Red Jewel: Ted’s Letter to Jim…final

Sailing in Hawaii

Before he continued on, Jim paused to reflect on Ted’s words for a
moment. Saipan changed my life forever Jim. It may have a profound impact
on you too. I can’t say for sure. I don’t know. Unfortunately for me
Saipan will forever be associated with death. It will forever be the
harbinger of the sheer terror of a Banzai attack by four thousand
hysterical Japanese soldiers coming down at you intent and bent on
one thing only…your demise…your death.

“Holy shit, Ted.”

…or the horror of having to kill your enemy…a young man just like
you…at such close quarters as to be able to sense and feel his palpitable
heartbeat and hyperventilating breath on your face or the sweat of
his fear in your nostrils…or to see the lifeblood drain out of another
human being with just a single bayonet thrust and one pull of a trigger:
to see the light of his eyes extinguished forever…or to be responsible
for the deaths of ten little Chamorro school girls due to some reckless
miscalculation in combat…or to witness a mass suicide at the Marpi
cliff s of hundreds of faceless Saipan islanders for no other reason than
a falsehood perpetrated by the Japanese lie of American atrocities and
barbarism. No, no one should ever have to experience what I went
through on Saipan Jim. Nobody. Th at is why I could never return
there aft er the war. Th e memory of the place is haunting. It exerts a
pall and a pox over me whenever I think about it.

“Christ Ted. I wouldn’t have known”

You may think of me as being dead emotionally Jim after an experience
such as Saipan but you would be wrong. I am not. In spite of all of
the atrocities, death and suffering I witnessed or was a part of during
the Battle of Saipan a simple gesture of kindness and understanding
saved my soul. As I lay there in the field hospital recovering fr om the
amputation of my leg, feeling sorry for myself, a young Chamorro boy
came to me and touched me with his small, delicate fi ngers. As he
did so, an overwhelming sense of peace enveloped me. It was as if he
was trying to tell me, telepathically, through his touch, that all was
forgiven and that everything was going to be just fine. This young boy was or is named Shoichi Mizutani, Jim.

“Nooo.”

He is the son of Akira and Mariko Mizutani.

“No way Ted? No way. I can’t believe it.”

Chills ran up and down Jim’s spine. Th e hair on the back of his neck
stood up. He continued to read. Tears began to form.
They were the family I saved from certain death from a thrown
Japanese grenade. That is how I lost my leg Jim. When you told me
of your plans to visit Saipan on your sail with Nigel and stay with
a Mr. Mizutani I could not believe it. Aft er all of these years his life
was coming back into mine…indirectly perhaps…through you, but
a reconnection nevertheless. Accordingly, I felt a strong impulse to
relate my experiences to you. I had to. If you meet Shoichi I want you
to thank him with all of my heart for his simple gesture of kindness
and forgiveness for me. I want you to tell him that that simple gesture
saved me from a life of trauma, anxiety and nightmares.
You see Jim it was through Shoichi that I was forgiven. It was
through him that I was saved…from myself. I was born again.

“Oh my God, Ted.”

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So, there you have it Jim, my war story. It is one that I have never
told anyone except my dearly departed wife who died of cancer in 1972. I am telling you all of this because I have detected a kindred
spirit in you. You are sensitive, observant of your fellow man, kind
hearted and vulnerable. Consequently, like me, you will probably
experience many setbacks and disappointments over the course of
your life because of your nature but do not fr et. Th ese are strengths
Jim. Believe you me. Th ey are gift s, gift s fr om God himself. Have
faith in yourself, your own ability and how you treat your fellow man.
A strong character will never let you down.

That is all I have to say Jim. It was a pleasure knowing you. I hope
to see you again soon.

God bless you.

Sincerely, Aye
Ted Culp
Bremerton, Washington,
Ala Wai Marina, January 1974

Jim was dumbfounded by what he read. Saipan? Death? Suffering?
Mass suicide? A people brainwashed? Was Mariko’s coldness a product
of those times? And what of Akira Mizutani? How did he fare? So many
questions.