Discover Nikkei Logo

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/1017/

Appearance vs. Combat Effectiveness

In the military there’s a very, very strong belief that if you polish your shoes and press your pants and salute right and you’re clean, then you’re a good combat soldier. And so for the military, appearance in a sense is related to combat effectiveness. And nothing could be further from the truth. See? The 100th is the last…is the worst looking outfit, if you’re going to look at it from appearance, they’re the wrong height, they’re the wrong everything.

Now if you take the boys the islands, it’s even worse, cause over half the men in my platoon never wore shoes before, cause they were from a plantation. So they wouldn’t tie their shoelaces. See? Cause the feet hurt, I mean they really hurt, see. The other thing is that, since they didn’t tie their shoelaces, they didn’t blouse their pants inside their shoes or put leggings on. The other things too, it’s hot and humid in Shelby and so they wore their shirttails out like Hawaiian style, like I’m wearing now, see? And the other things is that they wouldn’t get a haircut, see?

So now I’ve got a crew that I’m trying to make get haircuts, put their shirttail in and tie their shoelaces and that’s almost an impossible task you know, it’s 44 against 1, you know and now trying to train a whole company I got a 180 of them, 190 of them you know, rebelling. And, sure I could get a few NCOs to do it and what not but I never succeeded in ever getting them properly “groomed” shall we say military style. But when I got in combat, I learned that those values are meaningless. That, that has no relationship to whether a man is combat effective.


100th Infantry Battalion 442nd Regimental Combat Team armed forces military United States Army World War II

Date: August 28, 1995

Location: California, US

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Colonel Young Oak Kim (U.S. Army Ret.) was a decorated combat veteran as a member of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II and a respected community leader. He was born in 1919 in Los Angeles, CA to Korean immigrants.

Following the outbreak of war, he was assigned to the “all-Nisei” 100th as a young officer, but was given a chance for reassignment because the common belief was that Koreans and Japanese did not get along. He rejected the offer stating that they were all Americans. A natural leader with keen instincts in the field, Colonel Kim’s battlefield exploits are near legendary.

Colonel Kim continued to serve his country in the Korean War where he became the first minority to command an Army combat battalion. He retired from the Army in 1972. He was awarded 19 medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts, and the French Croix de Guerre.

Later in life, Colonel Kim served the Asian American community by helping to found the Go For Broke Educational Foundation, the Japanese American National Museum, the Korean Health, Education, Information and Research Center and the Korean American Coalition among others. He died from cancer on December 29, 2005 at the age of 86. (August 8, 2008)

Robert Katayama
en
ja
es
pt
Robert Katayama

Being ordered to keep a diary that was later confiscated, ostensibly by the FBI

Hawaiian Nisei who served in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

en
ja
es
pt
Yuri Kochiyama
en
ja
es
pt
Yuri Kochiyama

The day Pearl Harbor was bombed

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

en
ja
es
pt
Yuri Kochiyama
en
ja
es
pt
Yuri Kochiyama

Father as prisoner of war in hospital

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

en
ja
es
pt
Yuri Kochiyama
en
ja
es
pt
Yuri Kochiyama

Mr. Finch, godfather of the 442nd

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

en
ja
es
pt
Grayce Ritsu Kaneda Uyehara
en
ja
es
pt
Grayce Ritsu Kaneda Uyehara

Importance of education in achieving redress for incarceration

(1919-2014) Activist for civil rights and redress for World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans.

en
ja
es
pt
Wakako Nakamura Yamauchi
en
ja
es
pt
Wakako Nakamura Yamauchi

Her experience as a Japanese-American schoolchild in Oceanside, California, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor

(1924-2018) Artist and playwright.

en
ja
es
pt
Roy H. Matsumoto
en
ja
es
pt
Roy H. Matsumoto

Finding his relative among Japanese prisoners

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

en
ja
es
pt
Richard Kosaki
en
ja
es
pt
Richard Kosaki

442 soldiers visiting U.S. concentration camps

(b. 1924) Political scientist, educator, and administrator from Hawai`i

en
ja
es
pt
Richard Kosaki
en
ja
es
pt
Richard Kosaki

Teaching at the military language school during World War II

(b. 1924) Political scientist, educator, and administrator from Hawai`i

en
ja
es
pt
Richard Kosaki
en
ja
es
pt
Richard Kosaki

Devastation in Tokyo after World War II

(b. 1924) Political scientist, educator, and administrator from Hawai`i

en
ja
es
pt
Richard Kosaki
en
ja
es
pt
Richard Kosaki

Change in attitudes after World War II

(b. 1924) Political scientist, educator, and administrator from Hawai`i

en
ja
es
pt
Art Shibayama
en
ja
es
pt
Art Shibayama

Family's deportation from Peru to U.S. after the bombing of Pearl Harbor

(1930-2018) Nisei born in Peru. Taken to the United States during WWII.

en
ja
es
pt
Roger Shimomura
en
ja
es
pt
Roger Shimomura

Dealing with racism within army unit in Korea

(b. 1939) Japanese American painter, printmaker & professor

en
ja
es
pt
Frank Yamasaki
en
ja
es
pt
Frank Yamasaki

Loss of happy-go-lucky adolescence in Puyallup Assembly Center

(b. 1923) Nisei from Washington. Resisted draft during WWII.

en
ja
es
pt
Frank Yamasaki
en
ja
es
pt
Frank Yamasaki

Memories of dusty conditions at Minidoka incarceration camp

(b. 1923) Nisei from Washington. Resisted draft during WWII.

en
ja
es
pt

Discover Nikkei Updates

NIKKEI CHRONICLES #13
Nikkei Names 2: Grace, Graça, Graciela, Megumi?
What’s in a name? Share the story of your name with our community. Submissions now open!
NIMA VOICES
Episode 16
June 25 (US) | June 26 (Japan)
Featured Nima:
Stan Kirk
Guest Host:
Masumi Izumi
PROJECT UPDATES
NEW SITE DESIGN
See exciting new changes to Discover Nikkei. Find out what’s new and what’s coming soon!