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Check Six – 1942: 298th and 299th Regiments become the Hawaiian Provisional Infantry Battalion, then the 100th Infantry Battalion

June 12, 2021

Off the Remember Oahu From the Past Facebook page

Commanding Officer of the 442nd Lt. Colonel Farrant L. Turner. (Hilo Native.) In 1924, Turner joined the Hawaiian National Guard, and when the war started he was serving as lieutenant colonel and executive officer of the Guard’s 298th Infantry Regiment. The 298th and 299th Regiments were activated in October 1940 and were integrated into the U.S. Army.

Of the approximately 3,000 men—both draftees and volunteers—who reported for basic training at Schofield Barracks, roughly half were Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA).

Writing in the Puka Puka Parade newsletter in 1959, veteran Fundee Shirai recalled, “I first got to know the Old Man in the 298th Infantry at Schofield Barracks just before Pearl Harbor. He had the respect and confidence of the men serving under him because he was frank and fair in his dealings with them, whether they were Orientals or Caucasians.”

On May 28, 1942, some 1,432 men of the 298th and 299th gathered at Schofield Barracks to form the new Hawaiian Provisional Infantry Battalion. Turner requested and was granted command of the unit, and promptly selected Major James Lovell as his executive officer. The battalion was activated on June 5, 1942 and set sail from Honolulu Harbor that same day. The ship docked in San Francisco a week later, on June 12. The unit was then designated the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) and assigned to the Second Army at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.

Throughout this period, Turner risked criticism, and even ridicule, from some who viewed him as a “Jap lover.” Facing an uncertain future, Turner was an unwavering rock of support for his band of young AJA soldiers. He provided the solid, experienced leadership that the soldiers needed to face a world filled with skeptics.

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This article was posted on the Remember Oahu From the Past Facebook page by Dwight Shimoda

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