Most Honorable Son
A film about Ben Kuroki.
The film starts out with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He grew up in western Nebraska.
He had four brothers and five sisters, and was actively working on the family's farm when he was only five.
He was at a JACL meeting, listening to one of its national leaders talk, when the police came in and took the guy out. It was December 7th, 1941.
Ben and his brother signed up for the Air Corps.
I always find this old newsreels to be interesting.
The film then talks about the internment of the Japanese Americans.
Although he was allowed to stay in the Air Corps, he wasn't really allowed to have anything to do with planes. He peeled potatoes and worked as a clerk. His brother had been sent to dig ditches. In November of 1942, though, he ended up in England. The leader of his group felt he Kruoki had every to do what the other men had been doing.
The B-24 was apparently a rather uncomfortable plane to work in as it was unheated, temperatures inside got to about 40 below zero, and you had to have gloves on because your hands would free to the equipment otherwise.
There was often a need for gunners. The guy heading one crew knew about Kuroki and asked the other men if any of them objected to his being on the team, and the guys said they didn't object at all. The bombardier was of German extraction, the waist gunner was of Italian origin, so it was a rather mixed group.
Their plane. Shortly after he joined the crew, their group got moved to Algeria to attack the Germans in the desert there.
He was given the nickname 'Most Honorable Son' on the plane.
After the Germans were driven from North Africa, the plane and others shifted to bombing Italy.
Later, though, they were flying over North Africa when the plane ran low on fuel. They landed in Spanish Morocco and were taken prisoners by the Spanish. (Spain was a neutral country at the time.) Ben Kuroki escaped but was caught. Later the crew was taken to a resort town and put in a hotel. They finally got released (at the cost of 1 Buick for each man released.)
They were given a new B-24. They went back to North Africa and practiced low level flying for a secret mission.
Their target would be the oil fields at Ploesti. Expected casualties were 50%. 176 bombers were in the mission.
As they made their run the plane on their left was shot down and the groundfire was intense. 53 bombers were lost, which was about a 30% loss rate. 1 out of every 5 men was killed.
He flew the required 25 missions and volunteered and flew 5 more, then was sent for R&R to a hotel in Califoria.
The Army saw him as a public relations opportunity.
However, California prejudice reared its huge head. He was supposed to be on a radio program but was pulled off due to public pressure.
The Commonwealth Club invited him to speak. The day before he was due to speak, the story came out about the Bataan death march. He was really worried, but he ended up getting a ten-minute-long standing ovation after his speech.
He was sent to speak at Heart Mountain.
This man was an internee and he said some people at the camp wanted to kill Kuroki, and they wanted the government to shove their plan to draft Nisei into the Army.
He encountered further discrimination. Later he got onto a B-29 crew. The discrimination continued. The crew had no problem with his being on board (other then they thought he was nuts for flying another tour of duty), but some others object and the crew wrote letters and got permission for him to stay on the crew. The FBI wanted to pull him off the plane, but it was in the process of taking off and the pilot just kept right on going.
The crew had such a good acceptance of Kuroki that they named the plane after him.
The crew went to Tinian island. They had to have guys around Kuroki so the other Marines wouldn't shoot him. He was involved in both the high-altitude bombings and the firebombings.
He survived his second tour of duty; shook up badly, but survived. However, a member of the ground crew and he were playing cards, the other guy got drunk, and attacked Ben with a knife over an argument and that's what ended his flying career. He was in the hospital when news of the atomic bombings hit.
After the war he became a newspaper editor.
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