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

<Begin Segment 1>

AI: Okay. Well, today's November 14, 2002, and we're conducting an individual interview with William Toshio Yasutake, and Tosh, thanks very much for being here with us. I'm Alice Ito with Densho, co-interviewing with Tom Ikeda and Dana Hoshide on videography. And, as we all know, we had a group interview session with you, your brother Joe, and sister, Mitsuye May, earlier, about a month ago, and now we're continuing on. So even though we had covered some of your initial childhood and family background in the earlier group interview, I'd like to back up and just do a little bit of review for the purposes of the starting off this interview and mentioning that your parents were Jack Kaichiro and Hide Yasutake and that they were married in January of 1918 and that you have an older brother, Seiichi Mike, who was born in 1920, and then you, yourself were born in 1922. And, what's your birthday again?

TY: My birthday's June 10, 1922.

AI: Right.

TY: Yeah.

TY: In Seatt-, born in Seattle. And when I, I was... I wasn't born in a hospital, I was born at home. And Mrs. Shimomura was a midwife. I think she was pretty well-known in Seattle at that time as a midwife and she's the one that delivered me. And noticed, one of grandson has a, is a photo-, is a painter and he did some painting of her and I think he had an exhibit in Bellevue Art --

TI: Right. He took, he took her diary entries and created art paintings.

TY: Yeah.

TI: That's Roger Shimomura, the artist, and that was his grandmother.

TY: It was really interesting piece of work, I thought.

TI: Yeah.

AI: And then, we also had mentioned in the earlier interview that not too long after you were born, then your mother also became pregnant again with your sister, Mitsuye May, and decided for some health reasons to go back to Japan, and taking you as an infant and your brother Mike to Japan. And while there, Mitsuye May was born, but also at that time you as an infant got very sick and that your mother decided that she would --

TY: Yeah, while we were in Japan I got quite sick. And I'm not too sure about how old I was then, but you might be correct here. I might have been nine or ten months old then. And she decided to bring me back by myself because I was a handful then, I guess. And so May and Mike was left in Japan and my mother brought me home. And I must have been ill for another year or two because... and I heard this from May actually -- I never, Mother never told me about it. And so I have to take May's word for it, that I did have encephalitis and according to this note, I was kinda surprised to see that May had told you that there was an epidemic at that time, of encephalitis, and I hadn't heard that. I had intended to call May and find out about that, but I didn't. That was kind of interesting, I thought. May also mentioned that one of the Issei lady friend of Mother's mentioned to May that she remembers when she came to visit our house, that my head was so swollen that I had difficulty keeping it up. And I'm -- couple years ago, in fact, I asked -- no, about two, three years before my mother passed away, I asked her what it was that I really had, specifically had, that caused the encephalitis because that can be caused by viral or bacterial infection and she really didn't know. And I would have liked to know. Even to this day I do have a big head, so I have, wear size large hats. [Laughs] And I always had had a big head. And that must have been a result of my illness, I guess. But I think, I feel very fortunate I ended up the way I did. 'Cause I could have been seriously, damaged my brain, I think. Become very serious, so...

AI: Well, so fortunately you did recover.

TY: Yes.

AI: And then eventually both May and Mike returned to the United States and you grew up together on Beacon Hill and eventually you had a much younger brother, Joe was born in 1933.

TY: Actually, he was born in '32.

AI: Oh, '32. I'm sorry.

TY: He's ten years younger than I am so, yeah.

AI: That's right. Ten years younger. And you all moved to your larger family home on Massachusetts Street.

TY: On Beacon Hill. Yes.

AI: And just a couple other significant years in your childhood, that you graduated from your eighth grade Beacon Hill School in 1937 and went on to Cleveland High School also on Beacon Hill and graduated there in 1941.

TY: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AI: And so that brought us up very quickly to the fall of 1941 when you entered University of Washington.

TY: Uh-huh.

AI: Tell a little bit about what you were planning to do at that time.

TY: Well, when I enrolled the University of Washington I was in dilemma as to what I would be majoring in and I had discussions with my father and he told me at that time -- and I think it was a real sound advice -- he said that well, "Why don't you major in science," and, because he said that, "If you decide to go into social science later, the course would be much easier. If you started with taking social science classes and then convert over to science, say, after you're a junior, conversion will be much more difficult." So, I thought, well, that's a good idea, so I decided to major in science and then I thought, well, why not pre-med. So I decided to major in pre-med. But unfortunately, after December 7th, the very day, I decided that I didn't want to go back to school so I dropped out of school. And I think May dropped out of high -- stopped going to school also. And all of us didn't go back to school after December 7th.

TI: So Tosh, was that common at the UW, after December 7th, Japanese American students not going back to their courses?

TY: I think... well, I heard later that maybe half of them didn't go back. But actually it was a crucial time because I think it was during the final exam. I think the final exam week. The following week -- I guess December 7th was Sunday -- and so the following week was final exam and I think that people, well, like I did, they just didn't want to cope with that. And I -- so worried and so forth, they decided not to go back.

TI: So what were you worried about? What were your feelings? Were you afraid or... for your safety? Or what was, what was --

TY: I think the most concern was a -- I guess I was very, very afraid and scared because of uncertainty of what's going to happen. We didn't know... I did notice that even among the neighbors, that some of them were very sympathetic. They came over and talked to us but others sort of ignored us and so emotionally it was sort of mixed feeling; didn't know what to make of the whole thing. Main thing was the uncertainty of what's going to happen I think was the thing that bothered us the most.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AI: Well, and I think, as you had described in the group interview, that your family in particular had quite a shock on the 7th because the FBI came to your house that very day.

TY: Well, yes. We heard -- Pearl Harbor took place early in the morning and we were all in church, Seattle Methodist Church, Japanese Methodist Church. And we heard about it while we were in church. And as soon as I heard, I, they said Pearl Harbor, and I, I knew that was in Hawaii but I didn't know where exactly. And we were in just state of shock. And when we got home... to this day I don't remember how we got home because my dad was attending a senryu meeting, luncheon meeting that he went every Sunday, and he wasn't home. Mother was in church also so just how we got home I don't know. But all I remember was May and Joe and I, Mike, we were home but Mother hadn't come home yet because she was still at church. She was attending some women's committee meeting or something at church. And so I'm not really too sure why we got home by ourselves, and how we got home, and before my mother got home the FBI showed up. And it must have been shortly after lunch, or certainly between noon and 1 o'clock because the service ended at church at 11:00, I think. And my mother and my dad was not home when the FBI showed up. And then shortly thereafter my mother came home. And I think we've been through this before in the group meeting, interview, but Mother, when we answered, when Mother came home, she came to the door she noticed that two hakujins standing, standing there at the door also and they wondered -- she wondered what was going on. And she spoke in Japanese and the FBI became very upset that she spoke Japanese and they asked her to speak English. And then, I think, as I remember, there were five FBI men. Three of them stayed at our house, one watched us. They all told us to go in the living room. My brother was in bed because he had TB and they made him come down to the living room, also. So they assembled us all in the living room and the other two searched the house. And the, and then, let's see, that's three. And the fourth and the fifth FBI men left. And at that time I guess it was they went to pick up my moth-, dad. So my dad was picked up by, say, by 2 o'clock that Sunday. And then after the FBI got through searching the house, one of them took me to Maneki cafe, restaurant where my dad was in that area to pick up my dad's, dad's car. And May asked me, said, "How did you know where the car was?" Well, I didn't, so I can't, I can't -- I don't remember exactly how I found the car but I did and then drove it home. Another question was asked was did the FBI drive back with me. Well, he couldn't have because he had driven his car. So I drove the car and I'm not sure whether he followed me home, or whether I got home by myself.

AI: But, in any case, with these kinds of events happening right away on December 7th --

TY: Very quickly.

AI: -- it's no wonder --

TY: And my guess is my dad was one of the first one picked up, Issei picked up in Seattle. Because he was quite prominent in the Japanese community and so I guess it wasn't too surprising, really.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AI: Well, then as you had described earlier, then events continued, your father was, continued to be detained and you, your brother and sister had to help your mother take care of your affairs and get ready for the so-called "evacuation" out of Seattle. You were then eventually told to get ready to go to the assembly center at Puyallup and you, the children, went with your mother. Your father was being, continued to be detained separately. And when you got to Puyallup then maybe you'd like to say just a little bit about what you found there and...

TY: Well, I remember... well, Puyallup was divided into four different sections, section A, B, C and D. A, B, C, as I remember, was constructed right -- the parking area of the Puyallup Fairground, Puyallup Fairground and the main fairground was Area D and that's where the administration office was and the hospital. And we were assigned to, originally assigned to Area C. And as I remember, now when we got there it was -- it had rained or something and it was very muddy. And we got into the area, I noticed that there was barbed wire around each section and guards. And seeing the soldiers there and guarding the compound was kinda, sort of shocked me, actually. And once we got into the gate and were going to the assigned barracks -- another thing that really shocked me was how barren it was. Just four walls and there were bunks and I think they were wired, metal bunk beds. And we were giving mattress cover and told where to go to get some hay to put in the mattress cover for, as a, to use as a mattress. It was kinda like going to a camp. Looking back, it was like going to an army camp, really.

AI: What was it that was so shocking to you?

TY: Pardon?

AI: What was it that was so shocking to you?

TY: Well, to be honest, I don't know what I was expecting. But being, going to -- one thing that shocked me was the barbed wire, barbed wire fence and the army guard with rifles. So at that time I realized that I think we're going to be prisoners. The immediate thought that came to you, I think, was that I was going to be a prisoner of war. And that is essentially what it was. And there were no -- there was, I think when we got there they just had outhouses. And they had a community mess hall and, well, it was just like being in prison. It -- the image of what we used to see in movies, what prison life was like. Communal mess halls, communal bathrooms, and the meals were very -- well, as I mentioned before, I think we had a lot of Vienna sausages. To this day I don't like Vienna sausage. And Spam -- I don't like Spam either. [Laughs]

TI: Tosh, I'm curious; as a college student, once things settled down, were there more expectations or responsibilities for those who were in college, or was there any distinction? Because I imagine with a lot of the community leaders leaving or being picked up by the FBI, so they weren't in camp, and so I was curious, as a college student, did, were there any additional responsibilities put on you by anyone?

TY: Well, the one thing I do recall is that they asked the older kids to volunteer for things. They needed volunteers for everything from mess hall to administrative things and hospitals. So at that time I volunteered for the hospital, to work there in any capacity that they were willing to let me work and so I started working in the hospital immediately after I, shortly after I got there as a male attendant, and a lot of, there must have been oh, about fifty volunteers. We volunteered to do that. Maybe there was more. I can't remember the exact number. But, so once I volunteered to work in the hospital, why they, because of that they moved our family to Area D, and we, and we were put in a barrack that was a little bit better than the one that we had. [Laughs]

TI: And that was based on you volunteering for the medical?

TY: Yeah, I guess so. Because they -- I can't remember the exact detail but we were transferred over to Area D.

TI: And who would decide that? Would it be sort of... was there a camp administration that would sort of figure that out in terms of if a person volunteered they would get moved to perhaps a slightly better quarters or was that an internal type of decision? How was that all figured out, 'cause I've never heard this before. This is interesting.

TY: Well, frankly I don't remember. I really don't know. I really don't know who decided that. I assume that they thought it would be convenient, more convenient for -- less paperwork and so forth to have transfer over to the area where the people wouldn't have to go through the gates. You know, if you're working, if you're in the other areas, if you worked in Area D every morning you don't have to go from Area C to Area D or wherever and I imagine it would take a little more work for everyone else, so they decided to transfer everybody. So all the, the area that we -- the barracks that we moved into, about three barracks, I think, and they're all hospital personnel. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nurses' aides, male attendants, and what have you. And it was just, next to the hospital was very convenient. So we didn't have to go walk far to get to work, go to work.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Well, and after you volunteered for this one you also volunteered -- once they decided to establish more permanent camps, I understand you also volunteered to be sort of in the advance party to help prepare --

TY: Yes.

TI: -- the camps? I'm curious; how did, how did people go about in terms of deciding whether or not to volunteer for something? Was this something you talked with your friends or your family or -- to make these volunteer decisions?

TY: Well, I really can't remember the exact circumstances, but my guess is that they had had general announcements going out all the time. And I imagine they might have asked for volunteers for hospital or whatever and people volunteered accordingly. I think. But I really don't remember.

TI: But do you recall, did you talk to your siblings or your mother or your friends to help decide, especially if it impacted the family? You know, in one case by volunteering for the medical, your family would move or if you volunteered for the advance party you would actually be separated from the family.

TY: Well, my guess was that, once I told the family that I was gonna volunteer to work in the hospital and that we'll probably be moving to Area D, as I recall, I think that everybody thought Area D was better than being in area A, B, and C. So I think they probably didn't object to the idea that I worked there in the hospital. So... I really don't remember the detail.

TI: And how about your older brother during this time? Was he also volunteering for different things?

TY: Well, no. He was still recovering from -- he had TB and he was recovering from that. He was ambulatory. He wasn't in bed all the time anymore so... but he didn't do much of anything, actually, when we were in camp. Because physically I think he wasn't quite capable of doing that. He was spending most of his -- until December 7th he spent most of his time in bed, so physically he was probably not -- he wasn't able to stand much physical. His physical stamina was not very good yet. As I recall, he didn't, he just took it easy and he didn't do much of anything as far as volunteering goes.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AI: At Minidoka, I'd just like to ask a little bit more because, you did a couple of things while you and your family were at Minidoka. Your dad was still separated.

TY: Yeah.

AI: He was still first at Fort Missoula in Montana and then transferred to Lordsburg internment camp in New Mexico. But in the meantime, I think you said earlier that you had gone out to beet topping work

TY: Uh-huh.

AI: And then eventually, and you worked in the hospital also. Could you say a little bit about both of those experiences?

TY: Yes. Well, when I was working in the hospital in Minidoka and at that time word got out that we could go out, out of the camp to work in sugar beet farms. They were asking for volunteers for that. So couple of us working in the hospital, Victor Izui and Henry Itoi and we can't remember who the fourth, none of us seem to remember who the fourth one was for some reason. I'm not sure why. But there's a fourth fellow. A group of four of us volunteered to work in this one farm and the farm that we were assigned to was a farm in Idaho Falls. And I think I talked about in the group, group interview but we were assigned to this one farm, Mr. and Mrs. Morgan's farm. And how they picked farms for each of the volunteering groups I don't know. But we were given this -- unfortunately assigned to this one farm that had very small sugar beets and as I mentioned in the group interview, when we got to the farm, latter part of the after-, mid-afternoon, I think it was -- the farm, Mr. Morgan took us out to the field and he says -- we asked him where our living quarter was and he pointed to the far end of the field and there was a big boxcar there. So he says, "That's where you're gonna be sleeping." So we says, "Okay." So we all hauled our duffle bag and our suitcases and walked down across the field and got to the boxcar. And, well, even before I got to the boxcar, I could smell the stench. [Laughs] And when I, when you opened the boxcar we just, the stench just hit our -- it was overwhelming. It was terrible. And we found out that it was used, they had used it as a pig shed. And it was terrible. We had to clean it out. And we took the rest of the afternoon cleaning the place out, scrubbing it. And there was no running water there so they had to haul water in milk cans for us to, so we could clean the place. And after about four hours of scrubbing and cleaning it was already getting dark and we finally got it cleaned. And to this day I can't remember what kind of bed we had. My guess is it was probably just mattress cover with straw in it and just directly on the floor. But, and I think that first night, the farmer, Mrs. Morgan brought our, brought our breakfast for us. As I recall it was chicken. It was very good. And, but that was our living quarters and it was pretty bad. And to make the matter worse, the sugar beets they had were very, very small, unfortunately, and we were paid by the tonnage. And it took us maybe three times as long to fill up a truck and so the bottom line was that we didn't make any money that we, in fact, we think we lost money. [Laughs] We went home with empty pockets. But, that's the way it went. Some of the people were very lucky. They -- as most of people know, the sugar beets are like carrots. They grow in the ground like carrots and most of the sugar beets are huge. They're about this big. But the ones that we had in our, at Morgan's farm was about this small. And so it just took us forever to fill up that truck. It was really terrible.

TI: So the living conditions were really poor, the work was hard.

TY: Extremely hard. Yeah.

TI: Extremely hard. The pay was negligible --

TY: Yeah.

TI: -- or negative. How would you compare that experience with being in the camps? Would you -- were you guys talking about well, it'd be better to be back in the camps versus out there doing that?

TY: Well, no, not really. Because, well one reason is that at night we used to go into Idaho Falls and went to restaurants and eat good food, decent food. And we spent most of the time going to Chinese restaurants. I don't think, as I recall, they didn't have any Japanese restaurants there. But, so the meals were halfway decent because we can go to the restaurant and have our meals. We did do some cooking. Oh, another thing that I remember vividly is that the Morgans furnished the milk for us, fresh milk, freshly milked from milk cows and they brought in great big milk cans and, but unfortunately the flies were so thick that it was just almost impossible to get, take any of the milk out of the milk cans without having some flies go in there or going into your glass of milk that you pour for yourself. But, first couple times we were kind of -- we didn't drink the milk. We'd toss it out and try it again. But after about the fourth day, well, we just picked the flies out and then drank the milk. Kind adapted to situation. Oh, another thing, talking about adapting, I think people have heard that things about adapt or perish, and I think we adapted. [Laughs]

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AI: So eventually then the beet topping was over and you went back into camp and did you go back to your hospital work there?

TY: Yes, we all went back to work in the hospital, the usual hospital. And then shortly thereafter I worked as a male attendant. And since there were a lack of nurses we did a lot of things the nurses did. For instance, like giving medication to the patients and taking temperatures and doing, taking blood pressures. And I wanted to do something -- I thought maybe I'd like to work in the hospital lab as a med-tech. So I approached the head nurse and asked whether I could possibly do that. And she said, "Well, if you're interested you can." So after about two days of training and preparation I had -- I remember taking blood from the first patient. I was so nervous my hand was shaking like this and I was thinking, I wonder what the patient was thinking. [Laughs] But after a few successful taking of the blood, well, I did okay, so I became a medical, med-tech and I took blood samples and I even did blood counts and things like that and I got about two months of training that was very interesting. I really enjoyed that part of it. I learned something, something really useful I thought, and I feel like I was doing -- make much better use of myself than pushing bedpans.

TI: At that point, when you decided to do that, you were pre-med at the university.

TY: Uh-huh.

TI: At that point, were you still thinking that you would possibly go into medicine? What were you thinking at that time?

TY: Yeah, when I went back to school, back in '46 after I got out of the army, I became pre-med. But I quickly changed my mind because the organic chemistry just did me in. [Laughs]. Apparently that's what usually washes the people, people out, washes the men from the boys. [Laughs]

AI: When, excuse me, going back to the hospital at Minidoka. I was just wondering what kinds of cases you saw there.

TY: What kind of what?

AI: Cases, what kinds of problems, the diseases or --

TY: Oh, cases?

AI: -- illnesses, that --

TY: Oh, well, the whole gamut, I think. I spent a lot of time working in the old patient's ward, men's ward, taking care of old men. And there were quite a few older people who just -- they had dysentery or some long-term illness that they -- so we had a senior citizen, special ward that had nothing but old men. I took care of the men's ward and that was pretty traumatic for me because I thought gee, these people are just coming in to die. And no matter what you do you just feel like you're not contributing too much, to the length of the life any more than they really -- some of them really seemed like they didn't really care anymore. They'd given up. Many of them did, I think. And I think largely because of the condition in camp, I think, and being interned, I mean, being in relocation center like that, uprooted from their home at their age. It must have been pretty traumatic for them.

AI: Do you think some of their conditions would have improved if they could have gotten better medical care?

TY: Ah, boy, that's a good question. Well, they did take -- serious people did -- were able to, were given the chance to go to general hospitals, I think, in Twin Falls. But in most cases we had doctors that were very capable. It's just the equipment. Some of the equipment, we didn't have the equipment, but far as personnel goes, I think we probably had as good a doctor you find anywhere. Some of the Issei doctors are very good and we had a couple of Nisei doctors, too, older Niseis. The doctors, like Dr. Shigaya and Dr. Suzuki and... they were old-time doctors in Seattle and so they were pretty well-known in Japanese community and well-respected. So, no, I think that the care in general in the hospital was quite good.

AI: So, perhaps it was more the general --

TY: Psychological thing more, I think, yes.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Well, eventually the government decided to form a segregated army unit, the 442. And they went to the camps and they asked for volunteers from the camps. What was your reaction when that happened?

TY: Well, I thought, that's really great. But then at the time it happened I thought it was -- I was very happy to hear that.

TI: Why were you happy to hear that?

TY: Well, because we were given -- if you wanted to go in the army volunteer another -- before, we were not, even if you wanted to go we couldn't go. So now, at least we were given a chance to go into the army. But then later, the more I thought of it, the more uncertain I was because, because of the fact that actually they were asking volunteers for, to form a segregated Japanese American unit and the more I thought of it the more upset I got. And I thought that if they were going to volunteer or even be drafted in the army, they ought to just assimilate us among the hakujin troops and not have a segregated unit. And so many of the friends and working in the hospital had already volunteered, but I didn't until the very last day because of that. I was holding out, hoping that they'd say that they would assimilate us to, if we wanted to we could go to some other units. But they didn't say that. And finally in desperation, the last day I decided that maybe if I did volunteer that it might help my dad get released a little earlier. So I did volunteer. And I volunteered and then I didn't have nerve enough to tell my mother so I asked a good friend of ours who was the Episcopal minister in the camp, Dr. Joe (Katagawa), if he would go and tell my mother for me. [Laughs] I didn't have the guts to tell her myself. So we went over there and told her and understandably, she was sort of shocked and upset and then it didn't take her long to just accept the fact that I was going.

TI: Now, why would your mother be upset?

TY: Well, going in the army, the first thing you thought, well, you probably -- well, usual thing about how mother will get upset when somebody go into the army. I think that having to lose their son in the war was a very upsetting thought but when I explained to her that one of the main reasons that I did this was because I thought it would help Dad, and I think that kind of calmed her a little bit, after she thought about that.

TI: Were there any other concerns, perhaps, oh, from your mother or your family about -- I'm just thinking, 'cause you're very thoughtful, and you thought about the issue of why a segregated unit versus an integrated unit and other issues, the fact that you and your family were essentially in a prison camp being asked to fight for --

TY: Uh-huh, yeah.

TI: -- essentially your captors, the people who were guarding you. I mean, did those issues come up, too, in discussions or thoughts about your mom and perhaps your siblings supporting or not supporting you going into the army?

TY: No, I think not. I -- question like that -- people have asked questions like that to me and I thought about it and I thought now, in Minidoka, things were relatively calm. They weren't really a very strong faction of people like Manzanar and Tule Lake. Most of the people, I think were... the radical people weren't that active in Minidoka. And I think I didn't pay too much, too much of -- there were few, but not very many, and I don't think that played -- as I know, I don't think it played much, a strong part in our camp life and our volunteering to the -- and then about the volunteers. I don't think so. I don't know whether you people have heard of groups like, the radical groups in Minidoka. I don't think there were many.

AI: Well, I was also wondering if there was, as you were kind of thinking it over and you mentioned a lot of your buddies from the hospital work had already volunteered, were people trying to convince you, yeah, you should go ahead and volunteer, or was there anyone trying to talk you out of it saying, no, maybe that's not such a good idea?

TY: No, no, not really. But it was very interesting -- remember when I gave that talk at the Lordsburg, about the Lordsburg panel? After I gave a talk for, a friend of mine who worked in the hospital at that time, she was a nurse's aide. And apparently, during that time she was keeping a diary of things going on and she gave me a copy of the diary of that, the day that she got the word that I volunteered. And the notation in there was very interesting. She said, "I just heard that Tosh volunteered." And it said, "Under the circumstances, I wonder why he did that," or "why he would do that." And I thought that was kind of interesting comment. [Laughs] But no, that kind of negative thought never occurred to me, really. And I thought if anything, not only would it help my dad, it would probably -- well, I was apprehensive about being in a segregated unit and I thought they would probably use us -- there'll be discrimination in the way they'd be using us and I think at times when we were overseas it did happen. I think that we were the point in any given drive because we were what we were. I don't know. It would be my, I just get that gut feeling that maybe it played a part in our role, the role that we played over there. Not all the time but I think at times it did.

TI: Yeah, I think that some people suspect that.

TY: Yeah.

TI: But staying at Minidoka, after you made that decision, was there any kind of send-off from your, from your co-workers at the hospital or your family to bid you farewell?

TY: You know, that's a good question. I don't remember. I remember we had, they had send-off parties and whether it was specifically for me or for a group of us or what I don't remember. It's funny... I must have a mental block about things like that, but I do. [Laughs] But I do remember that at home my mother was knitting me a ski sweater. In those days I always needed a ski sweater but the fancy ski sweater with figures skiing and you know, fancy ski sweaters that she was knitting for me. And then when she heard that I was going -- she was only about a third way finished with that and so she madly knitted, finished knitting it with the help of my sister, and they got it done in about two weeks before I left, I think. In fact, I still have that sweater. I can't wear it too much now because I've outgrown it. [Laughs]

TI: So this is a sweater that you carried with you throughout your military...

TY: Yeah, yeah. In fact, I think my granddaughter is wearing it now, over in Cape Cod. Oh, another thing that, thought that came to me. I can't remember now. Well, anyway...

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AI: Well, another thing that happened before you, after you volunteered but before you were actually inducted, you got the notion to try to visit your father.

TY: Oh yes. We, I told May that I think maybe I, we ought to try arrange, arrange a visit with my dad. I think he was at that time he was in Lordsburg, New Mexico. And so we decided to do that. But we had one problem. The problem was that my sister was not a citizen. She was born in Japan. And so we had to get special permission for her and I really can't remember where it was that we got the special permission from or to whom we wrote, but we did finally get the permission to go and we -- I think sometime in March of 1943 we went down to visit him, which was a very interesting experience. One reason was that one of the major stops that we made was Albuquerque, New Mexico, and that was the time when they had the Bataan Death March, and they activated the National Guards unit in New Mexico -- in Albuquerque. One of the group that was involved in, group that was captured in was involved in Bataan Death March and so the feeling, anti-Japanese feeling was very, very strong there. And when we got Dr., I mean Father (Kitagawa) in Minidoka, the Episcopal minister --

AI: Excuse me, was that Kitagawa?

TY: Pardon?

AI: Kitagawa?

TY: I said "Katagiri." I'm sorry. Yeah, Kitagawa made arrangement to, for us to be met at the Albuquerque train station by another Episcopal minister, canon of one of the church there, the Episcopal church in New Mexico. And when we got to New Mexi-, when we got to Albuquerque it was after dark and like -- and must have been about seven o'clock in the evening and he met us at the airport and he immediately escorted us to his car. And when we got into the car he said a strange thing. He said, "Would you mind gettin' in the back and, and lie down so that people can't see you?" And I thought, "Oh that's kinda strange." I said, we said, "Okay." My sister and I looked at each other and we got in the car and I got on the floor and May lie down on the seat and once we got to the church and got inside the church, the Reverend, I think it was Snyder, said, "Well, I'm sorry I had to ask you to do that," but he said, then he explained to us why. He said that the feeling was very high in Albuquerque so we just didn't want to take any chances so we -- so very next morning, very early, we caught the train to go to Lordsburg. I remember going down but then coming back I'm not sure how we got back. And then what circumstances, how we got from the Lordsburg camp to Albuquerque and back to Idaho. We, going down, I remember vividly for some reason. I can't remember anything about going back. And when we got to Lordsburg, they, it was -- the camp was just like Minidoka, with barbed wire fence except that they seemed to have more guards and the barbed wire fence was much higher. But they did have a visitors barrack there, a visitors barrack and we went in there and we waited for our dad to come. And the experience that we had there I guess we've already mentioned in the other tape so I'm not sure whether I need to go over that.

TI: Did you talk about your decision to volunteer?

TY: Pardon?

TI: Did you tell him that you were going to volunteer? And...

TY: No, that word wasn't even mentioned. I think he was -- well, as we mentioned before in the other interview, Dad seemed to be... outwardly it seemed like he was trying to act like he was very, taking light of the situation. He was talking about mundane things like the weather and he's feeling fine and everything has been going okay and things like that and we never talked -- nothing too serious. And May told about going to college and Dad asking what she was going to major in and she said English. And he said, "English?" As if to say, "What good is that?" [Laughs] And he told her, "Well, that's all right for minor but you ought to take something more serious so that you can use it, more, be more useful in your life, getting jobs and things would be much easier if you would major in something else." But, and other than that we didn't talk -- I think we purposely avoided my volunteering because... for obvious reasons, I guess, he just didn't want to talk about it and I didn't, we didn't bring it up either. So we just talked about family and superficial things.

AI: But he was aware that you had volunteered because he knew that's partly why you were able to come and visit.

TY: Yeah, that's why, he knew that that's why -- I think we had written to him that we were gonna be coming to visit him because, before I go out to basic training. So he was aware of it but, and the last word was, he says, "Well, Tosh, be sure to take it easy. Don't do anything foolish." So I think he knew. But other than that he didn't say anything.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: Let's switch gears a little bit and talk about, in addition to all the Minidoka people that you saw, this was probably your first exposure to a lot of the Hawaiians.

TY: Oh yeah. Right, yeah.

TI: Why don't you talk about that? Because here you're sort of put into this environment where you had essentially a different culture there.

TY: Very different culture. I think I mentioned before, the first time I went into camp, they were playing poker. They like to gamble a lot, the Hawaiian fellows. And they were gambling. And the cabin that we were assigned -- the barrack that we were, I was assigned to, they were all on the, about five of them, on the floor. I think they were playing poker or throwing dice. I can't remember. Anyway, they were gambling and I was watching them for a minute. I just walked into the barrack and with my duffel bag and everything, and I put it down and I was watching them, and a few minutes later one of the fellows turned to me. And he hadn't realized I just walked in, I guess, because he didn't look at me very closely. And he said, "We need some potato chips." And I said, "Yeah." And he said. "You go to PX. You go get come." And I said, "What?" And he looked at me he said, "You go get come." And I said, "You want me to go to the PX?" And he said, "Yeah." [Laughs] And he got very upset with me. And then one of mainland guys told me, "He wants you to go get some potato chips from the PX and bring it back" -- he had given me twenty dollars to do that. So I had to ask directions how to get there and I went there and got it and brought it back, but that was my first exposure to pidgin English.

TI: And what were you thinking when this all happened? What was your reaction?

TY: I'm thinking, well, I'm thinking, "God, what in the hell did he say? What did he want me to do?" [Laughs] And I hadn't been, I hadn't talked -- been exposed to any Hawaiians until then, so at that moment I wasn't thinking much of anything. I was just trying to figure out what he was saying. But since then, of course, pidgin English is a very interesting language to say the least. Some are very, speak very strong pidgin English and others didn't. Many of the kids that had been to university spoke fairly good English but some of the fellows that haven't been -- hadn't many more formal education than grammar school or high school, they spoke pidgin English, mostly.

TI: It sounds like it was kind of a rocky start with your first exposure to Hawaiian Japanese.

TY: Yeah. What was some of the other things he said? "I go stay go you go stay come." That means you go and I'll stay, I guess. [Laughs] And things like that were very confusing when you first, first heard it. And they were a lot more -- their personality a lot different, too. They're a lot more happy-go-lucky. And the mainland people seemed to be a little more serious, I think, than the Hawaiians.

TI: Well, were you able to become friends with a lot of the Hawaiians?

TY: Yeah, I got along pretty well with them. Well, the kind of a kid I was, I got along with almost anybody. But some of the cadres who were mostly mainland people and Hawaiian guys gave 'em a pretty bad time. In fact, one of the fellows here in Seattle was a medic, was a former medic, and I know him quite well, but he said that, I didn't realize it but he told me later that Hawaiian guys gave him a real bad time. In fact, they tried to gang up on him and most of the cadre people had real hard time with, from Hawaiian fellows because they didn't take being bossed around too much I guess, being told what to do and... any authoritarian type of thing, they really fought it pretty hard and they're a lot more, they want to be more independent, I guess.

TI: The cadres were the people who helped train. But they were, they weren't the --

TY: They were the -- see, the cadre was formed from most of the people who, lot of the fellows were inducted before the war. And they were in other places and when they formed 442 they brought 'em to Camp Shelby. And they were a little bit older, a little bit older Niseis.

TI: And generally higher rank, also?

TY: Yeah. They were sergeants and the top sergeants, first sergeants and staff sergeants. So they were our leaders, so to speak.

TI: And in your opinion, were they tough? Were they pretty tough?

TY: Well, our top, our first sergeant was very tough as I think I mentioned before. But the rest of 'em were okay. I got along okay with them. And I think they were a little bit older so I respected them a little more. But I guess the Hawaiians didn't. [Laughs]

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Talk a little bit about your training, especially in your, like the medic unit, in terms of the amount of medical training, physical training.

TY: Yeah.

TI: What was --

TY: I think the physical training, I thing we went through very similar to what the infantry people went except that we didn't shoot any firearms. We did -- once or twice I think we went to the firing range and we fired the machine guns and the M-1's and pistols and carbines and all the things that they have just to give us the feel of it. But that was it as far as, as far as arms go. We didn't have any more formal training than that. Rest of the time we were spending lectures on first aid, usual first aid stuff they -- in fact it's very similar to some of these first aid classes that the Red Cross has. Generally it was more of that than -- and a lot of it was repetitious. And I think that was good because under physical and, physical and mental strain that we had to go through, I think that you worked a lot better under pressure if you do things automatic. So much of it was very repetitious. It was kind of boring at times. But, I think that was for a reason. It was designed that way for a reason. Like where the pressure points are and... but I think the most important thing was the physical part of it because it was very rigorous physical training. There was a lot of marches and hikes and lot of push-ups and that kind of stuff.

TI: Now would you do that with, just within your medical unit, or --

TY: Yeah. Medics all had training on their own. Even the ones, I think -- and guys who were assigned to companies as company aid men, three to a company, one to each platoon. They, every morning, we all got together, all the medics got together and we went through our routine for the day and then they went back to their assigned companies.

TI: And so at that --

TY: So we always went as a group.

TI: -- this is at Camp Shelby.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: At this point were you assigned to a particular company or platoon --

TY: Pardon?

TY: Were you assigned to a particular company or platoon at that point?

TY: I wasn't, no. But each company did have their own medic. Each -- they had three medics to each company. And I was with the headquarter company. And we take care of taking sick calls for the troops and the headquarter had quite a few medics also attached to them. So we weren't assigned to a company so I was with the headquarter company and the headquarter company had pharmacists and dentists and doctors and what have you.

TI: Okay. So for my benefit, let's see if I can explain this.

TY: Okay.

TI: So at Camp Shelby you were divided up into, was it at that point three battalions?

TY: Uh-huh.

TI: And then each battalion had several companies.

TY: Three companies.

TI: Three companies. And each company --

TY: And each company had --

TI: -- had three platoons.

TY: Three platoons. Yeah

TI: Three platoons. And every platoon had one medic.

TY: Yeah.

TI: And then in addition to that there was a headquarters company.

TY: Yeah.

TI: And there was, because of their function, probably a larger contingent of medical people assigned.

TY: Yeah.

TI: Okay. Good. Okay. I just want to make sure --

TY: And then during, in battle, each comp-, each battalion had a battalion aid station. And several medics attached to the battalion aid station. And when people got wounded in the field, the aid man in the company would bandage him up, give him the first aid, give him the initial first aid, and then he'd go back to the battalion aid station and they will fix you up more, re-dress you and then the doctor would decide whether you need to go to the hospital or your wound is slight enough so they send you back to the company after they take care of you. So each, each battalion had three battalions, there were three battalions, each battalion had their aid station. So when your companies were on the front lines, well the first battalion would have the aid station in the back. And people get wounded they send them back to the aid station and then from the aid station they go to the hospital, depending on how badly they were wounded.

TI: And the hospital is different from the headquarter, headquarters sort of medical team.

TY: Yeah. Well, it's kind of a line, there's a line there. There's the front line and then the battalion aid station, and then the regimental aid station and that's the headquarter medic aid station. So he'd go through there and then at the headquarters they send you back in the ambulance to wherever you need to go.

TI: Okay.

TY: So it's kind of a line of...

TI: So every platoon would have one medic.

TY: Right.

TI: So that within a battalion with three companies and three platoons there were like nine aid men out there on the front. Then they have a battalion sort of aid station.

TY: Battalion aid station.

TI: And roughly how many people would be there, do you think?

TY: Oh boy. Oh, I'd say maybe twenty.

TI: Twenty?

TY: Yeah.

TI: Okay, so they have that --

TY: Approximately, approximately, yeah

TI: -- and then back, and then you have your regimental which is --

TY: See, within the battalion aid station they have litter bearers also. They send out litter bearers from there as needed. So, it might be more than twenty, maybe, because each litter needs four individuals to carry on the litter. So, and then when things get bad, well, we enlist other, like service company who's in, always in the rear, and they get people from service company and other companies to be litter bearers. So, I mean, right in the middle of battle, well, almost anything can happen really. It's not that well-organized. Whatever is expedient.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: And so during basic training, as you're learning about this sort of system in place, they did give you some training with weapons. Was there ever --

TY: Minimal. Yeah.

TI: Right. Was there an understanding that in the field there might be times when you would have to pick up a firearm and use it? Was that -- how was that explained to you?

TY: No. I understand that in Korea, medics carried arms. But we never did. We never did.

TI: Were there ever a situation or instructions that they'd say, in this situation, even though you're a medic, go ahead and fire the weapon, or what instructions --

TY: No, I don't think, I don't think, I don't think anything was said about that. It's just that we were given training with the, just minimal training with the arms. I guess in case of emergency, just in case we had to for some reason or the other. But there was, it was never specified that maybe you might have a, you might one day have to use arms. I don't think that was ever mentioned. They might have mentioned it, but I don't recall.

TI: How about when you eventually were in a platoon, and so you're the one person who's not carrying arms, everyone else is, was there ever discussion with the other men about, well, in this situation you have to help me out and shoot something or anything like that, or was there anything like that? Or were the medics always sort of separate from all that? I'm curious how that all worked.

TY: Well, I have thought about that because, I thought, well, one of these -- when I was up there, I thought one of these days maybe I'll have to pick up an arm and shoot somebody. But fortunately the situation never arose. I was so busy bandaging people up on their, during thick of battle that you just don't -- the situation never occurred, arose that I had to even think about it. I don't -- I was so busy that -- bandaging people up that -- because when I, in fact, when I, the day I got wounded, we were on an intense barrage and the instant the barrage started, well of course there were people hurt, and then they'd call, "Medic, medic," and so I must have bandaged about four or five people before I got wounded myself. And so, you're so busy that you don't, you just felt like, I mean, and the situation never occurred that I had to even think about that.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Going back to Shelby a little bit, just in terms of how you were bonding with the other men.

TY: Uh-huh.

TI: So, it sounds like it was more bonding with the other medics rather than --

TY: Yeah.

TI: -- with the...

TY: For us it was. But I think for aid men that were assigned to various companies, I think they probably bonded with the infantrymen that they were, that their company, that company were assigned to. And some of the close -- I'm thinking about some of the close friends I had during basic training were people like myself who were pretty young and we... one of the fellows that I got acquainted with very well was one of the Hawaiian fellows. And he was kinda like me. He was kinda naive. And when we were overseas I remember, he and a couple of us who were about the same type of personality, went to museums and things like that while some of the other fellows went elsewhere. [Laughs] And somehow you pick up, friends that you pick up are people with common interests, I think, a common personality. Like some of the medic friends that I have now, the old army buddies, I really wasn't that close with them during basic training. Not at all, in a matter of fact. One fellow who is a retired MD now, that I in fact talk to him about once a week over the telephone. He's in New York. He lives in Long Island and he and I met on the fiftieth reunion in Hawaii, re-met, re-met. And until then I really knew him fairly well but not, but wasn't really close to him. And then we really bonded at that time. I don't know, for some reason. We've been really close since then. And we've been exchanging e-mail and... but he was one of the cadres. He was much older than, he's about four years older than I am. Four or five years older than I am. He was --

TI: And so I was going to get to that next. Curious, so, the officer in charge of your unit, was he a Caucasian? Or was he --

TY: The top, the top two officers, the medical -- Major Buckley, who was the head of the medical detachment, he was a hakujin. And one fellow under him, assistant to him was Dr. Hogan, he was a dentist, and they were two hakujins. But rest of then were all, most of them were Niseis.

TI: Were there Nisei doctors in the unit?

TY: Yeah.

TI: Actually had medical degrees?

TY: And then, when we went overseas, there were two doctors assigned to each battalion aid stations. And they were all Niseis. And Dr. Hogan and Dr. Buckley and Dr. Hogan went overseas with us. And there were, I think there was another hakujin doctor but I don't think he went overseas with us. Somebody mentioned them and I don't really remember him. But most of the MD's, all the MD's were, except for the two top officers, were Niseis. And one interesting, one fellow's name is Okonoge. He grew up in Brooklyn in an Irish neighborhood. And I remember we, at first when he came we used to call him Okonoge, Dr. Okonoge or Captain Okonoge, and he said, then he -- couple of weeks after he says, "It's not Okonoge. There's an apostrophe after the O. It's O'Konoge." [Laughs]

TI: So he had an Irish last name?

TY: Well, no. Okonoge is his name.

TI: Oh, it is but then --

TY: Okonoge is, but then all you do have to put an apostrophe after the O, and they call him O'Konoge. [Laughs]

TI: I got it. Okay. That's good.

TY: I thought that was really funny.

TI: Yeah. Oh, it's unusual that he was a captain, also.

TY: Yeah.

TI: Was that unusual to have a Nisei as --

TY: No, no... now what did he come there as? I wonder if they got promoted... no --

TI: In the field?

TY: Dr.... I think they were all, most of the battalion surgeons were captains. So Dr. Ushiro was a lieutenant when he went over and he got his, became a captain and got a battlefield promotion. So, but the other doctors I think were already captains when they went overseas.

TI: For a medical, sort of, in the field medical unit, was the sort of level of medical expertise pretty similar to what you would see in other, perhaps Caucasian units? Do you have a sense of that in terms of how the 442 medical team sort of compared with the other units?

TY: Well, I thought that our doctors were always a little better, but maybe that's just, not necessarily so. I don't know. But I felt that they were better. But I think that's more -- I'm not sure whether that's true or not.

TI: That was just from your sense? Or did people just kind of feel like that in the unit, that the doctors were --

TY: It was just my sense, I think. Yeah. I'm not too sure whether that's a rational summation of the whole thing, but I think it was true. And I always, well, I felt that way about the 442 itself, so, that's more emotional than intellectual conclusion, I think.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Well, as a unit, as you were being transported to Europe --

AI: Oh, excuse me Tom. Before leaving Camp Shelby, there was one aspect of Camp Shelby I wanted to ask you about, and that is, there it was, you were in Mississippi, the state of Mississippi, for the first time --

TY: Oh, yeah.

AI: -- and I wanted to ask what your observation was about that.

TY: That was interesting. Of course, I remember going into Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and getting on the bus. You know, and all the blacks were sitting in the back. I heard about that, but I'd never really experienced it myself. And being really, actually into that type of culture, and it really kind of struck me when I first got on the bus. I remember thinking, and I got on the bus and I started walking back and I noticed all the blacks were sitting in the back. And I thought, "Oh my god, I guess I'm down in the South, all right." And then separate bathrooms, black and white. Drinking fountains were different, separate. It really shook me -- that was very, that really shook me up, I think. It was, it just struck me, all of a sudden I thought, "Oh my god, I guess I am in the South," and it was sort of an uncomfortable feeling, really. I didn't quite know how to take it. I knew how to handle it, but emotionally I had a difficulty trying to cope with it. I really felt sorry for the guys that were sitting in the back but shikata ga nai, there's not much you can do. And I think the Hawaiian fellows had problems with that, too, when they -- there were a lot of fights, I think, in the beginning, when you go into town. Well, there was a lot of conflict physically with Niseis, mainland Niseis. In the beginning, I think things were pretty bad. But I think eventually things worked out. And I guess there's a story about when they finally -- when they... Daniel Inouye took a contingent of Hawaiians to one of the camps, the story goes that once they realized the situation that we were in when we volunteered from, well, they changed their thoughts about us. But, I don't know. To me it sounds like too much of like a good story; that things just changed all of a sudden. I don't think it changed that suddenly. But I think there was a gradual change and I think the big change came when we went overseas. I think the big change with them because we were all in the same environment and going through the same thing and that brought us a lot closer, I think.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So as you were getting closer to the transport ship, getting closer to Europe -- I've talked to some of the men who were more in the fighting units and sort of their thoughts as they approached Europe and got closer and closer. What was going through your mind as you were getting closer to Europe and ready to actually land in Europe? What was going through your mind?

TY: Well, that was -- my brother asked me that one time. And I thought to myself, you know, it was almost like when I heard about the war, December 7th. And from that time on, every once in a while I think, God, this must be all a dream. One of these days you're gonna wake up and everything's gonna go back to normal. Well, the factor of the unknown, going overseas, and what's going, what type of things we'll be exposed to when we go over there. That kinda, at that time seemed like it was kind of like a dream to me. It just didn't seem like it was really happening. And I really didn't know what to expect. All the amount of listening and hearing that you do from other people talking, it really doesn't, it's never just what you expect once you get there. And once you get in the front line there's just, nothing, nothing will compare to that. It's just, emotionally, I think, un-stability about the whole thing is very unnerving and you don't know whether to be nervous or to be scared or what. So...

TI: So describe when you guys landed, what was it like? How did you guys set up and get ready? 'Cause I imagine the medical unit, you have a lot more supplies that you have to sort of, sort of carry and worry about --

TY: Yeah, yeah.

TI: -- than perhaps some of the other units. So what, how did that all work?

TY: Well, I think in the medics we had -- certain people did -- we had specific assignments. And so I don't remember helping unloading anything myself. I think there was some of the other people, some of the other fellows that that was their duty to do that. And when we got off the ship, what did we first do? I don't remember. [Laughs] I do not remember.

TI: But probably, or were there like certain trucks that were for all the medical supplies that you would have those ready?

TY: Yeah, we had jeep drivers and we have three-quarter ton trucks assigned to us, I think, for supplies, to haul supplies and things. And being the headquarter company that I was assigned to, we had more supplies in general than say people who were, the aid men and various companies. They really didn't have to worry much about that. But the headquarter company, we had to, we had a lot more equipment. So I remember, I do remember helping unload some of the stuff, but big things, of course I, I don't remember how those things were unloaded. But we were assigned -- we did, were assigned, we had -- we didn't have any specific things like ambulances assigned to us. I think it was assigned to us from the corps that we would be assigned to. But jeeps and things, we had our own. And equipment, we did -- the first thing we did of course is, we went to our first bivouac area and the first thing you set up was the aid stations because people get sick and they come in for aspirin and little things like that. So one of our main jobs was to set up the headquarter aid station. And I guess that's...

TI: So explain how that works. So you have sort of a headquarters station, aid station, so it's the type of thing that you, obviously you don't move every day, so it must, you must jump to different locations based on where you're going?

TY: Yeah.

TI: And then are you following the other battalions, or do you establish headquarters first and then the battalions get there? How did that usually work?

TY: Oh boy. [Laughs] That's a good question.

TI: Or, how long did --

TY: I do remember that any time we got to specific -- well, when you go to, go to specific area, we were given a specific area to set up our aid stations, tents and things, so I do know that when I was with the headquarter company we were given a certain area to establish our aid station, and we just set it up. And others -- we have what, the whole combat unit must have been what, 5,000 men. And so it covers a big area wherever they're spread out. We're never all together. We're all, we're spread out quite a bit. So I have no idea what happens as far as the other aid stations go. But I know that the headquarter aid station, when we go, get to a given area, well, we're given a place to set up our aid station and we just set it up. And the -- then we have our headquarter, then the infantry unit, the combat team has a headquarter company. So they set up around us, too. So all I remember was helping set up our aid station, headquarter aid station, getting the aid station going

TI: How long generally would you be in one place before you move to the next place?

TY: Well, it varied, it depends. Sometimes maybe a day, sometimes couple weeks. I think when we got to Naples, I think we were there at least two weeks gettin' equipment, necessary equipment and infantrymen get their ammunition and everything. Because I'm sure that that wasn't hauled, didn't come on the ship along with us. And all the supplies were supplied to us after we landed. So when you first got there, we're there about two weeks to get all our equipment and some different clothing, because as I recall -- when did we land in Italy? It was sometime during the summer, I think, and so it was pretty warm and we had nothing but wool clothing. So they assigned, gave us summer clothing, light clothing. And I remember discarding the wool clothing that we had. And we just -- any time we get new clothing we just throw whatever we had on away. We just garbage it.

TI: 'Cause how long would you be wearing, would you wear that, the clothes, before you got new, new issued?

TY: Well, that's a good question. Depends. Sometimes several weeks. We'd take, we'd take these sponge bath with about a, with a helmet of fresh water, and with that we'd brush our teeth, wash our face, sponge ourselves down.

TI: But how about, as an aid man, if you're splattered with blood or something, wouldn't that be a problem? Wouldn't you have to somehow try to keep that clean or is that different?

TY: No. We just keep 'em on. 'Cause you just can't -- and then sometime when we're on the front lines for say couple weeks, we may not have gotten a change of clothing for a couple weeks, or three weeks. When we come back, the first thing we do, they'd give us new clothing, everything from underwear up and we just discard everything and put the new clothing on, and I think the most often we got was once a week, new change. So we wouldn't change for a week at least. But sometimes you're on the front lines for three or four weeks, well, you're pretty ripe by the time you get back. And we'll get warm shower at time like that when you get back, and warm meals, and new clothing, and so it just depends on the situation. Most of the time I think at least once a week we get change but sometimes not for several weeks. And our clothing, like blood and things, well, I mean, that's a minor problem really. At that time we didn't even think of it.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AI: Just to place this in the time and the location a little bit more. I just wanted to mention about -- that, I understand that the 442 left for Europe in May of 1944 and --

TY: May.

AI: -- and arrived in Europe and was assigned to General Mark Clark's 5th Army --

TY: Yes, okay.

AI: -- that was already there.

TY: In Italy. Yeah.

AI: In Italy. And so that's why you were saying -- so in Italy you landed at Naples.

TY: Yeah.

AI: And then that was shortly before the 5th Army was going to enter Rome, I believe.

TY: Yeah, that was, yeah.

AI: Early June, I understand.

TY: Yeah, right. Yeah. And then we joined, we went to front lines just shortly after they went into Rome. We just bypassed Rome and we -- I think were close to Florence area, I think, and we had our first bivouac area where we, there again too, we used to get all our supplies and things, before went into the front line.

TI: It was about this time that the 100th was also attached to the 442.

TY: At that time, yes. When we went overseas, we left our 1st Battalion in Camp Shelby and they were to be cadre for a replacement for us and when we went overseas just the first and, the 2nd and 3rd Battalion went overseas. And once we got over there, the 100th Battalion became our 1st Battalion, and it became part of the combat team. That was right after Rome was liberated. And I think I told you before that the 100th --

TI: The 100th were prevented from...

TY: 100th were prevented from going into Rome.

TI: But the 100th by this time had seen quite a bit of action.

TY: Yes.

TI: And so they were an experienced unit.

TY: Yeah, real -- they had a lot of casualty during Cassino, battle in Cassino and beyond that, they really, they been in -- when did they first go into line? Do you remember? Do you have a record of when 100th went into the line first?

TI: Oh, I --

TY: I think they were there about six months already when we joined them. I think. They might of been there longer, I don't know.

TI: Yeah, I think they might have been in there a little longer.

TY: Maybe almost a year. But they suffered quite a high casualty.

TI: So describe what it was like when you, when the 100th was attached to the 442, when you met either the medics or the other soldiers from the 100th. Was there anything that you can remember?

TY: It was very strange. I was -- in fact yesterday, day before yesterday after I got home, night before last and last night, I got back some of the 442 historical book that I have and tried to review some of that and I, I was wondering about when 100th -- the day that the 100th -- that day that we, the 100th joined us and I do remember that I had some friends in the 100th and meeting up with them and I was so glad to see they were still alive because I heard so much about, they suffering such heavy casualty that I thought that some of the friends that I knew were probably not there anymore. But I was happy to see them. And I guess story, I've heard story of guys asked them how it was and they say, "Oh, it wasn't so bad." [Laughs] But of course it was something else. And I think most of the guys in 442 kinda looked up to them because they been at it for much longer than they have and they are really experienced soldiers by then. And they had a lot of stories to tell and I think they did lot of listening and other than, they didn't do much talking themselves. I think they listened a lot.

TI: The 100th guys listened a lot?

TY: No, no the 442.

TI: The 442 guys listened a lot to the 100th.

TY: Yeah.

TI: How about on the --

TY: And then they were about, mostly Hawaiians, too, so the Hawaiian fellows were obviously very happy to see them. And I guess most of them looked up to them as maybe like an older brother, really.

TI: Yeah, I interviewed some other vets and they talked about how the 100th would explain certain things to the 442 guys in terms of combat.

TY: Uh-huh.

TI: I was wondering, in a similar way, did any of the 100th medical team people talk to the 442 people in terms of what to expect or how to --

TY: That's the other thing I was looking up to see. The, how the medical group was organized in the 100th because I really didn't know anybody from the 100th, the medical detachment. They had their own detachment. They call it medical detachment. And I was a medical detachment with the 442. They were medical detachment for the 100th Battalion. So I think they were organized a little bit differently than ours but they were pretty, they were quite independent from our detachment. And even --

TI: So they had their own separate headquarters?

TY: Apparently, apparently. I really -- because I kinda, found it kinda strange that there was not much communication between the two groups. Because I don't know any of the 100th during the war. I didn't, any medic. I've met some of them after. And when I went to the 50th reunion in Hawaii I met one Dr. Harada who was a medic with -- he's a dentist and he was a medic with the 100th Battalion. But he was explaining to me some of the set up that they had and it was completely foreign to me. I really -- and I didn't know -- he's the only one, the 100th medic that I met and that was after the war. And I have taken the responsibility -- we have a medical, the 442 Club in Hawaii has a medic section and president of that group is a Hawaiian fellow. And I took up a responsibility of making a directory of the ex-medics in the 442. And it must be about fifty of 'em that I have, and not one of 'em are100th, from the 100th detachment. So we don't know anybody from the 100th.

TI: That's interesting.

TY: It's kinda strange. I found that, I found that very strange when I thought about it afterwards that we just don't know. In fact, we have no contact with people, 100th Battalion. They were for some reason just entirely different unit.

TI: I'm gonna have to do more research on that. Now I'm curious about that. I'm not sure why it's like that.

TY: Yeah, well, I felt the same thing last night when I was trying to -- that's how I was trying to get some information in some of the books that I have and I couldn't find any and I -- so I plan to go back to the 60th reunion in Hawaii next year and I think I'm going to see if I can get hold of some of the medic that was in the 100th and find out what -- or talk to (Ted) Matsuo, who's the president of the medic of the 442. Ask him why they don't have any contact with the medic in the 100th. Because ranks are kind of thinning out, now, you know and -- I thought the very same thing last night. I thought maybe I'll, in fact I made a note to myself to do that when I go over there.

TI: I'd be curious if you find out anything. I'm curious about that.

TY: I'll give you...

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So, the next thing I want to talk to you is -- so now that you're set up, how long was it before you started seeing casualties coming through the headquarters aid station?

TY: Not long. Not long. Within -- well, if you go into battle, say, today, oh, within a couple hours, I think. They'll be coming through the aid station.

TI: And what was that like? I mean, describe how that was for you guys.

TY: Very chaotic, depending on how many -- how high the casualty -- in the very beginning the casualty wasn't very high so it was -- they trickled in and most of them -- many of them were -- when once they go through the battalion aid station they go back to the unit again because little scratches or just flesh wounds or something that's just a band-aid... and more seriously wounded people, guys would be coming to the headquarters and then back to the evac hospital -- evacuation hospital.

TI: Well, as they were trickling in, the very first ones, for many of them, it was their first action that they saw.

TY: Yeah, right.

TI: Can you remember what it was like for them when they came back and they were talking to you and you were talking with them?

TY: Well, I do, I do remember that the first, first time, one of the earlier casualties that came and one was very seriously wounded fellow and I forgot which doctor it was, but you could see the anxiety in his face, being the first casualty and all that. He really looked very anxious. I think that was Dr. Buckley, Major Buckley. And I think he was going through the, the growing pains of the actual action. Just like anybody else. And I remember very, I think it was one fellow that lost an arm and we had to put a great big bandage on him to keep his bleeding and -- it was kind of, some anxious moment even, just watching I got very anxious and wondering whether he was gonna survive or not. One of the few things I remember. The other things I don't really remember too vividly. On that one I do. And I imagine the battalion aid station was other, chaotic. It's bad enough under "normal" circumstances but in the first, I think the first day or two, I think it was pretty chaotic. Decision of whether to -- whether the wound is serious enough to send 'em back or whether you could just bandage 'em up and just send 'em back to the unit again. Walking woundeds were something else because some of the walking wounded, they could be seriously wounded but they were able to walk. Others were not very serious and you could send them back. But some of them were kind of in-between in the gray area and you wonder whether you send 'em back or not. And I think at that time the policy was, when in doubt send 'em back, instead of send 'em back up again.

TI: Because they just needed the men up on the front.

TY: Yeah, yeah. Send 'em -- what I meant was send them back to the hospital.

TI: Oh, to the hospital. So not to --

TY: To the regimental, regimental aid station and let the doctors at the regimental aid station decide what they want to do. Like myself, now I was able to walk in but I had a leg wound and it was not too serious and, but it was -- the shrapnel was embedded in, embedded in the bone. So luckily they sent me back to the hospital.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: So, Tosh, so the next question I wanted to ask was, as you were treating the men who were on the front line, back at the aid station, did you ever get a chance to ask them how it was going up there, or did you get a sense of how it was up there and how they were feeling?

TY: I think, I don't think we ever asked them specific questions how things were going. Because we got the sense of how things were going because number of, by the number of casualty comes through. You have a feeling that, how many, whether there were lot of people being wounded, the casualty was large or small. And we were so busy treating them that I don't think we thought much about the battle itself, actually. And, at time I was at the 3rd Battalion aid station when casualties came in, too. And it was very -- up there it was lot more chaotic than there was in regimental aid station. Because you're closer to the line and more people, more fellows come in there. And half of them --

TI: How about just psychologically, were they, when they came there, were they... I imagine if you're sort of in that gray area of not knowing if you should go to the hospital or back to the front lines, it would, did they have --

TY: Well, some of the gray areas were people that were, people who were shell-shocked. Some of them were shell-shocked. And in fact, fellow that I replaced was one that was shell-shocked and they -- he was, it was, he was in pretty bad state, I think --

TI: I'm sorry, the person that replaced --

TY: That I replaced.

TY: -- that you replaced.

TI: As a company aid, Company I --

TY: I see.

TI: -- aid man. The reason that it happened, as I understand it, was that there were, he was company -- his platoon, it was, were at the point, and they were going up to a machine gun nest and they, and just as they approached it they, the fellow, the German fired the machine gun, and it was at night, and at night they, they put tracers about every ten bullets or something, they're tracers so they'll know where they're firing, especially at night. And apparently the medic was standing like this and the machine gun went "ttttt" like that, and just by bare miracle he didn't get hit. But he saw tracers going between his legs. And right at that point he just couldn't stand up. He was just, and they had to carry him back and he was in pretty bad state. So things like that happened and -- but some of the people, when they get that psychological condition, it really, not really bad, it was just, say, it's a mild case of shell-shock. And what do you do with him? It was a question -- so it was just a matter of judgment as to what to do with people like that, men like that. And many of them would just get flesh wounds. Just, small enough you just put a band-aid, like something like a patch, small band-aid and send 'em back. Others would be a little more serious, but, with a butterfly bandage you'll be all right in few days, so you send them back. So it, a lot of it is a matter of judgment about what the doctors and the medic who was attending the GI, so...

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: And tell me about, we got into it a little bit, but the casualties of the medics. I mean, you mentioned you had to replace someone who was shell-shocked. Was it pretty common for the medics on the front lines to be injured or killed, and had to be replaced? Was that pretty --

TY: Yeah, when a fellow, when I got wounded, the fellow that replaced me got killed the second day. And the fellow that replaced him got seriously wounded. So, and I, now how many, actually the KIA, the killed in action medics weren't that many. Well, one is too many, actually. But I'd say at least a dozen of the group were killed in action. And George Sawada that I was telling about, he was one of the first ones. He was about, maybe a week or so after we're on the front lines.

TI: You mentioned he was shot by a sniper?

TY: Pardon?

TI: He was shot by a sniper?

TY: Sniper. Actually, he was such a valuable personnel that he was assigned to headquarters, also. And he -- when we're in thick of battle, when things are getting so bad that they needed volunteers to volunteer as litter bearers, and he volunteered to go. And on the way back, well, sniper got him. And after, I remember after he got back --

TI: Now, litter bearers, would they have arm bands --

TY: Yeah, at that time we still had arm bands on.

TI: -- designated as Red Cross?

TY: And the Red Cross on the helmet, and at that time we did. As I told you before, it was shortly thereafter we just took 'em all off. We took the arm bands off and helmets off, not that they were particularly picking on us, on medics, but we thought that, well we don't wanna take a chance. I mean, why take a chance and, such a good target that we decided would be best to, not to wear them, so we didn't. Yeah, well, I kept the medic roster and I think the record I have it must be about, not even a dozen, maybe ten or so medics were KIAs. But there were a lot of them wounded, though.

TI: But when your friend was killed, it must have been devastating to the other medics.

TY: Yeah.

TI: Because he was such a --

TY: Because, for one thing, he was one of the first casualties. And so it hit us all real hard. And not only that, I remember Dr., or Major Buckley, or was it Dr.? Captain Hogan, anyway, he lambasted the sergeant who was in charge of the litter bearer to even let George go as a litter bearer. He says, "You shouldn't have let him go even if he volunteered." I remember him bawling him out. But, that's the way things happen in wartime, I guess.

TI: 'Cause trained medical staff were, I mean it was, they were so valuable --

TY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

TI: -- the trained medical staff. That they were to be protected and...

TY: Yeah, he was very valuable man, but, well that's one thing I've -- my philosophy during the war time has changed because I became a fatalist because without being that I think that it would have been difficult to survive psychologically. I began to think that, well, when my time comes, it'll come no matter where you are. We might be just sitting eating lunch and some stray bullet will hit you or, or when your time comes, well, it will just come and it doesn't matter what you'll be doing. You might be in thick of battle and if you're lucky you just be okay. And so I just felt that -- so once I philosophized that, well I decided, then things keep, took, it was little easier to take. Because once when I got, we got assigned to, as a company aid man, Company I, well, every day during the battle you think, "Well, I wonder if today is the day." And I think everybody thinks that. But, in the beginning you worry about it, but then later on you decide that maybe the fate will take care of it and so why worry about it so much. Otherwise you end up in Section Eight, being a psycho case or something so... I think a lot of people, the fellows often, their thinking changed a lot during the wartime like that. And even now I feel that in a way. I feel that one of these days my time comes it will come whether I'm walking in the street or driving a car or, it's just so...

TI: Well, do men turn towards religion or other things at times like this to help them try to regain some sense of control over --

TY: Well, I'm not really a particularly religious individual. I went to Japanese, Seattle Japanese Methodist Church for years until December 7th. And I was baptized a Christian, but of course when I was baptized I was only about fourteen years old and I was -- since the war, after I came back, I really didn't go back to church. But I did become a Unitarian, which is a lot more liberal-thinking. And so, and, but I, I envy people who are very religious because they have something to fall back on when things get really tough. I mean, I think from a psychological standpoint, I think it's very good, but, but I'm not very religious, actually, and --

TI: You mentioned earlier, though, there was something and, and you called it a superstition --

TY: Yeah.

TI: -- with, could you talk about that a little bit?

TY: Oh, well, what I mentioned was that I'm not a superstitious individual, either, really, but at times, stressful time like during the war, I remember I did smoke, not smoke a lot, just smoked occasionally, smoked cigarettes, and we're out in the line just smoking. All of us really took care not to light three individuals with one match, three cigarettes with one match, because that was considered bad luck. And I remember when they lit two, well, we always blew that one out and lit another one and, with another match and I don't think I -- if there was a ladder I would have walked under that, either. [Laughs] Even if I didn't, wasn't superstitious, I thought, well, just in case, why take a chance? Why tip the scale if you don't have to? And I guess lot of people felt that way. Lot of fellows felt that thing. And I say, "Well, are you superstitious?" "No, I'm not superstitious." Yeah, right. [Laughs]

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: Now, I'm curious. Do you recall ever treating someone that you knew either back from Seattle or Minidoka that happened to come through your aid station or --

TY: Somebody I knew?

TI: Yeah, someone you knew.

TY: A couple of the people, yeah, I did, a couple of the people from Seattle I knew casually had come through the aid station. Battalion -- 3rd Battalion aid station, in fact. And, but luckily they weren't hurt very seriously. I think, well, it was serious enough that -- one was an arm wound and he had to go back to the hospital but it wasn't life-threatening. So it really wasn't too bad.

One interesting happened, interesting thing happened when -- during the 50th, well, about these reunions. The 442 reunions, 442 Club over in Hawaii have had reunions almost every year since day one, and some every two years, but quite frequently. And I never been to one of them. I decided that I didn't want to have any part of army anymore. I'd had enough. And so, and I never, I didn't join this Nisei, Seattle Nisei Vet organization until, well, after the fiftieth reunion in Hawaii because the same reason that I just didn't want to do too much army life anymore. But, the 50th reunion in 1993, I think it was, one of the army fellows -- no, another fellow, Victor Izui from Chicago, the fellow that I was in the medic together with, they were in the same company. He called up and he says, "Are you going to the 50th reunion?" And I said, "No." And he said, "Why don't you?" I told him, "Well, I haven't been to any reunion and I don't think I'll be all that interested." And he called back the week later and he asked me again. And he finally prevailed, I finally decided, okay. So we decided to go and I, I was very happy that I went. I hadn't seen those fellows for fifty years, and it was like old home week. It was, I really had a good time. In fact, one of the -- this Harry Abe, fellow that I mentioned about that was a retired MD, I met him over there. Got re-acquainted with him and got to know him real well. But when we got to the hotel -- when Fumi and I got to the hotel, we had a note in our box saying, "Say Tosh, meet me, meet me in the lobby at three o'clock if you come in at three. If not, well, call me in my room." It was whatever it was. And it was signed Harry Abe. And I told Fumi, turned to Fumi and I said, "Harry Abe, gee, I thought he was dead." And much to my surprise he was much alive and I got to know him real well and during that three or four days I was at reunion I got reacquainted with all the fellows, the medic and the -- I really enjoyed myself. And I thought that was gonna be a last hurrah. Well, here we are next year it's gonna be the 60th. So I decided to go to the 60th reunion.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: Talk a little bit about how you were injured. I wanna get that story about your wound and how that happened, 'cause at that point --

AI: And where that was.

TI: Yeah, right. And where, so, if you could explain that because at that point you're in the platoon?

TY: Yeah, I was in Company I, 1st Platoon medic.

TI: At this point I think you were in France.

TY: Yeah, we were in France. It was just, just shortly before the "Lost Battalion."

TI: So this was after the liberation of Bruyeres?

TY: Yeah, it was... well, I know the exact date. It was October 19th and -- there's several interesting incidents about that, too. Now, when I got wounded, we were, I think our platoon leader, the first lieutenant, I think he really, it was a mental mistake. We dug in in an area we thought on the opposite slope of where the German were. And we dug in and we dug our slit trenches. And then shortly thereafter we started getting shelled. And the shell was coming, not from that direction directly ahead of us, but it was from our flank. And so we, we were in the wrong place. And a German .88 from a Hollister was being shot directly at us and their trajectory is just almost straight. And it comes very fast. You hear it going off and split second later you hear a tree, hitting a tree or, and I got wounded by a tree burst. But because we were in the forest, thick forest area, well, it was really lot of people got wounded because it would hit a tree burst, it would hit the tree and then the shrapnel, thousand piece of shrapnel would, fragments would spray down to you like rain. And so even if you're in flat trench, it's coming from top of you so there's no way of getting out and getting away from that. So we had a lot of casualty in the -- shortly thereafter start calling medic so I just run like crazy to patching people up and I must have patched up about four fellows and in the process I got hit. Well, when I heard the shell coming, I hid behind a big tree, about this big. But as luck would have it, I had my leg sticking out, and that's where I got hit, on my right leg, right below the knee. And so I just walked over, limped over to the aid station by myself, and I looked at my wound and it was, it didn't look very serious. So, but I thought gee, God, it's not too serious. They're gonna probably send me right back again. And as it turned out, the shrapnel hit the bone and so that was serious enough so they sent me back. But all that time when I found out that it hit the bone, well, I had a smile on my face. And I remember the chaplain was there and he said, "Tosh," he said, "you're the only one who's come in here for the aid station wounded and you're smiling." [Laughs] Said, "Why?" I said, "I think I have a million dollar wound." And that's indeed what I had.

TI: Explain the "million dollar wound." What was that?

TY: Well, it's -- even if the shrapnel was just, just the size of about half of your small fingernail, tip of your finger, but it embedded in the bone so it was serious enough that they had to send me back to the hospital. And another thing, once little, small shrapnel like that hits the bone, it's small enough so that it really doesn't do that much damage but it takes a long time to heal. And another good thing about shrapnel is that when they, when you get hit by shrapnel, it's hot enough that it's sterile when it goes into the wound so you don't have to worry too much about infection. And so they usually leave it in there. And I still have it in there. And it really doesn't bother me that much but, except when cold weather or something, it does bother me if I stay on my, stay on my feet for a long time it bothers me a little bit. But I'm able to play tennis so that's okay.

So it, being a bone wound, it took several months to heal. And at that time they flew me, we were in France but they flew me back to Naples, Italy to the general hospital there. And I stayed there about three weeks and then one week they send you from the hospital to what they call rehab center. They rehab you for the kill again. Fatten you up for, to send you back out on the line so, I was in rehab center for a month going to physical training and, almost like going through basic training. And then in February they sent me back to the unit when they were in Nice, France.

But the incidents about being wounded -- when we were at the 50th reunion, in Bruyeres, France, I met the fellow that was on the tour group that I was in, he had an artificial hand and... what was his name? Oh, I can't remember. But anyway, I sat next to him, one lunch time, and talked with him and he, I said, "Oh, you must have gotten wounded overseas?" And he says, "Yeah." I said, "Where'd you get wounded?" And he said, "Just before Bruyeres." And I said, "Oh, that's where I got wounded." I told him. And he said -- and so I said, "What company were you in?" He says, "Company I." I said, "I was the Company I medic." He says, "Oh yeah?" Said, "You're the one who must have been, patched me up when I got wounded," and, because he got wounded October 19th. And I was so surprised. [Laughs] So he put his arm around me, says, "Thanks." And I have a picture of him. But anyway, I remember him because he, his hand, he was very seriously wounded. And at that time when I bandaged him I said -- the first thing you think of when they're bleeding badly is where is the best; where is the pressure point. And I thought, God, where would it be? And I panicked for a second deciding where, what'd I'd do with him. And I, if put a bandage on him. So I remember. I didn't remember who it was, but I remember the event happening. But, that was kind of interesting that I met someone I had bandaged up and it was the very day that I got wounded, too, so that made it twice as interesting.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: I'm curious; when you go to the hospital, and you're wounded, they present you with the Purple Heart. Does that happen right away, or does that happen after the war? When do the medals...

TY: After the war.

TI: After the war?

TY: Yeah. I, no, I never got -- I think otherwise it would be, it would have been so busy I don't think they would have had time to do that.

TI: Right. So all those medals and things --

TY: I think, latter part of the war, when later casualties, when the casualties weren't so great, I think they probably were presenting them with the Purple Heart at the hospital maybe. But I don't remember anybody getting Purple Heart in the hospital I was at.

TI: So, for you it would sort of catch up at the end of the war?

TY: End of the war, yeah.

TI: How about any other medals or citations?

TY: Well I got my, I got Bronze Star for that citation the day that I got wounded. I got Bronze Star for that. But Bronze Star isn't a big deal because thousands of guys got it and I just, I feel kinda embarrassed even talking about it, but I did get a Bronze Star.

TI: That was for going out and patching these guys up while the tree bursts were going through?

TY: Yeah, yeah, under stress. [Laughs] Well, lot of medics did that. That was -- it's not something you wanna do because you feel heroic but it's something you just, it's your duty, and you do it, and you don't think about, even when they're shells flying all over and they call, "medic," well, it's kind of a conditional response, when you hear, "medic," well you just go. You don't think about whether it might, you might be endangered because of all that fireworks going around you, but... you just, you just react. I don't think you think about anything else. I didn't. I don't know about other guys but, this is something you have to do and you just do it.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: I think to end up, I wanna go back. So you, after four months, returned back to the unit and it was, they were in, I think, the Champagne Campaign at that point.

TY: Right.

TI: But after that they were then transferred back over to Italy.

TY: Right.

TI: And there was another key battle, the breaking of the Gothic Line.

TY: Gothic Line, yeah.

TI: And...

TY: I remember that. Yeah, at that time I was, when we went back to Italy, well, they asked me, "Where do you want to go? You wanna go back to Company I?" and I said, "Well, I don't think so." And he said --

TI: Tosh, before we go there, just to, to, the amazing thing about Company I was after you were wounded, was the battle of the Lost Battalion.

TY: Lost Battalion, yeah.

TI: And Company I took, took huge hits.

TY: Yeah. Well, as the legendary story goes, I think Company I ended up with two hundred and some odd men, let's see, in the company, how many... let's see, each platoon is about forty-five men that's, I think it must be about two hundred and fifty men and only seven or eight were left in Company I.

TI: So out of a full company only seven or eight were left standing.

TY: Standing, the rest were either wounded or killed in action.

TI: Including your, your, one of your replacements.

TY: Yeah, I think Victor Izui -- one of the medic, I think. He has been one fellow who has been very lucky. He had nine lives, I think. He just, he got wounded a couple times but it was just a scratch. Superficial wound. But he was in the thick of battle all the way through. And he survived all that. And I think -- interesting story about him is that when he came back, he went to dental school. And since the GI Bill didn't quite pay for that he decided to reenlist in the army so that the army would send him to the dental school. And he went to, got his dental degree, and then he had to sign up for two years commitment and they asked him, "Where do you want to be assigned to?" He said, "Fort Lewis." And so they sent him to Fort Lewis. And about two weeks after that, the Korean War started, and they sent him to Korea. [Laughs] And he told me that it was worse in Korea because you didn't know where the front line was. I mean, they just, the enemy is just all around you. And so they carried, they carried, the medics carried firearms there because of that. Anyway, and he survived that. So some people are just lucky, unlucky at some things, unlucky that he had to go to Korea but he was lucky that he survived.

TI: So let's go back to the Gothic Line.

TY: Yeah. I'm sorry.

TI: No, that was good. I'm glad you talked about that. So describe that, your role in that.

TY: Well, this is where I, when I looked at, looked at the books last night I found out that the -- I wasn't too clear how the anti-tank guys were assigned as litter bearers. And I read that book, segment of that book yesterday, about the Gothic Line, and I guess shortly after I got assigned to the anti-tank, they give me a choice of where I wanted to, company I wanted to go to and I picked anti-tank because they're mobile and I didn't have to do all the hiking. We were riding most of the time and my leg was such that I thought that it would be better for that, for me for that, so, and I asked for it and I got the assignment to anti-tank and the 1st Platoon. I was the 1st platoon aid man. And we went to -- when we got to Italy and during the Gothic Line -- Gothic Line, most of it was very wooded area and very, very hilly, and several mountains that we had to climb. And the first time we hit the line it was so pitch dark you couldn't see anything, it was so dark. And apparently what happened was that anti-tank, guys from the anti-tank -- the two platoons were attached to company -- to the 3rd Battalion, and one platoon was attached to the 2nd Battalion and, as litter bearers, because they knew there were going to be, probably be a large, a lot of casualties, so they were all assigned as litter bearers. And the platoon that I was with, the 1st Platoon, I think we were assigned to the 2nd Battalion.

But one of the first things we had to do was to go up a very, very steep mountain. I mean, it was really steep. It must have been about, how many degrees is that? Anyway, it was very, very steep. And it was so dark, it was very, couldn't see a foot in front of you. And when you started getting casualties, we had difficulty, litter bearers had difficulty traversing the steep hill, mountain, so, and since you couldn't see very well, what I decided to do was to -- in my aid kit I had this gauze roll bandages, several hundred feet of that, and so I went on top of the hill and I made a trail with that. I tied it to several branches that coming down so that the litter bearers can use that as a guide coming down. And it was so steep, not only a few times, several times some of the men would trip. And I remember one or two occasions where the one wounded on the litter, they dropped him, the individual, and we had to stop him from rolling down the hill and then put him back on the litter and, so he could be taken down below. But it was a pretty stressful situ-, time for us at that time, I remember. It was so dark. I can't believe how dark it was. And so at that time the company, anti-tank just, I think, spent about two weeks as litter bearers at that time. And that's all we did for a while during that stretch. After that it wasn't all that bad, I don't think, for the anti-, at, the only time they use the anti-tank gun is for retreating, and of course our unit never retreated, so they never really used the gun that much. Once or twice they did. But those 75mm Howitzer, they were not very good. And one of the reasons for that was that when they shoot it they have such a big muzzle blast, I mean huge, that you could probably see for hundreds of miles away, because it's -- and it's a dead giveaway where you are. And so they didn't like to shoot it. And so it was actually, for my money, it was absolutely useless, but we had 'em anyway.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: Earlier you mentioned how you didn't really go to reunions because you didn't have much use for army life. So, sort of looking back at your army career, was there anything in particular that you really didn't like about the army?

TY: The war. [Laughs] During the war. Mostly. Well, one thing it was -- these army, veteran organizations, a lot of fellows, not all of 'em but a lot of 'em, some of the fellows like to rehash -- that's one of the best times of their life, I think. Their prime of their life and so they like to talk about the war a lot. And I just didn't want to do that. I mean, I didn't really enjoy that, so... rehash and rehash of the same things you've heard before. It's just, I just didn't enjoy that at all. But now that I get a little bit older... everything about war was, is, was negative, except one good thing come of that is the friends that you make and the camaraderie that you had. I don't think that same type of psychological closeness of individuals, it's very unusual. I think it doesn't take place in any other type of, segment of people's lives. I think in the time of stress, and it's really stressful, I think you get a little closer and the common interest is so limited that, I think that brings them closer.

TI: I'm also wondering, I mean, there's a difference here -- I've interviewed more of the vets who were in the fighting units and in -- it seems to me there's, they talk about one area when they're in battle and they fight, and if one of their men are seriously injured or killed in action, they would just move on, and wouldn't necessarily have to deal with that because it was psychologically too hard for them to be confronted with that. And so they would just keep going because they had to fight or do something.

TY: Yeah right, yeah, yeah.

TI: But I would imagine the aid men would have to deal with that. I mean, on a continual basis, that they would see, in some ways, the most difficult part of the war. The men either --

TY: In the beginning I think it was very hard, but I think you adapt to it. I think because it's what you have to do, that you adapt to it. Well, as I mentioned before, in Company I, when I was a medic, all three medics, I was in 1st Platoon, and 2nd Platoon was Squeaky Kanazawa, and the 3rd Platoon was Victor Izui, only thing unusual about that was that we were all from Seattle. And we all knew each other very well. And so I remember when we were in the front lines, first thing we ask is, "How did Vic do?" Or, "How did Squeaky do? Is he okay?" And we worried more about them than of ourselves really. I was more, asked about them all the time, and they asked, always asked about me. And we were so close. Just like brothers. And it was kinda nice. It was a comfortable feeling to have good friends like that close to you both mentally and psychological and physically like that. It was kind of a comforting feeling that they're worried about you and that was very unusual, very different, I think. Because I don't think any other company had any three medics that were as close as we were. The human side of it is very, kind of interesting, situation like that I think. And as I say, I still talk to Vic. He's getting a little bit hard of hearing like I am so we don't talk over the phone as much. We send, exchange e-mail a lot to each other. [Laughs] And he's a little bit older than I am and he's had physical problem, like he has a pacemaker and all that, so I kinda worry about him, but...

TI: Yeah, it must be hard.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: Alice, do you have any other questions?

AI: Yes, I did. Because I was remembering how in the very beginning, when you were volunteering, your feeling, reservation about going into this segregated unit. And also, at that time, my understanding is that there are some people that really still, Caucasians, who had real doubts about the Nisei as soldiers and questioning --

TY: Yes, that's true.

AI: -- the Nisei loyalty and whether the Nisei unit would really perform well. Now, as you got into battle, and then as time went on, did you hear about how the 442 was being perceived by outside or by people at home? Did you hear anything about that?

TY: Well, I remember when I was in the hospital, the fellow sitting next, in the next bunk, in the bed, was from the 45th Division, I think. And we were attached to them at one, when we first went to Italy, and so he knew about us. And he was very, he said nothing, he had nothing but good things to say about the 442. And it was kind of a very pleasant surprise, I thought. And I met several people, some of the other -- and coming back, on the ship, there were couple guys there who were, one fellow was from Pennsylvania, and another guy was from Maryland and I got to know them real well, hakujins, and they heard a lot about 442 and so they were very respectful about our outfit and about the Nisei and so it was a real good feeling. And as I mentioned, recently, I was so reluctant about volunteering because the segregation business and segregated unit business, but in retrospect, in looking back, I think, I think it was probably, it turned out real well. If it had been assimilated we probably wouldn't have had the PR that we got and it would, in general it was a lot better for the Japanese community, I think. It did a lot more good than harm, I think. So looking back, I think it turned out very well.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

AI: You know, there was a fairly famous incident where, I think you were still in Europe, but President Truman received the 442 back in the States, and I think he --

TY: That was after the war, wasn't it?

AI: Yes, it was after victory in Europe.

TY: That was when the unit came back as a group?

AI: Yes.

TY: That was after I was out of the army.

AI: Oh, okay. And --

TY: I went to that... when they came, I went to that ceremony, I think. I think I was still back east. I think it was in 1945 when I was in New York. 1946. Summer of '46, I think, wasn't it?

AI: I think there were several different ceremonies --

TY: Oh.

AI: -- with the President. But at one of them he did say something about how you fought not only the enemy but you fought prejudice and you have won. Did you recall anything like that, and if so, what did you think about that kind of statement?

TY: Coming from Truman, it really -- one thing about him, he says what he thinks. I mean, he had -- I think that he was basically a very honest individual, I think. And so I took his word for it, but I was not convinced that the "John Q Public" felt the same way. And that was proven by some of the problems that we had trying to find a house when we got to Seattle and things like that. That was in 1960, was trying to look for a house and that was how many years after that, and I was so surprised that, that prejudice still, that strong a feeling against the Japanese Americans still existed. So -- [pauses] -- well, beyond that I don't know. I think that's -- but in general, my whole life, and our whole family life has been, we've been very fortunate; things tuned out very well for us. And I know that a lot of other Niseis went through a lot more hard times than we did, and we feel very lucky that things turned out as well as they did for us, because some of the people had a really hard time.

AI: Maybe, just the kind of ending of this section before we go on to the next section is that, just that your return to the States after your service, and your discharge. And you returned in December of 1945?

TY: Yeah '45 and I got discharged, ironically, December 7th of 1945 at (4:33) p.m. in Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. And then from there I went to Cincinnati where our folks were. But that date, I will never forget, of course, December 7th, and that time, 4:33 p.m. I walked out of the camp, free man. [Laughs] Well, I remember at the center, before they gave our discharge paper, he says, "Well, this is your last chance," he says, "who wants to volunteer to stay in the army?" And there must have been five hundred guys there and not one individual raised their hand. [Laughs] Oh, that was really, I found that very funny. Everybody laughed except for the commanding officer. He didn't think it was funny. [Laughs]

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

AI: Okay, so let's continue. The end, before our break you had just been discharged from the army and were on your way to Cincinnati to visit your folks --

TY: Folks, yeah.

AI: -- in Cincinnati. They had been released from camp and were working there.

TY: Yeah. My folks were, my brother and sister who had, were in Cincinnati going to University of Cincinnati, and that's where my folks, when they relocated, they decided they were gonna relocate in Cincinnati. And they did, and they worked, did domestic work there, which was kind of interesting because my dad has never done anything like that before in his life, and he was hired has a gardener. [Laughs] And what he knew about flowers and plants and, you could put it in a little thimble, I think. But you might have heard that, my sister, brother mentioned it, but he was asked to do some weeding and he was chastised severely because he had pulled up flowers and everything else, picked the garden clean. I mean, he... [Laughs] But anyway, I went to visit them and stayed with them about two weeks. And at that time I decided that I would try to get back into school someplace and, but then I thought, well maybe I'll hold off until I go see New York City. And as luck would have it, my sister was going to NYU at that time and she was living with an old friend of ours, old friend of our folks, an old, Mrs. Nomura, an old lady who had a boarding house. And so she stayed with her while she went to NYU. But then I decided to go visit her, and we, and at that time we decided well, maybe we'll find an apartment, because I decided to stay there until the fall because I had been accepted to the University of Washington that coming fall, of '46, 1946. So we went and found a place in Southern, South Manhattan, a slum area anyway, because the rent was so cheap there. We decided that's the only thing we could afford. And so we rented an apartment at 500 Grand Street, which is very close to Williamsburg Bridge in New York City, in Manhattan. And May and I lived there for, well, I stayed there until I left to go the University of Washington in late August.

AI: Excuse me. How were you able to survive? What were you --

TY: Well, we, at that time most of the GIs were, when they were discharged got something to tide them over until they get a job or get settled down They call it the 52/20 Club and that was fifty-two dollars, I mean, twenty dollars for fifty-two weeks. And May and I subsided on that. Very spartan life, almost a starvation diet, but we survived. [Laughs] But I had a very good time there at the -- and not only that, but I met my wife, Fumi, there at that time.

AI: How did you meet?

TY: Well, we met, they had a Japanese Methodist Church picnic and I was invited to go. One of the girls that were settled like that, I knew, was new in New York, and she invited me on the picnic, and that's where I met Fumi. But Fumi tells me the reason that I paid any attention to her is because I liked the pickles that she had or something. I don't remember that at all, but she said that's what called my attention to her. That I don't remember. But, another thing about New York that was kind of interesting was that as we -- when we, after basic training, when we were going overseas, we departed, disembarked from -- I mean we left Newport, Virginia. And as we left the dock, I thought to myself, "Oh my God, I think I'm gonna have to die without seeing New York City." And so I told, I promised myself the first thing I'll do when I get back to the States is I'm going to New York City. So luckily, I was able to do that. And then I met my wife there, too, so that was that much better, really. And I, for a while I didn't do anything. I just decided to just live on that twenty dollars a week, and buy enough food and then go see Broadway shows. During that time I think I saw about twenty Broadway shows, everything from Oklahoma, Carousel, oh, name it. Whatever they had at that time on Broadway I went to see it and I really enjoyed myself.

And an interesting incident that happened while I was there, other than meeting my wife, was that one day I was going up on the subway to see, take in one of the Broadway shows, and I met a fellow on the subway who was a guy that I got to know real well on the ship coming back home. And we palled around during our trip back, and I got to know him real well and learned how to play cribbage from him. And he was on the subway. And I said, "What are you doing here?" And he said, well, he just took a week off from work and he decided to see Broadway, and said that he didn't like his work and he was going up to the VA to take a civil service exam. I said, "Doing what?" And he said, "Being a clerk." And I thought, clerk? I said oh, well that's interesting. And he said, "Why don't you come with me and take the exam?" So I said, "Well, okay." So I went and took the civil service exam at the VA and I flunked it. [Laughs] The, fifty percent of the exam was typing. And the other fifty percent was written exam. And the written exam was just foolishly easy, I mean, it was so simple, and they had alphabetical, I mean, words scrambled and you're supposed to arrange it alphabetically, and they had numbers scrambled and you're supposed to arrange them. [Laughs] Any idiot can pass a test like that. So of course I got a 50 percent on that. Well, you have to have at least 70 percent to pass. So I took my typing test and I just flunked it flat. I remember taking, I took high school, one quarter of high school typing and I almost flunked that when I was in high school because I was the only male in the class and I wanted to get out of the class and the teacher wouldn't let me get out, so I had to take the class anyway and I think I got a "D" in typing in high school. The only "D" I had in high school. [Laughs] Anyway, I didn't know how to type that well so I flunked it and I got, I think I must have gotten 24, 20 percent, so that's only 60 percent and 70 was passing. No, wait a minute. No, no. It was less than that. About 15 percent, because 70 was passing and I was a disabled vet and I got 10 percent preference.

So I went home and we didn't, in our apartment we didn't have even a telephone then yet and the next morning I get this telegram from the VA saying, "Why don't you come back and take your exam over again?" I thought gee, they must be very desperate. [Laughs] So I went back the next day and took the exam again and I got 50 percent for written part of it and then I got 20 percent for the typing, with the ten percent I got 70 percent and I passed. [Laughs] Then I got the job at the VA. Oh, that was really interesting and I learned how to type real well while I was on the job. And I was hired, I was assigned to the disability section, compensation section, and we just typed out forms for people applying for disability pension. And it was the most boring thing I think I've ever done. And there was a lady next to me who must have been about sixty years old, she's looking forward to retire and she'd been working in that section for thirty years. And I said, "Has the form changed very much since you've started?" And she says, "No." [Laughs] And she was typing. I couldn't understand how she did it, but she did. So, anyway, that's, so I worked in VA for a while so we made a lot more money and we did pretty well after that, and May and I did pretty well after that. We lived on that for a while until I went back to school in September.

AI: Well, during that time, when you were just in New York City, this was very soon after the war had ended. I mean, just only a year or so.

TY: Right, right.

AI: What was the, any reaction you got as --

TY: Well, New York is such a cosmopolitan area. I didn't feel any discrimination at all, really. Even in the area that we lived in, it was a poor neighborhood and everything but I really didn't -- I remember I was courting Fumi at that time. And she lived on the west side on 60th, 66th block on the west side, avenue, west end avenue, right next to the Hudson River, along the Hudson River. And I used to go up on the subway and come home about three o'clock at night. And we had to walk about, oh about a half a mile to get to the apartment from the subway station. And I didn't have any problem even then. So, it must have been because it was in New York. If it had been someplace else, like Bothell where I live now, at that time, it probably would have been, I probably would have been told in so many words about things that I didn't want to hear. So I was lucky that I was in New York then, I think.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

AI: Well then, now how about when you returned to the Seattle area? What did you find when you came back here?

TY: Well...

AI: That was in 1946, also.

TY: That was in 1946. I came back and at that time our house was being rented. And so as much as I wanted to move into the house, I couldn't. So I moved into the International Student House, housing, house. What did they call it? Well, they call it International House. Yeah, that's right. And there were students from all over the world there, lot of people from, kids from Egypt, and a lot of people from Near East, and some of the European people, and several Niseis. So it was pretty, again, very cosmopolitan environment, so I didn't feel any, I didn't have any problem at all while I was going there. And I think I went, lived there for one quarter, or two quarters, and then I finally talked the people renting our house to move out so that I could move in. So the beginning of the year, that's '47, I moved into our house and at that time, the first six months or so we had, I had three other Nisei fellows living there with me. And I'm not, I don't remember the circumstances why, but anyway, the beginning of next fall, '47, we had one, two, oh, four hakujin couples, students, married couples, living in the house with me and I got to know them real well then. In fact I still, one of the couples I still see them off and on. We've become very good, close friends.

AI: So really, as you were getting back into student life at University of Washington and living back in your old family home on Beacon Hill, sounds like you really didn't encounter too much problem.

TY: No, not really.

AI: Or difficulty.

TY: In Seattle, too, there was a lot of, there was a lot of Nihonjins there, too, so, and most of the people that I hung around with were Niseis, too, at that time. So, of course you hear stories about people having problems or having incidents when you take a bus and people saying derogatory nasty stuff to you, but I never personally, had never experienced that. The only time we -- I told you before, only time we had any problem was when we moved to Bothell. [Laughs] Back in, that was in the '60s so -- but during, when we were students, I think, I really didn't have any problem at all. And then in '48 I talked our folks into selling the house and we -- because it started to, we started having roof leakage problem and plumbing problem and all kinds of minor problems and I told Dad that I just can't handle it. I don't have time to fool with that. So I talked him into selling the house and we sold it to Mrs. Motoda who converted it into a church and I moved into the vet's dorm on the campus.

AI: Now what was that like, moving back into a dorm where a number of them were fellow vets?

TY: Yeah, well, that was something else again. It was pretty wild. [Laughs] No, I had -- first time, let's see, yeah, the first time I moved into the vet's dorm I had a hakujin roommate, Blair Bower. And I got to know him real well. I was real close to him. And the dorm life was, as to be expected, was kinda -- the vets, they studied hard but they played hard, too, I guess. And it was very noisy and trying to study -- the environment made it very difficult to study. [Laughs] Very distracting, but it was okay and we made it all right. And the second, the second roommate I had was a Nisei fellow, Tony Koura, who was from Bainbridge Island. And I got to know him very well. In fact, I was -- went over to Bainbridge Island. At that time Bainbridge Island was very notorious, it was famous for -- not notorious -- famous for strawberries and I remember having delicious strawberries over at his -- we went to visit his home on some weekends, a couple of weekends and had, oh the strawberries were just delicious. I don't think I've ever had any strawberries that good anywhere since then.

AI: I think the Koura family farm was famous.

TY: Yeah, yeah. They even have a street named after them over there which I was kinda, found surprising when I, after I got back. But...

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

AI: Well, now then, fairly soon after that you must have gotten engaged. And...

TY: Oh, then, well, there's another interesting thing happened when I was living in the dorm. I got to know, there was one graduate student living in the dorm, I got to know quite well, Ray Pennock And one Christmas, I think, Christmas of, must've been '97 or '98, my guess was '98, I was moping around in the dorms, telling --

AI: I'm sorry, '48, 1948.

TY: 1948. I'm sorry. 1948. And he, Ray and I were in the room. Everybody had gone off for Christmas vacation and it was, and we were lamenting how sad it was that we were there and no place to go to Christmas and I was talking about Fumi and I thought, gee, I wish we could go over to New York and, I must've talked about it a lot because, I don't remember doing that, but one week about three, about four days before Christmas he comes storming into my room and he put three hundred dollars on my desk like that and he said, "Tosh, I'm getting tired of you talking about wanna go to New York. Here it is. I'll loan you this money. Go." [Laughs] So I flew back, luckily I, that late date I was able to find a plane. And that plane I flew on was an old converted C-47 that the, couple of veterans, old army pilots had bought. It was a charter flight. And they're nothing but mostly GIs on that flight except there's a couple of civilians and I was one of the few civilians and we were waiting at the airport to take off and it was so cloudy that they wouldn't take off -- I mean, foggy. It was very, very foggy. It was just really thick as soup and so the GIs went around collecting money to bribe the pilot to take, go take off, but of course he couldn't do it, it was against the law and everything and he didn't. But finally we did take off and it was such a rickety trip, I didn't think I was gonna make it. It was... [Laughs] Oh, that was another flight to remember because I didn't think I was gonna make it. But we finally got to New York and I got, Fumi and I got engaged at that time. When I came back I was engaged. And that Ray Pennock is in Seattle. He lives in Seattle with his wife, I know. And we've, after came back to Seattle we met several times and had dinner with him. We still visit with him periodically. But anyway, that's another side story. I'm sorry. Got on a tangent here.

AI: Well, it's so interesting to hear about how you had this cross country engagement.

TY: Relationship. And then, yeah, it was kinda hard. We did a lot of letter-writing, of course, and a lot of phone calling and, and I didn't get back there again until I, until after I got -- wedding time.

AI: And that was in 1950.

TY: 1950. We got married July 1, 1950 and, about two days, Fumi was madly going around making arrangement for the wedding, making reservations at the church and she even made reservation at a resort in Connecticut, or was it in Maine? Anyway, one of those. And two days or three days before the wedding she got acute appendicitis. And my father was already in, my father and mother was already in New York. My dad had taken the vacation time to come to New York and, for the wedding and I thought, we thought, "What are we gonna do?" And we finally decided we just go ahead with the wedding because Dad won't be able to come back again and so we talked to the people at the hospital and they got very excited and he said, "You know, we've never had a wedding in our hospital." And so they arranged everything and we had, we just had the immediate family there at the wedding. We cancelled everything else. And they brought Fumi down on a wheelchair and we met at the reception room at the hospital and we had our wedding there. And right after the wedding we went upstairs and for our next, almost a week, I think, I visited Fumi every wedding day and our honeymoon was spent just holding hands during visiting hours. [Laughs] So that was a story, I mean, that's an interesting story, too, I guess. [Laughs]

AI: That's quite an experience, a unique experience.

TY: Exactly. And then we, I stayed there until that summer. We rented, sub-rented an apartment and we stayed in New York and then came back in the fall to go back to school. But, and it was some experience for Fumi to come back, too, because when we left I said, "Well, one of these days we're gonna come back to New York. I'll see if I can get a job in New York City." And of course that was a promise that I couldn't keep. But she had just said okay. I think she, even, I mean, now she feels that New York is a nice place to visit but she wouldn't want to live there. [Laughs]

AI: But she had quite a different experience in that she grew up right there in New York.

TY: Oh she, yeah, she -- well, I think her earlier years were spent in New Jersey, but later on I'm, when she was still quite young, the folks moved to New York City and they started a lamp store. And they had lamp stores for a long, long time. And finally, of course, the lamp business wasn't, didn't go all that well, latter part of, oh must've been, oh, about late '60s, I think, things got, I think they had to disband their store and get rid of it. But their kids all went, grew up in New York City, right in Manhattan.

AI: So for her --

TY: Italian neighborhood.

AI: So for her, coming to Seattle in the 1950s --

TY: Quite a, it was quite a change.

AI: -- at that time Seattle was still --

TY: I think there was -- well, luckily we came to Seattle for year or so before we went down to that wild country of the western slope of the Cascades where I finally took a job there.

AI: Well --

TY: At the Fish and Wildlife Service.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

AI: But, before we jump to that, let's just back up a little bit, because then you graduated in --

TY: '51, yeah.

AI: -- '51, with your degree.

TY: In Zoology. And as I think we discussed before, I think it was very fortuitous that I graduated when I did because with a, just a bachelor's degree, because job was quite plentiful at that time. But my dad had a very, very good friend, Mr. Kawabe, and he owned a, ran a, owned a oriental gift store in the arcades of Olympic Hotel which is now called the Four Seasons Hotel.

AI: Downtown Seattle.

TY: Yeah, downtown Seattle. And he had come over for dinner one evening and he said, "Tosh, how would you like to work at the store since now you graduated from school?" And I said, "Well, I don't know anything about business." And he says, "Well, you don't have to know anything about business. You can learn." And he said, "You could start tomorrow." And here I was just looking for a job. And I thought well, I took the easy way out and accepted his offer because he did say that, one carrot that he handed out was, "You know, if the business goes well here, I plan to open a store in New York City." And of course right away I thought well, Fumi would love that. So, I said, "Well, okay, I'll give it a try." And actually it was one of the most miserable times that I've ever spent. [Laughs] It was, catering with clientele, that store like that attracted in Olympic Hotel area was something else because they were, all quite well-to-do people. And they were kinda nasty to our -- they expected you to wait on -- I mean the, it was just different type of people and I just started to hate them because they were so demanding and everything. And the boss, of course, Mr. (Kawabe) said, "Don't ever talk bad to the customers. They're always right, you know." And I said, "Okay." And so I started developing all kinds of psychosomatic symptoms like getting very dizzy and I got shingles and all kind of weird things that I had never had before. And after about a year or so -- no, about half a year I decided well, maybe I better start looking for something else.

So about six months or so into that I applied for a civil service job. Actually, I went and applied for it and took some civil service exams. And, oh, within, well, five months or so I was offered a job to go down to this lab that was being built and it was called the Western Fish Nutrition Lab. And they needed a, someone to do histology down there. And I said histology? And Dr. Helver who was the director of the lab then came to interview me and I said, "Dr. Helver, I don't know anything about histology, fish histology." And he said, "Well, no one does. It's a brand-new field, you could learn." And I said, "Okay." And I did, finally took a job. And I went and -- at that time the lab was being built so I was temporarily assigned to Dr. Rucker's lab, which is also a Fish and Wildlife Service lab that worked with fish diseases. And Dr. Rucker was doing histopathology work, type of thing that I'll be doing down in the new lab. So, Dr. Helver said, "Well, you can work under Dr. Rucker for a year before we go down to the lab, down in Cook," so I said -- "and learn the ropes from him." So I said, "Okay." And he, I learned quite a lot working for a year with Dr. Rucker. And when I went down there I was on my own most of the time and it worked out very well. And I was hired as a biological tech and then I became a histopathological technician and then I came up to, they sent me to school here. They asked, I asked whether I can take some classes up at the U, University of Washington. So, and I got permission to do that. And I came up here with, Fumi and I came up here for one quarter and took classes, couple classes at the medical school, histology and pathology class. And when I went back, well, I was reclassified as a histologist and became a project leader at the lab down in Cook. And I was there as a histopathologist for six and a half years. And at that time, Dr. Rucker's lab was, they were located in University of Washington and they moved to a lab in Sand Point Naval Air Station. And Dr. Rucker called me one day and said, "How would you like to come up to Seattle?" And I said, "You bet I do." And I leaped at it and I, he made arrangements for my transfer and I transferred up to Seattle.

AI: Now --

TY: And that was in 1960.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

AI: And in between this time, from 1952 to 1960, you also had started your family.

TY: Yes, we had two kids. Bruce, our oldest, was born in 1952 and Nan, the second child, was born in 1956, four years later. And, let's see, Keith was born there, too. He was two years later. So we had three kids by the time we left there. And in 1960, when we moved up here and then after we moved up here, Linda was born, eight years later after Keith. So... and we rented a house in Bothell. Reason we decided to go to Bothell because we investigated various areas and the cost of housing and so forth. And we found out that Bothell School District was one of the better ones at that time. And one of our good friends who was formerly working in the Western Fish Nutrition Lab who had come up to Seattle and moved to Bothell and he was, he had rented a house and he had just planned to move out. He had bought a house and he was gonna move out of the rental home and he said, "Well, Tosh, why don't you come up and take over the house that I'm, we're moving out of?" And I said, "Okay, that'll be fine." So we moved to that house and we stayed there for a year. And then we decided to buy a house. But we started looking for house in that area to buy. And that's when we had the problem with discrimination.

AI: Tell me what happened.

TY: Well, at that time they were just building the Maywood housing development. Big housing development not too far from the elementary school that the, our kids went to. And so I thought, well, that might be a good place to move the kids and then the kids would just walk to school. But we looked at the houses and we didn't care for the houses too much and, but then we also heard that they probably won't let Nihonjin get into the house, housing. So I thought, well, that's kinda interesting. So let's give it a try. So I, we went to look at a house and the salesman was very nice and very friendly. And he showed us the house. And I said, "I'd be kind of interested in it. You think you can make arrangements, maybe we could purchase it?" And he said, "Well, sure. I'll, call me up tomorrow and I'll, we'll get together tomorrow." So I said, "Okay." And we left, and that evening about nine o'clock he called and he says, "Mr. Yasutake, I am sorry but I think we can't sell you the house." And then I said, "Why?" He says, "Well, we've asked the neighborhood and they objected to it very strongly and so I'm afraid that we'll have to back off." And then he was very apol-, yeah, he felt very guilty about it obviously because he was very apologetic. And he said, "Well, I hate this but, because I know it's gonna be no problem with you people because -- you know, our son, who is going to Harvard right now, has a roommate, a Nisei roommate, and they really, he really thinks worldly of the fellow," and his name was Dick, I think, and he said, I forgot, I didn't remember what his last name was. But he said, "He really likes Dick and he thinks he's a great guy and I just feel so badly about it." And he kept apologizing over and over and that made me feel worse. [Laughs]

And then after that, we decided, well, maybe we'll look at some other houses. So we did look at some houses. And one tri-level home that we saw by the Bothell High School, we, the owner showed us the house, and they were very nice. And we, I think we would have bought it from him if we didn't run into any problem. But we did run into a problem. The problem was that as we left the area, as we drove out of the driveway, I was looking at the back rear view mirror, and I saw the man across the street, he lives in the house, apparently he lived in the house across the street from this tri-level. And he was giving me the finger. And I thought, "Oh my. I think we're gonna have some problems here." And as he -- and then we drove off and that night the tri-level home owner called me and said, "I saw that incident and I'm awful sorry." He says, "You know that we don't feel that way, and we'll be glad to sell you the house." And then he proceeded to tell us that his boss at work had gotten some phone calls from, crank phone calls from people, some unknown people, saying that, "You better do something about that," he said, "one of your employees is doing such and such." And was giving the -- not only the tri-level owner, but his boss, giving him a bad time and told him that they gonna stop doing business with him and all that kind of stuff. It was a -- he worked in a garden store, and, kind of a hardware store, right in the middle of Woodinville. And they weren't even living in Bothell. But anyway, that's -- we had problems like that for the next -- few days after that we had people dropping and visit us from the Bothell Methodist Church, which church that we went a few times after we got to Bothell. And, oh, they, it was very, kind of uncomfortable. And they came in and they told us they were sorry. They heard what happened and I don't know how the word got around but it got around real fast. And they said how badly they feel about the whole thing and of course they proceeded to tell us that lot of the church members and lot of the people in Bothell don't feel that way, and you know, the usual story. And, but we did finally find a property that there was no house on, right across the street from the development that we couldn't buy a house at. And we built a house there, in 1961 we moved into it and we've been there ever since. And we've had wonderful neighbors. And all the kids grew up with each other, and they still correspond with each other. And every time they come into -- Nan, our daughter from back east come into Seattle, well, the neighbor daughter come in with their family and they come and visit us still. We have a very, very nice relationship with all the neighbors, former neighbors and what have you.

AI: You said earlier that at that time, though, at 1960... 1961 that you were, you were kind of surprised at the level of prejudice still remaining.

TY: Yes, I was extremely surprised. I thought, it's been oh, fifteen years or so after the war. And I just, I thought, well, gosh. We were in, see, we were located down in Willard, down in Cook, where we didn't experience any of that. They, everybody was very nice down there, we just were one of the hakujins and they were very nice and, just, even I even forgot that I was Nihonjin. It was just, was really, it really was nice. And then we came up to Seattle and run into that and it was just -- it was a real shock to me that some things like that still existed. I thought, well, by then it'd be all over, and people, people would have accepted us, and, but it didn't and that, it just baffled me. I just couldn't understand why that after such a long time that they, some people still felt that way. Of course, in Bothell there weren't that many Nihonjin then, or Asians. The Funai family were there. They've been there, old Bothellites. They been there ever since before the war. I remember the -- I didn't know the family that well at that time but I remember the name because when was a kid I used to do judo and the Funai family boys used to be, come take judo, too. And I knew of them, I didn't know them that well. But, and once I heard they were from Bothell I thought oh, my God, that's far away. [Laughs] I mean it's really out in the tules, and it was at that time. So the Funai family, there are some, a few Japanese living there, but not many.

AI: Excuse me, but also at that time of 1960, the early '60s, wasn't that also the time of the Fair Housing --

TY: Yeah.

AI: -- debates were going on?

TY: Yeah, they were going on quite strongly and so, after the incident happened in the Maywood housing development, shortly thereafter -- we had joined the Unitarian Church. And you know how active Unitarian Church people are. So they, I think one of them had approached Fumi. I was at work then and said, "How would you like -- we're gonna picket the Maywood housing development. How would you like to join the picket line?" And she said, "Oh my gosh, I've never done anything like that before," and she was kind of reluctant. [Laughs] But she finally very reluctantly decided to do that. And they did picket the place. And also, joining the picket line was the Presbyterian minister that was in the local church, not too far from where we lived. We just knew them in passing. And for some reason he got talked into getting in the picket line. And he ran into trouble after he got back, from his congregation. In fact, he lost some people in the congregation because of that. He got in really, he got in deep water, he got in deep water, troubled water. And I think they really gave him a hard time for a while which was really unfortunate. But it did happen. And then, it was shortly thereafter that they, the housing, I think, proposition went through.

AI: Right. Before that, racial discrimination in housing was legal, before that.

TY: Yes, yes. It was, apparently. Because -- and they sort of opened the thing up. But even to this day I don't think many Nihonjin live in Maywood, that development, for some reason. There's a lot of, not... Asians, I mean. There are quite a few Asians in Bothell now, lot more than there used to be, not, there are not many Nihonjin, but there're a lot of Koreans and Taiwanese, and other Asians living there now. I see a lot more Asian faces than I used to.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

AI: Well, so as your kids were growing up in Bothell, they were among the few who were not white children in their schools. Did you ever hear of --

TY: Yeah, well we've asked them, and I guess they had some, but it was not, nothing, nothing major. They said that some things they, people would kind of jokingly... what was Bruce called? Oh, they used to call him "Rice," I think. I think that's what it was. But other than things like that, they really didn't have -- Bruce said that he, he never really encountered any kind of problem except for minor jokes and racial jokes and things like this. But they would just laugh it off and they laughed together and I think that was the about the extent of it. And the other kids, same way, I don't think they really had too much problems. They played around with a lot of, they played with a lot of the neighborhood kids and they got along very well, so I don't think that they had any really problems that we heard of, anyway. I guess we were very lucky that way. I don't think that -- other than the housing incident things, and I didn't tell our kids about that for a long time because I didn't want them to feel too self-conscious about it. So I think we purposely avoided discussing it.

AI: What about the issues of being put into camps during World War II and... was that anything that you ever discussed with the kids, either, when they were young?

TY: No, we didn't. Not until late, in the very late date, when all this start coming up all the time. But, in the early years I don't think we discussed it very much. And then, in the later years, when they start getting into late grammar school and high school, they start having projects in composition. In English classes they have to write about things. And then I remember Bruce asking about it and I remember getting some information for him. And Nan also, our second oldest, oh, yeah, Linda, too. Yeah, I guess all the kids did write something about the camp. And at that time we talked about it. But that was it. Beyond that they'd forget about it because it never, the subject never came up. And just lately is when they started, well, "lately" meaning the last what, ten years when they having Remembrance Day and all this stuff. But they didn't have it back then so everybody was trying to forget about it, I guess. And by design, I guess they just -- and Bothell is, was a kind of an interesting place because it was very conservative area and Bothell is one of the few areas that voted Goldwater in, and George Wallace in. So we used to call it George Wallace Country. [Laughs] So Fumi, being a Democrat, she was, she was very active in Democratic activities at that time politically. And she was always lamenting how -- she always was, not being a Japanese, being a minority, but being a Democrat and it was a real minority in Bothell, too. [Laughs] They have this lunch group in the neighborhood. And they're, and she said that she was one of the, she, being the one few Democrats within the group, and they were very conservative. And she had to, didn't agree with them most of the time, but didn't say too much. [Laughs]

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

AI: Well, in the meantime, your career was developing, continuing on, and you were really getting deeply involved in the field of fish pathology.

TY: Fish pathology, yes. Well, fortunately, I got into the field very, very, very early, in the embryonic stage. And so I sort of helped develop the field. And so that was a very satisfying feeling. Anything we looked at, we did a lot of microscopic work and anything we looked at or found we were able to publish it because it was all new. New, we discovered new bacteria, bacteria that causes very fatal diseases in salmon in particular, and viral diseases. I helped name one of the virus disease that, earlier, found earlier, early in the '50s and wrote a paper on that, and did some pioneer work in other, some of the other virus histopathology work. I took jillions of photo micrograph of disease, fish disease tissues and, because of that, was, I was able to publish a book on fish histology, normal fish histology, called The Microscopic Anatomy of Salmonids, salmonids being all the salmon. And at that time it was a fairly new, there weren't many books out on that subject so it went over very well. And I've published over, close to seventy papers during my tenure there at the lab. And so I've had a very satisfying career, really.

AI: Well, and really you became notable in your field. You've been well-recognized.

TY: Yeah, well, I think so. I like to think that anyway. [Laughs] Well, couple of times when some of my good friends, after book came out particularly, the fellow that I exchange haircut with -- the reason that I look like I need a haircut because he's been on a world tour and he hasn't been back for a month now, and he just got back yesterday, I think. He's a hakujin fellow that I, a fellow Unitarian that we exchange haircut with every couple months. We been doing it for about thirty-five years now. And, anyway, he said that he's been traveling a lot since he retired, he's a former high school teacher, junior high school teacher, and he was a math teacher, and he, he likes to travel, he and his wife does a lot of traveling. And couple time, one time he was on in Florida, oh, it was shortly after my book came out and he went to the aquarium in Orlando. I think it's in Orlando, or wherever that aquarium is, and they were taking a tour and Lars asked the guide, "You deal with fish a lot, don't you?" And he says, "Yeah." And he says, "You know Tosh Yasutake?" And he says, "Yeah, I know him. I don't know him personally, but I know his book." [Laughs]

Another interesting story is when one of our good friends, they built a boat, sailboat, a 42-foot sailboat, by themselves, and she and her husband and four of their kids decided to take a world's cruise on that. And the first, I mean, the segment of their trip they landed in Samoa. And they met a fish biologist there, and he told, and asked, they had invited him over for dinner that one night, and so Fay asked the fellow -- no, I think the host asked them, said, "You're from Seattle?" They said, "Yeah." Said, "You know anybody that work in fisheries?" And they said, "Yeah, Tosh Yasutake." And he says, "Yeah, that's who I was talking about." Says, "I just corresponded with him. He had written to me about having a fish problem and he..." so just in the middle of nowhere like that, it was kind of interesting story. [Laughs]

AI: That is interesting.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

AI: Well, and you had other interesting incidents, too. You, in the late '70s, your lab had some visitors from Japan that came.

TY: Oh. [Laughs]

AI: And, please tell about what that led to.

TY: Well, we had, during that period, Japanese fisheries, scientists were really just sort of starting out then. And they been in fish business for many, many years. But fish diseases, and fish, the viral diseases and bacterial diseases, I think we were a little more advanced in the studies then, so they were sending people from Japan, I mean, just by the dozens. And they'd come, and they'd leave and then more come -- and back in 1968, I represented the U.S. government to the, to a meeting in Stockholm and I met lot of Japanese fishery scientists there. And one of them was Dr. Egusa who was the chairman of the fishery department in University of Tokyo. And he said, well -- this is 1968. He says, "Well, sometime in the near future I'd like to come over to Seattle to see your lab and stay with you couple weeks and see what you have and try to learn something from some of the material you have." So I said, "That'll be fine." So he came couple times and the incident that you're talking about, it was in 19... it was before 1979, it was about 1978 or in the mid-'70s, he finally came to Seattle and at that time, Don Amon, our virologist said he'd go pick him up because he knew him, too. And I said, "Oh, that's fine, why don't you do that?" And he went and picked him up at the airport and on the way back to the lab, Dr. Egusa, Tom, I mean Don asked Dr. Egusa, well, they told him, "Dr. Egusa, it must be nice at least talking to Tosh because he speaks Japanese." And Dr. Egusa said, "No, actually, he speaks Japanese but he speaks funny Japanese. He talks like a woman." [Laughs] Because of that, of course, because I learned my Japanese from my mother. That's how, the feminine Japanese is little bit, female Japanese is little bit different, much more polite than the, less idiom and things like that that the men use. So that was kind of, and Don thought that was very funny. [Laughs] But since then, Dr. Egusa is the one that invited me to some of the lectures, tours I had in Japan. The first one I went was in '79, for thirty-two days. And went to, gave a major lecture, keynote lecture at the conference of the Japanese Society of Fish Pathologists. And I gave a -- I was invited to give a keynote lecture at that time. And there was a funny incident that happened then too, but should I continue or...

AI: Yeah.

TY: Okay. [Laughs] Since I was invited by the Fish Pathology Society in Japan, I decided that in my introductory thing, I'll thank them in Japanese for inviting me, because I was gonna give my lecture in English and Dr. Egusa was going to translate for me. And so I wrote this introductory paragraph of thanking them for inviting me to Japan and, to give this lecture and I wrote that in English and I took it over to my mother's church, St. Peter's church here, right in this neighborhood, and Dr., I mean Reverend Nakayama, who is a Nisei who speaks Japanese very well, I asked him to translate it for me. And I wrote it out in romanji, and I memorized it very well, I thought. And when I finally got over there I gave my introductory paragraph in Japanese and right after I gave it Dr. Egusa said, "Wait a minute," and he translated that. [Laughs] And I asked him afterward, I said, "Gosh, why'd you do that?" And he said, "Well, because some of the Japanese you spoke, I don't think the younger students understood what you said." [Laughs] And I guess Reverend Nakayama also spoke effeminate Japanese and old Japanese.

AI: Right.

TY: Yeah.

AI: Yeah, for people who don't know that the --

TY: Some of the new Japanese is a lot different, and some of these -- I think like -- my mother said that, she went to Japan when she had the same problem. She said that she was talking about motion pictures, moving pictures, movies to some of her relatives and she said, used a terminology, I mean a word katsudoshashin, I don't know if you ever heard of that expression, but that was movie back in the old days, was, it's not, they don't call it katsudoshashin, anymore. They call it, oh boy, what did he say now, but the word is entirely different. So my way was, I think was it something like that and I think I must've said a lot of, used a lot of words that were antiquated and old.

AI: And old-fashioned speech.

TY: And old-fashioned.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

AI: You were just finishing talking about your initial lecture in Japan --

TY: Uh-huh.

AI: -- and on that trip in 1979, you had a series of lectures at universities.

TY: Yeah, in 1980 I went, well, actually, but what happened was in 1978 I think it was, I was approached by one of the professors at University of Tokyo that came to Seattle, was working, who was working under Dr. Egusa. And I mean that literally, because in Japan if you're head of the department or chairman of the department, the rest of the people are just like slaves, whether they're professors or anything. Anyway, he came, he came to visit the lab and then he, we had him over for supper one night, that, one of the nights and he said, "Tosh, Dr. Egusa has asked me to ask you whether, that he would like to have you" -- he found out that I didn't have a graduate degree and he said, "He would like to have you work on your, on the graduate program from the University of Tokyo." And I said, "Oh my gosh." You know, I was reaching, way past my middle age and I thought, "Oh gosh, I don't think I'll be able to stand it." And he let it go at that. And I thought, "Well, you should think about it," and then the next month another prof. came over to this university, I mean from the University of Tokyo to the lab because he was attending a conference. And he came over to my office and he said, "You know, Dr. Egusa really would like you to work on your Ph.D." And he was so insistent that I just couldn't say no, as reluctant as I was, because I didn't think I was mentally prepared for that, and be able to physically stand all the work that would involve. And so I finally said okay and... and then, once I got the permission I went and asked the, I mean got, told I would do it, I went and talked to the director of our lab, Dr. Fox, and I said, explained the situation with him. And he said, "Do you really want to do it?" And I said, "Not really." But he said, "But you'd be foolish if you pass it up." And I said, "Yeah, I think you're right." And so I finally said, "Okay, I would like to do it, but how much time would you give me? How much time off would you give me?" Because I said, "You, I wouldn't have, you're gonna have to be full-time my part for at least six months." He said, "Well, you can have four months."

So I decided, I found out that what I had to do was well, robun hakase was different from the regular Ph.D. degree in that it was offered to people who, who are internationally known in their field and if they have published a lot and all this other stuff that goes with it. And so I, we, what, we had to write a thesis, we found out that I had to write a thesis in some of the, my, all the work that I've done thus far, summary of the work that I've done. And that would be my thesis. But, and then I had to be proficient in three languages. And luckily, English was one, because it's a Japanese university, and the other one is Nihongo of course, and I just was barely getting by on Nihongo, and then I took French as my third one. And so after I'd finally decided to do it I went and got permission to audit French, intensive French and intensive Japanese courses, for one quarter. I took them at the same time one quarter, and I almost died. And luckily I was, they let me audit the thing. And they said they will either give me a pass or fail grade for that. So luckily, I passed. And then the French, when I went over there I had to translate a French scientific paper that they had chosen, and translate that into English, luckily not in Japanese, but into English, so that was okay. And then for the Japanese part they asked me to, when I defended my thesis that I had to defend it in Japanese. And that was kinda difficult, I, but I did get by, I think.

And another difficult thing was that the committee, my committee consisted of about, unheard of, about twenty professors from other departments at the university. Even the philosophy professor was there, physiology, and chemistry, biochem, zoology, well, anyway, that's an awful lot of people. I was just flabbergasted because they didn't tell me how many -- and Dr. Egusa picked all the professors for, to be my committee, and I never met them before. And I had to defend my thesis in front of some people that I didn't even know. I only knew three of the profs that was on my committee, and they were all from the Department of Fisheries in University of Tokyo. But the rest of them I didn't know them from Adam and I was so scared I was wondering what kind of questions they would ask. But here again I lucked out in that they, they were so interested in the type of diseases that we found in the salmon here in this country, which I was very familiar with, and which much of my thesis was about, that I didn't have any problem defending my thesis and so I was very lucky in that sense. So, that it's, I really, well, as I told you before, I think I've been very lucky in my life, the way things turned out for me. [Laughs]

AI: Well, though, in addition to your defending your thesis there in Japan, you also did some lecturing and traveling around Japan.

TY: Yes, and then, after, oh, I think what -- oh, I got on a tangent there, but, in 19-, see 1979 was the first time I went to Japan and they, I went to all the different universities, University of Tokyo, and the University of Tokyo Fish, University, Fisheries University, Fishery, University of Fishery, no, wait a minute, Tokyo Fisheries University, I think is the other one that, is another university in Tokyo that just specializes in fisheries. And then I went to Mie University in the Mie Pen-, Prefecture, gave a lecture there, and then I went to Hokkaido University and the fisheries department was located in Hakodate in Hokkaido, and I went and gave a lecture there. And then I went to -- oh, and another thing was that they asked me where my folks were from and I told them they were from Fukuoka, and they said, "Well gee, we'll have to arrange for you to give a lecture in Miyazaki University," which is in southern part of Kyushu and Fukuoka is in the north end, of course, of Kyushu, and after I gave my lecture there they arranged for two of the professors to drive me up to Fukuoka, which was an overnight trip. And they let me off in Fukuoka in my relative's home and I visited, all the relatives got together and had a big dinner for me and that's the first time I met most of them. One fellow I did meet when I was a teenager and I didn't remember him from Adam by then, and so it was just like meeting him for the first time. And I really had a great time visiting my relatives I've never met before. And then they arranged, Dr. Egusa arranged for me to catch a plane and get back to Tokyo to go, to come home. So that whole trip was thirty-two days, which is, and they paid all the expenses, which is, really very thankful for that. And...

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

AI: I wanted to ask you, what it was like for you to be in Japan for about a month there. Here you were, really --

TY: Well, here again I was lucky that they really made all the arrangements. I didn't have to do anything. They made, bought the bus tickets for me and train tickets and shinkansen tickets and took me out to dinner, and when they, Dr. Egusa was my host all the time he took me on all these places and they paid for my meals, they made hotel reservations, so, in that respect I really didn't have any problem at all.

AI: Did anyone kind of have some expectation of you as being more Japanese, or American --

TY: Well, yeah. Well, that's true.

AI: Did they see you as an American?

TY: I think, in a way they were surprised that I spoke Japanese. But then when I spoke Japanese they always had this smile on their face. [Laughs] You know, I think they found it very amusing. But they were, I think they were, I think that they were kind of glad that I, at least I tried. And I did try awful hard and since most of the people that I dealt with spoke English fairly well, that I could speak, whenever I had trouble communicating, well, use English words and I was able to communicate that way some, maybe half-English and half-Japanese, or more English than Japanese most of the time, I think.

AI: Well, I was wondering if it was, if you had a strange feeling at all being in the middle of a Japanese country where every person, most people were Japanese --

TY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

AI: -- and the language, and the signs and...

TY: My first -- that was kinda strange, when I first went there it was strange to see all faces were Japanese. I just felt very strange the first couple days I was there. And then, and the thing is when I spoke what Japanese I knew, sometime they didn't understand what I was saying. [Laughs] Which I found kinda embarrassing. And then I've often asked them -- they always seem to know that I was from the States, even before I opened my mouth. And I remember asking couple of the people, including Dr. Egusa, I says, "How do these people know I'm from the States when not even talk to me?" He says, "Oh, it's the way you dress, the way you comb your hair, I mean, it just, everything about you is atypical. It's not..." so I found that kind of interesting. They can just spot me in a crowd right away, that I'm from -- it's the suit that I wore, the way I wore it, I guess, and to me it didn't much look much different, but I guess they were able to tell. And the way I walk. They said I walked differently, too, which I thought was very strange. But then I noticed later that a lot of the Nihonjin people are used to wearing geta and things, slippers. They drag their heels a lot, and apparently we don't. And I did notice that. I think people come from Japan when they, at the lab I've noticed it when they, even looking from the back I know that they're from, right away they're from Nihon because the way they walk. They just walk a little bit different, I think.

AI: That's interesting.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

AI: Well, let's see. I wanted to ask you a bit also about this interesting incident about what happened to your old family home that had been on Beacon Hill.

TY: Oh.

AI: Which you had sold to Mrs. Motoda. She had turned it into a church, and then many, many years later, what happened?

TY: Well, about 1980, I think it was Shigeko Uno who called me and said, "Guess what?" I said, "What?" and she said, "Well, your house on Beacon Hill is gonna go to Japan." And I couldn't believe it. I didn't know what she was talking about and I said, "Oh, how come?" And then she explained to me what happened. And what had happened was that in Japan, the architects decided that all the houses that were being, that were built during Meiji period were being torn down about that time and they felt that they wanted to preserve it. One reason was because during the Meiji period was when they had the "open door policy" in Japan and all the diplomats started going all over the world. Lot of immigrants immigrated to all the different foreign countries. And then when they all started coming back, when they started having the house built, apparently a lot of the Western influence got onto designing the homes and the houses, houses were very, somewhat atypical from the Japanese homes. And houses that were built after the war, I mean after the, after, well in the early 1900s, many of them that survived the war were being torn down for new buildings in the mid-'70s and late-'70s and so they decided they'd like to preserve it. And they finally got the seed money from a railroad company in Japan for a museum and that's why they called the museum Meijimura. It's up, way up in the mountains, not too far from... oh boy, what's that town between Osaka and -- Nagoya. No, not Nagoya, the town between Tokyo and Osaka. No, it guess it is Nagoya and it's just about an hour and a half ride up the mountain north of the city, way up in the mountains and they, the railroad donated about hundred acres of, hundred fifty acres of land and they started building, any time they heard of house being dismantled or torn down, that was built during Meiji period, they asked them to donate it. Anything from prefecture office buildings, jails, schoolhouses, name it, even the Imperial Hotel, the main lobby section of the Imperial Hotel is being reconstructed there, also.

Well, and then they decided that since many of the immigrants immigrated to South America and Hawaii and North America, so they thought that they would like to have one house representing each of the areas that some prominent Japanese individual had owned, had bought, so they first got a house from Brazil from a businessman that he had built and they took that to Japan and put it in the Meijimura and they got a building from Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii, and that was the assembly center, a community assembly center and they built it there. Well, they wanted to come to North America because a lot of -- and they went to California because that's one of the places where lot of Nihonjin went to. And they looked and looked and they found several homes but, and buildings, but nobody wanted to donate it. And then Meijimura is a non-profit organization. They couldn't afford to pay a lot of money for it, so they asked for people to donate it but they just couldn't find anyone to donate it so in desperation they came up to Seattle and as luck would have it, our house, Mrs. Motoda bought, it was a church but the church had dismantled and they weren't in operation anymore and Mrs. Motoda was the one deciding what to do with the house. And so they prevailed on her to donate it. And at first she refused because they won't, she was a very hard business lady and she didn't want to donate it, and but they told her, "Well gee, if you donate it it'll be a fifty thousand dollar tax write-off." And she says, "Well, in that case, okay." And she donated it then. And that's when it all started. And then Shigeko Uno got hold of me and said, "Oh, guess what, they bought the house, and they would like, the Meijimura people would like to talk to you." So that's where it was all started. And then they asked about Dad's history and when Dad came over here and all this other thing.

And another thing, that house was built in the very last, I wanna say Meiji, Emperor Meiji was until when? The early 1900s, I think, is late 1800s to early 1900s and the house was built just about that time. So that's why they wanted that, the one, they'd be interested in have that house. So they, then I finally wrote up, actually May wrote up a history, biography about Dad and wrote up for them and gave them a lot of Dad's pictures and stuff and we got all the family pictures that was taken in the house and then once they start building, tearing it down, I went there every Saturday and took pictures and was keeping track of it being torn down. One interesting aspect of this is that much of the furniture that my folks bought had been stored downstairs when they converted it into a church. And it was downstairs actually during the war and people didn't use it too much. I guess they must've had their own furniture because they were stored downstairs and they weren't worn at all when it got back. And so the house went lock stock and barrel, the whole thing, all the furniture and everything went to Japan. And one Saturday when I was there, I noticed that there was an end table that I had made in the wood shop class in the eighth grade when I was in Beacon Hill school, had a magazine, I don't know whether you've seen those old magazine, old end table, coffee table that had a magazine rack and two sides and had inlaid -- it looked pretty good actually for someone who was in eighth grade, I thought. And they were still being used and they, and it was there and I said, I told the architect, the head architect, I said, "My God, that table," said, "I made that. Can I, I'd like to have it. I have a real sentimental attachment to it." I said, "Do you mind if I take it home?" And she, he said, "You built it?" And I said -- "You made, you constructed the thing?" And I said, "Yes." And he says, "Well, in that case we'll have to take it back with us." So he made me sign the bottom of it. John Henry on the bottom and date it and it's in Japan now in the museum, now. But he wouldn't let me have it. [Laughs]

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

AI: Well, now after they finished reconstructing the house in Japan -- and for people who don't know, we should explain that mura means kind of like a town or village, so --

TY: Mura?

AI: -- Meijimura is then--

TY: Village or something, town --

AI: Would mean something like Meiji Village Museum.

TY: Village, right, right.

AI: So after they had reconstructed that, then they invited you and your family.

TY: Yeah, in 1948, they had a dedication of the house.

AI: '98?

TY: 1984. '84.

AI: '84.

TY: '84. They had a dedication of the house and they invited my mother and all the kids over there and we went except May could not go because she had been in Japan on a sabbatical the year before that. And she couldn't take time off from her teaching job so she stayed here and unfortunately she didn't go. But Mike and Joe and myself and Mother went as their guests. And, of course, we had to pay most of our way over there, but they invited us over there anyway and we had a -- and it was really very interesting and they took us on a special tour of the house and so what we found out was they had, when they reconstructed the house, they left the downstairs, the church and they left -- used the upstairs as the living quarter. And all the furniture that my folks bought were upstairs, most of them are. And our family picture's in one of the room, also. And I understand now they don't let anybody go into the house. They used to, I guess, but they have it fenced off now, they felt that too much traffic, there'd be too much wear and tear on the house so I understand they don't let them in now. So I don't -- that's too bad. But well, interesting story about that, they took us on a very special tour, just us, the family, and the TV men, cameramen were just following us all the way and we got to one room and there was one table that we had in the living room in the old house. It had these curved, real curved legs, really antiquated-looking table, pretty good shape. And Mother looked at it and says, "Oh, see that mark there?" There was a little plug in one of the tables. The story in that plug was that when my mother, one day she was in the house and apparently this was when we were in the old house, the house that I was born in, and my brother, Mike, was, I don't know, maybe seven years old or something. He was riding the tricycle or something around in the living room and Mother was cleaning the house, dusting the table, and she opened the drawer, she found a revolver in there and she took it out. And said, wonder what Dad, what did Dad, what, apparently Dad forgot to tell her that that's, and she picked it up and it went bang. [Laughs] And fortunately the bullet hit the table.

AI: Oh, my goodness.

TY: And so that was the repair work that was done on the table and Mother mentioned that and the TV people thought it was very interesting and they ate that all up. [Laughs] Another side story. Anyway, it was kind of an interesting incident, I thought, that Mother remembered that. After what, just a minute, she looked at the table and that's the first thing she saw, which kind of surprised me. [Laughs]

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

AI: Well, that was 1984 and then a few years later, I think it was 1988, the redress legislation was finally signed. And I just wanted to ask you, what was your reaction when that finally passed through Congress and President Regan signed that? A lot of people never thought it would happen.

TY: Yeah, I didn't think it would happen either. I was so surprised. In fact, I was even reluctant. If I had had my druthers, and if I was given the choice of agreeing whether we should get it or not, I would have said, "No." But, because I think that if -- of course, my, I think I told you my brother and my sister, May and Mike were the real radicals in our family. In fact, it's very interesting because when I, at the lab, I was a bleeding heart liberal, at home I was a hard hat. [Laughs] It, but of course Mike and May was all gung ho for it. And he was in the group that wanted, actually was asking for more than twenty thousand. But I was not and I felt that, that the apology from the president and the country was good enough. But, here again, in hindsight it occurred to me that only thing that the American people understand is the dollar thing and I think that maybe it did make more of an impact with the money attached to it, and maybe if, might have made a bigger impact if more money was attached to it. I don't know. But we were even lucky to get it, I think. You know, people in Canada, they got what, five thousand dollars, I think.

AI: They got more than that, but...

TY: They got more than that?

AI: Yeah.

TY: Oh, is that right? Well, they didn't get much. And in fact, they literally lost everything. Everything was confiscated and sold and I don't know what they did with the money, did government get the money? Gee. And then none of them get any of that back, never. So, that, they really had a hard time. And they didn't have a camp to go to, I think they, weren't they...

AI: Some of them were left off in old abandoned towns.

TY: In abandoned towns?

AI: Yes, old mining towns and so forth --

TY: Is that right?

AI: -- old lumber towns.

TY: That must've been hard. They must've had a really hard time. I didn't read too much about them but what little I've read, I think they really had a hard time.

AI: Yes.

TY: Yeah.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

AI: Well, speaking about the impact of something like redress, kind of brings us up to the present and of course, after the September 11th attacks last year, 2001, there was, some people were, in the media were comparing that to Pearl Harbor attack.

TY: Oh, yeah, yeah.

AI: And also there was some backlash against people.

TY: Yeah. The reason I resent it on that was because of the backlash that obviously would have, they had. And I found that very upsetting that... no, the thing is, what actually surprised me was the backlash. I didn't think there would be that much of a backlash -- I kinda thought maybe there might be a little bit but it seemed like it was a lot more than I had thought there would be. And that was kinda disturbing, I thought. So there still is an undertone that something -- it's not completely gone. It's always there. The omnipresence and then something, some little thing happens and then it kinda flares up, and then it settles down, but it's there. It's never gone completely.

AI: So, after all this time it's --

TY: Well, I guess you can excuse that as a human nature, but I'm afraid that that is going to be the way it is. So, you have to accept it as such and, and deal with it accordingly when it does happen, I think. But, I think that in time we'll, like what happened to the Iranians, and they were thinking about putting them in camps. I've heard that they were building them. I don't know whether that was true or not. But it can happen again. And drop of a hat. It wouldn't take much to happen again. That's what is very disturbing, I think. And I guess we're gonna have to resign the fact that human nature being the way it is, it's gonna always be there and it's never gonna go away and we have to deal with it accordingly. And people were trying to get rid of it completely. I thing they're dreaming. I don't they're ever gonna do it. But you have to keep trying, I guess. But... we'll have to wait and see. Time will tell, I guess.

AI: Well, is there any other comment you'd like to make, or any other reflection or observation that we -- you've shared so much with us that we really appreciate it. Anything else you'd like to add?

TY: Well, no... I'd really like to thank you people for what you're doing. I think it's great. Legacy, I think, we'll go on because of you people, I think, and I wanna thank you for that. And I think my, sure that my brother and my sister feel the same way. You people are really contributing a lot to it and we want to thank you for that.

AI: Well, thank you very much.

TY: And you're doing such a fine job, too. Thank you very much.

AI: Thank you. Thanks.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.