Those Jap Soldiers in Wisconsin

The ice broken by the USO and the churches, the boys had no trouble getting acquainted with Wisconsin people. They have been entertained, as many as 50 at a time, by neighboring farmers.

A group of 200 went to Madison as guests of the American Legion. Marching into Capitol square, they were escorted by a police car, its loud-speakers announcing: “We are escorting the 100th infantry battalion from Camp McCoy. These soldiers fought in the battle of Pearl Harbor. They are the guests of the American Legion.” Spectators lining the sidewalks gave the men a big hand.

That evening coeds from the University of Wisconsin danced with the soldiers and served them a midnight supper of apple cider, chicken and pumpkin pie. The men returned to camp feeling themselves a more intimate part of the America for which they are fighting.

The 100th infantry battalion knows that it is the American uniform which the people of Wisconsin are entertaining, but they cannot help expressing their gratitude at being accepted as worthy of that uniform. Virtually everyone who has invited the soldiers to their homes or done them a kindness has received a kindness in return. With real Hawaiian hospitality they reciprocated with a banquet at the Episcopal guild hall for all USO workers and hostesses and gave them an island treat – a hundred pounds of steak soaked in soya and broiled over charcoal in Hawaiian style.

Practically every letter home told of favors they received from Wisconsin people. So the “Victory Sons of Mokihana,” a Japanese-American club in Hawaii, is repaying the hospitality by taking Wisconsin soldiers stationed in Hawaii to dinners, surfing parties and picnic trips.

The local bookstore does a booming business with the Hawaiians, one out of 15 of whom is a college graduate. New magazines are snapped up almost as soon as they hit the stands. Names like “Kenneth Yoshiura,” “George Nakano,” “Tom Fukuta” fill the reserve cards of the rental library. Manager Genevra Thome wrapped up more books and magazines during the first month after the men arrived than during any previous month since the store opened, including Christmas holidays.

The rumor (untrue) that all the men are jujitsu experts has helped them over some rough spots. One incident started when a rowdy civilian in the Sweet Shop cafe kept calling a little 130 pounder a “Jap”. The boys understand that at times they will be the butt of rude remarks and they have learned to ignore them. But this is the one insult to their loyalty that they can’t take.

“Do you want to come outside?” the little fellow asked, quietly.

Out they went. The big man was up one minute and down the next. As it happened, he had picked on a lad who was a jujitsu expert.

The Hawaiians have had many new experiences in Wisconsin. Once during maneuvers, Pvt. Masao Sato leaped into a “foxhole” that belonged to a skunk. The skunk was at home, but not to the army. As a result, Masao was confined to quarters for some time.

“Gee, the cold!” they say. The temperature in Hawaii seldom “drops” below 60 degrees. The boys had never seen long handled underwear except in cartoons. Now they are mighty glad to wear it.

One afternoon late last fall someone yelled “Snow!” The men tumbled out of the barracks and tried to catch falling snowflakes. They took a record number of snapshots, pelted each other with snowballs and made a snow man with a lei of charcoal- around his neck.

When on furlough the men try to see as much of America as they can. Lieut. Col. Farrant L. Turner, commanding officer, says they cover more territory than any other soldiers he has ever known.

The Statue of Liberty is No. 1 on the sightseeing list in New York City, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Nearly all of the men are baseball enthusiasts and during the season took in as many big league games as possible.

Chaplain Chapman, whose 100th infantry battalion chapel is filled to overflowing each Sunday, found that not one of the men was a Shintoist – a believer in the Japanese national religion which glorifies the emperor. Most of the men at Camp McCoy do not even know how to speak Japanese.