This week on The Historians Podcast, Bruce Henderson, author of Bridge to the Sun: the Secret Role of the Japanese Americans Who Fought in the Pacific in World War II (A. A. Knopf, 2022).
The book relates the tale of courage and adventure of sons and soldiers who fought in the Pacific theater in Burma, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, while their families back home in America were held behind barbed wire in government internment camps.
After Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military was desperate to find Americans who spoke Japanese to serve in the Second World War in the Pacific. They soon turned to the Nisei — first-generation U.S. citizens whose parents were immigrants from Japan. Eager to prove their loyalty to America, several thousand Nisei — many of them volunteering from the internment camps—were selected by the Army for top-secret training, then rushed to the Pacific theater.
Highly valued as expert translators and interrogators, these Japanese American soldiers operated in elite intelligence teams alongside Army infantrymen and Marines on the front lines of the Pacific, from Iwo Jima to Burma, from the Solomons to Okinawa.
After the war, these soldiers became translators and interrogators for war crime trials, and later helped rebuild Japan as a modern democracy and a pivotal U.S. ally.
You can listen to the podcast here.
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