Memories of World War II by Tom Nagata
For the Combat Infantryman, war was often pain, and even death on the battlefield, yet there were brief periods of peaceful interlude. Such was my stay at the 38th Evacuation Hospital, because of wounds suffered during our second push against Cassino. I enjoyed music daily provided by a ten year old Italian lad. He came into our ward tent looking for shoes to shine, and before leaving, he would sing “O Sole Mio” and “Marie Mari” in a clear tenor voice. We would reward him with a bar of chocolate candy. The ward attendant was very kind to me, and often brought pineapple juice for me after he found out I was from Hawaii. He was, also a gifted artist, and drew a pencil portrait of me, which I have kept and treasured to this day.
The Naples General Hospital had a large theater next door. The Italian Opera Company had scheduled a performance of “Madame Butterfly”, and we walking patients were admitted free of charge provided we had on our maroon robes. I enjoyed the opera very much,–such beautiful music, authentic kimono costumes, and fine stage decorations that depicted far away Nagasaki, Japan. I felt sad when “Chocho san” ended her life in despair. I felt that if I survived the war, I would like to visit that port city in far away Japan…
After being discharged from the hospital, men of the 100th Battalion returned to their outfit by way of the 7th Replacement Center which was located in the Naples Horse Racing Tract & Stadium. One of our men was the envy of the hospital nurses because he had such tiny feet. At the Center, they had to order Stateside to get him a new pair of shoes
Some of the men from Hawaii had a craving for tsukemono. So they bought some red radishes from Bagnoli, a nearby fishing village, and pickled them in their steel helmets. After a couple of days passed, you can imagine the aroma of the ever ripening tsukemono which I could smell every time I walked pass their tent.!!