James C. McNaughton Interview (denshovh-mjames-01-0003)
Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: James C. McNaughton Interview
Narrator: James C. McNaughton
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Monterey, California
Date: July 1, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-mjames-01-0003

JM: There's an interesting contrast between the language skills of most of the Nisei graduates of MIS Language School and the Caucasian graduates. Now remember, most of the Caucasian graduates had a one year introductory course at the University of Michigan before they went to Savage or Snelling, so if you really count their total training time they had eighteen months full time to learn the Japanese language. And yet when they went out into combat with the Nisei, who had only had their six months at Camp Savage, then the, it became clear how valuable the Nisei really were because in most cases the Nisei with just six months at Savage had much better language capability than the Caucasians. If the U.S. Army had flat out not used any Nisei we would've had to rely on a miniscule number of Caucasian language, Caucasian linguists of much less proficiency in the Japanese language, and we would've had to resort to what were the navy and Marine tactics, which was just bombs and flamethrowers until you kill 'em all, and that is a very, it sounds crude, but that's an inefficient way to win a battle, is just bombs and flamethrowers. The efficient way to win a battle is you find out as much as you can before you start shooting, and then once you start shooting you keep track of the other side and you find out, what unit are they from, what are their orders, what is their plan? Were they planning on attacking tomorrow or the day after tomorrow? What kind of equipment do they have? Do they have any tanks? Do they have any airborne forces? Remember, in the Philippines, the Japanese army actually used paratroops against the U.S. army, so you needed that kind of information and a lot of it to be able to fight smart.