WW2 Memories, Thanksgiving 1943

WW2 Memories, Thanksgiving 1943 by Tom Nagata

The 100th Infantry Battalion was in reserve after we were relieved from Hill 600. It was mid-November and the rainy season was in full swing. We would go out on patrol and upon returning, find our foxholes filled with water. Some of our men had colds and were coughing. I had flea bites on my legs from sleeping in a stable one night, and the wet leggings caused the flea bites to become infected. At the aid station, they sprinkled sulfa powder and wanted to hospitalize me, but I refused. I could see enemy artillery shells falling down in the valley and when one landed near an ammunition truck and set it on fire, the driver got out of the truck and ran for his life and made it just in time as the truck exploded with its load of ammo, going up in a ball of fire and smoke with a big bang. Our company clerk, Goro Kuwada, came up to pay us with the new Army of Occupation Italian lira money. We left our foxholes to get paid when our names were called out since the enemy shells were still falling near us. Toward evening, my name was called by First Sgt. Kawamoto to inform me that I had been picked from a hatful of NCO names from C Company to go to Naples to help the 34th Division rest camp for 5 days. I was just in time for Thanksgiving dinner at the Naples prison compound kitchen and dining area. As I was sitting down to enjoy my turkey dinner, I saw Lt. Co. Farrant Turner and two officers come in. I immediately went up to him and introduced myself since I was the only 100th Bn. Member present at the NCO section. He asked me how the men were since he had left the Battalion in October. I told him that we had lost lots of men and his eyes were moist with the sad news. That was my most memorable Thanksgiving dinner of my four years in the U.S. Army during WW2.