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3-As U.S. Soldier in Japan & Military Service
What was it like being a Japanese American occupying Japan?
Definitely I was different than the Japanese in Japan because I'm just like you. I was more American than I was Japanese because I'd never been in Japan before. So I was taller and I walked differently and I ate differently and everything else. I was definitely different from the Japanese in Japan. They could spot you right away.
Was it all intimidating in Japan?
No because I was going in as a U.S. soldier so we were the dominating persons. So what ever we say was going to be the law so we didn't have any problems because we were the boss. They were taking orders from us. I felt pretty good.
What was your training like?
I was trained in Military Intelligence because of my knowledge of the Japanese language and my training was to be an investigator. In other words, we were supposed to investigate different incidents of sabotage or whatever it was. There was a lot of the other guys they were interpreters and translators. Everybody had a different job but my specific job was counter intelligence corp investigator. When I went to Japan we had units stationed all over Japan in every state and so we were looking for any kind of activities that were detrimental to our occupation. We were interrogating prison ers of war that were coming back from Japan. Then at the same time we also released all the communists in Japan because at that time all of the communists were jailed. They were put in prison and when we came in we had to release them all. So then at the same time we had to monitor them. We monitored all the foreign nationals—Chinese, Germans. I even had to monitor some of the Americans. We had some deserters up there to. We had to go pick them up.
Were you part of the group of people that picked up American deserters?
Yeah I had to go pick them up because they thought they were going to live out some place. But you can't hide as long as you are Caucasian you can't hide in Japan without being noticed. They were easy to pick up.
Could you describe an operation?
What happens is we usually get a report. We work very closely with the police dept in fact we use them quite often. They notify us that there was a GI up there. I also used the Japanese police to go with me because we didn't have a lot of people .so I use them and we just go there and pick them up then ship them back to their units that they left. They were just army soldiers. We didn't have too many marines over there
Do you know what happened to them?
No, we just turned them over. We didn't follow up on that. That's not our job. We just picked them up. Then the army has their system of justice over there because each unit command does that.
Can you tell us another interesting investigation?
Some of these are are not supposed to be told too much about. I don't want to be saying too much because it might get out. Actually, I don't know whether it's cleared or not. Some of these things are still probably sensitive. One of the ones that I thought was kind of unusual, that I could tell you probably, was there was a lot of German priests over there. We had to monitor their activities. We had them on the restricted list—they actually had to report to us if they were going to leave the city. It was just like me being monitored here in the United States, and here I am monitoring the priests the same way.
Did they ever leave without you knowing?
No, we didn't have any particular problem with them. We really didn't have too much problem with those types of activities. The only big one we had was probably in the Tokyo area, which I wasn't involved with, but...that one's very sensitive.
What makes something so sensitive after so many years?
Well because it becomes sensitive when it involves other countries, and then they don't want to let you know about the way the operation goes. It's just like any investigation that goes on, they don't let you know because they don't want to let out what's still going on or happening.
Can you tell us in generalities what kinds of cases you worked on?
The bulk of it was we were doing prisoners of war and we were trying to get information.
What kind of information?
Out of country information.
What does that mean?
Well, they were someplace else. You could tell. They were over in—across the way there. Because once they're in another country you can try to find out about what's going on in that country, whatever they pick up. That's how you gather information. You get people to go someplace and you say, "Hey, what happened over there?" That's how you do intelligence. Or you can get magazines and newspapers or just talk to people.
Were you under cover?
No you don't have to be undercover. We got guys under cover but I was not an undercover guy. I couldn't hide myself in there. They'd spot me any time I walk through.
Well anybody that wants to know about you. Say I go to a city and I talk to somebody. They know I am not Japanese. So I just use the local police to do it. They know better than I do. Then he tells me.
These people wouldn't talk to you because you weren't Japanese?
They are reluctant to talk to you. It's just like a stranger comes and asks you something. You won't give them the information. You have to have somebody that knows them. That's how you get information. If you came and asked somebody "Can you tell me this?" He's not going to tell you. You have to be a local guy or something.
When you enlisted in the army the second time, were you dealing with intelligence still?
No I got out of intelligence after that.
Once you got a commission, what did you do?
I went into the transportation and then I went into the infantry battalion after that. It depends on when you get promoted. In some places, you go to get a promotion you're transferred to another unit. That's what I did anyway. In this area if you go so far they only have so many areas. If you don't get into a bigger division you don't keep on getting promoted. There has to be room for you, so if you want to get promoted, you get to a bigger place. You go to Sacramento to get promoted for the higher job.
Did you command an infantry division?
No, you had to be a general to do that. I never was a general. I was under the general. I was in the staff.
What were the years that you served in the army?
I spent thirty-three years. I got out in '85. I spent a lot of time in the reserve too. I didn't stay in the active army. It didn't pay for me because I was an engineer and I make more working as a civilian than working in the army. The army was just extra duty for me. And it worked out good too; I got my retirement out of the army. They take care of me medically. If I get sick now I can go to the army hospital. I just go there. They take care of my medical and pharmacy bills, and being a veteran I could probably go to the VA hospital too.
Did you serve during the Vietnam or Korean Wars?
No, they called me up for the Korean War. But then they said I didn't have to go because I was already in active duty. There was a big protest at that time and they were calling all of the veterans back in. And they'd say "Hey, how come you're calling all of the veterans back when you don't have a actual draft going on?" At that time reserve was supposed to go in to augment the army. Now it's a little different, because now they are using the reserve to be active. But at that time the reserve was supposed to come in afterwards, not like it is now.
What involvement did you have at the time of the Korean War?
They said that since I already was in the active army, they said I didn't have to serve and go to the Korean War because there was a big protest on the Korean War because they said we weren't supposed to be called in. Only when they have activities going on. Not like it is now. In other words, they'd needed to have all out mobilization to call me back in.
Were you an officer at the time?
As an officer during Vietnam, did the same thing happen?
Yeah because this time they didn't do that. They left us alone. They didn't call them up. I don't remember how they did it but they must have changed the ruling.
What was your rank during Vietnam?
I was about a Captain or a Major.