100th Infantry Battalion, B Company
For half a day on Cat Island, Ray trains dogs; for the remainder of the day, he fishes, plays guitar, and sings songs to pass the time on Ship Island. For lack of potable water, the men drink beer.
Sworn to secrecy, the dog trainers are not allowed to speak about their work. Officers carefully censor their letters.
It's a learning experience over there because all the trainers over there cannot associate with us. All haoles, they don't talk to us. I guess they were told not to befriend us. Why? Maybe they don't want us to get used to the dog, or what.
Just like in other words, we are dog baits. We're not really training, we're the baits. That's how I look at it because was attack and bite.
And everything, when we write any letters, we cannot mention dogs, bird, fish, island, boat. All that's censored.
You know who censored? Our own Lieutenant [Ernest] Tanaka and the other haole. All they're there is to censor our mail. So when my sister used to get mail, she tell me, "How come your mail sometimes they cut like this?" That's what they did.
They don't tell us they scratch it off, they cut it off and throw it away. Because I mentioned maybe something that's not supposed to say about the island. So everything is so hush-hush.
Real oysters. It's all full on the shore. When the (tide) gets a little down, we go over there and burn some wood, and eat it right from the beach. And it tasted good, (chuckles). But to think that we're eating the fresh reef, fresh oyster, right on the beach. All free.
I still have a picture of us, we holding the alligator, like this. Because the first one we caught at the swamp, I shot 'em on the head. It's still wagging the tail, but we can grab it. The three of us.
We only worked half a day. Half a day, you go back to Ship Island. You go fishing, play guitar and sing a song, things like that, drinking beer. Half a day you work, half a day you're off. So the hours are very good. That's why all of us was catching fish. So many fish over there. And now ducks come, shoot the ducks like that. So the life after the four hours we worked is very good.
In fact, at one time we ran out of beer because we cannot drink the water. That thing is so - like rotten eggs. The thing is sulfur, so we cannot drink the water, so we drink up the beer. And, you know, the beer. The thing gone in one week. All gone because we cannot drink the water, we just drink that beer.
Just like playing, you know.
Sworn to Silence
[T]hey told us not to [talk about the dog training]. So till today, some of them, they don't know. But now, they release that we can talk about it. But for years, we cannot - they told us don't mention what we did. I don't see why, already.
But I know they had attack dogs that attacks the people that - you know, Japan people that goes in the cave.They put a bomb on the dog and let them go inside, explode. But they don't tell us, they don't tell us those things. But they were training, as part of the training, they tie the bomb here. And suicide dogs going away. You know Japan soldiers, they don't go out from the caves, they just stay inside there. If I die, I die, kind. So they used to let the dog go inside and time the thing and explode.
But they don't tell us about that kind of dog because some people might say "inhumane," yeah. Some people love animals, so they just hush-hush. But they used to have suicide dogs. And most of the dogs were donated from citizens. So when they find out about the bomb, oh boy, they might get mad or something.
But that was a really - something that I couldn't believe. When I look back, I say, "How did they select the twenty-five guys?" We get, in one company, we have over seventy or hundred people. Why me? I'm one of the twenty-five. They took us in a room like this, they gave us a paper like this and fill out.
The paper is so simple. Like, are you married? Are you divorced? Is your father and mother alive? You have brothers, sisters? All simple kind of stuff. And then they ask you, do you really want to be an American citizen? They put silly kinds of questions, about twenty pages of this.
We answered that and then few days later, out of the seventy people that had the paper, they selected twenty-five of us from that. So till today, I wonder, how they selected the twenty-five guys from the seventy. I don't know. So secret, you can't believe it.
So that's why today, anytime they mention the 100th, they always put in dog training because they were sort of unique. Nobody would believe that they selected twenty-five of us to train the dogs. They said to "train the dogs," but we called it "dog bait." We were the bait. I'm very fortunate I'm one of those that came back and then I can tell the news about the story.
But when you think of the twenty-five people that was there, we come a close family. Out of that, one, two, three, four people, when we went to Italy, they got killed in action. Today, out of the twenty-five people, we have only six of us left. The rest all passed away. That's why I say, I'm so grateful that I'm still alive.
[W]hen the war was over and everything, I got part-time work with a travel agency. And I made up a tour, so we went to Minneapolis, Fort Snelling, where they had the [Military Intelligence Service Language School]. From there, then we went to Camp McCoy, then we went to Mississippi, and we went to this Ship Island, they took us go. And then we went to Cat Island, come back.
And the people that did that - before I went, I wrote a letter, and the journalists over there had it all ready for us. They come pick us up, they put us on the TV, just like a celebrity. But for them, it was something. First time they see the real guys. From our gang, we had, oh, about nine of us went with me. So they got to see us and interview us. So we were very fortunate that they took us just like a family. Some of them wrote us a storybook about Cat Island and the training. They interview us and then they wrote a book. So we became a little kind of a big shot after that (chuckles).
Ray Nosaka's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Ray Nosaka.