A Special Affair

Author: Dick Oguro, B Company
Puka Puka Parades, May 1965, v. 18 no. 4

Excerpt of Baker Chapter news. Dick Oguro shares a conversation had at a reunion where Major Jim Lovell explained about Cat Island.

The special EXTRAVANZA for Bakerites for this year, a stag get together at Wahiawa, originally billed as a “reunion for veterans of the ‘Cat Island,’ ‘Rat Island’, ‘Ship Island,’ ” rear eschelon [sic], US Army special project commandoes, WW II. but thrown open to all Bakerites primarily for the purpose of getting together with the Rural gang, but me thinks, more, as just another excuse to get out for an evening of “fun and forlic” [sic], was held at MIKAZUKI, Wahiawa’s brightest and the only combination bar-restaurant and Tea-house establishment, on Saturday evening, April 3, with more than 30 Honolulu members making the 45-minute “pilgrimage [sic]”. They were joined by 4 Rural members, swelling the total tp[sic] 35 plus.

The DO SPECIAL consisting of PA, JI, HK, RT. MT, KI and DO was the last to arrive being held up considerably at KI’s residence in Waimalu, due to extenuating circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

Shortly thereafter, the party got underwaym[sic] with TOKUJI ONO MCing this affair. With the preliminaries over, of course, we had a few speeches. But this was an unusual case–to give the main speaker the topic to speak on. But that is exactly what happened. But, a cool -had-main-thing that he has always been, ex-Major, JAMES LAVELL [Lovell], rose to the ocassion[sic] and responding magnificently, unveiled the secrecy that had been drapped [sic] over this special project of the 100th Inf Bn (Sep) for all these many long years.

It was way back In the Autumn of 1942, and the 100th Inf Bn (Sep) was in the midst of intensive training in the training areas of Camp McCoy–taking long marches everyday–in preparation for D Day–when and where, nobody knew.

On one such a day, during a long march along a mountain road in which Camp McCoy bounds, first Col. Turner was recalled back to Camp Hqtrs. Then a little later, EX O Lovell was picked up and driven back to hqtrs also.

At this conference was a big man from D.C. Our chiefs were told of a special project assignment for the 1OOth and Lovell was ordered to report to DC within the next two days.

In Washington, he was filled in on the details, administrative as well as operational, as much as National Security permitted at that time. Following his return, soon thereafter, there was activity as well as speculation rift especially within Company B–approximately 30 boys, all from the 3rd platoon were moving out with full-field equipment–DESTINATION UNKNOWN. And one night they “stole” out of camp and were gone.

Communications were finally re-established as buddies left behind started receiving letters from those who had gone. But the letters were not informative as well as were very carefully censored! The rumors that finally came back and persisted were that the group was sent to “train dogs somewhere down in Louisiana.”

Ten days before the l00th tranferred [sic] to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, from Camp McCoy, a bunch of us were shipped out to Camp Savage, Minnesota. Consequently, we never were able to rejoin this special group, although they finally reverted back to Company B at Shelby at the conclusion of their special mission assignment.

The disclosure made this night confirmed that rumor of dog training–but there was more to it than that. These “special troops” were being used experimentally to prove or to disprove a theory that Dogs could be trained to detect and attack enemies–by their smell, especially enemy Japanese soldiers, besides being able to be trained for marching and making “eyes Right” on command.

The theory had not worked out in practice so, the project had finally been abandoned and the “troop” sent back home to their parent outfit.

To the query, “How come Company B, and why the 3rd platoon was selected?” This question couldn’t be answered. Neither could the speaker supply the answer to the riddle of why some members in the 3rd were not selected, especially those who had studied in Japan prior to WW II–even some of us, like me, who had never been in Japan, were overlooked. The only reply was that the final selection was made in DC. Thank you Jim Lovell for the most enlightening talk.

And so the story of “Cat/Island, Rat Island, Ship Island, Dog Island” is now no longer a mystery. It will remain another stirring chapter among the exploits and annals of Company B, 100th Inf Bn (Spe) [Sep].

It is interesting to note in passing that three boys received the Legion-of-Merit award for meritorious service in this special project, towit [sic]: YUKIO YOKOTA, JIM NAKANO, & TADAO NODAI. To the veterans of this rear eschelon [sic] command who were present that night, namely: TOKUJI ONO, KATS MAEDA, KOYEI MATSUMOTO, LEFTY TANIGAWA, RAY NOSAKA, JOHN KIHARA, SHIZUO (BOB) BANZAI! We are certainly proud of you all, and may there by many more happy reunions as these.