Military Intelligence Service
Reflections and Observations
"I'm very glad of one thing. Although I was involved in the Leyte invasion and Okinawa invasion from the beginning, I never fired one shot out of my carbine against anybody. I was able to discharge my obligation as citizen soldier by use of a mega horn, notebook, and my mouth.
My only regret is this. If the people that hiding in the cave believed in us nisei a little bit more, perhaps we could have saved more."
I'm very glad of one thing. Although I was involved in the Leyte invasion, and Okinawa invasion from the beginning, I never fired one shot out of my carbine against anybody. I was able to discharge my obligation as citizen soldier by use of a megahorn, notebook, and my mouth.
Not one shot I aimed at anybody. Although the first day of invasion of Okinawa, I almost shot the young girl and old lady. Almost. But that's the closest I came. Never shot one. And I'm very happy I discharged my obligation.
My only regret is this. If the people that hiding in the cave believed in us nisei a little bit more, perhaps we could have saved more. Maybe in some cases, our effort wasn't strong enough, or far enough.
But we did our best, tried to convince them. Tried to convince them, that, "Americans are not savage, please come out. If you come out, we have water, food. And if you are wounded, our aid person going to treat your wound and give you medicine." We repeated that over and over, and over and over. And tell them, you know, "Americans are not savage like you've been brainwashed."
My belief, as soon as I found out I'm going to Okinawa, I'm going in there and try to save as many innocent civilians as possible. I'm not going there to kill somebody. My innermost thought was save as many as I can. Innocent people. Combatant, I have no choice. If I have to face, I got to protect myself, I'm going to shoot him. But innocent people, I'll try to save as many as I can within my power.
"No group had so much to lose. Capture would have meant indescribable horrors to them and their relatives in Japan. They are worthy, as individuals and as a group of the highest praise for their invaluable contribution to the success of Allied arms." - Colonel Sydney F. Mashbir, Commanding Officer of ATIS (Allied Translator and Interpreter Service)
We only have one life, and the war is, I think, the worst thing human beings can think of. All international disagreements should be settled by diplomatic process rather than war. War is the worst thing, I think, human beings can ever think about. I mean, everything we produce, to destroy something. Not to reuse and to rebuild something. Any kind of war effort. Main purpose, to make something to destroy something. Just doesn't make sense. We spend billions and billions of dollars to perfect weapons. What for? Not to make anything useful items. Just to destroy what is useful.
To me, that's the most senseless thing we human beings can think of. But again, as long as there's a greed among mankind, maybe war is inevitable. Everybody wants what the other guys have. What you going to have. Yeah? It's just a dream, maybe. Ideal dream, maybe, but none realistic. Realistically speaking, I'm against war. Not because I'm a peace monger. You know, have nothing to do with that.
And that's why I firmly believe the war we in, Iraq, I think is wrong. To a country where all major ethnic groups are fighting each other for supremacy, to impose democracy that we understand in America, to me, is unrealistic. How are you going to impose something to a people that are fighting each other? Unless they, themselves, come out and realize. I don't think it's going to succeed. Look at Iraq today. Insurgents killing more people than before.
And our own president, too. Philosophically, I think he doesn't know what the hell he's saying. All justification was what, fear of so-called WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction]. When they couldn't find out, now he changed to war on terrorism. I wonder if he realized, instances of terrorism increased tremendously after the fall of Baghdad. I don't think he realized that.
Defense minister, as well as his cohorts, did not listen to General [Eric] Shinseki [34th Chief of Staff, United States Army]. If General Shinseki, what he said, if they listened to, maybe they could have prevented the mass lootage after the fall of Baghdad. If they had enough troops. And if they had enough troops over there to guard the ammunitions that came across and dispose of it, maybe these insurgents couldn't get a hold of that ammunition. Today, they're using the same damn thing, hurting us. That's why I'm disappointed with our leaders.
Takejiro Higa's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Takejiro Higa and Center for Oral History.