpai all shared the common history of having been drafted into the army prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, were assigned to Hawaii National Guard service with the 298th and 299th Infantry Regiments until late May 1942 when they together with all other Nisei were separated out from the 298th and 299th and assembled into the Hawaiian Provisional Infantry Battalion. On June 5, 1942 the Battalion comprised of 1,432 Nisei were shipped off to the mainland when they were re-designated the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) and sent to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin for combat training.
The then ongoing war against Japangreatly increased the need for competent Japanese linguists skilled in interpretation, translation and interrogation giving rise to Army policy and regulation which, despite grave doubts and fears about their loyalty to America, gave the highest military utilization priority to Nisei with knowledge and competence in Japanese over those being trained for combat duty. Thus MIS recruiters were sent to Camp McCoy to screen out and draft the best qualified Nisei in the 100th for intelligence-specialist training. Many of those recruited objected, citing their desire to remain with the 100th to fight the infantry war against the enemy, but their highest assignment priority status as potential language specialists prevailed as the Army ordered them transferred to MISLS.
An unofficial listing of the 59 “senpai gumi” from the 100th Battalion who were selected for MIS training at Camp Savage were: George J. Aoki, Terry Y. Doi, George M. Fujikawa, Edward M. Fujimori, Keiji Fujii, Harry Furushima, Raymond Harada, Ken Harano, Howard K. Hiroki, Seian Hokama, Robert Honda, Yurikichi Ikehara, Sueo Ishii, Richard Ishimoto, James. K. Izumi, Charles T. Kaneko, Edwin Kawahara, Herbert Kawamoto, Herbert Kawashima, Henry T. Kimura, Hoichi Kubo, Tom T. Matsumura, Eddie Mitsukado, Jitsuo Miyagawa, Nobuo Miyaji, Herbert Miyasaki, Yukitaka “Terry” Mizutari, Yoshio Morita, Richard Moritsugu, Reyold “Smiley” Muranaka, Roy Roy Nakada, Amos A. Nakamura, Stanley Nakanishi, George Nakano, Yutaka Namba, Harold S. Nishimura, Richard S. Oguro, Ryoichi Okada, Richard Omori, Robert T. Otake, Masao Rokui, Alan Y. Shimizu, Manabu Soranaka, Masami Tahira, Theodore Takano, “Slim” Takiue, Takuya Terada, Thomas K. Tsubota, Sadao Toyama, Fusao Uchiyama, Tsutomu Wakimoto, Ernest T. Watanabe, Tatao Yamada, Tom T. Yamada, Kazuo Yamane, Ben I. Yamamoto, Hirotoshi Yamamoto, Shoichi E. Yamamoto, and Terasu Terry “Sunshine” Yoshimoto. Oguro’s “Senpai Gumi” history contains at least a dozen or so profiles of former 100th soldiers who fought the intelligence war against Japan as MIS linguists. Upon their graduation from MISLS, the 100th Senpai were assigned to every branch of the U.S Military and its Allies, and sent out to every combat theater occupied by the enemy to wage the intelligence war against the Japanese military.
We start with the editor/author RICHARD S. OGURO’s story (“Oguro”). Oguro’s military service started as a draftee in the October 1941 4th draft which interrupted his studies at the University of Hawaii. He was sent out to Schofield for basic training which was abruptly interrupted by the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He witnessed the burning ruins of Pearl Harbor as he reported back to duty with the 298th Infantry at Schofield, and vividly remembers all Nisei draftees at “Boom Town” being stripped of their rifles on the night of December 7th which were not restored until three weeks later. Along with all other 298th Infantry soldiers Oguro was assigned to guard against a possible Japanese invasion of Oahu, he being assigned to Company G of the 298th guarding the Mokapuu-Waimanalo beaches. In late May 1942 he along with all other Nisei in the 298th/299th were ordered back to Schofield and within a few days were shipped out on the USS Maui headed for the Mainland with the Hawaii Provisional Infantry Battalion. After his unit reached Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, Oguro went through the next six months of basic training with the 100th Battalion. In late November 1942 Oguro was interviewed by the MISLS recruiting team and the following month received orders promoting him to sergeant and ordering him to report to Camp Savage. After undergoing a grueling 6-months crash course in “heigo” (military Japanese) and other subjects essential to perform military intelligence functions against the Japanese enemy, Oguro graduated in the summer of 1943, was promoted to Staff Sergeant, and then shipped out for overseas duty. His 21-day ocean crossing to Brisbane, Australia turned out to be an assignment to ATIS (Allied Translator Interpreter Service) in General McArthur’s SW Pacific Headquarters. At ATIS, Oguro’s team was assigned to translate enemy papers and documents sent back from the New Guinea battlefront, but tiring of the unexciting rear echelon Sgt. Oguro became part of a 3-man team assigned to the 16th Australian Division engaged in moping up operations at Aitape, New Guinea still performing translation of captured enemy documents. One such document was a Japanese order advising the date and time a submarine would arrive to pick up enemy stragglers, the translation of which resulted in the sinking of that Jap submarine. In July 1945 ATIS established headquarters in Manila after McArthur’s triumphant return to the Philippines where Oguro’s most dangerous mission was to risk going out on pass to Manila to dodge the hostile stares and insults of local Filipinos mistaking them for the hated defeated Japanese soldiers. Oguro requested and was granted a 90-day TDY leave to Hawaii, during which time Oguro got married and also celebrated Japan’s surrender in August 1945, culminating in his discharge from military service in September 1945. In 1970 after the release of three decades of classified secrecy imposed on the Nisei MIS service, Oguro wanted to tell the story of the “Senpai Gumi” from the 100th and edited and compiled his historical booklet “Senpai Gumi” which became one of the first books written about the history of the Nisei MIS of World War II.
On December 8, 1941, THOMAS KIYOSHI “Kewpie” TSUBOTA, a corporal assigned to the 298th’s Heavy Weapons Platoon, while patrolling the Bellows Field beachfront helped to capture Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki of the Japanese Imperial Navy whose midget submarine had grounded on the reef off Waimanalo. Tsubota tried to question Sakamaki who refused to answer, but Tsubota must go down in military history as participating in the capture of the first Japanese POW of the war and the first Nisei to engage in interrogation of a Japanese POW in World War II. Although Tsubota was highly qualified as a pre-War graduate of Waseda and Meiji universities in Japan, when he was interviewed by the MISLS recruiters in November, 1942, he voiced strong objections to being transferred to the MISLS but to no avail. After completing the grueling crash course in Japanese military intelligence at Camp Savage in mid-1943, Tsubota was selected as one of 14 nisei MIS including Andrew Mitsukado, Herbert Miyasaki, Howard Furumoto, Russell Kono, Robert Honda and Roy Nakada to be assigned to the 5307 Composite Unit, later to gain fame as the “Merrill’s Marauders” which fought as the only American ground combat unit against the Japanese Army in the Burmese jungles. The Marauders were marched over a thousand miles of mountain and jungle essentially engaged in guerrilla warfare often behind Japanese lines disrupting their military operations and killing enemy troops, which called upon Tsubota and the Nisei Marauders to render dangerous but essential intelligence functions against the enemy. While the Marauders as a unit gained great fame leading the Allied forces in the bitter battle to capture the key city of Myitkyina, the vital intelligence functions and services performed by the 14 Nisei Marauders largely remained unacknowledged and unknown long after the War ended..
YOSHIO MORITA was one of the first of the Senpai Gumi to be sent out for combat service. Even before his class graduated, in June 1943 he was promoted to Master Sergeant and assigned to lead a six man team which also included Senpai Harold Nishimura to be shipped out to the Aleutian/Alaskan campaign to participate in the invasion ofKiska Island.Attu and Kiska were the only American lands captured and occupied by the Japanese military and there was an urgent demand for MIS translators/interrogators in the American campaign to recapture theseAleutian islands. In May 1943 U.S.forces invaded and capturedAttuafter bitter resistance culminating in a desperate “banzai charge” by the enemy leaving all 3,000 Japanese defenders dead. In August 1943 an enlarged U.S./Canadian task force over 34,000 strong next invaded the island of Kiska in a dense fog preceded by a tremendous advance bombardment, only to find that the Japanese enemy had previously sneaked off and totally abandoned Kiska. Morita’s most memorable feat on Kiska was to discover hastily abandoned Japanese food supplies so that he and fellow Nisei enjoyed rice, soy sauce, canned delicacies like unagi, nishime, takenoko and inari sushi instead of the tasteless G.I. meals for the rest of their Kiska assignment. With no prisoners to interrogate, Morita’s team translated captured diaries and other Japanese documents until October 1943 when they relieved of their Alaskan assignment and returned to Camp Savage where Morita was retained as one of the sensei instructors for the duration of the War.
RICHARD ISHIMOTO was part of a six man team spending six months duty at the Military Intelligence Division at the Pentagon inWashington,D.C.doing Japanese Order of Battle work. He then joined a team led by Ed Mitsukado and George Ishikawa sent to ATIS (Allied Translator Interrogation Section) inBrisbane,Australiafor another 6 months until July, 1944 when his 10-man team was sent out toAitape,New Guineato perform combat duty against the desperate Japanese enemy. For the next 13 months of the War, Ishimoto’s team engaged in translation of enemy documents and interrogation of POW’s at Morotai Island, Dutch East Indies, survived “kamikaze” bombing attacks in the Leyte, Philippines invasion, then Luzon Island landings where he narrowly escaped being killed by a bolo-wielding Filipino guerrilla who mistook him for a Jap soldier, and finally through Pampanga to Grace Paric, Manila where Ishimoto led the Propaganda Section writing surrender leaflets to be dropped on the enemy troops. On an advance mission near enemy lines where he was setting up radio intercept equipment, Ishimoto was caught in the middle of an artillery barrage against the enemy nearly losing his life. Peace was mercifully declared on August 15, 1945 allowing Ishimoto to return toHawaiito be discharged.
Upon graduation SADAO TOYAMA was held back at MISLS assigned to research and translation functions until receiving orders in February 1944 to join a team which was sent on a 60-day Pacific Ocean voyage underAustraliaover toCelon,Indiadestined for duty at SEATIC (Southeast Asia Translator Interpreter Command) inNew Delhi,India. From SEATIC teams of translator/interpreters were sent out to American and British units fighting against the Japanese Army inBurma.Toyamawas first assigned to General Stilwell’s headquarters inShadazup,Burma, then joined the 5332 Brigade (better known as Mars Task Force) in its arduous battle driving the Japanese out ofNorthern Burmaup to February 1945. Back in the SEATIC pool,Toyama was then assigned to a team led by Ed Mitsukado to join the British Army atBombay,Indiafor its invasion of lowerBurmawhere he heard to glad news of the bombing ofHiroshimaandNagasakiand the surrender ofJapan. Peace notwithstanding Toyama and Harry Uyehara were assigned to the Royal British Commandos and sent toHong Kong to help British Army officers negotiate the terms and ceremony of the Japanese surrender atCanton,China. When ordered back toNew Delhi,Toyama succumbed to a severe attack of malaria and had to be hospitalized at a U.S.hospital in Kunmingen route back to New Delhi. After enduring months of delays inIndia,Toyamaboarded a troop ship inKarachiand sailed through the Sueza cross the Atlantic to see the welcome sight of the Statue of Liberty on December 2, 1945. Toyama’s army career somehow ended at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin where he received his discharge on December 6, 1945, exactly 4 years from the date of the attack on Pearl Harbor!
BEN YAMAMOTO had one of the most storied, action-packed MIS adventures of all of the Senpai Gumi MIS. Yamamoto’s 5-man team was assigned to a continental destination, the super-secret Byron Hot Springs resort tucked away in the hills east of San Francisco. The MIS had converted Byron into a highly classified POW interrogation center where high level Japanese POWs were subjected to intense interrogation conducted mostly by MIS linguists. As part of the first MISLS graduates to be assigned to Byron, Yamamoto spent a pressure-packed 13 months interrogating Japanese POWs to the point of exhaustion until he was relieved and then transferred to the choicest of all assignments, the JICPOA (Joint Intelligence Center Pacific Ocean Area) in Pearl Harbor Hawaii! But because Nisei were not allowed in JICPOA Headquarters atPearl Harbor, the Nisei MIS worked translating captured enemy documents and were quartered in the Home Furniture building (titled “JICPOA Annex’) where they were fed at McKinley Grill and allowed weekend passes to go home! Good times came to an end in 1944 when Yamamoto was assigned to Headquarters Company, 4th Marine Division and then shipped off to participate in one of the bloodiest battles of the War, the invasion of Iwo Jima. Yamamoto beached on the fourth day of the invasion and immediately dug in to protect himself from an all night Japanese mortar barrage. Yamamoto faced a more immediate danger when he found himself staring into the barrel of a .45 automatic held by a Seabee officer demanding to know “who the hell he was”(a Jap sniper in Marine uniform?), from which he escaped after displaying his ID as an interrogator with the 4th Marines. Yamamoto regretted he had not stuck it out at Byron as he pondered over the lesson that a Nisei on the front lines can easily be shot by his own troops than as by the enemy. On Iwo Jima Yamamoto had little occasion to interrogate enemy prisoners since they all chose to fight and die rather than be captured. After the fall of Iwo Jima Yamamoto returned to Hawaii with the 4th Marines to rest and then prepare for the beachhead landing at Kagoshima,Japan when the joyous news was received of the atomic bombing andJapan’s surrender. Yet Yamamoto was sent off toGuam to help process Japanese POWs, translate surrender speeches and interpret for the Marine officers. Next he was ordered to Sasebo to work with Japanese naval officers to take inventory of stored torpedoes, during which time he was able to drive over to Nagasaki to view the bombed out remains of that city, a sight which Yamamoto exclaimed “defied all comprehension,” after which he drove back to Sasebo visibly shaken and in deep silence. After completion of his Sasebo assignment, Yamamoto took a wild, 20-day ride on a Navy destroyer to Hawaii landing at Pearl Harbor 20 pounds lighter, where he won his discharge on November 15, 1945, four years and a day after his induction into the Army.
MASAMI TAHIRA was a brilliant student attending UH when he was inducted into the Army three weeks before the Pearl Harborattack, which probably accounts for the longest (43 pages), most colorful and detailed personal narrative of the MIS service in the Senpai Gumi booklet. To summarize Tahira’s story, he was assigned to a translator/interpreter team which was sent toBougainville Island,New Guinea viaNew Caledonia andGuadalcanal on a 20-day zig-zag trans-Pacific trip avoiding Japanese submarines. Tahira was assigned to Headquarters XIVth Corps performing translation/interpreter work for the next year. From one of his interrogations of Japanese POWs the American forces learned of a planned suicide attack by the defeated and starving Japanese which resulted in a sustained concentrated artillery bombardment which completely devastated and wiped out the enemy attackers on Bougainville. Through his translation of Japanese soldier diaries he learned of the brutalities committed by the doomed enemy forces such as the merciless beheading of an captured American pilot by a Japanese officer which led to his attempt to rationalize the reasons and forces underlying Japanese military brutality but to no avail. After reading the beheading incident Tahira prepared himself with that extra last bullet to be used upon himself in the event of an imminent capture by the Japanese enemy. In September 1944 Tahira applied for Officer’s Candidate School back in Brisbane, Australia and survived the grueling regimen to emerge a brand new 2nd Lieutenant in November 1945. Lt. Tahira was then assigned to Headquarters, 85th Regiment, 40th Division on Panay, Philippines as an assistant S-2 where he participated in a firefight in close quarter combat with the Japanese enemy and also risked being shot at by his own commander whom he encountered in the dark. By August 1945 Japan had surrendered but Tahira was then ordered to Pusan, Korea to perform interpreter work with the 40th Division Headquarters processing the repatriation of Japanese troops and overseas civilians back toJapan for the next 4 months. Then he was ordered back to Hickam Field where he was discharged on Xmas Day, 1945 after as described in his own words ‘four, long, long, unprofitable years!”
HERBERT MIYASAKI received an education in Japanbefore the War but returned to Hawaiiin December 1940, and was immediately drafted. With his Japanese language proficiency Miyasaki was exempted from the MISLS recruiting interviews and his commander Captain Jack Mizuha simply ordered him against his strong objections to report to the MISLS at CampSavage. When the Senpai Gumi class graduated in the summer of 1943, Col. Kai Rassmussen called Miyasaki and Ed Mitsukado in to advise of a dangerous combat mission in which “there would be 75% casualties,” and then ordered them to select members for a 14-man linguist team for assignment to the 5307th Composite Unit, later to become known as the “Merrill’s Marauders.” The 5307th reached India in November 1943 and were placed under the command of Gen. “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell with the overall mission to support the Allied forces ground attack to drive the Japanese Army out of Burma. The Marauders marched and battled their way over a thousand miles of mountains and jungles of northern Burma to engage the desperate Japanese 18th Division (the famed “Kurume Shidan”) in the battles at Shadzup, Walabum, and Nhpum Ga until they reached the key point of Myitkyina to engage in the bloody recapture of the vital Myitkyina Airfield. By then the Marauders which started out with several thousand were decimated by casualties, disease and fatigue and reduced to a mere 200 fighting men, but all of the 14 Nisei Marauders survived. Throughout the Burma campaign the Nisei linguist teams performed effectively and valiantly, sometimes risking their lives on dangerous reconnaissance patrols, crawling up to the edge of the Japanese lines to eavesdrop for vital strategic information or even operating behind the enemy, but ever facing the risk of being shot at by their own troops or being mistakenly captured by British, Chinese or Indian troops, requiring their protection by assignment of personal bodyguards to accompany their every task. The Nisei gleaned and recovered critical military information through interrogation of POWs and translation of diaries and captured documents. With his superior language proficiency Miyasaki was assigned to serve as the personal interpreter/translator to General Frank G. Merrill himself throughout the Marauder’s Burma campaign. General Merrill later made this assessment of his Nisei linguist team: “As for the Nisei, I couldn’t have gotten along without them.” All of the Nisei linguists . earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Bronze Stars while the entire Marauder’s unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. After the 5307th was disbanded at Myitkyina, Miyasaki, Honda and Kono were sent to OCS to earn their officers’ commissions, and Miyasaki was to spend over 40 years service in the U.S. Army.
KAZUO YAMANE spent five years inJapanprior to World War II attending Kinjo Middle School and graduating Waseda University in 1940, which highly qualified him to be transferred out of the 100th Battalion at Camp McCoy to attend and undergo the MISLS training atCampSavage. Upon graduation from MISLS in June 1943 Yamane was part of a 4-man team sent out by secret orders toFort Meyer,Virginiaand then became one of the first Nisei to be permitted inside the top-security U.S. Pentagon and assigned to work in the Pacific Order of Battle Section of the War Department. In 1944 Yamane’s team was transferred to Camp Richie (now “Camp David”) to start PACMIRS (Pacific Military Intelligence Research Section), which became the largest MIS research center in continental United States. At PACMIRS Yamane was assigned to review boxes of captured documents from the battle for Saipan marked by U.S. Naval Intelligence “of no military value,” when he discovered a thick manual titled ‘Imperial Army Ordinance Inventory” which listed all of the weapons used by the Japanese Army and their place of manufacture. The whole Nisei MIS complement was ordered for around the clock duty to translate the entire Ordinance Inventory, and soon B-29’s of the U.S. Air Force were bombing these newly discovered weapons factories and arsenals all overJapan! For making this highly significant research discovery Yamane was awarded the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit. In October 1944 Yamane was selected for a highly classified 3-man mission sent to SHAEF (General Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) Far East Intelligence Section inParis,Franceand assigned to the British Commandos for an attack onBerlin. Yamane’s specific mission to confiscate records from the Japanese Consulate inBerlinwas frustrated when the Russian forces invaded Berlin ahead of the American/British forces and barred entry to the British/American military forces. After the German surrender, Yamane was sent to various European cities in Belgium, France, Germany and Italy to search for Japanese diplomatic and business documents from Japanese business companies doing business in occupied Europe during the War.
HOICHI ‘BOB” KUBO was one of those 100th Battalion boys at Camp McCoy who deliberately flunked the MIS recruiting interviews but he was ordered to transfer to the MISLS anyway, and Kubo would thereafter go on to compile one of the most distinguished military careers of any Nisei MIS who fought the intelligence war against the Japanese enemy. Upon graduating MISLS in June 1943 he was assigned to a linguist team which was sent to JICPOA in Hawaii where he was attached to the 27th Infantry Division which engaged in five different invasions and performed heavy combat duty throughout the Pacific War against defending Japanese forces. Sgt. Kubo participated in the November 1943 invasion of Makin Island where he was awarded a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and fought in the capture of Majuro, Marshall Islands in January 1944. In June 1944 Kubo was assigned to Battalion Headquarters, 105th Regiment to participate in the invasion of Saipan. During a routine interrogation of a POW in July 1944 a prisoner disclosed to Kubo that the Japanese had planned a gyokusai (all out suicide attack) for that night which Kubo immediately reported to his superiors. In the early morning darkness of July 8th over 5,000 fanatical survivors of the Japanese army attacked and drove deep into the American defenses inflicting over 1,000 U.S. casualties. But the alerted 27th Infantry was able to repel and decimate the attacking enemy, leaving over 4,000 dead Japanese on the battlefield to successfully gain control of Saipan, for which it was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. In the succeeding weeks while conducting moping up operations on Saipan, Sgt. Kubo learned that Japanese stragglers had held over 100 Saipan civilians captive in a cave below the cliffs at Marpi Point and got permission to go down to attempt to secure their release. Alone and armed only with a .45 pistol and some K rations, Kubo slid down the cliff to the cave where he was immediately confronted with eight Japanese soldiers aiming their rifles at him. They held their fire because they were astonished to see an American soldier with a Japanese face approaching them. Speaking to them in Japanese Kubo boldly announced he had not come to seek their surrender but for the release of the civilian captives. Seeing that they were engaged in cooking their meal, Kubo contributed his K rations to share with the hungry soldiers. During their meal arms were laid down as Kubo opened up a dialogue with the Japanese who soon demanded to know how he, as a person of Japanese ancestry, could fight for the United States. Kubo immediately and resourcefully responded: “Ko naran to hosseba chu naran, chu naran to hosseba ko naran” (If I am filial, I cannot serve the emperor. If I serve the emperor, I cannot be filial). Kubo had recited a classic historical palindrome attributed to Taira no Shigemori during wars of the Heian period which established a famed precept familiar to every Japanese schoolboy, which is “Allegiance to one’s sovereign takes precedence over filial fidelity.” The Japanese soldiers immediately understood and according to Kubo, bowed and apologized. After more discussion, the Japanese promised further consideration of Kubo’s request for the release of the civilians, and Kubo left the cave. Several hours later a total of 122 liberated civilians had climbed up to the top of the cliff, followed by eight unarmed Japanese soldiers! For his incredible bravery, Kubo was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the highest military honor bestowed upon any Nisei soldier in the Pacific War against Japan. After the capture of Saipan the 27th Infantry Division was then sent to participate in the battle for Okinawa invading Tsugen-jima on April 9, 1945 and against the main island of Okinawa on April 11, 1945, where Kubo performed further linguist functions against the fanatic defending Japanese army. In June 1945 General Joseph Stilwell, now commander of the U.S. Tenth Army on Okinawa paid a visit to the 27th Infantry Division where he specifically asked to meet Sgt. Hoichi Kubo to congratulate him on his DSC and to convey the regards of his buddies from the Merrill’s Marauders in Burma.
YUKITAKA “TERRY” MIZUTARI was a Big Island boy well schooled in Japanese by his Kocho Sensei father and became a high achiever at MISLS. After completing an accelerated course in heigo (Military Japanese) in April 1943, Mizutari was promoted to Sergeant and designated to lead a team headed for New Guinea and assigned to 6th Army Division Headquarters. His first battle assignment came in December 1943 when Mizutari’s team boarded LCM’s to cross the stormy Coral Sea to take part in the invasion of Arawe, New Britain Island where they were straffed by 20 Zero fighters as they landed. For the first two months of the Arawe invasion they were constantly straffed and bombed by the Japanese, culminating in fanatical counterattacks against American positions where Mizutari’s team had to join the other G.I. dogface infantrymen to repel the enemy attacks. During the Arawe battle Mizutari was widely acclaimed for his bravery, admiringly lauded by his colleagues that ”he was all guts!” Mizutari was stricken with a serious case of malaria while at Arawe and was sent back to Australia for treatment, but before he fully recovered he volunteered to return to Aitape, New Guinea as team leader to replace Harry Fukuhara who had to be evacuated back to Australia suffering from a severe attack of malaria. On the night of June 23, 1944 the Japanese launched a surprise attack on American positions and when Mizutari moved forward to organize and direct his men he was fatally hit by a Japanese sniper, thus becoming the first Nisei to die in combat in the Pacific War. For his leadership, bravery and courage against the enemy, Tech. Sgt. Mizutari was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and a citation from the ATIS chief Col. Sidney Mashbir which eulogized:
“The loss of Technical Sergeant Mizutari is considered with deepest regret
since this soldier was a soldier in every sense of the word and while serving with
various language units in the field as well as at the Allied Translator and
Interpreter Section, his contribution in fidelity and devotion to duty was
outstanding. His record serves to exemplify the great work of the Nisei for
their country to which cause he has given his life.”
And on May 9, 1980, the Defense Language Institute at Monterey (successor to the MISLS) named an academic buling “MIZUTARI HALL,” dedicated to the memory of
Technical Sergeant Yukitaka “Terry” Mizutari.
Other Senpai who were mentioned in “Senpai Gumi” are: EDWIN KAWAHARA who was retained by MISLS as a sensei because of his excellent command of Japanese; GEORGE FUJIKAWA who served with ATIS and theNew Guineacampaign; and EDDIE MITSUKADO, ROBERT HONDA, and ROY NAKADA who served and fought in India-Burma with the “Merrill’s Marauders.”
This story of the Senpai Gumi from the 100th should well be considered and included in the history and lore of the 100th Battalion because while they may have served and fought on different battlegrounds against an enemy of their same race they still served and fought with the spirit of the 100th Battalion ingrained in them from the earliest days of their military careers, and for whose distinguished service to country the 100th Battalion can well appreciate and be immensely proud of !