Our Silver Anniversary

Author: Ben Tamashiro, D Company
Editorial: Our Silver Anniversary
Source: Puka Puka Parades, April 1967, vol. 20 no. 3

Editorial written about Club 100’s upcoming silver (25th) anniversary for the formation and early years of the 100th Infantry Battalion. Here, the editor sums up the political, cultural, and social reasons behind the formation and early years of the 100th Infantry Battalion from before Pearl Harbor to WWII.

A quarter of a century ago; a span of time equivalent to one-third of the average lifetime of an individual. Can you recollect your responses to the events of 1942, as they may have affected you?

December 1941 had jolted America out of the seat of its complacent pants. But it did not take long before the first big confrontation between the Japanese and American forces began shaping up. Such is the course of history that as the United States was winning its first victory on the long road back, the victory of Midway Island in June of 1942, another kind of victory was being forged as the 1,300 young men of the Hawaiian Provisional Infantry Battalion sailed from Oahu on June 5, 1942, bound for places and duty unknown to them.

This other victory which we speak of was attained at the price of the expected costs of war: the cost of human suffering, and death for many. But it was also the kind of victory which went beyond the sound of marching feet and martial music; beyond the medals of war and the gravestones; beyond the names – from Abe through Harada, Miyake, Tamanaha, and on down to the Yamamotos, and Zakimi.

For the formation of the Hawaiian Provisional Infantry Battalion was another conclusive act in the democratic process of forming “a more perfect Union”; that process which we here in America believe to be the best expression of government.

The Silver Anniversary of the Club 100 is to be celebrated this June. As with all anniversaries, it will be a time for renewing acquaintances and a time for finding out how much one recalls of those years.

To help you recall some of the things which preceded the formation of our combat battalion, we quote some passages from a letter which was written in 1959, by Brigadier General (Retired) Kendall J. Fielder, to the editor of the Honolulu Advertiser, General Fielder is a valued friend of the Club 100. He wrote the letter at the request of the Advertiser’s editor to help explain to the general public the circumstances behind the formation of the 100th Infantry Battalion because there was some public discussion taking place around mid-year as to how the formation of the 100th came about. We quote:

“The idea of utilizing Americans of Japanese ancestry in event of war was discussed and decided upon long before Pearl Harbor. Gen. Walter Short was a strong advocate of it. When war actually struck Hawaii, and the Commanding General was replaced, it was difficult to sell the idea.

“Public opinion was bitter against anyone with Japanese blood. If the plan to place American nisei in American combat units had backfired, several heads, including mine, would have been lopped off.

“But it did not backfire. Those wonderful soldiers compiled a great record.

“At the time of the decision, open support of the Idea was expressed by a very limited number. However, after numerous high level staff conferences, studies and reports by my staff section (G-2), Gen. Delo C. Emmons and his then Chief of Staff J. Lawton Collins, concurred with the idea that it would be sound to organize a unit of nisei from Hawaii,

“Opinions from several local persons undobtedly[sic] influenced me and, in turn, Gen. Emmons. I remember particularly the suggestions and support of Robert Shivers, the head of the FBI, Walter F. Dillingham, Charles Hemenway, Leslie Deacon, Gen. Briant H. Wells, Lorrin P. Thurston and Riley H. Allen.

“My own belief that the local Japanese-Americans would be loyal was formed in 1940 when I was Plans and Training Officer of the 22nd Infantry Brigade at Schofield Barracks,

“The Hawaii National Guard was ordered to federal service – and the 298th Infantry was attached to my brigade for training. I came in close contact with them. I got to know Col. Wilhelm Anderson, the regimental commander, Farrant Turner, the executive officer, and many others quite well.

“They believed the local boys could be counted upon.

“When war came, those of Japanese ancestry were removed from the National Guard over my protest. But it was largely this group that made up the 100th Battalion.

“They asked Gen. Emmons for permission to serve- and at first they were turned over to the Army Engineers as a labor force.

“After Gen. Emmons and Gen. Collins became convinced the idea of a nisei combat team was sound, the problem was to convince authorities in Washington.

“Gen. Emmons radioed his recommendation. I was sent to Washington to work on it. The plan came to the attention of Gen. George C. Marshall, the Chief of Staff, who said: ‘Psychologically this is wonderful – to have soldiers of Japanese ancestry fighting on our side in Europe. Why wasn’t the idea brought to my attention before?*

“Mr. McCloy, Undersecretary of the Army, was 100 percent back of the idea. Either he or Gen. Marshall sold the idea to President Roosevelt. As a result of all this the 100th Battalion was organized on June 5, 1942.

“Late, of course, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was organized, with one of its battalions composed of Hawaiian Nisei. This was in addition to the 100th.

“Incidentally, when the second battalion of nisei was formed, 2,500 volunteers were needed. When the call went out, 10,000 responded. This was over one-third of all the males of Japanese ancestry, who were of military age, in the Territory.”

This is General Fielder’s brief summation of the thinking of key people and the events which took place leading to the formation of our battalion. Our Silver Anniversary will bring these things into focus again. The anniversary will also help us bask in the warmth of personal friendships renewed.

All of you have received the packets which list the events of the anniversary week. By now, we hope that you have sent in your applications. If not, it is our further hope that the calendar of events printed below will help you decide to participate in our Silver Anniversary celebration.