A GLIMPSE OF MY LIFE
By Dick Hamada, a WWII MIS veteran with OSS
On January 16, 1922, Shigemi* Hamada became the third offspring of a Hamakua plantation worker, a carpenter by trade, named Tokuichi Hamada. My Dad emigrated to the Island of Hawaii, from Hiroshima Ken (Prefecture), Japan as a contract employee May 4, 18 89. As a carpenter, he built many homes for the Hamakua Sugar Plantation laborers.
My Mother, Shige Yoshino emigrated to Hawaii from Hiroshima Ken May 4, 1893 as a picture bride, after my Dad established his foothold in the Sugar Plantation.I had four siblings. An older brother Tokumi and sister Ayako and two younger sisters, Asako and Shizuka. Mother did the laundry for the Filipino laborers. I recall tending the open fire under a large galvanize tub for boiling soiled clothing and help taking out the hot boiling clothes for Mother . She also made raincoats, trousers and jackets for them.
It was a daily task to walk in rain or sun to attend Kukuihaele School, the Japanese Language School (Nihongo Gakko) and to return home barely in time for dinner. The schools were situated some 4 miles away from home, a short distance from the famous lookout point of Waipio Valley.
After completing my intermediate school, I attended the Honokaa High School situated some six miles away in the opposite direction (Towards Hilo).During my sophomore year, I transferred to McKinley High School, in Honolulu, where some three thousand students were enrolled. It was overwhelming to see so many students enrolled. During the summer months, I was employed by the Sugar Plantation as a sugar cane worker, weeding the rows of young sugar cane. The students were paid anywhere from six cents to ten cents per hundred feet, depending on the density of the weed.
Our lunches were enjoyed by all, as we congregated in small groups and shared our morsels of food, (bento) our Mothers prepared for us.Graduating in 1939, I decided to follow my father’s footstep as a carpenter. Employed as an apprentice carpenter by Okita Contractor, I was paid a meager fifty cents a day, three dollars a week. A loaf of bread could be purchased for five (5) cents in those days.
Several years later, my brother, Tokumi and I were employed by the Pacific Naval Contractors, building naval barracks in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.On the morning of December 7, 1941, we were rudely awakened by thundering explosions and roaring sounds of many aircraft flying past our home in Moi’ili’ili, situated near the University of Hawaii. During the prewar days, the military held many maneuvers, except that morning everything sounded much more realistic and intense. Through my $1.98 telescope which I had purchased through a mail order house in the mainland, I gazed in awe at the flying aircrafts bearing the RED HINOMARU on the fuselage and the wing tips. I could almost see the smiling faces of the enemy pilots as they winged their way to drop their deadly cargoes at Pearl Harbor and Hickam Air Force Base. My brother and I took turns looking at the aircraft. I felt betrayed and now feared for the worse to come to all American Japanese. (isseis and niseis.) It was my ancestors attacking my country, the United States of America.
The radio announcer repeatedly kept yelling, "PEARL HARBOR IS UNDER ATTACK, THIS IS NOT A MANUEVER, PLEASE TAKE COVER." Those words kept ringing in my ear and I could hardly believe what I was seeing and hearing.After witnessing this attack, I destroyed my telescope in order not to be placed under suspicion as a spy. A great bellowing black and gray smoke rose from the distance in the direction of Pearl Harbor, also, where the thundering explosion seem to be originating. There were Ack, Ack (Anti-Aircraft) shells bursting in air, leaving many gray puffs of smoke all over the sky. My brother and I decided to walk to McCully District, where several anti-aircraft shells that failed to explode in air fell to the residential/business district and burst upon contact. We later learned that there were several fatalities and injuries from the exploding projectiles. Traffic was at a stand still with sirens screeching everywhere as fire trucks madly dashed toward Pearl Harbor. Honolulu was in a chaotic state. Washington Intermediate School was on fire, caused by anti-aircraft shells, but volunteers extinguished the fire before we arrived.
Later that day I witness a brand new Packard convertible riddled with many bullet holes and covered with blood being towed away. Apparently the car and occupants were strafed by the Japanese pilots.From this day on Martial Law was proclaimed and all auto head and tail lights were blacked out save for a small rectangular slit painted blue. No night driving was permitted, unless it was an emergency. All windows at home were painted black to prevent any internal light from leaking out. Gas and food were under ration.
My brother and I did not report to work on Monday, but on Tuesday we did. As we approached the main gate at Pearl Harbor, we noticed all workers of Japanese ancestry were picked out, surrounded by Marine guards armed with guns and bayonets fixed. All detainees had their identification badge ripped off their shirts and were marched double time under heavy marine guards towards John Roger’s Airport where several buses were parked. They were forced into the buses and driven to Honolulu, where they were released. Seeing this humiliating development, my brother and I decided to return home. From this day on, no Japanese was allowed into any of the Military bases.
A week later all employees (American Japanese Ancestry) barred from entry into Pearl Harbor were ordered to report to Red Hill where the Tripler General Hospital was under construction. All of our tools stored in Pearl Harbor before the attack were recovered and sent to Tripler General Hospital site. I was surprised that just a few of our tools were lost or misplaced.
On March 24, 1943, I volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and was shipped to Schoefield Barracks at Wahiawa, Hawaii. We were billeted in Tent City, issued only two blankets and folding cot. We were all chilled to the bones for it got very cold at night.
On March 28, 1943, volunteers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were given a farewell ceremony at the Iolani Palace ground where many dignitaries wished us luck, to do our best and to take care of ourselves, not realizing many of us were never to return home. Every soldier and officer was presented floral-paper lei by the Territory of Hawaii. To this date, I have retained the tag from the lei as a souvenir of the past.
On the day of our departure to the mainland the troop was transported in converted cattle cars and dropped at Iwilei, end of the track, about one half mile from pier 11 where our troop ship SS Matsonia was docked. Many of the physically smaller soldiers struggled carrying two heavily loaded duffle bags and some were forced to drag their bags. Seeing this, relatives, friends who were congregated across the street, crossed the street to assist the struggling soldiers.
Our quarters on board the troop ship SS Matsonia, located several decks below were extremely warm and muggy, so many of us left our bags below in our assigned quarters and took to the open deck under cover, in spite of the rain. There were several crap games going on below and I saw a lot of cash being exchanged among the half nude local boys who tolerated the heat.
Arriving at Long Beach, CA about five days later, we were transferred to a Pullman train. For many of us, it was the first time we had ridden a train. We were assigned a sleeping berth and the ride to Camp Shelby, Mississippi was very comfortable and enjoyed by all. Strumming ukuleles and group singing could be heard throughout the night.
I was assigned to HQ 3rd Battalion. My Platoon Leader was Sgt David MizuhoYoshida. All of our Non-Commission Officers were mainlanders and it was highly apparent that many of our local chaps did not get along with the mainland soldiers whom they nicknamed, "KOTONKS." Surprisingly, I had no difficulty getting along with any of the mainland soldiers.
After six weeks of intensive training, we completed many 24 miles forced marches, bivouac in the swamp country amidst the chiggers, snakes and slept, in the freezing weather. Water left in the helmets for washing and brushing our teeth in the morning were frozen solid. It got so cold at night that pup tents normally shared by two, were shared by four. We endured many hardship and now looked forward to our next training event, rifle firing at the rifle range.
My First Sgt Al Kariya, with whom I became very friendly, offered me a friendly wager. (No money involved) He offered me twenty points handicap, which I reluctantly accepted. After five days of continuous firing of our Garand rifle, (M-1) which had a kick of a mule, my right shoulder was bruised and aching. It was turning black and blue. I wrapped a towel around the butt of my rifle and kept firing. When all firing was completed much to my relief our scores were tallied and posted on the Company Bulletin Board. Sgt Kariya was shocked to learn that I could have given him twenty points and still outscore him. He asked me, "Where did you learn to shoot?" I meekly told him that I was on the high school rifle team. He took the humiliating loss like a gentleman and we became great friends. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to PFC.
During our training, PFC Toshio Higa, a dear friend of mine contracted Pneumonia and passed away. Being his closest friend, I was asked to escort his remains to Nashville, Tennessee for cremation. It was a pleasant train ride, but I was very apprehensive, for I had never traveled alone by myself. Fortunately, all travel arrangements were made by the Mortuary and everything worked out like clockwork. After the cremation was completed, Toshio’s Urn was delivered to my hotel room. With the urn in my presence, I could not sleep, so I took the Urn to the Front Desk and had them securely stored overnight. I slept very soundly after that. I safely returned to Camp Shelby and had PFC Toshio Higa’s remains sent home to his parents in Hawaii.
On July 1943, Dr. Daniel Buchanan, a Professor who taught in Japan before the WWII, Head of the Japan Desk-OSS (Office Of Strategic Services) in Washington, DC came to Camp Shelby, Mississippi seeking soldiers who could speak, read and write Japanese. Over 150 soldiers and Officers volunteered for this special mission. We were explicitly told that the mission we were volunteering for was more hazardous than combat and that many of us, if accepted may not return alive. It was earmarked as a one-way street. We were promised as much help from the American Forces, but there would be occasions when we would be required to live on the land on our own. It was mind boggling, but with that understanding, four Officers and nineteen enlisted personnel were selected by Dr. Buchanan after a very lengthy interview. This clandestine operation behind the enemy lines was to engage in espionage and counterespionage.
Dr. Buchanan was like a Father to us, giving each and every member a Zippo lighter with can of fuel, a hunting knife and multiple vitamin pills. He promised us that whatever we asked for would be provided to us, if within reason. After reaching Burma, I requested a .22 caliber pistol with a silencer and surprisingly, I was issued a pistol with a silencer.
On December 29, 1943, under Secret Order 210, we departed Camp Shelby under the cloak of darkness. We were specifically instructed not to say farewell to our friends and to report to the vicinity of the Post Exchange at 10 PM, where a truck was parked to take us to our new assignment.
Arriving at Camp McDowell in Naperville, Illinois on January 3, 1944, our group underwent intense training in communication. Learning the Morse code, sending and receiving messages. In the short period of time we became proficient enough to communicate by means of Morse code.
At the close of our communication training, eight enlisted men were removed for security reasons and another requested release for personal reasons. Our final count ended with four Officers and ten enlisted personnel.
On April 6, 1944 to August 10, 1944, the group was given a crash course in Japanese language with specific emphasis on Military terms, customs and the geography of the Japanese Islands. Our class at Camp Savage, Minnesota lasted 10 hours a day. Completing our training at the Military Intelligence Language School, we were granted a delayed route to our OSS facility in Newport Beach, California.
From August 27-31, 1944, we underwent intense physical training, swimming underwater and mental examinations. On September 1. 1944, our group was deployed to Toyon Bay Camp, Catalina Island (a former Boy Scout camp) situated some 40 miles away from Newport Beach on a torpedo boat.
Our intensified training consisted of survival training climbing mountains on the run, beach landing and infiltrating beaches heavily guarded by military sentries under total darkness. Hand to hand combat, use of all known weapons, demolitions of explosives, TNT, nitroglycerine, C-2 compound a very stable, easily molded explosive compound, land mines, booby traps and hand grenades.
On October 21, 1944, we departed for Miami Beach. We were ordered to draw our window shades of our Pullman occupied by only 14 members of our OSS group with military guards on both ends of the Pullman. It was the intent to maintain our movement a secret. All other cars were fully occupied by military and civilian passengers. Standing room only.
A day before arriving Miami, we were sidetracked overnight at Jacksonville, for a hurricane was about to hit Miami. The next day as we approached Miami, we saw something we had never seen in our lives. The streets were filled with yellow grapefruits, large trees uprooted, homes with huge chains anchoring the homes to the ground damaged, telephone and electric poles damaged, wires all over the streets.
On October 21 to 24, 1944 we went through more physical examinations and we were issued a complete set of uniform.
Departing Miami on October 25, 1944, we flew to Bermuda, Azores, Casablanca, Tripoli, Cairo, Iran and Karachi, India making several refueling stops along the way.
Arriving New Delhi, India on November 1, 1944 our Group was divided and assigned to three Groups.
Detachment 101 (Burma).
Lt. Jun Buto, Lt. Ralph Yempuku, Tom Baba, Fumio Kido, Shoichi Kurahashi, Calvin Tottori and Dick Hamada.
Detachment 202 (China)
Lt. Chick Ikeda, Sus Kazahaya, George Kobayashi, Tad Nagaki and Tak Tanabe.
Detachment 101 (New Delhi)
Capt. Dick Betsui and Wilbert Kishinami.
From November 11- 16, 1944.
Arriving Myitkyina, Burma, we were shipped to Taro, Burma for further training in jungle survival, learning cryptography and learning to speak the Burmese language.
Reporting to Bhamo, Burma, I was assigned my first mission behind the enemy lines. I flew on a single engine plane called the Love-1 to a small secret airfield behind the enemy lines. I was greeted by Chris Rubio, a radio operator, two squads of native Kachin Rangers and two coolies with pack mules. No sooner I unloaded my cargo of weapons, ammo and food supplies, the pilot sensing enemies close by attempted his fast get away. He made several attempts to fly out without success. On his third attempt he barely cleared the trees, clipping the top of trees, sending leaves in all directions and successfully left the small landing strip. We too, hurriedly packed our cargo and headed for high country where 2nd Bn consisting of 4 Americans, an Anglo Burmese Agents and about 250 Native Kachin Rangers awaited our arrival.
Our mission behind the Japanese lines was to gather military intelligence and to conduct guerrilla warfare, coordinate our combat missions with other Battalions to disrupt the enemy escape route to Thailand. My mission was to interrogate any captured prisoners and to translate any captured documents with military intelligence. All of our supplies, food, weapons, ammo and medical supplies were air dropped to us by parachutes. Food items such as rock salt, sugar and rice were free fall delivery. (No parachute)
After many months of hit and run engagements with the enemy, I was given permission to take three squads of native Kachin Rangers on a scouting expedition. The Kachin Rangers, many in their teens were barely taller than their rifles and every guerrilla had a sword called, "DAH," in a scabbard slung over his shoulder. Also, a colorful yarn woven pouch which they slung over their shoulder for ammunition and food.
The Ranger’s hatred for the enemy was intense, for many of the guerrilla’s parents were slaughtered by the Japanese soldiers. They were brave, loyal, cunning and knew the jungle like the palm of their hands. It was very comforting to have them in the battlefield with us. In spite of the all day scouting patrol we fail to find any enemy soldiers, but on the other hand we were glad to return home safely.
One day, our Rangers returned from an engagement with the enemy, killing a handful of enemy soldiers. I inquired how many enemy soldiers were killed? Without any hesitation, they stated, " 20." When they saw my facial expression of doubt, they quickly reached into their pouches and drew a total of 20 ears. From that day on I never doubted their claims. Subsequently our Commanding Officer of OSS Detachment 101, Col William Peers dispatched an order to cease mutilating the body of the dead enemies.
After months of hit and run activities, I fell ill with dysentery and malaria and was shipped to a field hospital. After my discharge from the hospital, I volunteered to drop supplies to our comrades fighting in the jungle. Feeling better and fully recovered I volunteered to return to the jungle with two other GIs.
My second mission was a parachute jump to another Battalion of Kachin Rangers and five American soldiers. I was entangled in large tree, ten feet from the ground, but fortunately friendly natives extricated me from my predicament.
Shortly after joining my new Bn, we got into a skirmish with the enemy and a Kachin Ranger was injured by enemy fire. We erected a crude bamboo table and lacking anesthesia Doc Edwards proceeded to search for the shrapnel from the soldier’s thigh. Three soldiers and I held the poor, screaming and squirming soldier while Doc probed deep into his wound. It was bleeding badly, I couldn’t stomach the ordeal so I excused myself and vomited my gut out. Feeling better I returned to assist the others. A short time later Doc located the shrapnel, removing it and handed the slug to the now sobbing soldier.
Our nightly report from all Combat Bn to HQ were coded messages of number of enemies killed and casualties sustained by our group. Invariably, our kill ratio was greater and we suffered very few deaths. Ratio of 30 to1 was not surprising.
One day we received supplies of food and ammunition by parachutes. Normally all of our supplies are received in one drop, but on this fatal day, the drop crew could not fulfill our needs in one trip, so about two hours later they returned with the free fall cargo. (no parachutes). Also their standard procedure was a buzz over the small field before commence dropping, but on this occasion they fail to buzz the field and proceeded dropping the free fall bags of sugar, rock salt and rice. As we witness the free fall cargo being released, we also noticed that there were pack mules grazing and feeding on the open field. We attempted to chase the animals away, but alas, we failed and three horses were killed. It was a frightening and devastating moment as we ran for cover, to the closest large tree. The bombs of food disintegrating upon contact, killing two of our Kachin Rangers.
During the monsoon season we were constantly infested with hungry leeches. While walking along the trail they would attach themselves to our clothing or body. They were able to pass through our shoelace hole, get in between our toes and neutralize the skin, making blood flow very freely. If one was not careful it would crawl into our penis and suck the blood, eventually making it impossible to urinate. Pulling the attached leech from ones body would tear the skin where they were feasting, resulting in heavy bleeding. The best method to remove the leeches was to apply heat from a cigarette to its body.
After months of guerrilla action, I once again was fell ill with dysentery and malaria and was shipped to a field hospital in Bhamo. After my recovery, I once again volunteered to fly over the enemy territory to drop provisions and supplies to my fellow Detachment 101 Bns battling behind the enemy lines.
Lt. Ralph Yempuku and I were sent to Rangoon on a British Landing craft, hoping to find the enemy forces there, but upon arrival, we found that the enemy had made their getaway to Thailand. No sooner we got there we were ordered to return to Bhamo immediately. Detachment 101 was in the process of closing down activity in Burma and we were to depart for Kunming, China (Detachment 202) on a truck convoy via the Burma Road.
Fumio Kido and I shared a jeep and we proceeded to Kunming, China. It rained a lot and at one point on the Burma Road, we were caught in a huge mudslide. Our jeep was swept to the edge of a cliff, only to stop just a few feet from the cliff. Had we been washed over we would not be able to survive the calamity.
Arriving at one of our rest camp along the Burma Road, we were ordered not to sleep in an open vehicle or sleep on the ground. For the past night, a man-eating tiger had visited the camp and killed a native. That night as we slept in a Land Rover we heard firing during the wee hours of the night and a tiger had visited our camp, but was frightened away by our sentries on duty.
Arriving Kunming we were sent to a parachute school. On the day our group was to parachute I was ordered to a mission to destroy a bridge in French-Indo-China. Our team gathered in the Briefing room where the French Miltary Attache’ gave us a detailed briefing. He ultimately stated that our mission was very difficult because the bridge was heavily guarded by the Japanese forces and even after successfully destroying the bridge we would have to cross the flooded river. It was during the monsoon season and the river was heavily flooded. Thirdly, in order to make our getaway, we would have to penetrate areas occupied by the Chinese Bandits before we could receive any help from the Allied Forces. On the night before we were to jump, the Captain and I took a plane ride to reconnoiter the bridge. Our findings were as the French Military Attache’ had stated, " A very difficult mission."
On the day we were scheduled to jump in, the second Atomic bomb was dropped into Nagasaki, Japan. Our mission was put on hold and the Captain and I were ordered to return to Kunming immediately. Atomic bomb was dropped into Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and into Nagasaki on Aug 9, 1945.
The following Mercy missions were established: Operation Magpie to Peking, Operation Duck to Weishien, Operation Flamingo to Harbin, Operation Cardinal to Mukden, Operation Sparrow to Shanghai, Operation Quail to Hanoi, Operation Pigeon to Hainan Island, Operation Raven to Laos and Operation Seagull to Hankow.
I was assigned to Operation Magpie, consisting of: Maj Ray Nichols, Capt Edmund Carpenter II, Lt. Fontaine Jarman Jr., Lt Malhon Perkins Jr., T/5 Nestor Jacot, Cpl Melvin Richter and Sgt. Dick Hamada.
On August 15, 1945, Operation Magpie flew to Hsian, China, our jump-off point.
On August 17, 1945, we received our orders to proceed to Peking, China. Before we could leave we were tasked with loading the B-24 Bomber with cases of cigarette, bales of blankets and medical supplies. At 1530 hours, we taxied down the airstrip, because of the heavy load our team members were ordered to stand in the bomb bay to balance the aircraft. The bomb bay doors could not be fully secured due to the excessive cargo load during the take-off, we were showered with dust and pebbles.
At 1700 hrs, we were instructed to don our parachutes and to position ourselves around the opening of the belly-gun turret, which was removed to facilitate our jump. Lt. Fontaine Jarman Jr. and I were the only ones who had attended Jump school and had made previous jumps. The Jump Master after checking our ‘chutes and our static lines secured to the aircraft, gave the team a final instruction on how to manipulate the chute during our descent.
The Jump Master proceeded to dump leaflets, which was to inform the Japanese forces that our team was on a Mission of Mercy. Surprisingly the leaflets fluttered about inside the aircraft, striking us in the face like bats flying about aimlessly. I later found out that the Japanese forces did not recover any of the leaflets. Fortunately, I kept one and was able to show the Japanese Command my copy.
On the second run, the Jump Master commanded us to jump. Lt. Jarman Jr. was the first to leave, while I took to the rear. Descending, I counted 6 chutes. I also noticed several enemy fighter planes taxing about the field, but none made any attempt to challenge us. Several squads of Japanese soldiers attempted to encircle our Mercy team. All members landed safely and none sustained any injury.
As we gathered our chutes a shot was fired at us. We all hit the deck and moments later stood up to resume our chute gathering. On the third run the crew of the B-24 bomber commenced dropping the cargo of cigarettes, bales of blanket and medical supply.
Shortly after our safe landing a flat bed truck loaded with a squad of soldiers under the command of a Lt., bearing a white flag approached us. The Japanese Officer inquired "What is the meaning of this?" Major Nichols spoke, " The war is over and we are here to get the prisoners of war." I interpreted the statement. The Japanese Lt. sarcastically stated, "The war is not over yet, " he then ordered, Maj. Nichols, Lt. Perkins and me unto the truck. "I will take you to my HQ." On the way to his HQ I inquired if his soldiers would assist us gather the cargo strewn from one end of the airstrip to the other. To my request, he sarcastically shouted, "Japanese soldiers do not work for the Americans." I politely inquired if coolies were available to which he stated that there may be some coolies available.
Arriving his HQ, we were introduced to a Maj. Officer of the Day. Maj. Nichols told the Japanese Officer, that the war was over and we are here to get our prisoners. I interpreted his statement. The Japanese officer stated, "The war is not over yet, please wait for General Takahashi’s arrival."
During our wait, we were served tea. In the mean time, I asked the O.D. if his soldiers would be kind enough to assist us gather the cargo. He immediately ordered our escorting Lt. to take his men out there and gather the cargo.
I could clearly see the Lt.’s facial expression was anger. He had lost face after making the statement moments ago about Japanese soldiers do not work for the American. Minutes later several trucks loaded with our cargo arrive at the HQ accompanied by the rest of the team members.
General Takahashi arrived. After the formal introduction he was also told that the war was over and that we were here to get the American and Allied prisoners of war. Maj. Nichols asked when we will be able to see the prisoners. General Takahashi apologized and request for our patience. He told us that in a few days we would be able to see the prisoners. With this apology he commented on his trip to New York before the war. He was impressed with the many tall buildings and stated that he had enjoyed the trip to New York. He once again assured the team that we would be able to see the prisoners in a day or two. He stated, "You all must be tired. I have arranged quarters at the Wagon-Lits Hotel."
As our Mercy team proceeded to depart the airfield led by General Takahashi a shot was fired. The General immediately got out off his limousine and scanned the area. As far as our eyes could see soldiers in the neighborhood stood at attention. It was getting dark. General Takahashi told us, "If you had parachuted now, you all would have been killed," He cautioned us not to walk out of the hotel without his two assigned gendarmes.
Ed Jacot our radio operator and I, his assistant, were not yet done for the day. With the two gendarmes who accompanied us across the street from the hotel, they watched our every move as we set up radio contact with our HQ in Kunming informing them that the Mercy team had landed safely, but have not made contact with the prisoners of war.
General Takahashi, Commander of the Peking Area Command, awaited an Order from his Supreme HQ in Nanking, (Saiko Shireikan) causing two days of delay. During the delay, Maj Nichols demanded that the prisoners be released and on the 20th some 50 British, Australians and American prisoners were released. Four of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders who were held in secrecy as War Criminals were not to be released, but when word got to the Maj.Nichols that they were still held in prison, he demanded that they also be release to our custody. Four of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders were as follows: Co-pilot Lt. Robert Hite, Navigator Lt. Chase Nielsen, Navigator Lt. George Barr and Bombardier Cpl. Jacob DeShazer. Maj Nichol’s insistent demands had paid off. Lt. George Barr was too ill and weak and had to be carried on a stretcher. Another two weeks in the prison camp would have been fatal for Lt. Barr.
All the prisoners were transported to the Wagon-Lits Hotel where the rescue team was staying.
One Morning as Maj Nichols stood looking out of his hotel room, a sniper took a shot at him and we heard the whining shot that ricocheted off the concrete wall.He came running into our room, where three of us enlisted were chatting, "Did you hear the shot?" We didn’t say a word.
On the night before the repatriated prisoners were to be shipped out to their respective Commands, our Rescue team gave them a party. That night, there were praises and thanks echoing the banquet hall and much embracing and hand shaking going about. I was very grateful that our rescue mission was a huge success. An American prisoner told me that a month before our mission, some 100 American prisoners were shipped out to destination unknown.
Several weeks later, I was stricken with Yellow Jaundice, Malaria and was air shipped to a hospital some 800 miles away.
After my discharge from the hospital, Sgt. Fumio Kido and I boarded the troop ship, Gen Adolphus Washington Greely, at Calcutta, India on November 8, 1945 and after several stops we arrived in New York on December 5, 1945.
On January 3, 1946, General Macgruder presented Fumio Kido and me the Soldiers Medal at the OSS HQ in Washington, DC. Fumio Kido parachuted into Mukden, Manchuria under, " Operation Cardinal" to rescue General Wainwright and some 1600 prisoners of war from the Hoten Prison Camp.
Returned to Honolulu on January 22, 1946 ‘and three days later I received my Honorable Discharge from the Army.
After more than 55 years, I was able to locate and get in touch with Reverend Jacob DeShazer of Salem, Oregon, who dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel in Japan. Mr. Chase Nielsen of Brigham City, Utah and Robert Hite from Camden, Arizona. Mr. George Barr expired in July 12, 1967.
On May 10-13, 2002, I was invited to attend their 59th Doolittle Tokyo Raiders reunion held at Fresno, California, where we met for the first time after our team rescued them on August 20, 1945, over half a century ago.
On May 21, 2002, 17 members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders and their spouses were invited by The Disney Studio to attend the Movie Premiere, " Pearl Harbor," held on the Aircraft Carrier, USS Stennis at Pearl Harbor.
A special Memorial service was held at Punchbowl National Cemetery in honor of Sgt. Harold Spatz, member of the Doolittle Tokyo Raider, who was captured on October 12, 1942 and executed by the Japanese military as War Criminal and buried here at Punchbowl National Cemetery, (Lt. Dean E. Hallmark and Lt. William G. Farrow who were also captured and executed on October 12, 1942 are inurned at Arlington National Cemetery. I was responsible to have Governor Ben Cayetano, Proclaim May 18 to 25, 2001 as, "The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Days."
After some 57+ years, I have located three surviving members of our rescue team, "Operation Magpie." They are as follows: Lt. Fontaine Jarman Jr., Captain Edmund Carpenter II and Tec 5 Edgard Jacot. We have been invited to attend the 61st Doolittle Tokyo Raiders reunion on April 15 to 19, 2003, which is scheduled to be held in conjunction with the dedication of, "The James Doolittle Air and Space Museum," at Travis AFB, Fairfield, California.
After my Discharge from the Army, I attended a watch making school in Kansas City, Missouri, under the G.I. Bill. I worked at the Egholm Jewelry store in Honolulu, but after a few years gave up that trade for I suffered severe head ache using the magnifying glasses.
Worked for the Navy as an instrument maker and Fire control mechanic and in 1960 was promoted to Planner and estimator Electronic, Fire Control. In February 28, 1978, I retired as a Supervisor, Electronic and Fire Control Planner and Estimator.
My father Tokuichi Hamada, strickened with sclerosis of the liver, was told that he had only two months to live and his last wish was to return to Japan to see his parents before he die. We granted him his last wish. He died in Hiroshima on December 12, 1939.
My mother Shige Hamada, volunteered for the Red Cross and spent many hours sewing slippers for the injured and hospitalized veterans. She was naturalized and earned her American Citizenship on December 17, 1954 and died on July 7, 1984 in San Diego, CA.
I am very grateful for her many sacrifices she made for me and supported my actions against the enemy, Japan. Receiving a banner with a lone star, signifying a son in the Military, she proudly displayed the banner on the window for all to see.
My hobby was Amateur Radio. I was a Ham Operator for thirty two years and have communicated with Hams from many foreign countries as well as the Continental US and enjoyed the wonders of the electronics.
One sad note: I found out after the war, Frank Kamikawa, of 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who replaced me when I volunteered for OSS, was killed in the European Theater trying to disarm a land mine. When Reverend Yamada drove to Frank’s death site, his jeep ran over a mine and his jeep destroyed, his driver killed and he was critically injured.
*My name was legalized to Dick Shigemi Hamada in 1941 by an Attorney.
During my military career, I was awarded the following:
l. Good Conduct Medal as member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team
2. Two Bronze Star as member of OSS-Detachment 101.
3. Presidential Citation as member of OSS-Detachment 101.
4. Soldiers Medal for the rescue of the American and Allied Prisoners, including
four of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. OSS-Detachment 202.
5. Special Breast Order by President Chiang Cheng-Chang of the National
Government Republic of China.