522nd Field Artillery, 442nd RCT
Military Training, Camp Shelby
At Camp Shelby, Katsugo is assigned to B Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion.
Basic training is mostly marches and exercises. Within a month, the troops are in top physical condition.
Assignments to specific tasks and artillery training follow. The men hone their skills in field exercises and maneuvers.
As gunner corporal, Katsugo is responsible for determining gun deflection.
B Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion
We got [to Camp Shelby] and in the first week, I was assigned to B Battery, 522nd [Field] Artillery [Battalion].
I have no idea [how the assignments were made]. All I remember is that during Schofield, there were all kinds of tests. One was IQ [intelligence quotient]. One was a mechanical aptitude test. I had heard that in the case of the artillery groupings, part of the selections were based on the mechanical aptitude test. Other than that, there were others chosen on the basis of their background. Artillery, you had to have these so-called fire direction center, where you have people who knew how to do survey work. So you had to have a good mathematical background. So these people, were based on their IQ test. I heard the others were selected, also, through the mechanical aptitude test. Because artillery required handling of the guns, big guns, not the rifles. So mechanical aptitude came into play.
Of my original Maui group that moved into Camp Shelby, maybe three or four of us [were assigned to] B Battery. And thereafter, people from Honomu [on the island of Hawaii], Kauai, as well as from relocation camps, came in to make up the full complement of the B Battery.
The artillery were placed in the newest unfinished section of Camp Shelby. The infantry were moved into areas which were already fully built and prepared. But in the artillery, our latrines were not finished yet. We had old-fashioned outdoor sewage-type latrines. One of the first duties assigned to the unlucky ones was so-called real latrine duty. When you got your regular flushing toilets and whatnot, latrine duty was very simple. You could get about cleaning. But the old type — I don’t know how long we had it, but when we first moved in, it was open-air latrines. And once a week, it had to be pumped out. So people were assigned to the pumping detail. That was the worst latrine duty. It was really punishment latrine duty. But that’s the kind of area that the artillery [had] moved into.
[The living quarters] was regular. The huts were ready. Each hut had about fifteen of us to a hut. There were two stoves, two wood stoves, charcoal stoves. Although at that point we didn’t need it. When winter came, we had to have it. But in the April, May that we arrived, at Shelby, there was no need for stoves. But the huts were ready.
Basic training was strictly getting in condition. Exercise, marching, basic exercise, and forced marches. Really conditioning. Physical condition was the major part of basic training. We had orientation of rifles, and carbines, and pistols, in addition to your physical training. But only after basic training did we get into artillery training, where we were assigned different tasks.
I think I was on average, like everybody else. Soon enough, we were in good condition. We were in top physical condition within one month, I think, all of us were on the same boat. You know, army really knows how to physically train you, get prepared.
There were very little interaction with the officers. Little interaction between the higher level non-coms, first sergeant, buck sergeant, staff sergeant. In my case, in B Battery, you had first sergeant, staff sergeant, one was a quartermasters, one was the gun crew, and the rest were buck sergeants, four buck sergeants. So there was this group of non-coms, just a handful of non-coms in the artillery section. The rest were basically corporals or private first-class or just plain privates.
After a while, when we got assigned to our task as artillery men, I was assigned as a gunner corporal. Basically the deflection of the gun was determined by the gunner corporal. He was given a rank of corporal. That’s why it’s called gunner corporal. But [each] gun had one gunner corporal. You see, each battery had four guns.
We had three batteries, so there have twelve guns in the battalion. There was one headquarters. The headquarters were the fire direction center, where they charted out the lay of the land where the gun was placed, where the gun would fire. This was done on the headquarters in the fire direction center.
There was a group called the forward observers, who was the group that went — in our 442nd case, these forward observers went with the infantry. You see, the 442nd [Regimental] Combat Team was a unique concept at that time.
The regular army system was, you had a regiment of infantry who were on their own, basically, and they were supported by the artillery of the division, but they did not work hand [in] hand like the 442nd did. In the normal system at that time, the infantry group relied on their group artillery for fire support. But their mission — so-called, by the book. When the infantry was engaged, artillery would be assigned to support them, and the forward observers of that artillery group did not go with the infantry attacking squad. They stayed behind five hundred yards, in some cases, up on the mountainside, and communicated with the infantry through radio or through the wire. The fire direction was given by the infantry group to the forward observers who were safely back in the distance.
But in the case of the 442nd, the forward observers was with the attacking squad of the infantry. [It was set up this way] because the combat team was formed as a unit. The 442nd was formed as an assigned group of infantry, assigned group of artillery, an assigned group of engineers, to work as a team. That was an unusual concept at that time. I think because of the success of the 442nd, I think other commanders must have, got the idea to tie up. But, the concept of a combat team was very unusual at that time.
By the time we went overseas, the reputation of the 442nd had already gone ahead of us in terms of the capacity to do certain things in the field.
[We] started off with field exercises. We were learning how to set the gun, get the gun emplacement, fire at a certain target, how to determine the target. This took two or three months.
Thereafter, we then got into maneuvers with the 3rd Army or the 69th Division within the Camp Shelby area. But maneuvering came in after we had more or less become familiarized with whatever we were supposed to be doing.
During the maneuvers, in the case of the infantry, the 442nd was a regiment, 69th Division was a division, three times the size of the 442nd. But we were engaged in maneuvers. Maneuvering was, we would go out into the field, and at a given time, usually on a Sunday, it would be announced that beginning from — I think from six o’clock, it was what we call tactical.
The conditions would be wartime, warfront conditions. In other words, no cigarette smoking, no lighting of the match in the dark, no fire, as if you were in the battlefront. You simulated and lived under conditions from six o’clock Sunday to Thursday. All of the conditions were as if you were in warfront.
Thursday afternoon, six o’clock, it became off. For Thursday, Friday, Saturday, you would have three days of evaluation by the higher-ups, and we had time to do maintenance work on guns and pig hunting.
I don’t know if you heard about the pig hunting.
Maneuvers were done in the wilds of Louisiana. When we first went out there into all this shrub oak area, where we hardly ever saw houses and whatnot, we discovered that there was all these juicy pigs running around, hundred-pound pigs and wild all over. Every day we’d be down there, [not] anybody caring for them. We thought they were wild. So the moment six o’clock Thursday came, every battery of our artillery battalion had somebody who knew how to clean the pig. So we catch it, cook it, whatever, barbecue pig.
One month after we had been doing that, the word came down that the farmers in the area saying, they’re complaining because they’re missing some pigs. So word came down that, “Are you folks responsible?” “Oh, no, no, no.” We disclaimed any responsibility.
But from thereon, what we would do is we would dig a hole first, make sure that we have sump. Clean the pig and cover up the sump completely. Then we would not leave the carcass of the pig out. We would cut up the carcass into several pieces so that whatever we’re buying, as if we bought them from a nearby town or someplace and having a barbecue. But our understanding is that in Louisiana, after our maneuvers, when we had left, the government had to pay the farmers an X number of dollars for loss of pigs.
Katsugo Miho's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Katsugo Miho.