Densho Digital Repository
Katsugo Miho Collection
Title: Katsugo Miho Interview IV
Narrator: Katsugo Miho
Interviewers: Michiko Kodama Nishimoto (primary), Warren Nishimoto (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: March 2, 2006
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1022-4

<Begin Segment 1>

MN: This is an interview with Mr. Katsugo Miho on March 2, 2005. It's session number four, and the interviewer is Michiko Kodama Nishimoto. Before we continue with the interview series, I'm going to ask you some follow-up questions.

KM: You know what you can do? You can follow up from the jobs that I had done growing up, because I forgot one very important job that I had.

MN: Okay, so we'll start with that then. Okay, let's go back to the time when you were still on Maui and you were still a youth and you had some jobs on the side.

KM: During the summer especially. But one of the more important jobs that I did growing up, and I think this was in my senior year in high school. Somehow I was referred to the Bishop National Bank to work to replace the janitor who was going on a vacation. And I was asking if I would like to do the janitor's job or one-man job for the time he was out. I said, "Oh, yeah, sure." And that connotation of a janitor in that time of my life, I thought janitor's job is no big deal, you know, you just get out there and sweep or mop or whatever. I guess now when you think about it, I must have thought a janitor's job was the lower echelon jobs in any kind of a job you want to do, although this was a bank. But when I got on the job and the man that I was replacing for the, doing his vacation, took one day to teach me what to do. And to this day, I recall his instructions. He said, "You don't just mop any old way, there's a system of mopping the floor." And the Bishop National Bank was the biggest bank in Maui at that time. And it had tile floors, and he showed me how you rotate the mop section by section throughout the floor of the bank so that that you waste the least number of energy and time in doing the job on the floor. Also, one of his jobs was to clean the cars, so wipe the cars clean every day, because I think the manager and a couple other people had cars, and the janitor's job was to... and so even the cleaning of the cars, he told me, "You just don't wipe." He said, "You can waste a lot of time if you don't know how to do it." And to this day, I follow his instructions in wiping my own car. You go section by section. In other words, he taught me that you start off with the... whether you start off in the front fender or left fender or what. And when you wipe, you don't wipe in circles, in short strokes. Instead, one section of the fender, you start with the top and you go all the way to the end, the other end. One stroke, and you come back with the same stroke. And when you do it, and even today when I do it, I tried to teach my kids how to wash the cars because there was a system. Being a janitor, I had to reflect at that point it's not as simple as it sounds or you think. Even on the janitor's job, there was a method and system. But that was one of my early lessons that I had even before I graduated from high school.

MN: And that stayed with you all through your life.

KM: That stayed with me all my life. And to the extent that I tried teaching my kids how to wash and wipe the cars.

MN: How about mopping?

KM: Mopping there was a certain stroke that you used. It wasn't just back and forth, it was a stroke that you would wipe the floor and then you'd come back again. And even washing the squeezing mop, there was a certain way how you'd do it. But it was a tremendous lesson that I had.

MN: And how long did you have that job?

KM: That was for about a month, I think, that I did it on my own after one day of instructions.

MN: And the person who had that job, who went on vacation...

KM: It was a regular bank employee. Full time janitor.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MN: And so I'm going to jump a little bit and take you to Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. And I just wanted to find out from you, what were your thoughts on the Pearl Harbor attack at that time?

KM: Did I mention that we were getting ready to go to church? Well, trying to place the time in time... in what sense are you asking me? Before Perl Harbor happened or when Pearl Harbor happened?

MN: When Pearl Harbor happened, when you heard about the attack and realized that it was Japanese attacking...

KM: The radio announced that this was no maneuvers. The planes going over Pearl Harbor had round, red balls on the tip of the wings. And then shortly thereafter, the call came out that all University ROTC members were to report to the gym, which was just down the road, across the street from Atherton House where I was dorming. And so at the first opportune moment, after changing clothes, and I think we had to get into our khakis, the regular ROTC so-called uniform. And by nine o'clock, I had reported to the gym already. We were one of the first ones to get to the gym, it was an automatic reaction, radio call for ROTC students to report, and we reported.

And as soon as we got there, after a while there was somebody in charge, and they brought out all these old-fashioned rifles, which was thick Cosmoline, Cosmoline is a gooey, thick oil in which these guns were stored. And for most of the day, we spent getting these guns ready for, available for use. And later on in the evening, we were assigned to different squads. And as I said earlier, we spent the evening standing guard out in Iwilei. But thinking, there was very little time to think, actually, because we were so busy doing what... of course, we were anxious wondering, knowing what was going to happen, but by that time we were already mentally in the army. We were regimented already, to listen to, waiting for orders. And I think the ROTC are evidently, in that short time that I was there from September to December, had done a pretty good job of indoctrination, now that you think about it.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

And the previous day, you had asked about the dual citizenship question. I've been thinking back on that question. I now realized that all during that time, even before... well, before Pearl Harbor, yes, there was this period, when I was in Maui, however, because Maui, there was not much public sentiment on the question of dual citizenship, where I lived on the island. It was on Oahu mainly that the activity of expatriation movement had begun and much publicity. But bank on Maui, and even after I registered at the University of Hawaii in September of '41, by that time there was never too much ado about dual citizenship. The fact that thirty thousand Niseis expatriated prior to 1940, I think had kind of settled that question now. And today, when I think about and reflect on what happened in 1941, you know, on our talk sessions about history, this question always been asked, what about the dual citizenship? As I sit here and think about it, I don't ever remember the question of dual citizenship ever being raised from December 1941. When we volunteered there was no question raised about are you a dual citizen. This is, unlike the American counterpart that lived on the Mainland, because they were relocated forcibly, taken to camps. But in Hawaii, I don't recall that ever having become an issue when you volunteered for Hawaiian Territorial Guard. When I went to work at the defense work in Puunene, the USED, which was the U.S. Engineers service corps, or even under the naval, when the naval constructors took over the project on Maui. The question of dual citizenship never was raised as far as I can recall. Even when I was already in the 442, and a group of us were all interviewed to determine whether any of us would volunteer for the military interpreters. This was prior to our basic training ending. It was during basic training that the first group of 442 members were taken out of the 442 and shipped out to Minnesota for the interpreters language school. Even at that interview, I don't recall the question of dual citizenship ever being an issue.

MN: When you folks were asked about your citizenship, did they ask what citizenship do you hold and how did you folks answer?

KM: No, I don't think... you say "when you were asked." I don't recall ever being asked. It was merely on the paper. Whatever document we signed, if anything, it was a simple question of are you a United States citizen, the automatic response was yes. And I don't ever remember specifically being asked if you are a dual citizenship at any time. Even today when I tried to think back, I don't recall ever being asked, "Are you a dual citizen"?

MN: So in terms of paperwork, it could be that those who read the forms were aware that you had an American citizenship but not necessarily anything else.

KM: The point I'm trying to make is that almost all the questionnaires didn't ask, are you a dual citizen. It's always what citizen... "are you a citizen?" that's all, not dual. Because there would be no reference to dual. Why should any of the national forms refer to dual citizenship? Because dual citizenship was a unique, basically unique category for Americans of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii and on the West Coast. So if anything, the regular forms used by the military, used by the government, would have no reference to dual citizen. It would be, "Are you a citizen?" "Yes." "Are you a U.S. citizen?" "Yes." And so today, when we are asked the question of dual citizen, I don't recall that being raised in that manner except, you see, the other way, how it was in my case and also in the Kotonks, those two questions, "no-no" questions, were specifically referring to the internees in the relocation camps. "Are you willing to serve in the United States Army?" "Are you willing to defend your country?" Those two questions basically were asked of the internees. But you know why I don't remember being asked? Except during the interview for Military Intelligence, in my case, the fact that my father was interned was raised, would it interfere in your duties of, I think orally I was asked. And my point is it doesn't make any difference because he's been there and I volunteered, my volunteered and being the proof enough of my, where my allegiance lay.

MN: I'm glad we discussed this.

KM: Because I don't recall ever being raised or that question being posed in that manner. I think now it has the question of dual citizenship, this or that.

MN: But at that time it was not an issue.

KM: Because, as I said, whatever forms that we signed to join the Hawaiian Territorial Guard, and it was printed forms, there would be no reference to dual, because that was not a normal question to ask of any ordinary American citizenship. The question would be "are you a foreign national or an American, U.S. citizen," that's all. There was no question of dual citizenship.

MN: And then in sort of a related vein, I know that in Hawaii during the war years, if a person was working in a defense job, many Japanese Americans had to wear what they called the restricted badge or black badge. And I was curious, when you were on Maui working at Puunene, did you also wear a black badge?

KM: I don't remember ever being required to wear a different kind of a badge other than the badge that every worker in Maui put on the so-called black badge. I only heard it after the war by talk story sessions where the veterans would say, "Oh, when I was working in Pearl Harbor I had to go put on a badge." But Pearl Harbor, I think, was a little different. So any stereotyping of an Oriental probably the question was raised. And the military, I think, took special effort to raise that. Wearing the black badge was, to me, basically, as I look at it now, it's probably acceptance of the fact that this person is authorized to enter, not questioning his loyalty because he's already allowed to work within the confines of the high security area. But on Maui there was, I don't ever remember a reference to a black badge when I was, during the one year that I worked for the U.S. Engineers and for the naval construction.

MN: And then going back a little bit, when you were at Atherton House, when Pearl Harbor occurred, who were the other guys living at Atherton House?

KM: There were just a few what we called army brats. Military children, dependents of military families in Pearl Harbor or Schofield. And they were those who were at the university, there was a small percentage of these boys staying at Atherton House. These were the ones who were, for one reason or the other, coming to, probably spent the Saturday night at home, and probably was coming back Sunday to the dorm for one reason or the other. But those are the ones who were making the rounds trying to get everybody up at A House.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MN: Okay, now that I've got my follow up questions answered, we're gonna move on. After you volunteered for service in March '43, I was wondering, what happened? What was the process after you volunteered?

KM: On Maui, we... I don't remember the process of volunteering, I think it was a matter of signing a petition, signing an application or something, after which we got notice to report. I don't know how long after, probably... volunteering was done February 1st, I think. There are some references that I noticed now that the volunteering was opened on February 1st. And sometime in March, it must have been middle of March that we got orders to report, in my case to the Wailuku gymnasium at a certain time of the day, prepared to join the army. And so we took a minimum number of clothes and things and reported. And I think that the day after or, in fact, even the same day we reported, we got transported from Wailuku to Kahului, where the harbor was. And I forget, either the Hualalai or the Waialeale were there to transport us to Honolulu. And I was assigned to Company 11, and that was basically the hundred-something boys from Maui.

MN: You know, when you volunteered, were there any questions in your mind as to whether or not you would be accepted?

KM: No, when we were given notice to report, as far as I knew, we were already accepted to be, to join the army. We did not... Did we get sworn in in Wailuku? I think I think we were sworn in in Maui as a formal procedure. And then there was this big, big formal so-called swearing in ceremony at Iolani Palace. But that was basically for show, I think.

MN: So from Maui you came to Oahu?

KM: Oahu.

MN: And then to Scofield Barracks?

KM: Schofield Barracks, we came in and already the Honolulu, basically all the Honolulu group was already in, because we were assigned Company 11, I think, because we were, of the total number of people reporting in, we were number eleven reporting in, and I think that's how it was. One, two, three, it was twelve or thirteen, I think. So the last two, I think, was from Kauai, I think. The thirteenth was Kauai group of boys.

MN: And how did you find conditions at Schofield? What was it like at Schofield?

KM: Oh, everything was brand new. It was a content... oh, how should I say it? Expectations were rampant as to what's next. But all of this physical examinations, which is, first time you get gathered in a group of men and we all do everything together kind of a thing, standing in line and waiting, you soon learn that everything you did in the army was get there early and wait, wait, wait. No matter what you did, you waited. I think the ten days that we spent in Schofield was full of standing in line. My company commander, I remember distinctly, was Yasutaka Fukushima, with whom my personal contact had been, even after the war, I continued to be somehow connected with him because we both became lawyers and he was a judge. He was an unusual Republican member of the senate. And he was my first company commander.

MN: How did you take to this regimentation? This is your, sort of, initial initiation into military life.

KM: Oh, yes, oh, yes. And like I said, one of the very first things was to stand and wait for everything. And part of the waiting, I think, is the basic foundation for all griping in the army. All griping in the army, I think, is based on the fact that, because you wait. You spend so much time waiting. And you stand there, things are bad, but I think the fact that you had to wait for it is the reason why, why couldn't it be done faster? But everything is unusual, it was the totally, I think, new for many of the people who were doing the processing. Because we came in, like I said, over three thousand strong. And I don't think, in the normal process of enlisting in the army, you had such a big group being processed at one time. Although you may have basic training groups of maybe two, three or hundred, in the case of volunteers and whatnot. But nothing like we had, close to three thousand of us were being processed at one time. I think this was highly unusual.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MN: Then I know that, say, about April, you folks left for Camp Shelby. Tell me about that trip from Honolulu to the Mainland.

KM: We had no idea we were going to leave or when we were going to go. But suddenly, on a Saturday night, we were told to pack our luggage in duffel bags to get ready for movement. But it was already after visitation hours, so I don't know if I had a chance to call my brother Katsuro. But on Sunday morning was the so-called visitation day and everybody had expected family members to come and visit us at Schofield. But by the time the family, early members came, the ones who came early, we were already on the flatbed railway cars, prepared to move to Iwilei, the railroad station. There was the Dillingham railroad station in Iwilei where the Aala Park is now located. The building is still there, by the way, I think. And so, by the time the family members were all coming to Schofield Barracks, the train had started to move. And so word spread very rapidly through all the city that we were leaving. And so when we arrived at Iwilei, the street on Nimitz Highway, was completely packed with people. And at that time, our duffel bags were fully loaded. We were bringing all kinds of unnecessary things with us. Afterwards we realized, you know. But up to that point, nobody said you cannot take this, you cannot take that, but a lot of them had ukuleles and guitars. And so it was a great embarrassment for a lot of us because that duffel bag was heavy. And we had to walk all the way from King, where that Aala Park is, where the train station is. I would say that's about a mile. And we had to walk in that, one side of the road, all the spectators and all the family members on the other side of the road, and everybody's yelling at each other and looking for members and whatnot, trying to carry their load of, big heavy load of that duffel bag. I don't know, you see, because we were not as physically ready, like after three months of basic training, people who were just, you could just barely carry that duffel bag. But that's the way, how we got the farewell to our families. But I don't remember if my brother was in the line or what. Because my parents were still, my mother was still in Maui and my brother was the only one in Honolulu. So I don't recall anybody family-wise saying goodbye to anyone.

I got on the Lurline. And the Lurline at that time, I remember we were supposed to have something like three thousand or... anyway, the normal bedroom with two people in the Lurline were stacked with bunkbeds, six bunkbeds where normally there were only two people in the stateroom. And four and a half days, four and a half days I was solidly sick, seasick. Somehow I think the smell, the diesel smell is what most people seasick on. Not the rough waters or anything like that. But in spite of all that, the biggest thing aboard ship from Honolulu to Oakland was the gambling that went on. Can you imagine, most of the members of the 442 had already been working ten hours a day, seven days a week, no time to spend the money so they're all loaded with money. On top of that, he had a Japanese sister who, the Japanese community was very strong in supporting us and all the families who did not have anybody in the 442, following the Japanese style of giving money as a going away gift for those who were in the army. So in addition to the earnings, some of which was left home, but a whole bunch of men took their money with them. Never in my life, even to this day, have I seen a duplication of the kind of gambling that went on aboard ship. Can you imagine? The crap game was the most popular games. And we would have these crap games of thirty, maybe twenty or twenty-five to thirty people in one game, and they would have, not only one game, but two games or three games going on in whatever room that we have on the deck of the ship. And even though I was seasick, I would be simply amazed. I was too young to gamble at that point, I didn't know how to gamble. But how the game of craps was played, how poker was played, I had no idea at that point. But twenty-dollar bills just covered the floor in all these games. Because as you may know, crap game, there has to be a houseman. He calls the bet, he collects the money, and he pays off the money. So if that twenty-five to thirty bet people going on, there's an unlimited number of bets that can go on. But there is the basic house pool, that is the basic pot. And there's a houseman that runs the, he's the guy that runs the game. And they don't play one dollar, one dollar, it's all twenty-dollar bills. I've never seen anything like it, now that I recall. [Laughs] Not even in Las Vegas. But for four-and-a-half days, this went on.

MN: And at that time, you were seasick.

KM: I was seasick all the way. I hardly got out of my bunk.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MN: So how did you manage during those days?

KM: Oh yeah, it was quite a chore, quite a chore. And it wasn't only me, there were a whole bunch of others who were in ROTC, so it was nothing unusual for being seasick.

MN: And you know, with all that gambling going on, were there, say, officers or others who would be sort of policing the situation? Or was it like, "You folks just do what you want"?

KM: We were left alone. But presumably there was... see, at that point already we were Company 11. We were broken down into squads, and a squad was usually twelve or thirteen people. So there was a squad leader. So the squad leaders were always, and above the squad leaders you have the staff sergeant or whatever, in ranking. So you had all these ranking people within the same area. Officers were not around, but the sergeants were always with us. So there was a controlled element.

MN: And I was wondering, what did you do with your money, the money that you had earned through your defense work?

KM: Well, I soon learned how to gamble. At that point, I didn't know. But soon enough, on payday, I think we were on pay schedule, I think, close to fifty dollars. Anyway, I don't know the maximum because there were so much deductions. We had bonds, we were buying bonds, we had so much allotment going home. And so the net result was that my memory is that, in my case, the average person, payday came, we receive about twenty dollars for the month, you know, payday. And we had to make do with the twenty dollars. Soon enough, within the groups, in spite of all that, I remember a few of the boys who never got involved with gambling. They were some of my friends who, to this day, I remember, they never did indulge in gambling. But I think maybe, I don't know for what reason, but the majority of the boys did learn how to play poker, basically to pass the time. Basically had nothing else but to... in the evenings, after all the basic training, especially after payday, for the next two or three days, or four days, four or five days, poker was the most prevalent. Because the craps game was too fast. The losers lost their money real fast. So it didn't continue for two or three days except for the big timers, these so-called pros who ended up with most of the money anyway. They had their own particular level of games. The tenderfoots had their own pennyante games, whereas the others played with big money. And so you had two levels of basically gambling within the...

MN: Some other men have mentioned these pros. Were they really like pro gamblers who did it before and after the war?

KM: Oh, yes. And then, because some of the boys were a little older than us, I think I was about twenty-one, twenty-two. But there were those who were twenty-three, twenty-four, a little bit older, who had been working longer than us, were already adults. And there was this group of 1399 boys. These were the boys who were in the army prior to the war, much older than we were. And so they had already been indoctrinated into the army two, three years ahead of us. And in my battery case, I remember that there were three or four of the boys who were always the winners. But these boys were so generous that when we didn't have any money to go to the PX or anything, they would say, "Okay, let's go down to the PX," and they would pay for everything. And if we wanted to go to see a movie, they said, "Okay, let's go," and they'd pay for the whole group that goes. Five or six of us would go and one person with money would pay for everybody. That's how it was. And even going downtown for a pass, they would treat the boys to whatever beer, of course, it would be very limited, but there would be one person who would pay for everybody because he had the money. It was more or less to be expected who had money, always treated the ones who didn't. So we never suffered from want.

MN: And you know, you mentioned something about your paycheck where you'd have all these deductions and allotment home. You could designate a certain amount that would go to your family?

KM: Oh, yeah. A lot of people had bonds, they bought bonds, and we all took out life insurance, that was a big deduction. Yeah, in the end, the average paycheck that we got over the table was, cash was twenty dollars at my recollection. But when you consider that going to the movies was maybe five cents, it can go a long way.

MN: And so you folks are on the ship, you're on the Lurline, and you get to...

KM: Oakland.

MN: Oakland. And then what happened?

KM: Then we got on the train, and we had no idea where we were going, we had absolutely no idea. We were herded around like sheep, and whenever we got on the train, the orders were to pull the shade down to the trains. And we traveled all over the place with the shades down. Except when we came to a stop, like I remember the one town that I remember, the first stop was in Bakersfield, California. I don't know how come I remember it so distinctly, but Bakersfield was the first stop out of Oakland. And then after that, the next stop that I recall was someplace, it was in Ogden, Utah, I think. And partly because we were allowed to then lift the shades. But when we were out in the countryside, it was okay to lift the shades. But whenever we came into any town or any city, we had to close the shades.

MN: What did you think about the shades being required down?

KM: I didn't think anything particularly except that it was a known fact that our movement was to be kept secretive, and we didn't even care about where we were going to go. Not having any say as to where we were going. It was strictly regimentation, you were already in the army, you were fully indoctrinated to the fact that you just followed orders.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MN: And then when you finally got to Shelby, what did you think of the place?

KM: Well, the artillery were placed in the newest unfinished section of Camp Shelby. The infantry were moved into areas which were already fully built and prepared. But in the artillery, our latrines were not finished yet. We had old-fashioned outdoor sewage type latrines, and one of the first duties that was assigned to the unlucky ones was so-called real latrine duty. When you got your regular flushing toilets and whatnot, latrine duty was very simple. You could get involved cleaning, but the old type for, I don't know how long we had it, but when we first moved in, it was open air latrine. And once a week it had to be pumped out, and so people were assigned to the pumping detail. And it was no high pay. That was the worst latrine duty, it was really so-called punishment, latrine duty. But that's the kind of area that the artillery was moved into.

MN: So like in terms of the bathroom facilities, you folks had the most primitive. You had outhouses.

KM: Yeah.

MN: How about the living quarters itself?

KM: There were regular, the huts were ready, the huts were ready. Each hut had about fifteen, I think, fifteen of us to a hut, I think. And there were two stoves, two wood stoves, charcoal stoves Although at that point we didn't need it. When winter came, we had to have it. But in April, May that we arrived at Shelby, there was no need for stoves, but the huts were ready.

MN: And by the time you folks reached Shelby, you were already assigned to artillery?

KM: No. We got there, and within the first, in the first week, I think, I stayed where I was because that particular place was artillery, and I was assigned to B Battery. Later on I found out it was Battery, 522 Artillery. But from the regional group of Company 11, there were just a handful of us that stayed where we first came. The rest of them all scattered all over the place.

MN: How were the assignments made?

KM: Absolutely have no idea. We had no idea. We have no idea. All I remember is that during Schofield, there were all kinds of tests. One was IQ as I understand it, and one was in mechanical aptitude test, and I had heard that in the case of the artillery groupings, part of the selections were based on the mechanical aptitude test. Other than that, there were others chosen on the basis of their background. Because artillery you had to have these co-called, fire direction center where you have people who knew how to do survey work. So you had to have a good mathematical background. And so these people, I think, were selected based on their IQ test. And I heard the others were selected also, through the mechanical aptitude test. Because artillery required handling of the guns, big guns, not the rifles. And so mechanical aptitude came into play.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MN: So in your case, you were assigned to B Battery 522. And at that time, did you know the other men in your battery?

KM: Oh, for the original Maui boys, yes, but there was just a handful. Like I said, of my original Maui group that moved into Camp Shelby. There were maybe three or four us in B Battery from Maui. Maybe five of us from Maui. And thereafter, people from Honolulu, Kauai, as well as later on from the relocation camps came in to make up the full complement of the B Battery.

MN: So in the B Battery, what was your role?

KM: In the beginning, everybody, I think the first three months, I don't recall, but basic training was strictly getting in condition. Exercise, marching, basic exercise and forced marches, really conditioned. Physical conditioning was the major part of basic training, you had the orientation of rifles and carbines and pistols in addition to physical training. But only after basic training did we get into artillery training where we were assigned different tasks. Up until then, all of us was physical conditioning.

MN: And how did you fare during that first three months of training?

KM: Oh, I think I was on average, I think, like everybody else. We were beat the first few, the first month or so. But soon enough, we were in good condition.

MN: And then in terms of, like, the conditions...

KM: Oh, we were in top physical condition. Within one month, I think, we were really, all of us were... I mean, we didn't know how to physically train and get prepared.

MN: And you know, when you folks were in training, how were your relations with, like, you were saying, later on, the Mainland AJAs came in. And then, of course, you had the haole officers. I want to know what your relations were like.

KM: There was very little interaction between the officers. Little interaction between the higher level noncoms, first sergeant, buck sergeant, staff sergeant. In my case, in B Battery, first sergeant, staff sergeant, one was quartermasters, one was the gun crew, and the rest were buck sergeants, full buck sergeants. There was this group of non-coms, just a handful of non-coms in the artillery section, and the rest were basically corporals or private first class or just plain privates.

MN: And then what was the rank you were given?

KM: After a while, and I don't know how long afterwards, when we got assigned to our task as artillerymen, I was assigned as a gunner corporal, who was in charge of, basically, the deflection of the gun was determined by the gunner corporal. And he was given the rank of corporal, and that's why he was called gunner corporal. But four guns had one gunner corporal. See, each battery had four guns, and we had three batteries, to they have twelve guns in the battalion. There was one headquarters, the headquarters were in the so-called fire direction center, where they charted out the lay of the land where the gun was placed, where the gun would fire. This was done on the headquarters in the fire direction center. And there was a group that was called the forward observers, who was the group that went -- in the 442 case, these forward observers went with the infantry. In the ordinary setup, the 442nd Combat Team was a unique concept at that time. The regular army system was, you had a regiment of infantry who were on their own, basically. And they were supported by the artillery of the division. But they did not work hand to hand like the 442 did. In the normal system at that time, the infantry group relied on their group artillery for fire support. But they did their mission by, so-called by the book. And if the infantry was engaged, the artillery would be assigned to support them, and the forward observers of that artillery group did not go with the infantry attacking squad. They stayed behind five hundred yards, in some cases up on the mountainside, and communicated with the infantry through radio or through the wire. And the fire direction was given by the infantry group to the forward observers who were safely back in the distance. But in the case of the 442, the forward observers was with the attacking squad of the infantry. They were part of the infantry.

MN: Why was it set up that way? It was like a departure from usual practice.

KM: Because the combat team was formed as a unit, the 442 was formed as an assigned group of infantry, assigned group of artillery and assigned group of engineers, to work as a team. That was an unusual concept at that time, as I understand it. And I think because of the success of the 442, I think other commanders must have got the idea to tie up. But as I know, the concept of a combat team was very unusual at that time.

MN: So later on it became sort of like a model.

KM: Yeah. Because like we've said so many times, by the time we went to overseas, the reputation of the 442 had already gone ahead of us in terms of their capacity to do certain things in the field.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MN: And I know that the 442 went through a lot of maneuvers. What do you remember about the maneuvers outside of Camp Shelby?

KM: It started off with field exercise, not maneuvers. We were learning how to set the gun, get the gun emplacement and fire at a certain target, how to determine the target. This took two or three months, I think it was. And thereafter, we then got into maneuvers with the 3rd Army or the 69th Division within the Camp Shelby area. But maneuvering came in after we had more or less become familiarized with whatever we were supposed to be doing.

MN: So was it during that time that the reputation of the 442 was sort of established as being a real solid outfit?

KM: Yes. During the maneuvers in the case of the infantry, the 442 was a regiment, 69th Division was a division, three times the size of the 442. But we were engaged in maneuvers, and I recall that one, you know, maneuvering was, we would go out into the field and at a given time, usually on a Sunday, it would be announced that beginning from, I think it was from six o'clock, it was what we called tactical. The conditions would be wartime, warfront conditions. In other words, no cigarette smoking, no lighting of the match in the dark, no fire, as if you were in a battlefront. You simulated and lived under conditions from six o'clock Sunday to Thursday, I think it was, what we called tactical. All of the conditions were as if you were in warfront. Thursday afternoon, six o'clock became off. From Thursday, Friday, Saturday, you would have three days of evaluation by the higher-ups. We had time to do maintenance work on guns and pig hunting. I don't know if you heard about the pig hunting. Have you heard of the pig hunting?

MN: No, you can tell us about that.

KM: Maneuvers was done in the wilds of Louisiana. And when we first went out there into all this shrub oak area, where we hardly ever saw houses and whatnot, we discovered that there was all these juicy pigs around, hundred-pound pigs, and wild all over. Every day we'd be down there, not anybody caring for them, and we thought they were wild. So the moment six o'clock Thursday came, every battery of our artillery battalion had somebody who knew how to clean the pig. So we'd catch it, cook it and whatever, barbeque pig. One month, I think, after we had been doing that, the word came down that the farmers in that area are saying, they're complaining because they're missing some pigs. And so the word came down, "Are you folks responsible?" Oh, no, no," we disclaimed any responsibility. But from there on, what we would do is we would dig a whole first, make sure that we have a sump. Clean the pig and cover up the sump completely, and we would not leave the carcass of the pig out because we would cover up the carcass into several pieces so that whatever we buy, it's as if we bought them from a nearby town someplace and having a barbeque. But our understanding is that in Louisiana, after our maneuvers, when we had left, the government had to pay the farmers x-number of dollars for loss of pigs. That's my understanding.


MN: Before we changed tape we were talking about the men helping themselves to the wild pigs in maneuvers and practices. Since we just got into food a little bit, how was the food for you guys up at Shelby?

KM: It was, not much to complain, really. Except the menu was the same thing over and over, basically, there were very few variations. And for the people of Hawaii, especially, most of the food that we were exposed to in the army was completely different from Hawaii food that we were used to eating at home. Like what is the one, something on a shingle? It's usually in the morning we would have that. Completely new to us, from Hawaii. But you got to remember the cooks were our own cooks, our boys. So they were very good in cooking Japanese style to make do with whatever they had so that it will be palatable to us. So it depended on the cooks of your unit, the food.

MN: So how was your unit's cook?

KM: I had no complaint as far as the food was concerned. It never bothered me, basically. I tried to enjoy whatever there was available.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

KM: And, you know, being out there at Camp Shelby, when you folks weren't drilling or training, what were you folks doing?

Playing poker or going to the movies or going to the PX. Going to the PX was a very popular thing, although you didn't have money, so you always had to have financier take you out.

But oh, you know, when we first went to Camp Shelby, there was this incident I should record. Like I said, we were in a completely new area. And in the army, a unit is entitled to a PX for their own soldiers to patronize. And so the 442 Infantry Regiment had their own PX. I think there were three or four PXs on the infantry side. And before the artillery had their own PX, remember, the artillery was in a brand new area, we didn't have we didn't have any PX. Although the 69th Division, they had a nearby PX. But the first incident that happened that brought the boys together, so to speak, is that this is word of mouth kind of a thing that in the army, you always go by word of mouth. And what happened was, during the first week we were there, Hawaii boys, beer and Hawaii boys go hand in hand together. But they were looking around and found some PXs. They patronized a PX that was the 69th Division that was there by the infantry group. And you got to remember, we were quarantined the first month, first for two weeks, or two or three weeks, from going out into Hattiesburg. Because the army was going to let the Hattiesburg people and surrounding neighborhood people know about our presence, as well as the 69th Division, were supposed to be oriented to the fact that there was a regiment of Americans of Japanese ancestry. A unique group coming into Camp Shelby, but these boys found out that there was, a couple of boys went to this PX 69th Division PX, and they were kicked out by the Caucasian boys in the PX. And the way how they were kicked out was, "Who are you boys? Where you boys from?" "We are from Hawaii, Japanese Americans." "What? You Japs? How come you Japs are in this, in uniform?" And so these boys were, there were just two three of 'em, they were kicked out. And so they went back to their company area. "You know, we just got kicked out of the PX over there and we were called 'Japs."" And so a delegation of Hawaii boys moved over to that PX, and within ten or fifteen minutes, all of the Caucasian boys who were in the PX were down on the floor. This happened within the first week.

Of course, throughout our training, the one year that we were in Camp Shelby, there were numerous number of fights between 442 and Caucasians, the 69th Division boys. Because you got to remember, in 1943 it was the height of the propaganda area where the American government was trying to indoctrinate the general population to, in support of the war. And so all of the movies and news with everything referring to the Japanese is "Japs." And so the GIS did not know any better, that any Japanese Americans, as far as they were concerned, was "Japs," and that the terminology was accepted terminology. But to us it was a declaration of war as soon as we were referred to... and this invariably happened. The first one happened in the PX, but at the bus stations where the boys, after a night of drinking, and the Caucasian boys, after a night of drinking, would be at the bus stop, and they would be feeling high. Then I'm sure the reference to the 442 boys by the Caucasians that they were Japs was, in many respects, innocent. Or maybe sometimes intentional vicious. But the kind of fight that happens like this, in the Caucasian boys' case, you would have two or three of them going out together or four or five of them going out together from one unit. If there were fifteen other Caucasians there, none of them were really related or from the same unit or whatever. Whereas in the 442, the Hawaii boys, the AJA was an AJA. No matter who, it was one of us. And when a confrontation happened between two or three Caucasian boys, two or three Hawaii boys, and they got involved in the fisticuffs, the Caucasian boys was with whoever they were with, three or four of them. But any other Niseis who were around the vicinity would get involved in the fight. So it was never a fair fight. It was never a fair fight.

And with reference to fights, of course you heard that within our own 442, Mainland Kotonks and the Buddhaheads, we had our own fights, which is based on different reasons. But the night before we left Virginia, there was a fight in the debarkation port, Newport News, the night before we left for overseas. And when we got to Italy, before we moved up north beyond Rome, before we got to Anzio, we had a couple of days in Naples. And I personally witnessed a fight between one of our boys and our airborne division boys. This was a fair fight in a way. The airborne GI had referred to us as "Japs." And this was at the staging area where we were required to meet for transportation back to our unit. After the leave was over, we had to be at this staging area to go back to our camp. And it was at this staging area that this fight happened, because this airborne. And later on the same airborne division, the anti-tank company from 442 became attached to. And when they found out, and the story goes that the airborne, some of the boys apologized to the Niseis because anti-tank boys supported the airborne in such a manner that the airborne boys were very surprised at the kind of support that the Nisei boys gave them in the invasion of southern France. So there was a makeup after that fight, but even overseas, we had these fights.

MN: You mentioned that, like, there were also fights among the AJA, between the mainland AJA and Hawaii AJA. And you said there were reasons for this.

KM: My evaluation of that basic what you call is, you remember, when the 442 boys, Hawaii boys moved to Camp Shelby, we were met by a cadre of Mainland boys. Mainland boys who had already been in the army before 1943, who were drafted or draftees or whatever. Like the Hawaii 1399th boys, they were already in the army. And in early January of 1943, as I understand, these boys who were going to be the cadre of the 442 were gathered together, and they were given intensive training from January 'til March. And when our boys came, all the top positions, the first sergeant, staff sergeants and buck sergeants, so-called cadre, who were going to train the Hawaii boys, were already in place. Now, these boys had the touch job of controlling the Hawaii boys. And the Hawaii boys, after the basic training, when you consider that the IQ of the Hawaii boys was, at that point, the highest in, the average IQ in the Hawaii boys was the highest in the army. In the administration or in the ordinary day events, that difference between IQs had come up.

You know, in the infantry you had to have all kinds of situations where various solutions to the problems were put up. Now, if the staff sergeant couldn't give a solution, imagine when you have a guy like Dan Inouye, Masato Doi, Mats Takabuki who were buck privates, and their solutions as compared to some of the Nisei Mainland boys? Not all of them, because I had a very competent first sergeant, staff sergeant, bar none. But in the infantry, it wasn't the case. So whatever the Mainland boys did, it was like throwing the rank. In order to get the Hawaii boys to obey, from the point of view of the Hawaii boys, it was the rank being thrown at them. Not because of rationale, but because they were buck sergeant, because they were first sergeant. And so the gripes... and in the army, ordinarily, you have any kind of gripes anyway. So what would happen is that in Company A, first platoon, a member of the first platoon is mad at his sergeant, but he won't fight his sergeant because he knows what would happen. So what happened is that he would tell his friend in B Company, because maybe they happen to come from Maui, but they're in two different companies. This is the same throughout all the 442. You have all of these friends scattered all over the different companies. And so he would tell about his sergeant giving him a bad time. And from what I've heard is that the sergeants all slept in the same hut with his squad. His bunk would always be his bunk. So this particular disgruntled GI would tell his friend, "My sergeant is sleeping on this position in the bunk." And so after lights out, couple of his friends from another company, not the same company, would come in and beat up the particular sergeant. From what I understand, these are the type of fights that occurred. Because it couldn't be done in the open, basically. So it was different company boys beating up on the buck sergeant, from the high up sergeant of another company, not within the same company. And this happened for a while to the extent that Colonel Pence had to call the entire regiment together, oh, two or three times, I think, to reprimand the entire regiment for internal fighting. He called the whole regiment together and said, "You've got to stop. I won't stand for all this internal fighting."

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

KM: And so some bright, brilliant idea was, as reported in many various ways, let the boys visit the relocation camps. So Rohwer and Jerome, Arkansas, was right nearby. And so we... two or three visitations was done, busloads of infantry boys, and we got to Jerome or Rohwer, Arkansas, and saw the conditions under which the Mainland boys volunteered, and our fights stopped.

MN: Did you go on one of the visits?

KM: I went to both Jerome and Rohwer. I met my Japanese school teacher, now that I recall. I think it was in Jerome, he was interned earlier, but then he was released to go to Jerome. And I met him, he and his family. He was my Japanese language school teacher. But as Dan Inouye wrote in his book, all fights stopped thereafter.

MN: And then what do you remember, besides seeing your old Japanese language school teacher, what stays in your mind about the camps, those two visits?

KM: First of all, when we got to the camp, we were in buses in uniform. And our first visit, the bus stopped at the entrance. And then outside the bus was a couple of guards with rifles. And one of the boys, one or two of them came into the bus and they frisked all of us. We were in uniform, they frisked us, patted us down. And then when we got into the camp, the four corners of the camp, as far as you could see, had machine gun posts. And I vividly remember that they had this, like a stockade, you have this at the corner of the camp, and they had this 10-foot-tall barbed wire fence bordering the encampment, and in the corner, and the machine gun was pointed inside. There was manned machine guns with the guns pointed inside the enclosure, which shocked us because we were uniform.

And then my recollection, vivid recollection of those, as we entered into the camp, then we got exposed to their style of living, communal living, the cafeteria. And then we started to hear about what they were doing to make a living there, the doctors, teachers. In camp you had to have schools, you had to have doctors. So the story that was told to us was that there was a minimum pay that regardless of what you did, if you did some work, everybody was paid the same rate, I think, and I forgot the exact amount. But it was such an unreasonable, atrocious wages that we couldn't believe it. But when you, even then, when everything was provided for them, it wasn't... well, something was better than nothing, so to speak. And the reception we got from the people in camp was simply astounding, putting up a cheerful front to us. I don't remember any of them crying to us, or giving us a sad story. All of them were going out of their way to encourage us. When you reflect on it, it should have been the other way around. We should have been encouraging them.

MN: When you folks went, did any of the Mainland boys go with you?

KM: On these? Yeah, whoever had family or friends at Rohwer or Jerome came with us because they... but Jerome had a whole bunch of Hawaii people, I think it was Jerome, a whole bunch of Hawaii people.

MN: And to what extent could you mingle with them and talk story with them?

KM: Hard, that was hard. That was hard because the vague recollection of how we did the visitation, I know I visited, in both sides I visited a specific family. I don't know whether we were assigned the host family or what, but we got exposed to every facet of their living conditions. And the frisking of the GIs, I remember the second visit there was no more frisking. I think the machine guns were down because we complained right off the bat. First visit we had, we complained vigorously, and the machine guns were taken off the post and we weren't frisked although there were some armed guards at the gate.

MN: And then after you folks came back, relations changed?

KM: Oh, completely changed. Although in artillery we never had these fights. In my battery, my first sergeant was so outstanding in ability and capacity, and such a stern first sergeant. Although later on, after the war, he was [inaudible]. After we found out his true nature, it was completely different. [Laughs] But we all respected our first sergeant. He was a produce company manager before the war and even after the war, one of the big produce companies in Los Angeles. But we all respected him.

MN: What was his name?

KM: Jim Mizuno.

MN: And he survived the war?

KM: Oh, yeah. He came to a couple of our reunions. And then he was in charge of the reunion we were going to have in Reno. And unfortunately, in working out all of the arrangements and whatnot, he had a heart attack. So before the Reno reunion, he passed away. But we got along real well.

MN: He was well-respected.

KM: Oh, yeah.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MN: You told us a little bit about the relations among the AJA. I was wondering, in Shelby, when you folks did go into Hattiesburg or other areas, what were your relations with the civilians?

KM: Very little. I had very little, our artillery group, we had very little interaction with the Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg people. Because if we go down there, we go to a bar or something, or the USO where... what you call, Nakahara, what is her name now? I'm beginning to forget now. That later on got married to Kochiyama?

MN: Yuri.

KM: Yuri, yeah. She was the USO. She had an uncanny memory. Meet you once and she would remember your name and face. So she was in charge of the USO that we developed later on in Hattiesburg. Of course, you know the story of Earl Finch? But unfortunately for artillery, like a lot of things that we are left out, too, artillery has always been left out of the infantry activity. Earl Finch took care of the infantry boys real well. But I don't remember the artillery ever being invited by him to any of his functions. But he was, as far as the infantry boys were concerned, their godfather. Yeah, he exposed them to all kinds of southern hospitality.

MN: Did you ever meet a southerner who did kind of become very friendly with you?

KM: Well, let me tell you. A couple of years ago, like in 2002, 2001, I took a trip back to Louisiana visiting the Camp Polk site where we did our training maneuver. At the same I visited the town called Bogalusa, Louisiana. And the reason why was that very early in our training, I don't know when it was, but a group of the 442 boys were invited to go visit and stay with a southern family, later turned out to be Bogalusa. So my memory was that we were invited to Bogalusa to be exposed to southern fried chicken and baked beans and whatnot. So I spent a weekend very early in my training in Bogalusa. For years thereafter, we didn't have any followup except for the one weekend visit. But for years I've always wondered what or how it was that we were invited to Bogalusa. And so four years ago, and four years ago when I had this change to visit the Camp Polk by virtue of Hawaii Herald reporting to Hawaii Herald, because that was when our Hawaii guard went for special training, which is now being utilized by them in Iraq. They were preparing for Iraq, although Iraq had not started, but they were preparing for that type of warfare. And I went there to visit and inspect the site and reminisce. And at the end of that trip, I visited Bogalusa, and in one of my archival documents, I found, I had discovered my old address book from 1943. And there were two names in that from Bogalusa. And I had probably corresponded with them once or twice back in 1943, but I had completely lost track of them, but except for this trip to Louisiana, through the army, through the trip that we were going to take, we tried to chase down and we discovered that we discovered that one of the addressees was somebody who we remembered, the Niseis. In my case, being my host. So we went to Bogalusa, and the daughter-in-law of the host family, the father-in-law was a doctor in Bogalusa. Bogalusa was a small mining and timber town just north of New Orleans, I think it was. And what I found out was that Bogalusa was in the center part of the so-called maneuvering areas in Louisiana. We had a lot of GIs spent their furloughs in Bogalusa, this small little town.

And the citizens of Bogalusa, at that time, got together, and they said, "You know, all of these GIs coming into town, we have to do something for them." Because their boys were going all over the United States for training, instead of Bogalusa. I mean, you come from this site to train. And so they formed a committee, welfare and friendship committee, to invite various military units to Bogalusa, and host them for the weekend. And when they found out about the 442, and Bogalusa to Hattiesburg is kind of far, but we got their invitation and I accepted and then visited. I met this lady who was the daughter-in-law of my host family and found out that the reason why we were invited way back was because Bogalusa had this friendship committee for the GIs training in that area. It was a very nostalgic trip to Bogalusa. It was just about this time of the year because the Mardi Gras parade in Bogalusa was held that day that I visited, this family. Small but, it was just a town maybe the size of Waiawa, about the size of Waiawa, and there was a regular Mardi Gras parade. That was four years, five years ago.

MN: So from Shelby you went out to Bogalusa. And you were saying that sometimes folks went into Hattiesburg for, like, USO.

KM: When we had a three-day pass, the other passes were overnight. There were just no passes, just go out. But three-day passes were given out every so often. Then we'd go to New Orleans, that's how we were exposed to Oysters Rockefeller. I never forgot Oysters Rockefeller. But we enjoyed Bourbon Street and I went to New Orleans maybe twice.

MN: So going from Kahului, you really traveled.

KM: We did. They wouldn't consider after that, we went overseas. When we were in Germany after the war, we even went to visit Brussels and Belgium.

MN: You know, I just have one more question about Hattiesburg and the AJA soldiers there. Some of the men have said that they were really quite well-treated by this by the Hattiesburg people. When they would go to, say, places to eat or to drink, they were treated well. And some have attributed this good treatment to the fact that the boys had money, they had money to spend.

KM: I think so, I think so.

MN: I was wondering what you felt. What would be your take on that?

KM: I don't remember going that often to Hattiesburg. Spending money more or less was a special three-day occasion, then we really, like New Orleans. I think one weekend, I went to Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. No, there weren't, we weren't one of the big spenders.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MN: And at this time, when you were in training at Shelby, how much communication did you have with your family back home?

KM: Well, you know about my father, my father was interned December 6th, 7th. And early in our training, in the first two months, I think, my older brother, Katsuaki who was in the medics, one day, one night came by my hut. And said, "Hey, I just came back from a weekend visit with Dad." I said, "What are you talking about?" He said, "Yeah, I just visited Dad." And he told me that somehow he and a group of friends found out there was a group of Hawaii internees in Camp Livingston, Louisiana. And so he and his friends made arrangements to go all the way to Alexandria, Louisiana, by bus and it required all of three days to go and come back. And he told me how to do it and how he did, and so, couple of weekends thereafter, I took the same route. And then I got to the bus station at Hattiesburg. And I found out that there were three or four other 442 boys sitting in the bus, said, "Where are you guys going?" Said, "Oh, we're going to go to Louisiana." I said, "What for?" "Oh, our fathers are there." I wish to this day who they were, but the they were the same boat as I was. And so we all got together, we got on the same bus. And the way how it was that it was a long bus ride to Alexandria. And when we got to Alexandria, it was about one o'clock or two o'clock in the morning. And so we had to call in to Camp Livingston, call for the officer of the day that we have a group of soldiers, GIs, who want to visit their fathers in camp. The officer there was astounded, "What do you mean, you're American GIs?" "Yeah, we're American GIs."

And so from Alexandria to camp Livingston, we had to go by taxi, there was no transportation, two or three o'clock in the morning. And so we made arrangements for a taxi and the officer of the day in charge got our parents, got them up early, informing them that they're going to have visitors. And so by, from Alexandria to Livingston, we got there about five o'clock or five-thirty in the morning. And we were escorted into this Quonset hut, which turned out to be the visiting quarters. And the Quonset hut was divided up for visitors and inmates, but when the officer of the day came up, we introduced ourselves to him, and he looked at us and says, he called the parents in. And there were two guards assigned to the visiting quarters. And so he told the two guards, "You can leave now and leave these boys alone." And so we had the freedom of visiting with our parents for about two hours, I think, because we had to catch a bus to come back to Hattiesburg again. So after a two-hour visitation, and the captain gave us the complete freedom during the two hours because all the signs in the buildings were, ""Speak English only," you know. And evidently, they were Germans and Italian inmates also because this was a prisoner of war camp. This group of Hawaii internees were in camp Livingston, which, on my last visit, when I went back four or five years ago, had been already torn down and there's no trace of Camp Livingston in Fort Polk anymore.

But then, the next visit with my father was one day when I was out bivouacking, going out into the fields, doing field maneuvers. I got word to report back to camp, reported back to camp and thought, gee, funny, the chaplain was there, our artillery chaplain. He wanted to see me. I said, "Well, what's up?" "Well, son" -- real southern gentleman, Caucasian chaplain, Chaplain West, I think -- "Well, son, I got some bad news to tell you." "Why, what happened?" "We just got word that your brother got killed in an automobile accident in Dolton, Alabama." I said, "Why Dolton, Alabama?" Well, I had known that, my brother had told me that his application for ASTP program was approved and that he would be going to Tulane shortly to register for medical school.

And so at the same time, the 442, one regiment, couple of companies were assigned to guard Afrika Korps German prisoners, who were helping the farmers in Dolton, Alabama, harvest peanuts. And so the 442 was sent out there to guard these German Afrika Korps prisoners who were harvesting peanuts. And they were just shipped out there and this was the second week, actually, the first or second weekend after they got to Alabama. And my brother was assigned to E Company, and the captain had told him, "Go there and spend a couple of weeks with E Company as a medic," because from there to Tulane is just a hop, step, jump, Louisiana, Alabama, to New Orleans. So you he was to spend two weeks at Dolton, and then before the end of September -- and this was September 16th that the accident happened -- one week later I think he was supposed to go to Dolton, I mean, to Tulane to attend school when the accident happened. And so I was given emergency leave to go to Alabama to make arrangements for the funeral. And just around that time, so this was September 16, 1943, when basic training was over, and everybody was receiving their furloughs. But in my case, I was given emergency furlough so that I'm going to arrange for the funeral. My brother Paul was at Yale, he came down to attend the funeral. And both of us then took the urn of my brother Katsuaki with us, and we went all the way to Fort Missoula in Montana, where my dad had been transferred from Louisiana at that point in September. And so we went by, via Chicago, from Mississippi, no, from Alabama, all the way up to Missoula, Montana. And we turned over the urn to my father, who then had private funeral services behind barbed wire. And I couldn't attend it because I was not allowed to go inside the enclosure where my dad and his internees were located. So they had their own private funeral. And then, the following day, my brother Paul, who was with me, got the urn and then we came back to Chicago where he had some friends at that point. He had already graduated from Yale, and he was doing some YMCA work in Chicago.

And I asked for additional time so that I could get some furlough. But they gave me five extra days, I think, from my fifteen, original fifteen days, I think. And so with the five days, I spent three days in New York, and then I ended up back in Mississippi. Later on, I asked for regular furlough, and I got turned down. They said, "You already had your furlough." But that was my experience with my major, who was the executive officer of the field artillery. I thought we just, you know, it wasn't proper not to give me, but what could I say? You already had you feel your furlough, but he was an emergency furlough. But that was a very bad, very bad experience.

Recently I discovered my old diary that I kept for a little while. Because after basic training, you have to, in preparation for going overseas, word came down that we were not allowed, or supposed to keep diaries. Although a lot of boys kept it, continued to keep diary, but I didn't. But I discovered the death of my brother was very traumatic reading through the short notes, but reflected that I was having -- at the time I was a gunner corporal and I never got along with my sergeant because we felt our gun crew, we felt that he was bucking too much for higher ranking. And so maybe we were wrong, but we were thinking that a lot of things that he ordered us to do through me -- and I had to give the, he gave me the order and I had to implement the order with the boys, with my gun crew, with ten boys. And I was having a very difficult time with my sergeant and with my gun crew.

Since after my brother's death, it seems as if I became very hardened. You know, the trauma lingered on until, it must have been quite long because I had to stop the diaries because they said, "Well, we're going overseas and you can't keep diaries anymore, and at that point I stopped. But to the extent that... I never really got along with my sergeant. My first sergeant, Mizuno, was given a field commission in Italy. When we went to France, the other staff sergeant, Toru Hirano, who was very likeable, I really liked him. He became the first sergeant. And when he was given a few commissions in France, the man next in line was my sergeant. So when he became first sergeant, I was a gunner corporal. And supposedly, I would have been in line to become a buck sergeant. But what I did was that, when my sergeant became first sergeant, I went up to the battery executive officer who was a good friend, was a nice, likable lieutenant, Brew. He was well-liked by our boys. And I went to the lieutenant, "I'm going to turn in my corporal stripes." "What for?" "No, no, Sam's going to be the first sergeant and I don't want to be in a position where he's going to give me orders." And so I turned in my corporal stripes and I became a buck sergeant again -- I mean, buck private again. Of course, automatically, buck privates get to become PFCs after so many months, so I did upgrade myself to private first class after maybe about six months thereafter. But I continued to be the gunner corporal, position. It was just that I didn't have the ranking. Unfortunately, I had a sad experience in the army in that respect. I became hard-nosed. I couldn't stand an attitude, a lackadaisical attitude and non-caring kind of an attitude. Many of our boys were happy-go-lucky. I felt that our duties were such that we could not relax or be inattentive at any given time.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

MN: You know, with all that your family endured, your father being incarcerated, your older brother being killed in an accident while in service, the treatments that you and your brother experienced not being able to go to your brother's funeral. What were your feelings towards the government at that time, if any?

KM: I did not fault the government. I did not fault anybody, now that I think about it. Even at that time, I don't recall faulting anybody. If anything, it made me more hard-nosed to individually serve better. This is my recollection of my experience in the army. And to an extent when I became buck private, there was a tremendous load off my shoulders. I didn't feel the responsibility of having men taking my orders. So in that respect, it was a relief. But from my personal point of view, I was more hard-nosed in trying to be in line, so to speak.

MN: And then with all this happening, and your mother back in Hawaii, I guess by that time, she had moved in with Katsuro?

KM: Yeah. She had sold the hotel within a year after I left, I think, and moved in with my brother Katsuro. So there was very little worry back home, as far as that was concerned, Katsuro was... he was supposed to get married middle, latter part of December... no, no, latter part of December just before Christmas, I think. But because the war started, they got married one week after the war started. And they didn't even notify me of the wedding because they didn't know where I was, basically, where I was stationed. And so one Sunday I came home from, came home to Atherton House to visit, still my brother Katsuaki. He had just come back from, just across, said, "Hey, where you been?" He's all dressed up. He said, "Aw shucks, when did you come back?" I said, "Oh, I just came in." "You just missed the wedding." I said, "Whose wedding?" "Katsuro's wedding." They had gotten married. But even then, there was a limit of the number of Niseis that could gather at any place after December 7th, not more than twenty-five, I think. There was a strict limit on the number of Niseis who could gather in one place. They couldn't have, well, they could have, but there was a strict limitation.

MN: So looking at your family during wartime, everybody was really barabara, yeah? You have Katsuro and mother in Honolulu, you have Paul in the Mainland in Chicago.

KM: Fumiye in Japan.

MN: Fumiye and Tsukie in Japan.

KM: We were scattered all over the place.

MN: How did your mother, what do you know about how your mother was dealing with this with her children all over the place at a time of war?

KM: You know, well, one of the things that I recall... back in Maui when we were running the hotel, our next door neighbor was a Chinese family, Ah Fook grocery store. And the mother of that, matron of that family was around the same age as my mother. Both of them hardly spoke any English. But one of the sights that I enjoyed so much was I would come back from work, defense work, and then Mrs. Ah Fook, she would invariably be visiting my mother by the kitchen or by the living room that we had. And just listening to both of them trying to carry on a conversation, and I think this was hilarious. I mean, it was really something that was such a joy to observe. This first-generation Chinese lady and a first-generation Japanese lady who hardly spoke any English trying to carry on an intelligent conversation between the two of them, but they did almost every night. That was a wonderful relationship. In fact, the general manager of the grocery store was Mochizuki. Yeah, Charlie Mochizuki. Not Charlie, Charlie was the brother. I forget what the oldest brother's name, but he was the general manager for a long time.

MN: So it seemed like your mom maybe had a friend and an...

KM: Oh, yeah, both of them kept each other company. I think Mrs. Ah Fook went out of her way to keep her mother company. After the work was done for the evening, and she would just walk over back, and then keep her mother company.

MN: Now, getting back to the war, you know, by the time you folks were at Camp Shelby, for folks who were there for a long time, the 100th had already gone overseas. And what had you heard about the 100th?

KM: You know, the 100th had come and gone in a matter of, I don't know, I don't recall having had the chance to meet with any of my older brothers of the 100th Infantry, when they were in Camp Shelby. Maybe I may have met one. But we had very little, the artillery had very little interaction with the 100th Infantry. They were in a different part of the camp. They were there just a month or so I think, and we were just getting ready to prepare to start basic training when they left.

MN: And then later on when, you know, you come up to spring 1944, you folks are about to leave for Europe. What were your feelings when you folks knew that, okay, pretty soon we're gonna, we're gonna ship out?

KM: We were very eager. There was gonna be a change in finally going to do something about our training that we had, that we had prepared for one year. So we were eager and anxious to go overseas.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MN: Okay, this is continuation of session four. We're still on March 2nd. And we were just talking about the time before the boys were about to leave the mainland for Europe. You folks went from Camp Shelby to Camp Patrick Henry, Newport News, Virginia, and then you folks headed for Europe. Tell me about that month-long journey across the Atlantic.

KM: We were told that the convoy that we were on was the largest convoy to go across to Europe at that time of the war. It was supposed to have been ninety victory ships, that small type. That's how Kaiser made his millions, and with the supporting military naval vessels. And because of the size, it took twenty-eight days from Newport News to Palermo, Sicily, where we first stopped, and it was a zigzag -- of course, we didn't know it was zigzag, because you couldn't tell from the boat. But most of our days were spent... we had regular calisthenics and whatnot, you know, in early in the morning, but as I said, at one time earlier, because we were going to be using a new panoramic sight, morning and afternoon, we had a practice session of using the brand new panoramic sight, because it was completely different from the one that we had trained on. The old panoramic sight, if you wanted to move the gun to the right, you had to move the knob to the left. And if you wanted it to go right, you moved to move, do the opposite. ut under the new panoramic sight, if you wanted to move the gun toward the right, you move the knob to the right. And if you wanted to move the gun to the left, you move to the left, and so it was a completely different concept. And so all of the twenty-eight days was training regular, because we had to have all of the gun crew, eight or nine of us, all of us fully prepared to take over from each other as far as the gun sight. Although the gunner corporal's main job, there were two of us fully assigned gunner corporal, but every other member of the gun crew was also fully trained to take the place of any one of us. And so it was, took up a lot of time in the morning, in the afternoon, preparing and getting acquainted with this new panoramic sight, so it took up most of our time. But as you inquired, going overseas, I don't recall the type of gambling that we used to have in camp will come in on the Lurline. I think most of us had already either spent the money or sent back home whatever cash we had on hand prior to going overseas, because we never expected to be spending money overseas. So what little gambling that went on overseas was only on paydays that we did get paid.

MN: But nothing like...

KM: Oh, nothing like in the camp while training on the Lurline.

MN: And then on this voyage, how are you? The earlier voyage...

KN: I was sick for one week, if I recall, I was not as bad as the others. But I was sick for one week and thereafter I was fine. I enjoyed the balance of the three weeks.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MN: And there is a... well, I guess, when you folks landed in Palermo, Sicily, what were your initial observations of the people?

KN: We didn't meet any people. Before we come to Palermo, it was a historic day to pass Gibraltar Straits. Oh, Gibraltar, that rock, what a big disappointment. But that was our entrance into the... what sea now? Mediterranean Sea, yeah, the Gibraltar. And then we expected to reach Italy. And then we discovered that the boat that I was in, we stopped by overnight in Sicily. And we had heard about Sicily, we didn't get off the ship, we were only allowed to stay onboard ship. And the next day departed. And considering the geographic location, we were told that, well, following day we'll get to see Italy. And we expected Italy to be under so-called I don't know, stop order, whatever, but on the right hand side of the ship because Italy, Sicily, Italy, the foot of the Italy, and then we would get to see the land on the right hand. But a couple of days, it took us a couple of days from Sicily. We suddenly saw one morning when we got up, the land was on our left. And we got all excited because, which indicated that if the land was on the left, the right hand side was Greece. And Greece was then under control of Germany at that time of the war, but we had gone to the other side of the boot of Italy and we landed in a place called Brindisi. The infantry, bulk of the infantry went direct to Naples, but the artillery landed in Brindisi, and we joined the infantry in Naples after crossing the boot of Italy on train. It was a beautiful, beautiful train ride. I think it took us about two and a half days by train.

MN: Was it just the artillery?

KM: Just the artillery. The infantry had, you know, the ships had been all scattered all over. So the artillery landed in Brindisi and we took a train ride. And the towns of Italy was built in the era when wartime, in war, ancient days, everything was whoever controlled the hilltop controlled the site. And so most of the big cities, or most of the cities were built on hilltops. So you look at the scenic view of Italian towns, you had a castle, you have the church, and then you have this walled... invariably, there would be walls around the town. But when you get into the town, it was terrible because there was open sewer line. Everything was just thrown out of the second window from the one, out into the streets. So the smell, number one, was terrible, that I remember, of the first exposure to Italian towns, but it was very picturesque and beautiful from a distance. So we ended up in Naples, and we gathered forces in Naples. Some of us got to visit Pompeii, some of us got to visit... we didn't get to Pompeii, we got to visit, the group that I visited was called a place just on the outskirts of Naples, and it was called �Pozzuoli and we discovered they had Japan-style, called it, even though it was Japan-style, but they had sulfur baths. And we took a sulfur bath in Pozzuoli. Years later I found out that this was from ancient Roman days, sulfur bath was very popular in Italy. So probably the Japanese learned this, you know, onsen ofuro through the Italians.

MN: So in Italy you had an onsen experience.

KM: And then we had a couple days' visits in Naples. And the first exposure to Naples is when we go out into, when we went out to Naples, little kids, these raggedy rags kids were all over the streets. And sanitation was so bad at that time that either the first day or the second day that we were there, after we went into town, all of us had to be doused with... what kind of insecticide duster? I forgot what it's called, DDT? Yeah, we were doused with it because of the problem with lice in Naples. It was terrible, so all of us got doused. Wherever the station area or wherever, if we went to town, we had to come back, we had to get doused. But the ringing of this... I don't know what you call it, these little ragamuffin boys in the streets, not begging but approaching the GIs. And by that time, by the time we got to Naples, all of these raggedy-rag kids would come about. And I put down the typical phraseology that we were confronted with. And then these little raggedys would come up to us, "Joe Joe, Joe, cigarette, cigarette?" Chocolate? Chocolate? No chocolate? Mangiare, mangiare, come my house, mangiare. No chocolate? No chocolate?" Then they will end up, invariably end up with, "Signorina, signorina, my sister, young, young." And this solicitation was something which you cannot forget from the raggedy rag.. because Naples was really, at that time, it was shortly after the Germans had escaped away back to Anzio, and we had come up to Naples at the worst time of their rehabilitation after the Germans left. But this was a most common sight in Naples. But the Pozzuoli experience was really fantastic, taking the sulfur bath. To think that the ancient Germans did this, the ancient Romans did the same thing, you know?

MN: When... when the children would come up to you folks, and, you know, try to barter or trade...

KM: Most of us, you know, we accepted to go and eat spaghetti, that's how we ate spaghetti, to go to these private homes to eat spaghetti. There was no restaurant, the restaurants weren't open. All private home that they were soliciting. Of course, we were told, "Don't eat anything, you don't eat anything out on the streets," but we didn't care. So what? You're gonna end up, better end up in the hospital than go up in the front.

MN: You know, some men have told us stories about how they would barter cigarettes or food items. What do you recall about that? How much of a trade was going on?

KM: In Naples, basically, it was either paying for our meals with cigarette or chocolate candy. Cigarette was, no matter where, Italy, France, Germany, cigarette was the standard bartering merchandise.

MN: And when they say, "Chocolate?"

KM: Chocolate.

MN: Oh. Was it just part of your rations or something?

KM: Yeah, we had part of our ration, part of our C rations, part of our rations was chocolate. So we all had chocolates available.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

MN: And I know when you folks were like, you're in Naples, you're moving north of Rome. And then sometime around there, you folks were also at Anzio. And there's a story about how someone wanted a demonstration of the 522 --

KM: Well, not at Anzio, not at Anzio.

MN: Not at Anzio.

KM: Anzio was the beachhead before Rome, where the Americans would bypass Naples and then landed in Anzio. And when we got into Anzio, we were quickly sent out to the outskirts up on the hillsides. We spent one or two nights there. But the last German air raid, as it turned out, was in Anzio where we experienced. Because thereafter, we never had any, throughout the Italian campaign, we never had an air attack like they did in Anzio. And one other thing that was scary in Anzio was that Anzio was a port where Allies were trying to establish a landing spot. The Germans had the port zeroed in on a railroad gun. We found out that it was a railroad gun up on a hillside where during the day, it'd be hidden in the caves. And nighttime, the railroad gun would come out. And the railroad gun is a 16-inch gun, which is, you could fire it maybe 25 miles away. But we would be up on a hillside, the port would be one more two miles in front of us. And in the back, the railroad guns would fire. The shells would fly overhead, over us, and the shells, the noise of the shell, we could never forget. It was like a washing machine being thrown in the air, it would be flying all overhead and it would land in the harbor. But we were already evacuated up on the hillside.

MN: And that was the first time you folks were sort of...

KM: "Under the gun," so to speak. Yeah. And at night, the two or three nights that we were there, the "Midnight Charlie" would come out. The "Midnight Charlie" was a German airplane that would harass the Americans by flying around and fire machine gun down, you know, aimlessly just at random. And so we had to jump into a foxhole because you couldn't take a chance being out in the open. But then they had a, well, not big air raid but the German army air force raided Anzio. But that was the last, as it turned out thereafter, all the way up to Florence, we never were confronted with the German air force.

MN: And you know, when this is happening, that's your first time, you know, really being in danger.

KM: We were scared stiff, scared stiff. But of the unknown, basically. And none of us got hurt, so you kind of got used to the idea. Of course, the unknown was a very scary thing. But there was nothing you could do about it, other than stay deep in your foxhole.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

MN: And then was it also at about that time that you folks were asked to do a demonstration?

KM: No. It was after we joined the 100th up in Civitavecchia, which is, a few miles north of Rome. You see, the 100th led the way, the 5th Army, from Anzio all the way up to Rome. They cleared the path, and when they were ready to march into Rome, they were ordered to stop on the roadside, and some other American outfit entered Rome as the conquering hero. And this is one of the things that the 100th were very mad about because they had endured so much, especially in the Battle of Cassino before Naples. Our first 442 replacement joined 100th in April of that year, the first replacement group, at a point when after Cassino, the 100th had, from original thirteen hundred, battalion, they were down to about five hundred able bodied rifleman. And from the group that came back from the hospital, the wounded and replacement from the 442, two or three groups of 442 replacement had joined the 100th. And this is before we left. We left, we joined up, the 100th and 442 in June. But this was early April yet. And so the replacement that came directly from Camp Shelby to join the 100th was early April, and April and May they had then come back to about a thousand able-bodied rifleman when we got together in Civitavecchia first day of battle for the 442 to Belvedere. The 100th had original 100th and replacement 442, they were not fully... they were a little less than, the normal strength of a battalion is about twelve hundred, but there were about a thousand. But they became the 1st Battalion of the 442, and the 2nd and 3rd Battalion of the infantry was combined and became a combat team again for the first time. And it was at Civitavecchia, this place just north of Rome, that the 34th Division Artillery Commander... and I don't know if it was the 34th Division Commander himself, wanted an exhibition of, to prove ourselves, the 522 who had come with such a fabulous record in training. And so the Artillery 34th Division Commander wanted to see for himself just how good we were and called for an exhibition.

MN: And how did that exhibition go?

KM: Okay. So as I explained once before, the battalion had three gun batteries. Four guns in A Battery, four guns in B Battery, and four guns in C Battery. And in the normal course of things, the B Battery number two gun would be the gun that was to register the entire twelve guns for the whole battalion. And we will be the ones to fire what is called smoke shells to see where the shells would land. Then the fire direction center would make the adjustments after the first round. And so when we got ready to set the guns, the sergeant who was in charge of the four guns, although he was in charge of number one gun, he came over to me and said, "Hey, Kats, this is a very important exhibition, so let me take over." So I said okay, so he sat down and he set the deflection. Well, you remember, on the ship, all of us went through morning and afternoon rituals of adjusting ourselves to the new panoramic sight. Well, the sergeant, as it turned out, came and took my place, but he set the gun according to what he remembered. And so when the call came, right so much, he naturally turned the knob left and set the sight and fired the first round. The first round came right near where the general and the observation crew was watching, you know. In any event, fired the second round, because they want to make sure your adjustments are correct. And so they went through and the sergeant was still sitting in my seat and he was still doing the second reading. Second round went, the second round came even closer to the observation. They had to duck. The shell came so near where they were, by the sound, you know. And so the general got so mad. He turned to our colonel, Colonel Harrison, said, "Colonel, you take your boys back to wherever you came from. I don't need them over here," he ordered them. And so the... basically, at that point, nobody knew what happened because it happened just between the sergeant and I. But two weeks, I think... no, no, it didn't last two weeks. One week thereafter, night and day, we had to go through the same ritual which we had done on the ship. But it so happened with the sergeant taking my place and he did what he did erroneously. And I never did tell anybody the reason why, until years afterwards when we decided to talk story. But that's exactly what happened. He moved me aside and set the gun himself the old fashioned way, and almost wiped out the general. So when we took over, there was no problem because we had gotten adjusted to the new panoramic sight.

MN: As a result of that, were you bawled out?

KM: No. I don't remember any inquiry afterwards as to what happened. I think... I think the sergeant must have realized, but besides that, that sergeant was a regular army soldier. He was in the regular army before World War II, before December 7, he was already in the regular army, and so his language was atrocious. His language was regular army, every other word starts with an F, and he would jump on our neck. You know, his primary duty during training was to clean the area. In other words, every morning before anything else, we had to clean our area that we lived, which meant picking up cigarette butts, picking up matches, every little speck of rubbish had to be picked up. And he was the one that would be in charge, and he would jump on our back. And that was his number one job duty, actually.

MN: I guess everybody was lucky that no one got hurt.

KM: Oh yeah, nobody got hurt. Really, that was really fortunate because it could have wiped out the general. That close it came.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

MN: I'm going to end the session now and then we'll continue...

KM: We're going to go into Belvedere, we got a good story there.

MN: Shall we go to Belvedere?

KM: You want to?

MN: I think so.

KM: We could cover that.

MN: Okay.

KM: Because, as I said earlier, in the normal standard operations procedure, at that time, when the artillery were emplaced, in other words, the three guns would be emplaced. Before the three guns, the artillery would be in position to contact the enemy. The normal procedure was when the initial placement was made, our battalion commander would ask the regular divisional artillery to standby and support our infantry because our guns will be moving into place. Three gun crew batteries were moving into position. During that time, the divisional artillery is supposed to support our infantry. So when the 2nd battalion was ready to attack and enter into combat with the Germans, suddenly, there was no contact with the division artillery, there was a letdown in communication. And the four, the three gun batteries were on the road. We were moving into place. And so when the 2nd battalion wanted to enter into contact with the Germans, there was no artillery support. And usually, the artillery paves the way for the infantry to contact the enemy. They didn't have the firepower. And so they got caught behind the line, so to speak, by the Germans who entrapped them. And because we were on the road, the 100th Infantry was on a standby basis. Sakae Takahashi was the company commander, he saw what was happening. And he took it upon himself to flank the Germans from the flank and attack the rear of the German. That's how the day was saved. But I remember distinctly that the reason why all this happened was because our three gun batteries was on the move and on the road, and we were stuck. There was a... I don't know, there was some kind of a roadblock that we couldn't move any further from where we were. But the 100th saved the day, and for that action, the 100th Infantry got their first unit citation, and that was Sakae Takahashi.

MN: Could have been disastrous.

KM: Oh, it could have been disastrous. Dan Inouye was 2nd Battalion, and he was the, E Company was the forward unit, and that would have been his unit.

MN: That was at Belvedere?

KM: Belvedere area. That was the first day of combat.

MN: And what were your feelings at that time?

KM: We had mixed feelings because when we got to this hillside, we had our first sight of a casualty of the 442. Right on the roadside where we were stopped was a destroyed German tank, and two blanket-covered casualties was along the roadside. And it was pointed out that, "Hey, that's Buddhaheads," and we first saw, although even it was covered with the blanket, it was a very, very eerie feeling of being exposed to your first casualty. But later on, I found out that one of the two was one with whom I lived in camp, Atherton House. Happened to be... I don't know if I should say the name, but he was a member of the VVV. And what really shook me later on, when I found out about it, we found out who they were later on. But as a story, you know, we get all these wireless communication, how we get aware, but I found out that it was my friend. Not only that, the talk was that prior to volunteering for 442 as a VVV member, he was... well, no, he was a little bit older than the rest of the boys, one or two years older, and he had a girlfriend who we thought they would get married or what, but they were very tight. And among the VVV boys, I think it was a well-known pair. The thing that I found out later was that prior to his being, getting killed, he had received a Dear John letter from his girlfriend. That really shook me. You know, here this guy receives a Dear John letter, and I don't know how soon thereafter he got killed. But there's some indication that he and his partner was too near the German tank, because they got killed by the concussion of the exploding German tank, which meant they were too near the tank. They were exposed, but these are things that you hear about later. Somehow we get all this information, we gather all kinds of information.

MN: So like you were saying somehow you folks would hear, would you folks go actively seeking out information to find out, how is everybody, did anybody...

KM: I don't know how it worked out, how these information trickled down. But invariably after each battle, each engagement, one of the first things we would inquire into is who got killed. Not who got wounded, because wounded people would invariably come back again or go home but who got killed in action is something which we... and sometimes even how they got killed we would learn. Of course, one of the most sad ones was that... have you heard about that ammunition exhibit that was done after our first battle, first big battle? Yeah, I think it was after the first big, first month of combat where the demonstration of mine, land mines. Have you heard about that? Well, there was a demonstration of land mines by an engineer company. And we had our engineer company, too. So in front of the whole battalion... I think one battalion, not one, but maybe one or two companies. They had this demonstration of Teller mines and the land mines and how to disarm them and all that. But what happened was that these exhibit mines were being put back onto the trucks from the ground where they were placed to show how to, what type of mines they were and how to disarm them. Basically that was the display. And while they were putting it on, the whole truck blew up. And the demonstrators, there were, four or five of them got killed, and a couple of the 442 boys got killed. And one of them was also University of Hawaii from Kauai, Daniel Betsui. It was somebody I knew, too, at the university. But these things, you get word, somehow, as soon as this happened, you, comes down the grapevine. But that was a sad incident because... fortunately, not more people got hurt. But the truckload of mines just completely blew up. Somebody did not disarm one of the mines.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

MN: You know, I was just wondering, you have these accidental deaths, like this one is an exhibition of mines and people got hurt. You know, what do you remember about instances of boys getting hurt or being killed by, you know, our own men, friendly fire?

KM: Well, the 522 Field Artillery, in all of the three years that we were in, we had two casualties in the front. One casualty was this fellow who was on duty at night, sitting in front of a little cottage or whatever. It was the headquarters of the headquarters battery, our field artillery headquarters battery. It was outside the house, where the headquarters was located, sitting on a chair. And one of the non-coms was inside, working late and cleaning his pistol. Pistol went off, shot the man who happened to be sitting in front of the, right in front of the office. That was our number one casualty.

And the other casualty was from my battery, from a Lanai boy. He was a forward observer group. But he was one of those real meticulous forward observer. You know, forward observer, you have the lieutenant, then you have a radio man who carried the radio and another man who helped to carry the radio. So they were a group of four, basically. Well, Tomita was one of the forward observer troops. And he had built a foxhole, and they had some time, so he had built a very sturdy, complete foxhole. The danger at that time in in France was the tree bursts. The trees were so thick that when a round, instead of going through the trees and landing on the enemy, could hit the trees and hit our own troops before it gets to the enemy. So what he did was he built one with a good cover on the top with only one entrance in the rear. From the backside is the only entrance where you can get into the foxhole. Now he got wounded and practically, basically, bled to death actually, but he got killed from what the best we could gather from our 155 further back of us, because the only way he could have gotten wounded was from tree bursts from behind, not from the front. Front would have been less, you know, but evidently, it wasn't enemy fire. So our only two casualties we had was the two casualties throughout the campaign. Artillery was very lucky because... because we had the infantry in front who took good care, guarded us so carefully that none of the enemy infiltrated through, were we discovered by the Germans. Our worst fear would be counter batteries from the German artillery firing at us if they locate our location. But we never got any so-called counter battery by the Germans, nor did the German infantry infiltrate through the infantry to come at us. Because they would have loved to find the artillery because we gave them such close support.

MN: The infantry did a good job, then.

KM: The infantry protected us as much as they could because they knew how valuable our firepower was.

MN: I think we'll end here.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2021 Densho. All Rights Reserved.