Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Harvey Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Harvey Watanabe
Interviewer: Stacy Sakamoto
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 4, 1996
Densho ID: denshovh-wharvey-01-0027

<Begin Segment 27>

SS: What brought you back to the West Coast?

HW: Wanted to be back away from the weather, to more familiar grounds. She did not want to live in California, and I know now why. I mean, I've known it for a long time, because she can't stand the weather. And I wanted to get into the Boeing, if I could.

SS: Tell me a little bit about that. What you eventually did for Boeing.

HW: What I eventually did at Boeing?

SS: Well, you started out, you worked on a number of aircraft.

HW: Yes, I hired in as a mechanic's helper. That's absolutely bottom rank. I mean, there's nothing lower than a mechanic's helper, other than maybe, maybe somebody that sweeps the floor. And, worked on the B-50 problems a little bit, you know, small problems or new items to go in, and so forth, as a development job. And then developing things, make sure that it works before they put it in the airplane. Which was a factory job rather than an engineering job. And then engineering would send us information. And then from that, monkeyed around a little bit with the stratocruisers at the time, but that was the beginning of the big commercial airplanes, prop job. And then went into the bidding, Boeing went into the bidding for the big bomber, the B-52. So we went into a B-52 mock-up, and in the process, the need of a full-scale mock-up was, became very, very much more evident. And so we had a full-scale fuselage and half a wing of the B-52, and I kind of broke, cut my teeth on that. By the time I started in '48 -- late fall of '48 -- and by the time of 1950, December, we were really deeply into the B-52 mock-up, and then I got the notice. I was the lead man by then, and then got the notice to report for duty to Korea. And since we had two children, it wasn't enough. It said if you had three you don't have to go, but with two you gotta go. But, I did get a ninety-day deferment, and about the time of Easter of '51, I left home, and reported to Camp Stillman, California.

SS: Eventually, you said, you were on the front lines.

HW: And then, well, went to Camp Stillman, California, and then from there went to Japan. And there was assigned to First Cavalry Division in Korea. Went there in, reported there in March. Well, let's see, March, April, 1st of April. And served in the First Cavalry G-2 section, with the Intelligence section. Interrogating prisoners, and so forth.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 1996 Densho. All Rights Reserved.