Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Masao Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Masao Watanabe
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 19, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-wmasao-01-0023

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: Then how did, how did it change? Because eventually the group did become more cohesive.

MW: Oh, yes.

TI: So what changed to make it different?

MW: I don't think there was that big a change as the understanding of what went on and how the older recruit sergeants treated the mainlanders the same way that some of the Hawaiians were treated. Like, I would get gigged for two days or something, and I wasn't a Hawaiian. I mean, you know, I was a good soldier. I never got gigged. [Laughs] But it was, I think the longer it went on, it was obvious to them that the recruit sergeants weren't picking on just one group.

TI: And for you, who, you weren't a cadre, you were just another soldier...

MW: I was a low, low, recruit, yeah.

TI: So, so you got along really well with the Hawaiians.

MW: Oh, yeah, right from the beginning. In fact, there were only three mainlanders in our whole hut, and I can't recall real, any harsh words or people challenging anybody. We worked well as an unit.

TI: Because a lot has been said about culturally there was a large difference between the mainlanders and Hawaiians, and what I'm hearing from you is that perhaps there wasn't that much difference.

MW: I don't think so. And to me the obvious thing is, like those Isseis or the first-generations, those Japanese that migrated to the U.S. or Hawaii were all from the same areas in Japan, plus Okinawa. But they had the same upbringing regardless of where they were from so that they were taught the same way as Niseis here or Niseis in Hawaii. So there were a lot more similarities than differences, and I think it really showed after. That we got along so well so quickly, because we were from the same, what? Ilk?

TI: And how long were you at Camp Shelby?

MW: Eight months, something like that. I'm not too sure of when we first -- it was a little more than that.

TI: And so during this period you were, you got closer and closer with...

MW: Oh, yeah. Training and eating and sleeping together, you can't help but get close. I think it would take very different individuals not to get along.

TI: And in your area, the majority of the men were from Hawaii?

MW: Oh, yeah.

TI: Was that pretty much true for all the...

MW: Oh, yeah.

TI: ...various platoons? That they were mostly Hawaiian, and then there was mainlanders sort of sprinkled in the mix.

MW: Yeah. I think in most cases. See, they were the... well, we were the last ones to come in, so they were just filling in. So I think most of the companies were the same way.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.