Author: Kazuma Hisanaga, C Company
Title: Dedication Ceremony Remarks by Kazuma Hisanaga
Publisher: Puka Puka Parades
Source: Puka Puka Parades, August 1995
In behalf of the Veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the wives, children and grandchildren, I take this means to thank you for including us in the dedication of these facilities which we once called our home away from home.
In June of 1942, we of the the [sic] then designated Hawaiian Provisional Battalion, came to Camp McCoy on three different, train convoys from Oakland, California. As the trains backed into the siding, the first sight to greet us was the barb wired stockade and our first thoughts were “Heck, we are going to be interned”. This thought was negated when we were trucked to our tent city and passing the stockade and so we started, our new army life with one thing on our minds,- to prove that we were just as good a citizen, trustworthy, honest and loyal, as all of the multitude of races that make up this great nation of ours.
In due time our designated name was altered and we became the 100th Infantry Battalion, the One Puka Puka as we called ourselves, and our motto became “Remember Pearl Harbor”. We trained in all types of weather, a prelude to the conditions we would face in Italy and Southern France. In late September we warm blooded “Hawaiians” experienced our first squaw winter and the ensuing beautiful Indian summer. A short time later we were out of our tents and into the newly finished barracks which were heavenly compared to the airy tents and with everything inside it meant the end of going outside to the latrines and showers and it meant the end of the despised hot water details. Our training was hard and hectic and we were pushed toward par excellence and we did this without whimpering. Our first winter here was rough with lots of snow and ice, something most of us had never experienced before, and as the icicles from the second floor eaves grew larger and longer we could see and feel our bodies strengthening, and our stamina growing as were nearing the end of our first phase of training.
Today only vivid memories remain after 53 years since we came here. We would like to thank the good people of Sparta, LaCrosse, Tomah and other small towns in Wisconsin for opening their hearts, and homes, and accepting the slant-eyes G.I.s from Hawaii. We also thank the administering personnel of this once active base for treating us like true Americans; and in a sense we also thank the 2nd Division, whom we had many fights with, for letting us prove to them and others we can stand up and fight for whatever truth and rights we think is ours.
And so, we’d like to believe that, our fond memories of McCoy will not die, but will be re-enforced and strengthened and will linger on for as long as we live on this earth.
This speech was given on June 29, 1995 at a dedication ceremony at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.