Author: Raymond Nosaka, B Company
Club 100 30th Anniversary Reunion, June 1972
Various memories of the war that Ray Nosaka reminisces about. Everything from Col. Turner to Chaplain Yost, from Joe Takata’s death to Cassino, and the MIS sent to Camp Savage
I would like to mention a few individuals who have won eternal gratitude and respect in our hearts. First and foremost, there is our loyal commander, Colonel Farrant Turner. The battles that he fought for us verbally undoubtedly laid the foundation on which our later reputation was to be established.
Then, there is our beloved Chaplain Israel Yost, who stuck it out with us from start to finish. He was born in Nazareth, Penn. He could be found in the midst of every battle, comforting the wounded, burying the dead, and then personally writing letters to the next-of-kin offering his condolences. His only weapons were a first-aid-kit and a pocketful of Bibles. Twice he was hit by enemy fire, only to be saved by the Bibles that were in his pocket.
Next comes our Battalion Supply Officer, Captain George Grandstaff, from Azusa, California. No matter how hazardous the situation, he personally saw to it that the boys up front received their ammunition and rations. Then we have our Col Young O. Kim (retired), a Californian of Korean Ancestry. At Camp Shelby he was known to be strictly GI, but at the front lines, he proved to be one of the bravest soldiers. On the human interest side comes the story of Pvt Donald “Donkey” Nakauye. He was a communication line-man. Whenever he came across the body and grave of one of his buddies, he would go out of his way to find a few flowers which could be placed over the dead. One day, he apparently wandered too far into enemy territory. When we found him, he was dead of enemy sniper wounds, but in his hands he still held a bunch of flowers, which were definitely intended for someone else.
It was during the battle of Cassino that a dud shell fell on the back of Pvt Iwasa. Oblivious to his own danger, he carried the shell for 25 yards away from his buddies, then ran to his own safety where he collapsed, not from fright, but from the broken spine which he had received when the shell had fallen on him. Raw guts and instinct really played such a big role in the lives of the boys up front.
Once again we met up with our 442nd brothers — we only wished that they didn’t have to come. One incident occurred here where two brothers were placed in the same company. The older of the two witnessed his younger brother being machine-gunned to death. Out of anger and brotherly love, he blindly charged the machine gun nest, only to be seriously wounded himself.
Then there was Pvt Masao Awakuni, who single-handedly knocked out two Nazi tanks with his Bazooka. And Sgt Yutaka Nezu, who led a squad from our unit which had been trapped behind enemy lines for 16 days. He was mortally wounded. And how Pvt Tanaka fulfilled his mission to report in details on an enemy machine gun nest, and then fall dead at the feet of his platoon sergeant — he had received a fatal head wound.
Not too long ago, a letter written in Italian was received here by the wife of Pfc Richard Honda. Translated, it read: “Gentle Lady: Eight days ago, while walking up the mountain looking and digging for vegetables, I uncovered the body of your husband, Tag #30100958 T-43 Richard Honda. With all due course, I notified the American command in Rome, and they immediately took the body to the American cemetery. I am sending you my condolence from an Italian. Signed: Potone Antonicceo.”
Upon inquiring into this story, Richard Nakahara, who was with Honda, relates this story: “Our position was in a small excavation at the base of a small cliff. It offered protection but not completely, so Honda and I dug in a little more because we were on the firing line. He got tired quickly so I told him to lie down and be comfortable while I finish the digging. Between 3 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon, an explosion caused the small cliff behind which we were dug in to crumble. Honda and I were buried in the mass of rubble, stones and dirt. However, I was buried only up to my neck as I was sitting up. Honda was completely buried. For a few minutes I felt his legs move, then it was quiet.”
Although Pfc Honda was known to have been killed in the valley below the shattered Abbey of Cassino, not a single clue to his exact whereabouts could be found. It was six years later that this Italian farmer had discovered the body.
How about the battle of diarrhea [sic] when we ate so many grapes and due to shortage of toilet paper, we had to use grape leaves. Honest!
I remember past Bagnolia when the shells came bursting, Koyei Matsumoto and I took cover in the same foxhole. We both dived for the same foxhole with half of our bodies sticking out from the hole. We both looked at each other and burst out laughing.
How can we ever forget our first break after having our first taste of battle and being told that Joe Takata was killed. Lt Froning told us to go to our foxholes and give a prayer for Joe. All of us couldn’t hold back our tears.
AND BUT WHAT ABOUT THE 70 PLUS “EXILES” FROM THE 100TH SENT TO THE MISLS CAMP SAVAGE, MINNESOTA IN NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 1942??
After graduation in June 1943, these were assigned to teams of 10 language specialists and assigned to rear echelon pools or attached directly to units moving into the South Pacific, Asiatic-Pacific Theaters of Operation. These graduates were assigned, attached, or detached to units in the Aleutians (Alaska) — Yoshio Morita, Harold Nishimura; Hawaii — Howard Hiroki; New Caledonia — Masami Tahira, “Sunshine” Yoshimoto, Tom Matsumura, Hisashi Komori; Brisbane, Australia — Richard Omori, Dick Oguro, George Fujikawa, Yukitaka Mizutari; India — Sadao Toyama; Washington D. C. — Ray Harada, Kazuo Yamane; Instructor Cadre Camp Savage (upon graduation) — Edwin Kawahara, Yoshio Harano, Charles Kaneko; with Merril’s Marauders — Roy Nakada, Herbert Miyasaki, Eddie Mitsukado, Thomas “Kewpie” Tsubota, Robert Honda; at the battle of Iwo Jima — Ben I. Yamamoto; with the 5th Air Force — Hirotoshi Yamamoto.
The only KIA recorded among the exiled 100th MISers was T/Sgt Yukitaka Mizutari originally from Hilo, killed by a richocetting sniper bullet while directing his men to take cover during an ambush of a 7th Div Hq unit in Aitape, New Guinea, Summer of 1944.