Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
NPS Logo



Reinforcement of 322nd Military Police Escort Guard Company After Violence on December 6, 1942

As discussed in Chapter 11 of this study, the 322nd Military Police Escort Guard Company was reinforced by 50 officers and men from a detachment of the California State National Guard stationed at Bishop during the night following the riot on December 6, 1942. The next day, the national guardsmen were withdrawn after members of A Company, 753rd Military Police Battalion, and D Company. 751st Military Police Battalion, arrived to reinforce and cooperate with the 322nd in patrolling and guarding the camp. Several days after Christmas, the reinforcement units were withdrawn, leaving the 322nd as the sole military police unit at the camp. The activities of the 322nd, as well as of the reinforcement units, are discussed in that chapter.

319th Military Police Escort Guard Company: June 1, 1943

On June 1, 1943, the 319th Military Police Escort Guard Company was assigned to duty at Manzanar, replacing the 322nd that had been stationed at the camp for almost a year. Prior to its assignment to Manzanar, the 319th, commanded by Captain Donald R. Nail, had provided guard service at a nearby "Prisoner of War Camp." [24]

Captain Nail quickly made his presence felt at Manzanar. Since WRA appointed personnel at Manzanar were required to store their guns and ammunition at the military compound, one of Nail's first actions as commanding officer of the military police at the camp was to request all such persons to "call at his office immediately to identify the guns so that he" could "properly tag and record them." [25]

Within two weeks of taking command at Manzanar, Nail requested the WRA to undertake maintenance of the buildings in the military camp, noting that the "former command at this station" had been severely criticized "for not obtaining satisfactory maintenance" of the facilities. He "hoped that the accumulated defects" could be "cured without undue delay," reminding WRA officials of their responsibility under agreements between the Army and the previous year. [26] The problem of appropriate maintenance of the the WRA established buildings in the military camp at Manzanar would continue to be an issue of contention between the military police and WRA officials until the center closed. [27]

Nail also attempted to impress the evacuees at Manzanar with the importance of staying within the center's boundary fences. On July 3, 1943, the Manzanar Free Press published an article in which Nail instructed "residents not to go under the fence to go after baseballs, golf balls, or for any other purpose." When evacuees found it necessary to go outside the fence, they "must use the gates and secure permission from the M.P. on duty." The article noted that Nail had "received orders to enforce this rule." [28]

Changes in Military Police Patrol Procedures, December 1943

Several changes in military police patrol procedures were announced at Manzanar during December 1943. As a result of negotiations between WRA officials and Captain Nail, the military police agreed to withdraw sentries from the gates located above Block 12 and the Manzanar Hospital, thus opening "the gates on the west side of camp for the benefit of the residents to travel to and from the Manzanar cemetery without the complications of the Military Police." The gates would be locked at night, but they would be open between 9:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. During the daytime hours, an internal security officer would be stationed at the gate "to inspect the red passes and to allow work crews out." The red passes would be distributed by the block managers.

Manzanar residents, however, were warned "that all persons who go out through those gates must remain within the Manzanar area." The "center area" was "designated by white signs." Any person "found outside of the area" would be "severely dealt with by the project director and the Military Police." If an evacuee violated these regulations, the military police could revoke the "privilege." [29]

On December 25, 1943, approximately one year after the violence at the camp, Project Director Merritt received what he called a "Christmas present" from Captain Nail. Starting on Christmas Day, the military police would no longer patrol the perimeter of the camp or man the gates and guard towers from 8:00 A.M. to 6 P.M. The only exception would be a soldier stationed at the rock sentry house to control traffic at the main gate of the center. This change in procedure was, according to Merritt, a sign of drastic changes in the attitude of the military police toward the evacuees at Manzanar. [30]

Reduction of Military Personnel and Modification of Military Mission at War Relocation Centers, March 28, 1944

On March 28, 1944, War Department officials in Washington submitted to the Western Defense Command proposals for reduction of military personnel at relocation centers within its jurisdiction. The recommendations, which had the concurrence of WRA Director Myer, proposed that henceforth Manzanar, as well as Gila River and Poston, would each have only two officers and one-half of a military police escort guard company assigned to them, whereas Minidoka and Central Utah would each have only one officer and 12 guards. Tule Lake would continue to have one full military police escort guard company to provide for its external security.

Because of the proposed reduction in military personnel at the relocation centers, the War Department recommended changes in the "mission assigned these units" under Section 8 of Circular No. 19, issued on September 17, 1942. The proposed changes included:

  1. The military police would only control the traffic on and the passage of all persons at the arteries leading into the centers rather than the area itself.

  2. Rather than preventing persons from passing through the centers' gates without authority from the project directors, the military police would merely assist WRA authorities in accomplishing this task.

  3. The military police would reduce motor patrols around the boundaries of the relocation areas, but they would maintain at least one motor patrol around the boundaries of the areas each day.

  4. The military police would no longer apprehend and arrest evacuees who left the centers or areas unobserved without proper authorization.

  5. While the military police would continue to be available to project directors in case of emergencies, such as fires or riots, administrative control of the centers would remain with the directors. Previously, the commanding officer of the military police would take charge of the centers in such situations until an emergency ended.

  6. The military would no longer inspect parcels and packages consigned to evacuees in the centers. [31]

The Western Defense Command did not object to the proposals for personnel reduction at the various relocation centers with "the exception of Manzanar, officials noting that they were "withholding comment with regard thereto until receipt of [the] War Relocation Authority's recommendation." The proposed changes in Circular No. 19 were also approved for the designated centers, with "the exception of Manzanar." The Western Defense Command forwarded the proposals and their comments to the Commanding General of the Ninth Service Command on April 7. [32]

As a result of further negotiations with the WRA, the recommended changes for military police procedures and staff reductions at Manzanar were approved by the Western Defense Command and the Ninth Service Command. Accordingly, on April 17, 1944, the Ninth Service Command issued a directive, entitled "Revised Mission of Guard Forces at War Relocation Centers," implementing the changes at all the relocation centers under its jurisdiction, including Manzanar. [33]

Service Command Unit 1999: April 20, 1944 (Redesignated Ninth Service Command Detachment, Manzanar Relocation Center, November 1944)

On April 20, 1944, Service Command Unit 1999, commanded by Captain Ed Fackler, Jr., replaced the 319th Military Police Escort Guard Company which had been stationed at Manzanar since June 1, 1943. In line with the military police staffing reductions that had been implemented by the Ninth Service Command three days earlier, the new unit consisted of only two officers and 64 men, whereas the 319th had comprised three officers and 135 men. [34]

Changes in External Security Arrangements, Spring — Fall 1944

With the reduction in military personnel at Manzanar, changes in the external security responsibilities of Service Command Unit 1999 were initiated. Project Director Merritt described the changes in a letter to Colonel Earl M. Wilson on May 11, 1944:

Under the Escort Guard Military inspection of all incoming baggage and packages was strictly carried out through guards located at the main gate, the postoffice, and at parcel post. All military inspection of baggage and parcel post was abandoned by the Military Authority immediately after April 20th. Since the WRA is not responsible for inspection of contraband no inspection has taken place at Manzanar since April 20th.

Capt. Ed Fackler, Jr. determined that it would require 50 men out of the 64 men retained at the military post to perform the necessary functions required for the maintenance of the post, therefore, 14 men would be available for guard services if and when required. This number was insufficient to man the towers even by confining guard hours to the period from 6 at night to 6 in the morning. No guards are, therefore, stationed in any towers at any time. At my request Capt. Fackler has maintained the lights in the towers during the dark hours for whatever moral value this may be (entirely confined to the comfort of mind of people residing in surrounding area). As far as is known there is no danger whatsoever of any evacuee trying to leave the Center, therefore this decision of the Military would only seem to affect the public relations with persons living outside the Center and up to the present time no protest or comment has been heard.

A continuous military guard has been maintained at the main gate of the Project and at the South gate from 8 at night until 8 in the morning. The military also uses a jeep patrol to make the trip around the external boundaries of the 5700 acres lying open on the West side of Highway 395, therefore, a total of about 7 guards are in use out of the 64 men now stationed at Manzanar.

n the other hand the maintenance of the Service Command Unit is of inestimable value as a standby Military Authority which can be used to its full force in the event any civil disturbance occurs in the area. No such disturbance is anticipated but all precautions are taken to see that no adverse conditions arise. A continuous record of 18 months of complete peace and harmony, and almost complete absence of even any requirement for internal policing, would seem to justify the belief that conditions at Manzanar are in a satisfactory external as well as internal condition.

Merritt concluded the letter by stating that in "all matters Capt. Fackler and his officers have been fully cooperative and the relations between the Captain and myself are cordial." There was mutual understanding "of the problems which are being administered both by this Center and by the Military." [35]

As the military presence at Manzanar continued to decline, some evacuee residents of the camp apparently took advantage of the situation to slip outside the boundary fences. This problem, as well as its solution, increasingly became issues of concern to WRA management. In early October 1944, for instance, three evacuee youths were arrested by the Inyo County game warden after he found them "with speckled trout — a type that cannot be seen within center boundaries." He had found the trout "packed in snow which is not found within the barb wires of Manzanar." The youths were released after paying a fine of $16. Angered by this situation, Merritt informed the Block Managers at a Town Meeting that "It will not be a fine of one month's salary or a month's sentence in the internal security jail for the next offenders found outside the center boundaries." Instead, the penalty would be "30 days in the county jail at Bishop." [36]

On November 11, the Manzanar Free Press reported that the Ninth Service Command had issued instructions to reduce the military personnel stationed at Manzanar to two officers and 40 enlisted men. The designation of the unit at the camp was also changed from Service Command Unit 1999 to Ninth Service Command Detachment, Manzanar Relocation Center. [37]

Two days later, on November 13, Merritt telegraphed WRA Director Myer in Washington that Captain Fackler had requested that the military "be relieved of responsibility" of the 'guard towers around the center area" as the "towers" were no "longer manned." Accordingly, Merritt informed WRA headquarters that "for protection of government property" he was "removing all lights and windows from towers." Furthermore, he requested "teletype authority for dismantling of towers no longer used by military and not useful to us in order that salvage lumber may be put to useful purposes." [38]

Upon receipt of the telegram, Director Myer wired a teletype message to Merritt the following day He stated that "If [the] lights are no longer needed on towers, suggest you remove lights, windows and ladders." However, the towers "should remain in place for possible future use [by] some other agency." [39]

In anticipation of the U. S. Supreme Court's decisions regarding the constitutionality of the government's evacuation program and the authority of the WRA to detain and control the movements of loyal U.S. citizens in the Korematsu and End cases (Further information on these cases will be considered in Chapter 16 of this study.) that would be delivered on December 18, 1944, the Western Defense Command issued a directive that incorporated changes in Circular No. 19 affecting the functions of the military police at relocation centers. On March 28, 1944, the circular had been amended to mandate that the military police would not allow persons to pass the centers' gates without proper authority from the project directors. On December 1, this section of the circular was further amended to revise the mission of the guard forces at the relocation centers:

No person shall be permitted to enter or leave a War Relocation Project Area without a proper permit issued for these purposes either by the C[ommanding] G[eneral] , W[estern] D[efense] C[ommand] or by the Project Director. Persons of Japanese ancestry to whom an individual order or certificate has been issued by the CG, WDC, exempting them from all provisions pertaining exclusively to persons of Japanese ancestry, contained in the Proclamations, Exclusion Orders, and Civilian Restrictive Orders pertaining to persons of Japanese ancestry, issued by this headquarters, including Public Proclamation No. 8, dated 27 June 1942, and the Civilian Restrictive Orders issued thereunder, shall be allowed, on or after the effective date of such individual order or certificate, to leave War Relocation Project Areas, and such individual orders or certificates of exemption shall be accepted as permits to depart from the said Project Areas.

The foregoing paragraph shall not be construed as authorization for an individual who is the subject of an Individual Exclusion Order to enter, travel in or be in the area of Western Defense Command from which said individual has been excluded. Such authorization must be obtained by separate permit or certificate from the Commanding General, Western Defense Command. [40]

This revision was forwarded by the Ninth Service Command to the military detachment at Manzanar on December 9 1944. [41]

Security Measures at Manzanar During Closing Phases of the Camp, 1945

On December 17, 1944, the Western Defense Command issued Public Proclamation No. 21, lifting, with reservations, the exclusion of persons of Japanese ancestry from the west coast, effective January 2, 1945. All persons of Japanese ancestry unless their records indicated that they were potentially dangerous to national security, could return to the west coast effective January 20. [42]

Following the issuance of Public Proclamation No. 21, Merritt issued two bulletins to the Manzanar evacuees concerning the use of cameras in the center and revoking the earlier regulations prohibiting contraband in the camp. With the issuance of Public Proclamation No. 21, the WRA, according to Project Director's Bulletin No. 74, February 19, 1945, determined that there was "no longer any reason why citizen evacuee residents" of the centers could "not bring cameras" into the camps "and use them freely." The possession and use of cameras by Japanese aliens was still forbidden under alien enemy regulations issued by the Department of Justice. To protect the right of privacy of the evacuee residents, commercial photographers and all visitors would continue to have to obtain permits in order to use cameras and take pictures within the center area.

That same day Merritt issued Project Director's Bulletin No. 75 revoking previous regulations prohibiting contraband in the center. The bulletin noted that effective January 2, 1945, there were "no contraband regulations which are applicable to American citizens of Japanese ancestry who are not excluded." WRA regulations, however, would continue to prohibit the possession of "short wave radio receiving sets in any of the relocation centers." Project regulations would also continue to prohibit "the possession in the Center of radio transmitting sets or devices which could be used for radio transmission, fire arms or weapons of any kind, ammunition, and all things other than cameras which are listed under alien regulations as contraband for aliens." [43]

Despite the lifting of the restrictions against persons of Japanese ancestry provided in Public Proclamation No. 21, the Western Defense Command quickly announced that all persons of Japanese ancestry would be categorically classified by the Army for detention, exclusion, or freedom of movement. Thus, the Commanding General of the Western Defense Command assumed the authority of the detention of citizens upon grounds that were not publicly disclosed by the Army. As a result, hearings were held at Manzanar by teams of Army officers commencing in January and continuing until July 1945. The hearings, opposed by WRA officials, were presided over by a full colonel and provided a forum in which those persons of Japanese ancestry who were American citizens but subject to individual exclusion or detention orders might present their case. Through these hearings, the Army, according to Merritt, "ignored the courts and set up what was, in effect and procedure, a civil court martial based on racial origin of citizens." At Manzanar, the Army did not detain any aliens nor any women regardless of their past records, but more than 200 male citizens were detained by the Army even through previously they had been given leave clearance by the WRA and by examining intelligence agencies. [44]

During these hearings, on April 10, 1945, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army issued instructions "concerning detention of persons of Japanese extraction and use of current rosters (List MAU)" to the Commanding General, Ninth Service Command. The instructions, which will be considered more fully in Chapter 16 of this study, were to be forwarded to the commanding officers of military police detachments at each of the relocation centers within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Service Command. Section 8 of the instructions stated:

The entire responsibility for the control of departures of Japanese Americans from Centers rests with the military authorities. The Commanding Officers of Military Police Detachments will make every effort possible to maintain amicable relations with War Relocation Authority authorities and will work with them to assist them in the accomplishment of their War Relocation Authority task subject solely to the fact that they, the Commanding Officers of Military Police Detachments, are completely and solely responsible that no individual leaves the Center unless he has been cleared or approved for departure by the Commanding General, Western Defense Command. Previous instructions in conflict herewith are rescinded. [45]

WRA officials at Manzanar reenforced the aforementioned regulations by warning evacuees of the consequences for persons found outside the center boundary without appropriate documentation. In an article in the Manzanar Free Press on May 9, 1945, Merritt announced:

Any resident on the cleared list, who leaves the center area without obtaining a permit from the project administration, may do so, but he will not be permitted to return. . . . if the person who violates this regulation wishes to return, he will be allowed to enter the gate as a visitor and will be charged 60 cents per day per meal in advance with no job during his stay in the center. In the case in which the party is not on the military cleared list, his case will be taken up by the military authorities and the penalties will be severe. [46]

As plans for the closing of Manzanar continued during the spring of 1945, WRA officials and military police authorities worked together closely at the camp. In June, for instance, Merritt learned that Lieutenant Burch, commanding officer of the military detachment stationed at the camp, would be transferred effective July 1 . Merritt appealed to the Central Security District headquarters of the Ninth Service Command, then located in San Francisco, for a 90-day postponement of Burch's transfer. Merritt stated:

Lt. Burch has worked most cooperatively with me and has handled the complicated responsibilities of gate procedures for evacuees promptly and most efficiently During the month of May, we had many evacuee visitors and a large number of evacuees leaving on short-term leave and 400 evacuees from this Center leaving on terminal leave. Between the first of July and the first of September we believe that in addition to visitors and short-term leaves, the number of terminal leaves will exceed 700 in each month. The total number of persons to be checked in and out of our gates on the list of the Western Defense Command will exceed 1,000. To accurately and effectively carry on such work as this requires long experience with these Western Defense records and careful training and control of personnel. No matter how willing and untiring a new officer may be, the introduction of a new commanding officer at this time will inevitably cause delays and a dislocation of the present smoothly coordinated organization between WRA and the 9th Service Command. With lists not only from Western Defense Command, but lists from the Department of Justice, for which my office is solely responsible, and with many types of transportation and a wide range of hours during which transportation must take place, it is evident that a continuation of the present supervision will be of material and vital assistance and any change would add too excessive a load to my already overburdened staff. [47]

Although it is not known whether Merritt's request was honored, plans to close the relocation centers continued during the summer of 1945. On July 12, WRA Director Myer announced that all relocation centers would be closed by the end of the year, and Manzanar would close no later than December 1. [48] On September 4, the Western Defense Command issued Public Proclamation No. 24, rescinding all individual exclusion orders and other restrictions and opening the west coast to the return of any person of Japanese ancestry. [49] At 11:00 A.M. on November 21, nine days ahead of schedule, the last evacuee left Manzanar. Soon thereafter, the military police detachment at the camp left the site of the deserted relocation center. [50]

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002