Military Intelligence Service
Visiting Okinawan Relatives
Throughout the battle, Takejiro has no direct contact with relatives.
He obtains permission to visit his aunt. He finds her home is now an evacuation center sheltering hundreds of refugees. Word spreads quickly about his return.
Happy to see his aunt but aware that Japanese soldiers may be among the refugees, Takejiro is unable to enjoy the reunion.
I didn't have direct contact [with my relatives]. In fact, the general I spoke of, brigadier general, he knew my relative was very close to our division headquarters. Just about four kilometers away.
So one day, general came to my tent, he said, "Hey Junior, your relative is only a short distance from here, eh?" "Yes, Sir." Shimabuku is only four kilometers away to the north from Futema headquarters, see. "Okay. Take Captain Fernandez, go visit. Two-hour time."
So we drove up. And we went up to my aunty's house, closest to the highway. (Chuckles) Before the war, my aunty's family had only five people living in the whole house, yeah. When we went, several hundred people, all the evacuation center. A lot of people, strangers.
So not knowing any one of those people, three of us, my jeep driver and Captain Fernandez, we stand in a three triangle way, cover each other's back. And I'm talking to my aunty in hogen. So I could hear people in the background saying, "Eh, I understand this guy is that lady no nephew." This and that. I could hear, hogen. They making comments behind me.
But I don't know them. So I wouldn't know if any one of them might come up with a dagger and try to kill me. So we're watching each others background. Captain Fernandez watching me in the background and I'm watching someone else's background. And jeep driver watching this side. Three of us, three, triangle way. Covering each other's back.
I'm talking to my aunty. Excitement. And I didn't realize Aunty was slightly pregnant. So after the war, baby was born. The youngest, Itsuko, born. So we got the letter. So my sister asked me, "When you went to see Aunty, you saw Aunty was hapai [pregnant]?" "Hell no, I don't know." Must have been.
Soon after the war, the baby was born, see. So must have been quite big, but I never noticed because my mind was the farthest thing from watching the behavior of the aunty, talking to Aunty. And the uncle asked, standing right next to her, so I told Uncle, "By the way, where's Hiroshi Nisan?" "Oh, Hiroshi Nisan being a doctor, got drafted into military, doctor, went to someplace in the Philippines or someplace."
So I told my uncle, "Uncle, Hiroshi Nisan, don't worry. Americans would never bomb or shell a military hospital or aid station. Don't worry."
And my younger cousin, same age with me, Minoru, he was drafted into the air force. Some kind of technician. So he didn't know where he was. So I told Uncle, "Minoru might be in danger because he might be in the frontline troops. But the oldest cousin, Hiroshi Nisan, don't worry. As long as he's with the military hospital. We will never bomb or shell military aid station or the hospital."
And sure enough, all came back alive. And so I told Uncle, "Don't worry about Hiroshimi Nisan." And this Hiroshi Nisan is one real kawaigaru [cared for] me, treat me like a kid brother, because I lost my parents when I was twelve years old. So they treated me like a kid brother. And really treated me nicely, the oldest sister and oldest cousin. So to this day, I'm very close to them.
There were a couple hundred people in [Aunty's] house. Every space in the house was occupied, including the pig pen. They cleaned up the pig pen, put straw. Horse stall, everything. Everything was occupied. And all neighboring community people, yeah, evacuated. My uncle and aunty's house was a nice house, see. And it was intact, so it was used as one of the evacuation centers. I was flabbergasted. So many people and all unknown, yeah. I was afraid, too, because not knowing any one of them. That's why the three of us watched each other.
And because we only had two hours' time, so I couldn't go to my other uncle's house, the one I grew up with. And the uncle heard about me and came to my aunty's house. But by then, we're going back already (chuckles). So missed the uncle. They heard about, you know, I being in Shimabuku. So, spread like wildfire, yeah. So Uncle was running toward my aunty's house, but by then, we were on our jeep on the way to headquarters. Just missed him by about five minutes.
Takejiro Higa's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Takejiro Higa.