The National Japanese American Historical Society, a park partner since 1994, joined Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Presidio Trust and the Defense Language Institute of the U.S. Army at the historic Presidio Officers’ Club on November 14th to honor Nisei World War II veterans.
The event, attended by over 200 people, acknowledged the award of the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to the members of the Military Intelligence Service, and the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team. In attendance were two members of the first class of the Military Intelligence Service Language School – Thomas Sakamoto (U.S. Army, ret.) and Major Gene Uratsu (U.S. Army, ret.) – who trained for duty as battlefield translators and interrogators even as their families were being sent to internment camps in early 1942.
Craig Middleton, executive director of the Presidio Trust, and Rosalyn Tonai of the National Japanese American Historical Society announced the imminent signing of a partnership agreement between the historical society and the trust which would allow construction to commence on the establishment of a learning center at the former aircraft hangar that was the site of the nation’s first military language school almost 70 years ago.
The rehabilitated historic structure alongside scenic Crissy Field will be a centerpiece for interpretation of the military history in cooperation with the National Park Service. Col. Danial D. Pick, eommandant of the Defense Language Institute, recognized the significance the World War II language school on the Presidio as the birthplace of the institute, which still trains interpreters to serve on present day battlefields.
For more information contact Stephen A. Haller, historian, Golden Gate National Recreation Area at Stephen_haller@nps.gov.