4-124 To Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons, October 7, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: October 7, 1943

Subject: World War II

To Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons1

October 7, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]


Dear Emmons:

This letter is for your eyes only and the discussion is to be entirely personal between the two of us.

Yesterday Senator Hayden of Arizona telephoned me.2 He queried regarding the interned Japanese in Arizona. His proposition was this:

The concentration of Japanese on the West Coast has always presented a very serious problem because of their low standard of living and the inevitable pressure on white competitors. He is hopeful that something can be done to break this concentration and more or less scatter these people.

Senator Hayden wished to know if the reception of Japanese into the Army had progressed to the point where we felt it permissible to proceed with the induction of those who have been screened for possible disloyal traits. He referred to the fact that bad actors had been largely eliminated from Arizona concentration camps and transferred to northern California.3 He also mentioned the fact that we had Japanese troops fighting in Italy and a large number training in Alabama.4

General McNarney tells me that the present force has been built up entirely on a volunteer basis and that all who would volunteer have been taken. We have sent radios to General Eisenhower to get an exact statement of the conduct of the Japanese battalion that is now in contact with the enemy.5 If these troops have proved to be battleworthy, that is, will advance, attack, submit to losses, and still go ahead, the question then is, can we somewhat change our approach to the Japanese U.S. citizenship male problem in this country. Might we induct, should we try another recruiting campaign for volunteers, etc., etc. Please give me your frank appraisal of the situation, assuming that General Eisenhower reports that the Japanese battalion in Italy has demonstrated its willingness to fight under our flag.6

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. In September, Emmons had succeeded John L. De Witt as commander of the Western Defense Command, with headquarters in San Francisco.

2. Carl Hayden, Arizona’s senior senator, was the third-ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.

3. The internment camp at Tule Lake, California (near the Oregon border), had become a segregation center for those judged to be disloyal to the United States, although such persons were a minority of the camp’s population. (Roger Daniels, Concentration Camps USA: Japanese Americans and World War II [New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971], p. 114.)

4. The One Hundredth Battalion (Nisei) had been organized in June 1942 from the thirteen hundred Japanese-American members of the Hawaiian National Guard who had been sent to Oakland, California. The battalion arrived in North Africa in early September 1943. The 442d Combat Team (which was composed of the 442d Infantry Regiment, the 522d Field Artillery Battalion, and the 232d Engineer Combat Company) was activated on February 1, 1943, at Camp Shelby, Mississippi; the team was composed mainly of Japanese Americans who had volunteered for service. At the time Marshall wrote his letter, many of the Infantry troops were on temporary duty in Alabama, guarding German prisoners.

5. The One Hundredth Battalion had been attached to the Thirty-Fourth Infantry Division and was fighting on the upper Volturno River north of Naples. Mark Clark replied for Eisenhower that the unit was very efficient and that the other troops had accepted them with confidence and friendliness because of the battalion’s good behavior and friendliness. (Clark to Marshall, October 10, 1943, In Log, p. 90, NA/RG 165 [OPD, Message Log].)

6. “My personal reaction as a citizen,” Emmons replied, “is that a proportion of our citizens of Japanese ancestry are loyal and are anxious to prove their right to citizenship by service in the armed forces.” He recommended that the army initiate a recruitment campaign among Japanese Americans, that the draft not be used to procure personnel, but that “if the response is not satisfactory or if other circumstances make it wise, we induct a substantial number of citizens of Japanese descent in the Army for duty in organizations such as labor battalions.” (Emmons to Marshall, October 11, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 014.311].) In November the War Department issued instructions to accept Japanese-American citizens who volunteered for service and were cleared by a loyalty check.

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 146-147.

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