Puka Puka Parades, October- December 1983, v.37 No. 4
Letter to the editor remembering and thanking Chaplain Yost for his contributions to 100th Infantry Battalion
Chaplain Yost might not remember some of us, and that’s understandable. There was hardly any opportunity in combat for any kind of talk between Chaplain Yost and many of us, except a quick hello and how are you when we would meet.
I, for one, don’t remember going out of my way to listen to one of his formal sermons. But that doesn’t mean I don’t remember him, or didn’t get to see the way he performed in combat. I think most of us remember his deeds more than his words. I think I can say that Chaplain Yost’s sermon got to us in the way he saw to the needs of the men of the 100th Battalion, day in and day out, often in the thick of battle. His sermon got to us in the compassionate way he cared for the mentally and physically exhausted, the wounded, the dying, and the dead. So, his sermon was delivered more by way of action than by way of preaching.
I remember an incident which is just one small example of the way he worked. We were marching on a dusty road in Italy, I can’t remember exactly where it was, now, On that day, we were on one of those forced marches, where we had to move from one point to another point several miles away, and we had to do it in a few, short hours. It was a hot, summer day, and we were sweaty, tired, and low in spirits.
Then, our ears picked up an unusual sound coming from somewhere up ahead. It had a snappy, catchy tune. It sounded like a wind instrument. I was thinking — who could be playing a flute or piccolo out here, practically in no man’s land.
A short while later, we saw who it was — none other than Chaplain Yost, sitting on a tree trunk, or something, on the side of the road, playing a peppy tune on a small wind instrument, I think it’s called an ocarina, or something like that. He was playing it like he knew how, too. After we passed him, we could hear him still playing on the instrument for the others marching behind us. It was just the kind of morale booster we needed at that time. I think Chaplain Yost, too, saw that we needed it, and that’s why his version of a one-man marching band. How much more effective than mere words!
Afterward I thought about it, and I figured that Chaplain Yost probably had some musical background or received some musical training. I also figured that, maybe, just maybe, he could have missed his real calling.
When I learned about Chaplain Yost’s visit to Hawaii, I started remembering some of the things he did. Things I probably would not have remembered if preaching was all he did. He did much more than that. I’m sure I speak for everyone in the 100th Battalion when I say that we’re grateful that a man called Chaplain Israel Yost walked and worked among us during those trying days in Italy and France.
So, mahalo and aloha, Chaplain Yost.
A member of the 100th Infantry Battalion who remembers Chaplain Yost