Book Ignores The 100th’s Bravery
Wednesday - October 31, 2007
A 588-page book on the WWII Italy invasion with only a 10-word mention of the AJA 100th Infantry Battalion from Hawaii? Talk about a literary oversight!
That’s Rick Atkinson’s otherwise spectacular The Day of Battle.
The mention is on Page 402. It says “newcomers” to the National Guard 34th Division attacking Cassino were men of the 100th. Five months together in combat and they are newcomers? Also, Atkinson leaves the 100th out of the index. Merda!
Caserta, the Volturno and Rapido river crossings, Cassino, Anzio, the road to Rome and not a mention of the 100th up front.
No acknowledgement that the 100th did the initial bloody slogging at Cassino long before waves of bombers obliterated the abbey and the town below. If you didn’t know our history you’d think the 100th - at 1,400 men the largest battalion in the invasion - was some minor accouterment of the Red Bull Division.
No mention of the segregation. Atkinson missed all of Hawaii’s stories. Like the Volturno River crossing scouted by the 100th. That’s where company commander (later state senator) Sakae Takahashi felt Lt.(later U.S. senator) Spark Matsunaga had a failure of courage that would poison their political relationship in Hawaii until both men died.
But every man of the 100th will nod agreement on this Atkinson observation: “Italy would break their backs, their bones, and nearly their spirits. But first it would break their hearts, and that began north of the Volturno, where the terrain steepened, the weather worsened and the enemy stiffened.”
Atkinson fails to mention that the 100th won the right to be first into Rome on Highway 7. The AJAs were ordered to stand aside six miles from the Eternal City and let the haole 88th Division recon troop and the 1st Special Service Forces have the honor of rolling in to applause and kisses.
He writes of the invasion ships being loaded with Silver Medals, Bronze Medals and Purple Hearts but not how many of those would be awarded to Our Boys.
Still, the 100th Veterans Club gang will enjoy reading of the battles they knew firsthand.
Another good read is 95-year-old local author David W. Eyre’s CLARE The Honolulu Years. A remarkably frank telling of Clare Boothe Luce’s life and friendships and lack thereof as she lived out her life in Kahala as the widow of Time’s Henry Luce.
Eyre is the former PR chief for Castle & Cooke and founding editor of Honolulu Magazine.
He is an exceptional wordsmith and you’ll find yourself page turning long after you thought you’d be consigning this large, photo-infused book to the coffee table or the public library.
Resending of the Hawaii National Guard to the war zone so soon should have drawn a loud, public objection from Gov. Lingle - but not a peep.
A better governor would say, whoa, George, you can do this legally, but only over my vociferous objection because we need those troops for Hawaii’s next earthquake or tsunami.
We lose more than 2,000 valuable home-defense citizen soldiers for another year. What a waste!
And P.S.: The failure of AG Mark Bennett to wave off the administration’s Superferry EA exemption as legally flawed should doom any idea of him being a successor chief justice of our Supreme Court.
Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, the only announced governor candidate, took savage hits in the recent journalists’ Gridiron Show. Depicted as a bit of an idiot reading stage cues as he tapes a public service announcement on the health benefits of inhaling and exhaling. Then there was the smitten “Aiona girl” (played by former Cherry Blossom Queen and Advertiser reporter Catherine Toth) stroking a carrot as she daydreams about Duke.
You sense the man’s a goner before he even gets going.
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