The Interpreter

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The US Navy Japanese/Oriental Language School Archival Project

The Interpreter

Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries

Number 180 Remember September 11, 2001 February 1, 2013

Our Mission

In the Spring of 2000, the Archives continued the origi­nal efforts of Captain Roger Pineau and William Hudson, and the Archives first at­tempts in 1992, to gather the papers, letters, photographs, and records of graduates of the US Navy Japanese/ Oriental Language School, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1942-1946. We assemble these papers in recognition of the contribu­tions made by JLS/OLS instructors and graduates to the War effort in the Pa­cific and the Cold War, to the creation of East Asian language programs across the country, and to the development of Japanese-American cultural rec­onciliation programs after World War II.


Of Ari Inouye
(Cont’d) How fortunate and blessed I was to be able to spend most of my working years on campus. I was able to come in contact with so many wonderful people, both academic and non-academic. I cannot thank all the architects and engineers, all the persons in different crafts, enough for all their help to make my task easier. The two supervising gardeners, Tony Scallo and John Laschatz, were so cooperative and helpful. They have both passed away, but as long as I live I will always remember them, not only as faithful workers but as cherished friends.

When I retired in 1979, I was given a large retirement party at the Alumni House on campus in the Alumni House Garden that I was able to design as a consultant during the five years after I retired. I was hardly deserving of such an event. About 150 family members and friends came to this occasion. To be so honored was indeed a memorable moment in my life.

If I have accomplished anything worthwhile in my lifetime, I owe it all to Ida, my “one in a million” wife and soul mate. She has persevered with me through our difficult times and has rejoiced and shared the many blessings we have received. She took wonderful care of my parents, three boys, David, Stan, and Marty, and our daughter, Arlene. All four of our children are college graduates, two have earned Master’s degrees; our daughter, two Master’s degrees and a Doctorate; the other two have taught classes at the university level, one has been an Adjunct Professor at a seminary; all are now busily engaged in their respective callings. We have six grandchildren, all of whom have graduated from college, as well. Our youngest grandchild, a granddaughter, is now attending Harvard Law School.

Our son David, who retired in 2009, was the Senior Landscape Architect at the University of California at Santa Barbara where he resides with his wife Jan; they have three sons and three grandchildren, making us great grandparents. Stan, his wife Janie, and their daughter live in Altadena; unfortunately, their second daughter passed away at 17 in 2002 as the result of a very serious lifelong disease. Stan is the founder and president of Iwa, a parachurch ministry that provides consultation and resources to churches and Christian leaders.

Our third son, Martin is a Principal of Omni-Means, an engineering firm; he and his wife live in Roseville, where they raised two children, a son and a daughter. Our daughter, Arlene makes her home in Arcadia; She advises doctoral students at Fuller Theological Seminary in nearby Pasadena. She is also one of the founders of ArborSpring, a parachurch ministry of prayer, healing and equipping.

Today Ida and I live in Roseville, California, just north of Sacramento, California, a two-hour drive from our Berkeley home. Marty and Debbie invited us to live near them, and after much thought, we decided to do so. It was clearly evident that we could not live much longer in our Berkeley home. The other family members have also welcomed us to live with them, but we prefer living in northern California. (to be cont’d)

Ari Inouye

USN JLS Sensei


Stanley H. Kapner

JLS 1943

Stanley Kapner, Pineau, 20_06_11

_06, AUCBL.
KAPNER— Stanley H., died on September 6, 2009 at age 90. He retired as Director of Public Affairs at Time Inc. in 1979. Previously, he was the company's chief public affairs officer in the United Kingdom. A Magna cum Laude graduate of Harvard College (1940), Kapner immediately began writing film documentaries in Los Angeles. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, held the rank of Ensign after completing Japanese Language School, and saw action in the Pacific Theater. He was a freelance writer in Paris prior to joining Time in 1955. He is survived by Catherine Segal Kapner, his wife of 57 years; a daughter-in-law, Paola; two granddaughters, Julia and Sveva, of Milan; and a niece, Karen K. Hyman, of Illinois. His son Frederic, a journalist, predeceased him in 2005. An excellent speechwriter, as well as author of plays and short fiction, Kapner was a mentor to many who benefited from his precise editorial eye. A memorial service is being planned.

New York Times

Paid Death Notices

September 9, 2009


Stan Kapner Reprise
I'm sorry to report that my dear friend Stan Kapner, JLS 1943, died on September 6 a few days before his 91st birthday. We first met in Boulder in the summer of 1942, and although after graduation he went to Hawaii and saw action in the Pacific while I was sent to Washington, we resumed our friendship after the war and it lasted for 67 years.
You may want to take a look at what I wrote for The Interpreter several years ago about Stan and me as co-authors of the book for the musical comedy we put on in the spring of 1943 [Issues #43, April 15, 2002 and #71A, January 15, 2004], and about his postwar residence in Paris, where he met and married his charming French girlfriend, Catherine.  The obit describes his important work for Time, Inc. after he came home to the States in the early 1950s until he retired in 1979.

Gene Sosin

JLS 1943

Response to Query

on Ira A. Watson
In The Interpreter # 139B (September 1, 2009) I noticed a request for information from Alexa Watson about JLS veteran Ira A. Watson. In my husband, Albert Weissberg's daily log [A.W. is now deceased] of his activities in the Pacific, I notice Ira's name occurs a number of times, with no details about his activities. I am copying this data with the hope that these stories will be of help to Alexa.

Ira was in Al's class at the Japanese Language School. I am not sure of the exact dates but I believe they started in January 1943 (actually December 18, 1942) and graduated about March 1944. They shipped out from San Francisco at the same time but I have no information when Ira came home.

I also have vague memories of a visit to the Watson family while we were on a visit to Washington, DC about 1950-1951. Al was attending graduate school at Syracuse U. and we were taking advantage of a short time in "the East" to see our national sights. We may have stayed overnight. I have recollections of a family with two or more small children (Alexa). Since we were travelling with a 14 mo. daughter and a 5 yr. son, we fitted right in.
Al Weissberg's notes regarding Ira Watson
5/24/44 USS Permanente from San Francisco to Honolulu

6/3/44 Pearl Harbor, probably translating documents

(I believe Al and Ira shared, with others accomodations in a BOQ at Pearl Harbor)

2/15/45 Left for Okinawa

5/19/45 stationed on Okinawa at 10th Army HQ

8/4/45 Preparing to leave Okinawa

8/27/45 on Saipan

11/2/45-11/29/45 Tokyo. This is the last entry I find for Ira Watson. Al left Tokyo on 11/30/45 aboard the Ancon for San Francisco, but does not mention Ira.

Muriel W. Weissberg

Redding, CA

The Reminiscences

of Donald Sigurdson Willis

[Donald S. Willis passed in 2009. This is an excerpt of a longer memoir.]
[Language School was more civilian than Navy, so I’m separating this period from IX]

The Navy Chapter (1943-45)

My orders were to take leave (I think it was a week), and then report to a place in California (secret) for further training. I should mention that 90% of the graduates were translators (of the written language – after all, that’s what the school emphasized). But (so far as I could tell arbitrarily) 10% or less were chosen to be interrogators, i.e., to use the SPOKEN language! This we were not very well prepared to do, so further instruction was called for [seems the Navy could have found a use for those Japanese speaking BIJs that they had washed out, or would that have been too efficient].

It took many years for me to mention in public the name of this “secret” place, so thoroughly had we been indoctrinated in the ways of intelligence officers [now declassified and records from this operation are now available, even to Japanese journalists]; it was Byron Hot Springs, near Tracy, in the San Joaquin Valley. This resort hotel had been coverted into a large interrogation center for prisoners of war: German, Italian, and now that the Attu battle in Alaska had been fought, Japanese as well. It was here that I would receive training and practice in interrogation for six weeks or so. Secrecy was necessary because, in contravention of the Geneva Convention, all the cells were bugged.

Our leave was spent visiting my family and relatives in the Northwest, including a stay at Seaside, where MJ got her first glimpse of the ocean. A Japanese submarine had recently popped up near Fort Stevens, and had fired a few hostile rounds in its general direction, and my uncle Henry showed us a shell fragment lodged in a tree not far from his house. (He had a muskrat fur farm outside of town). Margaret Ann’s husband, Dee, had a job in the Army involving the use of a fast patrol speedboat, and gave us a fabulous ride on the Columbia River (we worried a little bit about the pounding, because MJ was now “with child”).

We rented rooms in a house in Tracy (we were there from July 22 to September 3), and I don’t remember a day during the six weeks that it didn’t hit a hundred degrees Fahrenheit or more – the air conditioner was a noisy blessing!

We managed to go to San Francisco a few times during this period and usually got a room at the Stewart Hotel in the heart of town. We took advantage of some of the amenities, including a concert at Stern’s Grove in Golden Gate Park (“O Mio Tesoro”, from Don Giovanni). We also had a few gourmet dinners at various restaurants.

We interrogators were housed in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel while we waited for transportation to our next duty assignment [COM 3rd FLT—“Commander of the Third Fleet” Admiral W.F. Halsey, located at COM SO PAC – “Commander of the South Pacific (War Theater)” i.e. Nouméa, New Caledonia]. MJ went home to Hibbing to live with her folks until I came back, whenever that might be.

After a couple of weeks, we were all put aboard a sort of “Navy Express” train and followed the Southern Pacific-Santa Fe railroad routes through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, to New Orleans, where, it turned out, we were to wait until our transportation – LSTs (“Landing Ship, Tank”) built in places close to the Mississippi River – floated down to us. We were in the Roosevelt Hotel, I think it was, very near the Old Quarter, and we went to Antoine’s and the Three Sisters (?) [Likely the Court of Two Sisters, I ate there in 1974 - it’s been around for quite a long time], posh restaurants. We really lived it up during the two weeks or so we were there.

Sure enough! Our LST (No. 245) arrived in early October, and we were assigned to our cabins, and each given a list of enlisted men. For whom we would be responsible during the voyage – about twenty or so each. The final stages of construction were still in progress when we arrived, so we made ourselves as scarce as we could while the various systems – electrical and mechanical – were installed, and the camouflage paint was applied [I am certain JLOs would have been of little use at the time].

At last it was time to spend a couple days sailing up and down the river, calibrating various navigational equipment, join up with a large convoy of all kinds of ships, and leave. That night, the convoy split – one group headed for the Atlantic Coast, and the other continued into the Caribbean. We had “General Quarters” that night, and could see flashes and hear explosions while the first group tried to fight off German submarine attacks, while we continued to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

A hurricane blew up during the three days we were there, and we lost a small motor-boat (LCVP). At this point we left our part of the convoy, and formed a small flotilla of our own, composed of three LSTs and a yard tug! Next stop: Colón, Panama, for a couple or three days before threading our way through the Canal to the Pacific side. I got MJ some gifts at the base, including a bottle of Chanel No. 5, which I had never even heard of before I became an officer and a gentleman – some contrast to the old days in Seattle! Lionel Casson [see Issue #178] (our class valedictorian – assistant professor of Classics in NY University before joining the Navy) and I resumed our handball competition (we were tied in games before I got married) at Coco Solo Naval Base. We had a pleasant trip through the Canal, and stayed in Panama City for a few days until heading out across the broad Pacific, unescorted!

It was our longest reach, from Panama to Bora Bora (“the most beautiful island in the world”) in the French Society Islands. We crossed the equator November 12th, and had the traditional initiation of Pollywogs (those crossing for the first time) by the Shellbacks (those who had, and these were exceedingly few aboard the USS LST 245)! (I heard that the only person in the crew who had been outside the United States was Captain McCabe himself).

LST 241 in Convoy (couldn’t find LST 245 on the web), at sea.

My summons from Davy Jones, Secretary to his Majesty Neptunus Rex, read as follows: “You are charged with the offense of impersonating a tourist on the high seas.” (It is true that I took advantage of the non-Navy circumstances aboard [for non-command Navy JLOs, I suspect] to dress in a casual civilian way), and was sentenced to two hours in the bow with two Coke bottles taped together (my lookout binoculars), and I think we were dunked in the LCT we carried amidships on the main deck, which had been filled with water.

A far more severe punishment, for me at least, was to endure day after day, x number of times a day, seven days a week, from October 8 to December 18, 1943, “You had plenty of money back in ’22, but then somebody made a fool of you, why don’t you do it right like some other men do-o: get out of here an’ get me some money too?”, and maybe a half dozen other recordings the ship’s musical library had. There was no way of escaping it – the loudspeakers were everywhere! No one could ignore “Sweepers, man your brooms! Clean sweepdown fore and aft!” or “Smoking lamp is now lit”, and similar messages.

Ensigns Casson and Willis, lacking handball competition, engaged each other for hours at a time, trying to stump each other by humming or whistling snatches of music for the other to identify, all the while sucking down lungfulls of diesel exhaust smoke pouring out of the ports just below us.

It is probably an exaggeration, but it seems to me that one of the three LSTs was broken down at any given time, and I have a mental picture of the four vessels bobbing aimlessly on the surface of the indigo sea. I learned that an LST has only a 15' draft, which means that it would have been difficult to get a torpedo to run effectively so close to the surface. And the absence of armed escort vessels was proof of how we dominated the skies. The shallow draft also meant that in heavy seas we rolled a lot.

I had been deathly seasick in Oregon, running crab pots along the beach just outside the breakers that I brought up a large quantity of seasick remedy and carried it with me aboard ship. I ended up giving it away, since I now seemed immune, and thousands of miles at sea later, I still have never been seasick since the 1930s!

I happened to be on watch at dawn when we raised Bora Bora. We were there for three idyllic days – a truly unforgettable experience! Then came American Samoa (Pago Pago) with three days of virtually unlimited shore leave (talk about a Cook’s Tour! [definition: a guided but cursory tour of the major features of a place or area. Origin: 1905–10; after Thomas Cook (1808–92), English travel agent]).

Two memories of Samoa stand out: the first involves a group of us paying the chief a visit in his fala (thatched house). His wife was also impressive, and then came their teenage daughter, who sang “You are my Sunshine” in Samoan to the accompaniment of her guitar. A Navy car came up, a Petty Officer came inside and conferred with the chief, and shortly afterward the girl left in the car.

The second experience involved a walk and a visit to a church (it had no roof, nor did it have windows or doors), inside, divided into two equally-sized groups were the Samoans, men and women. Their leader beat his huge bare foot on the ground (no floor either), and suddenly the most glorious polyphonic music I have ever heard (or am I exaggerating again?) burst forth. It was truly impressive.

The last stop was Suva, Fiji, our first Melanesian island. There were a lot of East Indians there, and I got MJ some silver jewelry there.

LST 224 (Couldn’t find LST 245 on the web)
On December 18, 72 days after we had boarded our LST, we arrived at Nouméa. Not long before, an ammunition ship had blown up in the harbor. Our home ashore was out a distance in a section of the city known as Anse Vata, and was a Quonset hut. We generally walked through the town (which featured the corrugated iron buildings so prominent inn that part of the world) to the former French Army HQ building which was COMSOPAC HQ. The beautiful tropical flowers, Frangipani, Hibiscus, etc., filled the eye with color. [LST – 245 was laid down on 7 May 1943 at Evansville, Ind., by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co.; launched on 17 July 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Conrad L. Walker; and commissioned on 22 August 1943, Lt. Matthew J. McCabe, USNR, in command. During World War II, LST-245 was assigned to the Asiatic- Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: Saidor occupation-January and February 1944 Bismarck Archipelago operation: (a) Cape Gloucester, New Britain-February 1944 (b) Admiralty Islands landings-March 1944 Hollandia operation-April and May 1944 Western New Guinea operations: (a) Toem-Wakde-Sarmi area operation-May 1944 (b) Biak Island operation-June 1944 (c) Noemfoor Island operation-July 1944 (d) Cape Sansapor operation-July and August 1944 (e) Morotai landings-September 1944 Leyte landings-October and November 1944 Lingayen Gulf landing-January 1945 Mindanao Island landings-April 1945 Balikpapan operation-June and July 1945 LST-245 was decommissioned on 1. April 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 8 May 1946. On 15 April 1948, she was transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal. LST-245 earned eight battle stars for World War II service.] (to be cont’d)
Donald S. Willis

JLS 1943


Thomas C. Smith

Ford Professor of History, Emeritus


[The first obit was much shorter] Thomas C. Smith [JLS 1944], Ford Professor of History, Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, died in his sleep on April 3, 2004 in Danville, California. He was 87 years old.

Smith was a distinguished historian of early modern and modern Japan; indeed, writes Kenneth B. Pyle of the University of Washington, a former student of Smith, “the Western world has produced no finer historian of Japan.” In four major books, Political Change and Industrial Development: Government Enterprise, 1868-1880 (1955), The Agrarian Origins of Modern Japan (1959), Nakahara: Family Farming and Population in a Japanese Village, 1717-1830 (1977), and Native Sources of Japanese Industrialization, 1750-1920 (1988), Smith changed our understanding of the trajectory of Japanese economic development and social change in the early modern and modern eras. His conclusions were often quite striking, as he argued against what had become the accepted wisdom. In The Agrarian Origins of Modern Japan, for example, he ascribed a major role in the shaping of Japan’s modernization to the gradual evolution of the Tokugawa agrarian economy (1600-1868), the change in the village from subsistence production to production for the market, and the transformation of family farming. As Kenneth Pyle observes: “his research and writing are critical to our understanding of how it was that the Japanese became the first non-Western people to achieve an industrial society.” What was often crucial to Smith’s historiography was his willingness to write as a comparative historian; often, in fact, his explorations in Japanese history suggested the necessity of reexamining the assumed universality of the western mode of industrialization. Yet at the same time, Smith’s work could confirm such universality, but one more broadly conceived. Thus it was, as Smith’s colleague Irwin Scheiner recalls, that the Princeton University historian Arno Mayer used to assign Smith’s Agrarian Origins to his classes in European history in order to explain best the transition to modernity.

Smith’s books and articles ranged over a wide area of Japanese history, from the 17th through the 20th centuries, and his analytical contributions spanned an extraordinarily diverse set of problems in Japan’s social and economic history: they included a micro-study of the techniques of population limitation and sex-selective infanticide in a single village in the Tokugawa period, an examination of the seeming paradox in which the samurai aristocratic caste led a revolution to oust itself from power, and the apparent historical anomaly in which early modern economic development in Japan took place in the countryside rather than in urban areas (the assumed site of development in most studies of the western historical experience). As Osamu Saito of Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, notes, in addressing this broad range of issues, Smith marshalled an “amazingly wide range of methodologies,” and with singular effectiveness “brought the covert structure of the past to light.”

Smith’s skills as a historical craftsman are legendary, and attested by generations of former students, colleagues, and scholars. Mary Elizabeth Berry, another of Smith’s Berkeley colleagues, describes his published work as “unrivalled in our field and as close to immortal as scholarship gets. The hallmarks of his style are economy, diamond-cutting words in otherwise quiet sentences, and a magisterial union of evidence and argument.” Mario Oshima, an economic historian of Japan and translator of Smith’s Native Sources, captures well Smith’s distinctiveness as a historian when he notes “the coexistence in his work of quantitative, highly statistical analysis with a warm eye for ordinary people.”

Born in Windsor, Colorado, Thomas Smith was raised in Santa Barbara, California from the age of 12. He graduated from Santa Barbara State College and received his master’s degree in French history from UC Berkeley. He began pursuing a doctoral degree in French history at Berkeley, but when World War II broke out, he enrolled in the U.S. Navy language school in Boulder, Colorado.

After a year at the language school he was assigned to serve as a Japanese language officer with the Fourth Marine Division. He, with a dozen or so other graduates of the school, interviewed prisoners, translated maps and enemy documents and collected the code books Japanese troops had left behind. (to be cont’d)

Irwin Scheiner

Andrew E. Barshay

Mary Elizabeth Berry
[Ed. Note: I included this far superior obituary of Professor Smith for his fellow Marine JLOs, who remembered him fondly in 2004 and 2005..]

Leslie Fiedler's Literary Criticism Broke Ground
Leslie Fiedler, a literary critic and professor of American literature who explored themes of race and male bonding in such American literary classics as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville and "The Last of the Mohicans" by James Fenimore Cooper, died Wednesday at home [in February 2003] in Buffalo, N.Y. He was 85 and suffered from Parkinson's disease.

Mr. Fiedler's pronouncements were inspiring to some, offensive to others — particularly his fellow literary critics.

He burst on the scene in 1948 with "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey," an essay that focused on the interracial friendship between Huck, a teenage white boy, and Jim, an older black slave, that Mr. Fiedler saw as central to the Mark Twain novel.

The essay first appeared in the Partisan Review magazine, and Mr. Fiedler expanded on its theme 11 years later in "Love and Death in the American Novel."

Reviewers took sides, for and against Mr. Fiedler's revisionist reading of several classics. Some called him "a serious clown." Most preferred "incorrigible rascal." One accused him of "fouling the American nest."

Despite the furor Mr. Fiedler precipitated, his views on sex and race in American storytelling became "common wisdom," his biographer, Mark Royen Winchell, told the Los Angeles Times last week.

"Fiedler's influence is so diffuse it is no longer even recognized as his," said Winchell, whose book "Too Good To Be True, The Life and Work of Leslie Fiedler," was published last year.

"Before Fiedler, hardly any literary critics discussed race and sexuality in American literature. Since him, they talk about hardly anything else," Winchell said.

Mr. Fiedler was born in Newark, N.J., and graduated from New York University. He went on to the University of Wisconsin and Harvard University for graduate degrees.

"Fiedler's Freudian orientation and strong-arm tactics are unfailingly evocative and illuminating," wrote a critic for Commonweal magazine in 1960. "You'll quarrel with him on every page, but that new light is there."

Jameson [Michael H.] and Les Fiedler in mist atop Nu'uanu Pali, Hawaii, 1945. Pineau, 10_12_00_12 AUCBL.
As a college student, he referred to himself as an anti-communist Trotskyite. Yet, when World War II broke out, he enlisted in the Navy. He was sent to the Naval Japanese Language School in Colorado [JLS 1944] and served as an interpreter in Iwo Jima, China and Okinawa.

After his military service he returned to the faculty of the University of Montana. He was appointed chairman of the English Department and also became director of humanities studies during his 23 years on the faculty.

Several of his early essays explored the theme of assimilation in Jewish American literature, a topic close to him and several of his friends who were up-and-coming Jewish American authors at the time. Among them were Bernard Malamud and Saul Bellow.

"More than anything, Mr. Fiedler was a '50s Jewish intellectual who claimed this country as his own, just as Philip Roth and Norman Mailer did," said Greil Marcus, a critic based in Northern California.

In Montana, Mr. Fiedler brought his literary heroes to campus. William Faulkner, the reigning Southern novelist, was "terrible" as a lecturer to the general public but "great" in the classroom setting, Mr. Fiedler told Salon magazine in an interview that appeared last month.

In 1964, Mr. Fiedler left Montana to join the faculty of the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he spent the rest of his life on the English faculty. He brought beat-poet Allen Ginsberg to campus and regaled students with his stories about meeting Ernest Hemingway in Ketchum, Idaho.

In 1995, a devastating fire destroyed Mr. Fiedler's home library of some 5,000 books. Losses included a signed copy of his friend Bernard Malamud's "The Natural," a first edition of James Joyce's "Ulysses" and original bound galleys of Joseph Heller's "Catch 22."

Mr. Fiedler is survived by his second wife, Sally; six children from his first marriage; two stepchildren; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

By Mary Rourke

Los Angeles Times

February 2, 2003
[Ed. Note: I know that I posted the NYT obituary of Professor Fiedler, but the LA Times obit, that I found recently, was substantially different. So for those who recall him, I thought I would include this version, as well, along with a photo from the Pineau Collection.]


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