Arthur K. Nishimoto-World War ll

As a lifelong U.S. citizen of Japanese ancestry, Arthur experienced the challenge that faced that faced this group of people during the war years. Yet, in spite of the prejudice and bigotry, he along with many others volunteered for duty. He was assigned to the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This group was com­posed of Japanese-Americans who fought with honor in the European Theater:

During our training there were the inevitable few American soldiers (white Americans) who screamed to the high heavens about the “damned Japs.” As surely as one of them opened his mouth, he found a hard brown fist in it. For the one thing we would not tolerate was to be called “Japs.” We lived as Americans, thought as Americans, had traveled thousands of miles to fight for our county, and we asked to be treated as equals.

During the latter part of October and first week of November our “Mormon Boys” decided to take leave to Salt Lake City for a visit since none of us had been there before. We left for our “mission.” There were several in our group who wanted to be baptized at the Tabernacle. We were housed by members we had known when they were serving as missionar­ies in the Hawaiian Islands. We were welcomed and pleasantly surprised by their kind and gracious hospitality. Our short duration for a week or so was filled with interesting, joyous, and spiritual activities.

Roy Tsuya for instance won the “grand prize” when he and Wuta Terazawa, a former missionary who had served in Hawaii, decided to be married only a few hours after they met. It was “love at first sight,” according to Roy and Wuta. Without question they knew it was right and were married “for time and for all eternity” in the Salt Lake Temple. He told me,

“it was nine days after we met, we were married on Thursday, November 4, 1943, at the Salt Lal<:e Temple by Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Council of Twelve.”

I arrived in Salt Lake City a few days after they were mar­ried, and they met me at the Union Station with Wuta flashing me her wedding ring. I thought it was a joke because before the boys left, I had made arrangements for all of us to be housed at Wuta’s home. Well, I soon found that it was for real. They have now been married for sixty years since that miraculous occasion.

Another wonderful spiritual experience we enjoyed was when Tommy Horikami, Ramon Wasano, Tsugio Watanable, and Tetsuo Yanagida were baptized at the Tabernacle during our short stay there.

I had a most enjoyable and memorable time too. Someone had arranged for me to receive my patriarchal blessing from the Patriarch to the Church, Patriarch Joseph F. Smith. Soon after that, I was ushered into President George Albert Smith’s (President of the Quorum of the Twelve) office, who conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained me to the office of elder. I could not have been a happier young man, for I knew what my immediate future would be. I was going into combat, and I needed the blessings of the priesthood.

While there, several of us were invited to Emma Lucy Gates Bowen’s home, wife of Apostle Albert E. Bowen of the Council of Twelve, for brunch. What a lovely and gracious hostess she was. Not only did she feed us well, but she also sang and entertained us with her beautiful voice. She was Utah’s beloved songstress and a granddaughter of President Brigham Young.

We all had a most wonderful leave and departed for our camp in Mississippi.

On June 26, 1944, we went into our initial combat. The objective was to overtake the city of Belvedere. WE met fierce enemy resistance, but finally were able to gain victory. The battle of Velvedere was an outstanding American victory in the Rome to the Arno River campaign. That was my “baptism by fire.” The next battle was among all days on July 4, 1944, for Hill 140, a major German stronghold well entrenched on top of the hill looking down at us. Prior to attacking Hill 140, we were passing through a little village and were resting along-side the road when we heard enemy jeeps approaching us. We could not believe our eyes when we saw three jeeps with approximately a dozen German soldiers coming directly where we were. We immediately hid ourselves alongside the road, and when the first jeep came close to us, Sergeant Fred Ida who was at the head of the column halted them, and the rest of us jumped out on the road with our guns fixed on them. All three jeeps came to a screeching stop. The soldiers were alarmed that we were there. They perhaps thought the village was not occupied by the Americans. They immediately put their hands up to surrender, but one of them held a machine pistol in his hand as he raised it, and another jumped out of one of the jeeps and tried to make a run for it and that signaled us to open fire. I don’t remember how many were killed, but we did take those that were alive as prisoners.

I well remember one of the German soldiers who was shot was wounded severely. It was my first real close encounter with the enemy. Seeing him wounded and suffering, with sympathy in my heart, I thought I would put him out of his misery by one last bullet. My weapon was a .45-caliber submachine gun, and I did not want to use such a heavy weapon, so I asked one of the men to lend me his .30-caliber Ml rifle. I took careful aim standing above him and was about to pull the trigger when all of a sudden a strong feeling came over me with the thought: who am I to judge whether I should put him out of his misery or not. I could not pull the trigger. He soon died. I definitely learned a great lesson.

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