From Private to President Portrai of a Soldier-Statesman

Stanley Yukio Nakamoto – 1982

Authors: Robert Sakoki and Richard Oguro, B Company
Puka Puka Parades, May-June 1982, vol. 36 no. 3

Biography of the life of Stanley Nakamoto from the time he entered the 442nd as a Replacement to his life after war and his run as Club 100 president.

World War II had entered its second year! Year 1943 had just put on its Valentine cloak! Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued an edict testing patriotism to its fullest – a call-up of AJA volunteers, both from Hawaii and the Mainland, for a formation of a special combat team for deployment in the European Theater of Operation.

The response was overwhelming! Among those hundred of such AJAs volunteering from the Garden Island of Kauai, out from Kapaa town, was one strapping, athletic lad, just turned 20 – Stanley Y. Nakamoto!

The only son of the owner-proprietor of IZUMI HOTEL, was Stanley. Dad

Nakamoto protested to the Draft Board not to accept his son, but no avail!

Stan was helping out his Dad with the hotel operation at this time too!

Sent to Camp Shelby, Miss, with the rest of the volunteers, Pvt. Stanley Nakamoto was assigned to Company C, 1st Bn, 442nd RCT. Then training began in earnest.

Meanwhile, the 100th Inf. Bn. which had precede the 442nd to Shelby and which had been on the final Louisiana Maneuvers, returned to Camp Shelby to find the 442nd RCT housed next door. Only to be on the move again – to an east coast port of embarkation – overseas destination unknown.

After its baptism of fire on the Salerno Beachhead, Italy, in Sept. of 1943, the 100th had been involved in all the actions of the 34th Red Bull Division. And after over a month of fighting, was participating in the grim battle for Cassino, a decimating operation, with rapidly diminishing battle strength of all units.

The months had stretched out, and now it was September 1943 in Camp Shelby. The 442nd RCT was out on manuevers [sic]. While in bivouac one particular September day, a small handful from each of the companies of the 1st Bn was pulled out, on orders and shipper out immediately to an east coast port of embarkation, overseas destination unknown! Cpl Stanley Nakamoto was among the chosen this day. His “number” had come up! At the POE Stanley wondered about the issue of that white “mattress” case given everyone, until someone finally told him what it was – “To ship your body home in, just in case!

Fighting was still waging fast and furious in Cassino when this first vanguard of 442 replacements to the 100th arrived in Cassino via the replacement depot in Naples, by way of the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and a staging area in Africa.

Capt Sakae Takahashi of Company B picked out Stanley for Company B from the list of replacements, assigned him to the 1st Sqd, 1st Platoon as assistant squad leader, because he read Stanley as coming from Kauai, and he himself was a Kauai boy. Stanley remembers the likes of Keigo Miyano, Takeshi Teshirna, K. Morimoto, Teikichi Higa, Richard Okazaki, Jerry Sakoda, Takeo Azama and Jimmy Oshiro who came later. Most of them were in his squad. Also Everett “Action” Odo, a Company runner with whom Stanley used to share a foxhole on many occasions. And that is how from Action he learned the stories and expressions that were to make Action famous in Club 100. Stan was to assume complete command of the squad when Sus Musashi left for home from Leghorn a few months later.

After being relieved by the “Terrible Turks” of the Cassino engagement, the 100th moved out into the Anzio beachhead to “hold the fort” there. And there really wasn’t much action until the breakthrough to Rome out of Anzio.

Things got real lively just before the breakthrough though. A replacement who had just come into the squad, “Panty” Matsushima, handed over his wallet and family picture to Musashi for “safe-keeping”. Did he have a feeling his number was up? No one will ever know. The Jerries greeted us “Good Morning” with their 88s just as we were about to go over the mound. “Panty” got a direct burst.

A day or so earlier, a Jerry plane flew over low and dropped an “egg”, a big one at that, the biggest ever seen yet. Stanley and Morimoto got blown up sky high right out of their foxhole. When they came back to earth, Stanley noticed blood trickling over his ears and mouth. Mori told Stanley to get checked up at the Bn Aid station. So Stanley walked to the aid station to have Doc Kometani give him a thorough check-up. Doc noticed that all of Stanley’s teeth were loose, so pulled out everyone. And Stanley was not able to get his GI issue set of teeth, until after the campaign. Action laughed at him because he had to put his hands to his mouth to speak, and others called him “Niole” – toothless, which caused him to become so self conscious as to grow a beard to cover his mouth and to let his hair grow.

The night before the big push, Musashi and Stanley went out to trace the commo line that had gone dead during the “4th of July” morning. Only they started out too early, and they were spotted by an enemy tank which opened fire immediately. Instinctively you might say, they knew they had to get into the farmhouse beyond the barbed wires.

Shorty as Susumu is, Stanley saw him hurdle high over the highest barbed wire strand with plenty to spare, before he too went over it, barely clearing it though. Then safe in the confines and comfort of the house, they pealed out into bursts of uncontrolled laughter, with surprised ejaculation of “How da hell we jumped it?” After darkness had really settled in, they traced the line, found and patched up the break, restoring normal communication.

Minutes after the push began, the 1st platoon captured some jerries. Finally “Flying Arrow” Miyake was detailed to take the prisoners to the rear. There was a big air burst along the path Arrow was taking. He was never seen alive again.

The Anzio Breakthrough was the result of the heroic actions on the part of the 1st platoon, Company B, not meaning to brag about it. Scout E. Akamine of Yukio Yokota’s squad was seen moving quite a bit ahead of everyone. Then he

turned around grinning and held up two fingers meaning that he had silenced 2 enemy MG nests. Just as he signalled [sic], an enemy got him from a near-by concealed nest. Meanwhile Yukio Yokota, Thomas Ono and Haruto Kuroda manuevering [sic] around, outflanking or over-running other enemy MG or MP nests! In this three-hour encounter, among

the three of them they bagged five MG nests, 5 MP nests and 17 plus Jerries. Three DSCs were awarded, one to each of the above named, Ono, Kuroda, and Yokota, all

for this one same encounter. But, this action, it is said, led to no further encounters along the route to Rome. And Company B led all the way!

Recalls Bob Sakoki and Stanley, almost with shudders yet at mention of it – the long line of Jerry Long Toms mounted on tracks and aimed at the harbor in Anzio as its final protective line.

Stanley still sounded mad about this too – that the 100th was halted within sight of Rome, and witnessed with agony within, the Haoles trucking by them and heading into Rome ahead of the 100th. It was finally ascertained that the 100th

had been halted by Bn Order, in order that the Bn officers could attend a meeting relating to the impending pull-out of the 100th from the 34th Div. for a link-up with the 442nd RCT (minus a Bn) which bad just arrived in this area. Gr-r the 100th could have been, should have been the 1st allied force to set foot in Rome!

In rest camp in Civitavacaia when called back to the front-lines. The 442nd

had fouled up its first assignment. Company B had to go around quite a bit before it observed enemy activity. Slim Nakano disabled a tank with his bazooka, but Grover Nakaji was too close to the tank and must have had it from the concussion. Result of the action in Belvedere though – a Presidential Unit Citation for the 100th!

Then to Leghorn, to Piza with its leaning tower – to the Arno River once again,

all the way to Florence before coming back to Leghorn for the “invasion” of France!

Finally going to France! Seems like we were the butt of horse-trading by two generals, Gen. Eisenhower who wanted the 442nd RCT to fight in France and Gen. Mark Clark who wanted the 442 kept in Italy. We were loaned out to Eisenhower for the duration of the French Campaign.

Susumu Musashi left the company in Leghorn to go back home. Kaneichi Mortmoto also left the outfit here. Stanley became squad leader sans the appropriate stripes to go with the position.

Early in the Bruyeres skirmish, Stanley’s squad occupied a designated area by the CC, and Takeshi Teshima was the liason[sic] with the next squad. But it had been so tiring and exhaustive a day pulling into position that everyone, in spite of himself, fell asleep in his position. Stanley got up after his cat-nap though and although still feeling fatigued, he crawled to the crest-line to survey the situation. No time to lose! The area was infested with Jerries, and Teshima would be over-run in a minute. Stanley unloosened all the hand grenades he had and unloaded them all on the Jerries and opened up with his Tommy. The sound of grenades and shots roused the squad which successfully repulsed the invaders. But especially Teshima, has been eternally grateful to Stanley ever since then. The other members of the squad did write Stanley for a Silver Star, he got only a Bronze. Stanley admonished all members of his squad not to reveal the fact they had fallen asleep at their post, a court martial offense punishable by the death sentence! When a runner finally did make contact and the squad came back to the platoon and was asked

“What happened?”, the squad merely answered, contact was lost so they acted on their own.

It was in this Bruyeres area that a brand-new replacement reported in one day -Tommy Homma. And, on that same day he got hit on the leg – a most “beautiful war wound”, and was sent to the Bn Aid Station – first step on his way home, safe and sound. It was here too that Stanley discovered Herbert Ishii sleeping on cold concrete. One side of his face became paralyzed. Herbert was hospitalized.

Bruyeres had been captured and the 100th came down for a well-deserved rest. Only to be told to “saddle up” and back on the trail, back into action, almost immediately thereafter, to lend their efforts in the cause – rescue of the “Lost Bn” of the 36th Texas Division.

Once again Stanley’s squad had been ordered point by Capt. Allan Ohata. Stanley sent out Jimmy Oshiro out as scout, but cautioning him to use the utmost caution, as they would be taking the same route as the lost 141st Bn had. In the first day of action many of the boys pulled off the line to the aid station with Trench Feet. On the third day of action, Oshiro spotted a Jerry squatting, but Stanley cautioned to let him alone and not to disclose the squad’s position. But a MG nest spotted the movement of the boys and opened fire. Oshiro and Stanley returned fire and think they got the nest. But, a little later the enemy laid down a barrage. Stanley got hit for the third time on the arm. As he was leaving for the aid station he overhead[sic] a conversation that transpired between Allan Ohata and the CG of the 36th Div whose unit was not really lost, but surrounded. The General had asked Ohata to have his men fix bayonets and to execute a Banzai Charge. And Ohata had answered the General coldly and cooly [sic] that he could be subject to a court-martial but that he would not order such an action! Captain Takahashi had been hit pretty badly at Bruyeres and Ohata had relieved him having been reassigned from Company C. Also on his way to the aid station, Stanley saw Lt Boodry and Yoshio Minami, a good ball player from Kauai, lying alongside a disabled friendly tank.

Stanley was unable to see the actual climax of this encounter – the link-up of elements of Company B with the elements of the Lost Battalion but did hear accounts while in the hospital.

The link-up had occurred[sic] 2 days after he had been wounded. That Company K, 442nd RCT did execute a bayonet charge, but that Company B had employed a frontal attack without a bayonet charge to gain its objectives.

While at the 3rd Gen Hospital, Stanley again met Tommy Homma who looked extremely relieved and told Stanley that he was going home. Herbert Ishii was right next to him he found out after he had come out of surgery. Ishii too was on his way home.

It was while in the hospital the news spread out that all members of the 100th-442nd would be all going home soon – the point system having been instituted.

After being sufficiently recovered, Stanley rejoined the 100th in Nice, France for a possible shipment back to home station – Hawaii. He was ordered to remain in base camp, but received Captain Ohata’s permission to see the boys up front though. While still in the hospital he found out that he was a Sgt because the hospital personnel had addressed him as such. Takahashi must have put in the promotion, because all the replacements that came in all had more than 4 stripes on their sleeves!

Upon return to base camp, found out that the camp had received a countermanding order – 100 men of the unit were to be sent to Marseilles to pick-up 50 jeeps to be driven non-stop to Nancy, France some 500 miles up North! For General Patton’s big push into Germany. Stanley was one of thee assigned drivers and Ken-top Nakasone was assigned as his partner!

After the drive, Stanley heard conflicting news that they were to guard German POWs. So he went to see the proper authorities. The commandant stated that Stanley had been appointed Mess Sgt for the German POW Camp there and that Ken Nakasone had been appointed Sgt of the Guards. Approaching the entrance to the camp, the colored guards, saluted the two smartly. Ken-top matter-of-factly told Stanley to return their salute. Stating his business, Stanley was permitted to enter the compound to talk with the cooks in the mess hall. At first the German POWs seemed afraid of the “Jags”. But after Stanley got friendly with them he found out why. They were former members of the elite German Panzer units that the 100th had encountered and defeated repeatedly in Italy. They even made Mochi for Stanley practically every day. Stanley and Ken-top could go out on pass every night.

Two weeks later, they were relieved of their duties, given unrestricted passes but told they were to find their own transportation back to Hawaii. Since they were in no hurry to go home, they hitched-hiked to Gay Paris and to Le Havre back to Paris, then to England. First AJAs to enter Paris and London.

In England, checked in at a crummy tent and threw down their stuff. Just then a captain drove up in a staff car and asked them to hop in. They were taken to the Commandant’s quarters. Who was he? Col. C. Pence, former commander of the 442nd! They got fed, assigned a house as quarters and had a Jeep at their disposal! So they went sight-seeing – saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, and went to a pub. They lived the life of Riley for nearly two weeks.

Then a large contingent of AJAs homeward bound arrived in England. Included with this group, Stanley and Ken-top finally left England bound for the US. Arrived in an east-coast Port of Debarkation – in Virginia. Thence by train, all the way to California, the entire contingent rolled. Camp Beale which was closer to Sacramento than to San Francisco. San Francisco was lousy. Never again visit that place.

Here at Camp Beale, “Jap, Jap!” surfaced again, uttered by returnees from the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operation.

Then word got out that the Lurline was going to take a boatload of AJA’s back to the Islands. Stanley was among those on the list. Naoji Yamagata wasn’t and he was one who wanted to get home badly. He was telling his story to Stanley – that he had a son he hadn’t seen since he left Hawaii in 1942, one of the few guys who had gotten married before being shipped out on the USS TPT Maui in June 1942. Stanley had his name replaced with Naoji’s. And finally came back to Hawaii in the bottom hold of a freighter for passage. Fred Kurisu came home with him in the same way.

Naoji later filled in Stanley on the arrival of the Lurline, the greetings and playing of the Royal Hawaiian band and all that.

Fred and Stanley wandered all around the streets of Honolulu. Then a taxi

pulled alongside the curb. An Italian driver whose parents came from Cassino poked his nose out and insisted on treating them to Saimin and Sashimi. And he did so.

After that he drove Stanley to Hickam from where he hitched a ride (air) to Kauai – home at last!

Resumed some of the activities he had left behind on Kauai when he had left in 1943. Helped his dad run the family hotel. Many 100th Inf boys stayed at his hotel. Yozo Yamamoto honeymooned with his bride, Violet – at his home,

with his car at the Yamamoto’s disposal too. Members such as Kobashigawa, Ohata, Tak Tak, Morimoto, Miyano, Kurisu, Ishii, Fujiwara, Ode, Kondo, etc.

Arrangements for co-ed parties and outings were made. It was at one of such outings that Stanley met Agnes for the first time.

He finally made up his mind to fulfill his dream – the days when he used to tell Action in hot ‘n humid Anzio that someday he was going to be the best damn air conditioning mechanic in Hawaii. Using his GI Bill of Rights, he enrolled

in a top-notch Refrigeration School in Chicago. After getting settled, he wrote Agnes a letter proposing her thusly: “I’ll pay your airfare from San Francisco to Chicago, you pay your fare from Honolulu to San Francisco. We’ll be married in Chicago!” The Nakamoto’s became good friends with Tadao Beppu who was running a restaurant on Clark St. in Chicago.

After receiving his mechanic’s degree in refrigeration, the Nakamoto’s returned to Honolulu. And he started off as a mechanic with RS&S. He was like a doctor, working day and night, there was so much work. Then he became foreman. But

after 10 years he got tired of all this. Not really, he wanted to get an engineering degree.

He found out that time had run out on his GI Bill so he had to go to Engineering school on his own money, if he chose to go to school again. Undaunted, the Nakamoto’s went to Milwaukee, Wis. where Stanley enrolled in the Milwaukee School of Engineering. And, he hacked it out out[sic] there until he had obtained his degree in engineering. Then he found work in Los Angeles, as a Consultant Engineer.

Six years later, he returned to Hawaii to check up, especially on his father’s condition. After he had left Kauai for Chicago, his dad had changed the hotel into a candy store because he couldn’t run the hotel by himself.

While in Honolulu, Stanley looked around. Air Engineering Co. with the Carrier franchise offered him a good job which he found hard to turn down. He returned to Los Angeles, terminated his employment and returned to Hawaii for good.

A few years Later, Air Engineering Co. was ordered by Carrier Corp. to form a subsidiary so that more of Carriers goods could be distributed throughout the islands. The then vice-president, Vandaro took Stanley along and formed American Equipment Company. A few years later Vandaro resigned to go on his own. This company was not making money. Carrier appointed Stanley vice-president manager. And he turned things around for American Equipment Company.

Today, Stanley is the president of Hawaii’s American Equipment Company, Carrier distributor. And, received No. 1 Market Share Award in USA. He has been grossing 3 1/2 million dollars annually for the past several years. This year though, he is shooting for 5 million gross sales in this difficult times.

Stanley joined Club 100 in the early 60’s, though he had been getting the Puka Puka Parade for many years previous through his good friend, Naoji Yamagata who had been keeping him posted since he was the executive secretary then.

Being benevolent as well as gracious by nature, Stanley has donated Carrier home air conditioners for Chapter functions as well as for special Bn affairs as the Installation Banquet and the Anniversary Banquet, besides going all out and doing his all at the annual clubhouse clean-up – taking care of the air conditioners and ice water fountain.

Stanley has been active in B Chapter as well as on the Bn level. He has served continuously on the Bn. Memorial Service Committee for the past 15-20 years, as

a member or as its chairman. As well as served as vice president of Club 100 for the past four years – 2 years 2nd Vice President and 2 years 1st Vice President.

Then he made his bid for Club 100’s presidency for 1982, and prevailed. He

becomes the first replacement ever to become president of Club 100. Coincidentally perhaps, he was among the 1st replacements to come out of the 442nd, still in training at that time in Camp Shelby, to Cassino in October 1942, and

to Company B. He will be well remembered as Club 100’s 40th Anniversary Year president. HAIL TO THE CHIEF! We SALUTE YOU – STANLEY NAKAMOTO!