Marauders No More

In mid-August 1944, after the fall of Myitkyina, some seven months after the Marauders began their historic drive into the jungles, Mitsukado, Miyasaki, Kobata, Kono, Yamaguchi and the writer were finally relieved of their duties. The other Nisei, who had since recovered from their various ailments, were serving with G-2, Northern Combat Area Command. By this time, the Army had revoked the “provisional” feature of the unit designation “5307 Composite Unit, Provisional”. The outfit was no more, and the Nisei Marauders were without a home. Only the Combat Infantryman’s Badge which was a rarity in a theater where American ground activities were primarily supported; the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, and the Unit shoulder patch, which though never officially approved, was worn by the Nisei with the Marauder’s characteristic disdain for regulations and formality, linked us with the outfit which was once described in a post-war issue of the Infantry Journal as the “Most Agressive, [sic] toughest and bravest outfit to fight in the Far East in WW II”.

Eventually the Nisei were assigned to the Southeast Asia Translation and Interrogation Center (SEATIC) in New Delhi, India. In the meantime Major Gen Frank D. Merrill, former commander of the Marauders, had been elevated to Deputy Theater Commander with HQ in New Delhi. The General promptly promoted T/Sgt Edward Mitsukado to 2nd Lt Mitsukado, AUS. Miyasaki, Kono, and Honda were ordered to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga. Hank Gosho, who for a time, served with the Office of War Information, was returned to the United States for medical care. Thomas Tsubota was also shipped stateside for further hospitalization. Nakada, Furumoto, Hirabayashi, Matsumoto, Yamaguchi, Kobata, Sugeta and the writer were transferred to China where they, with other MISLS graduates, formed the Sino Translation and Interrogation Center (Sintic).

Nakada, Furumoto and the writer were to later receive field commissions, while all others held the rank of M/Sgts by the end of hostilities. Several participated in surrender negotiations and ceremonies in Chinkiang and Nanking, China.

In total, the Nisei volunteers had been awarded a Legion of Merit, 14 Bronze Star medals, and clusters, and seven of the 14 were commissioned. More important to the Nisei Marauders than the medals and gold bars, however, was winning the confidence, respect and trust of their fellow Marauders and other American Troops in the CBI theater. The late General Merrill wrote for the EX-CBI Roundup (a theater publication being perpetuated by CBI Vets) — “As for the value of the Nisei group, I couldn’t have gotten along without them. Probably few realized that these boys did everything that an infantryman normally does plus the extra work of translating, interrogating, etc. Also they were in a most un-eviable [sic] position as to identity as almost everyone from the Japanese to the Chinese shot first and identified later.”

Ex-Marauder Charton Ogburn, Jr., author of “The Marauders” wrote of the Nisei — “All of us, I suppose, when we are moved to reflect upon what human beings are capable of, find that certain images come to mind as illustrations of surpassing achievement. One that will always leap to mine is a composite recollection of Nhpum, Ga, and of no part of it more than the heroism, moral, as well as physical, of the NISEI . . . what was unspeakably hard for the others can only have been harder still for them. Some had close relatives living in Japan, all had acquaintances. If not, relatives held in concentration camps in the United States on the grounds that persons of Japanese descent and feature must be presumed to be disloyal.

To Help justify the unhappiness we were enduring, most of us could tell ourselves that the survival of our people and the country our forefathers had fought and died for was worthy of sacrifice; for the Nisei, however, there was only the value of an idea.”

In every battle in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operation, Nisei translator-interpreter linguists served with the combat units. Ben I. Yamamoto ended up in the Iwo Jima campaign, after almost a year’s duty in “interior” USA, toward the close of the Japan war.

VE DAY IN EUROPE, MAY 12, 1945. VJ DAY IN THE ASIATIC-PACIFIC, AUGUST 15, 1945. The homeward journey began for some earlier, but for the bulk of us, after hostilities had ended. And so WW II came to an end — an uneasy peace!??