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-02-0044

<Begin Segment 44>

TI: Let's go back to Europe. And a question I wanted to ask you is, there's a photo in the National Archives that shows you walking with a line of German POWs. It looks like it's in the countryside, and you're sorta in front with a rifle. Tell me what were you doing in this picture, and tell me a little bit more about how this picture was taken?

RT: Well, like I say, if you're a runner, you do all kinds of crazy things. But I was asked if I would go out and get some prisoners. And I used to, every once on a while, they'd say, "Can you go out and get prisoners?" "Yeah, okay." And you'd take off to go get prisoners. But this was more in the latter part of the war already and everything. So they says, "Hey, we gotta have some prisoners. Will you go out and get 'em for us?" I says, "Yeah, okay." And they said, "Well, bring some officers this time." I says, "Oh, it like a bugga to get officers." They said, "Well, it'd sure help us if you can get us some officers." "Yeah, okay." So I took off, and they said, "How long it gonna take ya?" I said, "At least give me five days." 'Cause see, when you go after prisoners like that, you just don't walk in there and say, "You, you, you. You're my prisoner. Let's go."

So you gotta go up there, and you park yourself in the grass or behind bushes and stuff. And you gotta study people that's out there. And human beings are the funniest thing. Every human being will pass a certain spot two times, maybe even three times, a day. And so you watch for people like this. And it just happened to be on that one, I was watching these officers. And all of a sudden, these officers were takin' a squad of 'em out for training. So that was perfect for me. So on the fourth day, when they went out for training, I went over there, and I, you gotta be a little dirty SOB. Because if you try to handle the people gently, they don't think that you're dangerous. So I went out there and the first thing I did was I took my Tommy gun, and I whacked one of 'em across the head. And they all looked, and I went like that, [Puts finger up to mouth] so they never said a word. And I said, "Rouse, rouse." And I pointed for them, which way I wanted 'em to march.

\And so that picture, they had (of) me earlier -- this is the reason why Lieutenant (Richard) Hayashi knew that that was me in the picture. Because he saw me comin' back through the lines with these guys. And they were the ones that reported back to battalion that I was comin' through with prisoners. So regiment turned around and called the signal corps to have cameras there. And that's how come those pictures were taken. I was bringin' the prisoners from the German side, the Germans from their side, over to our side to be interrogated.

TI: Go back to how you captured them. Were you alone, or were you in a small squad to capture them?

RT: No, no. You, when you go after prisoners like that, you're always alone. Because you're in German territory now. The more people you got, the easier it is for them to spot you.

TI: Here you went, you captured a group of them.

RT: Yeah.

TI: How is it that one man captured a group of German...?

RT: Well, that's the reason why, like I said, when I first walked up to them, and I said "rouse," start movin', and I whacked one with my Tommy gun. And I'm telling, when I did that, I'm telling these guys, one damn false move, you're all dead. And nobody, when you're actually captured, nobody wants to die. They'd much rather take their chance on living through it in a camp or stockade or something like that. And they'll follow your orders. Probably, if there was more Germans somewhere near, somebody might have hollered. But I don't think they realized that there was anybody near. So none of 'em ever hollered.

TI: So you got this group away from all the other Germans, you surprised them.

RT: Yeah.

TI: And you went in there, and was sort of rough, and then you captured them?

RT: I captured them. I brought 'em back.

TI: In that group there were some officers?

RT: Yeah, there was four officers in that group. And, gee, they learned a lot from these guys. So it's, that's the reason like I say, a runner is a real lonesome job. You're always workin' alone. You, it's not, I like it when I'm in a squad and gee, we gonna go do something, and you got twelve guys there with you that you can depend upon. But a runner, you're always by yourself. I don't care whether you're taking just a measly old message to your company. You're doin' it by yourself. There's nobody there to say, "Hey, maybe we should go out this way. What do you think?" It's always you're walkin' and you're thinkin' to yourself, gee, I wonder what'll happen if I went that way. Should I go this way? And you gotta make your decisions. And they're not somethin' that you're gonna sit there and think about. Your decisions are like that. [Snaps] You gotta make 'em fast.

TI: That's a great story.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.