Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

Go For Broke


While the 100th Infantry Battalion was fighting from Anzio to the outskirts of Rome in May 1944, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was sailing to Italy, having completed training in the Unites States. The 442nd and the 100th joined up at Civitavechhia northwest of Rome on the coast.

The 442nd was an all Japanese-American combat unit led by white officers, which was formed after President Roosevelt gave young men the opportunity to leave the Japanese concentration camps by serving in the armed forces. The team included a field artillery battalion (552nd), a combat engineer company (232nd), an anti-tank company, a cannon company, medical, service, and headquarters companies. It even had its own band (206th). The infantry consisted of three battalions, the 2nd, 3rd, and 100th, which was the 1st battalion, but was allowed to keep its 100th designation in recognition of its record in combat.

On June 26th, 1944, the 442nd got their first taste of combat at Belvedere, which was held by a crack SS motorized battalion. The 2nd and 3rd battalions went into action while the 100th was held in reserve. F company engaged first, due to a communication error. They immediately ran into a German tiger tank which pinned them down with devastating cannon fire from its 88 mm gun. Private Kiyoshi Muranaga, whose platoon occupied an exposed position, directed such accurate mortar fire that the tank withdrew. Muranaga was killed when the tank returned fire, but his action saved the men of F company.

General Mark Clark/100th

General Mark Clark presents the Presidential Unit Citation to the 100th, July 1944

For most of the day, the Germans pinned down the 2nd and 3rd battalions. In the afternoon, the 100th circled wide north of Belvedere. C company blocked the entrance to the town and A company blocked the exit. B company launched an attack on the Germans’s exposed flank, disrupting the German battalion. The Germans fled in disorder as C company drove the Germans into A company’s trap. In three hours, the 100th seized the town, killed 178 enemy, wounded 20 and captured 73.

The 442nd continued driving the enemy north until they had passed the town of Sassetta.

For it’s action, the 100th received a Presidential Unit Citation, which is similar to a Medal of Honor, but awarded to a unit rather than an individual.

Presidential Unit Citation Review
All three companies went into action boldly facing murderous fire from all types of weapons and tanks and at times fighting without artillery support… The stubborn desire of the men to close with a numerically superior enemy and the rapidity with which they fought enabled the 100th Infantry Battalion to destroy completely the right flank positions of a German Army… The fortitude and intrepidity displayed by the officers and men of the 100th Infantry Battalion reflects the finest traditions of the Army of the United States.

Medal of Honor

Private Kiyoshi Muranaga was born near Los Angeles, California in 1922. He was interned with his family at the Granada War Relocation Center in Colorado. He joined the Army in May, 1943. He was killed near Suvereto, Italy on June 26, 1944. He was 22 years old. Two of Muranaga’s brothers, Kenichi and Yoshio, were also members of the 442nd. His youngest brother, Tomi, fought in Korea.

Medal of Honor citation:
Muranaga, Kiyoshi K.
Rank: Private First Class
Unit: Company F, 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Born: February 16, 1922, Los Angeles, California.
Private First Class Kiyoshi K. Muranaga distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 26 June 1944, near Suvereto, Italy. Private First Class Muranaga’s company encountered a strong enemy force in commanding positions and with superior firepower. An enemy [[88 mm gun|88mm]] [[self-propelled gun]] opened direct fire on the company, causing the men to disperse and seek cover. Private First Class Muranaga’s mortar squad was ordered to action, but the terrain made it impossible to set up their weapons. The squad leader, realizing the vulnerability of the mortar position, moved his men away from the gun to positions of relative safety. Because of the heavy casualties being inflicted on his company, Private First Class Muranaga, who served as a gunner, attempted to neutralize the 88mm weapon alone. Voluntarily remaining at his gun position, Private First Class Muranaga manned the mortar himself and opened fire on the enemy gun at a range of approximately 400 yards. With his third round, he was able to correct his fire so that the shell landed directly in front of the enemy gun. Meanwhile, the enemy crew, immediately aware of the source of mortar fire, turned their 88mm weapon directly on Private First Class Muranaga’s position. Before Private First Class Muranaga could fire a fourth round, an 88mm shell scored a direct hit on his position, killing him instantly. Because of the accuracy of Private First Class Muranaga’s previous fire, the enemy soldiers decided not to risk further exposure and immediately abandoned their position. Private First Class Muranaga’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.


Waikiki Sunset

Sunsets in Waikiki, I believe, are the most spectacular in the world. In the week we stayed there, they were always amazing and different. Residents and tourists flock to Waikiki at sunset to take in the awesome beauty and just be with each other. The sunset at the top of the post was our last sunset at Waikiki. It was awesome.

Magic Island.

2017-03-17 11.13.32

Waikiki and Diamond Head from Magic Island

Magic Island is a man-made peninsula adjacent to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and Ala Moana Beach Park near the Ala Moana shopping center. The peninsula features a large area of park with tables, grills and plenty of grass. At the far end is a shallow lagoon protected by a breakwater. When we first moved to Honolulu, it was just a short bike ride from where we lived—about a mile, actually. We would often leave our little apartment with our son, who was less than a year old at that time, and spend the evening there. We had several Thanksgiving dinners there, the most memorable being the Thanksgiving seven days after Hurricane Iwa in 1982. The lagoon, with its wide, sandy beach and gentle waves, was perfect for him to play in. From the park, we could watch surfers carve the waves near the harbor entrance and yachts come and go from the harbor. The park also affords a great view of Diamond Head and Waikiki.

2017-02-02 19.22.36The Tiki Bar is Open

Wherein I occasionally provide a recipe for a tiki drink to add some joy to your weekend. Tiki on!

Honolulu Cocktail
¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
¼ ounce orange juice
¼ ounce pineapple juice
1 ½ oz gin
1 tsp powdered sugar (do not sub granulated)
1 dash Angostura bitters
Dissolve sugar in lemon juice, then shake everything with ice cubes. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Beachbum Berry (Jeff Berry) speculates that this is the Union Saloon drink mentioned by Somerset Maugham in his short story “Honolulu.” Honolulu, W. Somerset Maugham


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