S&D Reading-Viewing “Corner”

Reading and Viewing Corner: Reviews of 442nd RCT-related books and media

Facing the Mountain by Daniel James Brown

Join Densho on May 11 for the official launch of Facing the Mountain, a new book about WWII Japanese American incarceration and the 442nd RCT by Daniel James Brown, NY Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat. The virtual event will feature a conversation between Brown and Densho Executive Director Tom Ikeda, who has conducted oral histories with many
of the men highlighted in the book. Facing the Mountain grew out of conversations Brown had with Ikeda in 2015.

Facing the Mountain is an unforgettable chronicle of wartime America and the battlefields of Europe. Based on Brown’s extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, it portrays the kaleidoscopic journey of four Japanese American families and their sons. While some fought on battlefields as members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, others fought to defend the constitutional rights of a community. Regardless of where their battles played out, these individuals were exemplifying American patriotism under extreme duress by striving, resisting, standing on principle, and enduring.

“The Colonel’s Letters, a collection of personal letters written to Colonel Sherwood Dixon from the men of the 442nd Infantry 1944-1945” published May 2018.

Colonel Dixon was the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion when it was in training at Camp Shelby. He did not get shipped to Europe with the 442nd but served with the Army General Staff in Washington, D.C. The letters, a total of 152 in the book, are testimony to and an invaluable legacy of the great bond between the men of the 442nd, especially those of the 3rd Battalion, and Colonel Dixon. Although my father was in Service Company and not with the 3rd Battalion, as I read the letters in the book, the contents gave me a closer glimpse into some of the experiences the men of the 442 went through. I think for any family member of the 442nd RCT and especially for those from the 3rd Battalion, there will be interest in this book. It will add to the legacy of other books and collections of letters from and about the 442nd.

Among those who wrote letters to the Colonel in the book are:
Enlisted men – Pfc. Hiro Endo, Pvt. Halo Hirose, Pfc. James Kagihara, 1st. Sgt. Albert Kariya, T/Sgt. M. Mochizuki, Pvt. Satoshi Mitsuda, S/Sgt. Michie Miyamoto, Pfc. Kiyoyuki Nakatsu, 1st Sgt. Ralph Nishimoto, Sgt. Edward Okazaki, Pfc. John Tsukano

Chaplain – Masao Yamada

Officers – Maj. Jack Conley, Capt. Thomas Crawley, Capt. Ralph Graham, Capt. Norman Howard, Capt. W. Kawaoka, Maj. Ed Kelley, Lt Col. Virgil Miller, Maj. E. O’Connor, Capt. Orville Shirey, Lt. George Stairs, Lt. William Wolf, 1st Lt. C. Wanbaugh, Lt Col. S. Watts

The book includes a helpful Index with the names of the authors of the letters and the page numbers they appear at.

This book is available at some public libraries and is also available on the Internet as of Nov 2018, at a self-publishing site: https://www.blurb.com/b/8754361-the-colonel-s-letters

Mar 2018 edition

This is a select listing of films only, no review by S&D members, that have been made featuring the 442nd. Among them are, by year:

◊ the recent Go For Broke, An Origins Story (2017, written and produced by Stacey Hayashi and directed by Alexander Bocchieri),

◊ the documentary film Four-Four-Two, F Company At War (2015, written and produced by Peter Wakamatsu),

◊ the documentaries 442: Live With Honor, Die With Dignity (2010, directed by Junichi Suzuki) and Valor With Honor (2010, filmed and directed by Burt Takeuchi),

◊ the movie Only The Brave (2006, written and directed by Lane Nishikawa),

◊ the documentary The 442nd: Duty, Honor and Loyalty (1998, English version written and produced by John Dobovan), and

◊ the 1951 film Go For Broke! (written and directed by Robert Pirosh).

◊ Keeping with the movie theme, the movie Casablanca starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart that has become a classic was released in the U.S. on January 23, 1943, around the time the call for volunteers for the 442nd was made. Another movie-related fact is that the first film directed by acclaimed Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, Sanshiro Sugata (Sugata Sanshiro), was released in Japan on March 25, 1943 just days after the aloha ceremony in Hawaii for the 442nd.

Jan 2018 edition

S&D Member Reviews of “Allegiance The Broadway Musical on the Big Screen”

I enjoyed the movie Allegiance and recommend it if you have not yet had the opportunity to see it. I hope to be able to see it again this time on Broadway, in Los Angeles and/or when it comes to Manoa Valley Theatre (in 2019). (member SI)

I went to see it and we were very impressed. Didn’t think I’d cry but the ending was so touching. I’m going to see the stage play when I go to LA in February. (member GN)

I went with my wife and father in-law and we all were touched by the story and very impressed with the singing and cast. Lea Solanga should not be missed. The story is set in an internment camp and relates to volunteers for the 442nd. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in the 442nd and the AJA experience. (member JI)

Nov 2017 edition

My Life’s Journey, a memoir
Ted T. Tsukiyama, Watermark Publishing, 2017.

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to mention that Ted Tsukiyama is one of my real-life heroes. I’ve only known Ted for a few years, but I feel that he epitomizes the values of the Nisei soldiers of World War II and of those veterans that were fortunate enough to return from the War and who made the contributions that they made to society here in Hawaii and across America.

Ted was a member of the Varsity Victory Volunteers (VVV), the group of University of Hawaii Reserve Officer Training Corps members that were mobilized as part of the Hawaii Territorial Guard and helped defend Oahu after the attack on Pearl Harbor, only to be unceremoniously dismissed by the Army a few weeks later. They then volunteered their services to perform construction labor for the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks and worked hard for 11 months, until the Army called for volunteers to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 1943.

Their hard work to contribute to the War effort and prove their loyalty to the United States during the period of suspicion and mistrust of Issei and Japanese Americans was noted by people like Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt and had a positive impact on the decision to allow Japanese Americans to serve in the Army.

Due to Ted’s Japanese language capability, he was selected to join the Military Intelligence Service and served in Burma and India as an intelligence operative, listening for Japanese aviation radio messages for useful information. After the War, he became the first Japanese American student at Yale Law School and upon earning his law degree began a law career in Hawaii. He gravitated to labor law and became internationally acclaimed in labor negotiation and arbitration.

In these memoirs, Ted describes his family’s immigration story and growing up as a young Nisei in multicultural Hawaii. He writes with great pride about his family and his passion for bonsai. He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays by the Japanese government for his contributions to promoting bonsai and cultural exchange and friendship between the U.S. and Japan.

Ted also served as a historian and documenter of the Nisei veteran experience. His photos of the work of the VVV are the primary record of their work building facilities for the Army. He wrote numerous articles and gave speeches about the War and the background behind the efforts to ensure that the Japanese American in Hawaii were not incarcerated en masse as happened on the West Coast of the Mainland. His papers are now in a collection at the University of Hawaii Archives, available for future generations to learn about Hawaii during and after the War.

Through my discussions with Ted, often over bento and a beer on his porch in Manoa, I learned about many of the high points of his illustrious life. This wonderfully written account of his life fills in many of the details and gives me an even greater appreciation for his contributions to our lives here in Hawaii today.

Reviewed by S&D member BY.

Sept 2017 edition

Unlikely Liberators: The Men of the 100th and 442nd.
Masayo Duus (translated by Peter Duus). University of Hawaii Press, 1987 (English translation).

Based on extensive research in War Department archives and nearly three hundred interviews with veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the book focuses on the war experience of these units in Europe during World War II. It originally appeared in serialized form in Japanese. It was subsequently translated into English and printed in the U.S.

The author begins her story with the formation of these Japanese American Army units and recounts their experiences in training and during the early battles in Italy. The final part of the story focuses on the battle in the Vosges forest of France where the 442nd fought fiercely to rescue the “Lost Battalion” of Texans cut off by the enemy.

The Nisei soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, as sons of Japanese immigrants, were not trusted to fight in the Pacific and were sent instead to the European theater where they demonstrated great heroism and bravery in winning battle after battle. In doing so, they provided ample evidence of their patriotism to a country that had questioned their loyalty. This book is a tribute to those men, who by their heroism reestablished for all Japanese Americans their personal dignity as full citizens of the U.S.

About the Author: Masayo Umezawa Duus was born in 1938 in Hokkaido, Japan and graduated from Waseda University. She has lived in the U.S. for many years and authored several books and was a regular contributor to Japanese newspapers and magazines. She is an Honorary Member of the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Club. You can see her picture on the wall of honor at the 100th clubhouse. She resides in Stanford, California.

Reviewed by S&D member BY.

July 2017 edition

Boyhood to War: History and Anecdotes of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  Authored by Dorothy Matsuo, Mutual Publishing of Honolulu, 1992.

This is a “must read” for descendants of Nisei soldiers, especially for those whose fathers or grandfathers didn’t like to talk about their war experience.  The book provides an insight into the early social history of the Japanese immigration to Hawaii and the early life experiences of the Nisei leading up to World War II.  Then it chronicles the early days of war and the strong sentiment that developed among most of the Nisei in Hawaii that they wanted to prove their loyalty to the United States.

There are many first person accounts of the Nisei soldiers’ experiences during the training at Camp Shelby and the various battles and campaigns that the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team experienced.  The overarching story is supplemented by these personal vignettes.  The project contributors are listed at the back of the book by unit so you can easily find if your family member participated or perhaps which ones of his chapter buddies did.

Through this approach, the reader gets a very personalized view of the war experience, whether seen through the eyes of a frontline infantry man or from the perspective of an artillery man or jeep driver.

The author provides an organizational chart of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team which clearly shows the command structure and where all the sub-units belonged in the chain of command.  The last sections of the book cover each of the major sub-units and describes what their roles were along with providing stories of the individuals within those sub-units.  It provides an insight into why the veterans had such a strong affiliation with their units after the war due to their common experiences and why their esprit de corps lasted for the rest of their lives.

I came away with a deepened appreciation for what these men did during the war and how their experiences helped shape the rest of their lives.  We descendants are the lucky ones whose fathers got to come back.  Otherwise most of us wouldn’t be here.  Reviewed by S&D member BY.

About the Author:  Dorothy Matsuo, Ed. D., was a sansei teenager in Honolulu when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.  She experienced the desperateness of being Japanese American in those early days of World War II.  For her doctorate in educational administration, she researched the value orientation of Japanese American educational administrators, and compared them with those of white administrators.  Being married to a 442nd medic, she attended numerous 442nd functions, heard their war stories and became determined to document this incredible story.

Dedication:  “This book is dedicated to the sons and daughters and the generations to follow, who inherit the Nisei’s legacy built with blood and sweat.  Many men died to establish Americanism, not as a matter of skin color, but of mind and spirit.  We hope the younger generations will be inspired by the history of their Nisei forefathers to protect and enhance the legacy they have inherited…and keep the torch of racial equality and harmony burning brightly and eternally for all races.”

Reviewed by S&D member BY.


An Internment Odyssey – Haisho Tenten.  Authored by Suikei Furuya, translated by Tatsumi Hayashi, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, 2017.

Kumaji Furuya was one of the Hawaii Issei arrested by the FBI on December 7, 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  He was a leader in the Japanese business community and an officer of the Honolulu United Japanese Society and of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce.  First held at the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) station in Honolulu, Mr. Furuya then was moved to the Sand Island detention camp.  From Hawaii, he was transferred to the mainland along with other Hawaii incarcerees and was to spend over four and a half years at incarceration sites in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Louisiana, Missouri and New Mexico before beginning the journey back to Hawaii.

From 1961 to 1963, Mr. Furuya wrote close to 200 short articles in Japanese about his experiences under the pen name Suikei Furuya that were printed in the Hawaii Times publication.  The articles were the basis for a book called Haisho Tenten that was published in 1964.  This book is now translated into English by Tatsumi Hayashi through the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

The writings of Mr. Furuya provides you the reader an intimate and detailed look into the experiences of a man incarcerated on Dec. 7, 1941 up to his return to Honolulu in November 1945.  Being led by flashlight to be locked in a room at the INS office in Honolulu; descriptions of life at the Sand Island detention camp; softball games at Camp McCoy and other camps; and troubles with younger incarcerees who exhibited loyalty to the militaristic policies of wartime Japan.  This is a very readable book for anyone with interest in the history of Hawaii and the experiences of Hawaii Issei and Nisei who were incarcerated during World War II simply for being of Japanese ancestry.  Reviewed by S&D member JI.

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