Genro “General” Kashiwa
L Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, US Army
The day I met Genro Kashiwa I was struck by his humility and his generosity in taking the time to help me prepare for my first interview of a WWII veteran. I sat with him to ask a few questions, then he handed me a 40-plus-page memoir about his wartime experiences. Here was a man who had served as a Sergeant with one of the most decorated units in US military history, yet his gentle, soft-spoken nature didn’t give me a hint of the violence he had experienced in the past. The son of a minister of the local Buddhist Temple, Genro had a strong foundation in Japanese culture, its values, and respect for family and all living things. Back then he had no way of knowing he would end up fighting in a war that demanded him to do things that shook this very foundation.
As an original member of the 442nd, Genro stood in formation at Iolani Palace just before they shipped out to the mainland, to train at Camp Shelby. As they arrived in Europe, the signs of battle were all around them and they knew it wouldn’t be long before they would see action. Genro received a metal luck charm from Greece, a “Flying Duck” (a man’s private parts, with wings). Asked if he felt protected by it, he flashed a big smile, exclaiming, “Oh, definitely!”
Photographed for The Go For Broke Spirit by Shane Sato