November 1941        The Army had few with expertise in the Japanese language. Realizing the possibility of war, the War Department approved the establishment of the first Japanese Language School in an airport hangar in San Francisco with $2,000 and four civilian Nisei Language teachers. The first class had 60 students; 58 Nisei and 2 Caucasians.

December 7, 1941    Japan attacks the U.S. at Pearl Harbor.  U.S. declares war on Japan.

February 1942           Executive Order 9066 signed by President Roosevelt

June 1942                  The West coast exclusion of persons of Japanese heritage prompts moving the school to more racially hospitable Minnesota and renaming it the Military Intelligence Service Language School.

June 1942                   The first graduates began their first tour of duty.

Throughout the war, more than 6,000 Nisei graduated the program, all while their families remained incarcerated. In 1946, after the war ended, the school was moved back to the Presidio of Monterey where it remains today as the permanent and extensive U.S Defense Language Institute training military linguists in various strategic languages.

MIS Volunteers from Granada (Amache)1942
Right: Koe Hinoki
Center in uniform with glasses: Kenny Yasui
Behind Yashui partially hidden: Christ Ishii
NJAHS (National Japanese-American Historical SocietyArchives)

These Nisei translators were “America’s Secret Weapon.” They shortened the war by about two years, played a critical part in war crimes trials and the U.S. occupation of Japan after the war. In all, these linguists translated 20.5 million pages during the war but due to national security issues, their contributions were not known for decades. 


By virtue of the authority invested in me as President and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I have today awarded


The Military Intelligence Service is cited for outstanding and gallant performance of duty in action against enemies of the United States from 1 May 1942 to 2 September 1945. The Military Intelligence Service provided superior intelligence collection and dissemination services during World War II to combat forces throughout the world; its members were interpreters, translators, interrogators, propaganda specialists, and signal technicians who worked in every echelon of the United States military establishment and with Allied Forces. The Military Intelligence Service participated in every major battle and campaign in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre of Operations and served in intelligence roles in the United States and in the European Theatre of Operations. The more than six thousand linguists were assigned to combat units on every front, primarily in the Pacific Theatre, supporting these units with critical interpretation, translation, radio reception, and interrogation services. The Military Intelligence Service not only played key roles in battlefield situations, they also provided United States forces with an unprecedented amount of intimate, authoritative, detailed, and timely information on enemy forces to support planning and execution of combat operations. The key contributions made by the members of the Military Intelligence Service in providing valuable intelligence on military targets helped advance the United States and Allied cause during World War II and undoubtedly saved countless lives and hastened the end of the war. The significant achievements accomplished by the faithful and dedicated service of the linguistic-intelligence specialist graduates of the Military Intelligence Service Language School, who formed the Military Intelligence Service will never be forgotten by our grateful Nation. Their unconquerable spirit and gallant deeds under fire in the face of superior odds, and their self-sacrificing devotion to duty are worthy of the highest emulation.

On April 3, 2000, Secretary of the Army, Louis Caldera, awarded the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to the MILITARY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE for “EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM IN MILITARY OPERATIONS AGAINST AN ARMED ENEMY, 1 May 1942 to 2 September 1945.”

MIS Gopher Mascot

A Gopher wearing an Indian headdress was designed as the MIS Language School mascot.  It was designed in 1943 by MIS student, Chris Ishii, who was a Disney Studio animator before the war. At the time, the Language School was located at Camp Savage, Minnesota, “The Gopher State.”

Chris Ishii is acknowledged as a MIS volunteer from Amache in above picture.

Gopher medal donated to JARCC by Hason Yanaga.

This booklet contains pertinent information about the MIS and the autobiographies of the Colorado veterans listed in the chart above.

It is the result of several years of research, but, one that recorded these stories for this unique period of historyI

This booklet is available for purchase through the JARCC office ( for $25 (includes Shipping and Handling)

Initial printing 1986; Re-print July 2002