Toll Seike

Pre-WSC Life

Toll was the middle of five children born to Shinichi and Kameno Seike.  His father Shinichi immigrated to King County in 1919 from Ehime Prefecture in Japan and was running an import-export business when Toll was born on October 8, 1923.  He received his American name, “Toll” due to an error by the clerk recording his birth certificate who could not understand his Shinichi’s accented English – his Japanese name was actually “Toru.”  Toll graduated from Highline High School in Burien, Washington.

WSC Experience

Toll left little trace in the WSC records other than his major of Business Administration and the fact that he was on work-study in the campus greenhouses, in keeping with his father’s goal of establishing a Japanese garden and nursery, and his brother Ben’s active participation and leadership in the Horticultural Club.  Toll and his brothers were taken from WSC in early 1942 to  serve time with their family in the internment camps of Minidoka, Heart Mountain, and Tule Lake.

Military Service

In 1944, when given the opportunity, Toll and his brother Ben enlisted in the U.S. Army.  After doing basic training at Camp Shelby (Mississippi) and Camp Blanding (Florida), Toll was originally assigned to the 100th Infantry Battalion, which was later merged with the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Japanese unit that was the most highly decorated American military unit of the war.  Possibly an Army medic – his initial posting with the 100th was with the Medical Administration Corps –Private Toll Seike was killed on October 29, 1944 in one of the most famous, and costly, of the 442nd’s engagements, the rescue of the “Lost” 1st Battalion” of the 141st Infantry Regiment of the Texas National Guard near the town of Bruyères in the Vosges Mountains in eastern France, near the German border.  In the three-day battle, the 442nd suffered 400 casualties to rescue 230 members of the “Lost Battalion.”

Burial, Recognition, and Remembrance

Toll Seike’s name is commemorated at multiple historical sites dedicated to the valor and sacrifice of these Japanese American soldiers fighting to prove their patriotism to an America that had imprisoned them, their family, and their fellow Japanese Americans.  These include the Heart Mountain Honor Roll, the Minidoka Honor Roll, the NVC Foundation Japanese American Memorial Wall in Seattle, the Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, California, and the WSU Veterans Memorial.  The Seike Family Memorial Garden, tended as of 2017 by his surviving brother Harold, serves as a contemplative, living memorial to this quiet former Cougar.  In November 2017 it was the subject of a Veterans Day feature story by the Seattle Times.

Referenced Content

A WSC student from 1940-42, Toll Seike was a Nisei (second-generation Japanese) soldier who enlisted in the U.S. Army out of an internment camp in 1943. He was killed near Bruyères, in eastern France, on October 29, 1944.