Few remember a tiny island in Alaska’s Aleutian Archipelago where a 1943 battle pitted G.I.s against Japanese invaders who were occupying the first American soil lost since the War of 1812. One U.S. soldier couldn’t forget what he had done there until he found the forgiveness and closure he craved from the daughter of the man he killed. Jon Wertheim reports from the island of Attu for this poignant story of war and conscience to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, April 7 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
It took three weeks for 11,000 Americans to defeat the entrenched 2,600 Japanese troops, all but 28 of whom died. 60 MINUTES cameras capture the uninhabited island much as it looked that day on May 29, 1943. Sheds in which the Japanese stored ammunition still stand; the blankets of fog they hid themselves in during battle still enshroud Attu. Mark Obmascik, a Pulitzer-winning reporter who wrote a book about the battle and some of its combatants, came along as a guide.
One of the Japanese soldiers killed had a diary and a bible indicating he had lived in America for years. He was a conscripted medic named Nobuo Tatsuguchi. He had finished medical school in California and called himself Paul. When his Japanese girlfriend joined him in the States, they married and went to Niagara Falls on their honeymoon. In the diary, he bid goodbye to her and their children.
U.S. Army Sgt. Dick Laird was dismayed to learn of Tatsuguchi’s circumstances and that he and a comrade had killed him along with seven other enemy fighters that day. Obmascik tells Wertheim Laird was “crestfallen but angry because… they were going to try to kill him. But at the same time Laird could see that Tatsuguchi loved his family and that he was human. He suffered nightmares for years.”
The guilt would drive Laird to locate Tatsuguchi’s daughter, Laura Tatsuguchi Davis, who was named in the diary. She lived in Southern California, the place the father she never met had grown to love. She was only three months old when he was killed. Tatsuguchi Davis was perplexed and then angry when Laird showed up one day. “He didn’t tell me anything until I walked him out…[then] he said, ‘I’m the one who killed your father.’ And he just drove off. And I was in, I was in a daze,” recalls Tatsuguchi Davis.
It was years before Tatsuguchi Davis realized why Laird had come. She then wrote him a letter saying he should forgive himself. “I started thinking…‘This man did not belong in Attu just as much as my father. He was protecting his country…himself,” says Tatsuguchi Davis. She says she realized only she could rid Laird of his guilt. He wrote back to her, saying her letter made him cry and offered relief from his nightmares.
Laird and Tatsuguchi Davis became friends and met often before he died in 2005.
Obmascik’s book, The Storm on Our Shores, comes out next week from Simon & Schuster, a CBS company.
Ray Dalio is living the American Dream. He can see it clearly hundreds of feet beneath the Caribbean as he glides along in his own submarine. But most others will never see his or any other version of the dream because the American Dream is lost, its engine, capitalism, broken, says the hedge fund billionaire. Bill Whitaker profiles Dalio on the next edition of 60 MINUTES Sunday, April 7 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Dalio thought his message important enough to agree to allow 60 MINUTES cameras into his place of business as part of his profile. Bridgewater Associates in Westport, Conn., the hedge fund he founded in 1975, is the most successful in the world with assets of $160 billion. He’s never allowed news cameras full access before. It was important enough because the income disparity is dangerous, says Dalio.
“I think that if I was the president of the United States…what I would do is recognize that this is a national emergency,” says Dalio. “If you look at history like the late 1930s, if you have a group of people who have very different economic conditions and you have an economic downturn, you have conflict. I think the American Dream is lost,” Dalio tells Whitaker. All the wealth being created, says Dalio, isn’t translating to opportunity for others. “It’s not redistributing opportunity. We can call it a wealth gap, you can call it an income gap…It’s unfair…it’s unproductive, and at the same time…[it] threatens to split us.”
Looking out of his submarine at a dying coral reef, Dalio sees a metaphor for the state of economic opportunity in the US. “The coral reefs are dying and the population is dying, I know that we’re out of balance…you should do something.”
Dalio is trying to restore some balance in his home state, where he just announced a $100 million donation to Connecticut’s public schools. He’s also promised to leave half his $18 billion fortune to charitable endeavors he thinks can make a difference, like a good education. Ultimately, the very engine of the American Dream must be fixed, he says.
“Capitalism needs to be reformed. It doesn’t need to be abandoned…like anything, a plane, a school system, anything, it needs to be reformed in order to work better,” Dalio tells Whitaker. “I don’t think [capitalism] is sustainable. We’re at a juncture. We can do it together, or we will do it in conflict… between the rich and the poor.”
THE PRINCIPLES OF RAY DALIO – Billionaire investment fund pioneer Ray Dalio tells Bill Whitaker capitalism is broken and must be reformed because the income gap between rich and poor has become a “national emergency.” Guy Campanile is the producer.
A RADICAL SOLUTION – Average debt incurred by medical students has reached home mortgage levels, causing some who want to become doctors to not even try. Now New York University, one of the nation’s top med schools, has implemented a 100-percent scholarship program – free tuition for everyone who gets in. Lesley Stahl reports. Rome Hartman is the producer.
ATTU – The remote island in Alaska’s Aleutian Archipelago was the setting of a forgotten WWII battle fought on U.S. soil. It was also the beginning of a poignant story of closure and forgiveness when an American veteran and the daughter of the Japanese soldier he killed there meet 76 years later. Jon Wertheim reports. Draggan Mihailovich is the producer.