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-02-0049

<Begin Segment 49>

TI: About this time, I think, weren't you injured? Weren't you wounded around, about this time?

RT: Yeah. It was right after that when I got wounded. Well, we didn't have enough guys anymore, to where we can be free to send people into the back, to go to the hospital. So my injuries weren't that bad, so I went back down to battalion aid. And they said, "Okay, we'll patch you up, but we gotta, we're gonna have to send you back." I says, "Oh, that's fine. Just stop the bleeding. I'll be fine." And see, now like I say, I had an assistant at all time. Well, when I'm not there, my assistant has to take over. So during the time I left there to go down to the battalion aid station to get patched up and get back, a message had to be taken to K Company. So I got back up there. And I'm, here I don't even really know what the guy's name was or anything. I haven't hardly talked to him. So I'm tryin' to find out where he's at. So I find out that he took a message to Company K. That worries me, because when you haven't got that experience like I had, you don't know what to look for. So I immediately went to Company K to see what happened, because he never reported back. When I got to K Company, I asked the one sergeant, I says, "Hey, my runner came up. You know where he's at?" "Oh, yeah. Look in the foxhole over there." And he was dead. That fast. He just come up and just had the bad luck to happen to go in at the wrong time, and he was dead.

TI: Was it bad luck, wrong time, or just inexperience? I mean, if it were you...

RT: Well, yeah. It's all of that, see. But it's more bad luck, because he didn't get the chance to get that experience that I have. If it was me, I'da been doin' it a lot different. I know that tree bursts can knock the hell outta you and everything. So instead of just diving into a foxhole, I'da went into a foxhole that had a cover over it. Even if there's somebody in there, I'd go on in with 'em. But being he was green, why, he dove for the foxhole, and he caught all kinda shrapnels, and then he died instantly.

And gee, I've always felt bad about this. Because, now this fella, when you're on the front lines, you don't have time to ask him, "Where you from? How old are you? What's your family like?" The only thing I knew was he was born in Japan, and he was in Idaho going to school, and the war broke out. And he told me that the family that he was living with said, "Oh, don't worry about it. You here stay with us until the war ends. When the war ends, then you can go back to Japan." But you know how Americans are. Immediately, this family was black-balled. They were "Jap lovers" and everything. And they start writin' in red paint, "Jap lovers," and stuff on the home. So this poor guy, he didn't know what to do, and he had to do something to make the family there look good. So he volunteered to the 442nd.

And I got that far. And I didn't, I knew what his name was and everything. But I didn't know exactly where he was from Japan. And I knew that he was from Idaho Falls, but I didn't know exactly who the family was or anything like that. So the guy gets buried as a man without any relatives. And so I always felt bad about it. And I always used to think, "Well, I would like to find his family in Japan." But we have yet to find 'em.

And now I've come to the point where, Masayo Duus, who is a author, she used to write for big magazines and stuff in Japan. She, I talked to her about it, and she said, "Oh, we're, my, the magazine I write for is one of the largest in Japan. It goes all over Japan. I'm gonna write this story up and put it in the magazine." And see, we have never gotten an answer. 'Cause we got his name and everything in there. So if there was somebody within that family alive, I would think that some way they'da read that. So I finally, this was what she was talkin' about that -- when I met her, why, I was on my way on another business, and that was, I was going back to France to bring back his body to be buried in Washington, D.C.

TI: The same boy that was your assistant?

RT: Yeah.

TI: Okay.

RT: See, actually...

JN: This was forty (two) years later, (in 1986).

RT: This is forty (two) years later. See actually...

TI: You felt because he didn't have a family, you wanted to...

RT: Well, to me, it's, when you're a soldier like that and you get killed, and there's nobody to take care of it, it's a very lonesome life after that. I don't know whether I believe there's life hereafter or what it is. But to me, deep inside, I feel that's a very lonesome life. So I wanted to bring him back to someplace where there's a whole mess of soldiers. And there, nobody's gonna ask him, "Are you an American?" or anything. As far as everybody's concerned, there, they're all American soldiers buried there.

TI: So forty years later, you went back to France...

RT: Yeah.

TI: and you got his body, brought it back, and have him interred into, interred in Arlington...

RT: Arlington, yeah.

TI: Cemetery, in Washington, D.C.

RT: In Washington, D.C. I still think about it and everything. And I talked to Masayo Duus not long ago. And her answer was, she said, "You know, his parents, his family could be one of 'em that was where the atomic bomb was bombed, was dropped. And the whole family got wiped out." Because she says, "The second time I went back, I not only had it in the magazines that I write for but for all the magazines that will accept it." And she says, "I even put it in all the Japanese newspapers. I've never had contact." So she (thinks), "The only thing I could think was the family was either in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, and the whole family got wiped out.

TI: What a story.

<End Segment 49> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.