100th Bn. losses attributed to poor leadershipThe Hawaii Herald
July 16, 1982
In his keynote address at the 40thanniversary banquet of Club 100, retired Col. Young O. Kim, the operations officer of the 100th InfantryBattalion during WWII, charged that much of the tremendous losses suffered by theentire 442nd Regimental Combat Team can be attributed to the poor leadership ofMaj. Gen. John E. Dahlquist.
Addressing an audience of some 950 persons,consisting of unit members with their families and guests who gathered at the Hilton HawaiianVillage on July 3 for the highlight of five days of reunion activities, Kim saidthe 36th Division commander "violated every principle of leadership andtactics." Those views were shared by Col. Pence, the 442nd Regimental commander, headded.
In preparation for the liberation ofBruyres France, Hill "A" was an obstacle that had to fall. "Gen. Dahlquist insistedthere was only a token number of Germans defending Hill “A” andonly our timed assaults prevented its capture," Kim elaborated. "We knewbetter from previously ordered unsuccessful attempts." He said the unit cut offcommunications to everyone at higher headquarters to avoid talking to Dahlquist. Whenthe hill was taken over by the 100th in its own fashion and time schedule,over 100 Germans and over 100 automatic weapons were captured while the 100thsuffered only two wounded. "These weapons were delivered to the 36thDivision headquarters," Kim said, "but it was a wasted gesture."
After Bruyres fell, the 100th was promisedtwo days of rest. But at midnight, orders to attack Hill “C” at 9 a.m. the next morning came. "We planned and worked at a feverish pace," Kim said."Five minutes before 9 o’clock, the Germans attacked the 100th positions fromwhere our own attack was to launch." But the attack on Hill“C” began on time although major last minute changes were required. Enemypositions on Hill “C” were breeched at 9:05 a.m. and 50 Germans were captured when the 100th completed the taking of the hill. "All thosebrilliant efforts were negated when we were ordered off Hill “C”later in the afternoon by Dahlquist. Hill “C” had to be retaken by 3rdDivision," Kim added.
Kim said his memories of France still show the bitterness burnt deeply inhis soul. The 100th was ordered to abandon commanding heights whichwere five miles behind German lines to seize Biffontaine which was two milesfurther behind enemy lines. That order was to put the 100th beyond the range offriendly artillery support and also beyond the range of radio communications. Thepromises Dahlquist made to the unit never materialized and the 100th Battalion had tofight its way back to friendly lines. "We went into Biffontaine asthe best unit in Europe and came out with only one officer per rifle company andvery depleted ranks," he said.
From the way Dahlquist was operating, alost battalion was inevitable, said Kim. "Of course, it happened. The 100th/442nd had torescue the 1st Battalion, 141st Regiment while suffering four times the number of casualtiesthan we rescued. . . There was never a question of whether the 100th could take anobjective. There was only the question of how soon was its captureneeded." He added the more time available resulted in fewer casualties.
Kim hoped that the grim stories from thepast would "spur you in your twilight years to cherish friendships made and cause you toremember all those promises made to our lost comrades and to ourselves over 30 yearsago of how we were going to improve the quality of life for ourcommunity." He said, "You have every reason to be proud ofyourselves.”
This article was reprinted courtesy of The Hawaii Herald. Copyright retained by The Hawaii Herald.