James Satoshi Kawashima was the oldest of three sons born to Masaki and Sakichi Kawashima and grew up in the Moilili district on the island of Oahu.
On Dec. 9, 1941, Kawashima and other members of the 298th Infantry of the Hawaii National Guard were sent to clean up the beach in Waimanalo. A haole (Caucasian) soldier approached Kawashima and asked him what he would do if the Japanese landed today. Kawashima answered: “Your uniform and my uniform are the same. We’re not different. The same uniform means we’re in the same army. You’re American, I’m American too. If they attack now, I would shoot them.”
While in Camp McCoy, the military transferred Nisei soldiers who were able to speak Japanese to serve with the Military Intelligence Service. Although James had spent eight years in Japan, he did not want to be an interpreter. He wanted to complete his training with the 100th and fight with his friends.