Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Terry Aratani - Fred Matsumura - Kenneth Okuma - Henry Bruno Yamada Interview
Narrators: Terry Aratani - Fred Matsumura - Kenneth Okuma - Henry Bruno Yamada
Interviewers: Matt Emery (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-aterry_g-01

<Begin Segment 1>

ME: So we are here all again on the 3rd of July, Friday, at the AJA Veterans' National Convention. And we're speaking with Kenneth Okuma, Henry Bruno Yamada, Terry Aratani --

TA: Right.

ME: And Fred Matsumura. Thanks for joining us, guys. Can you start by telling us how you all met each other? Why don't you go ahead and start, Kenneth, and tell me how you met these guys?

KO: When we landed in Camp Shelby, we were assigned to Company I. And I had not known anyone -- oh, no none of these people. So all strangers to me. And during the course of our training, we got to know each other. But I see that we are in different platoons. I'm the 3rd Platoon. These three are other platoons. So actually, by living and training, I got to know a few of them.

ME: Bruno, do you have any particularly interesting stories about the other three?

HY: Yeah, like he say, we all from different platoon, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Platoon. I don't know if you folks did it that way, chosen by platoon or what. But, but I didn't know any of 'em.

ME: You didn't know any of these guys at Shelby?

HY: No.

ME: No? So --

HY: Until we started (our basic) training.

ME: Uh-huh.

HY: Yeah.

ME: No humorous stories to start things off with?

TA: Nothing.

KO: Yeah. About each other? Oh.

ME: Yeah, about each other. No?

KO: No. [Inaudible]

TA: We all good guys, so no, there's nothing bad about --

ME. Ah, okay. Okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

ME: Let's talk a little bit about the 442nd in general. Now, the 442 had an amazing record of honors and awards. How were they able to do as well as they did? Fred, why don't you start for us?

FM. Well, I guess, we were there to prove a point, that we can be as good a soldier as anyone else in the army. So we tried our best, and accomplish quite a bit, I think.

ME: Terry, any thoughts?

TA: Well, I think it's just matter of we getting together and being Japanese American. And we had -- well, like Fred said, that we had something to prove, that we were loyal American. And because that, we were kind of thought of in Hawaii, I think, we weren't as bad as the mainland. We weren't sent to relocation camp, but at least we were -- there was some discrimination, like were restricted from entering in certain areas, with a black identification badge, which restricted from going to Pearl Harbor or to go to waterfront area. So I guess the thought was that -- and we were young. We were nineteen, twenty years old. And at that age you just, at that, when you go out there, because your buddy's gonna do a good job, you want to do a good job, too. And so you just went and did your job.

ME: Bruno?

HY: Yeah, well, I know I think, as, to go to, to the army and go to Shelby, it was a big thrill -- well, for me anyway. Like I told you, it was very thrilling because I never did much traveling or meet lotta other people before. But when I joined the 442, I really got to know a lot of people from different areas, different part of the mainland, even from Hawaii. And I would never give up this experience. I wouldn't mind going through it again.

ME: Kenneth, tell me, how was the 442 able to accomplish all that they have?

KO: May I say something more personal?

ME: Please.

KO: I'm, I'm the elder of these three because when the call came, I was already teaching for year and a half. So I'm the senior citizen of this group. I think, especially after the war, they had this GI Bill of Rights. And oh, quite a few from our -- they were about the right age because most of them were inducted right after high school, or seniors in high school. So they took advantage of the GI Bill of Rights. And the fact that we got organized after we discharged and got our clubhouse, I think that has brought us together all these years, it's been fifty-five years now, since we were inducted. So it's been a unique experience. And as Bruno said, why, you don't trade that kind of experience for anything else.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

ME: How did you guys feel about being in a segregated unit?

TA: Well, I don't think we felt anything different, but we knew that we belonged to a segregated unit. But it didn't bother us at all. We, we just, well, maybe it's better that way. I don't know.

ME: How was it better?

TA: Well, at least, at least, there was a lot of people from your home town, in fact, the same area we lived with. So in fact, even in my company, there must have been about a half a dozen of where we're playing, kids grew up together. So, I don't know. It just, it just that we, we were kind of identified as one sort of unit, I guess, which made us real proud, I think.

ME: Do you guys think you would have done as well as you did if you were in an integrated unit?

KO: I think so. The fact that we know each other, or came to know each other pretty well. To, going to battle, you are sort of, you in the spotlight as far as your friends are concerned. If you do anything wrong or you, you, you feel that you have let down your, your friends in the service. So there was a bonding together. And I don't think the fact that we were in one kind of unit doesn't mean that we were oblivious of other, other activities or other units of the, of the army. I think it was a good idea.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

ME: Well, let's talk about I Company. What was it about I Company that is so special and so unique?

FM: I Company. Well, I think it's the best company in the -- in the regiment.

ME. I think we all do. But tell us why.

FM: Why? Because we really close. Even after the war we always meet together, have parties like this, and associate with each other often.

TA: I, I personally, I think like talking to the people, boys from the other companies. They try to achieve the same thing that we do, but I think the, what makes the difference is that with I Company -- And I think (Company) I and the Engineers, more the, maybe George Company, they active. But I Company's outstanding from the standpoint that we have a good support from all the members, especially Honolulu. When we have a meeting, for instance, we call a meeting, we get at least about twenty-five, thirty people shows up, and which is real good compared -- because I understand some of the companies, they have only about four or five guys show up. But I think, primarily that we keep in close touch with each other. We try to get, especially with Jim Yamashita in LA, he's setting up all the, keeping all the (Company I directory). So we, we in close contact with -- not only in Honolulu, neighbor island, but on the mainland because I, myself, call people on the mainland quite often to find out what things and going on. But I think just a matter of everybody supporting each other that makes us, even right now, we talking about, "What are we going to do next year? Where we wanna get together?" And we've been talking about it, some of us been talking about it, and hopefully tonight, we can get answer where we going next year. So it's just a matter of everybody supporting each other and keeping in touch with each other.

HY: Yeah. I think I Company is a real model company. Lotta other companies try to do what we're doing because everything always turns out good, (especially) reunions. And I think all this comes from the days of our battle. I think I Company was (a) close, close-knitted company. And they made good name for themselves, and we had good leaders like Shiro Kashino. And I think we (were) a real model company, when it comes to the 442.

KO: The fact that tonight we going to have a number of 270 people at our banquet, and that's the largest of all the 442nd units. And this has been repeated before, that "Lost Battalion," that I Company, I think, lost the most, either through casualties or deaths. And one, one of the first units to contact the, to free the, the Texans from the, from the enclosure.

ME: So you referred to, tonight, you have the banquet, the dinner here at the reunion, with the I Company and the friends and family?

KO: Two hundred seventy, which is tremendous.

ME. That's -- yeah amazing.

KO: And as I tell the other companies the number we have, they cannot come close to that, as far as the turnout goes.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

ME. Let's talk a little bit about the reunion that we're at, tell me about the spirit of these reunions.

TA: Well, we, maybe ten years ago, we used to fight the war all over again. Especially when Kashino was here. We always fight the battle all over again. But I guess we kinda outgrew that as time went on. But you notice that we seldom talk about what happened to, with others, but when we get together, it seems like we fighting the war all over again. And I know this is, my son, one year, attended the Las Vegas reunion with us. And just happened to be about four or five of us from 1st Platoon got together, setting up for lunch. And he was, he was surprised at, all the stories came out, and he, later on he asked me, "Dad, you didn't tell me all those things." But so, I guess we used to do that. We used to fight that, but now we don't do that anymore. But again, just the fellowship that has been going on so long. And it's just something that, pretty hard to explain that, the close-knitted fellowship we share all these years. And see, we just can't let go. So it just keep going and going on and on.

ME. Bruno, you've been working in helping to organize these reunions for years now, ever since the first one.

BY. Yeah. 1953 was our first reunion. And ever since that, every five or three years (we've) been getting together. And Shiro Kashino came to almost, every one of 'em, except this year. And we had good programs. And everything goes well, so they wanna have it the following year again. So we've been going to Reno, Las Vegas, (Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago) every year, at least every (third year), so that we could stay close-knitted.

ME. What keeps people coming back?

TA: Just the camaraderie and the fellowship that we enjoy each other. We share and enjoy each other. I guess that's it. I don't know how to explain it because we just a family, okay? It seems like one big family. And we just, we keep in touch with each other, and I don't know. It's hard to get the feel -- because, your contact and your friendship that bond you together from the wartime is, I don't think anybody can experience that, unless you were there. You sleep together and you fought together, and the hardship and all that. And somehow even I try to explain to you, not feel that because you weren't there. But if -- I think that's the thing that keep us close together because we sort of, I don't know, you just can't feel that, but it's a big family we have. The kids grew up -- our grand -- our children grew up together with us, and they part of the group now, and it's a big family, that's all.

ME. How does that make you feel when you see your daughters and sons and granddaughters and grandchildren coming to the reunion as well?

KO: As Terry said, if something is intangible, you don't get to say in concrete terms why we so happy to come together and see each other. The very fact that the families are increasing with the children and grandchildren gives us big satisfaction. I'd like to point out, I went to Seattle couple of times. I don't know whether -- and both times the Shiro Kashinos hosted us. And when I, when we went there, there was a turnout of at least forty Seattle people. Just get together. And that's what the other cities do whenever a Company I person, somebody takes over, and Seattle has been one of the strongest. And that kind of feeling comes sort of naturally, spontaneously because there'll be one key person contacting the others, and without any questions, get together.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

ME: Well, Shiro keeps coming up. So I think it's time to talk about Shiro. What will you remember most about Shiro Kashino?

FM: Bruno, why don't you take over?

HY: Well, what I remember most was on, I think I mentioned to you earlier that several days before the "Lost Battalion," he was a sergeant in charge, (when) we were counterattacked. And, seems like everyone felt like (wanting) to withdraw from the area that we were in. But he told us not to (withdraw, but) keep on going, not to, not to withdraw and (hold the ground). And I think he did a hell of a thing because he saved lotta lives by doing so. If we did withdraw, we'd leave the front line wide open for (a) counter-attack. And I think, I think Fred knows more about it than I do. But that's one of the things that I remember most about Shiro.

ME: Fred, any other Shiro stories?

KO: No. They were in the same platoon, by the way.

FM: Yeah. Kash and I, we were in the first squad of 2nd Platoon. And we, we more or less helped each other out. He was a squad leader, I was his assistant. And whenever we have any kind of command to, to attack or whatever, we get together, talk it over, and then we give the assignment to our troops. And then we would attack in that, in that fashion. Well, Kash, that guy, yeah, he's, he's a born leader, I think. And he's so brave, gutsy. So lotta time I had to, to sort of pull him back because he wants to go.

ME: What was it that made him so special and unique?

FM: We were good friends to begin with. And like I say, he's, he's a good leader. Gutsy guy. Look after the boys all the time. And all around fantastic, terrific guy.

KO: There was a certain charisma about him. He's not, he's not a forward person, trying to get attention. But by his actions and otherwise, people, especially the men, respected him for his, for his qualities.

TA: Being in the first squad, 1st Platoon, I, I, we knew Kash in Company I because you can't miss him because he was so big and tough-looking. And, but the thing that I knew when he was, at that time, I didn't, I really didn't get to know Kash until after the war. But when I was with Company I, he was always there to help people out. And after the war, when I really got to know him, I knew that he really cared for people. And he really go all out to help people, to take care of things. And the thing that really I admired is that being from Seattle area, but right out of the bat, he was a local boy, he was from Hawaii like, so he was always there trying, trying to help, help anybody out. And I think that's the thing that I admired about him, that he's sort, he's a toughy-looking, but he's really soft-hearted.

ME: It sounds like he will be greatly missed from this reunion.

KO: Oh, yeah.

TA: We always miss, yeah.

HY: Definitely. (He was such a fun person. Although we will miss him we're fortunate to have the rest of his family here.)

KO: More so that he's just recently died.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

ME: What was it like hanging out with Kash in the hospitality suite?

TA: Well, the thing that I remember most about him, after, toward the end of the reunion, he's always singing "Tangerine." That was his favorite song. He'd get up on the table and -- Kari, you remember "Tangerine?"

Kari Hiraoka: Yeah, I remember that.

KA: He never refused anything, going on the stage -- even dancing the hula, like I told you. He would go up on the stage, and then -- I have pictures of those.

ME: You have pictures of him dancing the hula?

KA: Yeah.

ME: That's pretty good.

KA: I'm gonna give it to Kari.

ME: How did "Tangerine" go? I don't know that song.

FM: Maybe they know.

ME: Is somebody gonna sing it for him?

HY: [Sings] Tangerine, she is all I care for -- something like that.

KO: He gets on the table and then sings that.

HY: And mostly [Inaudible].

TA: That was finale at the reunion.

ME: What was that?

TA: Finale.

ME: He had a dance that went along with it, too?

FM: Oh, yeah. He goes through the motion of -- it was funny as hell, too.

ME: What were some of the -- Bev was talking about how Fred, you and Shiro were always just in stitches, just yucking it up, just with all the funny stories you guys were telling. What were you guys talking about that was so humorous?

FM: All kinds. All kinds of stuff.

ME: Anything you can share?

FM: I can't remember right now, but -- yeah, he's a hell of a guy.

ME: Did you guys ever hang out when you were in France, when you would have time off, when you would get a pass to go to town? Would you -- what would you guys do?

FM: Oh, yeah. We always hang out together. We go out on passes together. Bars -- what do you call? -- casinos, dance halls. Dancing. Have a few drinks

HY: Your father was a good dancer. He could do everything. He good boxer, good dancer -- (hula, ballroom, jitterbug... you name it.)

KO: Good athlete.

HY: Good ballplayer. You know, he was the chairman of the 1961 reunion in Seattle, right? And he did a terrific job. We had a wonderful time, going to Canada and visiting all that, Mount Rainier, and Lake Washington. He had a real well planned program. I think everybody enjoyed it.

ME: Yeah. I didn't realize this. Bruno was telling me that he was a boxer on the ship to Europe. He was a pretty good boxer.

KO: Oh, yeah. Good athlete.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: I'm just trying to get a sense because in Seattle, again we hear so much that he was in some ways -- I've heard vets in Seattle call him a soldier's soldier, that the other guys looked up to him. And I'm trying to understand what characteristics he had that, the four of you saw, that made him sort of like that?

FM: That's the kind of leader he is. He liked to take charge and lead the troops forward, always moving forward. And he's always saying, "Come on, guys let's go." So we right behind him, just pushing up ahead.

TI: Yeah, Fred, you talked about how sometimes you had to hold him back. You said --

FM: Yeah, but he wants to move too fast, he's --

ME: Move too fast because you'd get ahead of the other platoons sometimes.

FM: Yeah, sometimes we had to sort of ease back little bit, so everybody stay in a formation like and move up together. Yeah. He wants to get it over with real quick, get out of there and chase the Germans off the hill, whatever we're attacking. And then relax a little bit.

TI: Now, during basic training could you tell that he was going to be this kind of fighter already, or is this something that just happens on the battle front?

FM: Oh, yeah, it happens on the battle front. In basic training he was a good soldier, no doubt about that. But he was on the quiet side more or less. He didn't, well, he wasn't real aggressive or anything. Whatever came out, whatever duties you are asked to perform, he did, do it real well. But then when we got up front, that's when he's, he really came into the -- what do you call? -- everybody knows he's there. Maybe, I don't know, he had something on his mind or whatever, but...

KO: One reason I think he's termed as soldier's soldier because before he asked anybody to, on a mission, if it's too dangerous for that boy, he himself would go. The fact that he's he always thought of his men first before he made any assignments.

TI: Was that pretty common in the 442? I talked to other sort of sergeants, and --

KO: They are many.

TI: That there was a real concern for the men all the way through.

HY: I know one time he felt really bad. He sent one of his, one of his men on patrol, I think, one of his best friends, Hayashi, Tadao Hayashi from Salinas, yeah? (It was very sad because Hayashi was killed in action during that patrol.)

ME: Right.

FM: Yeah. What happened was that we were more or less in a area where there wasn't too much action going on at that time. So Kubota told me to go, go down and take couple of days off. So I went down the hill to a rest area. And I was having a dinner. And I see Kash walking down. Say, "Hey, Kash, what you doing?" Say, "Kubota told me to get down because I take a few days off." Join me down in the rest area and relax a little bit. Then all of a sudden, I guess, there's some activity going on. So Kubota was gonna take a patrol out. But Hayashi volunteered to go with Kubota, and he got shot. I understand that a sniper got him. And when Kash heard about it, he just took off back up in the front lines to look for Hayashi. But they couldn't find him for a couple of days.

HY: Yeah, he felt real bad.

HY: Yeah.

KO: And I, I think that had motivated Shiro, too, in combat, the death of Hayashi.

FM: Yeah, because in the original first squad, Hayashi is the only one that we lost from our original guys that we started out from basic training because we had some replacement that come in later on, and we lost some of them. But the original first squad, we were very fortunate we just lost one.

TI: You know something that -- and this may be hard -- I'm thinking both Fred and Kash were thrown into the stockade after the "Lost Battalion." Did the other platoons know what happened? Did you guys ever see what happened to Kash and Fred? Want to talk about that?

KO: Well, I, I was with the Headquarters Platoon group. And I was given the responsibility of distributing cigarettes and candies and all that. So I think that by the second day of the stockade, I visited Fred and the gang over there, and took some things over. And they were really in the stockade, fenced in. And I think word spread that what happened, so -- but the unfortunate thing about his record being smeared by this thing. And many people didn't know, you see. But I'm glad everything's cleared up.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

ME: For those of us that have not ever had combat experience, I would like to hear, if you would, from each of you, one of your most vivid memories on the battlefield that stands out in your mind.

KO: I was with the headquarters. I'll turn it over to Bruno.

HY: Well, there were a lotta experiences -- well, for me, not too bad because I was with the motor squad, which is in the rear of the line men. We're pretty safe compared to people on the front line. But we had some experiences. Like in the, in the Vosges Mountain, we had a barrage, and a friend of mine got killed, a guy from Hilo. And a guy who'll be here tonight, Champ Suzuki, he got hit on the leg. And we were all carried out. And I thought, "Oh, that was the end for us already." But gosh, several weeks later, we, were back on the front line. But we didn't participate in the rescue of the "Lost Battalion" because of that.

ME: You wanted to get back on the front lines as soon as possible, didn't you?

HY: Yeah. I really wanted -- but I was in a good hospital, a place called Plombiere LeBaine. I understand it was a rest area for Madam -- what's her name? -- Madam, I think the story -- she's in the storybook, anyway. Plombiere LeBaine. It was a, where they have a lotta hot springs. And I spent several days there.

ME: Because I think that --

TI: Something that -- oh, I'm sorry.

ME: No. Go ahead.

TI: I was thinking, I interviewed an L Company, and this was a Seattle boy. And he talked about the Seattle boys oftentimes getting together as a group, whenever there was a break. They would go from company to company. And the Seattle boys would --

HY: Oh, visit.

TI: Get together and go to town sometimes together. And Kash was sometimes with them.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: He also mentioned sometimes that the Seattle boys would try to get a sports team together and play the Hawaiians. Do you remember any of that? Did that ever happen? Because he also said the Seattle boys were really good athletes, and they would like to challenge in either football or baseball.

HY: I was never good at baseball, though. Yeah, I remember a guy that used to be with us, Matt Tanaka, Matsu Saburo Tanaka -- Tanaka, he was a good athlete. In fact, he was with the Cincinnati Reds (farm team), I think.

ME: Oh, okay. Because Kash was, in Seattle, he was a, sort of the quarterback of the city championship high school ...

KO: High school.

ME: Garfield High School.

HY: Yeah. That's what I heard.

TI: So he went to there, and I was thinking Mas Watanabe and some other ones who were pretty good athletes, and so they, when, he mentioned in Italy, there were times when they'd get together, just the Seattle boys. And then they would try to challenge the other teams. But he said that was special.

KO: In fact, the companies sometimes had scrimmage, football scrimmage within the company. And this fellow told me the story. He's pretty -- he's not big, but rugged, from Hawaii. And he and the other fellow, also from Hawaii. And see, they knew how good Kash was, so they used to gang together, football. And they would try to block him because he's so big and, so that was kind of a friendly rivalry between the, let's say, Hawaiian and mainland people.

TI: Yeah, because --

KO: It's amusing.

TI: I know the Seattle team, they used, I mean, Kash was kind of one of their stars, so that was important. So the Hawaiians would gang up on him?

KO: It's a friendly kind of a thing.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KO: I like to say, too, that you must have heard that there hasn't been an AWOL case, AWOL case, in the 442. You know what AWOL is? Absent without leave. In fact, many of them who got hurt, in the hospital, ran away from the hospital to rejoin the gang.

HY: That's Kash.

KO: That's the kind of spirit you see there. They wanted to be with their boys again. Most of the time even if you hit, you don't want to go back again. It's natural. So many of them wanted to go back.

TI: Yeah, someone told me that, that they looked into records, and the 442 had the highest incidents of AWOL of all the units, but it wasn't that they were trying to leave, they were all trying to go back. That, in terms of desertions, there were none.

KO: Yeah.

ME: There was never a problem with that.

KO: Yeah.

TI: And you said it was almost like a running joke because they would see people come back to the front lines, and say "You AWOL?" and they'd say, "Yeah."

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

ME: Any other combat stories you can tell us?

TA: Well, going back to what my vivid memories, I guess the first day always come back to me because I remember the first day when we went to combat, and I guess we were the front point platoon going out, as soon as we start going down the hill, point -- Henry Nakada was scouts out, and here comes the -- you can hear the muzzle blasts of the artillery, boom. The next thing we know, we can hear the shell going over, peeu, we hit. We all hit the ground, shaking like crazy. Thing going to come on out. But it might have landed one mile back of us. Shortly after that, when we went to the village, then we heard that Fred Kameda got killed. He was the first one from Company I got killed. But we, all of a sudden that, before we can get into the, across the open field, and we got, open up the machine gun fire from the hilltop. And was a very hot day. And the only thing you can do is that, take cover behind the stone wall. And I think we must have stayed back there for couple of hours, and we couldn't even move at that time.

And then next thing we know, there's some tank coming up to support us. And soon as the tank made the turn, the anti-tank gun got it, and the thing just burst in flames. So we can see the crew trying to get out from the bottom of the tank. And at that time, we didn't have no idea what to do the first day. Then after that, when things to clear up, we going around the bend, walking along the road, we see the German anti-tank crew shot, all dead on the weapon carrier. We see tank blown up on the side of the hill, people lying all over the place. What happened was that the 100 Battalion, knewing that we were pinned down the front, made a force march around the thing, then went clear back up the, the enemies were against us, and they knocked everything back there.

And that -- but the funny thing is that, after we were in combat for a while, then you can kind of feel that no -- you can, you know whether the guy is firing directly or you not, just by the noise of the -- for instance, later on, if it's the sound of peeum, peeum, peeum, you can walk around freely. You know that he's, he not gonna be near you. But when you hear the sound, pack, pack, then you know he's aiming at you, then you take cover. So the first day, if we knew that, I'm that we could have, the machine gun fire, we could've jumped all over the place and move along, but just that -- and that night, as we move along, you can see everything burning, and really something that kinda stayed with me for a long, long time. And I really believe that the sound that -- after you get used to it, all the sounds and everything, and that's when you really can move and fight your way through. But the first day, we just sat behind the wall and just couldn't move, until the 100 went around and cleaned every -- but the 100 was an experienced (outfit) because they would -- they went to Africa and they came all the way up. So they could just move all over the place. And I think that's what happened later on to us, too. But that really stayed me for a long time.

ME: What else do you remember hearing in battle? You mentioned the machine guns. What else?

TA: Well, you can tell the, when the mortar fire, you can hear that muzzle, poom. You can hear that thing, peeu. Okay, you listen to it, and if, if you don't hear it for a while, and if you feel the noise coming, rushing like fshh, then you know that you gotta be care -- going right underneath somebody near you. But if you go peeu, you can hear it for a long time. You know it's going way over you. I think the one that most scary for us infantrymen was the German 88. It, because soon as you hear the muzzle blast, poom, it's hitting you already, poom-bang already. That fast. And the other thing is that you can tell when our machine gun fire, you go pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop. When the German machine gun fire, just like motorcycle, brrrrr, brrrrr. So all these sounds that you get used to after a while, and really help you in, in your combat. Because I remember that went into Vosges (Mountain). Oh, the bullet was flying over all, but we just keep moving because we knew ping, ping, ping, we don't care. You know he's not firing at you. Keep moving along. But the first day, just sat there.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

ME. What about tree bursts? What do they sound like?

TA: Oh, that, that's terrible. Because right after Bruyeres they told us that, to go move up outside of town. And they told us that hillside was secured because that, we on a protective slope. Then what happened that, we're move up, up a half way up the slope, then we got caught from the 88 on the, this, open fire directly on us. But fortunately, the trees, there were quite a bit of trees, so we're half way up, the tree -- the bullet, the shells are coming in, hitting the tree burst, so we go okay, but the people below us, and the burst was coming down. So we lost several people right there, then because it was coming down right on the them, and we were half way up, but we were protected up there because of tree bursts.

KO: Speaking of tree bursts, so many of them were lying in the trenches, I mean, in the foxhole. And as a result of the tree bursts, and people wouldn't know until they get to that foxhole, see that person's no longer living. So there's no protection from tree bursts. That's, that was a devastating part.

TA: Yeah. That's the reason why at night, when we were, especially when in the Vosges Mountain area there, the forest there, at night, they tell you to keep quiet. No, no, don't make noise and that. But you can hear that hatchet or the bayonet, going and cutting the branches, pop-pop-pop, late at night. And then what we do is that, you'd dig a slit trench, you lay the logs or whatever logs you can cut, they put the twig on it, and you try to cover half of your body, at least. So in case there's a tree burst, your body -- your upper, your upper part body, only legs be exposed. So that we -- every night we used to dig a slit trench and cover because of the tree bursts. And they call it -- if you get hit, they call it million-dollar wound because you got hit in the leg, and a chance of going home. But I remember -- you remember we used to dig every night?

KO: Oh, yeah.

FM: Oh, yeah.

HY: And get something to protect your upper part body in the trench.

ME: Can you -- if you close your eyes today, can you still hear the sounds of war?

TA: Oh, yeah. I think I can.

ME: Yeah?

KO: I can.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

ME: What are some of the psychological effects? What stays with you?

TA: Well, I think I can turn it off and on. If you ask me, I can tell you what it, but it doesn't bother me at all today.

ME: How did you deal with your friends dying on the battlefield? Do you ever get over that?

FM: No, well --

FM: No, really tough.

TA: You kind of, kind of forget, you remember, you forget it. But the hardest thing is that when you, for me anyway, was when I came back and one of our good friend, came back, and I went to see the family. And the sister asked me how he died, and I just couldn't explain to him, and just had to tell 'em well, he just went right away and things like, but it's really, but I guess, I guess, we just time, as time go by, then you kind of remember. But same thing forget about it.

ME. Were you going to comment on --

FM: I was going, going back to the first day of battle. 2nd Platoon were also moving up on, I don't know what section of the hill. But we move up, about half way up the hill, and we couldn't move any further. So they told us to drop back because they going to shell, shell the hill there. Well, by doing so, it, my [Inaudible], I saw this German guy standing right up by the machine gun. So at that time I was assistant squad leader, so -- assistant squad leader are required to carry what they call a anti-tank gun, bazooka. Something like a got bazooka --

KA: Grenade thrower, yeah.

FM: So I attached the grenade thrower to my rifle, and just as he stood up I fired about 3 or 4 feet over his head because the missile is really slow. You can see it going. And it don't go straight. It's sort of a, at a arch. So I fired about 3 or 4 feet over his head, and I can see the thing going, tzid-tzid-tzid-tzid, like that. All of a sudden, boom, and nothing. I didn't see that guy at all. Then we pulled back. And 3rd Platoon went up after everything was settled out, and one of the 3rd Platoon guys told me that they saw the machine gun, and they saw half of the body was gone from one of the guys out there. I think it was Joe Okamoto that told me.

ME: Got him good.

FM: Yeah. I know I got one guy, anyway.

ME: What did that feel like, taking another human's life?

FM: Well, it's theirs or mine. At that time it was, "We in combat now, so..."

ME: You just don't think about it, then?

HY: It's got to be that way, otherwise --

TA: It's not as simple to shoot at somebody and get them because I'm telling you, you fire so many rounds of ammo, bullet, but I don't think you can hardly hit anybody. Because most of the time it's, it's, you fire at them they're running away. It's not like in the movie, you point-blank and you firing away. So although you good marksmanship, but it's not easy to hit somebody.

FM: Yeah. I had one occasion where point-blank, about 10 or 15 feet, where I shot the guy in the foxhole. And I saw blood dripping off from his forehead, and his chest there in real close range. And that, that's stayed with me for a long time.

ME: Can you still see that?

FM: Yeah, but if I, when I think about it, I can still see him, yeah. Yeah.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: This one is a tangent, but earlier this week I interviewed Senator Danny Inouye, and he got his battlefield commissions right after the "Lost Battalion," right near, right about that time. But the interesting thing, it sort of took me aback. I wasn't ready for this. But he said one of his first things as an officer is, I guess during the Champagne Campaign, that period, he was what he called a whorehouse officer. That he had to go to the whorehouses and make sure that, I guess if the men went to a whorehouse, they had to sign, or go to a specific station or something? And I meant to ask the senator this but I never did. But was it common for the men to go to whorehouses? Is this something that [Laughs] answer -- I'm just, like what percentage? I mean, is it, was it something that was pretty common. I know because when you guys went down, you guys had to relieve your tension and everything.

KO: I would say a good percentage, frankly.

HY: They had the pro stations.

TI. Had the what?

HY: They call that the pro stations, where you had to go before you to go to the --

TI: The pro stations you call it?

TA: Yeah.

FM: No, you go after.

TA: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Get examined.

FM: Yeah.

TI: And so was this, for many of the men, because you were all young, fairly young --

KA: Yeah, right.

TI: Was this like the first experience, sexual experiences were in Europe?

KA: Uh-huh.

TI: And I mean, was it sort of like when you went, I mean, I imagine in some ways, there were experiences, in not only the whorehouses, but the drinking and partying. It was probably new to a lot of the men because back in Hawaii or the mainland, they probably were the raised in a fairly strict environment. And then all of a sudden, you're in Europe, you're fighting. Then you go to these towns, and it was like, everything -- anything goes. How was it like? Do you remember that part?

FM. I, myself, I never did drink before I went in the service. And well, while we were training we had, one of our men that goes to a PX quite often, he liked to have a few beers. So we tag along with him, just to make sure that he gets home okay. So we go and we sit with him for -- he drink about a case of beer. We might drink about one or two. And we more or less bring him home every night from the PX. And actually, I started to drink when we went overseas, after we went to the combat. Some of the guys got killed. And then we had beer rations. So we all gather all the beers together, and then we all sit around. And we drank and talk about what happened, how certain guy got killed or things like that.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TA: I think many, many of us, when we take a leave and go in town, I think was looking for food more than anything else, trying to look for spaghetti. In fact, I remember many times that we used to go to families. They was actually -- they didn't have any stores, restaurants, or anything, but the family used to offer to sell us some of the spaghetti and things like that.

HY: Fish and rice.

TA: Yeah. So that's what we were looking most of the time. Looking for food -- eggs and rice.

TI: What were some of the fond memories when you guys think back to Europe? I mean, were there any fond memories?

HY: I think the best memories we had was in the Riviera, Nice. Oh, we had a lot of fun over there. Lot of rest, entertainment. I think really build the morale up there.

FM: Topless girls on the beach.

HY: Huh?

TA: Topless girl...

FM: Yeah, on the beach.

HY: Yeah.

TI. Did they have topless girls back then?

FM: Semi-topless.

KO: Yeah, they had topless.

TI: But that must have been a --

HY: We used to go dancing a lot.

FM: Yeah.

ME: Were you a pretty good dancer, too, Bruno?

HY: Huh?

ME: Pretty good dancer?

TA: He still is.

ME: Still is?

TA: Still taking lesson.

HY: Yeah, never learn.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

ME: Okay. As a, I'd like to get a quick final thought from everybody, just the legacy of I Company. If you could just tell us how you would like I Company to be remembered. What you would like future generations to know about I Company.

KO: It's, I think, the bonding effect, feeling of being a member of Company I. And the, we hope this legacy will continue, even among the sons and daughters to go, to continue. We proud that we one of the most active companies in the 442nd.

HY: I would like everyone to remember I Company as a very brave, gallant company. And I hope that legacy continues. And we have my, our good, good younger generation like Kari, and -- by the way, the chairman of this reunion is Guy Koga, whose father was (an) I Company member. And also the memorial chairman, (Alan) Kubota, who's Sadaichi Kubota's son. And things like that will keep good legacy on this company -- I Company, anyway. And I hope it continues.

TA: Well, like, hope that we can continue to keep a happy, big, happy family, as long as -- and if we go away, then I hope the sons and daughters would carry on, and maybe later on, maybe even the grandchildren. But that's the reason when, this evening, when we prepared the banquet, we encouraged the sons and daughters to turn out, and you going to be quite a surprised, surprised that quite a few are there, the grandchildren. Even I was surprised when some of the names. But I hope that one big family would continue.

FM: I think that Kenneth, Bruno and Terry has covered all the important factors about I Company. So I just leave it at that.

TI. Well, thank you. Well, that's --

ME: Thanks, guys. Thanks a lot. Thanks for your time.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.