100th Infantry Battalion, B Company
Ray does not rejoin his unit. He and other soldiers unfit for combat duty from the first draft (with five years of service) are sent home.
Anxious to go home but reluctant to leave others still at war, he is conflicted.
He returns home in 1944. Ray, for the first time sees his father cry.
Ray works in the Fort Shafter post office until his discharge on August 13, 1945.
I didn't rejoin my unit. They told us that people who stayed over so many years, I was first draft, so I had five years, a long time. So the guys, unfit for combat duty, can go home. So about six of us, we went home. Not discharged. . .Just saying that you can go home. And then we rode on a boat and went home. I think [I came back] the latter part of 44. I got wounded in 43. When I came home, my dad was in the yard. He saw me limping a little but he didn't see me yet till I got closer but I was limping coming home. For the first time, I've seen him cry. I don't know if he's happy or what but that's the first time I see him cry. I never did see him cry before. But when he saw me, he cried. I saw [my father]. He was kind of skinny. He used to be husky before. Maybe he was already ill or something, he had kidney trouble. He doesn't look like the way I left him. When I left him, he was strong. [T]hey had a luau for [Aki] and I because she just joined me at home. So all my gang came to my luau. And then my brother, his Hawaiian wife, they have the pig over there. They cut the thing. They do it right at home and they cook it right there. All my father's former employees all was there. His old carpenter foremen was all at the party. And then I invited my post office haole friends. They came, too. First time they seen how they cook the. . .Imu [cooked pig in an underground oven] the pig. And they were so happy about it.
Thoughts on Returning Home Early
[S]trange thing is, sometimes you get selfish, you know. Chee, I'm so happy that I'm coming home. Yet, on the other hand, you like help the other guys because the other guys need help, eh. So my mind is sometimes not clear. I don't know how to think about it. Because they used to say to us, "Chee, you lucky you got wounded. You're in the hospital eating hot food and you in the shelter and us guys still fighting." Well, that's true. Plenty guys like to get wounded. Not to die but get wounded. Because they go in the hospital, they get hot meals, they get nice bed, yeah. So when they look at that, there's a lot of guys, they want to get wounded. But if you're unlucky kind of wounded, you might die, that's the thing.
In fact, we had one guy named Iwasa. This dud, when they fire, it hit his back. And then he fell down but through instinct, he grabbed that thing and he ran and dumped it and he passed out. He thought that the thing was going to explode, yeah. Through mere guts and trying to help people, he carried the thing. And he got the back all injured but his intent was to save the rest of them. But the thing didn't go off. But that's what it is. You come close, you want to help people. Just like I heard my buddy Don Nakauye. He and I used to be in the same boxing team. And he was in headquarters, so he always stay in the back. And every time he goes in the back, he goes around and picks flowers. And then when he see anybody that got hit and killed, he used to put the flower. One day, they found him with a flower in his hand, dead, because he got hit. But in his hand, had the flowers to bring to his buddies. That's the story I heard. Hard to believe, but that guy giving flowers to everybody. But he, instead, got killed and the flowers still in his hand. That was my friend, Don Nakauye. So in a war, all kind of things happen, like this. But it happens because I guess life, any kind stuff happen. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. When you get the bad one, you make mistakes but if you don't learn by your mistakes, you're the one that lose out.
And then they assigned me to a post office by Fort Shafter [in Honolulu]. You go in post office, there's a lot of these slots. You look at the mail, put in the right place, you tie 'em up and put 'em in one bag and then drive the truck and take it to the airport to have it mailed. So I learned that from them because I never worked in a post office before. But I learned and then after I learned, they want to promote me. That's how I got my PFC. And if I stayed long enough, I would have gotten higher because the job I was doing is a sergeant job. But they cannot promote - in the rear, they cannot promote you all of a sudden, you have to go one step at a time. But first thing you know, they said I'm going to be discharged. [I was discharged from the army on] August 13, 1945. Just about five years, almost five years.
Death of Parents
[My father] died only young, sixty years old, he died. My mother, of all things, my mother, she was only fifty years old. In 1941, just about, I would say, four months before the Pearl Harbor attack. My brother came down and pick me up from Schofield, and took me to see my mother. You wouldn't believe but those days, during the war, we had the coffin right in the house. All her students, you know those odori students, come over there, sleep with them. I went sleep over there, too. They light the senko [incense stick] all night. And no more sanitation, her body is right there, now. All the odori girls around. They sleep all night with them.
[Seichi] came home, chee, I forgot what year already. But he was hospitalized in Colorado because he was seriously wounded. So from France, they flew him over and then he stayed in the Denver, Colorado hospital. That's when it came out in the newspaper about him, why he came there, and things like that.
Ray Nosaka's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Ray Nosaka, Library of Congress, and U.S. Army Signal Corps.