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-02-0042

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RT: And there's a good story I like to talk about with this colonel that came in, Colonel Pursall. Because I got word that a new colonel wants to go up to the front line, see what the hell's goin' on up there. And K Company was one of the companies, I think we were on the right and they were on the front. So he asked me to take him up to K Company. He wanted to see how the war's goin' on up there. I looked at him, and I thought to myself, "What the hell kinda replacement we got? The guy's all gray-haired already. Man, how in the hell's he gonna take it?"

So here we're walkin' up, and all of a sudden we're caught an air burst, and they're the ones that about 50 feet above your head. The shell explodes, and all the shrapnel's come [demonstrates noise] right down at you. It exploded. And I went, I'm supposed to be the experienced man up there, now. So I took off for a hole and I jumped into the hole. And I come down on top of the colonel. And instead of gettin' mad at me, he started chuckling. And he says, "Yeah. See, soldier? You thought I was all gray-haired. But you get me scared, and I'll move faster than you any time." [Laughs] That was when I thought to myself, "I like this guy. I think he's gonna do us good." And because of what happened at that moment, (Lt.) Colonel Pursall really got to the point where he liked me, too. And he took me under his wing.

And he was the one, and I always liked him, because of the fact, I used to hate him when he used to do it, but he used to do this all the time on me. He'd come by and he'd say -- see I was -- I gotta good nickname. They used to call me Punch Drunk. So he'd come by and he'd say, "All right, Punch Drunk, let's go." And see, colonels don't do this. They don't go out on patrol with just another guy. But he'd come by and say, "All right, Punch Drunk, let's go." Say, "Where we going, sir?" "Let's go see what's happening." So the two of us would go out on patrol. And he was much more seasoned than I was and everything. I learned a lot from him, because one time, we were walkin' along and saw a pile of, excuse the French, but, a pile of shit out there on the ground. And he said, "All right, Punch Drunk, what's this mean?" And it didn't, boom, hit me in the head. But as soon as he saw it, right away he knew what it was. And I says, "Well, sir, somebody was here before us." "That's right," he says, "the Germans are here somewhere. So you and I gotta be careful now." And when he started talkin' like that, I thought to myself, "Hey, this guy's on the ball. He knows what it's all about."

And actually, it's runners like us that make these people great to the companies. Because like when I went into Company K after that and they said, "Hey, how's the new colonel?" I said, "Oh, he's great. He's gonna be real good. I like him." And you see, you gotta, your whole unit that you command has got to have full trust in you. Because of what was happening, gee, everybody thought (Lt. Col.) Pursall was a great man. And he was great. And this is the reason why I've always liked him. And I've always, that's always been up here, and I chuckle to myself any time I think about it. Because I used to think, "Goddamn, that guy was all gray, and he looked like an old man. And here I'm just a young, eighteen-year-old kid. And that son-of-a-gun beat me into that hole." [Laughs] I said, "Now when I came down on top of him, he coulda been mad at me. But no, instead of that, he just chuckled and made a big joke out of it." So I got, I says, "That's the kinda man I would like to always fight under."

TI: That's a good story. How about some of the other officers? Can you remember, recall, some of the other officers?

RT: Well, we've had, oh, there was some lieutenants, and they're in charge of the platoons. And I've come across quite a few lieutenants that weren't so good. And usually, these lieutenants that don't do well in the front, like I say, when I go say like it was 1st Platoon and Lieutenant Gay happens to be the guy that's in charge of that platoon. And I'm over there, and I'm talking to go the battalion, I mean, the platoon runner and stuff, say, "Hey, how's the officer?" And he might say, "Aw, he's a chicken-shit." And you're curious, because now this is your company. And you say, "Well, what's wrong with him?" And they'll tell you what they think is wrong, because they're talkin' to another soldier. And naturally, when I go back and the colonel says, "Well, how's things goin' up there? What do they think? They satisfied?" And then I would say, "Well, you better talk to this Lieutenant Gay. It's like this between him and his men." Eventually, why, like Gay got transferred. So see, people don't realize it, but that little joker that's a battalion runner that's supposed to be the guy that memorizes them things and takes 'em up and comes back, he had a very strong part in what the army was like. And see, when Connor was in there, it was never like that for us. But as soon as we had Pursall, Pursall was real good.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.