Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Arthur Ogami Interview
Narrator: Arthur Ogami
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 10, 2004
Densho ID: denshovh-oarthur-01-0030

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AI: So you were mentioning that your father had been transferred from Tule Lake to the camp at Santa Fe, New Mexico.

AO: Santa Fe, yes.

AI: And about when was it that he joined you and your brother in Bismarck? Was that --

AO: It was just prior, prior to being transferred to Portland.

AI: So tell me about that. How, were hundreds of you shipped out of Bismarck to Portland, Oregon, or how did that happen? A few at a time?

AO: The one, the one that were positive to be, to go to Japan, they were among them, and mainly to meet their family. So when we were transferred from Bismarck to Portland, and then we were... I remember getting off the train, onto bus and going to the pier where USS General Gordon was berthed. And then we walked to the ship and we were assigned where to go. And so we went on the gangway, onto the deck and there were directions to where to go. So we went down, step down. We were at the very bottom. And they, they had, the bunks were canvas bunks. And I was on the very bottom. So they were six high. In other words, there's six persons sleeping on top, on top of each other and it was very difficult to get in and out. There was not, very little space. And in order to, the bottom person to get out, the top person has to get out first. So it was kind of uncomfortable. But those were troop transport and so even the soldiers being transferred from United States or war zone and back were in the same condition. And it was a huge ship. It was a troop transport general class, ten thousand troops was the capacity.

AI: And were your mother and sister on the same ship?

AO: Yes.

AI: Were you aware of that, that they were going on the same ship?

AO: Oh, yes. We would have joined them, but one section of the ship were for females, one section for the males.

AI: So your mother and sister had been brought directly from Tule Lake to Portland?

AO: Yes.

AI: And tell me about the actual trip from Portland to Japan.

AO: From Portland, the ship came down the Columbia River and that was in, during the daytime. And then when it reached Astoria they anchored overnight. And then next morning they set for sail through... and the mouth of the Columbia River there's sand bars and so they had to have the pilot to guide the ship out to open sea. And I don't know what it was, but there was one time as they headed to open sea, the ship took a, the bow just took a deep down. And I didn't know what it was. But I met a doctor and he asked me to assist him in sickbay. And he says, "Art, you can stay up here, it's more comfortable." So I spent most of my time in the sickbay area. It was nice, clean, roomy and bright. And occasionally I would go out on the deck and sit in a bench, outside deck and an MP would come out and says, "Sir, you better go inside." They didn't want us out. But I'd sneak out and get out there again. And at high seas it was pretty rough. The bow of the ship would go into the water, and it comes out. As you'd notice in the pictures where the ship would go in real deep and come out, and that was... and then we, the doctor would make inspection of the ship and he would go from one section of the ship to the other and I would follow him. And then we'd look down at the bow and at the bottom of the bow there was room for seventeen boys, and the bow would come up at least fifty-six feet up and go down sixty feet down, so that's a hundred feet of up and down. And I look down there, I never seen such seasick persons, but they survived it. [Laughs]

AI: Oh, my goodness.

AO: I think it took probably fifteen days, sixteen days. They were going the Great Northern Route, going up close to Alaska and they hit this storm. They headed into a storm so they went south and I believe we sailed up possibly 400 miles north of the Hawaiian Islands, we couldn't see them. I was sick for three days. But the meals on board the ship was good. I liked the navy beans. It was real good.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2004 Densho. All Rights Reserved.