U.S. Army - M.I.S.
World War II
Brick #692 Wall Location Column: 9 Row: 32
Masao M. Wada was born in Wapato, Washington on December 21, 1921 to Sankichi and Tsuneye Wada. Mas was 1 of 8 children including sisters Fumiye, Frances, Emiko, Alyce, Meri, Sara and a brother Tad.
He grew up on a number of homesites while attending the Wapato Public Schools. While in highschool, he spent a year or so in Japan studying the language. This experience proved invaluable in later years.
Approximately 6 months after Pearl Harbor, mass evacuation of all Japanese aliens and citizens began in the Yakima Valley. Mas and some friends took advantage of an existing government offer of evacuation exemption to any eligible Japanese who held proof of a job and housing from an employer outside the designated military zone where we were residing at the time. So Mas and friends went directly to an eastern Oregon farm.
Mas was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944 as a promising linguist. The Army sent him to the MISLS (Military Intelligence Service Language School) in Ft. Snelling, Minnesota where he graduated in July 1945.
Thereafter, he was ordered to Camp Ritchie, Maryland for further advanced MIS duties.
Mas and Sachi Fujinaga were married while he was in the service.
In 1947, Mas and Sachi returned to Wapato and managed the Wapato family farm. They had 6 children - sons Bryon, Marshall, Robert, Guy, Corey and a daughter Cami.
In his middle years during certain off-season times on the farm, Mas was approached by the Yakima Valley Community College to teach a U.S. Horticulture Class to a group of exchange students from Japan. Mas enjoyed the classes immensely and usually ended each course with an exciting field trip journey through Washington, Oregon and California in a large van driven by him.
He was an active member of the Wapato American Legion Post 133 for 55 years. He served as Post Commander, past District Commander, Adjutant, and due to all his help and support, an Honorary Lifetime Auxiliary Member.
In 2004, he was honored "Legionnaire of the Year".
Mas was also a member of the Nisei Veteran's Committee and the MIS Northwest of Seattle, Washington.
Mas enjoyed people, familiar and new, and as a skilled communicator, would be asked to speak about the Japanese evacuation experience at public school classes and to other interested groups. He always felt a responsibility to speak out about the injustice and suffering imposed upon a small, peaceful Japanese minority living in this great free nation.
He always wore a warm smile and together with his humor and wit was a natural emcee, constantly in demand to enhance a community or social event.
He cared deeply about his native Wapato area community and spent most of his later life assisting with and leading worship services and activities at the Yakima Buddhist Church. Even beyond his mid 80's, Mas still assumed care of the church structures and continued driving to visit elderly friends in distant rest homes.
In 2007, Mas was appointed a Minister's Assistant by the Buddhist Churches of America.
He passed away in 2009 at the age of 87.