"Cave Flushing" depicts Bob Hoichi Kubo talking Japanese soldiers and civilians out of their caves to surrender.
Built by Brian Buhl. 18" x 18" x 10"
Bob Hoichi Kubo was the most highly decorated member of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), and the only one to receive a Distinguished Service Cross. A Nisei from Hawaii, who joined the 100th Battalion, Kubo was recruited against his will for MIS, and sent to Saipan.
"One of the most spectacular feats of the Saipan invasion occurred on July 23, when a platoon from the 27th Infantry Division discovered a cave in the cliffs south of Marpi Point. The platoon, accompanied by TSgt. Hoichi Kubo, was mopping up enemy stragglers when two civilian men appeared at the edge of a cliff and stood motionless with their hands upraised. Questioning by Kubo revealed that the men had lived on the island since being brought there from Okinawa several years before by the South Seas Development Company. They and more than a hundred civilians -- men, women, and children -- had been held captive for ten days by eight Japanese soldiers in a large cave at the base of the cliff. The two men had escaped by climbing up a rope. After reporting the situation to his platoon commander and longtime friend, 1st Lt. Roger Pyre, Kubo returned to the Okinawans. He urged them to return to the cave and try to convince the Japanese soldiers to free the civilan captives. The men refused, fearing that they would again face captivity and, probably, death because they had escaped.
Finally, Kubo told Lieutenant Pyre: 'I'm going down!' He slipped a pistol under his shirt and slid down the hundred-foot cliff via the rope the two civilians had used in their escape. It was 1000 hours when Kubo disappeared from sight. He was beyond the protection of friendly troops.
From the base of the cliff he walked about seventy-five yards through light jungle growth. Rounding a point, he found himself facing a cave. Eight Japanese soldiers were aiming their rifles at him. Their surprise at seeing someone of their own race wearing an American uniform was probably the reason they didn't fire. Kubo took off his helmet, placed it under his arm, and began talking with them.
'You're a spy!' the Japanese sergeant yelled at him.
'I'm an American!' Kubo shouted back. 'My grandfathers fought with the 5th and 6th [Japanese] Divisions! I am here to take out the non-combatants.'
After learning that Kubo's ancestors had fought with Hiroshima and Kumamoto units, the Japanese soldiers allowed him to enter the cave to sit down and talk with them. Grenades, conspicuously placed beside the Japanese soldiers, had replaced the rifles, but Kubo paid no attention to them. Noticing that a pot of rice was being prepared, Kubo handed over his K rations as a contribution to the meal. ('I always kept about a half-dozen K's stashed away in my pockets,' Kubo explained.) At the rear of the cave more than a hundred captive civilian men, women, and children huddled, listening as Kubo joined the Japanese soldiers in their meal and talked with them.
Three of the civilian prisoners later gave this report of the conversation that followed. The Japanese soldiers wanted to know how Kubo, of Japanese descent, could serve with Japan's enemy, the United States. 'You are the sons of Japanese parents,' Kubo replied. 'You were born in Japan and fight for your country, Japan. I am also the son of Japanese parents but I was born in the United States. The United States is my country and I fight for it. The United States has honored me by making me a sergeant. I do not come here to discuss that you give yourselves up. I wish that you devote your considerations to releasing the civilians whom you are holding captive.'
Kubo also quoted a lesson that young Japanese students learned from their schoolbooks. Nearly eight hundred years before, in Japan, Shigemori Taira was urged by his father to lead forces against an Imperial faction. His quandry resulted in a palindrome, which Kubo repeated in Japanese; translated it reads: 'If I am filial I cannot serve the Emperor. If I serve the Emperor, I cannot be filial.' It was a quotation well known among Japanese, meaning that a man's loyalty goes to the higher authority: Taira must serve the Emperor and disregard his father. Therefore, said Kubo, a Nisei must choose his native land, the United States, which was a higher authority to him than Japan.
For more than an hour Kubo presented his views, pleading for the release of the civilians. Finally, the Japanese soldier in charge told Kubo to return to his platoon, promising they would discuss the question. If they reached an agreement, he said, the civilians would be allowed to climb the rope, starting at 1400.
At exactly that hour, the first of the hostages emerged over the edge of the cliff. Eventually, 122 men, women, and children came out. At the tail end of the column, the eight Japanese soldiers appeared, without their weapons, prepared to surrender.
A high-ranking regimental staff officer rushed to the scene to find out what had happened; Lieutenant Pyre gave him a report. Then a shot rang out from a nearby jungle area. Japanese soldiers hiding in the jungle, who knew nothing about what had happened in the cave, had seen the American officers and shot at the group. Lieutenant Pyre was killed instantly. His body rolled down the cliff.
When Kubo found out what had happened, he was furious. He shouted to the Japanese who had come out of the cave: 'Someone shot that man who saved all of your lives! Is there not a Samurai among you?' In answer, four of the Okinawans who had been held hostage climbed back down the cliff to recover Pyre's body.
'For a couple of days after that I had no desire to save anyone,' Kubo, still deeply disturbed, told me. 'However, when we saw those ill-nourished women and children we [Kubo and his bodyguard, Pfc. Lyle Nelson] went in again to many other caves.'
The military's request to award a Distinguished Service Cross to Kubo was supported by affidavits from enemy civilians who had been held hostage in the cave. A few months later, Kubo was decorated with the DSC for 'extraordinary herosim' on Saipan."
Honor By Fire: Japanese Americans at War in Europe and the Pacific
Courtesy of National Japanese American Historical Society