228th Infanty Regiment, Japanese Army
by John Innes, 1995
I errected the cross for Toshio, when
the bones were found on Hill 27 in October 1995. All the implements around
him in the foxhole were American and he was in an American foxhole. At the time, there was a rededication ceremony
for Lofton Henderson. General Paul Henderson (his brother)
and a group of Marines for the ceremony at Henderson Field. Innes
took them along to see the remains.
They all agreed that the remains were likely to be that of an American
because of all the American equipment in the foxhole.
Simultaneously, there was a visit by a group of 57
Japanese veterans and the Honiara Fukuoka society being headed by General
Kawaguchi's daughter. Mr. Innes told her about 'the American' that we
had found on Hill 27. We had even figured out after phoning Joe Micek
that he was in 2nd Battalion 132nd infantry and we new his name. It was
someone Joe's Company had lost on Hill 27 and his body had not been recovered
After telling General Kawaguchi's daughter about 'the American' the Japanese
made a special visit to the grave site and all 57 Japanese prayed for
the soul of 'the American'
The American Marines accompanying General Paul Henderson
in the meantime arranged with CILHI that a recovery team would visit
and remove the remains. In the meantime John Innes arranged for a simple
cross to be made to mark the site and organised Father Percy the Local
Catholic priest to perform a Christian ceremony for 'the American'.
It seemed appropriate. After not hearing from CILHI for some weeks and
our anxiety to establish the identity of the American we went back into
the grave site looking for a dog tag. Around his neck was a Japanese
From his dog tag we were able to establish his identity.
He was Toshio Kojima of the 228th Infantry. We determined that since
the Japanese had prayed for 'the American' that the situation had become
very ecumenical and therefore Innes left the cross there and put his
details on the cross. English on one side and Japanese on the other.
Very pleasingly, his 92 year old sister who lives in Nagoya, Japan,
received his dogtag and for her there was a completion of the story
of her brother. The remains of the missing American who we thought we
had found was in fact located after the battle for the Gifu was over
The flowers you see around the grave site were from
some flowers we picked at the main Japanese memorial on Guadalcanal.
Innes put them in a bottle, and placed at the gravesite. Fittingly the
flowers dropped seeds and germinated and now grow around the grave.
In 1996 a Japanese bone recovery team did take some
bones from the grave. Some of his bones became part of a bone burning
ceremony at the Japanese memorial. The grave however still has some
of Toshio's remains.