298th/299th Infantry


Hawai'i National Guard units whose members of Japanese ancestry would eventually join the 100th Infantry Battalion.

Early History

On August 28, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill mobilizing the National Guard of the United States and other reserve components for a period of one year. Commanding General Charles D. Herron, Hawaiian Department, officially received word on September 19, 1940, that the Hawai'i National Guard units of the 298th and 299th Infantry Regiments would be called to active duty on October 15, 1940. These regiments were comprised of 110 officers and 1,741 enlisted men including forty Japanese Americans. The majority of the 298th were recruits from O'ahu while the 299th was comprised of residents from the other islands. Colonel Perry Myers Smoot issued mobilization orders to Colonel Wilhelm A. Anderson and Colonel Gordon C. Ross commanding officers of the 298th and the 299th Infantry. The 298th Infantry was eventually attached to the Twenty-Second Infantry Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General Daniel Sultan, and the 299th was attached to the Twenty-First Infantry Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General D. S. Wilson. By the end of October 1940, both regiments were in training at Schofield Barracks on O'ahu.

On December 9, the selective service boards of the territory began to process inductees. After thirteen weeks of basic training at Schofield, most of the nearly 3,000 recruits were sent to the 298th and 299th Infantry including approximately 1,500 Nisei although around 200 were sent to army engineer units. Many of the Nisei inductees had previously joined ROTC at O'ahu high schools and the University of Hawai'i and had some received some previous military training. Within a few months, many of them were privates, first class, and some had become noncommissioned officers. In June 1941, at a patriotic rally arranged by the Oahu Citizens Committee for Home Defense, General Herron's representative reported that that these soldiers of Japanese ancestry "will do much to aid the cause of national unity by spreading the gospel of Americanism among their own relatives and friends."[1]

The Pearl Harbor Attack and Mobilization

After six months training the 299th moved to Maui, Moloka'i, Hawai'i, and Kaua'i assisting army engineers and the Works Progress Administration in constructing military installations. The 298th Infantry remained on O'ahu and many witnessed the Pearl Harbor attack. On December 7, 1941, the 2nd Battalion of the 298th infantry was stationed on the windward side of the island, in positions along the shore between Bellows Field and Kualoa and the First Battalion was stationed at Schofield. Many of the Nisei soldiers of the First Battalion were on weekend pass from Schofield and following the attack all reported to their units for duty. For the next three days, all the members including 350 new Japanese American inductees were put to work digging trenches throughout the camp area, their weapons and ammunition confiscated.

During the next six months, members of the 298th were stationed along the windward shore of O'ahu, between Mokapu Point and Kualoa, stringing barbed wire, constructing machine gun emplacements, patrolling beaches, and building dugouts. On the other islands, the soldiers of the 299th had similar duties and continued to assist in the construction of military installations. In the summer of 1942, 1,406 Japanese American enlistees, 798 from the 298th and 608 from the 299th Infantry, including nearly twenty-eight officers of which fifty percent were of Japanese ancestry were transferred from the National Guard and organized into the 100th Infantry Battalion. Its staff, company commanders, and other officers were selected from the National Guard. Lieutenant Colonel Farrant L. Turner executive officer of the 298th was selected to command the 100th Infantry Battalion.

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura, University of Hawai'i

For More Information

"299th Infantry Regiment (Hawaiian Army National Guard)." Military.com. http://www.military.com/HomePage/UnitPageFullText/0,13476,712442,00.html.

Adams, Frank Stephen. "A History of the Hawaii National Guard in Peace and in War, 1934-1948." Master's thesis, University of Hawaii, 1954.

Murphy, Thomas D. Ambassadors in Arms. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1954.

Footnotes

  1. "Nisei Give New Pledge of Loyalty," Honolulu Advertiser, June 14, 1941, 5.