Ray Nosaka
100th Infantry Battalion, B Company

Military Training: Camp McCoy

On June 5, 1942, Ray is among the 1,432 nisei Hawaii National Guardsmen to leave the islands for an unknown destination. He is given no time to notify his family of his departure.

He arrives at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. Ignoring an order to turn in his omamori (amulet), he keeps it with him.

He is part of the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), composed of Hawaii nisei, activated on June 12, 1942. It is an orphan battalion, not assigned to a regiment.

Departure from Hawaii

[W]hen we went to Camp McCoy, they thought we were enemy Japanese because they don't know that we are American soldiers, although we're [in] American uniform. So everywhere we went, the first part, they always look at us as a Japanese alien, enemy. And then we start to know them and they say, "Oh, you're an American soldier."

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And when we left here, just after December 7, they put us all on a train. And you know, the regular train, down from Schofield that used to go all the way to that - you know the depot? - in Iwilei. That's where they took us down. So the only people, Japanese people, that knew that we were going on the train were those employees that work for the restaurants in Schofield. And they're the only ones waved us goodbye. They see us going.

But our parents, nobody knew about us that we're going to go. We cannot telephone, we cannot do anything, just go on the train with the barracks bag and then go on a boat. And that's how we first started.

Ray Nosaka, Company E, 29th Infantry Regiment

[My parents were] Buddhist. You know how I knew? When we were kids, we used to go to the church just to eat senbei [rice cracker]. They used to give us senbei, that's why I used to go, just to eat senbei. I don't know the religion at all. But my mother and father was the Buddhist.

That why when we were in the service, my mother [and] my father gave us omamori [Japanese amulet worn for good luck or protection]. I don't know what's that for but I think that's to keep you safe or something, yeah.

And you know, at Camp McCoy, we were ordered to turn that all in. But I don't care, I kept it. I took it all the way. So I was lucky I came home, you know. But to think that the army telling you to surrender all those things. But I think most of them they hide, I don't think so they turn it in. Imagine that, I had that and my cross. (Laughs) I had all that.

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin

And then they never told us where we were going to go. They just said, "You'll find out." And the first place we landed was Oakland. And even at Oakland, we cannot get off the plane until they all say it's clear. And then they took us on a train and they put all the shades down, so nobody knows who we are. And from there, the train start going till we reach Wisconsin. And even we reach Wisconsin, we don't know what's going to happen, what we're going to do.

Ray Nosaka out of uniform, Camp McCoy

And then when we reach there, we all stayed in a tent because they were building our barracks yet.

They don't tell us we were in Wisconsin or anything like that. We were ordered get off and stay in the tents. So a lot of times, our thoughts were misled all the time. We don't know what we're there for, what we're going to do.

Ray Nosaka with his guitar, Camp McCoy

But as things went by, time passed, the Wisconsin people start be so friendly with us, they took us in their homes, like that. They took us to their church. So we, slowly, we got to know them and they got to know us.

That's why, about six months later, [Hawaii people] make a lua'u [Hawaiian feast] for anybody from Wisconsin. No matter whether you're a sailor or soldier, doesn't matter. We didn't know until I read a letter from my sister that that's what they did. They want to reciprocate what [the Wisconsin people were] doing to us.

They used to take us to their home. That's why some of us - well, not me - but some of us got married to the girls there. I used to get a girlfriend, too. And only weekends we go out and kill time.

Ray Nosaka in Model T, Camp McCoy

Training

But during that time, most of us, we're very experienced. We had maneuvers in Schofield and then we had maneuvers again. So we were very trained but somehow, a lot of us can go up not even to private first class. That's funny because once you're through with your training, you should be automatically a private first class.

Ray Nosaka amidst rifles, Camp McCoy

Some of the guys that earned the Medal of Honor, how come they're still private? You're supposed to be well trained and brave. No, I see them - Private [Shizuya] Hayashi and I say, "I can't believe it." And I can't believe it myself. They should get that automatically. You see a lot of privates from the 100th Infantry Battalion.

I thought it's not fair.

100th is strictly from Hawaiian Islands, Hawai'i. All of them. Of course, some officers, the haole officers, yeah. I think the way Colonel [Young Oak] Kim told me, he suspected the haole officers were there to check on us. He became an officer later on but he was telling me about it. He said that he thinks that because all of a sudden, when we started to train, the officers that came with us, all gone.

So he was telling me he thinks that there must be an undercover man to check on us if we're to be trusted or not. That's why everyplace we go, we're not sure until we can prove to them. That's why sometimes you feel so frustrated, you know. We're defending our country to learn all about how to carry a rifle and things like that. So it's unbelievable but we went through all that. To think that I still came home, you know, I'm still very grateful that I made it, came home (crying). Yeah, I was very lucky.

Ray Nosaka's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Ray Nosaka.

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