Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County


Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. July 27, 1945. p. 1

ARMY OFFICER TELLS OF NISEI IN COMBAT

Detached by the war department to address meetings on the Pacific coast relative to the conduct and loyalty of Japanese-American soldiers in combat, Capt. George H. Grandstaff, Caucasian officer with the Nisei 100th battalion, Thursday night gave an interesting talk on the experiences of his unit, at a public gathering at the USO. The Rev. George Goodwin who introduced the speaker, said reports the officer's appearance was sponsored by the WRA were not true.

Capt. Grandstaff described in detail the actions at Salerno, Anzio, Cisterna, Cassino, Benevento, Leghorn in Italy and the Vosges forest in France in which the Nisei battalion participated. The unit suffered heavy casualties but never wavered, the officer said. Capt. Grandstaff, who was wounded at the Volturno river, added that "I could never discern any difference between the blood of those soldiers of Japanese ancestry and my own."

At Cassino, where the allies fought the Germans for many months, reluctant to ruin the historic and sacred monastery and castles, where the nazis were entrenched, the battalion went into battle with 1367 officers and men and came out with 235. It was shortly after that that allied airmen made the capture of Cassino possible by the famous shattering air raid on the monastery and city.

After more than three months on the hazardous Anzio beachhead, the 100th battalion joined the Nisei 442nd Infantry regiment (it had formerly been attached to the 34th division, which has the longest European combat record) for the push to Rome and beyond. Then it was sent to southern France and accomplished the famous rescue of a unit of the 36th Texas division, "the lost battalion of World War II" which had been cut off in the Vosgres forest by the Germans. In eight days of terrific fighting, the Texans were rescued by the 82 who were left.

After the 100th battalion had been returned to Italy to take part in the final victorious campaign there, the officer was sent home and given the assignment to address audiences on the coast.

He said he believes the only way to tell the difference "between a good Jap and a bad Jap is by his actions," and cited the many decorations received by the 100th battalion. He added that Japanese-Americans are proving of great value to army intelligence in the Pacific theater. There are no Nisei combat teams or fighting units in the Pacific, he added.

Capt. Grandstaff said that the war department "thoroughly screens" all persons of Japanese ancestry before allowing any of them to return to the coast. The disloyal will be dealt with properly along with disloyal persons of other nationalities, he added.

The officer closed by saying he does not "ask for special privileges for the Japanese-American soldiers but I do ask for the democratic rights which are due them."

A resident of Azusa, Calif., Capt. Grandstaff volunteered and went into the army as a private in May, 1942. Commissioned a second lieutenant at OCS, Fort Benning, GA., he was twice given battlefield promotions. He holds the Purple Heart, with two clusters, the Silver Star, the ETO ribbon with four campaign stars and the presidential unit citation.

Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.