Memories: A Salute to Chaplain Israel Yost

Author: Tom Nagata, C Company
Puka Puka Parades, May 1997, #97-5

Tom Nagata reflects on memories of meeting Chaplain Israel Yost and their time in World War II together.

I first met Chaplain Israel Yost when I went on “burial detail” after the battle of Hill 600 above Pozzilli in mid-November, 1943. He had joined the Battalion in Benevento in early October. I was impressed by his boundless energy in speech and everything that he did. We had gathered behind Pozzilli shortly after sunrise with our stretchers, and were ready to hike up the dirt road. A group of Italian farmers had gathered nearby to watch us and we noticed that two of them had pale faces compared to the suntanned faces of the rest and suspected that they were German soldiers in farmers clothes. A farmer stepped forward and in English explained that the two were deserters from the German army and wanted to surrender. After a short delay while the prisoners were escorted back under armed guards, we started to hike up the road. About half way up we came across a dead farmer who had tripped on a “S bouncing baby mine” in the darkness. Further up the road, we came across a dead red fox which had also tripped on a mine. Under the direction of Chaplain Yost, we gathered the bodies of the KIA from the surrounding areas of Hill 600 and brought them down to Pozzilli. A Memorial Service led by Chaplain Yost was held later by the Battalion. In mid-January of the following year near Cassino, Chaplain Yost conducted a Sunday morning service in a large warehouse. He gave to each worshiper a small pocket-sized Bible to keep. One of the Bibles saved a man’s life later in combat when an exploding shell fragment was stopped by the Bible in his shirt pocket. Chaplain Israel Yost was later awarded the Legion of Merit Medal for his outstanding service.