Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County

Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. April 28, 1944. p. 3


SAN FRANCISCO, (Special) --Although Japanese-Americans are employed as interpreters in the Pacific theaters of war, the war department will not use nisei as combat soldiers against Japanese armies, declares Lt. Col. Harrison A. Gerhardt, general staff corps executive to the assistant secretary of war.

Col. Gerhardt's statement was sent to the War Relocation authority in answer to many requests of Japanese American selectees who wanted to be assigned to the Pacific war zone.

"The use of Japanese-Americans in specific units is not based upon any discrimination policy," states Col. Gerhardt.

"The assignment of personnel in the armed forces is based upon military considerations and not upon racial derivations.

"The war department does not consider it advisable to utilize Japanese-Americans in the Pacific theater of operations. If a Japanese American unit were present in combat in the Pacific, it would be possible for the enemy Japanese to secure American uniforms from dead soldiers and mingle with American Japanese units, thereby causing considerable confusion and increasing hazards of enemy infiltration. Should this occur it would jeopardize the American-Japanese soldier inasmuch as his facial characteristics make it difficult to distinguish him from the enemy infiltrator.

"Again, if a Japanese-American were captured in the Pacific, it is felt that retaliation measures taken by the Japanese would be in the form of extreme torture, since it seems apparent from past Japanese actions that such individuals might not be considered as prisoners of war."

For the reason that the Japanese-Americans cannot be sent to the Pacific theater it is necessary to keep them in units, said Col. Gerhardt.

"If they were generally assigned to all units it would then be necessary to screen units which are to be employed in the Pacific theater before such a unit could be shipped," the colonel explained. Such a screening "would result in disrupting the efficient operation of the combat unit by removing, in an advanced state of training, personnel from the organization.

"Since it is impossible to forecast, at the time an organization begins its training, in which theater of operations that particular unit will be used, it would be uneconomical to assign Japanese-Americans under a general assignment policy. It has therefore been deemed advisable to utilize this group in a homogeneous combat organization.

"Certain Japanese-Americans have been employed as interpreters in the Pacific theaters, but this use has been made of Japanese-American personnel with the full realization of the war department of the risks involved to these individuals."

More than 10,000 Japanese-Americans are already in the armed services with approximately 1000 more now being processed by Selective Service from the 10 relocation centers under the jurisdiction of the WRA.

Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.