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Teruto Tsubota in 2007

Teruto "Terry" Tsubota (born in Pahoa, Hawaii, on July 28, 1922) is a second-generation Japanese-American, or Nisei, who was credited with saving hundreds of Japanese lives while serving as a Military Intelligence Service (MIS) combat translator with the 6th Marine Division during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

Tsubota, wearing MP armband, with Okinawan refugees

Attached to the 4th Marine Regiment, Tsubota didn't fire a single shot during the battle but managed rescue many people hiding in the caves, even disobeying orders. Tsubota stayed in Okinawa Prefecture after the war. In 1947 he married Kiyoko, the young local woman who has been conscripted a nurse and survived the battle carnage and whom he met in a refugee camp;[1] together, they raised three children. He has retired from the U.S. government service in January 1993.

Today, "Terry" remains a hero to the Okinawans as the man who personally prevented many of civilian suicides. In 2000 he accompanied Okinawa's governor and other officials during Bill Clinton's visit to the prefecture,[2] and in 2004 he was one of the honored guests at the 59th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa held in the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum.[3]

In 2007 the story of Tsubota and his fellow Japanese-American translators was told by James C. McNaughton in “Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War II”.[4]


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