The 442nd compiled an astonishing combat record for bravery — among its many recognitions were 21 Medals of Honor, the country’s highest military award, and 9,486 Purple Hearts.
In the Lost Battalion rescue, the regiment lost 400 men fighting to rescue some 230 besieged members of the Texas National Guard trapped by the Germans.
The fight was “in dense woods, heavy fog and freezing temperatures,” says the Department of Defense article.
The rescuers suffered mass casualties, it says, quoting Army historians. “Then, something happened in the 442nd. By ones and twos, almost spontaneously and without orders, the men got to their feet and, with a kind of universal anger, moved toward the enemy position. Bitter hand-to-hand combat ensued as the Americans fought from one fortified position to the next. Finally, the enemy broke in disorder.”
Hal remembers a letter that Toll send from the battlefield.
“He was really scared and frightened, wet and cold. The German artillery was shooting over his company, and the trees would just shatter, and splatter and crash,” says Hal.
Name in the newspaper
Toll was an American kid. He got his unusual first name because a clerk who was writing down his name didn’t understand the elder Seike’s broken English. He was saying, “Toru.”
Toll shows up in The Seattle Times archives a couple of times.
In 1932, when he’d have been about 11, he is listed as being among “ambitious boys and girls (who) gather at Times Annex to build structures of Old English design.”
It’s not clear why the paper promoted building a miniature village, but it attracted a lot of participants. These days, that’s called “reader engagement.”
In 1941, at about age 18, Toll was among the leaders in the Guest Guesser contest for predicting college football outcomes. Back then, the paper ran a voluminous list of the best guessers so they could clip and save it in their scrapbooks.
Starting the next year, more than 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent on the West Coast would end up in internment camps.