100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)
Reflections and Observations
Takashi serves a term as president of Club 100, the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Club.
He receives disability benefits from the Veterans Administration for hearing loss attributed to his time in combat.
Takashi empathizes with soldiers stationed in Iraq. He believes his wartime experiences have made him a better man, more able to appreciate human qualities.
I was very active in the club. As a matter of fact, for one term I was the president of Club 100 [100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Club]. But gradually, because of my hearing, I started to move away. I couldn’t hear what was going on at these meetings, especially when you have a loudspeaker. You know, microphone. It rings in your ear. Anyone who wears [hearing aids] would understand what I’m talking about.
So now I am inactive, so to speak. Although I do play golf with the members of the club, I don’t go to meetings. I don’t go to conventions. I don’t enjoy it anymore, although I like to meet the boys as much as I can.
I go to the clubhouse from time to time. Just for that.
I might tell you that I am getting disability [benefits] from the Veterans Administration, full disability, for the [loss of] hearing. They attribute that mostly to the experience that we had in the army in the warfront. This is why we get the disability.
I don’t know whether you know it or not, but it was only recently that I found out that the VA will pay for the hearing aid if they determine that it was service-connected. And that’s what they did.
So the doctor asked me, “Why did you take sixty years to come here?” Well, I told him, “I didn’t know that the VA gave servicemen the hearing aid.” But not only that. The hearing aid is just part of it. The point is, they give you the disability with compensation, which I didn’t know, too. But luckily, even in the last few years of my life, I’m getting that, too.
I think [there are a lot of others with service-connected disabilities]. In fact, I learned about this hearing aid because I was talking to some of my friends. They said, “Well, you go and then it’s not guaranteed. But then you tell them your story, and let them decide whether you can get the hearing aid.” This is exactly what I did.
I don’t know if you can say that [the war] affected my life, but it affected my thinking about the horrors of war.
Even now, I think about the boys who have to go to Iraq, and I’m with them, and I feel for them. Because I put myself in their shoes, and I know what they’re thinking about. Empathize with them, see.
My experience in the war has made me a better man. Appreciate human qualities. I think that’s very important.
Takashi Kitaoka's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Takashi Kitaoka.