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Combat Chaplain

Israel A. S. Yost

Publication Year: 2006

In October 1943, twenty-seven-year-old combat infantry chaplain Israel Yost arrived in Italy with the 100th Battalion, a little-known National Guard unit of mostly Japanese Americans from Hawai‘i. Yost was apprehensive when he learned of his assignment to this unusual unit composed of soldiers with whom he felt he had little in common and who were mostly Buddhists. But this would soon change. For the next nineteen months at the front—from Salerno to Monte Cassino to Anzio to Bruyeres—Yost assisted medics, retrieved bodies from the battlefield, buried enemy soldiers, struggled to bolster morale as the number of casualties rose higher and higher, and wrote countless letters of condolence, all in addition to fulfilling his ministerial duties, which included preaching in the foxholes. Although his sermons won few converts, Yost’s tireless energy and concern for others earned him admiration from his fellow soldiers, who often turned to him as a trusted friend and spiritual advisor. Forty years after the war had ended, with the help of his field diaries and the letters he had written almost daily to his wife, Yost wrote of his wartime experiences in the hopes that they might one day be published as a record of the remarkable character and accomplishments of the 100th. Combat Chaplain presents this heartfelt memoir intact. with the addition of photographs and subsequent letters and speeches by Yost and other veterans.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Foreword

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pp. vii-viii

FOR ME this book is a tribute not only to my father, but also to the men of the 100th Battalion. Reading my father’s memoir and other materials about the 100th that he saved was an emotional experience for me not only because of the picture I saw of him, but also because of ...

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

THERE WERE many famous regiments in World War II, but none received greater recognition and honors than the 100th Battalion and the larger force of which it became a part, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The 100th Bn and the 442nd RCT stood out from the other ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Prologue

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p. xv-xv

WH E N I was a young man, a few months after my twenty-seventh birthday (I am now sixty-eight), association with a remarkable group of men was suddenly thrust upon me: I was assigned to the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) as chaplain. ...

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One The Assignment

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pp. 1-18

“CHAPLAIN ISRAEL Yost,” said the colonel, adding an unmistakable emphasis to the name “Israel.” Why was he laughing as he returned my salute? Embarrassed, I stood at attention as the other officers seated around the room joined their guffaws to that of their superior officer, Lt. Col. Farrant L. Turner! 1 “Chaplain ...

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Two The Making of the 100th

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pp. 19-30

ON DECEMBER 7, 1941, 158,000 persons of Japanese ancestry lived in the Hawaiian Islands1 and 127,000 in the continental United States. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor horrified not just a majority of these people but almost every one of them, whether they had emigrated from ...

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Three From Parson to Chaplain

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pp. 31-46

WHEN WAR was declared after the attack on Pearl Harbor, I felt no inclination to become personally involved. No one in my family had any connection with the military, and it had no appeal for me. A graduate of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, I had ...

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Four Back to Serious Busines

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pp. 47-65

WHEN THE story of the chaplain of the 100th was interrupted by the two flashbacks to Pearl Harbor, the day was October 23, 1943, and the hour was noon. My diary records the rest ...

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Five How Long in These Hills?

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pp. 66-92

THE RAIN continued on Monday, November 15, and rain makes mud. For the day my principal activity was a lack of activity, rest. In the afternoon I began instructing the four new Christians, outlining for them the content of the books of the Bible. I posted a box of gifts home to Peggy; V-Mail and surface mail ...

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Six A Reprieve before Cassino

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pp. 93-112

WHAT A relief to be away from the front and not even in reserve but actually assigned to an area for a period of rest, the first such experience since the 100th came ashore at Salerno! The men who had survived were entitled to these days of relaxation ...

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Seven Failure at Cassino

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pp. 113-135

LIKE MOST ordinary GIs, I knew nothing of the overall plans of the 34th Division, the II Corps, and the Fifth Army, and very little of the objectives of neighboring battalions. Once an engagement began I was concerned only with what went on in the 100th. When the forward ...

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Eight Anzio and Rome

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pp. 136-157

ON JANUARY 22, 1944, two nights before the 100th began the attack against Cassino, American and British troops had landed without enemy opposition at Anzio some thirty miles south of Rome, and a beachhead extending seven miles inland and fifteen miles along the coast ...

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Nine North to Pisa

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pp. 158-179

THE 442N D Regimental Combat Team was composed of those Nisei from the Mainland and Hawaii who were inducted early in 1943 when the 100th Battalion was in the South training for overseas combat. Officially activated February 1, 1943, with Col. Charles W. Pence ...

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Ten La Belle France

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pp. 180-204

THE THREE-DAY voyage to southern France on choppy seas was uneventful. To help the men pass the time books were distributed from my lending library, including extra copies our executive officer had obtained from an air corps unit. An hour after our transport ...

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Eleven On the Border

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pp. 205-225

FOR ELEVEN days in late November of 1944, the 100th guarded the snow-covered Franco-Italian border between St. Etienne de Tin

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Twelve Italian Finale

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pp. 226-250

THE 100 T H left Marseille, France, aboard three LSTs on Friday, March 23, but the troops did not know until Sunday morning that the Combat Team was headed for Italy. After two Palm Sunday services on the LST (with a sermon about Jesus emptying himself of the powers ...

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Thirteen Three More Months

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pp. 251-261

ON J U N E 1 4 , 1 9 4 5 , the 442nd, relieved of all POW duties, folded up its tents and in American and confiscated German vehicles moved to Lecco, sixty miles away. While the regiment settled in, I took a jeep ride up to a hill overlooking the city and lake; the view ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 262-280

ECHOES OF the military reached me in my parish from time to time. From the Office of the American Provost Marshal, Headquarters Florence Command in Italy came a copy of a letter dated September 15, 1945, praising Japanese American soldiers for their exemplary behavior ...

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Afterword

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pp. 281-292

WHEN ISRAEL A . S. YOST enlisted as a chaplain, I was the infant daughter in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, he said good-bye to for over two years. I have no memory of the war years or of my father’s return after the war. However, as I was growing up, I heard stories about the ...

Appendix

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pp. 293-298

Works Cited

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pp. 299-300

Index

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pp. 301-308


E-ISBN-13: 9780824861933
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824830236

Publication Year: 2006

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Subject Headings

  • United States. Army -- Chaplains -- Biography.
  • Yost, Israel A. S., 1916-2000.
  • United States. Army. Infantry Battalion, 100th.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American.
  • Japanese American soldiers.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Italy.
  • Military chaplains -- United States -- Biography.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Chaplains -- United States -- Biography.
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