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


Dublin Core


Coolidge Wakai guarded thousands of POWs in the Po Valley when the war ended. Later, Coolidge was transferred from guarding the POWs to Headquarters Company as a cleric.

After the war, Coolidge returned to the United States. He participated in a parade for President Harry Truman. Coolidge explains there were mixed emotions about participating in the parade. He felt soldiers of the 100th and 442nd who were killed in action are the true heroes. The Niseis' contribution to the war showed that they worked hard, persevered, and were loyal.

President Truman's speech made Coolidge feel it was worth serving in the Military. President Truman recognized the Japanese Americans as loyal citizens. The Niseis were successful in the war because the Japanese American soldiers fought cohesively. The Niseis worked well together and trusted each other in battle.

After the parade in New Jersey, he traveled to the Panama Canal. He returned to Hawaii and had a festive homecoming celebration. Later, he went to the mainland to pursue his higher education at Grinnell College Iowa. In 1949, Coolidge graduated college and went to the University of Buffalo New York. He interned for one year at LA County General Hospital, then Coolidge received a fellowship at Mayo Clinic. He was the first Nisei to be accepted into the Mayo Clinic.

In 1958, Coolidge finished his fellowship at Mayo Clinic and returned to Hawaii to open his practice. Coolidge worked for 50 years before retiring. In 1956, Coolidge married Edith Yamasaki, and have four children and five grandchildren. Coolidge shares a message for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to remember the golden rule. Be honest, respect your country, be loyal, and do not bring shame to the family.

When the Government gave reparation to the Japanese Americans, Coolidge gave his reparations to the Cox family who hosted him and to Tully High School.

At the end of the interview, Coolidge narrated photographs from wartime and post-war.



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 2 of 2, December 8, 2007,” Japanese American Military History Collective, accessed April 20, 2024,