Hawaiian Japanese Troops Smile On Going Into Action Against Nazis

Hawaiian Japanese Troops Smile On Going Into Action Against Nazis

By Relman Morin (The Associated Press) From the Times – Picayune, New Orleans, LA October 2, 1943

With the Fifth Army in Italy, Sept. 25 (Delayed)

The first unit of American-born Japanese troops to enter the overseas combat zone went into action in the mountains above the Gulf of Salerno today – and every one of them was smiling with satisfaction.

Their smiles brought expressions of blank amazement from veterans and officers accustomed to seeing men enter combat with tense, drawn faces. These troops acted like they were going to a baseball game which, incidentally, is their favorite pastime.

The unit was recruited from Hawaii and most of its officers are regular army men who served there. They have taken for their motto “Remember Pearl Harbor.” And their smiles of anticipation were not forced today.

“They’re really anxious to get into action,” their commander said. “I’ve been with them since this outfit was organized and I wouldn’t trade my command for any other in the army.”

“They feel they’ve got a chance to prove they’re real Americans and demonstrate their loyalty.”

“The average stature of the whole unit is only five-feet-four, but the officers have said they can outmarch and outwork most ordinary troops. They are experts at taking cover and advancing without disclosing their positions.”

“They laugh and joke incessantly, exchanging remarks in that patois peculiar to Hawaii. Very few of them speak to people. They’ve got something extra to fight for.”

Actually, he said, the men would rather be in the Pacific fighting the Japanese than the Germans “but we’re saving that for later.”

The officers are unanimously enthusiastic about the quality and spirit of the men. They said they never had seen any troops train harder and more assiduously and never had any doubt as to what to expect from them in combat.

They were ashore in Italy only one day and had just finished organizing their encampment when a German prisoner was brought past the site. He gaped with surprise when he saw their faces and asked if they were Japanese. An interpreter explained that they were Americans of Japanese parentage.

The German shook his head in wonder and said, “Ach! That’s American.”