Military Intelligence Service
End of War
Five linguists, including Norman, are granted a fifteen-day furlough to Hawaii.
The Japanese emperor surrenders in August 1945.
Home on Maui, he is recalled to his unit. When Norman reaches the Philippines, the division has left, so he is shipped to Japan with the ATIS.
At 11th Airborne Division headquarters in Sendai, he finds he has enough points to be discharged. Transported home on December 22, 1945, he is discharged on January 6, 1946.
Fighting in the Philippines was actually ended before July ’45 because the attack on Okinawa started 1 April ’45 and took about ninety days.
Our unit, the 11th Airborne, was not involved in the fighting [in Okinawa] but it was being programmed for the assault on Japan. I heard several versions of the plan but I understand the 11th Airborne was supposed to attack Sagami-wan [Sagami Bay], south of Tokyo. And the major American force would attack Kagoshima Bay, [in Kyushu].
Well, I’m glad that the emperor decided to call it quits on August , otherwise I think we would have suffered severe casualties.
In July of ’45 I told you the fighting had winded down in the Philippines. The division G-2 granted us five linguists from Hawaii a fifteen-day furlough to Hawaii provided we get air transport back home and back to the Philippines.
I was on Maui visiting my parents [in August 1945]. The local police came looking for me and they relayed the message from army headquarters here to let me know I was needed back in the Philippines with my unit. So I came down here and reported to Fort Kam[ehameha] and waited for a flight to the Philippines. The rest of the five niseis were already at Fort Kam[ehameha] waiting.
It took us about ten days to get that flight. By the time we got to the Philippines, the 11th had already taken off and they were up in Okinawa, so we were stranded. We stayed with [ATIS] until [ATIS] moved out by ship to Japan in November of 1945. When we got to [ATIS] in Tokyo, the representative from the 11th Airborne Division, which was in Sendai, came down to Tokyo and led us back to the home division in Sendai.
It’s sort of ridiculous but when we got to Sendai, personnel in the 11th Airborne Division looked at our records and said, “Hey, you guys are ready for discharge.” We had more than enough so-called separation points, so from that time on — this was already late in November — we didn’t do any work. We’d been deprocessed to get out of the service. We were sent down to Camp Zama to the 4th Replacement Depot.
We waited for air transport. I got home just before Christmas, December 22 of 1945 and I was told, “Okay, you boys can go home for Christmas but be sure to report back by December 27 for discharge.” I went back to Maui and I wasn’t about to come back in three days. So I stayed on Maui till January 3rd, . AWOL, right? But when I came back to Fort Kam[ehameha], nobody knew the difference. Nobody was keeping track.
January 6, 1946, I was discharged. So that ended my military career, January 6, 1946.
I never heard of [any orders not to talk about what we did and] keep everything secretive for a while. I don’t think there was anything that we had experienced or known about that was really militarily a secret. We didn’t work with codes, we didn’t work with those things.
Norman Kikuta's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Norman Kikuta.