On the morning of the 29th of September, 1943, the 100th Battalion heard its first angry gunfire and spilt its own blood. I remember vividly, and I suppose every man present can say the same thing, my first amazed audition of that famous German weapon, the “Burp Gun”, which caused the allies so much misery and woe. I recall so very clearly having Captain Kawasaki, with blood stains all over his uniform, quietly point out the body of Joe Takata, his bayoneted rifle stuck into the ground and his helmet in the position which became much too familiar a sight during the ensuing two years.
The war became a very realistic thing that morning, which we all remember was followed by one of the most uncomfortable nights any of us had ever experienced. We realized then that no training in the camps back home could possibly take the place of the real thing.
We were able to remember quite well the remarks made by General Ryder in the cork woods back of Oran. They went something like this:
“I shall try to see that your initial contact with the enemy is a success. If you have this experience and are properly blooded, nothing can stop you.”
Many of us like to recall that on the 30th the General paid us a visit and congratulated us on our initial combat experience and predicted a continuation of the same.
A month later, Army Ground Forces sent a letter to the Commanding Generals of the major units of the Army then in service, and from this letter I quote:
“The combat record of an infantry battalion composed of Japanese-American personnel emphasizes the fact that these people have earned the respect, admiration, confidence, and friendliness of all members of our armed forces.”
I am particularly proud of the “respect, admiration, confidence” and friendliness” of our fellow members of the 34th Division whose Red Bull insignia we were so proud to wear.
I do not have to remind the men of the 100th that I saw very little fighting, as I had to regretfully turn the unit over to Major Gillespie just one month after those first angry rounds were fired. I had to content myself by reading the remarkable history that was being made by the One Puka Puka in the months that followed. Articles by famous writers appeared in the “Saturday Evening Post”, “Colliers”, “The New Yorker”, “Coronet”, “The Infantry Journal”, “Yank”, “Time”, “The Stars and Stripes”, and these told the story of the glory of the 100th.
Three hundred and twenty-eight men of the Battalion died, not in defense of their country, but in a continuing all-out aggressive attack on their countrys[sic] enemies. We who have returned salute our fallen comrades and promise them that memory of them will always remain fresh in our minds, for in their dying and in the recorded actions of the 100th lies the greatest contribution to the welfare of a minority made by any organization in American History.
(Signed) F . L. TURNER