DENVER (CBS4)– 60 Minutes, the venerable and popular CBS News broadcast, will focus part of its program this Sunday on Denver resident Mark Obmascik. He wrote a new book about “The Forgotten Battle” of World War II.
“I mean 60 Minutes sets the standard for journalism — it’s journalism without limits,” said Obmascik during a recent interview with CBS4 at his Denver home.
The CBS 60 Minutes broadcast will highlight Obmascik’s new book titled “The Storm on Our Shores.”
Obmascik, a former reporter with the Denver Post, had been researching and working on the book for years. It tells the story of the little known but bloody 1943 battle over Attu, a remote island in the Aleutian Island chain. It was the only land battle of World War II fought on American soil.
He tells the story through an American and Japanese soldier. The U.S. G.I., Dick Laird, killed Japanese solider Paul Tatsuguchi during the battle and was awarded a Silver Star. But after killing Tatsuguchi, Laird discovered the Japanese soldier had been keeping a diary, never knowing it would be recovered by an American.
The diary was translated and shared among American troops and showed the common humanity on both sides of the battle. Laird, wracked with guilt for 40 years, eventually tracked down Tatsuguchi’s daughter to atone for killing her father.
“They (The Americans) had been taught they were killing savages but in fact the diary showed that he(Tatsuguchi) was a man full of heart and humanity and had a wife he missed,” said Obmascik. “It made some American GIs think twice about who the enemy truly was.”
Although Obmascik researched the story for years, actually getting to Attu was virtually impossible- until 60 Minutes came along. The island is uninhabited, offers an extremely harsh and unforgiving environment and nobody had even landed a plane there in two years.
But after getting permission from the U.S. government, 60 minutes flew Obmascik and a crew of journalists to the island last fall. They spent three days camped out, and capturing images for the story.
“I mean who charters a plane to an uninhabited Aleutian island? Who does that?” asked Obmascik. “It’s heartening someone is still making that commitment to getting the story. The crew found relics of World War II around the island- foxholes, armaments, blankets and the like. The battle was 75 years ago but because the island is uninhabited, it’s like opening a page of a history book to see where men fought and lived and died,” said Obmascik.
His book is published by Simon and Schuster, a subsidiary of CBS, and will be released next week.
Watch 60 Minutes on CBS4 Sundays at 6 p.m.