• Kyodo

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The U.S. Army on Friday presented the Presidential Unit Citation to a World War II unit composed of Japanese-American soldiers who provided critical intelligence support during the war.

Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, army chief of staff, presented the award to former members of the Military Intelligence Service at a ceremony in Monterey, Calif., the army said.

“The Presidential Unit Citation is the best way we can honor the thousands of MIS members who served with rare skill and courage in World War II, but whose wartime contributions have never received appropriate credit because their services were cloaked in secrecy,” Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera said in a statement.

In November 1941, the War Department established a language school within the MIS, which eventually trained more than 6,000 linguists, most of whom were Japanese-American.

These Japanese-Americans were assigned to U.S. combat units throughout the world, primarily in the Pacific theater, supporting U.S. forces with interpretation, translation and interrogation skills.

Information provided by the MIS enabled U.S. forces to shoot down hundreds of Japanese aircraft during the Battle of the Philippines Sea, the Army said.

The unit was also engaged in translating documents for the Manhattan Project, a U.S. program to develop an atomic bomb, it said.

Maj. Gen. Charles Willouby, Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s chief of staff for intelligence, said the MIS’s contributions “saved countless lives and shortened the war by two years.”

Despite their contributions to the Allied victory in World War II, members of the MIS were formerly ineligible for unit decorations because they were attached to other units and the MIS was never deployed as a unit.

In November 1997, Congress passed legislation that permitted the Army to consider the MIS for a unit decoration.

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