Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Genro Kashiwa Interview
Narrator: Genro Kashiwa
Interviewer: Brian Niiya
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: February 20, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-kgenro-01-0008

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BN: And then in August of '44, Florence, Arno River. I wanted to ask, have you recount Bruyeres and Biffontaine.

GK: France? Oh, yeah. Well, Bruyeres, just so happened that the lead company in the attack of Bruyeres was L Company. And then L Company, the first platoon to go into Bruyeres was the 2nd Platoon. And the lieutenant was Lieutenant Roger Smith. He used to be a football player for University of Hawaii. Anyway, so 2nd Platoon went into Bruyeres first, and we were, 1st Platoon was outside Bruyeres in a clump of trees. Then something happened in Bruyeres, and Lieutenant Roger Smith came running out from Bruyeres to the clump of trees that we were at. He says, "Oh, I'm hit, I'm hit." So we looked at him and found out that he was hit in the pick handle that he was carrying. But he didn't know, I guess. He came running back and said, "I'm hit."

But Bruyeres, what I remember about Bruyeres is that we went into Bruyeres from one end of the town. And the other end, I don't know what outfit was going into Bruyeres from the other end, and there were, they had some tanks. And here I was walking in a ditch, advancing forward (to go into Bruyeres), then this tank at the other end thought I was a German. So they fired at me. And that thing went right over, the missile went right over my head and into the bank of the ditch. And good thing they were firing armor piercing, it didn't explode. Otherwise I'd be dead. But when we went into Bruyeres, the thing that I noticed was we had to go into the basement of the houses. And all of the basements were connected. So we went in the basement for quite a ways, and came out at the other end where there was a road going into the town square. And so we went into the road right at the entrance of the town square. And we saw this German tank on the other side. And I had with me the bazooka man from the 3rd Platoon, and his name was, I think, Whitey Kurosaki or something like that. And with that .37 (mm bazooka), this big, he wanted to fire at the tank, Panther tank or something like that. And they have an 88-milimeter. So I told that guy, "Don't you fire at that tank." He quite peeved that I stopped him. Because if ever the tank turned around and fired the .88 at us, oh my god.

In fact, we passed through Bruyeres and we hit the railroad track on the other side of town. And somebody thought of a maneuver to go to the side and back of the Germans, and that was called the O'Conner Task Force. And we went around and went into the farmhouses and came down towards Bruyeres, (through) the farmhouses. Well, when we were in one of the houses there, farmhouses, the tank fired at us. You know that '88 (in front of him)? And some of our men... in fact, I think it was Hideo Higa says he saw the .88 millimeter bullet passing right through the farmhouse. And that was the O'Conner Task Force.

BN: Why was it called the O'Conner Task Force?

GK: It was led by Major O'Conner. I think it was Company L and Company F (in the Task Force).


BN: You wrote about, at about this time, you encountered some Vietnamese soldiers?

GK: Oh, that was in... that was in France. And, oh, that was after the "Lost Battalion." (The rescue of the) Lost Battalion was on October 28th, and we were in reserve. But they committed us to chase after the Germans. So we turned right to chase after the Germans. And at the end of the mountain ridge, the Germans had a defense line. And we were shooting at them in the forest so it wasn't too far. I would say thirty yards distance, we were firing at each other. Then all of a sudden, Paul Matsumoto, he was an assistant jeep driver, he came up with the jeep and the trailer, and he had what they call a Mermite can full of hot food. And he says, "Oh, you guys got to eat the hot food." I said, "Hey, but we're firing at the Germans over there thirty yards in front of us." He said, "No, you've got to eat (the hot food)." So I had to get two men from the line, come back to eat the hot food, and then go back, and the next two men got to come back. Whoever heard of any soldier eating hot food while he's shooting at the enemy? But that's what happened. But, you know, I still don't know how the jeep driver, Paul Matsumoto, ever came up from the rear through the forest to where we were. And after that, they had to go back. He made it all right, but that's something else.

BN: Now you were, you mentioned, hit on the shoulder.

GK: Oh, from the treeburst. And on the left shoulder, and it was, I didn't want to look. I didn't know what hit that. So they told me to go back to the aid station. So I went back to the aid station and the doctors over there, I think one doctor was Dr. Kawaoka. They treated all the really wounded guys, one arm gone and all that. By the time they came to me, it was two o'clock in the morning. And the doctor said, "Open up your shirt." I opened up, "Where did you get hit?" "Over here." And he looked at the shoulder and he saw one drop of blood all dried up. Kawaoka looked at me and he says, "Hey, Kashiwa, scared, huh?" I says, "You're darn right I'm scared," (I replied). That was something.

BN: But amazingly that was the, that was the only time that you were wounded.

GK: Yeah. And then my left finger, something happened to it. And they gave me a Purple Heart. Oh, that's where that 3rd Platoon went down the mountainside to the farmhouses, and then they secured the farmhouse, and somebody from 3rd Platoon came back up. And we were at the top. And the guy was Robert Sasaki. He was a 442nd executive secretary for a long time. So he came up and I didn't see him wounded in any way, so I asked him, "Robert, why you come back?" He says, "Oh, I got trench feet." And that's the first time anybody got trench feet. But I didn't know what it was. So I looked at him and I thought, "Oh, these darn Goldbrick." I didn't know that it was that swollen (and sore). That's when all that trench feet started.

BN: You actually were, met... when you actually reached the members of the Lost Battalion, do you remember what the reaction was?

GK: Oh. We were in a reserve company so we don't know. But I and K was the ones that attacked. And they really caught hell. And I don't know how many men left in I Company, but I think K Company was only eight men left. But we were, L Company reserved for, we weren't that bad. But after that, we had a regimental parade and everybody came out for the parade in the open field. And I don't know who it was, but the commanding officer was really peeved because I and K Company, so few men coming out. And he scolded the 442nd officer, says, "Why didn't all the men come out?" The officer said, "That's all that's left of I and K." That was real bad.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright &copy; 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.