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Members of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS)


The MIS story is one of numerous small units of Nisei soldiers who operated confidentially, individually or in small groups (ten to twenty men), attached to combat units in the war against Japan. They were also loaned to other allied combat units i.e. Australia, New Zealand, England, and China. It is also the story of much larger groups who served at intelligence centers at the Army and Theater Headquarters level. Three main intelligence centers were at MacArthur’s headquarters, also known as ATIS (Allied Translator Interpreter Section) in Brisbane, Australia, JICPOA (Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Area) in Hawaii, and SATIC (Southeast Asia Translation and Interrogation Center) in New Delhi. From these centers, MISers were assigned to combat units and missions.

Through it all, from the early crucial campaigns of Attu and Guadalcanal to the decisive victories at Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, the Nisei served with distinction and were indispensable and superbly effective as translators of captured enemy documents, interrogators of enemy POWs and persuaders of enemy surrender. They also worked laboriously over enemy documents - maps, battle plans, orders, diaries, postcards, publications, records, manuals - at area headquarters producing voluminous intelligence invaluable to Allied strategy and operations.

Following the conclusion of the war, the MIS also proved crucial to the United States's postwar occupation of Japan. The MIS linguist's skills in the Japanese language, combined with their knowledge of local customs, made for a smooth transition between United States occupation forces and the Japanese people. The Nisei servicemen’s assistance proved indispensable in all areas of translating and administration, including during the Japanese war crime trials, in the repatriation of Japanese prisoners of war (POWs), and in establishing a positive relationship with the Japanese people. Additionally, through the formation of such organizations as the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) and the Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD), MIS linguists played an important role in gathering intelligence information on subversive activities for occupation authorities. Finally, many MIS linguists and administrative personnel helped in the drafting of the new Japanese Constitution as well. Through their assistance, the MIS linguists provided essential assistance to the occupation authorities in Japan that cleared the way for a smooth transition from United States post-war occupation back to eventual Japanese civilian control in 1952.

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