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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 16, 2002

'Courage' sheds light on wartime dilemma

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

"Uncommon Courage," airing tonight on Hawai'i Public Television, is a wartime documentary on Japanese American soldiers, many with Hawai'i ties. It explores the loyalty and courage of the Nisei recruits and officers who served with the Military Intelligence Service while their families and friends were incarcerated by the very government for which they were battling to uphold freedom.

'Uncommon Courage'

8 tonight


The MIS was a vital wing whose members served in the Pacific Theater and worked as interrogators of the Japanese prisoners. They translated diaries and documents, infiltrated enemy lines, flushed out enemy caves and served as linguists for the wartime effort. Yet they were snarled in a moral dilemma, serving the nation with dedication and loyalty while their kinfolk or friends were imprisoned because of race.

"We're not fighting our fatherland," says retired Maj. George Kanegai, who was in the MIS from 1941 to 1945 and remained with the Army through 1962. "We're fighting the Japanese ... the enemy of the U.S."

Narrated by ex-Islander Ken Kashiwahara, a former ABC News correspondent, "Uncommon Courage" repeatedly depicts Nisei linguist soldiers, born in America of Japanese parents, who fought for the basic civil liberties that were invalidated by the United States when their families were routed to internment camps. In some instances, brothers fought brothers, because Japanese Americans in Hawai'i and the Mainland often had brothers who were Japanese citizens in Japan.