Translators in Combat

Many graduates of the MISLS found themselves in active combat duty, serving as translators and interrogators. The following is an excerpt from an interview with WWII veteran James T. Kai who served as a combat translator in Palau Islands from 1944-45. Also included are selections from the Fort Snelling Bulletin, the post newspaper printed for the garrison at Fort Snelling. Think of the following as you read the reminiscence, look at the newspaper headlines, and watch the video:

  • How would you describe the experience of James Kai?
  • What do you think was the most difficult for him and other combat translators?

We landed on Angaur Island which is part of the Palau Group on the 17th and have had a lot of experiences. This island is known for their phosphate and it certainly is hard to dig a fox hole. It is just like trying to dig in cement.  There are lots of ants, crabs and worms that is [sic] nearly as large as snakes (no bull) and they are always crawling all over us and we spend half the night knocking them off of us. All in all I enjoy this life because for the first time since getting in the Army, I feel as if I'm doing anything.

We have had 5 prisoners so far and hell-uv-a-lot of papers and documents.

The first day we landed, I talked in a cave where they thought there were some enemies. I finally got one out and he said all the rest were dead. I creeped and the cave and sure enough there were about 20 all dead.  Some had held grenades to their belly, etc. so it was quite a mess and it stunk. The prisoner was a corporal which incidentally is the highest ranked prisoner we have. He was wounded so we couldn't get too much out of him.


St. Paul Sunday pioneer press. (Saint Paul, Minn.) December 7, 1941. Page 1.


St. Paul pioneer press. (Saint Paul, Minn.) April 2, 1945. Page 1.


The Fort Snelling bulletin. [Garrison of Fort Snelling]. November 25, 1944. Page 1.


The Fort Snelling bulletin. [Garrison of Fort Snelling]. November 25, 1944. Page 3.


The Fort Snelling bulletin. [Garrison of Fort Snelling]. October 28,1944. Page 3.


Fort Snelling Classroom Project: Interview with Edwin Nakasone, Clip 2

The Starvation Study Medical Care at Fort Snelling Minnesota Home Front Induction Military Intelligence Service Language School