Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Louise Kashino - Sadaichi Kubota - Bill Thompson Interview
Narrators: Louise Kashino, Sadaichi Kubota, Bill Thompson
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Debra McQuilken (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 1, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-klouise_g-01

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Okay. So why don't we get started? And why don't you go ahead and ask the first question?

DM: When you initiated this effort, why did you feel it was so important to overturn the court-martial or to see that happen?

SK: Well, you know, when we trained together, when we fought together shoulder-to-shoulder, we formed a great, great togetherness, a camaraderie. And I didn't feel that it should end when the war ended. That we should continue together. So when this person made that remark, sort of kidding your father, regards to his court-martial, I said, "No, this is wrong. This is wrong." It really hurt me, Shiro being very good friend of mine, and we fought together. I thought something should be done, must be done. So this is the reason I took steps in trying to get him out of the conviction. So that was the beginning.

TI: Okay, and how about the others?

DM: What about the others? How about Mr. Thompson? You didn't know my father...

BT: No, I didn't.

DM: And yet you did so much on his behalf. Why was it important to you?

BT: Well, knowing Sadaichi was trying to do something, that I could help. Main thing was that I had access to the 442nd archive records. And so just bumping into him and having him tell me what he's trying to do, so I said, "Oh, let me help you. I'll get whatever records you need." And that started it.

SK: Yes. Actually, it's a chance meeting. Because I knew, I know Bill very well from Hilo days. And when my effort got stopped along the way, I said, "There must be something..." It was really frustrating to me to have this thing stopped over there, you see. So I was airing my frustration to Bill one day. So all he said was, "Hey, Sadaichi, let me help." And this was the beginning. And I really, really appreciated his help. Yes. He did all kind of research.

BT: Yeah, well, he had Kash write a letter to me. I think it was a two-page letter, very kind of formal like. And I said, "Oh, heck, we're 442, we should stick together, we've always done it."

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

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Louise, how about you?

DM: Yeah. Why was important for you to see the court-martial overturned?

LK: Well, I felt that Sadaichi was so sincere in wanting to do something. I felt that he must (have) had unfinished business or something. And when he asked, he must have asked them before to try to overturn it, and I think he turned Mr. Kubota down. But in '85, I overheard a conversation when he was talking to Fred Matsumura and Shiro, and so I said to him, "Well, he's initiated the letter to Dan Inouye and Matsunaga, so I think it'd be nice if you would follow through." And I kind of urged him to. And then furthermore, I said it was for our daughters' sake. They're a little sensitive about it. And I thought that it would... you know, if we could do something about it, at least make an effort. And he always felt that it would never come about. So he didn't want to put forth any effort. He was that kind of person who didn't want to be bothered. So with my urging him, I think that he decided he would go along with the request. So when the forms came in from the army to fill out, well, had to keep prodding him to fill it out and state his reasons. So he did it. And right along he was kind of dragging his heels, right?

SK: Yes. At one point, I know, Louise was frustrated, too, because your father said, "Oh, to heck with everything." The attitude I felt he had. But I feel, I think I wrote to your mother saying, "Oh, let's not give up. Let's go for it," you know. So now I feel, I'm really glad, really glad that Louise forced your father to follow through. And as Bill knows, we won. And I'm really happy. But Bill did a lot of work. Oh, my goodness. If you see his file, I think he spent a zillions of pages of paper. [Laughs]

LK: I've got a box full. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: I have a question. From the 1983 reunion 'til 1997, when the court-martial was overturned, that's a period of about fourteen years.

SK: That's right.

TI: So it's a long time. During that period, were there times when any of you felt like you should just give up? That it was going to be too hard to do? And if so, how did the others help you to keep going?

SK: I didn't feel in any way that we should give up. I felt right through we should go for it. And of course, Bill came in at the time, so with his research and having friends in Washington, D.C., I think these are the things that really made the thing go. And I give quite of bit of credit to Bill, too, and to Louise, too, for telling her husband to keep on going.

TI: Sadaichi, were there times when you thought that there wasn't much hope? That it would be really, really hard for it to happen?

SK: Yes, at the beginning, when the records department said, "We have no record." The particular section where the 442 records were kept was burned. Somebody had set a fire to that portion. And I thought, "Gee, there goes our chance." So that one particular time I said, "Oh, maybe we don't have a chance." But then we wrote to Patsy Mink, and I think through her insistence, too, that we got the record from Mr. Petree, or something.

BT: Petree, yeah.

SK: Petree, yeah. Because he's the very one that said, "No record. Sorry, but no record." And I felt kind of down on that one, too.

BT: Yeah, I think they had turned down his request for records, I think two times.

SK: That's right.

BT: And I think they also informed Senator Inouye that... well, I don't know what, but the Senator said, "Well, he got word from the military authorities that," you know, "this is it, he won't be able to move."

SK: That's right.

BT: But once we got the records and everything fell into place, then it started moving. And well, having the Senator, especially the Senator's staff, help us, you know, that really counted.

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

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Louise, for you and Kash, were there times the two of you felt, "Boy, this is really going to be really hard," and gave up hope?

LK: Well, when Senator Inouye's office came back and said, sent us a copy of the letter saying that the records were burnt and there's no way of researching anything without the records, that was kind of a final decision from them. So we kind of said, "Oh well, we tried," you know. So then I remember in 1993 when we were here for the 50th reunion, Sadaichi kept saying, "You know, we've got to keep trying," and, "I'm talking to Patsy Mink..." So I think he hadn't given up, so we, I felt that we shouldn't give up. But my husband, you know, was always on the side, "Oh, no hope, who cares?" But when the records did appear, and it kind of... we had no forewarning. We received a letter from her saying that, "She had gotten the records, and they're enclosing what records they could salvage." And those were the records that were copies of the originals, but had singed edges. They were in fact in the fire. So that's when we first read the court-martial order, which my husband had never seen. And it said that there was a copy given to the defendant, but he had never received a copy of that. And that kind of, kind of got his bristle in his back. But to say that he was guilty, and he had pleaded guilty, and he was charged with all this, and he just felt that... just kind of gave him some ammunition, kind of. "Oh, now we got the records, maybe we better, maybe we better pursue it." That's when he was more positive.

BT: I think he was kind of aggravated. He read the charges.

LK: Yes.

BT: Then everything kind of fell into place.

LK: Yes.

BT: See, there was two charges against him. One said that, "You can't take Hayashi away." And you know, Hayashi is the one that died in battle. And Kash said, "How can an MP officer look at ten, twelve Buddhaheads, and remember a specific one, much less a name?" And the other charge was he was disrespectful, he was drunk and disrespectful toward a superior officer. And again, that's what we were in Southern France for, to relax. We were allowed to go to the bars. And you know, so I think when Kash read that, he kind of got angry. And then I think he said, "I guess he would like to pursue the thing to a logical end."

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

<Begin Segment 5>

SK: I remember the time we got stopped, and... was it Snyder who wrote to say that perhaps you could get affidavits from certain people, right? (It was David R. Kinneer, Executive Secretary of the Board for Correction of Military Records who suggested obtaining affidavits to show proof...)

BT: Oh, either the chaplain or the soldier who initiated the scuffle.

SK: Yeah, that's right. And other, what do you call, affidavits, you know. So this is when we worked a little harder. Chaplain Yamada was dead, of course, so we couldn't get anything from him. But James Matsuda, he was the person directly involved with the scuffle. And I went to see him at least three times. The first time I saw him, he said, "To heck with it, forget about it. I don't want to even see you" -- I phoned him -- "I don't want to even see you." But you know, we, I took honey. When he was not home. I says, "I left the honey there. Hey, James. I wanna come see you." Then I guess he kind of cooled down. And the third time, I took Shig Matsumoto with me. That's when he consented to say a few words regards to the incident. And it's a good thing he admitted to the fact that he was the one that maybe punched the officer. And we got affidavits from others, too, who were involved in the particular, during the particular night.

TI: Well, talking about Matsuda, though, I know just how difficult it was to convince him. Because I know Bill, you tried to contact him, also.

SK: That's right.

BT: Yes.

TI: And he wouldn't give an inch.

BT: Yeah, well, he didn't know me, and a...

SK: That's right.

BT: And he said he just wanted to bury the thing. It's all done and forgotten. But again, like Kash, we decided we're not going to give up. [Laughs]

SK: That's right.

DM: I think, though, that my father never, ever mentioned that person's name. I don't think my dad ever, um, placed blame with him. And so I think it's interesting that to the family, because we have never heard his name.

SK. That's right.

DM: And he's protected sort of, that code of honor, of not saying anything for all these years.

BT: Well, the funny thing is that the chaplain knew who had started it. I guess word got around. But when you look at it, when Kash got his special court-martial orders that evening, when Fred saw that, they said, "Gee, we didn't know this happened." And they didn't know. There was a fight, but they didn't know how it started and who started it. In fact, the MP officer agrees, the boys all agree, it's like a misunderstanding, that little scuffle. Everybody shook hands, went back, and everybody thought that was it. That's why it's amazing that a court-martial would come out of that incident.

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

<Begin Segment 6>

DM: Mr. Kubota, when you mentioned the meeting with Mr. Matsuda, that really was a turning point in this case, wasn't it?

SK: I believe so, because he admitted to the scuffle.

DM: Right. It was a breakthrough for the case.

SK: This is what I believe, yes. And too, as Bill said, Reverend Yamada knew that Matsuda was the person involved, primarily, so the Reverend talked to him, "You know that, and we know that you were the cause of this thing. And why don't you admit to this fact, and get the others off the hook?" -- the three other guys. But he wouldn't budge. He didn't budge. And this is all what Reverend Yamada is telling me. So this I remember very well. And this was a key point too, I believe, that we had targeted the particular person, you see. So this is the reason we saw Matsuda. And the code, as you say, we never snitched on anybody. And I believe that's what happened, too, with your father, Matsumura and Hayashi. Those three said, "No. They didn't do anything." But they never pointed their fingers at Matsuda, you see?

DM: I think all of the people involved dealt with this in their own way. My dad tended to downplay it. How do you perceive that Mr. Matsuda has dealt with that court-martial? Because as many times as we've been to Hawaii, we had never met him. I mean has he been involved in the veterans' group?

BT: I think, from what I understand, Matsuda was feeling no pain. This was a bar/dance hall. Everybody was relaxing. And then the MP officer stopped him, and he just brushed past the MP officer. And then when the MP officer approached him, I guess something triggered the scuffle. I don't think Matsuda remembers exactly. He admits, "Yes, he started that," but the exact sequence of that, I don't think he could truthfully say what happened, because he was feeling no pain.

LK: But when Dad read James Matsuda's affidavit, he said that was, he didn't realize that he had actually had a gun in his rib from the MP. And so it was, you know for him, also it was revealing as to how the incident started. All he knew was that all of a sudden, there was a scuffle and he got involved into it. And so, and so many things happened so fast, apparently. That's why when nobody said, admitted, when they got taken in the next day, he said that when nobody... when he... I guess they knew it was Matsuda, but then he said, "Since he didn't speak up," he says, "why I was the, he was the leader of the group." So he says, "Well, somebody had to take the rap." So he said he did. And so that's why he got the worst of it, right? He got put into solitary confinement.

SK: That's right.

LK: So he just didn't really know exactly what happened. And he said, he said in later years, things happened so fast, he can't really pinpoint the sequence.

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

<Begin Segment 7>

DM: I guess what I was trying to see is how, how did Mr. Matsuda -- we've been to Hawaii to every reunion. We've never met him. My father's never mentioned him. How did he deal with that court-martial?

SK: Well, I think he felt guilty all along. So he never associated with the I Company boys, much less with the 2nd Platoon boys. He... to begin with, he was a loner. And he used to cause a little bit of problems during our training sessions, too, training period. And at one time, I almost got into a fight with Matsuda, also, because we were different, the same platoon, but I was with first squad, and he was with second squad. Late in the morning, he was yelling his head off and disturbing the whole barracks. So I say, "Hey, Jimmy, stop it. Shut up already. We want to get to sleep." Something like that anyway. Then from the other side, he said, "F-you." And I felt so angry. Here we're trying to sleep, and we can't sleep after the hard days of training. I had almost, I was almost going to the other barracks and shut him up, that's how angry I was. But this is one incident. He was causing problems with the other fellows, too. So as I say, he was a loner.

And I feel this way -- by gathering all the stories, as he told me -- he was going to this dance hall, he was stopped by the MP officer or someone. He ignored the MP, because at that time, we did not need any pass, so-called -- you know what pass is? -- okay, to go outside the company area. But at that time, it was all combat area, you see, this whole section that we were in. So he figured he didn't need any pass. So he ignored the MP. This is just my conjecture, now, just drawing a picture. So he entered the room, the bar, and he went to a table. And the MP followed him, and with a drawn pistol, "You're under arrest." And what I feel he did was, whichever side, he just turned around, I think, brushed the pistol away, and with his right, punched. I believe this is true, because the wife said, "You know, my husband was a boxer." Instinct, I think. This -- I'm drawing a picture like this. Maybe it's not true, but I believe this is what happened. He just brushed away the pistol and in the same swing, he just punched him.

So he knew it. I'm quite sure he knew it. So he doesn't want to come out with the absolute truth, you see. But at least he wrote and said that, "I believe I punched him." I think that's what he wrote in his affidavit, yeah. Interesting guy.

DM: I'd like you to say something, too, about what happened to Mr. Matsuda.

SK. Well, he passed away.

DM: Yes. It was six weeks after.

SK. Yes. Yes, that's right. Lung cancer.

DM: Six weeks after my father.

BT: I think July or August.

SK: Was it August?

BT: Yeah. Couple months after, yeah.

LK: Couple months.

DM: But that was a very crucial part of this.

SK: Yes.

BT: Yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 8>

DM: There were some other very big turning, or important turning points in the case. Would you talk about those as well?

BT: I think after Kash... after the thing started falling into place, I think Matsuda must have had a change of mind. He did listen to you and request Patsy Mink to find his records, yeah. So I think he himself, finally, I think opened up a little bit, yeah. My thought is that what happened between he and the MP Officer is strictly, actually it was something that shouldn't have happened, but happened. But you blame Matsuda for doing this, but the MP officer didn't act properly. So you know, you think, guys have to suffer because of something that shouldn't have happened that happened, and they agreed that they shook hands and say, "Okay, everything's over." And then still the court-martial happened. It's almost unbelievable.

We told Matsuda that if his record comes in, good chance for his court-martial maybe eased or, actually, it should have been eliminated. There was no accuser for any of the one that were at the trial. This is American justice. You have to have some someone accuse you. And they only mentioned the MP officer's name. They didn't say he was the accuser. Again, looking at that, there's something wrong, went wrong with the system.

LK: I feel that James Matsuda suffered over fifty years with this on his conscience, that maybe he should have done something, but that's why he kind of ostracized himself from the group. I don't think the group ostracized him. But he stayed away because of a little bit of a shame. And the boys tried to make it up to Kash for that first reunion, when they invited him over for an all-expense paid trip. And when they had the first reunion in 1953, and you know, we were struggling along, our kids were little and we wouldn't have been able to afford to have him go to the first reunion. But he wanted to go very badly, but he happened to be out sick for months just before the reunion started. So the boys sent him this ticket, and they, all-expense plane trip. I guess everyone must have chipped in?

SK: Yeah, I guess so.

LK: Yeah. And so he had this wonderful trip. So he told his boss that even if he had been out sick for several weeks, he still wanted to go on this vacation, because of the way this trip came about, where they, I mean offered him a free trip. So he just felt he had to go. And I think the boys did that for him because they're trying to make up to him for some of the suffering that he went through.

SK: Could be.

LK: Do you feel that? Did you think that was...?

SK: Yeah, I think so.

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

<Begin Segment 9>

SK: Anyway, Matsuda, I think he did suffer quite a bit of his guilt. The third time we went to see him he agreed to write an affidavit, because -- he didn't write it -- Patsy Mink's office heard the story, and they wrote it for him. And all he did was sign. But anyway, we went for the, we went this day to make his statement, to write down his statement. The following day, the three of us again went to pick up the statement. And he read, and he says, "Yeah, I guess this is okay." So we took -- it has to be notarized. So we went to his bank at Wahiawa, not Wahiawa -- Kaimuki, and we had it notarized. And I suggested, "Hey, let's go have some coffee somewheres." So we did. You know what? Matsuda just talked and talked and talked. I think his burden just off his shoulders. Yeah. I tell you. So then I realized that all these years, he did suffer the guilt that he caused.

LK: How did his wife or family react?

SK: Well, I think she knew about it.

LK: Oh.

SK: So this is the reason she kind of encouraged him to go ahead and write the affidavit, you see.

LK: Oh.

SK: But the thing that surprised me was when she said, "My husband was a boxer before the war."

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

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: What were some other important turning points of the case? I mean we, Matsuda admitting what he did. But there was another key turning point with the MP officer. Why don't you talk a little bit about that, and the importance of that?

BT: Finding the MP officer, locating him... well, at the beginning we didn't how to locate him. But after we had the Army Board of Corrections for Military Records restore Kash's stripes and rescind his fines, and they mentioned that the conviction still stands, only the judge advocate general... and when we looked at it, we said, if we can locate the MP officer and prove the points that what Chaplain Yamada has said, that he had requested charges be dropped, in other words, he didn't press the charges. So what I did was go to our veterans' -- State Veterans Office because he was in the army. You know, Puerto Rico was just like Hawaii, a territory. So I figured that they would be listed under the Veterans' Administration.

And this is funny. About two or three weeks later, the fellow in charge at the state office called me and said, "You know, we made connection with the VA office in Puerto Rico and San Juan. They talk in Spanish. We didn't know what to do." [Laughs] They said, "Don't worry, Bill, we'll follow up." So I waited. And nothing happened. And in the meantime, I had gone to a I Company meeting. Sadaichi had asked me to appear before the I Company chapter boys. So I had the special court-martial orders, and I read it to the boys. And said, "You know this guy, Suro, we want to find him. I'm trying to find Suro." And I gave, I think Clarence a copy of what we're trying to do, a letter that we had written to Dan Inouye.

And about a week or so later, Clarence happened to be at the banker's convention, and the name Suro was in his mind. And talking to this Puerto Rican banker, he just mentioned what we're trying to do, and the banker says, "That's my friend." That led us to Suro. Now in the meantime, after Clarence made contact with the banker, and he did go to Puerto Rico. He did meet with Suro. Now, Suro had a very severe hip operation, I think. He was a retired colonel, so probably older than us. And when Clarence came back, Clarence became ill for about two months or so. Well, I didn't know he was ill. But since nothing had come to me from Clarence, I thought I'd try another avenue, the Puerto Rican officer was part of the Puerto Rican National Guard. So I went to our general, National Guard general, here, and I asked them to locate Suro for me, since it was a National Guard outfit. I got about... two or three weeks later, I got a call from a major in the National Guard, "Oh, Bill, the general got your request, and we looked into it. We made phone call. We were given a phone number to call. I hate to tell you, we called the number, we got the operator of the electric company." [Laughs] And then, by then Clarence had written to Suro, so we got Suro's letter.

But I had also gone to, we have, in Hawaii, you always have these different associations, Hiroshima-ken and what-not. This, they had a Puerto Rican community here, there was one of the leaders that I asked, you know, that what we're trying to do, and she had a copy of the Puerto Rican, well, San Juan phone book. And she said, "There's only one George Suro listed," and she gave me the number. I didn't know the area code, but by then, like I say, Clarence had made contact with Suro, so I didn't follow up on that.

SK: But that's one of the, another crucial point that, it was in our favor, when Clarence Taba met with that Puerto Rican banker. Because it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, looking for Lieutenant Suro. Oh, we looked all over. Bill, as he say, he was researching all over to find that person. But he was unsuccessful until Clarence met that banker from Puerto Rico. And Clarence went to Puerto Rico on business, and he met Suro. And Suro assured Clarence that he will do his best to help Kash. So I said that was one of the crucial point that, it was in our favor.

BT: I think that's the time when Kash was, sent a letter, both of you were on the phone. But I see him smiling.

LK: Yeah. At that point, his spirits really rose, as his optimism, thinking that, "Well, maybe this will happen." But it, between November when Clarence Taba first met that banker and then June, when we got the affidavit from George Suro, it was, you know, several months there. And didn't hear, and they didn't want to push George Suro, because he was not in good health at the time, and he said it would take him a while. So we kept saying, "Well, maybe he's not going to do it," or this and that. But we didn't want to push him too hard or anything, so we just had to be patient and wait for it to happen. So, um... but at that point, he was, felt that we had all the evidence we needed. And so he felt quite good about it. And I think when he passed away in June, he kind of knew that this would all fall in place. When we received the letter back on June 13th, I mailed that, his last appeal. I think it was about August or so, we received back a letter saying that they still could not change the record, because a court-martial, once it's on record they cannot purge it.

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

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: And how did you feel at that point, when they said they weren't going to change it?

LK: Well, we did our best. And we had, I think they did everything they could have done. There was no other evidence that we could have sought. So that was the point where we would just have to accept it. And Shiro was gone, and so... didn't mean anything any more if we couldn't get it overturned.

TI: And why didn't you stop?

LK: Well, I would have stopped, but Bill and Sadaichi kept saying, "We can't give up," or "we gotta do something else." And at that point, Bill helped me draft this letter. And that was, that's what did it.

SK: The good part is that in Suro's affidavit, he says that he phoned the battalion commander -- well, he used another word for battalion commander -- with Chaplain Yamada on line, so Chaplain Yamada was listening too, that: "I wanted the charges dropped." Those words were very, very important to us. And I believe that that's the thing that turned the whole thing over you know. Because the thing is that he wasn't there to be the accuser at the court-martial. And the two, or the three remaining fellows, what do you call... Tadao Hayashi was killed, of course. The three remaining guys, I don't think that they had any representative, a lawyer, on their side. So they couldn't do anything. And as Shiro said, he didn't plead guilty, but yet on the papers it said he was, he pled guilty to these charges. We sent Suro that paper...

BT: What's that?

SK: The court-martial paper. You didn't know?

BT: You see, there was that one clause that said, "After two years you have to appeal..."

SK: Oh, yeah, yeah.

BT: ...for certain period." That's it. You know, you can't appeal, period. Unless new evidence that wasn't available at that time, you can produce that new evidence. Well, that's why almost everything that we had was--like Chaplain Yamada's conversation, and the Officer (Lt.) Wheatley was going to help -- all the things was apparent during the trial. But it was only that... Suro wasn't there, and we didn't know that outside of what the chaplain said, which was nothing but hearsay because we couldn't prove it, and that's why we appealed in the letter -- that this is new evidence. I guess the first person that looked at it said, "Well, yeah, they didn't have counsel, but they had chance to appeal." You know, "Three months, yeah, but they could have appealed at that time." So once they said you had new evidence, then they could look at the whole thing. Now it counts that you didn't have defense counsel. Yeah, the other thing was -- delayed three months. So that new evidence was critical to the conviction dismissal. See we got the records, the stripes back, you know, on all, everything that we had so far. But that conviction we knew was going to be a tough one. We had to get it dismissed, and we had to find that new, vital evidence.

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

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: And so you realized the response back, that first letter, was more of a technicality, and so you, you decided to have Louise write another letter?

BT: When she told me they turned down, I know she felt very sad. But I said, "What did they say?" So she read it. I said, "Is that all they said? They didn't tell you why they turned it down?" Well, it just said, "You haven't shown new evidence." If they had said, "Yes, but you could have done this -- " "You know Matsuda said..." "It's too late -- "; or something. "Yeah," I would say, "let's fold it." But when they just say, "No," without giving a good detail, I said, "No, let's appeal it." And I think we had sent appeal in. And I approached the staff at Senator Dan Inouye's office, and she had called the, one of the colonels in the judge advocate general's office. And the colonel said, "Yeah, go ahead, appeal. I don't say it's a routine thing, but it's not unheard of to appeal." So -- made me feel good.

LK: And that last letter turning us down just before we rewrote another letter, was kind of a standard form letter, saying that they could not overturn the court-martial record. They just... not something that's done. So it was kind of a formal, cold letter. So I think this is why we felt that maybe another letter might help.

TI: So Louise, you wrote another letter asking them to please, to reconsider?

LK: Yes.

TI: And take a look at that. Explain what happened when you got, what the response was.

LK: Well, I think it was written October, and in December, their letter was dated December 9th, and I received it on December 15th. And it was like a Christmas present. Just couldn't believe that they would have actually accepted our reasons. And then it was a warm letter. And then with the handwritten note on the bottom that made it just much more personal. And it's hard to explain our emotions.

SK: Even Patsy Mink, she responded to my letter, saying that, "Overturning conviction is very, very hard. The only route may be pardoned by the President, and that is equally hard," she said. So you know, it was kind of hard for us to take. I thought, "Gee, this is the end." But good thing, things...

BT: You know what I'm thinking, already my mind was working, I was going to write a nasty letter about the army judicial system. I'm glad I didn't have to. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: The letter that you got back, though, that overturned the court-martial, they didn't really give real specific reasons why they overturned it, I don't think. They just said they looked at the case. What do the three of you think were the real reasons why they overturned the court-martial? Because it's done so infrequently, it's such a rare thing, and yet they did it. Why do you think they did it?

BT: Well, I think for the three...

SK: Well, my feelings, yeah, because the personal notation speaks for itself. He was a great soldier. You tell him what was written over there. [Holds back tears] But it's really heartwarming to receive a statement like this from a general like that. But I feel that because he had six, six purple heart, and the silver star, and I think couple bronze stars, too. And all these decorations, all these awards. I think this convinced the general that Kashino is a great soldier. This is what I believe.

LK: I thought to myself, he must have... they probably had a lot of people looking at the whole record, whole appeal and everything. And maybe the judge, the judge advocate general himself must have taken it into hand after our last letter. And he must have looked at it personally. And this is why his, his human instinct came out. So he wrote that personal note. Otherwise, as judge advocate general, I don't know whether he would have been human enough to write that, you know. So I appreciated the human side of it.

TI: Bill, how about you? What do you think were the key reasons that he overturned it?

BT: To overturn that he needed, we had, we were fifty-two years past the deadline. He needed a reason to justify looking at the thing. So we provided the reason for him to open the case again. And then when he opened the, when he looked at it, I'm sure that... he was a top-notch GI, no fault of his own, and when you look at it, the trial procedure was completely wrong. Three months delay, no defense counsel. As an NCO, he has a right, as a sergeant, he has a right to stop fights. Those things were not taken into consideration. It comes back, why didn't your defense counsel bring those things up? He had no defense counsel. I keep thinking, I keep saying that it's probably the system went wrong at that time -- why? The war had ended. We were all counting points. "Hey, who's going home first?" Everybody forgot. They were too busy on other things. "Hey, let's get this case off the books already. Let's all go home."

SK: It's a hasty thing. Just pass it through, yeah.

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

<Begin Segment 14>

BT: Like Matsuda, you know, well, in the end, I guess he felt relief, knowing what had happened to Kash could happen to him, too, when he applied for his records, knowing that he could probably get his conviction repealed, too. But you know, throughout all this, I feel so sad for Beanie Hayashi's mother. She got the news he was in the stockade, and that was the last letter she got. And next news she would get was that he died in the battlefield.

LK: His life was, it was, that was a needless... his being killed was needless, because they should not have been taken out of the stockades and put onto the battlefield. And they all willingly went without any hesitation. But he made the supreme sacrifice. And I feel very, I felt very bad for them, especially like his brother that wrote to you. I bet they felt like, "Oh, gosh, what an injustice that he had to lose his life over the whole thing."

SK: Because if a soldier is convicted of something, he's kept in the stockade. Well, I don't know for how long, but then he shouldn't be sent out to combat again, because he's a prisoner. But yet these three guys were sent out, four guys were sent out, to fight again. Unfortunately, Beanie got killed. What if Matsuda had gone, gotten killed?

BT: Yeah. [Laughs]

SK: I'm making a joke out of this with that. We have no evidence that he...

BT: No.

SK: That's right.

BT: But this is where another quirk of fate enters the picture. Matsuda did not return to I Company. He went to Headquarters Company, right?

SK: That's right. Yeah, that's right.

BT: Yeah. He didn't return to the rifle company, I Company. Matsuda went, he was transferred to regimental headquarters. So it's just a lot of...

SK: Funny thing, huh?

BT: Yeah.

SK: Very strange.

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

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Each of you played really important roles in getting the court-martial overturned. And I thought it'd be interesting to have each of you talk about the others' contribution. I thought we'd start with Sadaichi, and to have Bill and Louise talk about how important Sadaichi's role was in the overturn of the court-martial. So Louise, why don't you start? Just say a few words about how important Sadaichi was to the whole process.

LK: Well, he was the key person that instigated the whole thing, and he persevered right through without any discouragement. And I can't believe how strongly he felt about it. This is what made Kash feel that he kind of owed it to him. With all the effort he was putting forth, that he also should go along with it. And so this is why we have this much correspondence back and forth. And, uh... so he couldn't wash his hands of it ever, but (Shiro) kept saying, "Oh..." And then he kept thinking, "So okino-doku," that he's putting these two men, and all the effort they put into... and so, but it would have never happened without Sadaichi starting it. And then Bill Thompson giving him all this background support, because we could have never done it on our own. And we wouldn't have tried it. It was too monumental of a task. And Shiro just wasn't made up that way. So I would have had to do the research, and I had no resources like Bill had. So we just owe everything to the two of them. And there's no way I can thank them, but...

SK: You have amply thanked us. [Laughs]

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

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: And why don't we go to Bill? And Bill, why don't you talk about -- Louise actually did a good thing, she talked about both of you. Why don't you talk about Louise and Sadaichi, and how important they were to the whole process?

BT: Well, I wouldn't have gotten started without bumping into Sadaichi from old Hilo days. 442 got to stick together, most of them here from Hilo. [Laughs] No... I don't know. And the person that Sadaichi wanted to help was, you know, another 442 person. I had good friends in I Company, especially Tsuneo Shiigi. So here was someone from I Company, and if I could help, I said fine. And then as we went along, got to know Louise over the phone. We developed -- we became pen pals. [Laughs] No, you know, sometime Kash would lean back, I guess back out a little bit, then she would push him back in front again. So without both of them wanting to go ahead, at least we knew that they didn't want to impose on us. But as long as I felt that they wanted to go ahead, bring this to a logical end, hopefully successful conclusion, I was all for it. Sadaichi knew that there was no holding back.

That's why in that small special court-martial orders, there were only two names, Suro and Kobayashi -- he was the adjutant. It took me about couple months to track him down. And I Company, I don't know I Company people I called. Finally, an I Company guy said, "Oh, I went to school with his brother." And his brother gave us the address. I couldn't reach him. So I called one of our headquarters guys that lives in California -- Fremont, close to San Francisco -- and had him make the contact for me. Well, what I wanted to do was check out everybody that was on that list, the name, make sure I touched all bases. I didn't want anything to come back that, that we were on the wrong path. And while this person didn't know anything that had happened about the trial, but at least I had checked him out. So it was fun as I went along.

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

<Begin Segment 17>

LK: Bill was so thorough in his research. Couldn't believe the depth that he went to. And here he had never met my husband. And we were looking forward to coming to this reunion...

BT: Yeah, there goes my free beer. [Laughs]

LK: Yeah. And being able to meet this person who was so dynamic behind the whole thing.

SK: That's why I give Bill a lot of, a lot of credit. If it weren't for Bill, I think this project would have stopped along the way or faded away, huh? But Bill encouraged me, too. He said, "Oh, let's keep on trying. I can see him, I can talk to him, I can write a letter to him." So he had a whole slew of people to talk to. And as he said, Kobayashi said, "He's old already, and he's moving into an old-folks..."

BT: Care facility.

SK: Yeah, yeah. And all those things. So he kind of made it hard for us, too. But he persevered and did a lot of leg work. And this is why I say I credit Bill very much for this whole thing, and too, for, to Louise, too, for persevering. I'm quite sure... I have her letter saying, "Oh, Sadaichi, enough already. Let's quit." I have her letters saying, "Let's quit, because Kash is a bone-headed bugger," [Laughs] and that he says, "enough already." But after I met Bill, because he said he will help, I just kept on pushing. And I'm really happy that everything turned out nicely.

BT: The last, well, I got involved 1996, so a little over two years. But you know, at least we had a meeting of mind where we would all come... there was no dispute on what we're going to do, how we were going to do it. We would bounce things off. We were all agreed which direction we would go. So it, I don't know, well, it was almost like, even if I hadn't met Kash, felt like a family sort of a thing.

SK: Yeah. We did all this for the love of Kash, anyway. This is what I feel. All for the love of Shiro.

TI: Okay, I think we're done.

DM: Okay.

TI: Thank you.

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

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: But maybe you could just show the ring...

SK: Yeah. Well, this is the reason I say we are amply, amply, amply rewarded. [Laughs] Look at what we got. Oh, it's a beautiful ring. Gold ring...

SK: Gold ring with our regiment emblem on it. That's really a beautiful piece.

ME: Keep it up like that.

TI: And Bill, show yours, too.

ME: Let's see.

LK: There's no way I can, we could thank them for the number of hours that were put in, and all. But this is also our sentimental gift to them for their effort. And I thought it would be meaningful to have the 442 emblem on it, because my husband had one that we had made for him. So...

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

BT: And you know, like one of the things that I used to like... Salty Mizuta sent me a picture of he and Kash together. And you know, right in front of my desk I have the picture up. Every time I'd be typing, I'd have the picture right there in front of me. And after everything was over and done and, you know, like you have a stamp of a official seal that's...

LK: Approval.

BT: When you sent me the photograph of the headstone, that's it. Everything's signed, sealed, and delivered.

LK: Yeah. There's a great satisfaction to be able to put staff sergeant on his headstone, marker. Because that was the whole motivation for me, because my girls were... and he'd... that was his joke that, "When I die, I'll be Private Kashino." You know, and that's -- you can only put down the highest rank.

SK: You know he could have gotten that tech sergeant's stripe in my place. But somehow I think this was Kaz Muto who wrote me in saying that, "Somehow along the way, because of Kash's conviction, he wasn't elevated to tech sergeant." And of course, right after, I mean charges, not convicted yet, charges. Charges. He wasn't elevated to a tech sergeant, you see. A platoon sergeant. I would have loved to have him take over as tech sergeant. It's too bad. Even Fred Matsumura, just about the time that he's supposed to receive the staff sergeant's stripe, he was wounded. So back he went to the hospital. In the meantime, we had recruits -- not recruits, but replacements --

LK: Replacements.

BT: Replacements.

SK: Replacements come in, with stripes on them. You see? So I remember this particular fellow coming in with a staff sergeant stripe. So we can't put him down as a buck sergeant. He kept his staff sergeant stripe. So he became the squad leader. So these are things that happened along the way. So I feel bad for Shiro as well as for Matsumura, because they're my key men, actually.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.