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-02-0039

<Begin Segment 39>

TI: Was that pretty common with most of the officers, to really respect and understand what you thought? Or were some of them more like, well, this is what we need to do, and not really listen to what you had to say?

RT: No. Because they knew that whatever orders I'm bringin' up to them or I'm telling them, is not my orders. It's actually comin' from headquarters. And usually it's from the battalion headquarters. So I am the one that has been there, and I've seen what they're up against. And you talk to the captain of a company, and, "Well, what's goin' on here? What happened? Where's 1st Battalion? What are they doin'?" And you don't let him know that you're tryin' to dig into what he's doin'. You just try to let him know that, "Hey, I'm curious. What's goin' on?" And like they know themselves, that anything we hear, we're gonna take it back. That's what our job is.

TI: So why did you have to be sort of, pretend that you were curious? Why didn't they just, they knew that it was important this information would go back.

RT: Well, you see, they don't want it to be that battalion is saying, "Go up and find out what the hell they're screwing up at." So we're just curious. "What's goin' on? What are you guys doin'?" And this way here, it comes out to be, it's not battalion that's askin' this. These guys, he's just askin', because he's got to know which way's the easiest way to get back to battalion and stuff like that. And so like a lot of times, I used to say, "Well, in about a half hour, where are you guys gonna be pushing?" And so they say, "Well, 1st Platoon, 2nd Platoon's gonna be pushing like this. And 3rd Platoon's gonna be in reserve." And they'll show me how they're goin' up the map. And then I'd say, "Okay, now. Now I know how to go back."

'Cause everything you do, actually, we're always on our own. That's the reason why nobody wanted this job. 'cause when you go out, it's real nice when you got four or five guys, you can say, "Hey, what the hell shall we do?" But with ours, like when they tell me, "Rudy, message. Take it to Company K." And if I say, "Where's Company K at?" And whole map covering the area is only about that wide. And the messenger, he just takes his pen and says, "They're in here," somethin' like that. There's a big circle there, it might cover ten miles. So it's up to us to realize what the terrain is like and everything, so most likely, this is where they would be.

TI: When there was heavy fighting, sometimes officers would be killed, and especially when there's heavy fighting. Were there times when you would go up to the front to find out what was going on, and find that it'd be pretty chaotic, because officers were dead, and there was really no one to talk with?

RT: Well, no. We never come to that, because in the 442nd, it was real good. The 442 guys, like K Company guys, they knew when an officer went down, who they wanted to have it taken over by. And K Company headquarters will never say, "No, we won't let you guys use him." Because you have to let the guys, well, you gotta let a guy that can run that platoon, with the platoon guys' respect. So I never seen, never got into a position, except there was a few times when this guy, (Major Connor) was in K Company. He was a screw-up anyway. But there was a few times with him, why, one time when I asked him, "What the hell's goin' on?" And he says, "You tell me." And when you get an answer like that from an officer, you know he doesn't know what's going on. He's not, he's not gonna go out there in front to see what's going on. See, that's what, how good an outfit is, is when everybody that's in that platoon is synchronized and knows what's going on, so they know, in case our sergeant gets it, so-and-so, he's gonna take it over. He's the man we want. And it's surprising, where the soldiers themselves, I don't think that even now, a lot of 'em never realized why there was an officers changes made. We knew why it was there.

TI: "We" meaning the messengers, or the...

RT: Yeah. Because, see a lot had to do with, like I'd go up to, say I go to K Company. I'd talk to the commander, and then I'll say, "Oh, I wanna go see so-and-so in 1st Platoon." So I go over to the 1st Platoon, and I'm talkin' to 'em, "Hey, what's going on?" And you get, you'll, as a runner, everybody respects you, because they all feel that when you get back to headquarters, you're the one that's gonna be telling the colonel what's goin' on up there. And so it was an interesting job, but a thankless job.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.