Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fred Shiosaki Interview
Narrator: Fred Shiosaki
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Spokane, Washington
Date: April 26 & 27, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-sfred-01-0032

<Begin Segment 32>

TI: So you guys just went through this intense fighting. At that point --

FS: It was, it was, you know, it was as intense a firefight as we'd ever experienced.

TI: So were you guys then pulled off line, were you guys given...

FS: No, no. We, we, the few of us who were left then turned on that ridge, and pushed, pushed towards the valley that controlled the road to St. Die. And we, we moved without, without resistance right to the edge of that ridge, and then the Germans were, were entrenched there. And we stopped. God, there were hardly any of us left. If the Germans had any number of people, they could have pushed us off the ridge. But I'm, I'm sure that they didn't have anybody, either. And so we'd sit there and somebody'd get up in the morning and look around and see what's going on, and the Germans would shell us, and I'm sure we shelled them back. And then once every hour, a great big artillery, German artillery shell would pass over and land behind us. And that thing sounded like, like a freight train flying through the air. It was not the regular, the regular artillery shell like the .88s or something, this was a big, big shell. And it'd explode behind us, so you just, I guess they couldn't adjust it right, to get right to us, but it'd land on a hill behind us, but it was about every hour, and we would, we would just make a point of not being down that way. It was also near the road where the rations came in, so those guys knew better than to come in there, too. But we sat there and sat there, we didn't, I don't think we lost any more men. But well, when did we... I don't know. But anyway, we sat there and sat there and sat there. Finally, replacements came, somebody from the 36th Division came up and they pulled us off. But at that time, I think there were only eighteen of us that were left.

TI: So eighteen in, in K Company.

FS: Yeah, at K Company. Well, the section was on the, people were up on the front, up on line.

TI: And, and going into the, the campaign, how many were in it?

FS: Well, when we, we were full strength, because we got replacements down in Marseilles. So they were pretty, we were fairly close to two hundred men, I suppose. Something, maybe something less than that, but yeah, but over the period of time through Bruyeres and the railroad track and the "Lost Battalion," we were down into that point, yeah.

TI: So when you go down and you're, you're now off line, and you look around and you see eighteen of you, what, what do you think at that point, going from two hundred down to eighteen?

FS: I, I... you're hardened, okay, and you think... still I can remember being billeted in the loft of a barn some, some miles off the front, and, "Jesus Christ, where is everybody?" I just don't, we didn't mourn anybody in particular, I just -- [laughs] -- I guess maybe you accept what's, you accept what's what. I guess you're, I'm glad I'm alive, I guess. But it was...

TI: Well, under that kind of pressure, I mean, it seems that some guys would just crack. They, they just can't take it. I mean, it's just so...

FS: You know, the guys that are gonna break are gonna break early, I think. Except a strange thing happened to us: Big John, who was our platoon sergeant, went AWOL. He just went flat, I think he saw too much. He went AWOL, disappeared for several days, went out and got drunk or something. And he came back and they busted him to private. But he was, he was a tech sergeant, and he's listed as a tech sergeant in the roster, you know. He's a hell of a good guy, but I think he sees everybody, he's lost all his men and stuff...

TI: Yeah, I imagine it's really hard for those guys because they feel more responsible.

FS: Yeah, anybody in command, and it's different for an officer than an, than a non-com, you know, you're really right close to your men, you share everything with them, and he just disappeared. We wondered what the hell happened to him, but he did come back. 'Course, what is a Buddhahead gonna do? There's no place to hide. [Laughs]

TI: Now during all this, in K Company there was another Washingtonian, Medic Okubo?

FS: Yeah.

TI: Did you ever come across him?

FS: Oh, sure, he's the one who, who did the patch on me, as I recall. Yeah, he, he and I used to talk, we were, we're, he's, he's a really good guy. A good medic. And of course, they're all good guys, he'd done that. When I first went in, I told 'em I wanted to be a medic, but I'm glad I didn't. [Laughs]

TI: Now was there anything special, because he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

FS: Yes.

TI: And was there anything that stood out about, about Okubo?

FS: Well, he, he had more guts than a burglar, really. I, that's what I remember. Under fire, how you would -- would you run towards the Germans under fire without, with nothing but a red cross? You had to be crazy. And he did that, he moved around, when people got shot or got wounded, he would tend to 'em right away while the firefight is going on. That's crazy. Yeah, we, he, he married into a family from here, around here. Never did see him after the war, but I was always aware of what he was doing, living in Detroit, and practicing dentistry and stuff. But I was pleased that he got the Congressional Medal.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.