2457 N. 49th St.
Milwaukee Co, Wis
Nov 2 1943 (date should be 1944 as Jack Johnson, whom Fukuda writes about in the second paragraph, was killed in January 1944.)
Received your letter through Major Lovell concerning circumstances of Jack’s death. I am now in Milwaukee on TD and will be reporting to Ft. Sheridan on the 5th. Had a wonderful time with my family and friends and hate like hell to go back up front. Hope you are settled once again in civilian life and living like a human being.
I don’t know how much of story has been related to you but I will work on the assumption that you haven’t heard too much about Jack. I may have my dates crossed up but you can make necessary changes. On Jan 24 we moved down into the flats for our initial attack on the right of Cassino, with Baker holding the LD, Charlie on the left and Able on the right. Agnus and his outfit was on our left. We crossed the LD at midnight with our own artillery falling all over us. Had to cross an open stretch of about 400 yards, completely flooded, and every tree and house chopped to the very ground. Across this open field was the river and then a road on the other side of the river with the hills starting from the road. The river wall was at least 12 ft high on one side and in order to get across the wall we needed ladders. Richard found a break in the wall in his sector through which he had his men go through. Everything was quiet until we got about halfway through knee deep mud, sometimes waist-deep. My scouts found a mine field through which we had to go in order to get to the river. Shimogaki crawled up and cleared a path for us. During this interval Jerry started firing his MG’s and throwing light mortars right down on us. We couldn’t dig in in that mud and all we could do was stay flat on our belly. I went forward with Miyake and climbed the wall and found that it was almost impossible to get the men over the wall, down into the river, across and into the hill by morning, so I called back and told Clough that the best thing to do was to get back under cover and try again. I hated to be caught in the flat, in the mud, in daylight. There was also a double apron fence on the other side of the river with mines that we had to cut through.
I hope I am giving you a picture of how big and job it was and how seemingly hopeless, especially with 50 men in my company and 40 and 30 in Sakaes and Richard group. After much argument I was ordered to go across. We made it to the wall by day break and stayed there behind the wall all day long. Richard made it too and together we were strung out about 200 yards. Blue never made it and pulled back. In the morning Sakae was ordered to make a mad dash across the open mud patch and succeeded in getting 9 men across. Blue tried in the afternoon and lost 6 out of 9 men who left the LD so they ran back. In the meantime Richard and I were getting orders to push and getting confusing information from guys sitting in houses about a mile back afraid to even stick their heads out to see what was going on. I wasn’t going to send my men across the river in daylight and got picked off one by one, when Jerry had concrete jailboxes and perfect observation and fire on every in[ch] of ground. This led to Cloughs being relieved by Dewey, although I didn’t know about this until later.
As soon as it got dark though I started back for the CP to get some information and give them the situation. Was told that [illegible] was in command and Marshall had ordered him to go up front to look over the situation personally. He ordered Jack to go with him, plus a wire crew, and an aid man and 2 litters. We started off in the pitch black night to my position, wading through mud and ditches until we hit the minefield. I told the others to hold it while I looked for the path that Shimogaki had made. Just then a burst of machine guns swept us and hit Jack and Dewey. Koda of the wire crew ran and hit a mine. Jack called me, saying he was hit pretty badly. I called the aid man and told him to work on Jack while I looked for the others. Couldn’t find Dewey. Found the path and went up to the company to get another aid man and a litter crew to take Jack out. Sakae and his gang were ready to pull back so I asked them to help as litter bearers. They managed to evacuate everyone except Jack. Sent another crew out to get Jack and one of the boys hit a mine about a yard away from Jack which must have hit Jack again. It must have been around midnight when the aid man finished and finally got Jack on the litter. Took four hours to go through 400 yards of mud and hit the forward aid. He was still alive then but from the forward aid to the rear aid was another mile of mud and water and he died when he got to the rear aid.
I guess this is quite a lengthy letter and I don’t expect you to relate everything to Jack’s dad. I wanted you to get the circumstances so you could better understand what
the situation was like.
I see where Mizuha is doing some tall thinking in regards to the Club 100th. Its good to know that fellows like you and Jack are paving the way for our boys. One thing I wanted to see was men like George Eguchi running for public office. It’s a shame that they had to withdraw in 1942 but they should have had guts enough to run this year, although I am not too well acquainted with the reasons for not doing so.
Stu and Sparky are at Snelling now and Kay will be joining them soon. We had a grand reunion here a month ago.
My regards to your family and all the veterans you may run across.