Those Jap Soldiers in Wisconsin

Author: Clark, Blake
Title: Those Jap Soldiers in Wisconsin
Puka Puka Parades, June 1979, vol. 33 no. 3
From an article by Blake Clark, in the Baltimore Sun (1942), approved by the Army Public Relations Department, 1942.

Invaders’ Wear Uniform of United States Army, Are Natives of Hawaii and Ask Only a Chance to Get Shot at Renegades of Their Race Who Were Guilty of Pearl Harbor Crime

One day last summer a Wisconsin farmer was plowing in his field a few miles south of the town of Sparta when he looked up to see a platoon of Japanese soldiers, led by a Japanese officer, marching down the highway toward Camp McCoy. The farmer, recalling all the stories of parachutists he had ever read, made tracks for his house and the telephone.

“Gimme Camp McCoy!” he shouted to the operator. “Hey, Camp McCoy! There’s a bunch of Jap soldiers marching straight toward your camp!”

“Don’t worry. We’ve a lot of Japanese over here,” a calm voice replied, and went on to explain that what the farmer had seen was a detachment of the 100th Infantry Battalion, USA – American doughboys of Japanese ancestry – stationed at Camp McCoy.

The farmer’s trepidation was unnecessary, for these lads with Japanese faces and American hearts are intensely loyal to the United States.

All from Hawaii, the men are veterans of Pearl Harbor day. When the Japs attacked, no member of the 100th infantry battalion had to be ordered a second time to man his battle station. Pvts. Hiyakaya and Gonsalves brought down a low flying Jap plane with their Browning automatic rifles.

At Camp McCoy they are getting their final combat training, whether to fight Japs or Germans they don’t know. Some army official believe confusion may arise if they are used in areas where the Japs can drop paratroops dressed in United States army uniforms behind our lines, but the men themselves went to get at the Japs. Capt. Jack Mizuha says: “I want action. I know that I’m fighting so that my wife and 4 year old daughter in Hawaii can live in honor as loyal Americans. And if I am killed my daughter can stand by my grave and say ‘My daddy fought for America’ “.

Feeling that they have a greater than average stake in this war, the men of the 100th infantry battalion are better than average soldiers. The rate of march prescribed in the manual is 2.5 miles per hour. Lieut. Sakamoto’s weapons’ platoon in Company A averaged 3.3 miles on an eight hour hike. Carrying rifles and taking shorter steps than the average soldier, they run the obstacle course in three minutes. One obstacle is a wall seven and a half feet high. The average 100th battalion man is only about 5 feet 4, yet not one so far has failed to scale the wall.

One short, chubby soldier tried unsuccessfully a dozen times to get over. A captain looking on said, “Don’t wear yourself out, Ohara. Try again tomorrow; it’ll still be there.” Later a corporal reported to the captain, “Sir, Pvt. Ohara wouldn’t quit. He kept clawing and kicking until he saw the other side of that wall!”

Capt. Andrew Fraser is enthusiastic about the men under him. “My men are interested in being soldiers,” he says. “Even privates dig deep in their pockets to buy expensive technical manuals most soldiers never see. The basic volume of “Tactics and Technique of Infantry’ costs $3, the second volume $5. In each company there are copies of each.”

Capt. Dillard Willis, who has been in the army 22 years, says: “When I go into combat I hope I am still with this outfit. I’d rather have a hundred of these men behind me than a hundred of any other’s I’ve ever been with.”

The first day a group of these soldiers on leave went into Sparta, they stood huddled together on a street corner while a crowd of civilians gathers on the corner diagonally opposite and watched them. The soldiers had been warned by their officers that they might meet unfriendliness at first and they were growing nervous when a young woman came up to them. “The USO is over here,” she said. “Come right in and make yourselves at home”.

Since that day the USO has been their headquarters and Miss Alice Kenny their best friend. As program director of the USO she has directed them on tours to various cities and has arranged weekly dances for them at the Episcopal guild hall.