Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0034

<Begin Segment 34>

RT: But when I sit and I think back to it, I think that more people should have received the Congressional Medal of Honor, if we were so good. But you see, we only got one Congressional Medal of Honor, and that was after President Roosevelt died. See, a Congressional Medal of Honor can't be given until the president signs.

TI: And you're thinking there was, the 442 was perhaps the most highly decorated unit in terms of their citations and other medals, but when it came to the highest one...

RT: Yeah.

TI: The Congressional Medal of Honor, they didn't get, they only got that one?

RT: Yeah, see now, because, and I've always said, I've always said, I think probably reason why that -- I better not -- that Roosevelt would not sign it, is because he's got to present it. See, when you get the Congressional Medal of Honor, the president presents it to you. How can he present the Congressional Medal of Honor to a guy that he threw into a concentration camp?

TI: That's interesting.

RT: This is my (thinking).

TI: Right.

RT: Because now we have fifty-seven (...) Distinguished Service Crosses. And there's no other regiment that has that many. And I was, Lieutenant (Richard) Hayashi... well, let me put it this way -- Lieutenant Hayashi was actually, besides the chaplain and stuff like that, he was the first Nisei officer that came to the 442nd.

JN: K company.

RT: Well, at that time, he was just assigned to the 442nd. 'Cause he, as soon as he came in -- I was on guard duty, and he was the CO on the guard duty. And I was, everybody was amazed. We said, "Hey, how come there's a Buddhahead officer over there?" That's because we never had any before. And I find out that he knew, yes, he was the first one to go through OCS. And he says, oh, while he was going through OCS, he says it was rough, because, they didn't wanna give him anything. But he, and he became one of the fellas who wrote the citations. And he told me afterwards, he says, "You know, Rudy, almost every damn one of them went in as Congressional Medal of Honor, and they were knocked down to a DSC."

TI: How does that make you feel? I mean, you fought with these men that, and many of them died. They were put up for the Congressional Medal of Honor, and they weren't given that. How do you feel about it today?

RT: Well, I think it's terrible. Even today, I talk about, we gotta do somethin' about it. You see, because these guys gave their life to protect us.

TI: Explain that, when you say they gave their lives to protect us.

RT: Well, because if the 442nd would have failed, I don't know what, what the people in this country would say about us.

TI: Okay. So when you say protect us, it was all the Japanese Americans?

RT: Yeah. All the Japanese Americans.

TI: But in addition, a lotta times when they, they did their heroic actions, it was to protect their fellow soldiers, also?

RT: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it was. But actually, it was to protect us, because -- I've always said, "Yeah, how come we never got any?" 'Cause the Congressional Medal of Honor that was given, was given to the guy after Roosevelt died. It was that, Truman was the one that signed it.

JN: Munemori.

RT: Munemori.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.