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Nisei – part 3 Nisei ROTC in Hawaii

HI Territorial Guard, UH, 1942

 

On 7 December 1941, the UH ROTC Regiment over 600 strong was called out over the radio to report to duty. We reported to the ROTC Armory, which is that little wooden building now standing at the end of Sinclair Library parking lot. We were greeted by the sight of Sgt. Ward and Sgt. Hogan feverishly inserting firing pins into Springfield .03 rifles. I reported to my unit, Company “B”, 1st Battalion, commanded by Captain Nolle Smith. We were issued a clip of 5 bullets with our rifles.

It was reported that Japanese paratroopers had landed on St. Louis Heights. Our first order was to deploy down across Manoa Stream where Kanewai Park now stands and to prevent the enemy from advancing into the city. We were crouched down among the koa bushes for long hours in the hot sun, waiting for the enemy which never showed up. This turned out to be just another one of the many hysterical rumors that spread across Honolulu that day.

During those few hours of service, we had no military status or standing, federal or territorial. We were just University ROTC boys heeding our country’s desperate call to arms. For our participation in “the campaign for St. Louis Heights,” many years later in 1977, the University ROTC was awarded with a battle streamer distinguishing it as the first and only ROTC unit in the United States to engage in active war service during World War II!

Richard Okamoto at HI firing range, 1943

On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, the University ROTC unit was converted into the Hawaii Territorial Guard and we were trucked down to the National Guard Armory where our State Capitol now stands. We were issued those pie-plate tin helmets and gas masks and immediately assigned to guard Lolani Palace, the Courthouse, Hawaiian Electric, Mutual Telephone, and Board of Water Supply, and all other government buildings and utilities all over the city. Company B was headquartered in the Dole Pineapple building and assigned to guard the Iwilei industrial district and the waterfront and to defend against a Japanese invasion attack. Just imagine the pitiful sight of a greenhorn teenage soldier who never fired a gun crouched behind a sandbagged emplacement at Pier 10 defending against a Japanese invasion of Honolulu Harbor with a measly 30 caliber rifle and five bullets.  Mercifully and thankfully, the enemy never invaded!  But the important thing was that we had responded to the call, we were proud to wear the American uniform, and we were serving our country in its direst hour of need!

We served for six weeks after Pearl Harbor, but by January 19, 1942, the high brass in Pentagon had discovered to its horror that the city of Honolulu was being defended by hundreds of Japs in American uniforms!  It should be mentioned here that over 75% of the HTG guardsmen were men of Japanese ancestry. The order came down that all HTG guardsmen of Japanese ancestry were discharged.   If they had dropped a bomb in our midst. it couldn’t have been more devastating. That blow of being rejected by your own country only because of your name, your face, and your race, was far worse than Pearl Harbor itself. Every Nisei who suffered that indignity will attest to the fact that that rejection was absolutely the lowest point in our long lives!

7 Who Gave Their All

 

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We could do nothing else but return to the University.  But books and classrooms made no sense, when our country was crying for military and defense manpower, and yet we were distrusted, unwanted, useless. But within a week’s time, Hung Wai Ching, who was then Executive Secretary of the Atherton YMCA near the UH campus, met with a group of the discharged Nisei, and soon inspired and convinced them why not offer themselves as a labor battalion.  His key pitch was “So they don’t trust you with a gun. Wouldn’t they trust you with picks and shovels?” By February 25, 1942, a petition signed by 169 University students offering their services as a labor battalion was accepted by the Military Governor.

This group known as the “Varsity Victory Volunteers” was assigned to the 34th Combat Engineers Regiment at Schofield Barracks performing vital defense work on Oahu. For the next 11 months, they dug ammunition pits, built secondary mountain roads, repaired bridges and culverts, built warehouses and field housing. and operated the rock quarry. One day in December, 1942, Secretary of War John McCloy, making a field inspection of Oahu defenses, witnessed the VVV Quarry Gang operating the quarry up at Kolekole Pass, and was told the story of the VVV by his escort, Hung Wai Ching. By some coincidence or otherwise, just a month later in January, 1943, the War Department announced its decision to form an all-Nisei combat team and issued a call for volunteers. On January 30, 1943, members of the VVV voted to disband so they could volunteer for the 442nd Combat Team. Most of the men were accepted and served the duration of the war with the 442nd, and also with the Military Intelligence Service. The rest is well known history.

 

Editors note: The words above were delivered on 3 December 2001, at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Visitor’s Center as part of the 60th Anniversary remembrance of the Dec. 7th 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

‘Hey, most climb over, but whatever works for you.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Allen Bradley – Dillon, MT; US Army, WWII & Korea, 82 Airborne Division

Jack Crawford – Phoenix City, AL; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Grant Ichikawa – Suison Valley, CA; US Army, PTO, MIS’er, Lt.,/ Korea / CIA

Trevor Joseph – Collierville, TN; US Army, Afghanistan, 1/5th Aviation Regiment, “Cajun Dustoff” MEDEVAC, Major, KIA Fort Polk

Shiro Kashino – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd Regimental Combat Team

John L. Keenan – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO / NYPD, “Son of Sam” Task Force Cmdr.

Michael Meehan – brn: IRE/Edison, NJ; US Army, Occupation, 25th Infantry Signal Co./11th Airborne Division

Kelly Richards – Grayling, MI; US Army, SSgt., medic, Iraq & Afghanistan, KIA

Ephrain “Hank” Royfe – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, translator

William Tinker – Caney, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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First-Hand Account – corpsman

USS Solace

USS Solace

James F. Anderson

Hospital corpsman, USS Solace

James Anderson of Fort Worth, Texas was aboard the USS Solace looking out across the bay on 7 December as he awaited a liberty boat to take him to shore as 5 planes flew overhead.  He spotted the red balls on the wings, “My God, those are Japanese.  Let’s get this damn hatch shut!, he said.  “Normally it took an electric winch to pull it shut.  How 3 of us did it I’ll never know.”

“I remember very clearly what looked like a dive-bomber coming in over the Arizona and dropping a bomb.  It rose out of the water and settled.  I could see flames, fire and smoke…and I saw 2 men flying in the air…and screaming as they went.  Then we went into the ward and checked everything and made ready for patients to arrive.  Four of us set to with plaster-of-Paris.

Japanese view

Japanese view

“At this point, the Japanese planes were coming in alongside us… We could look straight into the cockpits and see the pilots as they went by us.  Almost immediately we started getting casualties…only one of the men could tell us his name.  He did not have a stitch of clothing on.  The only thing left was a web belt with his chief’s buckle, his Chief-master-at-arms badge and the letters ‘USS Nevada.’  He survived…

Surgery aboard ship

Surgery aboard ship

“We were using tannic acid for the burns… All we could do for these poor fellows was to give them morphine and pour the tannic acid over them.  We were making it from tea, boiling it up as strong as we could get it and bringing it straight to the ward from the galley.

“I think we must have gone through 48 hours without any sleep – all spent tending to our patients.  There was so much adrenalin pumped into the body, a person couldn’t sleep… I got to the point I was staggering around… Nobody ever thought of asking for relief.”

Patient ward aboard ship

Patient ward aboard ship

James Anderson made his career as an enlisted man and continued his service until his retirement in 1960 when he returned to Texas.

This story was taken and condensed from, “The Pacific War Remembered” edited by John T. Mason Jr. and published by the Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD.  Photos are courtesy of the USS Solace website.

TO SEE WHAT THESE MEN ACTUALLY WITNESSED – Fellow blogger, Koji was kind enough to send a link for us to do just that – watch the short video from –  the Naval History $ Heritage

Click on images to enlarge.

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Humor – 

Bill Mauldin cartoons

Bill Mauldin cartoons

Just give me the aspirin, I already got the Purple Heart.

Just give me the aspirin, I already got the Purple Heart.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Bailey – Jupiter, FL; US Army,  WWII & Korea, Major (Ret. 25 years)

Irene Brainerd – Prairie Village, MO; US Army WACS, WWII, Quartermaster Corps

Harvey A. Chesley, Sr. – Clinton, ME; USMC, Vietnam

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Gordon Conquergood – Toronto, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Richard Haas – Freeport, IL; US Army, Korea

Kenneth Irving Sr. – Clinton, ME; USMC, Korea

Michael Martin – Palm Bch Gardens, FL; US Army, WWII

Theodore Perry – Petaluma, CA; US Army, Rangers, Sgt.

Mark Priestly – Masterton, NZ; RNZ Navy # E746216

Fred Schrager – Brooklyn & Miami; US Army, WWII, POW, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Charles (Bud) Willis – Bastrop, LA; US Army, Vietnam

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Eroni Kumana – Obituary

One of the Solomon Islands scouts who assisted in the rescue of the PT-109 crew passed away exactly 71 years after JFK’s boat was rammed while in the Pacific.  Mr. Kumana was 96 years old.  Kumana and fellow scout Biuku Gasa had discovered the Naval crew on Naru and Olasana islands.

Eroni Kumana

Eroni Kumana

A more complete story of this event will be posted when this series reaches August 1943.

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Eye-witness Account

US Seaman, Victor E. Stefl

US Seaman, Victor E. Stefl

Victor E. Stefl

Seaman, US Navy

In the fall of 1941, I was a 19 year-old seaman not long out of the “Great Lakes” school (the US Navy boot camp).  My first assignment was aboard the USS Case, a Mahan-class destroyer commissioned in Boston in 1936.  We had sailed south from Pearl Harbor in November, toward New Zealand, then north again, crossing back and forth over the international dateline.

A few weeks later, as we returned to port, we were informed we would not be dry-docking.  The USS Shaw, we were told, had collided with another ship and would be occupying our ships space.  So we moored in a destroyer nest next the USS Whitney, (a destroyer tender), breaking down our main guns and performing general maintenance – – this was the condition of our ship when the Japanese showed up.

USS Case, Destroyer-370

USS Case, Destroyer-370

On the morning of 7 December, most of the officers were ashore.  I was lying in my bunk reading and looking forward to a quiet Sunday breakfast.  I heard an explosion, then several others.  I remember wondering who the heck was taking target practice on a Sunday.  Then one of my crewmates ran in and yelled, “Stef, get out of bed, the Japs are here?”

I was getting ready to tell him he was crazy when general quarters sounded.  I ran to my station and realized the gun I was assigned had been broken down for maintenance.  We scrambled to ready the 50 cals and gather ammunition.  Our officer of the deck, an ensign named Beard, had to break into the ammo locker because no one could locate a key.

370.number

We returned fire as soon as we could, but were limited as to when we could shoot.  If we fired on the Japanese aircraft as they leveled out for their torpedo runs we would be shooting across the harbor at our own men; so we had to wait for them to dive down before their runs or until they climbed out afterward.  Usually the Japanese turned toward the destroyers and strafed the hell out of us.  As the Japanese pilots flew between the masts they smiled and waved at us.  Obviously, that angered us.

During the attack a number of the crew were busy putting our main guns back together and making preparations for getting underway.  Many of my crewmates were trying to catch rides back to the ship on small transports; others simply swam.  We managed to down a few of the Japanese planes but not before they had inflicted heavy damage on the battleships.  After the attack was over, we threw all non-essential items overboard and took on fuel, food, water and ammunition.  When we got underway we cleared the harbor and depth charged an enemy sub.

USS Case - offical Navy log entries

USS Case – offical Navy log entries

Later on, we heard that the Shaw, sitting in our docking space had taken a direct hit.  I couldn’t help but think that it could have been us.  When night fell we darkened the ship and patrolled around Ford Island waiting for the Japanese to return.  That night was one of the scariest in my life.  At times we heard screams of wounded men trapped in the wreckage.  The only lights in the harbor were fires, which sometimes revealed bodies floating in the water.

Remember...

Remember…

Then, there were moments of almost complete silence, when the only sound we heard was the low hum of our ships in the harbor.  At such times we looked at each other and wondered just what the hell had we gotten into.  After 9 p.m., once we had been ordered to stand down, we spotted planes coming in over the harbor.  We opened up on them until the skipper ordered us to cease.  The Marines didn’t get the message and shot them down.  It turns out that those planes were American bombers scheduled to be delivered to the Army Air Force.  The rest of the night we circled the island and kept our eyes on the sky.

Victor Stefl was from Farmington Hills, Michigan.  He passed away October 2012 at the age of 90.

This story was taken directly from the ‘History Channel Magazine’ Jan/Feb 2013.  Images from the Stefl Family collection and US Naval History

Click on images to enlarge .

For a realistic view of Pearl Harbor, Mustang Koji supplied this video of footage, Click Here.

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Beetle Bailey – he knows how to keep things Top Secret!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Keith Bosley – Sydney, Aus.; RA Air Force, Vietnam

courtesy, Cora @ A Fresh Start

courtesy, Cora @ A Fresh Start

Rudolph Dansby Jr.; WPalm Beach, FL, US Navy (Ret. 21 years)

Frank Fee – Harlan, KY; US Army, Sgt., Korea

Cyril Goetten – Jerseyville, IL; US Army, WWII

Christine Hartigan – Mission, KS; US Air Force, nurse, Captain, Vietnam

Alistair McLaggan – Forest Hill, NZ; Argyle & South Highlanders, WWII

John Sadeir – Edmonton, Can; RC Air Force, pilot, WWII (Ret)

Richard Ward – Oro Valley, AZ; USMC, F-4 Black Knights

Larry Zoski – Bartiesville, OK; US Army, Sgt. Vietnam, 2nd Batt/9th Inf.Div/4th Field Artillery

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War Warnings (2)

SBD Douglas Dauntless, 1940

SBD Douglas Dauntless, 1940

 
27 November, 1941 – Cordell Hull tells Stanley Hornbeck (Far Eastern adviser) that he has washed his hands of the affair and it is now “in the hands of the Army and Navy.”  An intelligence message is sent out to all commands: “IF HOSTILITIES CANNOT – repeat – CANNOT BE AVOIDED THE UNITED STATES DESIRES JAPAN COMMIT THE FIRST ACT.”  Although, Hawaii received the message that indicated Japan’s strike was expected to hit..”PHILIPPINES, THAILAND OR KRA PENINSULA OR BORNEO.”
28 November – FDR tried to stall negotiations while the Far East prepared for attacks.  A message was sent to all military commanders to prepare for war – every man to be told to remain alert and vigilant at their battle stations.
30 November – Churchill cabled Roosevelt that he should warn Japan that the United States would declare war in the event of any further aggression, including British colonies.
1 December – FDR agreed to Churchill’s cable and told Lord Halifax that any attack on British or Dutch possessions, “we shall be all be in this together.”  The Japanese Emperor did not dissent to Operation Z, so the military sent out the code signal Hinode Yamagata (Malaya and Philippine attack on scheduled date) for the Southern Army and the Pearl Harbor Strike Force received the code – Nitaka Yama Nobore (Climb Mount Nitaka).
2 December – Admiral Kimmel in Hawaii expressed concern over over the lack of intelligence on the location of the Japanese Combined Fleet.  (In Holland, the Naval center had the Pacific Strike Force on their maps and the information was given to D.C.)
Indian Commonwealth troops arrive at Singapore, Nov.'41

Indian Commonwealth troops arrive at Singapore, Nov.’41

3 December – the HMS “Prince of Wales” docked at Changi Naval Base and reported a ‘powerful naval force’ was at Malaya.  Adm. Kimmel received “highly reliable information” from Naval Intelligence that failed to include the 2 decoded Japanese messages that clearly showed their interest in the Hawaiian Islands.
4 December – the US Naval Governor on Guam was ordered to destroy all classified material.  The Cheltenham Naval listening post in Maryland heard the Japanese message, EAST WIND RAIN, and passed it on to Commander Safford.  No action was taken and all copied of the message somehow disappeared.  The Japanese Strike Force, due north of Midway, refueled.
5 December – the carrier “Lexington” left Hawaii to ferry aircraft to Midway.
 
 
pearl2
 
6 December – south of Cape Cambodia, 19 Japanese transports escorted by cruisers and destroyers was reported by a Royal Australian Air Force Hudson pilot before he was shot down.  London put the entire Far East Command on alert.   On Formosa, 27 transports filled with the 48th Division of the Imperial Army set sail for the Philippines as 400 pilots of the Imperial Navy’s 11th Air Fleet received final briefings for their bombing runs on the American B-17s at Luzon.  Messages between Consul Kita and Tokyo were being ignored as insignificant and would not be translated by the US until Monday (8 Dec.).  2130 hours –  FDR was handed the message that stated Japan rejected the US 10-point proposal and says outright, “This means war,” but he did NOT wish to alert or wake Adm. Stark or Gen. Marshall.
 
Member of the Japanese military were told that they were embarking on a great crusade to be free, “a hundred million Asians tyrannized by 3 hundred thousand whites.”  Japanese civilians slept, unaware of the plans of their 169 ships and over 2,000 aircraft ready to set the Pacific sky ablaze.
 
Click on images to enlarge.
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Political cartoon of the times_____

the political side of Dr. Seuss

the political side of Dr. Seuss

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ivan Billcliff – Hamilton, NZ ; RNZ Air Force # 411147, Cpl, WWII

Gene Cross – Belle Glade, FL; Civilian employee of Fort Benning, GA, WWII

William Finlayson – British Columbia, Can; RC Air Force, WWII, tail gunnerMissing MAn (800x583)

Cal Hale – Glendale, AZ; US Army,Sgt. Major, 3 tours Vietnam, Bronze Star

David Johnson – Tolland, CA; USMC, Cpl, Vietnam, 3 Purple Hearts

Jim McDonald – Kennesaw, GA; US Army, WWII

Charles Pernice, Orange, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, Flt. engineer & gunner on B-29s

Thomas Richards – Virginia Bch, VA; USMC, Lt.Col., Vietnam

Donald Wolf – Wood River, IL; US Navy, WWII

Andrew Zamora – Seal Beach, CA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

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