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"He looked at me in the eye and he said, 'You're a traitor.'" (Video Interview, Part 2, 31:40)

   Grant Jiro Hirabayashi
Image of Grant Jiro Hirabayashi
Grant Hirabayashi, Chungking, China [March 1945]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 5307 Composite Unit Provisional (Merrill's Marauders)
Service Location: Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Camp Savage, Minnesota; Bombay, India; China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater
Rank: Technical Sergeant
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The famed commandos of Merrill's Marauders, a unit of soldiers who slogged their way through the Burmese jungles to overcome the Japanese occupiers, consisted of a number of Japanese American, or Nisei. They served in both intelligence and combat capacities, translating captured documents and fighting where needed. Grant Hirabayashi was among these men, and he had to fend off not only the usual assortment of jungle-bred ailments such as dysentery and malaria, but also an allergy to the preservatives used in K-rations. Hirabayashi would later serve in India and China; in the late days of the war, he interrogated Japanese POWs, one of whom accused him of betraying his people.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (12 clips)
»Part 1 | Part 2  (114 min.)
»Transcript
  Photos
»Photo Album (5 photos)
 Other Materials
»View List (2 items)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (12 items)
On December 7, 1941, already in the Army, expecting a visit from his parents; they were eventually moved to a relocation camp at Heart Mountain, WY. (01:32) Curriculum at Camp Savage, Minnesota, where he was assigned to the Military Intelligence Service Language School. (01:52) How he came to serve in Merrill's Marauders; only 14 men selected from 200 volunteers; to Bombay, India via San Francisco, New Guinea, and Australia; composition of the Marauders and origin of their nickname. (07:42)
Unit's mission, to re-establish the supply line to China through Burma; fighting against heavy odds. (03:17) Contact with the enemy on their 700-mile, 87-day march through Burma; depletion of the troops during the march; awareness in the high command of the troops' conditions. (04:25) Unable to swim, crossing a river and keeping his dictionary and maps dry, while a sniper fired at him. (01:20)
Nisei soldiers trying to sneak up on the Japanese to overhear their strategy sessions; how one soldier's report turned a surprise enemy attack into an American ambush. (04:05) Marauders disbanded in August 1944; Hirabayashi to India, and then moves on to China; learning of Japanese plans for a tiny bomb with enormous destruction power, but his report to his superiors was dismissed; translator at surrender ceremonies. (06:50) Relations with Japanese POWs; one officer calling him a traitor but later relenting and providing valuable information. (05:01)
After March 1944 air crash which killed Admiral Koga, Nisei soldiers translated documents picked up by Filipino guerrillas which contained master plan of attack on U.S. fleet; accolades for the Nisei effort by U.S. commanders. (06:27) Nisei facilitating postwar occupation of Japan; his own role as a translator and interpreter in a military tribunal held in Yokohama. (03:33) His most valued award: the Combat Infantryman's Badge: it showed that he survived because he had good comrades; one of three Nisei in the Ranger Hall of Fame at Ft. Benning, GA. (01:12)
  
 Other Materials (2 items)
Speech, "Japanese Americans at War in the CBI" Merril's Marauder's Association Speech 
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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