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Commander's Column

by Walter Tanimoto
October 2019, Volume 69, Issue 9


October was another busy month, and I want to give my thanks to the NVC Foundation (NVCF) for their speaker event and open house.  The speaker event was a film showing of Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice followed by a Q&A session with Min’s brother, Homer Yasui.  Each time I go to a NVCF Speaker Series event I learn more about incarceration; it is usually first-hand information from someone who was there.  I also want to give a shout out to Homer Yasui and his daughter Meredith for taking the time to talk to us at this event. 

A Mahalo Nui Loa to Dale and Shiz Kaku, Junior Nagaki, Janice Nakamura, Chris Sketchley, and Dale Watanabe for spending a Saturday doing yard work and fixing our WiFi and locks!  The bamboo is no longer growing out of control, the ivy is no longer overtaking the building, the weeds are gone, and the spotty WiFi and locks are all fixed.  All of this was done just in time for the NVCF two-day brick event in October. 

I invite all of you to the Nisei Veterans Committee Veterans Day event and NVC Memorial Hall open house on Sunday, 10 November at 10 a.m.  Our keynote speaker is Sergeant Major Jerry Walden who is the Operations Sergeant Major for the 100th Battalion out of Honolulu Hawaii.  Special guests are Secretary Norm Mineta and his wife.  The highlight of this event will be the presentation of the Japan Foreign Ministers Commendation to the Nisei Veterans Committee (NVC) by Yoichiro Yamada, Consul General of Japan in Seattle.

I belong to a veterans committee at work, and we were discussing how we are going to celebrate the U.S. Navy’s 244 birthday.  The U.S. Navy was established on 13 October 1775.  We decided to tell stories about our families and friends who have served.  I had a tough time deciding what story I would tell.  I was originally considering keeping the Navy theme and telling a story about a friend who is a Vietnam veteran who served with the US Navy swift boats and reading his Silver Star citation. Then it dawned on me that October is the 75th Anniversary of the rescue of the lost battalion by the 442nd, and I decided to tell a story about Fred Shiosaki. 

The lost battalion was the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry (36th Infantry Division, originally Texas National Guard), which was surrounded by German forces in the Vosges Mountains on 24 October 1944, France.

Fred served with K Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and is also an NVC life member.  I was fortunate to hear some of Fred’s stories firsthand at the Nisei Lunches, and with help from Chris Sketchley on oral histories, I was able to prepare a short story about Fred and the rescue of the Lost Battalion.

If you want to hear first-hand accounts of the rescue of the lost battalion, I invite you to visit Densho’s digital archives and listen to these three accounts.  Two by Fred Shiosaki and one from Rudy Tokiwa.

The Rescue of the "Lost Battalion" - Fred Shiosaki

Meeting a Member of the "Lost Battalion" After the War - Fred Shiosaki 

442nd Regimental Combat Team Ordered to Pass in Review - Rudy Tokiwa

The rescue of the lost battalion was an incredible operation conducted by brave men at tremendous cost.  Can you imagine what the Nisei men were thinking about or how they felt?  Or how Colonel Pence, who was wounded from the fight, felt after the rescue and during the pass in review in front of Major General Dalhquist? 

Be proud of your service, the courage you showed, and the difference you made when you swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. 

Freedom still comes at a cost, and on this Veterans Day please join me in honoring all who served, those who came before us, and Gold Star families.