Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Tosh Yasutake Interview
Narrator: Tosh Yasutake
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: November 14, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-ytosh-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Before we go again, what, exactly what is an induction? I mean,an induction is, is that a ceremony or...

TY: No, it's not a ceremony. Induction is when they -- induction center is where they run you through physical.

TI: Uh-huh.

TY: And make sure you pass. And then give you okay. And then once you're passed, you're inducted.

TI: So your date for induction was June 30th --

TY: 30th, yeah.

TI: -- 1943

TY: '43, yes.

TI: And as you mentioned earlier, when they asked for volunteers, you sort of waited 'til the very last moment. So there were others who had volunteered before.

TY: Not sort of, the very last day. [Laughs]

TI: The very last day. [Laughs] So you waited 'til the very last day.

TY: Yeah.

TI: And so the others who had volunteered earlier had already gone on to Mississippi, Camp Shelby for basic training. And so you were joining them a little bit later.

TY: Quite a bit later, actually, as it turned out. Some of the people who volunteered earlier, they went induction center right away and they, so they were down in Camp Shelby. So by the time I got there, I got to Camp Shelby, I think the latter part of June. Because I got two, I got inducted on the 30th and then I had two weeks, two weeks' furlough to go back to camp and visit Mother and then I went to visit my sister and my brother who were already in Cincinnati going to University of Cincinnati. And so I went to visit them. And then I went back to Camp Shelby. So by the time I got to Camp Shelby, many of the guys had been there several months already and they were going through basic training. The worst part of that for me was that medic, and I was assigned to the medics right away. And I asked to be assigned medics and I didn't have any problem being assigned to medics. And so when I got there, the medics detach-, medical detachment was such a small group they didn't have new people coming in every day and starting from, breaking them in gradually. I had to just fall in with the group right away. And I got there one day and by the time I got there in late afternoon I had dinner at the mess hall and the very next day they had forced march. And that is going four and a half miles and I don't know how many minutes it was. And you run for, jog for five minutes, then you walk fast for another five minutes and that kept on for, until you get through with the march. And you could imagine what shape I was in. And I almost died. But I can proudly say that I didn't fall out. [Laughs] That was my induction to the basic training.

TI: Because all the other men had been there oftentimes for a couple months, they were in shape.

TY: Yeah, they were in already fairly good shape by then. So it was pretty hard on me that first, first couple weeks was really pretty hard.

TI: How did the other men accept you? Sort of being the newcomer? What was that like?

TY: Well, this is why I didn't drop out. I thought that since I was so new and if I drop out well it'd give -- I wanted to show that I had character like everybody else. So I stuck in there as much as I wanted to die, why, I just stuck in there. And so they accepted me okay. One thing was that I must admit that I was not only physically and mentally, emotionally I was pretty immature, too. And so kinda, they kinda all treated me like their kid brother. And they kinda took care of me, I guess. Well, actually, that's been -- since I've been always -- physically I've always been small. Even when I, forgot to mention to you, when I got inducted, during the physical examination that doctor, the first guy, he weighed me in and I weighed 106 lbs. And I was thin as a rail. And he looked at me and he says, "106. Gee, you don't weigh enough." And I said, "What do you mean?" So he said, "Well, you have to be at least 110." I said, "Oh." And I told him, I pleaded with him. I said, "Well, with the good army food you have I'll probably gain a few pounds in a week or two. And you're not gonna, you're not gonna not let me get in the army because of this are you?" And he kinda hemmed and hawed and he finally says, "I guess you're right. I guess you'll be okay." So he passed me. [Laughs] I was pretty, I always been very small and tiny for my size. I think I showed you my class, eighth class picture. It was a group picture of high, eighth class when we graduated eighth grade. And everybody, all the boys stand in the back and the girls in the front. And I'm in the front row of the boys, and boys like this and there's a little dent like that, and that's me right there and then the rest of the kids. [Laughs]

TI: So even with the unit you were one of the smaller ones?

TY: Yeah, I was one of the smaller ones. But well, I kept up with them so that was something.

TI: Now, when you joined your unit, were there other people that you knew, like friends or --

TY: Yeah. Well, the fellow I mentioned to you, Victor Izui and Squeaky Kanazawa, and there were a lot of fellows from Minidoka were there. So I knew them. Another fellow, George Sawada, I knew him real well. He was like an older brother to me. In fact, he was one of the first ones, first medic to be killed overseas, by a sniper. But... oh, mention it later, but I, think about George Sawada. He's the one fellow that had been -- he volunteered, he was in Minidoka. I think he was in Minidoka. Yeah, he worked in the hospital, also. He was, when December 7th, he was teaching anatomy in University of Washington. That was before they had medical school. And he was waiting to be accepted to some medical school and he finally got accepted to one of the eastern schools. And then the war broke out so they cancelled his application. So he couldn't go. And so he ended up in Minidoka. And then he volunteered in the army. He got in the medics. And, I think when we were about two weeks, we were out, he was shot by a sniper when he went out as a litter bearer. And I thought to myself, that one and only time I think I thought to myself, I thought gee, I wish I could have taken his place.

TI: Because this was someone that you felt was --

TY: Yeah, he would have done a lot more than I would have done. But, anyway...

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.