By Sandra Vea
Masao Abe was a second-generation Japanese American who was swept up in the momentum of history during World War II. Born in southern California but educated as a teenager in Japan during the 1930s, he returned to the US and was drafted into the US Army. As he completed basic training, the attack on Pearl Harbor put his military career in limbo because the US government didn't know what to do with him or how to think about him--was he an enemy or a patriot? Masao was eventually recruited to join the secretive Military Intelligence Service: he was trained to accompany American soldiers as they fought their way across the islands in the Pacific. His assignment was to convince Japanese Imperial soldiers to lay down their arms, and to read captured documents looking for enemy strategies. He went to war with a bodyguard because his commanders knew he wore a target on his front and his back. This little-known slice of history reveals how the confluence of race, war, and loyalty played out when the nation called for the service of those it judged most harshly.