By Curtis Narimatsu
John Huston’sÂ “The Battle of San Pietro”
Huston filmed on location in Italy w/the 36th Division between December 1943 &Â February 1944.Â Ernie Pyle’s most famous column, “The Death of Captain Waskow,”Â was penned during this San Pietro campaign/battle.Â As a retrospective said, “ThisÂ is what less accurate representations of infantry warfare neglect:Â Not death, butÂ the dead and their eloquently unspeakable presence.Â Killing people doesn’t meanÂ that they go away.Â The physical bodies stay right there, dead, yet in imaginationÂ so alive, to be lugged around, to be worked with, to be talked about, until GravesÂ Registration gets them out of sight.Â Huston and Pyle both knew this, and theirÂ extraordinary representations of the Texas 36th Division at San Pietro are enrichedÂ by that knowledge.”Â Reality check, you/our fellow/sister 3rd generation [sansei]Â Japanese Americans — our fathers joined the Army because their friends went andÂ it was cool [early] or they were drafted 1944 [late].Â After all, at age 18, noÂ political awareness seeps in to a hormonal teenage boy.Â But at age 18, when youÂ experience nose to nose the obscenity of war/carnage, the dead keep talking toÂ you Â â€” the ghosts are real, just as Huston/Pyle experienced them.Pyle even wasÂ maligned for having a death wish, and die early he did!!Â Pyle is buried at Punchbowl,Â the most realistic scribe of WWII.Â PTSD/postwar alcoholism, the impact on family life.Â Even the tightest/most inseparableÂ unit in military history, our 442 [my dad Toshi was Silver Star awardee, 2nd Batt.Â infantry, for saving lives, not killing], is strewn w/veterans who scream in the middleÂ of the night [yes, gang, our mamas/aunties know all about these].Â With noÂ physically active stress reducers, Mr. Jordan stands in the background, whispering,Â “It’s time to go, Isamu.”Â Nightmares sneak back.Â Our greatest WWII hero, AudieÂ Murphy, drank too much, and then went to sleep in the garage with a loaded pistolÂ under the pillow, in his vain attempt to protect himself from the onslaught of theÂ faceless Germans who attacked him nightly.Â Support/comfort Â â€” brothers in arms.Â Khaldun noted back in the 1300sÂ that men fight for their buddies, not for camels,Â just as William Manchester reiterated this in the 1970s in his book, “Goodbye,Â Darkness,” about the Pacific War.Â Life in the barracks/on the battlefield buildÂ camaraderie/team spirit.Â Yikes, even racism vs. 442/Buffalo soldiers helpedÂ develop collective morale â€” after all, there is nothing like shared hardship toÂ bring people/folks together, gang!!
The British exemplar/model 1914-1916 show females scornfully bestowingÂ white feathers on no-no males who avoid military service, while rewardingÂ heroes in uniform w/great sex [favors].Â But again, focusing on gung-hoÂ heroics misses a huge wallop of the dilemma/difficulty of making choices,Â especially when a very young man doesn’t know the right answers in advanceÂ [as we old farts might know].
As to the Holocaust, certainly our 442 Dachau liberators never imagined thatÂ Hitler’s Final SolutionÂ would include using Norwegian whale processing mega-procedures on people.Â Even Stalin killed by neglect/bullets instead ofÂ industrial ovens!!Â Â Pogrom worse by orders of magnitude than anything aÂ censored Hollywood movie could ever imagine, thence the flash of theÂ Deity â€” “There but for the Grace of God I go.”Â Yes, unlike our Nikkei/Japanese Americans, where collaboration w/internment authorities led toÂ positive community results [after all, we live in America, not Hitler’sÂ Nazi Germany], for the Jews collaboration led to extermination/ethnicÂ cleansing, whereas resistance led to survival.Â Apples/oranges in theÂ most extreme senses.
No, talking heads like Wil/J Roy Souza are turn-offs for a film on theÂ horror of war.Â Images are critical/consecratedÂ â€” a Martin Scorsese/Stanley Kubrick fit the bill.Â Â Â â€” Curt
Korean War’s Inchon, our U.S. Marines planned it, but Army’s Gen. Douglas MacArthurÂ took the credit.Â Our Marines got even vs. MacArthur by erecting signs saying, “Brought toÂ you courtesy of the 7th Marines,” or whomever, as Mac drove into Seoul with his bulgingÂ press corps.Â On the other hand, Gen. Matthew Ridgway did tons to restore faith andÂ confidence in the American soldier, and one of the ways he did it was revolutionary â€”Â he actually visited the front for purposes other than press conferences!! Â â€” Â Love always, Curt
Wounded In Action
Camaraderie/moraleÂ are high [small unit cohesion] when brothers in arms knowÂ each other.Â When infamous Gen. Dahlquist ran roughshod over his 442nd soldiers,Â the 442 command structure accomplished the missionsÂ its own way,Â its methodsÂ having worked successfully.Â In this sense, the 442/100th deserve more credit thanÂ they get, because subordinates [Hanley/Lovell/Young Oak Kim/etc.] reinterpreted ordersÂ to ensure mission accomplishment.Â Official unit histories do not log such victoriesÂ since such record undermines the notion that disciplined soldiers obey blindly orders.Â I beg to correct the record.Â Disciplined soldiers accomplish missions!!Â Â Huge difference!! â€”Â Love everlasting, Curt