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-02-0038

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TI: Let's now return, let's sort of get going and return back to the interview. Where we left it yesterday was, we were in Europe. And we just sort of got into your role. You were a messenger, a runner, for the company. And in that role, you had a lot of access to officers and some of the battle orders that were more confidential. So that if there were sort of secret orders, rather than going across radio communication, they would use a runner. And I guess my first question is, just what's an example of the type of orders that you would carry to a company?

RT: Okay. Here's a real good example. In Italy, we had Hill D that we were supposed to take. Well, Hill D, we were supposed to take the following morning. Somewhere or another on the line on the radio, everything got a little fouled up. And so we -- K Company attacked Hill 140, which was actually Hill D. Well, there was another hill in back of it that was a little higher, so K Company thought that must be Hill D. So here we are on Hill 140, and that's Hill D back there. All right, we're supposed to take it tomorrow morning. So they fought like the devil, and they took the forward ridge. And then nobody could understand what was going on, because they pushed the Germans off of it, and the Germans counterattacked and pushed real hard to push the 442nd.

And so about that time, everybody's wondering, now what in the hell's going on out here? And they couldn't put it over the radios. You couldn't say, "Hey, what the hell's goin' on out there with you guys? How come you're at so-and-so place when you shoulda been here?" So then the orders came. I was told, "Now here's what the picture is. Here's what's happening up there. Now we want you to go to Company K and talk to the captain, and ask him, 'Why are you people up here?' And if he is, they are up here, then you must pull back, because we have to take that tomorrow morning, to coordinate with the rest of the units." And you can't put things like that on the radio, see. And you don't, things like that, I'm under strict orders that I am not even supposed to tell any of the other soldiers. Because if you're a Company K guy, and you find out what the heck, we fought like hell for nothin', the guys lose a little face, a little hope.

TI: Now, in general, these orders, were they written out for you, or did you have to memorize these?

RT: Oh, no, no. They would have it all written out for me. And they'll hand me the paper, and they tell you, "All right, memorize it." And then they'll talk about a whole mess of things otherwise. And all of a sudden, they'll say, "What was the orders?" And then I would have to be able, not just the way I thought up here. But it had to be repeated word-by-word again. And then that is what I would take to the companies.

TI: So that would give you a pretty good perspective of what was going on, on a large scale?

RT: Oh, yes.

TI: Most of the men I've talked with, they can talk about what happened in their squad and what was going on.

RT: Yeah.

TI: But you had a pretty good overall perspective.

RT: I knew what was happening within the companies and the battalion itself. Because I knew who was in reserve, who was on the right, who was on the left, and what these ones on the right and the left, who had to do what. Because my orders are this, "You are supposed to relay this to your captain."

TI: Well, from your perspective, how good were the officers back at headquarters, understanding what was really going on out there and giving the right orders for people and what to do?

RT: Well, you see, they were real sharp. Because a lot of what would come back to them would be comin' back from us. We're told, I would be told, "All right, K Company runner, go up there and find out what's goin' on." And they don't want that put over the radio, 'cause then you're tellin' the Germans, "Hey, we don't know what's going on. Now's the time for you guys to counterattack." So I'd go up there, and I'd ask the captain, "What is K Company up against? What are we up against out there? Can you explain it to me, so I can give it back to the colonel?" And they'd explain what they're up against, and I'd go back and tell the colonel. So a lot, it's like Pursall used to always tell us, "A lot depends on what you guys say. It's not what they do, it's what you guys say."

TI: So the people, the officers back at headquarters, were pretty good at listening...

RT: Oh, yes.

TI: And understanding what was going on, and then adjusting as necessary?

RT: They'll adjust to, according to what, a lotta times, they would, they even used to ask us, "Well, what do you think we should do? You was up there." In other words, you're listening to what the soldiers are saying. What do you think we, they wanna do?

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.