Military Intelligence Service
Risks and Fears
Fearing his spoken Japanese would quickly alert the enemy to his true identity and lead to his capture and death; Dick feels relieved when assigned to the China-Burma-India Theater, not Japan.
When he is sent to Burma behind enemy lines, he is instructed to keep one bullet for himself in the event he is captured.
Knowing that he might be mistaken for a Japanese soldier, he is wary of people — native allies and other Americans — who don’t know him.
Back when we were in MIS[LS Military Intelligence Service Language School] the concentration was a lot about Japan, the coastline. It seemed we were preparing to invade undercover into the Japan area. But later on, General [Douglas] MacArthur felt that the risk was much too great not only for us, but for the crew which was to transport us there by submarine. He felt the risk was much too heavy, so he decided not to.
And then, the final analysis was that we’d end up in Burma, the CBI [China-Burma-India] theater. I felt, honestly, that if we were to be shipped out to Japan our risk was too great for the crew. Not transporting us over, but after we land. Because a local can be detected by just opening his mouth. Just saying a word you can tell that he is not a Japan citizen. Because of that risk, they decided we’d be more useful over in Burma area.
The thing is, the risk [was] being detected and captured. You know what that means? It would be a lot of torture and undoubtedly we’d be put to death.
Speaking of that caution, when we were sent to Burma, the CBI theater, and when we were shipped out, I went out behind enemy lines. I was instructed to keep one bullet for myself in the event I should get captured or if I do get captured, that I would use that last shell for myself. Because the ultimate torture would be so great and I’d probably end up dead after all that investigation torture. So, we were told to reserve one shell for ourselves.
Also, I learned that there was a $20,000 reward money for any of us that were captured [in Burma]. If we were turned in and captured, that individual would get rewarded $20,000. In our younger days, you’re carefree, you’re daring. But knowing that we were not going to Japan was a great relief. Thus, when we were shipped to Burma, I felt, or even our group felt, we could do more to aid the Americans, fight the enemy. There are statistics that reflect that OSS [Office of Strategic Services] Detachment 101 did a great deal to shorten the war.
Being in a jungle, being that we possess the face of an enemy, I was very much afraid of people that I didn’t know. I was safe with my people, Americans, which was about five Americans and the rest were all natives. If they knew you, you’d be safe. But, there are other people that you would run [with] during your campaign that didn’t know who you were. And that was what I was afraid of. I was afraid of being shot by them. So, an American always [accompanied] me wherever I went. That’s for safety.
Dick Hamada's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Dick Hamada.