Memorial Day – Forever Saluting Nisei Soldiers

Memorial Day – Forever Saluting Nisei Soldiers

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Roy Kodani
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

For three summers while attending Hilo High School, I worked with other high school students at Keeau Macadamia Orchard located in Pana‘ewa as a field hand. Our field superintendent was a Mr. Ogamori, who had fought in Europe in World War II. One of the other high school workers was Greg Hall, a 6-footer who was attending a military school on the Mainland. Greg hoped to become an Army infantry officer after graduating.

The sun beat down on us mercilessly, and when it rained, we would be drenched for hours, steaming in the humidity. When Mr. Ogamori, who was only about 5 feet tall, checked the macadamia trees during his rounds, he would sometimes stop and talk story with us during our breaks.

“Greg, do you have experience using weapons and fighting as a cadet?” he asked. They seemed bonded by their military connection. I don’t recall Mr. Oga-
mori’s highest rank in the Army, but Greg always stood erect when talking to him. “Yes, sir. We use real rifles. I’m going to be in a tank company so I’ve trained in tanks.”

“No matter how much you train, you can never be prepared for the real stuff, ”Mr. Ogamori said. “They can train you to fight, but they never teach you what to do when your friends get wounded, or worse, when they die in front of you. Never. I still have nightmares of guys being shot or the cannons blowing them up and their guts spilling out. Their arms and legs blown off. I don’t know why, but the dying soldiers always called out for their mothers, ‘Okaasan! Okaasan!’ I used to wonder if their mothers could hear them back in Hawai‘i.”

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