Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Susumu Ito Interview
Narrator: Susumu Ito
Interviewer: Stephen Fugita
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-isusumu-01-0023

<Begin Segment 23>

SF: So when for example, the 442 was under General Dahlquist --

SI: Of where?

SF: When the 442 was under General Dahlquist.

SI: Yes.

SF: Were there any instances where he gave some sort of order that was, just like you said, apparently irrational or didn't make sense under the conditions, and did people subvert the order or ignore it?

SI: Well, I think -- I had no contact with General Dahlquist although it's recorded in -- if you look at that Fire for Effect you see some of my colleagues. Uke Minaga was my radio operator and George Oiye who wrote a portion was -- he took my job when I got my commission. He had a F.O. party nearby, one of the other companies, claimed that I was near them when General Dahlquist gave the order to charge this area. But I've either completely blanked out or refused to acknowledge that this happened, and I have no positive recollection of this. I do have some of the other minutiae, but of this one incident, which several witnesses said I was near them, I have -- you should read this book of Lost Battalions of the World War because the author has published letters that Dahlquist wrote his wife. And in one of them he talks about sending his Jap troops to rescue this lost battalion. And my good friend, Italian friend, in our department -- he's a professor and I have space in his lab now -- he says, "What you guys really need is to get Spielberg to write, to produce a movie on your outfit, on the parents being in internment camps, and the sacrifices that you gave," and our -- I can't say alleged, but our involvement or being near when Dachau was liberated. So he says there's a chance for an epic movie to be made, not like "Go For Broke" with Van Johnson or some of the others, but a real jazzed up version of this. As a matter of fact, last summer about this time, a professional writer came to me and said, "I've got some possible scripts that I want to write for HBO or Ted Turner or somebody, and I sent about a dozen of them in and one was the Rescue of the Lost Battalion. And they came and the only one they wanted was the story on the Lost Battalion," and since I was involved with it, although not as an attached individual, so I had several conversations with him, and he wrote up a three page proposal. If some of these things you'd like, I can send them to you. He sent this in and a few weeks later it came back, and he said, "Well, Ted Turner thought we had too many war movies and he's not interested, but he says he's keeping it on the file." And I've loaned him a lot of books and material, but his proposal for the script, even before this Lost Battalions came out, was that here was prejudiced general who... as members of the Lost Battalion themselves -- we invited one fellow to our reunion six years ago in San Francisco. We paid his way from North Carolina and his name was Bud Glover. He said -- and he got up and addressed our group. This was only Charlie Battery. We had about 130 people, many from Hawaii, all over the states that's including wives and relatives. And he says, "God damn it, they call us the Lost Battalion, but we weren't lost. We knew exactly where we were. It's just that we couldn't fight our way out and our other battalions couldn't get to us. And you guys were there so our general sent you guys against us to rescue us and you did." And to this day they're very, very grateful to us, and as I said we're honorary Texans, they're looking forward to us joining them, and they treat us like brothers. I think if it were the other way around, if we were the lost battalion and they rescued us, we'd be kind of ashamed to admit it because why the hell couldn't we fight our way out or have our other battalions rescue us. I think in the Japanese sense, this would have been not an honorable solution to being surrounded. I certainly wouldn't think so, but they embrace us with...

SF: So that's a really good example of the Japanese cultural thing.

SI: That's right. That's the complete difference. I would be kind of ashamed to say first of all, we were careless enough to get surrounded; and then we didn't have the fire power, guts, or whatever, to fight our way back; and then our own outfit could not rescue us; but they had to send you guys for us. And maybe that's what Dahlquist sensed. Otherwise all would have been prisoners or killed. So as you more and more look into this, it was a very complex, involved, with the background, our background involved, and our willingness and spirit to fight, and our dedication to this. So it is, when you think about it, a rather unusual and unique situation when you put together all the bits and pieces. So maybe someday there will be something like that.

SF: Yeah, should be.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.