Left Coast Crime 2017, Honolulu Havoc
What can I say about Left Coast Crime? This is always one of the best mystery conventions. Smaller than Bouchercon, but attracting top authors and dedicated fans. Lucinda Surber and Stan Ulrich do a tremendous job every year. Kudos also belongs to their local chair. This year the local chair was Gay Gale. She did a terrific job answering questions from authors, assisting with shipping books, and all the other things that go into making a convention great.
Faye and Jonathan Kellerman received the lifetime achievement award. Guests of honor were Dana Stabenow and Colin Cotterill. Laurie King was Toastmaster and Earl Der Biggers was Ghost of honor. A Hawaiian blessing ceremony opened the convention on Thursday.
I was on a Thursday panel called Writing About Hawaii: Surf’s up. Is it a crime wave? The panel was moderated by Terry Ambrose and included Hawaiian authors Leslie Karst, Kathy Nohr, Laurie Hanan and me.
We discussed the challenges of writing Hawaiian mysteries, such as how to include pidgin and how to present the multicultural society without resorting to stereotypes. I don’t think we came to any conclusions except that we all love writing about the diversity of the state. I’d never met my fellow panelists before, but they were all funny, smart, and a treat to talk to. The discussion was lively and fun. Each of us gave away a book.
Writing Hawaii Panel 3/16/17. Leslie, Kathy, Mark. Laurie in front. Terry not shown.
You can’t come to Hawaii without partaking of Mai Tais. The original Mai Tai was was invented by Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic himself. It’s made with two kinds of rum, a dark rum and a light rum with fruit juice or a fruit-flavored liquor. If you want the original recipe, you can find it in my short story, Red Christmas, which is available on Amazon for Kindle. (Free today until Tuesday) At the Sunset Lanai Lounge in the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel in Waikiki, the Mai Tais are made with lilikoi juice. The verdict? Awesome. If you’re in Waikiki, the Sunset Lanai is a must stop for both the Mai Tais and the view.
Go For Broke
Having landed in Italy in September 1943, the 100th Infantry, the Nisei, attached to the 34th Division of General Mark Clark’s 5th Army fought their way up the boot of Italy through the fall of 1943. They fought terrain, weather, and Hitler’s SS troops, climbing mountains and crossing rivers in rain, snow and cold. Like the rest of the Army, they were under supplied because the US was hoarding supplies for the invasion of France.
[Cassino] was the most gruesome, the most harrowing, and in one aspect the most tragic, of any phase of the war in Italy. —General Mark Clark, commander, 5th Army
In January, 1944, in blizzard conditions, the 100th took three hills overlooking the town of Cassino and the German’s Gustav Line. The Gustav Line, built by German engineers using the natural terrain, protected a key road to Rome. It was one of the strongest defensive lines in history. The dominant feature of the line was a 1500 foot peak topped by centuries-old Benedictine monastery with four-foot thick stone walls. From this fortification, the Germans has a commanding view of the Rapido River Valley which contained a swift flowing river, irrigation ditches, and a marshy flat filled with land mines. From the monastery, they were able to train overlapping machine gun fire and big artillery on the valley.
In the night of January 24, the two companies of the 100th swam the river and the ditches, and waded the muddy flats under fire to reach a wall which sheltered them from the machine guns. At dawn, a third company of the 100th tried to cross the flats but were gunned down. Only 14 out of 187 made it to the wall. Having lost so many men and officers, the 100th was pulled back into reserve. The 34th continued the attack.
On February 8, the 100th were sent back in to a position halfway up to the monastery. They took a key hill near the top and dug in for four days, but the 34th was not able to hold the flanks. Once again, the 100th had to pull back.
On February 15, the Allies reluctantly bombed the monastery, reducing it to rubble, but that did not end the German’s resistance. On February 18, the 100th, now seriously undermanned went back into battle against the Well-entrenched, well-armed Germans. The 100th gained the ground halfway up to the monastery but lost 200 men in the fight. After four days of intense fighting, they were pulled back for replacements and re-supply. They were replaced by British and Indian troops.
It took three more months and five fresh divisions to take Monte Cassino. War correspondents praised the efforts of the 100th and called them the Purple Heart Battalion. The 100th had landed at Salerno with 1300 men. Five months later, they were down to 521. Monte Cassino was the last campaign for the original 100th Hawaii Nisei. After that they received replacements from the 442nd.
Next Week: Anzio.
While Japanese-Americans were fighting and dying in Europe, Japanese-Americans in the United States were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps in the West. I intend to write more on this in future posts and in an upcoming book. Until then, here is an article on the resistance to internment at the largest concentration camp, Tule Lake. Thanks to Ann Kellett for sharing this link. http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Resistance-at-Tule-Lake-A-Hidden-History-of-Japanese-American-Incarceration-and-Defiance-20170719-0007.html
Shizuya “Cesar” Hayashi
Born in Waialua, Hawaii and was drafted after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He volunteered for the 100th and landed in Italy with the 100th in 1943. He was nicknamed “Cesar” because his sergeant could not pronounce his name. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for actions near Cerasuolo, Italy in November, 1943. The Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor for valor in June 2000. Shizuya Hayashi passed away in March 2008 and is buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific, Oahu, Hawaii.
Medal of Honor Citation
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company A, 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)
Place and date: Cerasuolo, Italy, November 29, 1943
Entered service at:Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
Born:”November 28, 1917, Waiakea, Hawaii
Private Shizuya Hayashi distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 29 November 1943, near Cerasuolo, Italy. During a flank assault on high ground held by the enemy, Private Hayashi rose alone in the face of grenade, rifle, and machine gun fire. Firing his automatic rifle from the hip, he charged and overtook an enemy machine gun position, killing seven men in the nest and two more as they fled. After his platoon advanced 200 yards from this point, an enemy antiaircraft gun opened fire on the men. Private Hayashi returned fire at the hostile position, killing nine of the enemy, taking four prisoners, and forcing the remainder of the force to withdraw from the hill. Private Hayashi’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.