Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tosh Yasutake Interview
Narrator: Tosh Yasutake
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 14, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-ytosh-01-0017

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TI: So as you were getting closer to the transport ship, getting closer to Europe -- I've talked to some of the men who were more in the fighting units and sort of their thoughts as they approached Europe and got closer and closer. What was going through your mind as you were getting closer to Europe and ready to actually land in Europe? What was going through your mind?

TY: Well, that was -- my brother asked me that one time. And I thought to myself, you know, it was almost like when I heard about the war, December 7th. And from that time on, every once in a while I think, God, this must be all a dream. One of these days you're gonna wake up and everything's gonna go back to normal. Well, the factor of the unknown, going overseas, and what's going, what type of things we'll be exposed to when we go over there. That kinda, at that time seemed like it was kind of like a dream to me. It just didn't seem like it was really happening. And I really didn't know what to expect. All the amount of listening and hearing that you do from other people talking, it really doesn't, it's never just what you expect once you get there. And once you get in the front line there's just, nothing, nothing will compare to that. It's just, emotionally, I think, un-stability about the whole thing is very unnerving and you don't know whether to be nervous or to be scared or what. So...

TI: So describe when you guys landed, what was it like? How did you guys set up and get ready? 'Cause I imagine the medical unit, you have a lot more supplies that you have to sort of, sort of carry and worry about --

TY: Yeah, yeah.

TI: -- than perhaps some of the other units. So what, how did that all work?

TY: Well, I think in the medics we had -- certain people did -- we had specific assignments. And so I don't remember helping unloading anything myself. I think there was some of the other people, some of the other fellows that that was their duty to do that. And when we got off the ship, what did we first do? I don't remember. [Laughs] I do not remember.

TI: But probably, or were there like certain trucks that were for all the medical supplies that you would have those ready?

TY: Yeah, we had jeep drivers and we have three-quarter ton trucks assigned to us, I think, for supplies, to haul supplies and things. And being the headquarter company that I was assigned to, we had more supplies in general than say people who were, the aid men and various companies. They really didn't have to worry much about that. But the headquarter company, we had to, we had a lot more equipment. So I remember, I do remember helping unload some of the stuff, but big things, of course I, I don't remember how those things were unloaded. But we were assigned -- we did, were assigned, we had -- we didn't have any specific things like ambulances assigned to us. I think it was assigned to us from the corps that we would be assigned to. But jeeps and things, we had our own. And equipment, we did -- the first thing we did of course is, we went to our first bivouac area and the first thing you set up was the aid stations because people get sick and they come in for aspirin and little things like that. So one of our main jobs was to set up the headquarter aid station. And I guess that's...

TI: So explain how that works. So you have sort of a headquarters station, aid station, so it's the type of thing that you, obviously you don't move every day, so it must, you must jump to different locations based on where you're going?

TY: Yeah.

TI: And then are you following the other battalions, or do you establish headquarters first and then the battalions get there? How did that usually work?

TY: Oh boy. [Laughs] That's a good question.

TI: Or, how long did --

TY: I do remember that any time we got to specific -- well, when you go to, go to specific area, we were given a specific area to set up our aid stations, tents and things, so I do know that when I was with the headquarter company we were given a certain area to establish our aid station, and we just set it up. And others -- we have what, the whole combat unit must have been what, 5,000 men. And so it covers a big area wherever they're spread out. We're never all together. We're all, we're spread out quite a bit. So I have no idea what happens as far as the other aid stations go. But I know that the headquarter aid station, when we go, get to a given area, well, we're given a place to set up our aid station and we just set it up. And the -- then we have our headquarter, then the infantry unit, the combat team has a headquarter company. So they set up around us, too. So all I remember was helping set up our aid station, headquarter aid station, getting the aid station going

TI: How long generally would you be in one place before you move to the next place?

TY: Well, it varied, it depends. Sometimes maybe a day, sometimes couple weeks. I think when we got to Naples, I think we were there at least two weeks gettin' equipment, necessary equipment and infantrymen get their ammunition and everything. Because I'm sure that that wasn't hauled, didn't come on the ship along with us. And all the supplies were supplied to us after we landed. So when you first got there, we're there about two weeks to get all our equipment and some different clothing, because as I recall -- when did we land in Italy? It was sometime during the summer, I think, and so it was pretty warm and we had nothing but wool clothing. So they assigned, gave us summer clothing, light clothing. And I remember discarding the wool clothing that we had. And we just -- any time we get new clothing we just throw whatever we had on away. We just garbage it.

TI: 'Cause how long would you be wearing, would you wear that, the clothes, before you got new, new issued?

TY: Well, that's a good question. Depends. Sometimes several weeks. We'd take, we'd take these sponge bath with about a, with a helmet of fresh water, and with that we'd brush our teeth, wash our face, sponge ourselves down.

TI: But how about, as an aid man, if you're splattered with blood or something, wouldn't that be a problem? Wouldn't you have to somehow try to keep that clean or is that different?

TY: No. We just keep 'em on. 'Cause you just can't -- and then sometime when we're on the front lines for say couple weeks, we may not have gotten a change of clothing for a couple weeks, or three weeks. When we come back, the first thing we do, they'd give us new clothing, everything from underwear up and we just discard everything and put the new clothing on, and I think the most often we got was once a week, new change. So we wouldn't change for a week at least. But sometimes you're on the front lines for three or four weeks, well, you're pretty ripe by the time you get back. And we'll get warm shower at time like that when you get back, and warm meals, and new clothing, and so it just depends on the situation. Most of the time I think at least once a week we get change but sometimes not for several weeks. And our clothing, like blood and things, well, I mean, that's a minor problem really. At that time we didn't even think of it.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.