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-01-0043

<Begin Segment 43>

TI: During this period when, in some ways, I feel like you're, you're probably just decompressing, I'm wondering, was it difficult to readjust? I mean, were there, I hear about soldiers coming back from Iraq and other places, and the post-traumatic stress syndrome. I mean, how was that for you? Was it hard?

FS: Well, I guess I wasn't aware of it, but I know that on several occasions my mother would come and wake me up and says, "You were screaming again." See, during the day I was pretty good, except -- [laughs] -- loud noises would sometimes startle me. I don't ever recall hitting the ground or anything if something happened, but I... yeah. It's a period when, when you're really reluctant to talk about your experience, and I think everybody, all my, my buddies were the same way. Now, fifty, sixty years away from it, we can kid and talk about it, but it was not something you really talked about. I know my brother was a rifleman, and he wouldn't talk about it, what he, what he did. Nor did I, or did I exchange anything about, about the war with my family.

TI: But for you, do you still have recurring dreams or nightmares, or memories that kind of, you play back in your mind?

FS: No, no. I can remember things, but the nightmares were gone after a year. So, yeah, it's, you're still rummy, it took me a long time to really concentrate, to think about things that I, to block this out completely. It was, it was part of your psyche for, it was part of my psyche for a long time, many, several years.

TI: Well, so for your life, now, how did you move on now? So after...

FS: Well, see, that, I got home and the discussion was, "Well, what do you want to do?" And I said, "I guess I'll go back to college," and GI Bill. And so, well, in talking, the pater familia, you know, "You're going to college." [Laughs] But my, my dad, I don't think he ever mellowed much.

TI: Even after the experiences you had in the war, he must have treated you a little differently. I mean, you were out on your own for, for this period.

FS: Well, yeah, but he still, he, he was still, still the authority figure in the family. And we, we listened to him. I lived at home, so it was, it was our house, but he was the boss, and so we, the decision was made, "My God, you're gonna go back to school." And so I started, I went back to Gonzaga.

TI: Now, how was that for you? I know before the war, you said it was kind of a horrible experience being there.

FS: Yeah, it was still a problem. There were a lot of veterans there, and in fact, the whole school, probably ninety percent -- not ninety percent, but there were a lot of veterans there. Different, they were different degrees of experiences, obviously. It, the first year or so was really hard. I couldn't concentrate, I couldn't... things, I would just be in lectures and I'd just kind of fade out and these things about the war would come back, and it was, it was a problem. I really had a hard time studying. But then I, you know, after a year, kind of settled down and things got better. Gee, the first couple, first year or two, scary, really.

TI: And what did you study? What area did you concentrate?

FS: Well, you know, it was Gonzaga, so it was, I took chemistry and biology and of course it's a Jesuit university, you study philosophy and religion, and all of these kind of things. English Lit, history. I had an incident in English class, and I don't know, at the end of the lecture it just kind of degenerated into this and that. And one of the guys -- and I don't know who -- he said, "You know, I was in Washington, and there was Japanese Americans," who got in a fight with the Japanese Americans, this was in 1946 when the unit came back. And the priest said, "Oh, they're just a bunch of Japs." You know, and if somebody said that to me now, I'd have got up and punched them. But in those days I was so rummy that I didn't react at all to that. I think back on that as one of those incidents, I, I think about and, God, why didn't you say something? I think I was so beat down then in those days that I didn't, didn't respond to it at all. I walked out of that room going, "What was that all about?" But you recall that the 442nd was in Washington to, to be reviewed by President Truman. And those guys were all replacements by the time the 442nd came back. There wasn't any, or damn few of the original guys in there because they got, they all came home.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. I didn't even realize that. So it's a little ironic that the men who really fought all the way through weren't there on the lawn of the White House.

FS: No, no. Oh, no, no. They were all replacements because -- I don't know, not to a man, but almost to a man. Those guys, everybody came home. Who the hell wanted to stay in Europe, for God sakes? So that, but that's what it was all about, and I suppose, I suppose if somebody said something wrong to these guys, they'd, they were gonna take 'em on, and I guess I would have, too. But, but this is what this, this student said to the priest, you know, they're a bunch of whatchamo guys, hoodlums or something.

TI: Well, so was there ever an opportunity for the, the men who, like you, fought all the way through, to ever be sort of formally recognized in that way? I always thought that, that President Truman was that opportunity to, to really recognize the men that fought.

FS: No, well, but he honored the unit, the 442nd, and there was a long line of guys who, who volunteered, who served, who died, and the unit was honored rather than those, the men who represented the 442nd there. I, I would say that. But you talk to people like Tosh Okamoto, and I think he was there, but he came in really late as a replacement and so he had to stay in Europe until the unit was, they were sent home, and finally they went to Washington and then were disbanded. I don't know how many, how many men were in that review in Washington, D.C. It would be interesting to talk to somebody about that.

TI: Yeah, I'm going to look into that.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.