Shiroku "Whitey" Yamamoto
442nd Antitank Company

War's End

The war in Europe ends on May 8, 1945.

In Italy, the 442nd is assigned the task of guarding German prisoners.

The U.S. military to determine which soldiers are eligible to go home implements a point system.

Whitey has only 84 of the 85 points needed; he longs to go home.

In January 1946, he is discharged as a private first class.

Well, all of us, we felt good that the war has ended in Europe. So we said, “Well, I guess we don’t have to go over to the Pacific side,” because (chuckles) oh boy, that would be a terrible thing. But we felt so relaxed now that the war has ended in Europe. So we can relax and all that.

Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto in a candid moment
Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto in a candid moment

But while we were resting in the northern part of Italy, in Lake Como area, the group from Camp Savage, the military MIS [Military Intelligence Service] group, they came over and they wanted to recruit the boys who were capable of speaking Japanese, read and write Japanese language, they wanted to recruit us. And made a proposition: whoever is going to volunteer to go and join up on the MIS side — because the war was still going on in the Pacific with Japan — and the proposition was that whoever volunteered to go into MIS, they would give the Island boys a thirty-day furlough back to Hawaii. And then after the thirty-day furlough, go back to Camp Savage to take up probably two, three months of training of the MIS, or Japanese-language school, and probably they’ll be shipped out to the Pacific area. So, you know, that was something that was taking place, and they did. Some of the boys went and joined up with that.

100th Battalion, 442nd RCT in Fourth of July parade
100th Battalion, 442nd RCT in Fourth of July parade

And here, we were shipped from Lake Como down to Pisa, where that leaning tower is. Okay, so the war was over for us in the European part, so we’re down in Pisa, assigned over there, and taking care of the German prisoners. And they were doing the laundry work for the Quartermaster Corps in Pisa. So our camp was right along the river, and the boys were just sitting around doing nothing but take the prisoners from the stockade in Pisa. Because we had the weapons carrier, we can load up the German prisoners, take them down to the Quartermaster Corps laundry, where they do all the laundry for the American soldiers. And then we would come back. So we were sitting over there.

2nd Battalion, 442nd RCT in Fourth of July parade
2nd Battalion, 442nd RCT in Fourth of July parade

Meantime, the war, of course, ended in Japan. Now, the next question was that, who’s going to be discharged because the war in Europe and Pacific is over? Well, naturally, all of us, everybody, no matter who you are, in the air force, army, marines, they all want to go home, the war is finished. Well, to solve that problem of who’s going to go first, they had the point system of eighty-five points. And some of the boys in our group, the 442nd, 100th, like the 100th side, the old-timers, they had enough points that you were in the army for so many months, how many months overseas, so they calculated on that basis. So some of the boys qualified for that, and then they were sent home.

3rd Battalion, 442nd RCT in Fourth of July parade
3rd Battalion, 442nd RCT in Fourth of July parade

And in the meantime, majority of us, we had one-point difference, eighty-four point (chuckles), so we just have to wait for that group to go home. So once that was established, then we were all ready to go home. So the best part was that whoever remained back, especially the replacements because they have low points right? So they were asking, “Hey, any of you want different ranks, first sergeant, buck sergeant, or anything, it’s wide open. We all going home, and here we have to fill in.” So they were giving out, asking boys, “Hey, what rank you folks want?”

Antitank Company, 442nd RCT in Fourth of July parade
Antitank Company, 442nd RCT in Fourth of July parade

So the boys that were replacements, oh they were lucky to have the different ranks, that means you get bigger pay right?

But we were only concerned with, “Ah, (claps) we going home already, we want to go home.” So the ones that remained back, they were given out the ranks.

100th Battalion in VE-Day parade at Ghedi Airfield
100th Battalion in VE-Day parade at Ghedi Airfield

Whitey Yamamoto's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Whitey Yamamoto.

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