The Reverend Gets Another Medal

Author: Ben Tamashiro, D Company
Puka Squares: The Reverend Gets another Medal
Puka Puka Parades, May 1967, vol. 20 no. 4

An excerpt from an editorial congratulating Reverend Higuchi on earning an oak leaf cluster to his Legion of Merit award. The editor also shares a story about Reverend HIguchi’s run in with an Italian man during WWII.

We’ve probably told this story before but it could stand retelling. The occasion was the breakout from the Anzio perimeter and the dash for Rome by the Allied forces.

In the mad rush, it seems that the then Captain (Reverend) Higuchi and his Jeep driver got detached from the main body of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In an effort to find his lost troops, the jeep driver went driving down the main highway like mad but there were no troops in sight. Concluding that the 442nd must have taken a side road, the driver detoured when he came to the next side road.

This side road led straight into the heart of a little Italian town on the outskirts of Rome. As Captain Higuchi and his driver came into town, they were showered by flowers and greeted by waving American flags.

And standing there in the middle of the road was an old codger, a small American flag in one hand and flowers in the other.

The jeep came to a stop right in front of the old man. He stared at the two occupants. Both the Captain and the driver were dirty, bearded, and bespectacled – the two looking for all the world like characters stepping out directly from the buck-toothed caricature of the Japanese enemy, a caricature which was then being portrayed on posters all over the world.

The old man stood his ground for a moment, not knowing what to do. Because these must be Jap soldiers! Then, having made up his mind, the old Italian dropped the American flag and the flowers, threw his hands up in the air, and yelled “Banzai!”

As Reverend Higuchi recalls it, if he wasn’t so tired, he would have stepped out of the Jeep and socked the old man.

Well, Reverend Higuchi who recently retired as a Colonel from the US Army Reserves, had to put on his full uniform again as he was called to General Lasaeter’s office at Schofield Barracks to receive an oak leaf cluster to his Legion of Merit. The ceremony was conducted last month and after the ceremony, many of the Higuchi stories were retold for General Lasseter’s benefit. The story about the old Italian is one of the best.

To Reverend Higuchi, congratulations again… It is not too often that an oak leaf cluster is added to the Legion of Merit.