Ken Otagaki, 07/09

Ward 31
July 9

My dear Col. Turner:

It was indeed a surprise and a great treat to hear from you. Thank you very much for remembering me. I understand that you are now back on your old job with the Lewer’s & Cooke. How are you and Mrs. Turner? The last time I saw you was at A’Life – Piedmont during the second rest period. Of course, we have closely followed your return to Hawaii through the newspapers and magazine articles.

We all know how you must have felt to leave the boys after months and months of hard working together – trying to prove to the rest of the doubters that the 100th had all the gumption and fight as one of Uncle Sam’s best combat unit. It is needless to tell you now how we, as enlisted men, felt your loss. We fought hard and proved beyond doubt that your little “puka puka” battalion was tops.

Washington is hot as ever – the humidity is terrific. I can hardly wait to get back. And speaking of getting back quite a few of our boys are awaiting their turn on the West Coast. You have probably met Captain Mizuta & Sgt Akamine who were one of the last fortunate ones to leave for the islands. There are three 100th boys in this hospital – Pfc. Wallace Hisamoto (Co. A) and Kanchi Hiyada (Pfc – Co “F”) and myself. I also understand that Captains Kuramoto and Mizuta are back on the mainland. The former is hospitalized at Mayo Gen Hosp. in Galesburg, Ill., and the latter at Rhoades Gen. Hosp. Major Lovell is at the O’Reilly Gen Hosp. in Springfield, Missouri.

The latest letter from Italy dated on the 27th of June finds the 100th making another push way above Rome. King & MacKenzie are Majors and Grandstaff & Kim are Captains. One man tank destroyer Awakuni & Pfc Akahoshi (S-2 section, formerly of A & P platoon) received DSC awards.

Now about me – I’m coming along alright, with the exception of any nervous irregularity. The injuries on both of my arms especially hinder my handwriting and control of my hands. Yep, Colonel Turner, it takes more than a single German mortar shell to put me out of commission – my spirits are still okay so I’m happy. Remember how you used to laugh after my one-man mission [smoking?] the crossing of the Volturno River? You used to tease me as the “man living on borrowed time”. Well, I guess I’m going to live on borrowed time for quite a while to come.

Do tell me – what is the dope on our puka puka club?

Thanks for listening and here’s the best of luck & health to you & your loved ones.

Ken Otagaki

P.S. Mrs. Henry P. Erwin who is a Red Cross Gray Lady and wants to be remembered to you & Mrs Turner. She said that she was on her honey moon trip to Hawaii about 25 years ago & she and her husband met you as a newly wed [guest?] at the Volcano House.