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COMBAT STORIES FROM World War II

Verner Chaffin | Naval Intelligence - Navy

7:12   |   The Navy Japanese language school was concentrated, intense and psychologically taxing. Vern Chaffin cultivated an air of detachment that kept him from washing out. In fact, he was near the top of the class. Most of the teachers were Japanese Americans from the internment camps.

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Keywords   :     Verner Chaffin    linguist    Japanese    Boulder CO    Japan    language school    Japanese internment camps

Videos ( 9 )
WWII
  • Verner Chaffin  |  WWII  |  Naval Intelligence  |  5:09

    Verner Chaffin was in Law School when Pearl Harbor was attacked and then, in a whirlwind of activity, he got his degree, took the bar exam, and applied to the Naval Intelligence Japanese language school. He was accepted and began the grueling program.

  • Verner Chaffin  |  WWII  |  Naval Intelligence  |  5:26

    Graduates of the Naval Intelligence Japanese language school had been put right to work, but the Navy decided that they really needed intelligence training, as well. So Verner Chaffin went from there to the advanced school where he learned the craft of intelligence. Finally, he got his first assignment, at the ONI office in Washington and he was ecstatic to get away from being instructed.

  • Verner Chaffin  |  WWII  |  Naval Intelligence  |  6:14

    At Camp Ritchie in Maryland, Navy Japanese linguist Verner Chaffin pored over documents shipped from the Pacific, but most of them had already been gone over and sorted as less important. Later, he was assigned to the translation section at the Joint Intelligence Center at Pearl Harbor and he picked out the plum documents.

  • Verner Chaffin  |  WWII  |  Naval Intelligence  |  5:51

    The translators at Naval Intelligence in Pearl Harbor liked to kid their counterparts back in Washington by writing uncomplimentary notes on the boxes of documents they shipped there. Verner Chaffin was one of them and he was lucky enough to get out of the office and go with the fleet to Okinawa, where he assisted with Japanese translation.

  • Verner Chaffin  |  WWII  |  Naval Intelligence  |  5:54

    Naval Intelligence Officer Verner Chaffin had often been chided for his "Southern" Japanese accent, but he found in Okinawa that the locals spoke the language that way, so he felt at home. After a chance meeting with Tyrone Power, he reported to a new assignment in occupied Japan.

  • Verner Chaffin  |  WWII  |  Naval Intelligence  |  4:50

    Verner Chaffin had a special pass that allowed him to go nearly anywhere in occupied Japan. He and his team were looking for secret Japanese weapons facilities and they found one at a place called Turtleneck Island. Later, in Tokyo, he endeared himself to Japanese civilians because of his ease with their language.

  • Verner Chaffin  |  WWII  |  Naval Intelligence  |  5:35

    Verner Chaffin never met an angry or disgruntled Japanese during his work for Naval Intelligence in occupied Japan. They were fatalistic, resolute and forward looking and their country was destined to be a close ally of the United States. A big factor in this was Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who shepherded the process of post war reconciliation.

  • Verner Chaffin  |  WWII  |  Naval Intelligence  |  3:45

    Naval Intelligence Officer Verner Chaffin recalls meeting Gen. Douglas MacArthur in postwar Japan. He shared the general's vision for the rehabilitation of Japan and, when the next war came, he lamented that his strategy for victory was not followed.

  • Verner Chaffin  |  WWII  |  Naval Intelligence  |  2:02

    In postwar Japan, Verner Chaffin met a Japanese civilian who invited him into his home. The man had a sad story to tell and passed along a gift that is cherished to this day.

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