DLIFLC is well known for its eclectic composition of instructors. Takashi Kato fits this description. He was the first Japanese-born naturalized U.S. citizen to receive a commission in the U.S. Army after the Vietnam era.
Kato, who is a team leader in the Japanese department, first came to the United States in 1979 as a foreign student and attended the English language school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After two years of college, Kato decided to go back to Japan to find a job as a translator, but it didn’t work out.
The next time Kato came to the United States, he chose to study at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and joined the ROTC.
“Upon graduation with two degrees I became a 2nd lieutenant in the Army Reserve,” while working as a liaison between two manufacturing companies in San Antonio, Texas. Then Operation Desert Storm happened.
“I found myself at King Khalid Military City in Saudi Arabia and at about the same time DLIFLC offered me a position as a Japanese instructor. At the time I thought I had seen enough sand for the rest of my life, and I took the job in Monterey,” said Kato.
What ensued was a prosperous 19-year teaching career at DLIFLC, three books, almost celebrity status in Japan, and years of “holy terror” for Kato’s Japanese language students.
“While at DLI, I was a Japanese instructor and a captain, so I taught my own Soldiers from my unit and after they graduated we deployed to Japan to support U.S.-Japanese bilateral training called Yamasakura,” explained Kato. “In those days, students dreaded me more than the DLPT because it was not their final exam. They had to go to Japan with me and work as real linguists!”
Kato has published three books in Japanese: LT in 1994; Honorable Discharge in 2005, and Captain Kato’s English Boot Camp, in 2008. For each of these books Kato went on a book tour to Japan, was interviewed on national television, and had the opportunity to meet with high ranking generals and officers who were curious to meet the famous Japanese-American retired U.S. Army captain.