Coolidge Wakai oral history interview, part 1 of 2, December 8, 2007


Dublin Core


Dr. Coolidge Shiro Wakai was part of the 100th Company B. He was born December 2, 1925, in Kappa, Kauai, Hawaii. Coolidge's father was a missionary for Japanese Immigrants and established the first Christian church in Kappa, Kauai. Coolidge has six brothers and a sister.

After Coolidge's father passed away, the family moved to Honolulu. His mother worked hard to support the family. At age fifteen, Coolidge went to the mainland for higher education. He settled in California and found a job as a houseboy. Coolidge attended Berkeley High School.

On December 7, Coolidge attended church and learned the news when he went home. Coolidge did not feel any discrimination when he moved to the mainland. His employer and classmates at high school treated him fairly. The following day after Pearl Harbor, Coolidge went to school. He continued to focus on his educational goals.

When Executive Order 9066 was signed, Coolidge and his brother reported to Tanforan. After three to fourth months in Tanforan, Coolidge was sponsored to leave the camp to go to New York. In 1944 Coolidge graduated high school in New York and applied for college. He attended Grinnell College in Iowa with financial assistance from scholarships and a family from Kauai. After his first year of college, Coolidge was drafted into the military.

Coolidge was inducted at Fort Sheridan and shipped to Camp Blanding, Florida. During basic training, Coolidge made many friends and had a good relationship with everyone.

Overseas, he was assigned to Company B, 3rd Platoon. Coolidge's first battle was in the mountains near Carrara, Italy. After Coolidge's first battle in Italy, he kept moving up the mountains above Leghorn. Coolidge recalls not showering for one month.

Coolidge recalls climbing Po Valley with his gear. Besides climbing the rigorous terrain, food was scarce. Later, the 100th and 442nd were called to France for the Gothic Line because the military needed the left flank to be covered. Coolidge was attached to the 92nd Division.

When the war ended, Coolidge was in the mountains. There were no roads in the mountains. Therefore, airplanes dropped down the rations for them. Being overseas, Coolidge missed hot cook meals. He was living off of C rations and K rations.



Oral History Item Type Metadata

Date of Birth

1925 Dec 02

Location of Birth

War or Conflict

Branch of Service

Entrance into Service


Location of Basic Training


Wakai, Coolidge: narrator, Yee, T.: interviewer, and Go For Broke National Education Center: publisher, “Coolidge Wakai oral history interview, part 1 of 2, December 8, 2007,” Japanese American Military History Collective, accessed April 20, 2024,