Kauai Stories 1

Kauai Stories 1: We Had to Prove Our Loyalty (excerpt)

Kauai Stories 1 on AmazonKazuma Monty Nishiie is an original member of the 100th Battalion that fought in World War II for the U.S. Army. At 100 years old, Kazuma is still trim and alert, his small frame barely a wisp over 5 feet tall, posture as straight as when he was a soldier. His alert eyes take in everything around him. He speaks seriously and thoughtfully, occasionally inserting wry humor into his responses with little change in facial expression. The secret to his health and longevity? He points skyward and says, “The man above,” then pausing for effect, and with a slight hint of a mischievous grin, says, “and young wife.” Celia, his “young wife” sitting next to him, laughs heartily.

Before responding to questions, Kazuma pauses, seeming to review images in his mind, recalling events that took place almost seven decades ago. He speaks in short, compact sentences, using the bare minimum of words required to get his point across.

 

My father was born in Japan. He came to Kauai as contract labor for Kilauea Sugar Plantation. Transportation in those days was very bad. Many months on the ocean. Took long time. Terrible conditions.

My father worked hard, long hours. My mother was picture bride. She came from Japan, met my father when she got off the ship. She was a teenager. I am oldest of 10 children, five girls, five boys. My mother, with 10 children, lot of work. Large family. Very hard living. (Shakes his head at the memory.)

When I was a boy, I fished at Kilauea Beach, caught papio, ulua, moi. We used tree branches or twigs for fishing poles. More fish then than nowadays. Hunted pig, too.

I went to work for the plantation when I was 15. All my small earnings went to support the family.

 

Kazuma was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1940. Soon after he became a member of the original 100th Battalion, a unit comprised entirely of Nisei, the first generation of American-born children of Japanese parents. One of Kazuma’s younger brothers also joined the military. When Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japan, emotions ran high throughout Hawaii. 

 

It was terrible, you know. Parents’ country bombing Pearl Harbor. Because our parents were living in America, they knew the children must be American, must be faithful. They used to tell us, “Do your best in the service.” We had to prove our loyalty.   

Read more about Kazuma Monty Nishiie, and three more of Kauai's WWII veterans in Kauai Stories 1

 

 

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