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-01-0038

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TI: So in that time period between the end of the war and when you returned back to the States, what were some of your memorable experiences?

FS: Well, I've got to tell you about, we had a replacement in our, in my squad, a guy named Pete Sugiyama. He was out of, out of San Francisco, and we were, well, we were really close. But the bad part of it is that his brother was a medic in the medic, medical detachment. He was assigned to our company. And in a firefight somewhere... again, within the last ten or fifteen days before the ceasefire, and he was, his, Pete's brother the medic was tending one of our guys in our company, and he was shot in the back by a German and died. And God, I... I can remember that the, the captain came to me and he ordered, he said, "Fred, you take Pete back to regimental headquarters. I'm reassigning him there temporarily." And I can remember watching, walking, he said, "Why don't you walk him back?"

TI: Before you, so the, the officer did that because... is that a common practice if someone close gets killed?

FS: I don't know. You know, I, but there were, he was in the, we were in the same company, I mean, the medic was attached to our company, so it was, it was a real unique circumstances. But I... so I said, "Well, yeah, God, I'll be glad to do that." And I was walking in back, and one of the other, one of the officers, or one of the non-coms said, "Hey Fred, we've got a captive, we captured a German here. Why don't you take him back, too?" And oh, Jesus. So I had Pete Sugiyama with me, and this German prisoner with me. And I thought, "Pete, if you ask me to shoot that son of a bitch, I'll shoot him." But we didn't, the guy was a little mild, you know, he was older and was from Austria. And really meek little guy, I guess -- of course, if I were a prisoner, I'd be kind of meek, too. We, we walked back a couple miles to regimental headquarters.

TI: But that was just, just a sense of how angry you were, how you felt?

FS: Oh, yeah. I, you know, if that guy would have run two steps, I mean, I would have shot him right there. But I, I can remember thinking that, "God, Pete, are you sure you don't want me to..." I didn't say it, but, "Are you sure you don't want me to..." But, and these are the kind of things that, what kind of mentality is that? But you're, but you're up against all of these things, you know.

TI: But this is probably an example of how war changes a person.

FS: Oh, yeah, yeah. It, but I just, it was just one of those incidents you think, "Damn," afterwards you think, "God, the war is almost over." Anyway, the war was over, we, we were in this, billeted in this, I don't know, building or something, and there was an, probably a runner came down and said, "Hey, the Germans have given up." There was nothing very dramatic about it because we, we were aware it was gonna happen. But I, the next, the next incident -- and boy, I don't know where we went from there. Went into town and drank wine, maybe, or something, but I don't remember that, either. [Laughs] But we, we were then taken to a place called Ghedi Airport. And Ghedi Airport was the major, apparently, military, Italian military establishment of some kind. And our, our regimental responsibility was to, we had to process the German prisoners. And they streamed in from all over. I don't know how many thousands of them, but we, we disarmed them and we processed them, apparently some of these, I think some of these guys were starving. They hadn't had rations for a long time. That was all, we, they put 'em in some kind of a, a secure perimeter.

TI: Now, how's that for you? I mean, the mentality, I mean, just days before, you're fighting these men to the death, and now all of a sudden they're there as prisoners. I mean, does something in your mind shift or change, or what, what happens?

FS: No, I suspect if that guy, some guy looked at me cross-eyed, I'd have butted him with a bayonet butt or something. [Laughs] No, I, but at this point, they were, they were pretty meek. I don't, we didn't run across any of the troops that we were, we had been fighting, I don't think. There were certain, we were aware of certain divisions that were there, and we didn't see them. I don't know whatever happened to them. But these were, they, these were, probably, a lot of them were, were support troops. They even had a -- we didn't, but one of the, one of the companies processed a bunch of German WACs. [Laughs] I don't want to go any further with that, but anyway... [laughs]. It was a very tedious process, and one that you end up, "What the hell are we doing here?" There was nothing else to do.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.