The barracks on Highway #13 to the west of the railroad underpass in Savage represents a little known chapter in World War II history. Most people thought it was a prisoner of war camp, giving all appearances of one.
Actually, it was a Military Intelligence School, purposely moved to Savage for security reasons, in May 1942. The school had begun before Pearl Harbor in Presidio Monterry, San Francisco. Its recruits were selected from people with Japanese background, both Oriental and Japanese. Quite often they were men already in the service and some were volunteers from the camps to which Japanese citizens had been relocated after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. About half at any given time were instructors and half were trainees, with groups coming and going constantly for almost three years.
Some were trained to be a part of a regular combat team such as interrogating prisoners from the front lines. Some were in the paratroopers, dropped into enemy territory to ascertain enemy positions, strengths, and plans. Some were used in the rear lines to plan strategy. Breaking the Japanese code as in Tora, Tora, Tora, was a very significant contribution to these Nisei. Camp Savage was an indispensable part of our military intelligence.
Many of these barracks were sold cheaply after the camp was closed and moved to Ft. Snelling. Some were converted into Lake places, business places, and living quarters. The barracks out on County Road #5 adjacent to 35W were some bought by the enterprising Doc Benham. These were converted into post war housing. Ownership has been transferred but they are still used. The barracks you see on the original site were the officers' mess halls.
Orientals were often discriminated against, especially in California. Small wonder the many Nisei from Camp Savage chose to settle in this area after W.W. II. A special tribute ton these patriots is the Japanese garden north of Normandale College, built with some of the money being contributed by former soldiers from Camp Savage.
From Sun editorial Mpls.- Tribune
For three decades, Japanese-Americans urged the White House to revoke Executive Order #9066, which, though it ceased to be effective at the end of World War II, had not been formally terminated. They feared there still might be some life in the document. Finally, this year on the 34th anniversary of its issuance, President Ford formally terminated the order. "We now know what we should have known then...not only was that evacuation wrong, but Japanese-Americans were and are loyal Americans,,,In this Bicentennial year, we are commemorating the dates of many of the great events in American History. An honest reckoning, however, must include a recognition of our national mistakes as well as our national achievements."