Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fred Shiosaki Interview
Narrator: Fred Shiosaki
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Spokane, Washington
Date: April 26 & 27, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-sfred-01-0041

<Begin Segment 41>

TI: So after that...

FS: Well, we, then we flew, well then they, we were up at Camp Kilmer, they load us on these... what are they -- DC, DC-4s or DC something, that they used for military transport.

TI: So this was the first time on a plane for you?

FS: Oh, no, no. I had, well -- this is a side story. When I was a kid in high school, or between high school and college, I worked at the forest service in, out of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, right across the border. And we were, we were blister rusting, digging up wild gooseberries that carried a disease to the white pine. And so we were also fire crew. And so we were flown from... we were called out to fight a fire out of Coeur d'Alene, and we flew in a, one of those old Ford Tri-Motors from, from Coeur d'Alene down to the, to the wilderness area on the Salmon River in this old DC, this Ford Tri-Motor. And that was the first time I'd ever ridden in a plane.

TI: Well, it sounds exciting, but probably dangerous, too.

FS: Oh, yeah, well, they flew into this little tiny postage stamp airstrip out in the middle of the woods. And in those days, that area was really wild, and we fought fire in there for, oh, seven days or eight days. It was quite a, quite an experience. But it was, it was just one of those things, it was an exciting thing, we got trapped, we got trapped in, by a crown fire, and the crew boss was an old guy and levelheaded, and we jumped in a crick there and stayed in that crick most of the day until that fire burned over us. But the wind, the fire has, it developed its own wind, and the wind, the fire just went right straight over us, crowning into the trees. People have died if they're caught out in the open in those things, but fortunately we were on a crick, and this old woodsman made us stay in that crick until that thing calmed down. I think we came, when we came out, they were surprised that we were alive. That was just one of those screwy experiences that happened. Anyway, so then after the war, out of, out of... where were we? I suppose out of Ghedi Airport, the DC, the DC-4s or something, they were offering free rides. Guys could go down and see the, see the battlefield south of, south of Italy.

TI: Oh, so you're back in Europe, you could fly over where you...

FS: Yeah, it was after the war was over when we were in Italy, then they had these, the air force offered these rides. And so they, they loaded a bunch of us in these DC, DC-4s or DC, whatever they are, anyway. And we flew all the way down south of Cassino and flew over the abbey, and then flew back up and landed. It was, that was a, that was a nice experience, except I got sick. [Laughs] God, it was terrible. So anyway, we flew from, flew from Camp Kilmer to, to Fort Lewis, except the plane landed in Spokane. I don't know why they landed in Spokane, but maybe they were out of fuel. And in Spokane, the airport used to be out, out on the east end of, east end of town was Felts Field, and then now it's just a private, private plane, but that was the airport in Spokane, and the military had Geiger Field out here. But it was before that, so you know, it was about five miles from home, so I ran out of the plane and called home. And my sister and mother were hollering and screaming, and, "We'll come down to see ya," and I said, "No, we're gonna get back on the plane right now."

TI: Too bad you just couldn't just get off right there. [Laughs]

FS: Yeah, I could have gone AWOL, but I didn't. [Laughs] It was...

TI: Oh, just so close, too.

FS: Yeah, it was so close. "I'll get in the car and I'll come right," my sister said, "I'll come right down." So anyway, we went on to Fort Lewis and I, they were processing so many men right then, that they shipped me home for two days, and then I had to go back, I had to be discharged. I was discharged the 6th of January.

TI: But when you got back, so you, they sent you back home, because they were too busy at Fort Lewis.

FS: Yeah, they were too busy.

TI: What was it like seeing your, your family? Describe that.

FS: Well, my mother, my mother was just, you know, really happy. And my dad, very stoic, whatever it is they say, "You did well," and that was it. [Laughs] You know, you kind of accept, I accepted that, that I was doing all right.

TI: And how did you feel when you, you saw them?

FS: Oh, I felt, yeah, I felt good to be home. It was good to be home. Sense, sense of relief, anyway, the war was over. And family was -- my brother was, my older brother Roy was already home, and so we, it was just one of those family things.

TI: So you said you were officially discharged January 6th.

FS: Yeah, and I had to go back, and I was discharged.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.