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-02-0046

<Begin Segment 46>

RT: And so after we pushed past that Bruyeres, I'll never forget there was one spot there, there was a railroad trestle went down through like a valley. And we were on one side of this railroad trestle, because they had the thing built up like that, and the tracks were in the middle of it. And the Germans were on this side, we were on this side and throwin' hand grenades at each other. I'm very fortunate I didn't have to go through that, because I'm with battalion. K Company went into a farmhouse. And they, that was their headquarters. And I was very fortunate. I went to take a report to K Company, and then there was this one medic -- now to show you how good-hearted the medics are and everything, he said to me, he says, "Hey, Punch Drunk, when you came through, you see da kine, dead Germans out there?" I says, "Yeah." "You see any of 'em alive?" I says, "I don't know. I never look." "Aw," he says, "you know I cannot carry a rifle. Will you go with me?" And I always carry a Thompson. I said, "Yeah. I'll go with you." So we went out there. And he went through to make sure that they were all dead, and found one of 'em that was still alive, and he patched him up and stuff.

TI: So this was a German soldier that he risked his life to go out there...

RT: Yeah.

TI: ...just to see if anyone was still alive?

RT: Just to see if anyone was out there alive. And we, he found one of 'em alive. So he patched him up and everything and brought him back. You see, a war is a funny thing. Here most of the guys are mad at each other and they're ready to kill each other. But then you got the medic who says, "Well, my job is to save lives." And to him, it didn't make no difference whether it was a German soldier or American soldier. That was a life he saved. Which is great. I think, this is the reason why I've always said, when you stop, even today, and you think about especially the 442, because of the fact we weren't accepted as full Americans until later on and everything like this, but we still were willing to work together. And when we get into combat, well, sometimes you're mad enough to kill a wounded man, but most of the time, you're not. And it's amazing, what a human life is like. Like I've always said, "There's sometimes when I used to think the guy must be nuts, because of what he's done. But other times now, when you think about it, I guess he did the right thing."

You know the taking of another human being's life is a complete new feeling. It's not the feeling that you get when, I look at you, and say, "I'm gonna bust you up, you bugga." It's not that feeling. It's more to it. And even like when we were going to, through Italy, I'll never forget, we were -- you know, you never fight a battle much down in the valleys, especially when you're an outfit like the 442. You're a small outfit, easy to put up in the hills. So we used to fight all our battles up in the hills. And a lotta times, you take like me, as a runner, I make a lotta moves. I do a lotta traveling in those hills. And once in a while, you come across some family living in a cave. And you know they don't wanna build a fire outside, because then the flames could be seen, so they build a fire inside the cave, and all that smoke and everything, and everybody's all black. And there used to be times I'd be walking through, and I'd see a family in a cave like that. And I'd see the daughters and the mother and everybody, their face all black. And I used to feel sorry for 'em, and I'd give 'em my K rations. And you're actually, you come to think of it, they were our enemies, because it was with Germany. But you don't, there's certain times when you see somebody, you get that, you get that feeling, this is another human being.

TI: And then when you see death, though, when you need to kill, or you see someone being killed, what does that do to you?

RT: Well, when you see death from a distance, then you sort of feel sick that it has happened. But when you're right in it, the only thing that's in here is, "I gotta get them before they get me." So your feeling's not there. You're not a human being. I've always, I've always used to think about this sometimes. I think to myself, "I wonder when I get out of this, if I do, whether I'll be a human being?" Because you know they say, "You go out and shoot enough people, it's like steppin' on an ant." But it's not that way. There's certain times when you see certain people in the situation they're in, especially like when you see kids that are so small, they're hungry, they're cryin', and they're lookin' at you as if to say, "Gee, do you have something for me?" You can't be mad at 'em. And you're, you give 'em, you shouldn't be giving them your rations, but you give 'em the rations and stuff like that. You wonder, gee, sometime I used to think to myself, "Now why in the hell'd I do that?" But I think it's, we do it because we're human beings. It's the life of a soldier on the front lines. When the time is there, when you must kill to save your life, the most important thing to you is your life. So if you have to kill to save your life, you're gonna do it without even thinkin'.

TI: So when you saw the medic --

RT: Yeah.

TI: -- help a German soldier, he was helping another human being.

RT: Yeah. Yeah, he was helping another human being. And the guy says, this guy's, was, Okubo, Medic Okubo. He was one, and he says, "I hope you don't get mad at me now." "No, no." I said, "I'm glad." I says, "That poor guy's hurtin'. Help him." When I'm saying somethin' like that, I'm thinkin' to myself, hey, if I was shot out there, and there was a German there that can help me, and if he help me, I'd be so grateful to him.

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.