Featured Blogger Report: Nisei – part 1 // Pacific Paratrooper #AceHistoryDesk reports

Nisei soldiers

Smitty held the Nisei in very high regard and I would be remiss in neglecting to tell their story. Beside, one of these men might have been directly responsible for the safe return of my father. In reality, it would be near impossible to relate a story of the Pacific War without mentioning their service. Some of this unique intelligence force worked ‘behind the scene’ stateside U.S.A. or Australia, but many were up front and fighting at and behind enemy lines.

Smitty always had extreme appreciation for the courage, resilience and down-right crazy stunts they pulled off. They were capable of going behind the lines to acquire information or cut into the radio lines and all the while they remained quite aware that their own units might mistake them for the enemy when they returned. This did happen more than once.

Most everyone is aware of whom the Nisei are, but for clarification purposes, here are some of the terms that might be used in this section or if you continue with your own research:

AJA – Americans of Japanese Ancestry
MISers – the name used for students and graduates of the Military Intelligence Service Language School
Issei – first generation Japanese-American
Nisei – second generation Japanese-American, (this term is for definition only – Nisei prefer to state that they are American)
Kibei – Japanese-American who received education in Japan

At the language school, the students were crammed with courses and put on a strict schedule. Some courses included:

Kanji – a Japanese method of writing based on Chinese logographic characters
Kaisho – the printed form of Kanji and can only be read by someone who has memorized a great number of ideographs
Gyosho – hand written Japanese, very similar to the Palmer Method of Penmanship and is very difficult for Americans
Sosho – the shorthand version of Kanji and almost impossible for an American to learn. Most Japanese field orders were taken down by this method.

Kai Rasmussen (center)

It must be noted that many of these men had family incarcerated in detainment camps and serving in the Imperial Army & Navy, but in school, on the job and in combat they loyally worked to do their level best. The language school began 1 November 1941 at Crissy Field, with Lt. Colonel John Wickerling in charge. His right hand man, educator and recruiter, Kai Rasmussen, was a primary force in the success of the school. He was a West Point grad who spoke Japanese with a Danish accent and would eventually earn the Legion of Merit for his efforts.

A move was necessary from San Francisco to Camp Savage, Minnesota. The change in location was largely due to the bigotry that had overwhelmed California at the time. The most influential white supremacists included: Earl Warren; The Natives Sons and Daughters of the Golden West; William Randolph Hearst and his newspapers and Congressman Leland Ford. Eventually, the school needed to expand and moved to Fort Snelling, St. Paul.

Rasmussen’s right hand man was John Fujio Aiso, an attorney out of Brown and Harvard and had studied at Chuo University in Tokyo. (He was originally assigned to a motor pool because the Army felt they had no need for additional lawyers.) Rasmussen traveled across the country in attempts to find candidates for the school. The Pentagon had kept the paperwork for the operations of the Nisei secret for three decades, but Smitty began talking about them once I was old enough to ask questions.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

“AIM FOR THE CAT!”

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Farewell Salutes –

Malcolm Armstrong – Ardmore, OK; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

John Bagwell – Arab, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Milo Durant – Manawatu, NZ; NZEF #453408, WWII, Pvte.

Virginia Fallon – New Haven, CT; Civilian, WWII, Winchester Repeating Arms, ammo inspector

Raymond Goulet – New Bedford, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 85th Infantry Division

Ralph Hatcher – Indianapolis, IN; US Army, Vietnam,101st Airborne Division, medic

T. Chester McKeon – Prairie Grove, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-25 crew chief, MSgt.

Harvey Nichols – Braxton, MS; US Army, WWII, PTO, POW, KIA

Charles Peck – Hansville, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, gunner

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#AceNewsDesk reports ………………Published: Sept.23: 2019:

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