Author: Saburo Nishime, D Company
Title: New York, New York, Remembering 64 Years Ago
Publisher: Puka Puka Parades
Source: Puka Puka Parades, December 2007, 11/2007
It was the summer of 1943, and the 100th Infantry Battalion had just returned to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, after completing training at the Louisiana Maneuvers. Now the Battalion was just waiting for orders to go overseas.
During this period, I applied for and was granted leave which enabled me to visit New York City. It just happened that I was going on leave together with other members from Dog Company. They were Rokuro Yamase, Yoshiyuki Ogata, Mitsuo Oura and Kazuo Nishihara Yamase, Ogata and myself were from Kauai. Mitsuo Oura was from Kona, the Big Island.
We all took the slow coal burning train to Washington D.C., and from there, transferred to get to New York City. It took several days to get to The Big City. During that period, we all stayed at the YMCA in New York City.
From the USO in New York City, service personnel in uniform could get free tickets to the various sources of entertainment in New York. We managed to see the Rockettes perform at the Radio City Music Hall and the Andrews Sisters at one of the theaters. Usually there would be a line waiting to get in to see the shows. The ushers would come by and escort all service personnel in uniform to the front of the line, thereby not losing valuable leave time.
We were also able to visit the various points of interest like Rockerfeller [sic] Center, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the ferry ride around Manhattan Island, etc.
On this particular visit to New York, Kazuo Nishihara (from a previous visit to New York) knew of three sisters who lived in an apartment complex in this city. The sisters were working in a relative’s shop that was in the business of making artificial flowers. Nishihara took us to the flower shop and introduced us to the sisters. We were invited by the sisters to pay them a visit at their apartment after their working hours. We all went over to visit the sisters at their apartment and spent a few pleasant evenings with them.
We found out that one of the sisters was named Aki and she had recently married a 100th Infantry Battalion member by the name of Ray Nosaka. The sisters played a recording where Ray sang a love song to Aki. At that time, I didn’t know who Ray Nosaka was.
On one of our visits, we bought a good sized watermelon for the sisters to enjoy. On that particular day, when we got to the apartment, the sisters were still not back from work. We left the watermelon at the front door then went over to a nearby bowling alley and played a few games. When we returned to the apartment, the watermelon was gone! Since the sisters were now at home, we asked them if they had the watermelon. They said that they had seen the watermelon but since they weren’t sure who it was for, they left it alone. We now realized that some joker in the apartment complex walked off with our prized watermelon.
After an enjoyable time in New York, when we all returned to Camp Shelby, the 100th Battalion was ready to move out. I think Mitsuo Oura kept in correspondence with one of the sisters. I presume the sisters had many others from the 100th Battalion visit them in New York. Aki Nosaka says that she does not remember our visit.
Of those of us who went on that New York visit, Kazuo Nishihara was killed in action (KIA). Yoshiyuki Ogata was permanently wounded and under constant medical care, eventually passing away early in life from his wartime wounds. Rokuro Yamase died not too long ago. The last I heard of Mitsuo Oura, he was a big labor leader in Kona and presumably involved with the Kona coffee growers.
Yours truly is still around and that is how I came up with this “dead” story from the past.