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-02-0041

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TI: One of the things that you were able to do was, you would go back to battalion. And you would get to know the officers. Tell me a little bit about the officers, and especially the people that you respected, and tell me why.

RT: Well, like I've said before, we used to have a major that was head of 3rd Battalion. And him and I got off on the wrong foot. And when we got into a bind, why he put some shots at me and whatnot, and I never trusted the man.

TI: Why don't you tell me that story from the very beginning?

RT: Well, we, we were just going into combat. And 3rd Battalion was pushing up through the center, and the 100th was supposed to come up and around the top. And 2nd Battalion was going up our left. Well, some way or another, a German company got in between the 100th and 3rd Battalion. And instead of the 100th pushing in front of us, it was the German company that was pushing in front of us. And they were gonna cut us off. And I went to the company, and I got, I saw what was happening right away. They saw what, they knew what was happening, too. So immediately, the captain says, "Rudy, you better go back to battalion and get us some help." So I headed back for 3rd Battalion.

And like I say, we more or less had an understanding. Sure, the United States Army puts out passwords. Every day and night you got this words for passwords. But we don't remember 'em. Your mind is too damn busy. You're scared you're gonna get shot anyway. So it's hard to remember those things. So we had an understanding that within us, it was within our unit, we used the word "yon yon ni." In Japanese, that's 442. And it was understood with all the haole officers and everybody, anybody that says, "yon yon ni," well, he's part of the 442. So here I am, I'm goin' back, tryin' to get back to battalion headquarters, to let 'em know what's happening. And this major starts hollering something about something or other. And I says, "That must be the password or somethin'." I don't know what the hell the answer is. So I hollered out, "yon yon ni." And I raised my head a little bit, and he (shot) at me. And so I start hollering at him. And I said, "I'm yon yon ni," and he put some more shots at me, so I put a shot over his head. Finally, I just say, "You know, the next one could be right through you." And then he realized that I was on his side.

So then I went in, and I told him what was happening. And he couldn't understand. He says, "Well, you go back and you tell K Company captain he's gotta get out of it himself." Well, that's, that's not an answer to me. So I had asked another officer in the 3rd Battalion, I says, "Who's on the right of us?" And he says, "Isn't it the 100th?" I says, "Yeah, that's what I thought. It's the 100th on the right of us, but in between the 100th and K Company, there's a German company in there." "Oh," he says, "Well, let's get a guy up to the 100th, and let him know what's goin' on and they can drop down." So they sent a messenger to the 100th, and they dropped down. And we were just fortunate that nothing bad happened.

And you see this was the reason why, maybe I'm wrong to say that that man was no good, but if you're a major already, you gotta be able to think anything that's happening. You could have a bullet comin' at you, and you gotta be able to think, "Well, what are we gonna do?" And be able to think about how he's gonna get the guys out of it. But he wasn't that kind of a man. He didn't have that. And I think regimental headquarters, after that push and everything, they realized, too, that he was not the man for the job.

TI: So what do they do with officers who have a hard time in battle conditions like that? Where do they go?

RT: Well, he was, this guy was a major, so they left him there so he doesn't lose face. They left him there, but they brought in a colonel, a lieutenant colonel, which is one grade higher than him. And he would be the man that has all, full control over the battalion.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.