Brig. Gen. John Magruder (left), deputy director of the Office of Strategic Services, presents Dick Hamada the Soldier’s Medal on Jan. 3, 1946, in Washington, D.C., for Hamada’s role in Operation Magpie. Photos Courtesy of the Hamada family
By P.C. Staff
The late Dick S. Hamada of Honolulu, Hawaii, has been accepted for induction into the Army’s Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Hamada, who past away in May 2014 at age 92, will be inducted in ceremonies in June, according to a letter from Maj. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence.
Hamada was one of about 6,000 Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service in World War II. Hamada was among a handful of MIS Nisei assigned to Detachment 101 of the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.
They spent months deep behind enemy lines in Northern Burma conducting clandestine operations, leading native and Allied troops in guerilla raids, gathering intelligence and rescuing downed Allied aviators.
In early 1945, Hamada singlehandedly saved his battalion at the village of Ke His Mansam. Made up primarily of Kachin troops, the battalion was in its third day of fighting, and Hamada was leading a platoon of Nationalist Chinese troops protecting its left flank. Under intense, concentrated Japanese attack, Hamada’s troops began faltering. He went from foxhole to foxhole, exposed to direct enemy fire, exhorting and rallying his men and manning a machine gun himself. The platoon held, and the enemy attack was repulsed. Hamada’s commanding officer, an American, commended his leadership and credited Hamada with saving the entire battalion from “total defeat.”
Following the Burma campaign, Hamada and other Japanese Americans were assigned to OSS Detachment 202 in China.
Upon the conclusion of the war, Hamada returned to Hawaii and worked at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, retiring as a planner and estimator supervisor. He was also widely known around the Islands as a baseball and softball umpire.
He was nominated for the Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame by Ret. Maj. Gen. Arthur Ishimoto, an MIS veteran of World War II who went on to become adjutant general of Hawaii.
“Dick Hamada was a true American hero whose exploits were largely unnoticed during his lifetime. His induction into the Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame is long overdue and well-deserved,” said Ishimoto, who served in the Philippines and in the occupation of Japan after the war.
“The Nisei were recruited to use our knowledge of Japanese language and culture against the enemy,” said Ishimoto. “But we were soldiers first, as Dick Hamada and many others demonstrated.”
Ishimoto has also initiated a review of Hamada’s role in the battle at Ke His Mansam for a possible upgrade to the Bronze Star that Hamada was awarded.
NOTE: Dick Hamada is one of the veterans featured in the new MIS exhibit at the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii. A grand opening of the exhibit will be held on March 28, 2015, at 9 a.m. as part of the MIS Veterans National Reunion. For more information about the reunion, visit www.misveteranshawaii.com or email Annie Inouye at email@example.com or call (808) 220-5347.