Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tosh Tokunaga Interview
Narrator: Tosh Tokunaga
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 28, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ttosh-01

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So anything else about this action that... so what happened next?

TT: Oh, well, from then on, we were regular infantry. So our mission was to drive right through the heart of the Ruhr, the industrial part of Germany. And we moved from, I don't know what town that was, Duesberg, Dusselberg, Dessau, Haltern, Munster, so we were on our way right through that whole area. And we freed a lot of the DPs, you know, Displaced Personnel. The Germans had brought in Polish and Russian workers to work in the plants, and then they were living in little concentration camps along the way.

TT: And what did you see when you would liberate one of these camps? What did you see?

TT: Well, actually, they were happy to see us. It didn't matter to us, really. We just let 'em out.

TI: What about the condition of the prisoners? What kind of shape were they in?

TT: Well, some were in bad shape. Some weren't too bad because they've been working. And it depends on how long they've been there, too.

TI: And as you guys advanced, I'm guessing the Germans were retreating? Because these camps were being liberated by you, so the Germans had vacated the area? Was that what was going on?

TT: Uh-huh.

TI: Okay. And then what happened? So keep telling me what happened next.

TT: Well, I guess the war ended. [Laughs] When the war ended, we were on the other side of Munster, town of Munster, airport there.

TI: And so it's interesting, so as a paratrooper, you really got, during the war, really one jump, and then you were infantry from then on.

TT: Yeah.

TI: And so they never called you back to do another jump someplace else, it was just training for that one jump over the Rhine and then you're infantry.

TT: Same thing as what happened in Normandy. Of course, the problem they had in Normandy was they jumped in the middle of the night. And when they did that, it was completely disorganized, they couldn't get together.

TI: So it was kind of like a choice. I mean, I suppose if you do it at night, at least you're under the cover of darkness.

TT: Right.

TI: But then it's more difficult to be organized. Daylight if you jump, you're more visible, but it's easier for you to be more organized.

TT: Right.

TI: Okay. So when the war ended, what did you do next? What happened after the war was over?

TT: Well, what they did was you got out of the Airborne outfit together and the high point men, the ones that's been in there for a long time, they were going to be sent home to get discharged. And the next group was, send 'em through to the States, give 'em a short furlough, and send 'em to the Orient. And there was one group, small group, that was being sent directly to the Orient.

TI: So to fight against the Japanese, going to the Pacific to fight against the Japanese.

TT: Yeah. I volunteered to go with them, they said, "No." In fact, I went to see the regimental commander he says, well, there might be shooting, I'll be a target from both sides. [Laughs] So I got... what they did with me was they sent me to Frankfurt to join the 508. That was the honor guard for General Eisenhower's USAF headquarters. I joined Company B there. And that regiment was split in three groups, and one was to guard the office where the officers were. And the officers were living in -- they had confiscated the houses over in the town, 10, 15, 20 miles away called Bad Hamburg, that's a resort town. And they had, so what they did was put a barbed wire completely around that, where the houses were. And one group had to be guard for that. And the third group was in training, action training, because they didn't know if everything was gonna go right, or if they had any trouble, they were ready. They were combat ready.

TI: And so which of the groups were you in?

TT: Well, they rotated.

TI: I see, okay.

TT: So I was there with them 'til the time when I was ready to come home.

TI: Any stories from that activity, any memories that you want to share?

TT: No, not really.

TT: Okay.

TT: Because everything was more or less routine after that. Then when I got ready to come home after I got enough points... oh, just before that, they started a jump school there in Frankfurt. And they offered me a cadre job there. And they said, well, they'll give me a promotion, you know. I said, "No thanks, I'm going home." [Laughs] So I didn't take it and I went home.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.