Spokane’s Lost Battalion Veteran Remembers The War

This morning’s front page story in Spokane, Washington’s local paper, The Spokesman-Review, is about Fred Shiosaki, a Japanese-American who served in the Lost Battalion, which will be featured in Episode 5 of Ken Burn’s The War on PBS tomorrow evening. The links include audio interviews of Mr. Shiosaki, and the site’s home page (on 29 Sep 2007, only) includes a photograph of the veteran:

Shiosaki was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 3rd Battalion, Company K, which spent a week on a wooded ridge in northern France trying to break through to the Lost Battalion, a unit from Texas that was surrounded by German troops. He was wounded by shrapnel – not seriously, he adds, but enough for a Purple Heart and five points towards his discharge – and many of his unit were killed. Scenes of the casualties in the documentary might jog some unpleasant memories.

“I know I saw them get killed but I can’t remember anything about it,” the 83-year-old said this week in an interview.

Unlike many Japanese-Americans who were relocated to interment camps, Spokane’s “enemy aliens” were not, probably because the city is located so far from the Pacific Coast; thus they were not considered such a “threat.” Spokane has a good-sized Japanese-American population with a proud, celebrated heritage, which directly or indirectly influences most Spokanites today, including myself. Besides my having several good friends and co-workers of Japanese descent, my sister and her children retain a Japanese surname legally taken by my ex-brother-in-law, in honor of the Japanese stepfather who raised him.

The Spokesman-Review archives most of its articles into pay-per-view format after only one day, so read it now! You can also purchase a month-long online subscription for only $7 here, which will give you access to all portions of their website.

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