WW II Experiences – Pentagon, Paris, Berlin

Author: Kazuo E. Yamane, D Company
Club 100 45th Anniversary Reunion, June 1987

Kazuo Yamane writes a timeline of his war experiences from Pearl Harbor to World War II on missions for the MIS

CHRONOLOGY: World War II Service and other Experiences

1934 (June)
McKinley High School graduation.

One year employment at U. Yamane Ltd.

(Summer) To Japan for Language Studies. Joined Japan tour group from Hawaii visiting Japan extensively including Korea and Manchuria up to Harbin area near the Siberian border. Preparation for entrance exams for Japan Middle School.

One year at Kinjo Middle School in Tokyo. Preparation for college entrance exam. In Japan during the February 26 Incident — Military coup d’etat in Tokyo.

1937 (Sep)
Entered Waseda University, Tokyo, Commerce Dept.

1940 (Aug)
In Japan during Japanese Invasion of Manchuria and China — the so-called “Manchurian Incident” and the Sino-Japanese War.
Experienced compulsory military ROTC training while attending Japan University.
In Japan during Japan’s total war effort and country geared to total war economy.
In Japan during signing of Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis Military Agreement; experiencing tri-party total war effort. Returned home to Hawaii — three summer vacations.
Graduated Waseda University in June 1940. Completed entrance exams for Hosei University, Tokyo.
August 1940, returned to Hawaii on the second to the last ship, the TATSUTA MARU, ever to land on an American port until the declaration of war between U.S. and Japan.
Thereafter the U.S. embargo on oil was initiated against Japan and U.S.-relations worsened to critical stages, until the Pearl Harbor attack.

1940 (Sep)
Entered University of Hawaii on part-time basis while being employed at U. Yamane, Ltd. By late spring of 1941, had to leave U. of H. because all three male employees of our family business were drafted in the U.S. Army, and I received temporary military deferment.

1941 (Nov 14)
Uncle Sam finally got me at $21.00 per month — no deferment; draftee in 4th Selective Service draft as Class A. Reported to Schofield Barracks, Oahu this date for military training. This virtually shut down our poultry and hog feed (grain) department, our paint and retail liquor departments, since there was no male employee remaining.

1941 (Dec 7)
Home on weekend pass in Kalihi. This was within view of anti-aircraft flak in the air, and billowing dark black smoke from the Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field direction. Successive booming explosions could be heard. In short order the radio broadcast repetitious emergency calls, “Pearl Harbor is being attacked, all service men return to your post immediately.” In response to the order, dressed in my military uniform, I drove toward Schofield Barracks by way of the old winding Moanalua-Red Hill Road and into Kam Highway in Aiea, in perfect full view of the Pearl Harbor attack going on: dive bombers, low-level bombing by the enemy, every conceivable type of explosions and tilting burning, great warships; fires and billowing black smoke all over Pearl Harbor — what a total mess Pearl Harbor looked.
At Schofield Barracks, that day and night, was just as much a turmoil internally. The ’03 rifles issued were from storage and had to be cleaned ready for use; the ammunitions carriers and ammunitions issued were from crates in storage. On the night of December 7th, Schofield Barracks was a frightful jittery military base; sabotage and 5th column rumors were rampant; any bush that moved in the darkness could be a target by a trigger-happy dogface; any plane in the air was shot at — in fact our own 0-47 was shot down that night by our own men. In the distance toward Honolulu, in the still total darkness of the nightly you could see the fiery glow in the eastern sky from the smoldering ember of the military installations and naval warships; the only noises emanating were occasional explosions toward the Pearl Harbor direction. We service men wondered whether a follow-up invasion of ground troops was to come. The element of surprise was almost 100% and the disastrous and extensive damages done almost completely destroyed the military effectiveness of the U.S. Armed Forces.

1941 (Dec 8)
Having had ROTC at McKinley High School, the next day I was with the group that was immediately assigned to the various national guard units, I was sent to Co E, 298 Infantry, stationed on the Windward side, our sector being between Hauula and Kaneohe. Sgt Chang, Pvt Gouveia, and myself were issued one water-cooled machine gun, 500 rounds of ammunition, an ’03 rifle and dropped at a point on the beach of Kahaluu, our cross-fire to meet with a machine gun on each side of us. Nothing was furnished us so we commandeered from the neighboring beach houses and built a facsimile of a machine gun nest. Until late May 1982, it was 4 hours on sentry duty, or laying barbed-wire barricades near the shore, 4 hours off for sleep and rest. In an invasion attempt, we were certainly cannon fodder and a suicide squad I thought.

1942 (June 3?)
All soldiers of Japanese blood, numbering about 1,500 men, were ordered to Schofield Barracks from the Hawaii National Guard units in the field. We found out that we were ordered to be shipped to destination unknown. (Rumors were already circulating in Honolulu that a great air and sea battle was imminent somewhat near Hawaii.) Without any leave to go home we were entrained to Honolulu Harbor and loaded on the converted SS Maui Troopship. At dusk, with a destroyer escorting us, we left Honolulu. The next morning the destroyer was gone! And Japanese submarines were lurking around the Hawaiian chain, I thought. So all throughout the trip to the mainland I made it a point to sleep on deck. Arrived in Oakland port in the still darkness of wartime blackout. The group was split in three separate train routes; one to the north, one to the south and the last one by way of the central route, by which route I arrived at our destination — Camp McCoy in Wisconsin, again in the stillness of the night. The irony of this destination was that fathers of many men of our group were imprisoned in a concentration camp in Camp McCoy.
Early June — Mid December 42. The War Department designated our group the 100th Inf Bn (Sep). Orders were to train for combat. Over 6 months of training got very monotonous, and apparently the War Department could not make a decision as to how to use us. In the meantime, the relocation of all Japanese alien and citizens was going on full blast in the Western states. Major Dickey, a West Pointer came to McCoy to recruit volunteers for Military Intelligence. With my background and education in Japan, I volunteered. Questions asked to confirm my loyalty were such as: “If we landed you in Japan on a submarine on a special mission, would you perform your duty willingly?”
1942 (Dec) Ordered to attend Camp Savage MISLS in Minnesota. Upon assignment and after exam for classification, I was assigned to Sec 1 (Top grade) of 30 odd classes.
Severe winter 47 below 0, icicles 6′ hanging on roof eaves in single wall barracks. 100 Battalion men of 60 in one barracks, burned two pot-belly stoves in barracks red-hot because we were freezing.
After furlough, upon graduation in June, I was one of the first to be called to pack up for duty assignment, destination unknown. Team of 4 left by train (June 1943): Tech Sgt Jimmy Matsumura (Instructor at Savage) of Los Angeles, and Kibei. T/3 John Kenjo, Los Angeles and formerly team leader from Honolulu, T/3 Seishu Kondo, San Pedro, and Kibei T/3 Kazuo E. Yamane, Honolulu.
When Sgt Matsumura opened the sealed orders and tickets, destination read: Washington, D.C.
On arrival at D.C. we were assigned to the Pentagon Bldg, War Dept, Pacific Order of Battle, Military Intelligence and stationed at Fort Meyer, Virginia, next to the Pentagon. We were the first Nisei, servicemen or civilian, of Japanese blood in the Pentagon Bldg since the start of WWII, with one exception, Jimmy Hamasaki of California whom I knew in Tokyo while he was attending Meiji University. He was a State Department employee who came back to the U.S. on the exchange ship Gripsholm, and started work as a civilian at the Pentagon very recently. There were over 35,000 persons working at the Pentagon, one of the most security-tight buildings in the Nation at that time. Captain Moore, an ex-missionary in Japan, was our supervising officer in the Pentagon. A few months after our assignment, a team from Savage was assigned to the Air Force in the Pentagon. A larger group was also later assigned to Warrenton, Virginia, 1944.
The War Department assigned our team to Camp Ritchie (now Camp David), MD as a nucleus to start the PACMIRS (Military Pacific Intelligence Research Section), with Lt Col Gronich as CO. A Brigadier General was commandant of the Intelligence Center, primarily heading the European Theater operations. A large contingent comprising non-coms, many instructors from Ft Snelling (Camp Savage was moved to Snelling) Intelligence and Japanese Language Training School and graduates, and a number of haole officers (instant Japanese Language specialists). Shortly thereafter, I had volunteered for an unknown mission somewhere, getting fed up with the discriminatory practice of ranks given us Nisei’s in G2. Letters received from our buddies overseas also made us very restless in domestic USA.
A highlight of my short service in Ritchie was: Colonel ______ sent me to look through some boxes of captured documents by order of the Commandant, that were sent to the Intelligence Center for training purposes. They were captured in the Saipan battle by the Navy Intelligence team at Pearl Harbor and passed on as having no military value. The General thought the documents should first be checked. In skimming through them, I found a thick book, and to my astonishment, which contained highly classified reports of the entire National Inventory of the Japanese Arsenal listing specific weapons and their number in stock (Imperial Army Ordinance Inventory). I reported to our Colonel of this major important find. The translation staff at camp were ordered by the Pentagon to give it top priority, and all holiday leaves were cancelled. An amusing aftermath of this incident was that an Army Captain at Ritchie who courier’d back and forth to the Pentagon made a joke of this big boo-boo (papaia) by Navy Intelligence at the Pentagon. I last heard that word got back to the Navy Dept and wires were burning to Pearl. But the Captain was soon shanghaied overseas for his joke! Of all things, I bumped into this Captain in Paris and he was still moaning!
October 12, 1944. T/S Pat Nagano of Morro Bay, CA, T/S George Urabe of San Francisco and M/Sgt Kazuo E. Yamane of Honolulu were selected to go on this special mission, and time of departure was fixed to leave the U.S. sometime in late October so I finally decided to get married before going over; and on October 12, 1944, Mary Shiyomura and I got married at a relative’s home in Baltimore, the Miyasaki’s, formerly of Honolulu and now long time residents of Baltimore. I had a week’s pass and honeymooned in Philadelphia before going overseas.
Late October, 1944. Our team, with Major John White from the 7th Div in Alaska as CO with Lt (S.C.) Arthur English, USN, boarded a C-94 all to ourselves left La Guardia Airport at night. After take-off, Major White opened the sealed orders and read it to us. Our primary mission was: Our team was to be attached to a British Commando Unit, to train with them, in an attack into Berlin. We were to invade by air and/or submarines, into Berlin, to confiscate documents in the various government buildings as targets and return. The War Dept Orders further stated that we were to be assigned to SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force), Far Eastern Intelligence Section, in Versailles, France. Our plane continued to our final destination — Paris, via Newfoundland, landing in Scotland for a short period, and continuing on to Paris. On arrival in Versailles, we were quartered for a short time with the Moroccan Troops in the Royal Stable of the Grand Palace, with our headquarters at the Petit Palais. Only a few weeks before our arrival, the Germans sliced into the Western Front and made major gains in the Battle of the Bulge. While on pass to Paris, for this reason, security measures were extra tight.

The U.S. Army was negotiating with the Russians in the meantime to guarantee our safety on this mission, but the Russians were playing a delaying game. The Russians had stopped the German offensive on the Russian Front and were now taking the offensive and were exerting every effort to capture Berlin before the Anglo-American Armies. In the interim, our team was split up to go into the field on split second notice! Swift air entry into Berlin, a raid into the Japanese Embassy there, seizure of documents and a quick get away! But plans to go to Berlin never came to be!