by Diane Ako
HONOLULU (KHNL) - This is a disturbing look at the mentality of the American government half a century ago- and a moving tribute to the hearts of the brave men of the 100th Batallion.
90 year old Ray Nosaka has always loved dogs. But this gentle man has a story about dogs that still breaks his heart. The year was 1942, and America was at war. When the Japanese-American soldier learned he'd be working with dogs, he was excited at first. "I always like dogs. I love them."
Until his commander told him he and 19 other Japanese-American soldiers would be dog bait. "I was supposed to smell like a Japanese enemy so they want us to train the dogs."
For 5 months, he beat dogs. "I had to hit him hard till he bleeds."
He taught them to attack him. "Then they told me drop the stick and walk away. They say 'turn around.' I'm ready because they tell the dog 'kill.'"
The idea was to train dogs to kill Japanese. "They use the word kill. Your arm is here (near his throat) and they just want to kill you."
This tore him apart inside. "After the attack I feel so bad I wish I could pet the dog, but they don't let us pet the dog."
All his wounds have long healed, except the one in his heart. "I feel so bad. Every time I think of the dog I feel bad. I don't know why I have to go through all that."
The mission failed, but remained classified for 50 more years. The memories, for Nosaka, are as fresh today as they were in 1942.
"It's inside here that you don't forget. It's something cruel but part of war."
A couple of ironies here. The dog training took place on Cat Island. And, during the war Nosaka was wounded. He crawled into a cave and was comforted by a stray dog- the first time since his dog mission, in which he was able to be friendly to a dog.