“Masao: A Nisei Soldier’s Secret and Heroic Role in World War II” by Sandra Vea is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
For 30 years, Masao Abe couldn’t speak of his secret and heroic role in the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during World War II as he fought on the front lines in the South Pacific. Vea interviewed him for three years, and after his death on Aug. 6, 2013, she continued researching the MIS for the next two years.
This book chronicles Abe’s life from the time he was born in San Bernardino in 1916. He was sent to Japan at the age of 7 and finished high school there. Shortly after graduation, he was sent back to the U.S. to work at his uncle’s grocery store but was drafted into the Army just three months before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
Eventually, Abe was sent to Camp Savage in Minnesota, home of the MIS Language School, to study Japanese military tactics and interrogation techniques. He was then assigned to the 81st Infantry, 321st Regiment and sent to the South Pacific, where his division was the first wave of U.S. soldiers to land at the Palauan island of Anguar.
The MIS soldiers were embedded in the Army and worked intelligence, but the American G.I.s didn’t really know who they were, so Abe had two bodyguards to protect him from the Japanese soldiers as well as his fellow American soldiers.
On the island of Pelelieu, Abe was on patrol to flush out Japanese soldiers but was shot by a Japanese sniper. This combat injury would earn him a Purple Heart and later, he was awarded three Bronze Stars for his involvement in combat battles and for meritorious service while on three islands in the South Pacific. He also received a Combat Infantry Badge and a Philippine Liberation Ribbon.
Decades after the war ended, Abe received the nation’s highest civilian honor for his service in the MIS – the Congressional Gold Medal.
A retired Seattle-based Pan American Airlines mechanic, Abe also worked in Hawaii, Guam and Alaska. He enjoyed world travel with his wife of 63 years, Doris, who preceded him in death. Leaving behind three sons, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, he was interred at National Memorial Military Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
“It is said that war is a means to political ends. Sandra Vea captures how innocent civilians and individual soldiers, like Masao Abe, were driven to have faith in the American dream, America’s democracy, and the hope that her system of justice would ultimately prevail,” said Lt. Col. Michael J. Yaguchi, USAF (retired), executive secretary and board member of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.
Bobby C. Blair, co-author of “Victory at Peleliu,” said, “Sandra Vea’s book is an interesting and long overdue history about the second-generation Japanese Americans that served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater during World War II. ‘Masao’ is about Masao Abe, a Nisei serving as an interpreter/translator soldier on the front lines with the 81st Infantry Division during the ferocious battles with the Japanese soldiers on Angaur and Peleliu. In addition, this book also describes the ordeals of Abe’s family living on the West Coast during the war years.”
The book is also available through special order from your local bookstore.