Joseph Y. Kurata
at CIC Hq, Chiba City, 1944
Kurata was born and educated in the rural community of Lodi, California, from which he and his family were evacuated to the Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas. Except for an older brother already in the Army and a younger brother drafted from Rohwer -- both were to serve in the European theater with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team -- and himself, the family was to remain there for the duration. Kurata left Rohwer to work in Cleveland, Ohio, and was drafted in September 1944. He was awaiting shipment to Europe to serve in the 442nd after completing infantry basic at Camp Croft, South Carolina, when Germany surrendered, in May 1945. He was then sent to Camp Ritchie, Maryland, with the first group of Nisei to receive counterintelligence (CIC) training for eventual duty in the Pacific -- and as it turned out in his case, a career in the Army.
Upon finishing training in the special two month intelligence course Kurata's group of about 85 Nisei was shipped directly to Japan in September 1945 for duty with the Occupation. At the time he was a private in the U.S. Army but worked as a CIC investigator as a civilian. His initial assignment was with the CIC Regional Headquarters in Yokohama, and he subsequently served in Sendai and Chiha. He returned to the United States in April 1948 and was assigned to a CIC unit in Los Angeles as an investigator until the spring of 1950 -- the year he was commissioned a second lieutenant and was reassigned to Japan.
Kurata served in Chiba Prefecture and Tokyo as a CIC officer with liaison duties and responsibility for informant handling operations. Included was a tour of duty as a liaison officer with a CIC unit during the Korean War in 1951. Returning stateside in 1956, he spent a year at the Army Language School, Presidio, Monterey, studying Mandarin Chinese, following which he served for one year with an Army intelligence unit in Seoul, Korea, as assistant operations officer. He then attended the Senior Officer Course, Army Intelligence School, 1959-60; the Army Command and General Staff School; and the National Senior Intelligence Course, Defense Intelligence School. He earned his college degree through the University of Maryland's overseas extension and night classes.
Kurata's subsequent assignments included a stint as counterintelligence analysis officer with ACSI, Department of Army; operations officer with a CIC unit in Okinawa; chief, Material R&D Branch, Intelligence Agency, Army Combat Development Command; CIC staff officer with Headquarters, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam; director; Intelligence and Security, Defense Nuclear Agency; and chief of Intelligence and Security, Headquarters Sixth US Army.
After serving a total of 32 years in the military, during which he rose from private to colonel, Kurata retired in December 1976 at the Presidio, San Francisco.
Kurata met and married his wife in Yokohama in 1946. They have two daughters and a son, and three grandchildren. Now a resident of San Francisco, Kurata serves as local chapter president of the Army Counterintelligence Corps Veterans; and is active in transactions involving MIS projects in the San Francisco Bay region as a member of MIS NORCAL. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Fort Point & Presidio Historical Association, which is now deeply involved in the transition of the Presidio to civilian uses under the National Park Service. He is currently discussing wlth the NPS the preservation of the Crissy Field hanger where the first MISLS class met in 1941. His hobbies include tinkering with electronic and mechanical equipment, and serving as a sometime mentor in fishing to visiting grandchildren.