On Nov. 1, 1941, the Army established the Fourth U.S. Army Intelligence School at the Presidio of San Francisco to teach the Japanese language to Japanese-American (Nisei) soldiers to use in a possible conflict with Japan. War broke out in December 1941, and in 1942 the school was moved to Minnesota and renamed the Military Intelligence Service Language School (MISLS). Almost all of the 6,000 wartime graduates of the MISLS were trained in Japanese.
In 1946 the MISLS was moved to the Presidio of Monterey. It added Russian, Chinese, Korean, Arabic and six other languages to its curriculum, and was renamed the Army Language School (ALS) in 1947. The size of the faculty and student classes and number of languages taught increased throughout the Cold War years.
Different service language schools were combined in 1963, when the ALS was re-designated the Defense Language Institute, West Coast Branch (DLIWC), with its headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Navy school became the Defense Language Institute East Coast Branch. The Air Force programs were phased out by 1970. The U.S. Air Force English Language School for foreign military personnel at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, became the Defense Language Institute English Language Center.
During the Vietnam conflict the need for Vietnamese language training was so great that a special branch, the Defense Language Institute Southwest Branch, was established at Biggs Air Force Base near El Paso, Texas. This branch was phased out in 1973, but not before DLI had exposed more than 20,000 servicemembers to the Vietnamese language.
When the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command was established in 1973, DLI was placed under its control. In 1974, the DLI headquarters and the East Coast Branch merged with the West Coast Branch at the Presidio of Monterey. In 1976, the English Language Center was separated from the rest of DLI, and the school at Monterey became the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC).
'Defense Language Institute' - Foreign Language Center
MAYDA CRUZ, Spanish instructor, Associate Professor
'Three powerful forces, the Vatican, Pan American Airlines, and the U.S. State Department joined together in 1961 to save 14,000 children from being kidnapped by a Caribbean dictator. One of these children was MAYDA CRUZ, now a Spanish instructor at DLIFLC.
Soon after Fidel Castro seized control of Cuba, rumors spread that the new government was aligned with the communist government in Moscow, and children, ages five to 16, would be taken from their homes and indoctrinated in Moscow.
Operation Pedro Pan was a Catholic Charities program that was established to save these children from Marxist-indoctrination.
After diplomatic relations with Cuba broke in 1961, the U.S. State Department waived visa requirements for children coming from Cuba. This enabled the children to travel by commercial flights to Miami.
On the Cuban side of the water,Mr. James Baker, the headmaster of an American school in Havana, organized a Harriet Tubman-like underground railroad made up of Cubans and expatriates who helped the children escape from Cuba. Cruz, then eleven years old,was one of the 14,000 children who had to leave her home country. “I got on the flight and kids of every age were all crying. I was crying and everyone was nervous. This was a traumatic experience,” Cruz said.
Many families in Cuba believed that this would be a temporary solution and that they would also gain visas to join their children. But at this young age, Mayda only understood that her parents were sending her away. “Once you enter into customs, it is all glass. I could see my parents on the other side, and I was hysterical. I remember that I was crying so hard,” Cruz recounted.
“I always had the mind-frame, ‘I am going home, I am not worried about my parents coming here because I am going home.’ But as the years went by I started to embrace the new country and my thoughts began to adapt and change,” said Cruz.
On the other side of the 90-mile gap between Havana and Miami was the Catholic Charities representative which organized the children’s evacuation, provided a large school/foster care infrastructure, and offered the opportunity for the children to live free lives.
“There was an older lady at the airport in her 50s or 60s,” Cruz recalled. “She had a sign that said ‘Catholic Charities’ and she took us to our new home - little houses designed for 24 girls and a foster couple who took care of us,” Cruz said.
With only one phone call allowed to parents per week, not only was physical communication limited, but so was emotional communication. “Your parents were not telling you that they are not coming. Every conversation was like a little code, telling us about the situation in Cuba,” she said.
Cruz, did not see her parents again until she was a university graduate and a married woman. “Seeing my mom was moving, but at the same time I had grown independent and was not used to the Cuban way of life,” said Cruz.
Eventually Cruz found her way to DLIFLC. “I met a Soldier and married him,” she said. When her husband was stationed at Fort Ord, Cruz was able to find work at DLIFLC. “In 1991, I started working at DLI. I have been here for the past 19 years,” Cruz said.
The Undergraduate Persian Farsi school teaches language by employing highly educated native speakers as instructors.'