Commentary

May 24, 2013

Military Intelligence – this week in history

Courtesy of Rosamaria Anzai, Komori’s daughter

In honor of Asian American/Pacific Islander observances this month, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence Command History Office staff submits the following extract from a letter written by Army Chief Warrant Officer Arthur Komori in 1949 to the commanding general of the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) Center, Camp Holabird, Maryland. It describes the varied critical and often dangerous duties of a CIC agent during World War II.

“I enlisted on March 13, 1941, for duty with the Corps of Intelligence Police, or CIP, at Fort Shafter, [Hawaii], together with … Richard Sakakida. We both volunteered for duty in the Philippines for an undercover assignment. We were appointed sergeants on the day of enlistment.

On April 22, 1941, I commenced my duty with the CIP unit, G-2, Headquarters, Philippine Department, Fort Santiago, in an undercover capacity. I was registered at a Japanese hotel in Manila and assumed a role of a civilian looking for a job. In secret meetings with my commanding officer, I learned the techniques of undercover investigations. …

… I was never detected as a spy by the Japanese. When war broke out, I voluntary had myself placed in internment together with the Japanese people in order to seek information concerning the war capability and plans of the enemy. That placed me at the mercy of the Philippine constabulary guards, since I was considered no different than the other Japanese … In spite of the danger, I stuck to my undercover role until I was relieved of that assignment and delivered from internment about a week after the outbreak of war.

I participated in the Evacuation of Manila, Battle of Bataan and Battle of Corregidor. … Until I escaped from Corregidor on orders of Gen. Jonathan Wainwright on April 13, 1942, I participated in front-line interrogation and translation of Japanese information or prisoners of war. I was the only CIC agent authorized to escape to Australia upon the Fall of Bataan.

On reporting for duty to the assistant chief of staff, Intelligence Headquarters, whose name was Maj. Gen. Charles Willoughby, on April 16, 1942, after making good my escape from Corregidor, I was able to write various reports on the operations of a CIC unit in combat, which were highly considered by Willoughby. …

On or about Sept. 1, 1942, I led a newly arrived group of Nisei interpreters from America from Melbourne to Brisbane to set up a new allied unit in G-2, GHQ. I was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Allied Translator and Interpreter Unit, and helped to lay the foundations of the unit which eventually helped shorten the war, according to Willoughby, by several years, by its intelligence work on enemy documents and prisoners of war. Upon completing my assignment, I returned to my CIC duties as a special agent on Dec. 13, 1942. …

Upon my return to G-2, HQ, United States Army Services of Supply … Sydney, Australia, I engaged in headquarters loyalty and security investigations. It was my duty to maintain security of the installation by disseminating security information to every division of the headquarters, as well as conducting active investigations to search out security leakages. All personnel in sensitive duties were investigated for their loyalty and … reports were submitted on them. Whenever Japanese intelligence information was required, I was called upon to furnish assistance to the requesting agencies. …

I was a radio monitor and in that capacity monitored and evaluated the radio broadcasts of Radio Tokyo. The information gained from such broadcasts was widely disseminated throughout the various intelligence agencies. …

From April 6 to August 25, 1945, I was engaged in interrogating captured enemy soldiers and spies and obtained information concerning their subversive missions. Other duties I performed were those of translating and interpreting Japanese documents and information in the Counter Intelligence Section HQ, United States Army Forces in the Far East.

On Aug. 25, 1945, I was the only special agent detailed to enter Japan on the first shipload of troops entering Tokyo Bay. I acted as the interpreter for Brig. Gen. Elliot Thorpe, chief, CIC; Col. Jennis Galloway, commanding officer 441st CIC Detachment; and Col. Donald Hoover, chief censor, on our dash into Tokyo on Sept. 3, 1945, the day after the surrender of Japan. Until Nov. 15, 1945, I engaged in translator and interpreter duties in the Counter Intelligence section. …

Thorpe submitted a recommendation for the award of the Bronze Star to me, and it was duly authorized in December 1945.”

Komori survived the war, continued to serve the Intelligence field, and was inducted into the MI Hall of Fame in 1988. He died in 2000 at 85. This is only part of his story.

 




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