SAN FRANCISCO — The National Japanese American Historical Society seeks the community’s help in honoring the 13,000 MIS service members and their affiliates whose covert intelligence work and operations helped speed the end of World War II and the advancement of a democratic government in post-war Japan.
Beginning in June 1941, the U.S. Army recruited Americans of Japanese descent to form the first language intelligence unit in the history of the U.S. military. On Nov. 1, 1941, the Army hastily converted an airplane hangar in the Presidio of San Francisco’s Crissy Field into a school, where the first class of mostly Nisei linguists trained.
The Niseis’ and Kibeis’ familiarity with Japanese language and customs made them ideal candidates for specialized intelligence training for WWII’s war in the Pacific. More than 6,000 MIS served mainly in the Pacific Theatre of War and were assigned clandestine duties, including translating intercepted Japanese radio transmissions and interrogating captured soldiers, actions which resulted in their saving countless Japanese and American soldiers’ and civilians’ lives.
In addition, more than 5,000 MIS Nisei served under Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the post-war Occupation of Japan, aiding in Japan’s transition to a new, democratic form of government.
However, until a 1971 Freedom of Information Act request was granted, MIS soldiers were forbidden from discussing their covert, wartime work, and so many of their stories and contributions have been lost in history, unknown to the public and even to their own families.
But now you can help fill this missing chapter in WWII history.
In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the opening of the MIS Historic Learning Center, NJAHS will launch the MIS Veteran Photo Tribute at the MIS Historic Learning Center. A digital photo kiosk that includes your veteran’s photo will be unveiled at the anniversary event on Nov. 12, and all are welcome to attend.
The digital kiosk will be located on the MIS Historic Learning Center’s existing MIS Honor Wall, which lists the names of some 13,000 MIS and affiliates who served in various capacities from 1941-52.
The task of collecting thousands of veteran photos is daunting, which is why the NJAHS seeks the community’s help. Whether you are a MIS veteran family member or descendant or you know of someone who should be honored, the NJAHS encourages you to submit a scanned digital image of a vintage photo of your veteran in military uniform for inclusion in the MIS Veteran Photo Tribute.
Please email your photo by Oct. 31 to firstname.lastname@example.org and include all required information requested by the NJAHS (visit www.njahs.org); a suggested donation of $100 will be used to prepare your photo for inclusion in this permanent photo display.
Please contact the NJAHS for questions about either the anniversary event or veterans’ photo at (415) 921-5007.