Military Intelligence Service
At Camp Ritchie, Yoshiaki is assigned to the Pacific Military Intelligence Research Section (PACMIRS), an international team of translators including members of the WAC (Women's Army Corps).
Also assigned to PACMIRS is Kazuo Yamane, a nisei from Oahu. He translates the inventory of the Japanese Imperial Army Ordnance. This key translation identifying the contents and locations of the enemy arsenal allows the U.S. to target B-29 bombing sites.
Pacific Military Intelligence Research Section (PACMIRS)
[At Camp Ritchie, I was assigned to] the Pacific Military Intelligence Research Section. The acronym is PACMIRS.
[I was assigned to be] one of the translators. But that group, that outfit, was an international group. And so we had British, Canadian, American, New Zealand, Australian linguists, officers, and non-coms.
In this group, from the American group, there was a major who was a former missionary in Japan. So he knew Japanese very well. He was a sort of older person. But there was an Englishman who was hapa. Chee, I wish I remember these names, but he was in the, I guess in the air corps, British air corps. Maybe he didn't fly, but he was a linguist attached to PACMIRS.
The CO was a Colonel [G.F.] Gronich, he was a full colonel. He was a rough and tough regular army guy. But there were some non-coms, too. There were some WACs [Women's Army Corps], also. American WACs, Canadian WACs, and Canadian non-coms. I think I remember his name was Kuwahara or something like that, he was a Canadian nisei, who was in that group, too.
Relations between Hawaii and Mainland Nisei
I knew one [WAC Nisei] who was from Colorado, her name was Betty Nishimura, I remember. She was a few years older than us. Yeah, she was telling me that she had a brother who was in the 442nd and he was beaten up (chuckles) by maybe some Hawaiian guys. I guess that clash between the Mainland nisei and the Hawaiians was a very real thing. You know, they just couldn't stand each other. Maybe the way they talked or something like that.
I thought I got along pretty well [with Mainland Nisei]. In fact, one of my closest friends in Savage and Snelling was a guy named Sherman Kishi, who came from Livingston, California. He was a very devout Christian, very devout person. I think that Livingston area is a very strong Christian area. But anyway, I got along very well with them. Maybe because I didn't have any language problems. I could understand both Hawaiian, as well as the Mainland English. So I didn't have any run-ins or anything like that.
Duties at PACMIRS
PACMIRS is a kind of pretty solid translation group. Maybe you heard of Kazuo Yamane? He was there at PACMIRS.
[We translated] documents that had something to do with military movements and things like that. And so in the case of Kazuo, he translated a very valuable document [on the inventory of the Japanese Imperial Army Ordnance] about the weapon system, the supply system, and stuff like that, that was current at that time. And so that gave the Americans a picture of the strength of the Japanese and therefore was considered very important.
And because of Kazuo Yamane's translation, our entire PACMIRS was rewarded, awarded with a citation. So what we got was what - maybe Kazuo got something else - but we got what was called a commendation ribbon with pendant. Now a days, I think they call it commendation medal but it's the same thing. It's a hexagonal medal with green and white stripes, you've seen that. Yeah, it's very common now. It's, maybe, right next to good conduct medal.
[PACMIRS had] maybe twenty-five, thirty people. And we had some real good kibei translators.
[A]fter the war ended - in October, PACMIRS was sent to Tokyo, on temporary duty, to collect more material.
Yoshiaki Fujitani's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of U.S. Army Signal Corps.