Fred Shiosaki

Japanese American GI

Dogface GI’s like us could sympathize with the German soldiers. They were living like animals, just like us. You dig a hole; you’re wet all day, cold all night, then you get up and shoot some kid your own age.

Staff Sgt. Fred Shiosaki, 442nd Regimental Combat Team

When Fred Shiosaki of Spokane turned 18 in the summer of 1942, 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in 10 desolate camps. Shiosaki volunteered for the Army, but was told he was an “enemy alien.”

Fred Shiosaki

Top: President Truman reviews the 442nd. “You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice and you’ve won,” Truman declared. National Park Service, Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

Bottom: Kisaburo and Tori Shiosaki with their five children in 1935. Fred, 11, is standing at right. Everyone pitched in at the family laundry in Spokane. Shiosaki Family Collection

Shiosaki got his chance a year later, joining the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In savage combat, it became one of the most decorated units in American military history. Its rescue of the “Lost Battalion,” an infantry outfit surrounded by Germans, is legendary. Shiosaki’s platoon pushed ahead through murderous artillery and machine-gun fire. “Chills went up our spines when we saw the Nisei soldiers,” one grateful GI said. Though their average height was only 5-3, “honestly, they looked like giants to us.”

Fred Shiosaki
Fred Shiosaki

Top: Members of the 442nd board a truck as they advance in France in 1944. Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee

Left: Fred “Rosie” Shiosaki as a 19-year-old infantryman in 1943. Shiosaki Family Collection