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

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: Today is April 26, 2006, and we're in the basement of the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture in Spokane, and we have the pleasure of talking to Fred Shiosaki. So, Fred, I'm just going to start from the very beginning and ask you, what was the name given to you when you were born?

FS: Fred Akira Shiosaki.

TI: And then why don't you tell me where and when you were born?

FS: Well, at the time I was born, my family lived in Hillyard, which at that time was a suburb of Spokane. It was during that same year that Hillyard was annexed into the city of Spokane, so we find that my records are in Olympia, they weren't transferred directly to the City of Spokane. And so whenever I need a birth certificate or something, I have to, I have to write or have the health department write to Olympia to get copies of the birth certificate.

TI: Oh, that's interesting.

FS: It's an unusual thing.

TI: And so what was that date that you were born?

FS: It was August, I was born August 23, 1924.

TI: Okay. And then you were part of a family, you had brothers and sisters. Why don't we just talk about that in terms of, if you could just sort of list your siblings in order.

FS: Certainly. The oldest brother in the family was George, and then my sister Blanche, who is, who passed away last year, my brother Roy, and both Roy and George still live here in Spokane, and then I was the third, third son, the fourth in the family, and the youngest brother, Floyd, who lives over on Puget Sound on Vashon Island.

TI: Okay, so I'm going to ask you something that's sometimes hard for people to do, but in terms of age differences, so George was the first.

FS: Yes.

TI: How long was it until Blanche was born?

FS: I think there's an interval of about two years.

TI: Okay.

FS: And then, and then...

TI: Between Blanche and Roy was...

FS: Blanche and Roy, again, something close to two years.

TI: Okay.

FS: And then there was three years between Roy and me, and then three years between, between...

TI: Fred...

FS: And Floyd, that's right.

TI: Okay. So George was about seven years older than you were.

FS: Yes, yes.

TI: Okay. Good. It always, it helps me when I talk later on about them, just to know kind of the age difference.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: And then your father, what was his name?

FS: Kisaburo.

TI: And where in Japan was he born?

FS: They were from, my father and mother were both from Shizuoka-ken. They were both, both from little villages that I don't know whether they still exist. They, I guess their mailing addresses are like that, but they both, they were two, two villages that were within walking distance of each other.

TI: And do you know when he was born?

FS: Oh, I think 1885 or something like that.

TI: Okay. And do you know why your father came to the United States?

FS: Well, my father, as you can say, "Kisaburo" means "third son." He was the third son in the family, and of course my father, my father's father was a tenant farmer on that land, and of course, he didn't stand a chance to even inherit the possibility of getting to work the land. And the railroad, the Canadian-Pacific Railroad or other, I think, railroads in the United States also, came by to recruit young men. You had to have strong backs and weak minds, I suspect, but they came around and recruited, and of course, he signed up. And I think, and the way I -- and the story gets pretty vague at this point -- but it's my understanding that they paid for his passage to Canada. To make sure that they were, they were covered, they put an insurance policy on him, so in case he got killed or injured, they would recoup their money. So he worked as a laborer, I understand, for the Canadian-Pacific Railroad, when they were pushing, putting rail lines through the Rockies. Somewhere along the line -- and this is even vaguer -- somehow he and a bunch of his friends wetbacked it into the United States, and he worked for the Great Northern Railroad, I understand, again, on the United States side of Glacier Park, and gradually moved West into, into Spokane area, and I understand that he, he worked in various kinds of laborer jobs or handyman jobs. Ended up being a busboy at the Davenport Hotel, and we have a letter from the manager of the Davenport hotel when he went, he went back to Japan to pick up my mother to, you know, to get married, saying that, "This is a nice young man, please treat him fairly," and so on.

TI: Tell me a little bit about the Davenport, because when I drove through Spokane, it's still an elegant, old hotel.

FS: In those days it was practically brand-new. I think it was built in 1912, 1913, and he worked there, he left there about 1915 or 1916 to go back to Japan to look, get a bride. And so he was a busboy there, and I don't know exactly... I'm sure that's all he did, was the busboy, cleanup and stuff, but he worked there for a few years, anyway, as far as I can, as far as we know.

TI: But the Davenport was, at that time, probably the most prominent hotel...

FS: Oh, in the Northwest, I think. Probably the best hotel between Minneapolis and Seattle, but of course there wasn't anything between Minneapolis and Seattle anyway. [Laughs] No, it was a very elegant place, and it went downhill for a while, but now it really is a lovely place again.

TI: And so the manager wrote a...

FS: There's a letter.

TI: ...a letter, almost a recommendation letter.

FS: Yeah, a recommendation letter. And one of the family has it, and I think it's my brother Floyd and his wife have that, have that letter.

TI: And did, did they take a picture of him in front of the hotel also, that they sent or anything?

FS: No, no, it was just a letter by the manager asking that, that he be treated nicely. It was just a letter of recommendation, nothing specific about it, except that it was a, this was a nice young man, and they would like whoever reads this letter to extend courtesies to him.

TI: And so with this letter, he went back to Japan.

FS: He went back to Japan.

TI: To find a wife.

FS: Yes, he went back to his family and said, "I'm ready to marry and find a bride." This is, this is the usual, norm in those days in Japan. And so obviously his family talked to their friends, said, "Do you know anybody who, in the neighborhood, who has a daughter who's ready to be married?" And as I said earlier, my mother came from a village next to, to my dad's family's village, and of course, word went out, of course, that they were looking for a young lady who was of marrying age. And my mother was available, so that was the arrangement.

TI: So I'm curious, when they -- and I'm not sure if you know this -- but when they kind of described your father, so here he was in the United States for about eleven, ten, eleven years?

FS: Yeah, something like that, yeah.

TI: And so he's coming back, and is he viewed as, as what? How would they describe your, your father when they were looking for a bride?

FS: I don't know. That'd be an interesting thought. I've never heard, except, except that there are pictures of my father, and he, of course he's, I don't know whether it's a Sears & Roebuck suit or something, but they were, he looked pretty good in that suit. There's also a picture of him with an umbrella, and it's a really elegant-looking silk umbrella. And that, and I think, gosh, that's really neat. I bet he looked pretty dandy as a young man. [Laughs]

TI: Well, that's why, you had pictures of him and I've seen it, he's a very prominent-looking...

FS: Yeah, well, anyway, but he, as with any immigrant, he worked at pretty grubby jobs, but he did look well. He looked, he looked like he was well-off.

TI: So during that time in Japan, would, would he be viewed as a success? I mean, is he someone that was like a catch for the...

FS: Well, I, I would think so. He had, he had enough money to, to come back to Japan and get a bride. Ordinarily, many of the guys, many of the Issei men would get a, get a mail-order bride, and they'd write back to their village and say, "Well, hey, find me a wife," and so the family would pack up their daughter and ship her to the States, and I knew families like that. But my father actually went back to Japan to get a bride. So I guess there is some difference in what he did.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So he was about twenty-nine, thirty years old?

FS: Yeah, he's approaching thirty, yes.

TI: Thirty, and then your mother at this time was about how old?

FS: Eighteen or nineteen.

TI: Okay, and so they got married in, in Japan.

FS: They were married in Japan, yes.

TI: And then they come back to Spokane.

FS: Well, no, no. He came back on... he -- and I just got this from my sister, well, from a few years ago, but he came back first to establish himself, and then she followed him the next year. But in the meantime, she lived with my father's family at, near his village. And then I, from what my sister tells me, his, her mother-in-law was just a terrible woman. Like you're supposed to, you kind of beat your, beat your son's bride into shape. My mother couldn't, couldn't get out of there soon enough.

TI: Now do you know at this point whether or not it was clear that your parents were gonna make the United States or America their, their home?

FS: Yes. It was, it was obviously their intent, and that's why I think my mother was, knowing my mother, was much more adventuresome than my father. And I think maybe that was one of the reasons she married him, is that she was ready, ready to move on.

TI: So she was anxious to come to the United States, probably. [Laughs]

FS: That's my understanding, that's my understanding.

TI: Well, then, eventually, she, she joined your father.

FS: Yes, right, right. Maybe he didn't have enough money to bring her over at the time. But anyway, she finally, I think at least a year later, she did follow him over here.

TI: And then what, what kind of work did they do when she joined them?

FS: Well, they, they moved to Hillyard where the family was born, and he was partners in the laundry that I've talked, that I'll talk about later, I think, but he and some other Issei men owned and operated this laundry. And she, she helped in the laundry and gradually my father bought out the other partners, I think there were two other Japanese, Japanese guys in the business, and he bought them out. And so then my mother and father ran the laundry.

TI: Now, what was it about Hillyard that it was a good place to open a laundry?

FS: Well, Hillyard was, was the major, major working terminal for the Great Northern Railroad. They had a roundhouse and a car shop and an ice, icehouse packing plant for shipping produce. And all of those things, it was a major, major center for the Great Northern. Bigger than anything they had anywhere on the line. They made boxcars and they repaired those big steam locomotives. Oh, and there was also a tie plant where they made railroad ties. And so it was really grubby work, dirty work, and so that, that kind, it was kind of an industrial business, it was an industrial business. So that they, the workers, they weren't paid a hell of a lot, but they still needed those clothes washed, because a woman with a washboard or a hand-operated washing machine couldn't get those clothes clean. And so it was not, it was not a bad place to have a laundry. He did a lot of that kind of industrial work.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: How about Japanese community? Was there much in Hillyard?

FS: Well, they were, the Japanese families that we were aware of when I was growing up were in a railroad camp, or two railroad camps across the railroad tracks, in an area that we called "Dogtown" in those days. And they, during 1916, 1917, there was a major railroad strike, and the railroads were really in bad, hurting for workers. So they, they imported or brought these Japanese families into these railroad camps and they worked in the roundhouse and in the place called the car shop and the steam plant. And they housed them in these... well, they were boxcars, basically, that were renovated so that there were sleeping rooms in them, but I can remember that camp had three rows of these cars, they'd taken the wheels off and set them down on the ground, and the families would live in them. Now, they, most of the families were, most of the men were single men, so they lived in a boxcar by themselves, or converted, I guess it's like a single-wide trailer nowadays. They were insulated, but the facilities, the bathrooms and stuff were outside of the, they had a Japanese bathhouse. There were only, at that time, maybe three families that had children, and I can remember we used to, we used to run across the railroad tracks and play with that, those families. It, it was an interesting place because I can remember one of the families, the mother, the mother was a widow. She ran a cook house, so that the bachelor men had a place to, to eat, eat supper and eat breakfast before they went to work. I can remember he, one of the, he was, one of the sons in that family was a good ballplayer.

TI: Now, do you ever recall going down there, like, after work and just watching the men, like, when they're doing baths or talking or singing? Was there that kind of community there, do you recall anything...

FS: Not, not that I recall. They, they would sit around the, the dining room and talk, and they'd be talking in Japanese, of course, and I did, I don't think I understand, understood a lot of it. But they were, they, most of the men were bachelors, and they were lonely, lonely guys, tend to drink too much. They were, there were a couple of alcoholics. I remember my father trying to help 'em out, trying to get them straightened out. But as we now know, it's almost an impossible situation.

TI: And so how did they view your family? Just as another Japanese family? But you were on the other side of the railroad tracks.

FS: We were, we were on the other side of the railroad tracks, my father was independent, he didn't -- of course, he depended on the railroad because of the industrial work, but they, I don't recall that they socialized much. My mother would, my mother was a very gregarious person, so she would, she wouldn't go over there when the ladies, the few mothers that were there would come by, they would, she would make tea and they would jabber away. I'm not sure... she was so involved in, in our family, that she really didn't have much time. She worked the laundry, she took care of the kids, she, she cooked, she sewed for us, and generally worked, worked the laundry.

TI: So did the workers, do you ever recall them coming to your, your father or your parents for help, that they needed help with some, maybe, documentation or something like that? Because...

FS: Not, not that I recall. Although, see, now, my father had a Caucasian friend who, who ran the print shop behind the, around the corner from, and he had some political connections. My father used to have him help. Now, he might have gone, gone to him for help, and there was an attorney here in Hillyard who was just a good guy, and if people needed help, my father used to talk to him, too. But it was like, it was like we have mentors now, and this, this guy was, the guy ran the print shop. He was kind of a mentor, at least to my father.

TI: So it sounds like the race relationships were pretty good in Hillyard. There were lots of mixing, or how would you describe that?

FS: I wouldn't say there was a lot of mixing, but there were a lot of immigrants there, they all moved out to Hillyard and during, even during the Depression there was work available. You could work at the, if you had a job at the railroad, you were a hell of a lot better off than those people who weren't working. And so, but they were Italians and Germans and a few Frenchmen, and I remember an English family.

TI: And these were immigrant families?

FS: They were immigrant families, and we used to, everybody, we used to play with them all. So there was a, there was a fair mix of people and mixing of people. I don't think we... and the kids used to play. There was no socializing between families.

TI: Now, do you recall any... I guess awareness that there were these different ethnic groups? So like the Japanese kids would hang out together versus the Italians versus the Germans versus the English?

FS: Well, we, they were, I think more than anything, they recognized that we were Japanese or Japanese Americans. I don't think we were ostracized or set aside. We were, we played together as kids, but at the next level, the family level, there was no socializing.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So let's go to your family life. When you went home, what language did you speak with your parents?

FS: We spoke Japanese. That was, well... [laughs] it was one of those things, you know. They, they didn't, particularly Mom, didn't speak much English. She gradually, she learned a little bit, but she could go to the grocery store or whatever and do all right, but at home, at supper, we talked Japanese, and I can recall that we had incidents where we would jabber away in English and we did call down for it. I think this is probably universally true of a first-generation family, the parents partly felt left out. But it was not always easy to speak, speak Japanese. We, we just didn't have the vocabulary to make ordinary family conversation.

TI: So normally at dinner, would the whole family eat together?

FS: Yes, yes. We always ate together.

TI: Well, so tell me about your, what was your father like? How would you describe your father?

FS: My dad was, well, first of all, he was really hard-working. He, he would, he'd just work hard, and, and he was a disciplinarian. He expected us to obey if he said something, that was, that was the word, and I think it's typical of Japanese families, they, they're brought up to obey their father. Yeah, he was, he was just, he expected that, and you dare not, dare not... I don't think I ever talked back to him. I don't think anybody ever talked back to him.

TI: Now, how would he enforce his, his discipline?

FS: No, he would just, he, I don't think he ever hit anybody, but, or paddled them, but he could just stare you down, and when his voice got harsh, you realized that you had, you had crossed the line, and you just backed off. I, I don't remember anybody ever really challenging him when we were kids.

TI: Now, you were the third son...

FS: I was the third son.

TI: you would watch him probably raise your older brothers. Was he harder on the firstborn son, do you think, or was it pretty much the same?

FS: I think he was fair, although, although as in most Japanese families, the greatest expectation is for the first son. And my oldest brother George was a really bright kid, and so I know they had, they had great expectations for him.

TI: So did he get preferential treatment, from your perspective?

FS: Oh, I don't think so, but he, I think the expectation was that he would, they wanted, they wanted him to, to lead the family.

TI: Okay, so you talked about your father, so he's somewhat of a disciplinarian. What about your mother, what was she like?

FS: Well, I don't think she ever challenged him when, when things got rough. She, she was, again, a good Japanese wife. I think she probably worked harder than he did, because she raised the family and she also did all the cooking and caregiving. My dad mostly worked, and that's my recollection, he was just a really hard-working guy.

TI: So I'm curious, when your, the family's all together, or maybe just one on one, did your parents ever talk to you about being Nihonjin, Japanese, and that, and that there were different expectations, or that it meant, or what did that mean to you, being Japanese?

FS: Well, you know, the Japanese have this business of shame and disgrace, I think, haji, I think. And things like gaman and those kind of things. And those are the kind of things that I would hear. You just, you're gonna have to take that. You just, you were, they had expectations of all of us, that we would, that we would obey, we would work hard, and we would not talk back.

TI: And would that, how would that translate to, like, say, schoolwork? What would they say about school?

FS: Yeah, well, they expected us, they expected us to go to school and learn, and be good students. It was, it's one of those, my, my oldest brother was really the bright guy, and that was the expectation for the other brothers then, too. We had to excel like he did, and it was not easy if you don't, if you don't have as many gray cells as he does, it was hard.

TI: So was George the type to be, like, top of the class?

FS: Oh, yeah, he was always the top of the class. Learned quickly, learned easily, and so he, he would get the kind of grades that, that parents were really proud of. And the rest of us were just kind of in a hole, I think. It was, it was never easy for us, and he, somewhere along the line, something got left out for me. For instance, my two older brothers were really good at mathematics and algebra and stuff, and I think those things you're born with. I, I just had a terrible time with things like algebra and geometry and stuff. It just wouldn't come. And I recognize it as one of those kind of limitations that, that you have, and I just, it, I could never really do that very well.

TI: Well, how about the expectations of teachers? Because of your, your older brothers, and so were there certain expectations...

FS: Oh, yeah.

TI: And did that make it easier or harder for you?

FS: Oh, it made it harder. I can recall in high school, the teachers were the same. And I'd get this, "God, your brothers were so bright in this, I don't understand why you can't do this stuff." [Laughs] You know, it's kind of, I just feel like I just somehow just, somebody short-changed me on those things.

TI: Well, growing up then, what were, what were some of the things that you enjoyed doing or that you were good at?

FS: Oh, God, I don't know, I don't think I was good at anything, to tell you the truth -- [laughs] -- when you think back on it. I did, I made friends easily and stuff like that, but in school I was really not very good. But I, I did socialize some, and as we talked, at some point I, I was active in high school and belonged to various organizations. I joined the track team, I was never very good at that, either, but I did join and made friends.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Well, let's talk about your friends. So who were some of your best friends growing up?

FS: Well, well, I had this one, one, there were a couple Japanese American families over at the railroad camp, and I had one particular friend there, Japanese American kid named Sasai, Frank Sasai. And he was, he was a friend, pretty good friend, at least during high school. But I had, I had a whole lot of friends nearby, and some of 'em were, they were just Caucasians. They lived nearby, and we would see each other every day, play together, go down to the ballfield and get together. We weren't, we weren't a gang, but we, I don't think there were gangs in those days, but we would hang together and would, would protect each other. And so they were, they were... an Italian family there and what was his... okay, one was a Scandinavian family, we were really good friends. I was at his house almost every day. Let's see... they, they were all close by, within a couple of blocks of the laundry.

TI: Now, when you'd go to one of your friend's homes, the Scandinavian, how did that seem? Was it different than what your home was like?

FS: Well, yeah, they actually lived in a house. Our home was in a flat above the laundry, and so they, they had a home and they had a yard to play in, so that was different. And he had a vacant lot next to him so we could play football and baseball on his vacant lot. But that was kind of a gathering place there. We, we would go there and play and all day. Of course, the thing that the discipline does is that at six o'clock you knew enough to go home. You didn't, you didn't just, something you just didn't violate. You only miss that once and it gets, you'd really catch heck. So we were, we were really, I think, again, disciplined. You knew that you were in trouble if you didn't get home.

TI: Because you had to get home for, for dinner.

FS: For dinner, yes, right.

TI: And be there. So when you were with your friends, just sort of hanging out, what kind of activities, do you remember games or anything like that?

FS: Oh, yeah, we would play football and we would play baseball, softball, baseball. In the summertime, we'd go down to the, to the municipal pool and swim. We all had bicycles, the hill, the hills, there's a little line of hills behind Hillyard, and we'd go hiking up there. But we were outdoors a lot. We could, we would range forever and parents never worried about us getting into trouble.

TI: But when you have a group of boys, were there times where you did get in trouble and your parents had to reprimand you for what you guys did? Or do you guys... how was that?

FS: I don't, remember ever really, ever really getting, well, nobody told on us, I guess. You know how that goes. We, we did have some kind of a code of not telling on each other, I suspect. But it was, it, we, we got along well together and we would protect each other. I can remember this one big Swede kid, he would, he would look after us if we got into trouble. It, but then we would, we would associate with other friends, friends, so that friends had friends. It was, it, there was just a sense -- there was a sense of community out in Hillyard, we were isolated from downtown Spokane, the only way to get down there is to ride the bus or to have your family, your family wasn't going to drive you down there, so you just didn't do it.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So Hillyard was about how far from downtown Spokane?

FS: About eight miles.

TI: Okay, but you did take frequent trips to downtown Spokane?

FS: Well, not, not frequent. When... when we were kids and we had to go to Japanese language school, I can't remember the name of the thing now, Kokugo Gakko. Anyway, so in the, in the, during the week, during the school, during the school year, we would have to go down on Saturdays and suffer.

TI: Take the bus down to...

FS: Take the bus or the streetcar to start with, and then the bus.

TI: Into downtown.

FS: Downtown to the, to the Japanese Methodist Mission, and it was just, just a battle royale every Saturday with Mom and Dad, but we would go.

TI: And this is you and all your siblings would go down?

FS: Yeah, well, let's see. I can't remember who. I know my sister was there and my brother Roy, and I don't know whether George, my oldest brother, had to go or not. But then finally, Floyd grew up, and so we, would have to ride the bus down there, and from the bus you had to walk four or five blocks up to the Methodist Mission on Third Avenue, and we would suffer through this thing with the other kids who didn't live close to the Methodist Mission, they were farm kids, primarily. And then during the summertime, we would have to go every day for, I don't know, three or four weeks or a month. This was the, just the real shame of it, because all our friends out in Hillyard were off for the summer, and they would swim and hike and we'd have to spend most of the day or half of the day going downtown. And it was, when you think about it, as little money as my dad made, we had, he had to pay for us, you know, he had to pay whatever tuition that was necessary to pay for the teacher. But I don't think we learned a thing.

TI: So he, so by spending money, this was a very important thing to him.

FS: It was important to him, education...

TI: And so he really wanted you to learn Japanese.

FS: Of course, I don't think my father ever got through grade school, I don't know. But my mother went, my mother graduated from high school in Japan, which was unusual for a girl then in that, in that era. So, but they were very insistent that we do this, and we, and learning the Japanese language is important to them so we could, obviously so we could communicate with them.

TI: So when you went down to Japanese school, was it at this point that you got to know or mingle with the Japanese from downtown Spokane, or how, how did that work out?

FS: It didn't work very well. We were, we were outlanders, you know, and somehow we got picked on, as I recall. I just... [laughs] we did not get along well, was my recollection. Of course, we were outnumbered to start with, and so the... down there it used to, we used to scuffle with them once in a while.

TI: So when you thought of the, sort of the downtown -- I'm not sure what you called them -- "downtowners" or whatever.

FS: Yeah, whatever, something, well, we, that was a politer...

TI: [Laughs] So, I mean, were they, did they tend to be more city folk, more rougher, or how would you describe them?

FS: Oh, we were just outsiders. If they, they ignored you, mostly.

TI: And this was true for all the ones that did the Saturday Japanese school, that you guys were sort of like this different group?

FS: Uh-huh, the farm, the farm kids, yeah. I don't recall the, what kids, if those kids from the railroad camp even went to that school. I don't remember that, but I know we used to have to get on the bus and go down.

TI: So did they think of you more as almost like country bumpkins, kind of?

FS: I suppose. I think, they just thought --

TI: Because of the farm kids?

FS: We, they just thought, we were just... you know, we were outsiders, basically.

TI: And how would this sort of tension show up? I mean, when you say they would bully or outnumbered you, what would happen?

FS: Oh, they would, of course, they, most of all and worst of all, I think they tend to ignore you, they were clannish and all that. And they would do their thing among themselves, and we were just outsiders.

TI: Now, did the sort of elders in the community, the Isseis, when they saw this, did they try to do anything to kind of bridge the, this gap between the outside community with the downtown community kids?

FS: Not to my knowledge. No, I think not. I don't think it was important to them. You know, in those days, everybody had their problems, you know, and kids' problems were something else. [Laughs]

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Now, were there ever sort of activities or festivities in downtown, like Bon Odori or something like that that brought people together?

FS: Yeah, you know, they used to -- well, they used to, for instance, they would come to, there was this traveling guy who would bring Japanese movies into town, and the only place they could show 'em was in this, in the main hall of this Methodist Mission. And so I know my mother used to look forward to that, you'd go down and watch Japanese movies. And I can, some of them were silent movies, and the guy who, the guy who ran the machine also narrated this thing, so he would do women's voices and men's voices, it was, when you think about it, it was actually an art form for this guy to do this. It was very interesting. And then they would, then there would be social occasions like... I don't know whether Bon Odori or not, but they would, there would be social occasions down there and parties and stuff.

TI: Kind of like a big church bazaar or picnic?

FS: That sort of thing. I just remember going down there with my, with the family. My dad would drive his old Maxwell downtown. My mother, my mother really enjoyed it, so she would, she would meet with other Issei women, and they would just jabber away like you wouldn't believe.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: So let's go back to high school. So which high school did you...

FS: We went to John, I went to John Rogers High School. All of the, all of the siblings went there, it's over on the north side, northeast side, well, fairly close to, to home.

TI: And then you mentioned track, and what other activities did you do?

FS: Oh, I, well, I was in track and I, I was a member of the camera club. Oh, I just, I don't know, I was involved in a few things, I don't recall how many they were. I... gosh, I don't know exactly. You have to, I'm trying to think about that. [Laughs]

TI: Well, while you think about it, let me ask you this in terms of, so you're in high school, things like school dances or dating. Since there were no other Japanese families out there, I mean, so what, what did you do?

FS: I didn't go. No, I didn't go to dances, except the afternoon dances, I would go there and at least would be a wallflower, as I recall. But it was not, those were not, they did have senior proms, but obviously, I didn't go to that. That was, by then, the war was on. But no, socially, well, we would go as a club to various events, the school bus would take us somewhere, but that was about it.

TI: I mean, was it, was part of it very clear that as a Japanese American, you weren't supposed to date, say, Caucasian girls, or was it more you were just shy around girls? Or how, how was that sort of dynamic?

FS: Well, I think that the reality is that I recognized that, that I would not date a Caucasian girl, and I didn't. We, we would go out as a group, as six people or eight people, and there would be maybe a girl that was separate, but that was, she was not a date.

TI: So when you were in Hillyard, were there certain things that you knew that, being of Japanese ancestry, you weren't supposed to, to go there or do, and what were some of those things that were kind of like, just kind of known?

FS: Yeah, you just, there were places, places that would not admit minorities, for example, there was a roller skating rink. And I can remember my, one of my close friends was from -- he could drive, I guess, so we went down there, he and I, and the lady there stopped, stopped him at the door and talked to him, and I didn't hear the conversation, but he said, "Oh, come on," but the truth is that they would not let me in there. I recall that as... my friend afterwards told me about it.

TI: And how do you feel, how did you feel when he told you that?

FS: I accepted that. It was, it was a sign of the times. I think we recognized in those days that there were limitations in where you could go and what you could do.

TI: And how about your friend? How did he tell you, or how did he think about that?

FS: Well, he didn't make an issue out of it, he says, "Oh, come on, let's go, they don't want you in here." Something to that effect.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: When you were in high school, the war broke out, and I wanted to ask you, on Sunday, December 7, 1941, how did you hear about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

FS: Well, I just heard it on the radio. It was just, it was, it was big news, and as I recall, we had, there were probably two or three radio stations in Spokane, and I had the radio on and Sunday morning, it was the one day that Dad and Mom didn't work in the, in the laundry. So as I recall, on some Sundays my dad would make breakfast and I don't know, but we were listening to the radio and this story comes on about Pearl Harbor. The time, I have trouble with the timeline, but it happened early in the morning in Hawaii, and it was, I think it was close to breakfast time in Spokane. And we heard this story about the "Japs" this and the "Japs" that, and so that, that was the thing, and of course we told our mother, told my dad and mother about it, and of course, they, they were in disbelief. But it became apparent as the day wore on that this was happening.

TI: Now, was there any discussion, 'cause at this point, your oldest brother George was in Japan.

FS: Yes.

TI: Was there concern about him or discussions about what might happen to him?

FS: Not at that point. I don't, I don't recall that my mother said anything at the time, although I think that was one of those things that gradually the realization is that, hey, he's in trouble, he's in Japan. But I don't, I don't recall that there was a discussion about, about George.

TI: And so the, the day went on, did you go out at all, or did you stay inside?

FS: We stayed inside.

TI: Now, how were you feeling during this period?

FS: Well, I guess I was scared. I just, now, what the heck is going on? I'm, you know, I guess in a family like that, you identify yourself with Japan, I'm Japanese. You realize, of course, you were born in that country, but Mom and Pop were Japanese, and so I guess that made us Japanese. And that, that really, I felt, I guess, I think I felt vulnerable. I didn't know what was going to happen.

TI: So you didn't see any of your friends that day?

FS: No, I stayed home, we stayed inside.

TI: So let's talk about the next day. So the next day was school for you. Did you go to school?

FS: No, I stayed home.

TI: And again, was that your choice, or did your parents tell you to stay home?

FS: Well, I think... I, it was my choice. I just didn't go to school the next day. I don't know why I didn't go, but I just didn't go, I didn't feel... I don't think I felt guilty, I just was, I was really uncomfortable.

TI: And your siblings, did they, did they go to school, or did they also stay home?

FS: Well, let's see. My brother, well, George was gone, Roy was gone, and...

TI: Like Floyd, did he...

FS: Floyd, Floyd was a freshman in high school. I think we both stayed home, yeah, we did.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: And how about the business? Did your dad open the business the next day?

FS: Oh, he did open the business, but nobody came in. It was --

TI: So normally people would be bringing in their laundry.

FS: Laundry or coming in to pick up their laundry.

TI: And it was just like...

FS: It was, it was like we'd locked the doors, really. My, my favorite story about this is that, I was telling you about the, the friend of my dad who was kind of his mentor. My dad --

TI: So explain, so who's the mentor again and what was his position?

FS: He ran a, he ran a print shop around the corner, and he was a really very ardent Democrat, and when Roosevelt got in, he was appointed, it was a political appointment, he was made postmaster of Spokane, which made him a very august person in Hillyard. [Laughs] But, but so my dad as a favor would run up there on Monday morning and pick up his shirts to wash and iron, and he would take them back on Wednesday. So on December the 8th, he drove up there to get the shirts and this fellow's, this fellow met him at the back door, and, "Come in." And he spread out, my father's nickname in Hillyard was Kay, and he said, "Kay, look at this picture," and of course there were block headlines about this big, saying, about this, and he said, "What do you think of that?" And my dad says, well, geez, it was a dumb move as far as he was concerned. "Well," he says, "Kay, I'm afraid," he says, "I can't do business with you anymore." Says, "I have a political position I have to be careful of." So my dad came home, he was pretty crestfallen at the time, said, well, his old friend has backed away from him.

TI: Did your dad explain this to you and your mom?

FS: Well, I, when we were in the laundry, we were all there, and he, when he came home, he looked, he said, "Well, geez, Mr. So-and-so said, well, he's not going to do business with us anymore." And that was, it was quite a blow, you know. They had been friends for years.

TI: Yeah, that must have been a...

FS: It was. It was a, it was a blow, yeah.

TI: So that combined with your walk-in business had just, sort of disappeared.

FS: Yeah, for the first, yeah, for, about for a month, their thing was so quiet, you know, we were gonna starve to death, it looked like.

TI: Was there anyone in the community that, that came in those early days to, to...

FS: Oh, sure. There were, there were some old friends and guys who had been done, doing business with him for twenty years, that they came in.

TI: And did they say anything to you or your, your dad about, about the war, about what was going on?

FS: Not that I know of. I don't, I don't remember.

TI: Did you have a sense that there were some, the ones who had been doing business for twenty years were, were, just trusted your dad? I mean, it was sort of like regardless of what happened at Pearl Harbor, they were there to support your dad's business?

FS: At least, at least if they were supporting, at least they were ready to, still ready to do business with him. So yeah, that, I do know that, because after a while, business picked up again.

TI: And so talk about how that, how did it pick up? I mean, how long did it take before people started coming back?

FS: I was, I don't know, maybe a month or so. I don't know, but again, he did this industrial work, and there were, not many outfits would handle those dirty old greasy clothes, and so he was, they needed him.

TI: Well, because they needed him and had to kind of work with him, were there some people who came in and were perhaps rude or, or were not very friendly when they brought their business in?

FS: No, and again, I would be gone most of the day at work, and so I, I don't know. But I don't think anybody really was very overtly hostile. If they came in, they knew him, they knew he was a businessman, and they, I don't think they ever challenged him or anything.

TI: And so eventually the business just went back to normal?

FS: Normal, yeah, and it got busier and busier because the railroad got busier and they hired more people. And so yeah, the business picked up over time.

TI: That's good. And then going back to the, the mentor, so did he ever come back?

FS: Well, yeah, eventually. I know that my dad takes great, he took great glee in this, glee in this thing, and I don't know how long it was. But he came back and he asked, he said, "Kay," he says, "I can't find anybody to do my shirts right. Would you do them?" And my dad says, "Geez, I'm just too busy. I can't take your laundry." Which I'm sure gave my dad a great deal of pleasure. [Laughs]

TI: Because your dad felt that here in, in his, in kind of this tough time, his friend kind of, or this man sort of turned his back on him.

FS: Yes.

TI: And now he was coming back, and... because your dad could have done his shirts.

FS: Oh, certainly. It was only three or four shirts a week, you know.

TI: So it was his way of just saying... this...

FS: Yeah, forget it.

TI: Yeah, if you, the way you treated me, and such.

FS: Yeah.

TI: Okay, interesting.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Well, going back to your, your situation, so the first day, December 8th, you didn't go back to school. But how long did that go on? Did you go back to school...

FS: I went, I went back to school. My mother made us go back to school on Tuesday. And...

TI: And what was that like?

FS: The discomfort was on my side. I just, I guess for the first few days I expected somebody to jump out of the corner and punch me or something, and nothing really happened. Nothing really happened. School went on as usual.

TI: Well, like in class, when a teacher talked about the war or anything like that, how did you feel when that happened?

FS: I was, it was, there was certainly a level of discomfort. The, the reality of it was, to me, anyway, was that I guess at that point I felt more Japanese than American. I looked the part, and so, not that I, it was not that I was pro-Japan, it was just that I was uncomfortable in obviously whatever classes, most classes there was some discussion of what had transpired.

TI: Now, what about your, your buddies that you hung out with? Was there any difference, change with them?

FS: No, no, they were still friends.

TI: Did they ever mention the war to you, or what the Japanese had done?

FS: No. Not, I don't recall. I, there was never a, never a confrontation anytime. Any, even people who didn't know me, I don't recall at any time, did anybody ever say, call me, call me a so-and-so.

TI: Now, did you hear any rumors or news about what was happening inside the, say, the Japanese community in Spokane? Like things happening...

FS: Well, it's, the, bad news travels fast, and there were three or four men who were leaders in the community, and they disappeared on Monday, the FBI swooped down and picked them up and they were gone. And they ended up in those, you know, that detention camp down in Arizona.

TI: Now, so how would news travel? How would it get to your family and you?

FS: Bad news travels fast, you know. It, it came on the telephone. Somebody would call my mother or father and say, "Mr. Kasai and Mr. Hirata and somebody else have disappeared." They actually just disappeared. The FBI came and, I think, with the clothes on their back, took them with the clothes on their backs.

TI: And so at this point, lots of things are happening. What were the rumors? I mean, what were, what was the sense from your parents what would happen to them and, and the family?

FS: Well, mostly they were scared, I'm sure they... you know, just dinnertime conversation, gee, we don't know what's going to take place at this point, we were worried. The laundry was right next to the railroad tracks, and if people were looking for an excuse to move us, that was a good excuse.

TI: Well, did, talking about this, so the railroads were viewed as a strategic asset in the United States.

FS: Oh, certainly, uh-huh.

TI: Did that affect the, say, the Japanese workers in the Hillyard area? You mentioned --

FS: Oh, certainly. I'm sure that they knew they were in peril, that, that, in the railroad camps. They, they figured that they would get moved out, and as I recall, and I think it's right about the time I went into the service, they closed that camp down and those people, they moved those people out of there. But I don't know. I don't recall what happened to them.

TI: So when they closed the camps, did they just move them someplace else, or did they fire them?

FS: People had no, they didn't fire them, the railroad. They did, they did close that camp, though, as I recall. I remember that one family that we, we continued to know, moved into an apartment over in, near us.

TI: In terms of after the war, restrictions, were there restrictions for Japanese and Japanese Americans in Hillyard and Spokane that you were aware of, like certain places you weren't supposed to go, or certain times you weren't supposed to be out, do you recall?

FS: We were, I can recall that, first of all, you couldn't be out after nine o'clock at night. And then there were certain areas that were, were declared strategic areas, like the upriver dam where the city water power, water system comes from. And the telephone company building and all these things. And, of course, we were limited, we couldn't travel more than ten miles without getting a pass from the FBI or something. So things, yeah, we were pretty much restricted.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Okay, so we had just talked about, Fred, we had just talked about some of the restrictions that there were for Japanese and Japanese Americans in the Spokane area. And what I wanted to do next was to go back to your experiences at school, at John Rogers High School. And were there any kind of events or incidences that sort of pointed to you being a Japanese American?

FS: Nothing that I recall, nothing overt that, that set us apart. There were so few of us, there's my family, and I don't recall there were other families at that time. If you look through my school annual there, you'll see that there are very few Asian faces. And so, no, I don't think so.

TI: Okay. And then how about, again, like, things that you would normally do at school, like when you're on the annual staff, things like that, that they prevented you from doing?

FS: Yeah, well, the only restrictions, of course, was the ability to move around. We just, my family was very, very conscious of that, and they didn't want me to get involved in things that required us to go any distance. "Don't go, don't go downtown unless you absolutely have to," and all this kind of stuff took place. So, yeah, we were, we were, family was treading very lightly.

TI: And when you say "treading very lightly," can you recall your dad changing how he did business in any way, or was it just his manner, or what does "treading lightly" mean?

FS: Well, he, it just, don't, don't go where people will, where there are crowds, where there are people you don't know who might, might do something overt. That was the idea. I think that it's a Japanese characteristic anyway.

TI: Okay, there was one story I want you to tell me that you mentioned earlier about when you were at high school, you were a photographer for the, the annual. Can you tell me that story?

FS: Well, yes. Well, I, I was the photo editor, and I was always interested in cameras, and so I became the photo editor. So they, the war started, they confiscated our, my photographic equipment along with the sporting guns that we had, my brother had, and the shortwave radio we had. Well, they needed some pictures of the exterior of the building, so I borrowed a camera from a friend, and I was outside taking pictures of the, of the high school building and didn't think anything about it until a few days later, I was called down to the, to the principal's office. And a very menacing-looking man says, "I'm from the FBI," and I identified myself -- he identified himself to me and he said, "You were seen taking pictures of the building. What were you doing?" And I think I got lockjaw or something, but I, I tried to explain that we needed pictures of the outside of the building and I was doing that for our, the annual, high school annual. And of course it was, "Geez, cut that out. You're not allowed to do that kind of stuff." And I was sufficiently intimidated, so I don't think I ever took another picture for years. [Laughs] But they finally had to hire a photographer to do that because I...

TI: Now, the school administrators, they didn't say anything like, "Hey, Fred is a student, he's a good guy, he's the photo editor for the annual, it's okay"?

FS: No, not that I know of, and of course, the war had just started, and I'm sure that under the circumstances, they really didn't feel that they wanted to defend me, or defend what I was doing. Actually, it seems ridiculous at this point, but at the time, it was, to me it was an earth-shaking event. I just, I just thought, "Hey, geez, the FBI." [Laughs]

TI: Now, how do you think they found out that you were taking pictures?

FS: Obviously they, they had gotten a complaint from some woman who had driven by and saw me, and whammo.

TI: Interesting.

FS: And it just seemed like it was... now that I think about it. [Laughs]

TI: Now, the FBI, what other activities were they doing during this period? I mean, you mentioned earlier how the Monday, December 8th, that three or four men were picked up right away.

FS: Yes.

TI: Were they active in other ways, the FBI? Were they doing other things?

FS: Well, not that I know of, but I recall that later on that year, in 1942, my mother and dad were ordered to report to the FBI headquarters, and they were questioned. I don't know if it was as a result of my actions or what it was, but, and I'm not sure that other families were questioned, but they were, they were, I can recall they went downtown, drove downtown and went to the office.

TI: And do you recall, like the night before, or right before they had, how your parents felt about this? They must have been pretty nervous or anxious.

FS: I guess I never knew what my... I knew when my dad was angry at us, but I don't recall that he looked particularly anxious about this thing.

TI: Now, did he go in with any representation like an interpreter or counsel?

FS: No, well, now, and that I don't understand. I don't know who... they never talked about it, about what happened, but there must have been an interpreter in there because my mother, my mother would not have been able to answer very much.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Well, in the months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, there was a short period of time when the government allowed sort of a voluntary sort of relocation program for people sort of west of the Cascades.

FS: Yes.

TI: And I know some families came to Spokane. Do you recall that, do you recall that period when people were coming to Spokane?

FS: Oh, certainly. I recall that, that... for instance, at the Methodist Mission, there were new faces, and at that point, well, Bill Nishimura's family moved up into the north end of town, and I met him, he was taking classes at John Rogers. I think he'd already graduated or was about to graduate from the school he was in, but I met them and I met other Japanese families who had voluntarily relocated to Spokane. You would see new faces in downtown, for example, particularly, I really noticed that after, after I started college, and I had some, a little more mobility, and they were, and I would pal around with Bill, and we would go downtown and there were some Japanese businesses that we would visit, the drugstore and the restaurants and stuff.

TI: And so, and so during that period, so it's a little bit later, but, but my understanding is that the Japanese American community got quite a bit larger from this influx of new people to Spokane.

FS: Oh, certainly, yes.

TI: How did that change the community? What was, what was different about it?

FS: Well, you know, the old community was pretty cohesive, there were so few of us. And of course there were these, the volunteer evacuees were, were not, at that point, part of the community. They were just, they moved in and... of course there was, I suspect there was more work, and I don't know about this, but they, they just mixed in and we would see them, I would see them more often. My Caucasian friends, most of them got drafted. I, after graduation, boy, I didn't see hardly any of those guys, 'cause they were gone. We were the age when, just, eighteen, and it was an "I gotcha." So they were gone, and so I, I started to pal around with Bill Nishimura and some of his friends. And so at that point, I had a lot more Japanese American acquaintances.

TI: And, and how did that feel for you?

FS: Well, I didn't know all of them, I got acquainted, and we would, at this point, pal around, I guess, "hang out" is, probably the expression now is "hang out." And there was a fellow who had a drugstore and a soda fountain downtown at the edge of where the old Japanese community was, and we'd go hang out there. We'd go out together and stuff.

TI: Now, how did the, the Japanese Americans who came sort of in this "voluntary evacuation" period, how did they compare with or how were they compared to the downtown Japanese Americans that when you grew up with, you sort of had frictions with? Were there similarities, differences, or how would you describe that?

FS: Well, first of all, I think the people who moved in were, were, oh, well, they tended to maintain a low profile. And of course we, there were not as many functions at the church, for example. You didn't gather in big groups anywhere, because that was suspect, I suspect, and so on. Yeah, they were mostly low-profile kind of thing. The recollections are not very strong about this, I don't remember a hell of a lot about it.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: When you mentioned earlier that your, your Caucasian friends that you grew up with, when they turned eighteen, they all had to be drafted.

FS: They were drafted en masse, yeah.

TI: So what happened when you were eighteen?

FS: Well, so I left, I finished high school, and of course I didn't turn eighteen until the end of the summer. And by way of background, my brother Roy, who is, who is three years older than I am, was running a laundry in Whitefish, Montana. And in January or February of 1942, he was drafted. And I think it was probably before they stopped drafting Japanese, Japanese Americans, but he was drafted. So my expectations was that, hey, there's no reason why I can't be drafted, too. And so I went down in August of, yeah, 1942, and signed up, and of course I turned out to be a 4-C, ineligible to be drafted, "enemy alien," or something of that sort. And that was, that was a bit of a shock. I thought, well, geez, our family must be different, or something.

TI: Oh, so you thought it might be just your family or your, your individual...

FS: Yeah, yeah, we were, we were good guys, or something, you know. No, that, that was not to be.

TI: And so, and so what did you do then when you realized you could not join the, the army?

FS: Well, I couldn't travel, we couldn't travel, so the family council, and my dad said, "Hey, you're going to college, then." That's, that was family council. [Laughs] So Gonzaga was close by, I could ride the bus to, bus to school. And I, I enrolled at Gonzaga in September '42. Gonzaga in those days was an all-male school, it was, the Catholic boys went to one place and the Catholic girls went to Holy Names Academy. But, 'course with the draft and all, Gonzaga just ran out of students, and so they contracted with the navy for a V-12 program, which was to train naval officers. And so the campus was full of young men in uniform going to, going to become naval officers. And so there I was, there were, Bill Nishimura and somebody else, and a couple of guys who were 4-F and one woman, were the only civilians in the whole building, except for the Jesuit priests, of course. [Laughs] It, you talk about being in an untenable position, it was like... it was like in the war, getting cut off from your, from your lines. It just, I've never, I guess I can't recall ever being, feeling so isolated.

TI: Well, were there any incidences where the, the men who were being trained in the V-12 program said anything to you or made you feel that...

FS: No, no, they left, they left the civilians strictly alone. They were all gung-ho young men, and they'd march to class and they wore uniforms and they did calisthenics out in the playfield, but no, they pretty much ignored us.

TI: And I think during this time, the Military Intelligence Service, they were looking for people with Japanese language abilities. And I think they, they probably, the word came out. Now, was that something that you were interested in?

FS: Yeah, I, well, I, Bill Nishimura and I used to pal around together a lot, and so we were visiting his house, they lived in a house over on the north side, and his brother Sab, older brother Sab was saying, "They're looking for guys," and I said, "Hey, well, Sab, write to them and tell 'em I'm interested in that." And of course, he did that for me, of course. [Laughs] It turned out I didn't know enough Japanese to stick in your eye, so it was, I was very summarily rejected for that.

TI: So they, they gave you a test of some type?

FS: Well, no, they, I guess they did a background check, and that was it.

TI: Oh, so they, they never gave you an interview or a test?

FS: No, I was not interviewed or anything, but Sab wrote for me and said, "Here's a young man who's interested." I thought I looked the part, anyway. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, what's interesting, I've interviewed men who were in the MIS, some of them probably had even less Japanese language abilities than you did.

FS: Oh, really?

TI: And were accepted. So just, it was probably pretty much, pretty irregular in terms of...

FS: Well, I think so. They were, they were really frantic in those days. Yeah, and I, it was just something that I thought, "Well, now that, I ought to be able to do that." [Laughs]

TI: Now, during this period, when you were at Gonzaga, do you recall any incidences where, where the Spokane community was not friendly towards Japanese Americans, either to you or you heard rumors or anything like that?

FS: I, as I, I don't recall ever hearing about any kind of overt things that took place. There obviously had to be, but I, I certainly was not made aware of it.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Now, during this period, the West Coast had been, all Japanese Americans, Japanese had been removed and put into camps. Was there ever a sense that people in Eastern Washington and in particular Spokane, that that might happen to them also?

FS: Oh, certainly. My dad used to talk about it all the time. He says, "We just, we don't know what's gonna happen. I think we should be ready in case something happens, or if they take me away, the family has to be ready to take care of itself." Now, I recall this conversation several times at dinner, that he was concerned that we were next.

TI: So what was the plan? If they, if they took your father away...

FS: Well, yeah, well, my father, we, my rest of the family would have to run the laundry. That was the plan, we had to keep the family alive. So he was definitely concerned that something might happen, and we weren't ever sure that they wouldn't, wouldn't evacuate Spokane.

TI: So it was kind of just, in some cases, it might have been hard just not knowing what was going to, that uncertainty.

FS: Oh, yes. It was, that was the, we didn't know what the heck was happening, and of course, war news wasn't good in those early days, and again, we didn't, didn't... weren't the subject of any really harsh discrimination or anything. Those people who didn't like us, didn't come in my dad's shop, and that was just as well. He had many, many old friends who finally came back and did business with him, and I guess we were isolated. We were one of the few families out in that part of town.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So what was it that eventually had you leave Gonzaga? So you were there taking classes, eventually you, you left, so what was it that...

FS: Well, I, first of all, I was really uncomfortable. It was, it was an impossible situation. Here you have all these young men were ready to go off to war, and I didn't hear back from the MIS, of course. In the spring of '43, and... I was not doing well in school, as you might... it was not an excuse, but I was not doing well in school. And so I heard these guys, they meet these Japanese Americans downtown, and they're taking volunteers for a Japanese American unit of some kind, and you didn't have to know Japanese. So I went down to the draft board and I inquired about this, I said, "What is going on?" And she said, "Well, all you have to do is sign up and you, you're in." And I said, "Okay," so without any thought or talking to my parents first, I signed up. That was, it was in, in March or April of 1943.

TI: And when you signed up, what were you thinking? What was the, the draw to, to volunteer at this...

FS: Well, things, things, you know, there's a level of discomfort, isn't there? The war's on, the war in Japan is still, with Japan is not going well, I'm, I'm classified as an "enemy alien," so this is an opportunity. You know, I, people, guys my age now have pretty high-minded responses to that question. But I, I think mine was just that, God, I had to get out, I had to do something. My brother was in the service, and of course, he was mowing lawns back at Fort Riley, Kansas. So, but it just, I think, thinking back, I just felt I had to be involved in it some way. And these other kids I knew, guys were, that I knew, were gonna do the same thing, they were gonna sign, we talked, we had talked about it. And I just, at some point, I just said, "Okay, I'm gonna do this."

TI: Well, you mentioned you went down there, you heard how, what was going on, and you signed up, and you mentioned you didn't talk to your parents. So eventually you would have to go tell your parents.

FS: Yeah, well, I, they, they deferred taking me in until I finished the school year. And so it was not something that I had to do right away, but, and I, I got papers, and of course, the papers... and finally it got to the point where it said I was to report to Fort Douglas, Utah, on such a date, and finally I had to tell my mother and father.

TI: So you, you didn't tell your parents for, for what, weeks?

FS: Oh, a couple of months, anyway. And didn't think much about it at the time, except now is approaching the moment when I'm gonna have to leave. And it was a terrible, terrible scene. You know, when you think about, about the obedient son who is supposed to talk to his parents about, if I would have said to others that my dad, it was pater familias, he was the boss of the whole, whole clan. And his expectations on, he would run my life until I got married, I think. And, and he treated us all like that, I think, he had expectations. But anyway, it finally, it just got closer and closer, I had to go down to Utah, and I told them.

TI: So how did you tell them? Do you remember the, the scene, or...

FS: I just, I just... I know it was in the kitchen, and boy, I can't tell you exactly the language, but I told them that I had signed up to join the army and I've never seen my father so angry. He, with four boys, he could get pretty mad, you know. But, God, he was mad. I thought he was going to hit me.

TI: And what was he mad about? When you say that he was mad, what did he say?

FS: Well, he just, he, as I said, my father ran the family, and he expected to counsel his sons on what they did. And so I had done this thing, I don't know if it was life-changing or anything, but it was, I had done something that was pretty drastic in his eyes. But I was eighteen and I said, "I've got to go to Fort Douglas to join the army." And boy, he was mad. He, he had some really choice Japanese to say. [Laughs] I can still remember this. I don't think you'll understand this, but he said, "Kondo wa donna baka na koto shita." And he says, "This time, what kind of crazy thing did you do?" And it was pretty astonishing, but my mother cried, and that hurt worse than anything.

TI: And why did she cry?

FS: Well, she, my dad was mad, she was upset, obviously, and she cried. That was my mother's answer to all these things. It was, it was, I'm glad none of the other family were present, but it was a real shouting match.

TI: So this, this was probably, it sounds like, the most intense moment you've had with your parents up to this point in your life?

FS: Well, let me see. I had, my brother and, brother Roy and I used to get into trouble a lot. We would fight, fight each other, and we'd get involved in other things. But yeah, I don't recall that my father was, I've ever seen my father so angry.

TI: But at some point they, they both accepted that you were, you were going down to...

FS: Well, it finally, it finally ended up that I was going to go whether, whether they can do anything or not, so yeah, our parting was, was very quiet. My father was never emotional, but as I recall, he shook my hand.

TI: And any words?

FS: No, no, he didn't, didn't say anything.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So you reported down at Fort Douglas , Utah?

FS: Fort Douglas, yeah. You recall that, well, the Western Defense Zone was closed, and the major recruiting point, the processing point was Fort Lewis. [Laughs] But even as a soldier, we couldn't go into, into Western Washington, so they sent us, all the Japanese Americans on the West Coast were processed at Fort Douglas, Utah. Ran into a bunch of guys there, at Fort Douglas that summer. They were, they were mostly, well, they were guys out of camps, and some of the guys were, were other, from Idaho and Montana, Wyoming and so on, who had volunteered.

TI: So what did you have to do at Fort Douglas?

FS: Well, this was, this was the major processing thing, and they, they do the usual thing, they poke and pinch you, they give you shots, they issue you uniforms and all that kind of thing. You had to pass the physical, and it was very apparent that if you were alive and could almost see, you were, you were going in the service. [Laughs] But it was a busy, busy place. I went by there, oh, I don't know, a few years ago, and of course, they've closed it down pretty much, there's nothing, nothing left there. But anyway, it was a busy, busy place, full of recruits.

TI: And so not just Japanese Americans, but just lots of people going through there.

FS: Oh, yeah, lots of people from, from that central area were being processed.

TI: Now, did you ever catch any flack from anyone because you were Japanese Americans?

FS: No, no. The only incident I remember is that I think four or five days of all this poking and prodding and testing and stuff, they said that all the, all the new recruits are to report to the, to the auditorium or whatever area, to be sworn in. And then it went on to say, "Except the following names," and there were eight or ten or twelve of us, they were all Japanese American names. "You are to report to the provost's, provost's, office, So-and-so." And so we, we all showed up there at the appointed time, we were all Japanese Americans. And, and we wondered what the hell's going on, but the provost was a major as I recall. And, but there were four officers, and they each stood at each corner, two in front and two in back, and they watched us while we were being sworn in. [Laughs] So we were segregated right at that point, too. I guess they thought maybe we'd cross our fingers or something when we were sworn in. [Laughs]

TI: Did they ever explain to you why they did that? Did they say, "The reason we're doing this is..."

FS: Well, they didn't have to, did they? You knew exactly, all you had to do is look at my face, see, that was the idea. I'm sure that's what --

TI: But they didn't have an official response, or official policy of doing this?

FS: Oh, no, no, I never, I guess I didn't think about it much. I didn't think about it until much, much later, and I realized, "Isn't that strange that they would do that to us?" But hey, that was the army, and that, see?

TI: Was that, did that give you a foreboding sort of feeling? "Here I'm entering this army, and already they're doing this to me?"

FS: Well, I already knew that I was going into a segregated unit, and obviously that's what they were doing. They were enforcing that right from the beginning. It just seemed strange to me now that I'm thinking about it, why would they do that? They obviously, everybody who was drafted, who volunteered, had a background check. I'm sure that they, they made sure that we weren't saboteurs or something. [Laughs] But until years later, it didn't, I didn't even think about it.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: So then what, after Fort Douglas...

FS: Fort Douglas, I got sent home for some weeks, and I can't tell you how long that was, but, and I don't know why the process took so long, but I went down to Fort Douglas, I guess this must have been July or so, and it wasn't until they sent me orders to report to Mississippi, and that had to be towards the, towards the middle or end of August.

TI: So during that period in Spokane, what did you do?

FS: I worked at the laundry, bummed around, tried to impress the girls with my uniform. [Laughs] I don't know. I did, I know I worked at the laundry.

TI: And how was it with your, your parents? Did they...

FS: No, they had, they had pretty much, they had already, they had already resigned, resigned themselves that I was going to, I was in the army and that I would have to go. The scene was not as tense as it was originally. They had accepted that I was going, and of course my brother was already in Fort, still in Fort Riley doing something, so my mother was, again, she was really upset about it all, but she, I think she, she was very stoic about things most of the time.

TI: Now, your older brother Roy, so he was already in the service, many of those men who were already in the service went down and became the, sort of the non-coms...

FS: The cadres for the 442nd.

TI: ...the cadres for the, for the 442. Why didn't your brother do that?

FS: Well, you had to, the guys had to volunteer, and he, says, "Boy," says, "I'm not gonna volunteer for one more damn thing in the army," and he didn't. So he didn't, he never, my major concern is when we got overseas and we started getting the replacements, I thought they would send him as a replacement to the 442nd. That, for some reason that really haunted me. I said, "God, I hope he doesn't get sent here." And he never did; he ended up in the New York National Guard unit, the 44th Division, which ended up in, fighting in northeastern France. He fought into, he fought into Berchiesgaden and then into Czechoslovakia.

TI: So he fought in an integrated unit.

FS: Well, he fought, well, he was the only one in the integrated unit. He was the only Japanese American in at least that whole regiment, I think, and I don't know how he ended up there, but he said he did not volunteer for any of that, he just got stuck in these places.

TI: Interesting. Yeah, I'd like to talk to him one of these days about that.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: So eventually you go down to Mississippi, Fort Shelby.

FS: Yeah, Camp Shelby, yes.

TI: Camp Shelby.

FS: Yes.

TI: So what, tell me what Mississippi was like.

FS: Well, even at that, at that young and dumb age, you have this image of a completely segregated area where blacks are separated completely from white people, and I, we were sent to a staging area, a reception area where we took train to, took the train to Chicago and then the train south to, to, I guess, Camp Shelby, or I mean, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and then bussed out to the, out to the, to Camp Shelby, the reception area. And of course, we were in the section that processed us and white people, and I guess I didn't really see any black folks at, around there at the time. That was nothing unusual, except that the next morning we were, somebody from the, from the regiment, the 442nd, came down with a... there were only a couple of us in the jeep, and we rode the jeep to the regimental area, and I was assigned to A Company. And one of the things that, one of the things that they told us is that, at the 442nd, is that, "In Mississippi, you're a white man now. So don't go, don't use the black facilities, don't go to the bathroom, the water, and stay out of black people's restaurants." [Laughs] I thought, "Geez, this is really strange." It was a just completely different world for us.

TI: Do you recall what you were thinking or feeling when, when you heard this?

FS: Well, you know, after being, after being the subject of all of this racial tension and stuff, it was, it was different. I just, well, I really didn't know what to take of it. I still, still expected to end up in the back of the bus, so to speak. Never, never happened.

TI: You mentioned earlier, when we were talking off camera, how you actually joined the 442 in terms of training a little bit late.

FS: Yes.

TI: I mean, the group had already been together for, for a while.

FS: The Hawaiian kids went en masse down to Mississippi, and they were, they joined the cadre that, these guys were all, the cadre were mostly draftees or people that enlisted before the war. And so they formed up into, into companies and did, did basic training as a unit. Now, there were, there were a whole bunch of us who, who showed up late like I did, and they formed recruit companies. And so we would, we would train separately. They ran us through basic in these, in these smaller units. And at that point, at that time, the main part of the unit, the main part of the 442nd had completed their basics, they didn't know what to do, apparently, so those guys, a whole bunch of 'em, a whole battalion of them went over to Alabama to guard German prisoners. The German prisoners were harvesting peanuts or something, and so they were over there for, I don't know, a month or two months doing this. It was pretty soft duty, from what I understand. And then when we completed our basics, then we were integrated into each, into the rifle company that we had already previously been assigned.

TI: Now, your group that said, trained a little bit later, were there a lot of men that came from the various camps?

FS: Yes. They were almost all from camps. Some of the -- well, there were some of the guys, and then some of them were from, from, for instance, Spokane, there were several guys who, who volunteered at about the same time I did. So, but we were all, they were all haoles, all mainlanders, and yeah, but the bulk of them were from camps. They were the guys I had met, some of 'em I met down in Mississippi -- I mean, in Utah, at Fort Douglas.

TI: Now, so did you ever get an opportunity to talk to the men about what the camps were like, what they came from? Did they ever talk about that?

FS: Never talked about it. I don't, it was not, it was, I think, I think they blocked it out, really. I know, I recall talking to somebody, and well, and he said, God, they mistreated his family when they found out he was, he was volunteering. They broke windows and stuff like that. So it was, it was not always pleasant for the families of those who volunteered.

TI: Now, how much did you know about the camps and what, what the men were coming from?

FS: You know, it's not until after the war that I read this stuff about the camps that I really knew much about them. I knew that these guys had been evacuated and that, that had, they ended up, you know... and a lot of these guys were from California, and so they were from the camps in, were there some in Utah or Colorado? Something.

TI: Yes.

FS: And then they were, yeah, and I remember, well, and then the ones in Idaho, there were some from there, too, come to think of it.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Okay, so let's go, now you're talking about this, this integration process with the, the Hawaiians and your group. Describe how that went.

FS: Well, the, they, of course, they outnumbered the mainlanders about two to one. [Laughs] And the thing about those Hawaiian kids in those days, they were mostly plantation kids, kids who worked, and they all, they talked to each -- well, their language was pidgin English, and I'm sure they didn't know any other language. That's, that's the way they talked so they could communicate with the Filipinos and the Portuguese and the Hawaiians or whatever, the Chinese. So it was just, at the point it was just, it was almost, you couldn't really understand it. You could listen carefully and pretty soon you'd get, get the message. But you'd, these guys were really, really sensitive about that, being... if you asked them about, about what'd they say about two times, you might get a knuckle sandwich or something. [Laughs] They, they really resented being questioned about it. They outnumbered us, so they were, they were, they did what they wanted to us. Most of us learned to talk a little pidgin just so we could get by. [Laughs]

TI: And so in those early days, was there quite a bit of fighting?

FS: There was, there was. The Hawaiian kids had a bad thing. If they were gonna beat up on you, he'd get about four or five of his friends, and if you were walking back from the theater or the PX, these guys would jump 'ya and then punch you and kick 'ya, and you'd really get beat up. There was very seldom anything that's a one-on-one confrontation. They, it was something I suppose they learned in their, their plantation camps or something. You use massive force. [Laughs]

TI: So did that ever happen to you? Did you ever get...

FS: No, no. A couple times I, I just backed down. And so that, no, it never did happen to me.

TI: And how was it when members of the 442 met, like, Caucasian soldiers? I mean, what was the interaction between that? Was there ever any problems between...

FS: Oh, I, I was never involved in it, but I, you would hear about it, and I'm sure that our guys had, would go get taken, they'd go out and pick up our guys at the PX. The Hawaiian kids were hard drinkers. They, they liked to drink beer and they would drink a lot of beer, and then they'd some of them would get belligerent. And so -- [laughs] -- anyway, being a good young Methodist young man, I avoided the PX, I avoided drinking beer, and so I really didn't get involved in that very often.

TI: Well, it must have been an eye-opening experience for you. Here you were from Spokane, Hillyard, actually, not that much exposure to other Japanese Americans, and then to be in this situation where there are thousands of Japanese American men and...

FS: Yeah, they were all, I had, I had never seen so many Japanese people in my life. [Laughs] It was, it was really an interesting thing.

TI: Now, do you recall, I mean, by being in that kind of group setting, how that felt for you? Was it, was it uncomfortable, or how would you describe that feeling you had?

FS: We were all in the same, in the army, we're all in the same boat, and lived in this, in this hutment, actually, it's not a tent, the building has a roof over it but the sides were open. It had storm sashes that you could close, but it was open. And you lived together, twelve or fifteen men. So you either got along or they, they got thrown out. So no, finally, you learned to get along. Like I say, I learned to talk a little bit of pidgin, and that made it just a hell of a lot easier. The thing is, the Hawaiian kids at the point, I think they resented the idea that you were talking pure English. Some of us had been in college, and so it, it was, it was, there was always this tension if you tried to, if you acted smarter than they would, you could end up getting a knuckle sandwich of some kind.

TI: So the, the language of the 442 became sort of this, this pidgin almost.

FS: Oh, yeah. It was, it was pidgin, yes. We were outnumbered, you had to talk a little pidgin or you'd just, you had problems. It was just a matter of learning how to get along.

TI: So I'm curious, to this day, you still visit Hawaii to visit some of your buddies. When you go to see them, do you slip back into pidgin?

FS: Oh, sure. I use, I use that... those, those guys have gotten older, and they, particularly those guys on Oahu. But I, I just hear myself getting that inflection, they have a different inflection, and I do that. I don't know what it is. It's not, it's not protective coloration anymore, it's just something that I hear these guys talking like this, and I do it, too.

TI: So I'm curious, what does your wife say when she hears you talking sort of in pidgin?

FS: Doesn't say anything. I think she, we've been doing this for so long that she doesn't pay any attention to it. [Laughs] But you go out on the outer islands, and there's much, there's still a lot of pidgin. And our guys, some of our guys over on Maui still talk pidgin.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So eventually the training for the 442 finished.

FS: Yeah, we, yeah, we, you know, again, the new guys were integrated into the, into the regular rifle companies, and then we went on, we went on winter maneuvers in the Mississippi swamps. Then we were, I guess I can recall we, we had a review, major review, and George Marshall came down and reviewed the unit.

TI: So this is General George Marshall?

FS: General George C. Marshall, yeah, you know, the head honcho at the time. And he, that meant that we were ready to go.

TI: Now, this is curious. Was it, was it normal for General George C. Marshall to review the troops or inspect the troops before they would go overseas?

FS: No. George Marshall, from what understand, had a special interest in the 442. He was one of the people who were responsible for the unit being, forming, being formed, and that's my understanding. And you'll have to talk to a historian about that, but it was my understanding, and that was the reason he was down there. Big, tall man, stood head, he was a head, head taller then all us guys, but he was a very impressive-looking guy, 'cause I remember he walked down between the companies and looked at everybody. And the story was that was the kiss of death, we were going to go overseas. And so that was the, I think that was the thing, we'd completed our training.

TI: And do you recall the feeling you had when you were all assembled? You have probably spit-and-polished...

FS: Oh, our class-A uniforms, you know, or whatever they called 'em. [Laughs]

TI: And the, the top general coming to see you. How, how did that feel for you guys?

FS: Well, you know, I, I don't know whether I was impressed or not, but I, I think so. Because you see, everybody knew who George Marshall was, and I think we were impressed. As I recall, somebody said, "Hey, that's the kiss of death. We're going." And sure enough...

TI: So you guys passed review, so you guys, so what happened next?

FS: Yeah, we're... so then -- and I'm trying, let me get the sequence. I was in, in the 1st Battalion, that's A Company, and the 100th Battalion was already overseas fighting down at Cassino. So what they did was they broke up all the companies in (the 1st Battalion) until we were all assigned to, to either the 2nd or 3rd Battalion.

TI: Right. So all the, all the companies in the 1st Battalion were broken up.

FS: A, B, C and D. A, B, C and D were rifle companies. (Narr. note: D was a heavy weapons company).

TI: And some of them were, I think, were left in Mississippi to train.

FS: Yeah, they selected a certain number of cadre to, to stay on and train the, train the new, the draftees in. So I was assigned to K Company, and several of us from A Company went into K Company, and others went all over. So actually, I was not an original member of K Company. I was original to go overseas, but I was, yeah. So we were just randomly assigned to different hutments and different, different platoons at that time.

TI: And during basic training, you were, you were trained as a, a rifleman?

FS: Yes. I was trained as a rifleman.

TI: And then when you went to K Company, you were assigned to be a rifleman, or something else?

FS: Well, I started out being a bazooka man in A Company. And then I was assigned, assigned first of all to a rifle company, and then they needed an ammo carrier in the, in weapons platoon, so I went to the weapons platoon. And I was, for a while I was kind of a float. I was, I worked as a runner for one of the, overseas, I worked as a runner for the, the platoon leader, the officer, and then about two days after, after we were in combat, I went to the, to the mortar section and I stayed with the mortar section for the balance of the war.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: Okay, so you're now in K Company.

FS: Uh-huh.

TI: And let's, let's go to Europe. And so you land in Naples.

FS: Yes, yeah.

TI: And so why don't you tell me what, describe what it was like coming into Naples?

FS: First of all, we were, we left Newport News, Virginia, in... God, that must have been May. So anyway, we're in the biggest convoy they had ever put together to go overseas. And the troop ships are always in the middle of the convoy, and then alongside those are the ammo ships, and then on the outside are the, are the cutters and the things to protect all of this. But in the daylight, you could see ships. All the way to the horizon in all four directions there were ships. It was just, it was quite a spectacle. Anyway, so then we, we went across the sea, and part of that convoy went up to England, and the rest of us went into, into the Mediterranean and landed at Naples. Naples, it was a bright, sunny day when we pulled into, pulled into Naples harbor. Naples is kind of a white city, things are whitewashed, and it looked absolutely beautiful, these white buildings and stuff. I thought, "This is a great-looking place." But of course, you get close, and those buildings were all bombed and blasted, and there was not much left of it.

And, and this first experience is that these poor urchin kids would, they want chocolate and they wanted cigarettes, and if they got a chance, they'd steal something from you. They were, they were a hell of a lot smarter than we do, 'cause these guys carried their cigarettes in their ammo pouches, and they'd run up beside you and flip that open and grab your cigarettes and run. And you just didn't have a chance, and you couldn't shoot the little waif, the waifs. But it was... and I just remember we marched into a, into a part of Naples... God, I can't remember the name of that area, but it was a bivouac area, places where we would, wherever you, they would keep you for, until you, until you moved out of there. We were allowed some, some freedom to move around and go into town, and you get propositioned by young men who were selling their sister or said they were selling their sister, an opportunity to sell your cigarettes, an opportunity to buy... what did they, what did they make? Oh, cameos. And you could buy some real crummy cameos for a lot of money. I remember, I remember I bought some...

TI: And what are cameos?

FS: Cameos is, is, they take the shell of a, of a clam of some kind, and it's, the backside, the backside is pink and when they carve it, the relief is white. And there are some really very expensive and beautiful cameos, but these, these things were mass produced for the, for the American soldiers. [Laughs] So it was not much, but anyway, they're, couple of bucks, and so I bought some and sent them home, as I recall. But we staged there, and I recall we did a lot of marching. Guys could go into town and get in trouble, and some of 'em managed to do that. [Laughs]

TI: Now, the guys that you would hang out with, how would you describe them? Were they the, were some of them sort of the types to get into trouble or how would you...

FS: No, I, you know, as I say, your, your platoon and your squad is your family. And they were neither hard drinkers nor did they shag around much, so I managed to stay out of trouble for most of the war. It, we went to, you know, went to Pompei after, I remember that, road... how did we get over there? I guess the service company would run trucks so you could go do sightseeing. I don't recall going into town, but I do, I do remember we had a, the guys from one company had a big fight with, with the haole in the town next, it was not Naples, it was a town near where we bivouacked. It was the Hawaiian kids again; somebody said something wrong to 'em, and they took, it was, it was the 517th Parachute Battalion, they were paratroopers, and they thought they were hotshots. And so, geez, it was, I was just on the sidelines watching this, and it was, it was vicious.

TI: So you actually observed this, this fight?

FS: Oh, yeah, I, I know, want you to know I was not involved in this, but I can remember seeing a paratrooper even pull a pistol, and somebody grabbed him and knocked him down, got the pistol away. It was not a good scene, and then the MPs came. [Laughs] It was over, but it was, it was, it just... it was just... oh, I got to tell you a real neat story, though. We were, we were at Newport News, Virginia, and I can't remember the name of the -- oh, Camp Kilborn? No, no, no. Anyway, we staged to go overseas.

TI: So this is before you left the States?

FS: Before we left, before we left Newport News. And there was a dance at, at the, you know, they have these rec. buildings, and there was a dance there, and it was for, it was for some air force people going overseas. And so our guys went down there expecting... and of course the first time, the first time some Hawaiian asked a haole girl to dance, she said, "No," and the air force guy intervened. It was a big riot. And God, the MPs rolled up and machine gun mounted half-tracks, it was really a spectacle, that these guys, these guys weren't going to take any guff from anybody. [Laughs] Again, I was an observer, since I was at the PX.

TI: Now, what did you think during this period? Because here you would see these members of the 442, the Hawaiians, get into these fights, and here you're, you're, you're being trained to go into battle eventually.

FS: Sure.

TI: Did that concern you, or did that make you feel safer, or how did you feel about the men you were going to fight with?

FS: Well, first of all, I thought, "Gee, boy, you guys get into trouble, and we're all in trouble, the unit's in trouble." So I... you know, that's not a wise move, because the MPs rolled up, nobody got arrested, but it, it kind of reflected on us all, I thought. I just, I didn't, didn't, I don't think I thought even about going into combat at that point, but I thought, geez... when I was a kid I used to get into fights a lot, but it was for very trivial things like, "Hey, your shoelace is untied," or something, but this, this was really serious stuff.

TI: So it made you, it sounds like it made you feel a little uneasy about some of these guys.

FS: Oh, yeah. Yeah, you think... but I don't, didn't associate the fights with going into combat. It was just, it was just a social occasion, I guess.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: Okay, so Fred, we're now into our third hour, and let's, I wanted to go back to Europe. We had just talked about some of the interesting fighting sort of incidents with, with you before going...

FS: This was, this was the prelude to going to war. [Laughs]

TI: Now we're, let's go back to Naples, and you were staged there. And so where'd you go from Naples?

FS: Okay, well, we're staged there, we didn't, I don't think we did particular training, we hiked to keep in shape and stuff. Then they, they loaded us in landing craft, and we went from, from Naples to Anzio. And of course Anzio at that point had already been, the war had passed through Anzio. And so they landed us in Anzio, we, they had these... God, these crummy little landing craft, and we, as I recall, we stayed fairly close to the shore, and so we were getting the surf effect. God, I don't think I've ever been so sick in my life. Oh, God. It was that sideways motion. [Laughs] But the real pleasure I had is a guy in our company, he was a cook at the time, and he claimed to, he said he was a, had been a sports fishing guy in Los Angeles, and he used to brag about he'd take this Hollywood celebrity out and that Hollywood celebrity out and all that kind of... and he was so sick he couldn't stand up. And I, I took, he was kind of a boastful guy, I really took pleasure in seeing that guy so sick. [Laughs] Isn't that kind of mean?

TI: 'Cause here he was supposed to be a really, really good open fisherman, open sea fisherman.

FS: Yeah, and anyway, that was, that's kind of mean-spirited. So we, so we landed at Anzio, and we just hiked up to where all the combat had taken place and the war was over, the war had passed through there already. And within a few days, they loaded us in trucks, and we headed north, and we went, we went through Rome, and Rome at that point was still an open city and dark, and so we drove through Rome and then headed up to where the, where the line was. Gosh, I can't remember the name of the thing, but we, we were, we met, we joined the 100th Battalion, they were up in that area already, and they joined us as our 1st Battalion, and so then we were a full infantry regiment at that point.

TI: And did you have much interaction with the members of the 100th at that point?

FS: Well, the... somewhere along that, our guys got to see, guys from Hawaii got to see their friends from, in the 100th there, and I... but they, they were, they were... they joined us and then we were committed as a regiment, as part of the 34th, 34th Division.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: I was curious, your first impressions of, when you saw the men in the 100th, what, what were your impressions?

FS: Well, there's a certain amount of awe involved, because we already knew that they had done some great things down at, at Cassino, and that they were, and they, and the crossing of the Rapido out of Cassino. And so they had, they had already developed a, a fair reputation as really a good, good combat infantry outfit. So the first day for us anyway, we just, I don't know whether we were in reserve or what, but nothing happened. We just kind of, well, there was a dead German in a ditch or somebody, something like that. And then the next day, we moved into a little, towards the town called Sassetta, and we were, we were ready to move up, and our company headquarters was in a little farmhouse at the curve in the road there at Sassetta, and Sassetta was just a little village at that time. And we were sitting along the, moving along the road that goes out of town when the artillery barrage came in. And we heard, just then I heard the shells go off and pretty soon, here comes our captain, Captain Lazinsky, and two guys are guiding him out of there. And it turned out that the, the, Lieutenant Burt, who was the, the officer in charge of the headquarters, and two other guys, the first sergeant and (my) friend, who I went into the service with, went into the army with, Gordon Yamaura, were all killed in that barrage. And that was, this, this was a very traumatic thing. So we were still sitting there, and then word came down that the Germans had cut us off, and our, that our company or something was cut off at the moment. But there was no risk involved, the Germans didn't, didn't, that we're not in any imminent risk, but that we were cut off for the moment.


TI: So, Fred, let's pick it back up. So you just had gone through an artillery barrage to your, your headquarters, and K Company is cut off. So then, then what happened?

FS: Well, then the 100th Battalion pushed through us, and they broke, broke through us, and then we were okay. So we were, we were then ready, we were ready to go. We just joined them and moved forward. It was, it was as simple as that, and I know that was the first night we were under machine gun attack, and we went, we were climbing up over a ridge, and it was approaching dark, and all of a sudden these German burp guns opened up, and I, I don't know how close they were to us, but I tell you, the first time you hear a German machine gun, you know, it was a burp gun. And they, they fired, I don't know, a hell of a lot of bullets in one, in a minute. And really did scare the hell out of you.

TI: When you think back to those early days of combat with K Company, do you think back of, like, how green you guys were? You were next to the 100th, you said, "Well, they pushed through," and, I've read some of the books where, yeah, the, the 2nd and 3rd Battalion were sort of left on exposed hills and were exposed to machine gun fire, and then the 100th kind of went around and surrounded them, took them out and then it was over.

FS: Well, I... well, combat is something just completely different. You say, "Well, I'm ready for combat," you're really not. And I guess the true measure of it is that hey, somebody's going to kill you if they can, and that you have to, you have to act, you don't want to get killed, but you can't, you can't chicken out, either. It's... and until you experience it and survive it, you can't describe what the hell goes on.

TI: Now, I'm curious, when you're on the, the ground like that, how aware are you of what the other battalions or companies are doing?

FS: You only know what the guy next to you and the guy over there and the guy in front of you is doing. You don't know -- the big picture of the war is right there in your slit trench. [Laughs] That's, that's the big picture. You know, the ordinary dogface, he's, to hell with strategy, to save his butt.

TI: So you're just trying to survive, and...

FS: Yeah, you survive, you're fighting the war, but you still survive. You're doing no good if you're dead, you know. So you survive, you push. When the platoon sergeant tells you, "Let's move," you move, and that's it. You're committed to that.

TI: But do you remember as you go through, that just through experience, you just learn little things? Like next time I do this or I don't do that...

FS: Yeah, or, you know, you hear a shell coming, you know, you hit the ground. And it's as simple as that, but, we had guys, replacement guys who when the shells came in, got up to run, and it's fatal. It'll get you every time. You just learned to dig your slit trench so it's deep enough so you can't get hit, and all these things. It's, it's on-the-job training, and it's a matter of being quick or dead.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: So you just finished Sassetta, and, and then what happened? What was the next, the next thing?

FS: Big blank. [Laughs] The next, the next thing I remember was it was -- this was, and this, we were committed late in June... can't tell you when. But the next big, the big battle we had was for Hill 140, which was about Fourth of July. It was, it was close to it, I can't remember, it was Fourth of July, because I remember we were, we were hiking, marching, hiking, whatever you do, you walk ten, ten feet apart to move up, just in case. And I remember we walked past this huge German ammo dump. It was just huge, and the German forces had to leave it, so we went by there. And as we went around this hill, the German, German self-propelled gun opened up on us, so we, so they, the platoon leader had us move up and climb over the hill, and suddenly we were on this front slope of this hill, and the German artillery spotted us. And I can remember laying on the hillside most of the morning with those shells coming in.

TI: Just trying to dig in as much as you can?

FS: You just, you kind of bury yourself in the, in the soil, because that, those, that was a pretty, pretty intense artillery barrage. I don't know how many guys got hit, but we somehow, until somebody got in there and took care of that self-propelled gun, that thing kept firing at us. And somebody up in front, because we weren't, we weren't the lead troops, that thing, finally that stopped and we got off that hillside. But it was a, it was a hell of a day. And it was, it had to be the Fourth of July, because I remember thinking, geez, that was a hell of a way to celebrate the Fourth. [Laughs] And then that's, that's the beginning, staging for this, the battle of Hill 140 where the 3rd Battalion...

TI: And this is kind of after Luciano, Livorno, that time?

FS: No, this is before. This is before, before now. This is, this was one of the, one of the major German defense lines before you move into, in towards the Arno River Valley. And so we were, we were... well, our, my platoon, the weapons platoon, as I recall, were towards the back. But as that, as the day wore on and the riflemen were up just, just up the hill from us, we spent the night on that hillside, and the Germans would send mortars over. And that's where Johnny Matsudaira got hit. There, hit the base, he was down at the base of the hill with, with, he was a runner for the lieutenant for the platoon, and he was hit down there, artillery barrage.

TI: Now, who was Johnny Matsudaira?

FS: He was in Seattle. He's, he's... oh, I'm sorry, I thought you knew him. He's a friend of, well, he's all our friends, Tosh and Frank Matsuda, and Dick Naito, Dick's passed away, and John Matsudaira. Those are the guys from our company. And he was, he was in our platoon then, and he, he was wounded so badly he never, he didn't come back, and he spent years in the hospital. His family's, his son, one of his sons is a professor at MIT, for example.

TI: Oh, I've met him, yeah.

FS: Well, anyway, that's Johnny. He's, he's a commercial artist or something. He, and he's got a lovely...

TI: How, so how would it feel? I mean, so you're now into heavy combat...

FS: Yeah.

TI: And so your, your fellow comrades are now starting to be wounded or killed. How, how was that for you?

FS: You know, I, when you think about it, you get... but at the time, you said, you gotta stay alive, you gotta keep going. Yeah, it feels bad, particularly if they've been really maimed, and say, "Oh, hey, John got hit today." Okay, he's off, he's going home or something. "Million dollar wound" was the expression used. If you got hit right, you got, you didn't get killed, and you got a million dollar wound and get to go home. But you just keep going. I, I guess there wasn't any mourning. We, we just moved on. But Hill 140 was a major battle. We... the guys, we, we took, we took several casualties, as I recall, on that hillside. Our platoon sergeant, I know our sergeant at that point was a guy named Big John. Big John Oroku. And he pulled us together that morning, afterwards, and he says, "You guys did well. You did a good job," he says. "I see you guys," you know, whatever pidgin he used. [Laughs] I guess that's sort of like getting a medal. I was really pleased.

TI: Because you guys didn't get praised very frequently, is that...

FS: No, no. They, when you think about real heroes, we were just, we were just soldiering.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: Okay. So after Hill 140, what happened, do you remember?

FS: The next, the next major battle that our company was involved in, as I recall, was Luciano. And K Company was the lead on that thing. And it, like all those Italian country towns, it's built on a hill, and there was always a road that goes up, goes up into the town, and the Germans, it was a German strongpoint for that line that protected, protected the Arno River. So we had, that was the key to them, and they, they fought really hard. We were there, God, two or three days. I just, my squad leader was a fellow named Harry Kanada, he was a, he was a Buddhahead from Honolulu. We set up our mortars in a grape arbor there, our mortar, our squad mortar. And it was not, there was nothing to fire at at the moment, but we were drawing fire. And so word came down that, word came down that they had captured one of our handheld radios, and "just be careful what you say." So Harry, I can remember, the Germans were sniping at us from the church steeple, and he didn't want to say it in English, so he said something in Japanese, anyway, that there was a German in the something or other, and he couldn't think of "church." So he, I can remember he said something like, "Oinori suru toko," you know, where you, where you go pray. [Laughs] And I don't know whether that solved the problem, but I could, I do know that every once in a while, somebody would, they'd be shooting into there, and they'd hit the bell and hear it go clang. [Laughs]

TI: That's interesting how they used Japanese, improvising, used Japanese to...

FS: Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, that, I just remember him because he couldn't, he couldn't think of "church," anyway. [Laughs]

TI: That's, that's a good story.

FS: It was, that was, it was real sad, too. The Germans had big trenches and stuff like that, and they were supported by artillery. I just didn't... we went back there afterwards to look at the town, and it was completely different. They'd paved the street and they fixed the church up.

TI: When you, when you go back to -- this is after the war many years...

FS: Oh, this was, yeah, this was in 1994/1995.

TI: Do you, do you ever come across people who remember the fighting that happened during World War II?

FS: Well, in Luciano nobody was, but, but at that, in Sassetta, that house where our company headquarters, we went to there, and there was a woman -- I thought she was a really old-looking woman -- and she said, "Yes, I remember that. I remember the artillery shell that killed those men." She says, "I was sixteen at those, then," and she said she ran in and she grabbed some old curtains, and she wrapped those wounds up. And she said, "But," you know, "the guys died." It was an, it was an interesting story. Amazing that this elderly Italian woman, so we left a whole bunch of presents with her. But she had, other guys had been through there to talk to her.

TI: So you -- okay.

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TI: So after Luciano, then, then what?

FS: We... there are big gaps. [Laughs] We did, we did move over to the delta, on the Arno River. And I can remember we were, there was this big flap that approaches the town of Pisa, and we would send patrols out, and there weren't any Germans around at that time. I know some of the guys actually patrolled into, into the Leaning Tower and stuff, but there was very little going on in that area. It was just, it was really quiet. The Germans had obviously already pulled back to that, that range of hills behind, behind the, north of the Arno River. And then, and somewhere in there, we pulled back. We were on division rest, and we were back, we were back at someplace called Civitavecchia for, for rest, and we were dinging around, re-equip, getting new equipment, and generally screwing around. [Laughs] I remember we would get those concussion grenades and had a boat, somebody had a boat, and we'd row out and throw these grenades into the ocean, and all kinds of stuff would come up out of the ocean. [Laughs] I don't remember anybody ever eating those fish, but it was interesting.

TI: Well, because in terms of food, what would you eat?

FS: Oh, when we, when we were off line, the kitchen would come up, and they would set up, and we would eat usually... it was not good, but it was food. It was hot and it was, there was plenty of it. Otherwise, we had both k- and c-rations for, to carry. Every, every morning or every evening, we would get new rations for the day, and we'd carry those, and that was your, that was your meals for the day. They were all, they were, c-rations were canned, and they were, they were meat and beans, and meat and vegetable stew and something else. But you'd, you would... oh, and we had a can opener, too, we'd open it up and then there was a can of biscuits, and it had, and the can of biscuits had, with it there was chocolate or something. Or a fruit bar, yeah, fruit bar.

TI: And at this point, were you starting to get replacement troops for the...

FS: No, no, we did not get replacements until, until we moved to France. Nobody behind us at that point, yeah, so we were gradually losing men. Anyway, then from the, from Pisa, we moved into the British sector south of, south of the Arno River near Florence. We were right, we were right near Florence, and all we were doing was we were patrolling, and just setting up, I guess, a defensive perimeter just to make sure the Germans didn't make incursions. But we sat there for some time.

TI: Now, I'm curious, did you ever get an opportunity to go into Florence during this time?

FS: No, never did, didn't go into Florence. Didn't get in there 'til after, right after the war. But no, we were, God, I don't remember the name of that town. But it was, it was just a little town, and then basically we, the company would have perimeter, they would, guys would patrol, and they would go across the Arno and the riflemen would go out. We lost a couple of guys there, the Germans had mines in the road, and one of, I don't remember, one of the jeep drivers got killed there. Every once in a while -- I guess every once in a while the Germans would send a shell in there, something like that. But it was pretty static at that point. And then that was when we, I think we... it must be at the point where we pull back, and back, and into Naples, and went to France. Had to be sometime in September, something like that. But it was that time, that was pretty... the worst thing, the worst thing that happened to us there was that we were on British rations instead of American rations, and it was just terrible. God. [Laughs] I think they ate horsemeat or something, 'cause the meat was just terrible.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: So you got pulled back to Naples, and then you were then shipped to France?

FS: Yes, went in, went into Marseilles.

TI: And did you guys know what... so you were actually being transferred from...

FS: The Fifth Army to the Seventh Army. But hey, a poor old dogface doesn't know anything. They said, they came around and said, "Hey, get ready, we're going to France." Well, that's interesting. [Laughs] No, no, we didn't know.

TI: So did you have a sense that you were, but you were going from, like General Clark to General Dahlquist, anything like that?

FS: No, no, we didn't. We, maybe the colonel knew, the regimental commander, but we didn't know where the hell we were going, what was, what was going to happen to us, but we knew that we were going to France, and that we were, we were going to join a different outfit, be attached to a different outfit. The thing about a regiment, a regimental combat team, is that a division is made out of three, three regiments. So when a, when a general got a fourth, fourth regiment, he had a square division. And so that way, when he, when he prosecuted combat, he could put three of his regiments on line and hold one in reserve. Otherwise, if you only got three, you'd get... if you only got three regiments, you'd put two on line and hold one. So he had, a square regiment had more clout, and that's, that's the way we ended up in Italy with the Thirty-fourth Division, and then ultimately in France with the Thirty-sixth Division. But we didn't know, we were, were dumb kids. Anyway, so we were in Marseilles, and staged north of, north of Marseilles, out in the open country there.

TI: So when you're in, in places like France, how do they transport a regiment? I mean, how do you get from place to place?

FS: Well, the army travels with trucks, but the roads north from Marseilles, towards, well, we went in through Dijon and then Lyon, or Lyon and Dijon, the roads were in bad shape and overtaxed, and so they loaded part of the regiment, our battalion, we rode in, in those old boxcars. You know, from World War I, the famous 48-8 cars? It holds forty men or eight horses. Well, anyway, they loaded us in those things, and they would only travel during the daytime 'cause they, the tracks were in poor shape. And they could only get twenty-five troops with their combat gear in that, so, but it was still crowded. You couldn't, you couldn't hardly lay down, and you couldn't, and when jockey along at slow speed, it was a, it was long time as I recall, it was a long, hard trip. But they, the, recall that, I don't remember when they landed in the south of France. It was much later than, than after, than D-Day on the English coastline. It was, it was a major coup, because they, they destroyed miles and miles of truck and German equipment. The air force caught those German troops moving north, and they just riddled the hell out of 'em. So we would drive along the road, I mean, on the train you could see all these German trucks and half-tracks and tanks and stuff, and that had to be a major loss. Big, big loss for the German army, because they lost equipment and men and all sorts of stuff. But we saw that, too, and that was a pretty good feeling. Got, we got these guys. But you know, you think this next, next thing is going to be a walk in the woods. [Laughs] Little did we know that, what was coming up.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

TI: So let's, let's go there. So what was, what was next? Where did you go?

FS: God... and this is really confusing, because in France, that in France, they... no, let me go back. In Italy, we always knew that we were moving north, that the ocean was on our (left) side, and the Germans were in front of us to the north, and somebody else, some other outfit was on our right. But you pretty much knew which, which direction you were going, it was kind of, it went this way and that way a little bit. But in France, I didn't know where the hell we were. The, as we, as we were committed into going into Bruyeres, and I just, we, we just at some point were committed, and I can't remember where that was. But I can remember we approached the town, the town of Bruyeres, and our guys, we were on, on, I think, the east side of the town, and I can remember that the guy, the rifle companies moved ahead of us, and we were right behind 'em as I recall. My own sergeant, George Iwamoto, was the platoon sergeant, was standing, standing, we came around I think a road and then a long wall, and then he said, "Come on, you guys," and he was pushing us to get out of there, he figured we were exposed. Sure enough, a shell landed behind us, and he got hit there. And George, George has been paralyzed these last sixty years, sixty-three years. He's a (Washingtonian), he was the only other Washingtonian in the, in the platoon, so we were kindred spirits.

TI: But he was just trying to get you guys to go fast...

FS: He was, he was moving us through there.

TI: But he was the one, last one there.

FS: He was there, he was pushing the platoon through there, yeah. It's just... damn. We, we... we pushed through the edge of town and down through the valley, the base of the valley, and then we were, I guess, like I say, on the left end of the, left end of the attack, left side of the attack. As we started up the other side of town, there was this, obviously this bottling plant there. And here was this old French woman standing there with these crates of soda pop or something trying to pass it out, and we're running through there. [Laughs] She was trying to give us --

TI: So this is in the middle of combat.

FS: Combat, there's shells flying and bullets flying, and this gal is standing there trying to give us this soda pop.

TI: Now, was this just like out of appreciation, just trying to help you in her little way?

FS: Yeah, I guess, you know. She was trying to cheer us on, I guess. It was one of those things you just, "God, that crazy old woman," you know. [Laughs] But I still, I tell those other guys that, and they don't remember that, but I just remember that, seeing that old gal there trying to get us to take, take that pop. I said, God, I didn't have, I wasn't in, I was in a hurry; I just had to get out of there.

TI: Oh, that's a, a powerful image.

FS: And then behind, and then behind that, behind the town is this big hill, and the Germans had, had troops and people up there, soldiers up there. And they had an observer, artillery observer, so that's where their shells were coming from. But one thing that our artillery, the 522nd, they were, oh God, they were hotshots. They absolutely plastered that hill. They, I think they cut every tree down from those shells. And so if we'd have had to fight our away, the riflemen had to fight their way through that, that'd have been a slaughter. But they just absolutely covered every inch of that hillside. When our guys went up through there, the Germans were still dazed. There, I don't know whether it was a walkthrough, but they got through there quickly.

TI: Okay, and then outside of Bruyeres, there's a, around a railroad embankment?

FS: Yes, yeah.

TI: And so why don't you talk about that?

FS: Oh, God, I just, yeah, now that -- okay, well, in Marseilles, we got replacements. We got all new, got a whole bunch of replacements, and so we had new guys mixed in with us, okay? And the, as we approached this railroad thing, they could see the Germans coming, so our guys were on the side, and then told them, "Hold on, hold on, we'll get 'em right." And unfortunately some new guy opened fire at those guys, the trap didn't shut.

TI: So he just panicked.

FS: They guy, guy got, just got panicked and fired, but they, they'd have got those guys out in the open, they'd have creamed them. What can you do? Yeah, that's too bad.

TI: But during that battle, I think there was a capture of some, of some plans from an officer?

FS: Well, yeah, that, now, that, I don't know what company did that, but yeah, they, they actually trapped some, a German major or something and cut him down, and he had all the battle plans, apparently. This is part of the history I read, and that, I guess, made it easier. But nobody told us, nobody, he didn't tell us about the "Lost Battalion," I guess. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, yeah. Going back to that earlier comment about how you have someone who's green, who perhaps fires too early, so after that happens, what do you guys, do you say anything to him, do you kind of like...

FS: I'm sure his platoon sergeant said something, but what can you do? We were all green sometime, at some point.

TI: So you're pretty, you accepted it.

FS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

TI: Even though it potentially cost lives?

FS: It does, it does. But we all make mistakes. I, I think, unless a guy really screws up a couple times, they, they understand. We were all, we were all scared, we were all, we were all scared all the time, so I don't recall there were any incidents like that, you know, really putting these people down.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

TI: Okay, so, so then what happened after this?

FS: Oh, God. I don't know. [Laughs] We, we... at some point, they, they said, "You're going, going to rest, going, we're gonna pull you back," and they, they said, "You're gonna have five days off line, we're gonna pull you back." We, our platoon moved into an old, old tavern, something, building at the crossroads there somewhere, and God, we got a hot shower, and had a hot meal, got clean clothes.

TI: Now, how important were these rest times? When they say "five days' rest," what does that mean to you?

FS: You know, the tension is off, you get a chance to write letters, you get a chance to just, you really let down. It's like any other high-tension thing, you get, you get to let down. There's no longer the worry about, this guy gonna take a shot at you, or artillery shell's gonna land or something. And it, you just, the amenity is, hey, you get to take a shower and eat warm food. And if you're lucky, the mail comes in, and then you get to write home. So, so we were out, down, rest, at two o'clock that morning they came and says, "You're moving back up." Oh, Christ, so you put your gear together and pack up.

TI: There must be grumbling, though, happening, when something like that happens, or you guys again, just take orders and just...

FS: You know, but just, I think maybe we accept those things. I don't recall that there was any, any proposal to revolt or anything, it just, hey, just, that's, if you're a dogface you accept those things, and that's it. You're gonna, you're gonna do what they tell you. So yeah, you fall out on the road, you're gonna, you're out on the road here, "I want you out here in an hour," or something, I don't remember the time, and we're going. So you pack up, and I tell you, it's, you're in the woods in the wintertime, days are short, and it's blacker than the inside of a wolf. Can't see a damn thing, and all you hear is, "Hey, we're moving out," and so basically you hang onto the guy in front of you, you can't see.

TI: So literally you're, you're holding onto the person in front of you.

FS: Oh, yeah. Yeah, other, it's like putting a bucket over your head. You can't see anything, there's just absolutely nothing. You walk along, you stumble, you bump into the guy in front of you, the guy behind you bumps into you, but you're moving and it's pitch dark, and light doesn't come for a few hours. Gradually, I, and the engineers had corduroyed the road, logs across it for some distance, and then it just got muddy. Along, along about daylight -- and daylight probably didn't come 'til seven o'clock -- we hear a firefight going on ahead of us. And, and we, we move up, move up, and finally the whole column stops. And so when the column stops like that, you dig in. We were, we were on a trail along the ridge, and you dig in and you, just a little slit trench or something, but just gets you off the ground. The fire, firefight gets intense, intense, intense, usually the thing, the firefight ends and you move up a little bit more, geez, we didn't move at all. This firefight kept going and going. And the next morning, we were, I'm still in there. I think, I think I'm still in the same trench, or somewhere another ten yards up, and we're stuck there; the platoon is stuck there. This general comes marching, walking alongside us.

TI: This is General Dahlquist?

FS: I learned later it was General Dahlquist. And with him is, is his aide de camp and some other officers. And up ahead he meets our battalion commander, Colonel Purcell, and they're talking. And it's very apparent that the general is agitated about something.

TI: So this is, you can actually see this.

FS: Yeah, I could see part of it, if you looked. And what he was saying is, obviously was saying, "I want you to rescue my lost battalion up there." And our whatchamo is talking back to him, you know, trying to move troops, I guess. And we're stuck there. I think we might have moved up a few yards that day, but that's the same situation. We were in the mortar section, so what can we do with the trees over? And it goes like this, every morning the general comes up there. Finally, maybe the third day, he comes up there, and there's a burst of machine gun fire, a shell, and the general has blood on him and he's walking back, and his aide de camp isn't with him. It turns out that, that aide de camp was Wells Lewis, Sinclair Lewis's son, which was a major, major problem, publicity problem, too. We, the struggle went on for three or four more days, and we move up gradually. One night I hear a tank off on, we hear a tank off on the left, and there's a German tank clanking in there. And you knew at daylight that son of a bitch was gonna open up on us. A guy named Yogi crawled down there and hit that tank with his bazooka. He was the guy who took my job as a bazooka man. He was killed, got DSC for that, 'cause the Germans could have wiped us out if that tank had stayed in that way.

TI: So he, he essentially sacrificed his life, because he knew that...

FS: Well, either that, I don't know whether he was killed there or what, but he was killed up, the "Lost Battalion." Finally that, finally after the fourth day, fifth day, we started to move and move and move. And the general isn't up there, and the colonel is pushing us up, and this terrible firefight is taking place. And the, finally we, the path goes this way and then we curve up to, to hit, finally, the German strongpoint. And just, artillery coming in, and rifle fire, small arms fire, and God, as I started up that slope, I see this kid I was friends with, with a bullet in his head. Jesus, I don't know... finally, we were all moving up, the colonel, we'd been ordered to move, and so we're moving, and the firefight is going on. And a shell hits the tree above me and I get knocked down, and Jesus... I said, "God, I'm hit." And one of the guys comes over to me and says, "Are you," pulls the sweater up, and there's a big piece of shrapnel in my side, and I'm, I'm not bleeding a hell of a lot, but I'm bleeding. And the medic patches it up, puts something on it, that's it, so we keep going. But as we cleared... the ridge is like this, and the ridgeline drops over here, and the main, main attack is up this side of the ridge, and there's Colonel Purcell, big as, big as God, six-feet-six, standing there and waving us on: "Come on, you guys, let's go, let's go." And I'm sure that that finally just did it. Everybody just moved, and suddenly in combat, you know the battle is over when the firearms stop, and it just quit, it just, whump, and it was quiet. And all you heard, all you heard then was artillery fire off in the distance, and, "My God, it's done." I don't know, there was just hardly anybody left.


TI: So the, the firefight stopped, which, I guess, says to me that you broke through.

FS: Broke through the German strongpoint, yeah.

TI: And, and then I imagine, sooner or later, was able to break through and get to the "Lost Battalion."

FS: Yeah, I, and I don't know what time of day it was or anything, you know, it was light. And we sat down and kind of licked our wounds, and I guess it was later in the afternoon, these really, these guys start filtering back through there, and they bummed some cigarettes, and asked for water, and they wanted, they headed on back, they walked on out.

TI: So did you know who these guys were? Did you know that you rescued them?

FS: You know, we didn't know anything about this, except the general really wanted us to do something. And hey -- [laughs] -- it was not until we got off line and we, and we heard what it was all about. Hell, just another battle, as far as I'm concerned. No, there was no, hey, we're gonna rescue these guys, kind of stuff. Nobody ever told us that. But then, you're dumb, dumb infantrymen, what the hell. [Laughs]

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

TI: So you guys just went through this intense fighting. At that point --

FS: It was, it was, you know, it was as intense a firefight as we'd ever experienced.

TI: So were you guys then pulled off line, were you guys given...

FS: No, no. We, we, the few of us who were left then turned on that ridge, and pushed, pushed towards the valley that controlled the road to St. Die. And we, we moved without, without resistance right to the edge of that ridge, and then the Germans were, were entrenched there. And we stopped. God, there were hardly any of us left. If the Germans had any number of people, they could have pushed us off the ridge. But I'm, I'm sure that they didn't have anybody, either. And so we'd sit there and somebody'd get up in the morning and look around and see what's going on, and the Germans would shell us, and I'm sure we shelled them back. And then once every hour, a great big artillery, German artillery shell would pass over and land behind us. And that thing sounded like, like a freight train flying through the air. It was not the regular, the regular artillery shell like the .88s or something, this was a big, big shell. And it'd explode behind us, so you just, I guess they couldn't adjust it right, to get right to us, but it'd land on a hill behind us, but it was about every hour, and we would, we would just make a point of not being down that way. It was also near the road where the rations came in, so those guys knew better than to come in there, too. But we sat there and sat there, we didn't, I don't think we lost any more men. But well, when did we... I don't know. But anyway, we sat there and sat there and sat there. Finally, replacements came, somebody from the 36th Division came up and they pulled us off. But at that time, I think there were only eighteen of us that were left.

TI: So eighteen in, in K Company.

FS: Yeah, at K Company. Well, the section was on the, people were up on the front, up on line.

TI: And, and going into the, the campaign, how many were in it?

FS: Well, when we, we were full strength, because we got replacements down in Marseilles. So they were pretty, we were fairly close to two hundred men, I suppose. Something, maybe something less than that, but yeah, but over the period of time through Bruyeres and the railroad track and the "Lost Battalion," we were down into that point, yeah.

TI: So when you go down and you're, you're now off line, and you look around and you see eighteen of you, what, what do you think at that point, going from two hundred down to eighteen?

FS: I, I... you're hardened, okay, and you think... still I can remember being billeted in the loft of a barn some, some miles off the front, and, "Jesus Christ, where is everybody?" I just don't, we didn't mourn anybody in particular, I just -- [laughs] -- I guess maybe you accept what's, you accept what's what. I guess you're, I'm glad I'm alive, I guess. But it was...

TI: Well, under that kind of pressure, I mean, it seems that some guys would just crack. They, they just can't take it. I mean, it's just so...

FS: You know, the guys that are gonna break are gonna break early, I think. Except a strange thing happened to us: Big John, who was our platoon sergeant, went AWOL. He just went flat, I think he saw too much. He went AWOL, disappeared for several days, went out and got drunk or something. And he came back and they busted him to private. But he was, he was a tech sergeant, and he's listed as a tech sergeant in the roster, you know. He's a hell of a good guy, but I think he sees everybody, he's lost all his men and stuff...

TI: Yeah, I imagine it's really hard for those guys because they feel more responsible.

FS: Yeah, anybody in command, and it's different for an officer than an, than a non-com, you know, you're really right close to your men, you share everything with them, and he just disappeared. We wondered what the hell happened to him, but he did come back. 'Course, what is a Buddhahead gonna do? There's no place to hide. [Laughs]

TI: Now during all this, in K Company there was another Washingtonian, Medic Okubo?

FS: Yeah.

TI: Did you ever come across him?

FS: Oh, sure, he's the one who, who did the patch on me, as I recall. Yeah, he, he and I used to talk, we were, we're, he's, he's a really good guy. A good medic. And of course, they're all good guys, he'd done that. When I first went in, I told 'em I wanted to be a medic, but I'm glad I didn't. [Laughs]

TI: Now was there anything special, because he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

FS: Yes.

TI: And was there anything that stood out about, about Okubo?

FS: Well, he, he had more guts than a burglar, really. I, that's what I remember. Under fire, how you would -- would you run towards the Germans under fire without, with nothing but a red cross? You had to be crazy. And he did that, he moved around, when people got shot or got wounded, he would tend to 'em right away while the firefight is going on. That's crazy. Yeah, we, he, he married into a family from here, around here. Never did see him after the war, but I was always aware of what he was doing, living in Detroit, and practicing dentistry and stuff. But I was pleased that he got the Congressional Medal.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

TI: So after, so you're, you're off line now, then what happens?

FS: Well, we're billeted in this barn, you know, what's left of us. And to Colonel Purcell's credit, he came down, called us all together, and he said, "You did a hell of a thing," he says. "I'm going to make sure that somebody hears about it. You're gonna get a medal for this." And that was, 3rd Battalion got a presidential citation, but he was just one of those kind of guys. I don't remember going to the review for, for General Dahlquist. By that time we were all numb enough that I don't remember a damn thing. And then, but I do remember these guys, we got back there, they took their shoes off, and their feet got about this big around and turned red and purple. We didn't have good, good shoes, and from the cold and the wet, and some of those guys finally had to go back. They couldn't, they couldn't walk, they couldn't do anything. That was, that was the, geez, that was bad. I can just see those guys'... my, my feet to this day, of course, can't stand cold, but not like those guys. I'm sure they're permanently, were permanently crippled from that.

TI: And so you guys were then, what happened after that?

FS: See, well, then, then what, what few of us were left, they loaded us in trucks and took us south to the south of France, there down around Nice and Menton, and the Italian border. And it was there that we started to get great numbers of replacements. And it was there that we were, we were training. For a while we -- have you ever been to France?

TI: Yes, I have.

FS: Have you, well, you've been, have you seen remnants of the Maginot Line?

TI: No.

FS: But anyway, the Maginot Line also had fortresses between Italy and France, and they were these, these huge, they dug tunnels through the mountains and put these big gun emplacements and pointed 'em towards Italy, pointed 'em towards Italy. And so when we sat on these defensive perimeters, we would occupy these forts, and then they would send out patrols and stuff. But it was pretty static; the Germans weren't trying to do anything, and we didn't, we really didn't know what the hell we were doing there, but, except that we were resting and training. But we would sit in these, these big forts, and the Germans had had the presence of mind to blow the turrets, the gun turrets off so that they were open. You could look around, and occasionally you'd send a patrol out and nothing would happen. So it was, it was a, just a strange thing. Except -- and I still, for my life I don't know how this happened -- but our, our company headquarters was in a town called Sospel, and it's right close to the border up in the mountains. And one day an artillery shell landed in the courtyard, and the supply sergeant and the company clerk were standing out there, and he got killed. And we, we didn't lose hardly anybody -- that's the only guys we lost there. But it was the damndest story.

TI: So it was almost like a fluke, that they were shelled.

FS: Yeah, but I don't know how the Germans put that shell in there, to tell you the truth. But they did, and it was right in the courtyard, right where the company headquarters was. And of course, if you're the supply sergeant or the company clerk, hey, that's a safe job, you know. We were there, oh, back in the '90s, and the French, the French have put up, the people of Sospel have put up a little plaque honoring these two guys. Anyway, so we, we sat, we were up there, and then we, for a while we were billeted right along the Riviera coast looking out over the ocean, and they said Germans were coming in there and doing this and that, and of course it was... [laughs] it was pretty good duty. Going to town and getting into trouble, and all that kind of neat stuff.

The story I was going to tell you was that when we first moved down there and we were billeted in, in an old farmhouse, and we got a, we got a new captain -- the officers died out fast, as fast as the enlisted men, got a new captain. And God, a runner comes down and he says, "Hey, Rosie, Captain wants to see you." "Oh, God, now what did I do?" "I've got a letter from the American, from the American Red Cross, and your sister says she has not heard from you in umpteen months, and she wanted to know what had happened to you." [Laughs] He says, "You go back to that whatchamo and you write a letter to your sister." [Laughs] I was embarrassed more than anything else. But it just, it was one of those things; I'd intended to write moving north, couldn't do that, couldn't get mail. When they pulled off for rest before "Lost Battalion," I was gonna write a letter. So, God, it was, it was about three months before I got any. But anyway... I got mad about it. "What the hell?" [Laughs] But... shoot.

TI: Oh, that's a good story.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

TI: Okay, so today we're Thursday, April 27, 2006, again, we're in the basement of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane. I'm doing the interview, Tom Ikeda, and on camera is Dana Hoshide. And Fred, I have to thank you for coming back. I mean, yesterday we did three full hours, and we, it was just so good, so fascinating, that we asked you to come back to share some more, so thank you.

FS: I've got to tell you, I enjoyed it. It's been fun.

TI: So where we stopped yesterday was we were in the, the French Riviera.

FS: Yeah, the Riviera coast.

TI: And what, in that time period of the 442, that some people called it the "Champagne Campaign." And I just wanted to -- last night when I was thinking, I was thinking that here, you had some down time, and I was wondering if, if the men ever talked about what they had just accomplished with the rescue of the "Lost Battalion." Did, did they find out, either through themselves, or did they talk to other people that, or heard from other people that, that just a sense of what you had done?

FS: You know, I don't think we ever really talked about it in those days. And it wasn't 'til after the war was over that we realized exactly what had happened. As an enlisted man and just a dogface, you know so little. Your immediate surroundings are first your squad and then your platoon, and then the company. All we were, we were, we were aware of is that when we came off those hills, there were only eighteen or so of us left. And I guess it's part of licking your wounds. But we, I, if we did talk about it, it was in the, in the vein of, "God, old whatchamo got it," "Geez, whatever happened to, I wonder if whatchamo's going to come back from the hospital?" and so on. That was what it was mostly about. I don't think we ever felt heroic about it. It was not 'til well afterwards that we realized what had happened up there.

TI: Well, how about when you're in Europe, when -- you call yourself a "dogface" -- when you would come across other dogfaces from other units, non-Japanese American units. Were they aware of, of sort of the record of the 442? Did it ever, ever come up that, "Wow, you guys did some pretty amazing things"?

FS: Well, I just remember one of my squad members, platoon members, coming back from a trip into town, and he says, "You know, we were stopped, sitting there on the, on the street, and a guy came up and said, 'Hello,' and he saluted us. And he said, 'You were the best soldiers in Europe.'" I just remember that, I wasn't there, I just heard about it afterwards. So, so somebody was, some people were aware of us and our record, apparently.

TI: Well, how about the army PR machine? Did they ever, like, do newsreels or anything about the 442 that you were aware of?

FS: Well, it was... remember I was telling you the incident about the 442nd on, on the "Lost Battalion" rescue? That's how my sister knew about it, and she was aware of the casualties, and she was, and so she was the one who wrote to the Red Cross wondering what had happened to me. So finally, in that period in the early winter of '44, there was, there was a lot of public, apparently, publicity in the, in the, on the mainland about us. Considering that there were millions of men in Europe, and here we were a unit of only about five thousand men. So if you, if you'd get coverage at all, I think it was amazing. I can recall that, that the little, the newspaper out in Hillyard where we lived, had an article about me, that I was, I was in Europe fighting. [Laughs] And my friends from Hawaii said, "God, you got your name in the newspaper," you know, but I was the only Japanese American from Hillyard who was in the 442nd.

TI: Now, how did you find out about article? Did someone send it --

FS: No, my sister cut it out and mailed it to me, I don't know at what point that took place, but it made it sound like I was Eisenhower's number one man, you know. [Laughs] I took a lot of ribbing, anyway.

TI: Do you still have a copy of that article?

FS: No, I don't, no. But I, it was, it was very amusing at the time. I, I took, I took some kidding about that.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

TI: Well, so from, so we're in the French Riviera, then from there, what happened to the 442?

FS: Well, we, we sat there and replacements, we got a whole bunch of replacements. I don't know, maybe two or three waves of replacements. And then gradually guys came back from the hospital and so probably -- and we trained all the time. In addition to, in addition to, to sitting on defensive, we'd get, try to get new guys broken in, fitting in to the unit and stuff. And so I'm sure that we were full strength by sometime in February. And then, of course, word came out that, that we were going back to Italy, and somehow, well, at least, that was the word, the rumors, grapevine. No, officers never tell you a damn thing. You kind of, you kind of ferret it out. Somebody in the, in regimental headquarters tells somebody, and one of his friends in the one of the companies, and gradually it filters down. But nobody ever tells a guy down at the low end of the chain what the hell's going on. So anyway, that -- but we knew, we found out we were going back to Italy. And we were, we were loaded on some kind of troop ship. And again... this is where it breaks down. I can't remember whether we landed in Leghorn or in Naples; I don't remember that.

TI: That's okay. So why don't you go ahead, but you ended up sort of back where you...

FS: Yeah, we were back where we started. When we got back to, when we got back to Italy... this, it turns out that we were, it was, it was some sort of a secret operation because we were, we were sequestered, we were not allowed to leave, leave the campsite. And apparently, Mark Clark's intent was to use us as some sort of shock troops, to, to hit the line. When we got back there -- the surprising part of it was that the front had not moved at all from the time we left in September to the time we got back to, to Italy in March. It was just the same old, same old place, same old beat up area. [Laughs]

TI: So what were the rumors amongst the men? So what happened was you were transferred from France back to Italy, to go back to the, Mark Clark, the 34th --

FS: The 5th Army.

TI: The 5th Army.

FS: No, we did not join, we were, we were not, we didn't join the 34th Division. That was a disappointment. We were attached to the 92nd Division.

TI: Oh, that's right.

FS: Which was, which was the all-black infantry (division), and they were on the extreme west end of the line, was that the Adriatic? Yeah, the Mediterranean side. And, but we were under direct command -- it's my understanding -- we were under direct command of General Clark. He considered us... he, he was the guy who really thought we were something, and he liked the 100th, and when the 442nd came over and joined him, we were his elite troops, it was always afterwards. And he, he was the one who, who fought with, who struggled to keep us in Italy, but Eisenhower and his crew decided that they needed us in France to prosecute the war, to prosecute the war in France. But after we were so beat up, Clark prevailed on the high command, Eisenhower's command, to return us to, to Italy.

TI: And so how did the men feel about this? Here they're going back under General Clark, you're, it's sort of secretive. I mean, what, what were you guys talking about? 'Cause you knew something was up.

FS: Yeah, we knew that we -- well, I think, I think we recognized that the intent was to try to break the German, the Germans had this winter line in the really rugged, rugged mountainous terrain in Italy there, along the coast. They were in the mountains right off the ocean, and the Germans would get the high ground, and in order to, to move ahead, it was very apparent that you had to get those, get them out of the mountains. And that was obviously what, what they intended us to do. Not being a strategist... but it was very apparent. The one thing about Italy -- I think I talked about this before -- as we knew, the mountains were in front of us and the Germans were on the Coast. And the coast, the ocean and the flatlands were on our left, and pretty much we knew which way we were going. We were gonna go north, and the Germans were, would defend the ridges, and we would have to climb the ridges and push them off, and then they'd move back to the next line, and we would do that again. But this is what took place at the campaign in '44, and in the spring of '45, it was the same damn thing.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

TI: Okay, so now you're, you're sort of hidden, your guys are sort of secretive, and then, so then what happens?

FS: We were, we were, we can -- I remember, we were, if anybody knew, anybody went by, he knew who we were. But we were not allowed out of the camp, we were hidden. And then as I recall, there was obvious preparation, and we trained and stuff, got new equipment. The, the sequence of events kind of, kind of is gone, but I remember that, you know, there's always preparation with, to move. We got fresh ammo and the equipment was checked, the guns and everything was taken care of. I recall that in, these were all movements. When we finally moved up, I can remember that we were instructed to not make noise, and we, and the night movement, I think, our whole battalion moved into this little village, and they say, "Stay inside there." So we were there, and then early, I think probably the next day or before, in the dark, the lead companies in our battalion hiked out of the village, down to the valley, and went up the hill there. And I Company and L Company were the lead companies, and the K Company was in, was in reserve. And just reading the history of that battle, the Germans were completely surprised that, that anybody would climb the, climb that face of that mountain, which looked like it was right straight up. And these guys climbed that son of a gun, and they were instructed not to make noise... just talking to those guys.

TI: Well, when the fighting started, where were you?

FS: We were down at the base of the hill, you see, in reserve. And that was not the best place to be, because once the battle was joined, the gunfire started and the artillery started. The German, there was, there was a mortar, German mortar unit up to the far right in a, in an old, in a marble quarry, and they just, they shelled us, they just shelled the hell out of us. And we, we took quite a bit of punishment down there. We were down there in the valley floor, waiting to move up. And until the guys in front moved ahead, we were stuck down there. And as I pointed out, we had, we had several new kids, new replacements, and when that artillery barrage started, they got up and ran, and several of them got taken down. I still remember that. You can holler at 'em all you want, and say, "Get down," but panic sets in. I just, I just still remember that, those guys got up and ran.

TI: But for me, what's interesting is, so it's kind of reversed. Because usually the advance companies are under more risk, or they take more hits. But they, because they were on top of the hill, they actually had the high ground and had the advantage. Whereas you in reserve, in K Company at the base, were kind of in a more precarious situation.

FS: Well, we were, yeah, well, we weren't on the line, and we're just down there waiting, waiting to move up. And the, and the, when the barrage came in, there we were. I think they, finally somebody neutralized those mortars. But yeah, we, we took a beating.

TI: Now, do you know if there was any conscious decision -- I know in the rescue of the "Lost Battalion," K Company took horrendous losses. So when they do a new sort of battle like for the Gothic Line, do they intentionally put you in reserve because of that? Do they kind of mix it around?

FS: Oh, no, no. It's just, I don't understand the military part of it, but it's just a random thing. The battalion commander says, "Well, okay, I and L Company, you lead this attack, and K Company's in reserve." But then at some point you move up and move through one of the companies, and you're the lead company. But it's a way of resting or getting some kind of succor to the, to one of the companies. You, I don't know about the military thing, but it's just, just, I guess, good sense to do it that way.

TI: Okay, so you're under heavy artillery barrage, then what happens?

FS: And then, well, gradually -- the good part of it is I guess the attack at the top of the hill on the German positions went really well, and God, they were, cut through that and chased the Germans off, I guess, in good order. And so we were able to move up pretty quickly. But initially we were, we were down there at the bottom. So very quickly, we moved up, but don't ask me about the, about the time, because it just... I couldn't tell you.

TI: But once you're on top, then...

FS: Once we started up the hill, then we were able to move reasonably, reasonably well, because at that point they'd broken that, the line, the defensive position. And reading histories of the account, the Germans were completely surprised. They didn't know what the hell had happened. They had had, held these impregnable, so-called impregnable positions for, for months. The line was static all winter, so I guess they were pretty complacent. And of course, it was a complete surprise that the 442nd was back in Italy. I guess that was part of it, it was some kind of psychological thing that Mark Clark thought of, I suppose.

TI: So the line was broken, and then you were on top, sort of, is it more of a mop up operation, or was it still pretty heavy fighting?

FS: Well, that, now, I don't, I don't recall what happened after that. I know that once the line was broken, we, we pushed, I can remember for a couple of days there would be these little pitch battles. The Germans' rear guard would, would try to hold us off so they could set up another line. We moved pretty rapidly, but reading the, reading the history of the battle, the, our, the 442nd's attack on that far west end of the line was intended as a diversion, and the intent was, intent was that the American troops in the center of the line would push, that the Germans would try to protect the flank, and then the, in the center of the line, I guess the 34th, 92nd, and 10th mountain, and they were going to push hard and then just cut the whole bunch off and trap the troops. But that was, I guess that was the strategy, but we didn't know what the hell, we didn't know that.

TI: You knocked, you knocked them out --

FS: Yeah, so, so what happened, obviously, is that, that our attack was so successful that, that apparently Mark Clark decided, well, we'll just let you go, and we went. And wound our, our end flanked that thing, then the rest of the, the rest of the line to the east of us folded up, too, because they were outflanked. And we could have cut them off on the roads, apparently. So, but it was just a series of pitched battles. We, things moved very rapidly at that point. I just, God, it was kind of a blur.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

TI: Well, then, just, as a blur, from that point on, it was just weeks before the end of the war.

FS: It was, yeah, you know, it's... the battle, the war was going on, we were aware guys were, people were getting shot, wounded, Germans had some... the Germans still, the German soldiers in Italy were really experienced infantrymen, they were good soldiers, they didn't buckle easily. In France there, we saw some kids who couldn't have been more than fifteen or sixteen years old. These guys were old hands. They, they had seen us before, probably if they'd survived, they'd seen us at, seen our guys at, at Anzio and all these other places, in the battles there at Sassetta, for example, the same, same outfit. So they were seasoned troops; they knew how to fight. And so we, they, every battle was a, was nasty. But I just, I know we were moving fast. Pitched battles were maybe a day or two, two before it folded and moved again. I think it was a problem keeping, keeping us supplied and keeping, keeping up with us. Because once, but once the coastal roads were open, they could get, they could get, you know, ammunition and food to us. I just, there are just some things, some things happened that I just, that I recall... it's really towards the end of the war, and we were, we were sitting on reserve one day, and I saw a kid from Spokane. He came in as a replacement, and God, within, within a few days, he was killed. I really had a -- I thought, "Good God." I didn't know about it until after the war was over, but I, I said, "Geez, I'll see you back home," or something like that.

TI: And you knew the war was coming to an end.

FS: We knew the war was, we knew the war was almost over. The Germans were just folding and moving back. We got to the outskirts of... we got to the outskirts of Genoa, and the war was pretty much over, and I could, I could... the, in order to go into town, we commandeered the railroad, I mean, the streetcars, and rode into town in streetcars. But there was really, at this point, nothing to be concerned about. We just rode into town and set up a defensive perimeter.

TI: And when you were in Genoa, that's when the, you heard the war was over?

FS: No, we pushed through Genoa, and we were in a, we were billeted in an old school building. It was, it was north of Genoa, and then they said, "Hey, the war is over."

TI: And what, what did that mean to you, when you heard that? What did you think?

FS: I think, you know, it really doesn't sink in. The war is over, and God, you think, "Geez. Well, I made it, I think I made it."

TI: So no, no cheer amongst the troops or anything?

FS: No, we didn't cheer. I think I went back and took a nap or something. It was, I, there had to be a sense of relief, but you're... well, what was I? Nineteen years, twenty years old? [Laughs] You don't get really retrospective at that age.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

TI: So in that time period between the end of the war and when you returned back to the States, what were some of your memorable experiences?

FS: Well, I've got to tell you about, we had a replacement in our, in my squad, a guy named Pete Sugiyama. He was out of, out of San Francisco, and we were, well, we were really close. But the bad part of it is that his brother was a medic in the medic, medical detachment. He was assigned to our company. And in a firefight somewhere... again, within the last ten or fifteen days before the ceasefire, and he was, his, Pete's brother the medic was tending one of our guys in our company, and he was shot in the back by a German and died. And God, I... I can remember that the, the captain came to me and he ordered, he said, "Fred, you take Pete back to regimental headquarters. I'm reassigning him there temporarily." And I can remember watching, walking, he said, "Why don't you walk him back?"

TI: Before you, so the, the officer did that because... is that a common practice if someone close gets killed?

FS: I don't know. You know, I, but there were, he was in the, we were in the same company, I mean, the medic was attached to our company, so it was, it was a real unique circumstances. But I... so I said, "Well, yeah, God, I'll be glad to do that." And I was walking in back, and one of the other, one of the officers, or one of the non-coms said, "Hey Fred, we've got a captive, we captured a German here. Why don't you take him back, too?" And oh, Jesus. So I had Pete Sugiyama with me, and this German prisoner with me. And I thought, "Pete, if you ask me to shoot that son of a bitch, I'll shoot him." But we didn't, the guy was a little mild, you know, he was older and was from Austria. And really meek little guy, I guess -- of course, if I were a prisoner, I'd be kind of meek, too. We, we walked back a couple miles to regimental headquarters.

TI: But that was just, just a sense of how angry you were, how you felt?

FS: Oh, yeah. I, you know, if that guy would have run two steps, I mean, I would have shot him right there. But I, I can remember thinking that, "God, Pete, are you sure you don't want me to..." I didn't say it, but, "Are you sure you don't want me to..." But, and these are the kind of things that, what kind of mentality is that? But you're, but you're up against all of these things, you know.

TI: But this is probably an example of how war changes a person.

FS: Oh, yeah, yeah. It, but I just, it was just one of those incidents you think, "Damn," afterwards you think, "God, the war is almost over." Anyway, the war was over, we, we were in this, billeted in this, I don't know, building or something, and there was an, probably a runner came down and said, "Hey, the Germans have given up." There was nothing very dramatic about it because we, we were aware it was gonna happen. But I, the next, the next incident -- and boy, I don't know where we went from there. Went into town and drank wine, maybe, or something, but I don't remember that, either. [Laughs] But we, we were then taken to a place called Ghedi Airport. And Ghedi Airport was the major, apparently, military, Italian military establishment of some kind. And our, our regimental responsibility was to, we had to process the German prisoners. And they streamed in from all over. I don't know how many thousands of them, but we, we disarmed them and we processed them, apparently some of these, I think some of these guys were starving. They hadn't had rations for a long time. That was all, we, they put 'em in some kind of a, a secure perimeter.

TI: Now, how's that for you? I mean, the mentality, I mean, just days before, you're fighting these men to the death, and now all of a sudden they're there as prisoners. I mean, does something in your mind shift or change, or what, what happens?

FS: No, I suspect if that guy, some guy looked at me cross-eyed, I'd have butted him with a bayonet butt or something. [Laughs] No, I, but at this point, they were, they were pretty meek. I don't, we didn't run across any of the troops that we were, we had been fighting, I don't think. There were certain, we were aware of certain divisions that were there, and we didn't see them. I don't know whatever happened to them. But these were, they, these were, probably, a lot of them were, were support troops. They even had a -- we didn't, but one of the, one of the companies processed a bunch of German WACs. [Laughs] I don't want to go any further with that, but anyway... [laughs]. It was a very tedious process, and one that you end up, "What the hell are we doing here?" There was nothing else to do.

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

TI: Well, I want to try and get you back to the States. So was there anything else during the, those weeks or months that you were in, that stand out to you?

FS: Well, we, then we, they... there was nothing to do. What does a, what does a combat infantryman do when there's no war? So they pulled us back and they, we were stationed around an old German ration dump. And, of course, there were a bunch of German prisoners there who were supposed to be working this place, cleaning this up. So we were there, and part of the guys, you could get a pass and somewhere along the line, they came through and they said, "We have, we have trips to Switzerland for you guys." And so, you know, there were tours of various parts of Switzerland, and so we, some of us got to do that, and I went to Switzerland for four or five days. And Switzerland was a lovely, clean place with, with very friendly people who were happy to see us. It was just, it was just like night and day. Clean, they had not -- well, they had experienced the war in that things were rationed, they didn't have cigarettes and stuff like that. That was good trading stuff, by the way, cigarettes. [Laughs] So we did that, and guarded, guarded this ration dump, or guarded the prisoners who were cleaning up the ration dump.

And one of the things they had, they had a month's tour in Florence where you went, they had University Training Center, they called it, and it was, it was in an old university there. This had to be in, probably, September or so. And so I'd been going to college and I said, "Well, I've had a year of college, I'd like to go to this thing." And it was a good, good way to screw off. We're billeted right in town in the old railroad station in Florence there, and we would, morning we would go to class, and they, they brought academicians from the States, and they taught the classes. And it was a hell of a good deal for them, so they'd teach half a day and wander around the rest of the day, so it was a good deal for them, and it was fun for us. Good relief from, from the boring business of guarding and all this kind of stuff.

TI: That sounds fabulous. I mean, I love Florence, I mean, the art and the history.

FS: Yeah, and it was a wonderful place them. Florence had been an open city, so there was very little damage. You know where the Ponte Vecchio is?

TI: Uh-huh.

FS: Well, the bridge next to it was, was the, was the regular transportation bridge, and the Germans had, had mined that and blew it up. But the Ponte Vecchio they did not, but what they did was that they, they demolished all the buildings leading to the Ponte Vecchio from the south, so it was all rubble. And the city itself was intact, and so it was a lovely place to be, and we would wander around. Didn't have to study, you just went to, went to lectures and stuff.

TI: Oh, that sounds wonderful.

FS: It was, it was a great experience. Then that lasted a month, and then they said, well, the guys who had the higher, you remember reading, hearing about everybody got points for all kinds of stuff, you know, how long you're in the service, how many months you were overseas, how many medals you got and so on. So the guys from Hawaii, of course, and cadre got to go first. They were out of there right away. Then the guys from Hawaii got to go home. So then it was my turn and this was probably October. And so they shipped me to, they sent me to... they detached me from the 442nd and shipped me to this point of embarkation in, in Leghorn. And a couple of us, we sat there and sat there and sat there, and they were, really, they tried to get us home. They, they loaded us in just about anything that could, could float. That's what I got, that's what we got on. There were ten or eleven of us, and they put us on an old liberty ship. That was the smallest of the transports, and we bunked in with the crew and ate with the crew. And that was, that was the first of December, I know, the first of December. And geez, they took twenty-some days to get from, from Leghorn to Newport News, Virginia, and it was the time for the winter storms, and I thought that old tub was gonna tip over, oh, geez. But I, I must have gotten sea legs, because I didn't get sick. The food was terrible, some of that food had been in that, on that, aboard that ship for five years, I think. The crackers were full of weevils, you know, you'd crack it open and knock it and little black wiggly things would come out. [Laughs] Well, we did, we did get home, we did get to Newport News, Virginia, on Christmas Eve.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

TI: Any thoughts when you made it back to the States?

FS: No, no, I didn't think much about it. I was home. And I, it was just a relief to get off that old tub. But we, but we, I can remember that for the people who, the first meal you get a steak. And it was a tough old cut, it was a tough old steak. And I drank a, I think I drank a quart of milk and I got sick. [Laughs] We had not had milk for, for all the time we were overseas. So that, and we, we were processed there, we were shipped from, we were sent, individually you get, we didn't just move as a group, some of the guys were going to California and others, but anyway, they, so they said, well, I said I'm, I wanted to be discharged at Fort Lewis. So now I could go back to Fort Lewis, on the coast. But I, so they, from, God, I can't remember the name of that, just a military installation at Newport News, but they shipped us, they were gonna send me by train from there to, to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, where the, where the air force had a, had a landing, a landing thing, and then I was going to fly to Fort Lewis, but I, this incident was really, it stuck in my mind.

We were, I was on the train by myself, we stopped in Washington, D.C., and actually, from that railroad station, you could see the capitol building, I'm sure. That must have been the Union Station. And I was sitting there looking out the window, and this, this GI came out, I think he was a buck sergeant. And he stopped, and he looked at me, and he looked at my patch, and he says, "Hey, you're with the 442nd." I said, "Yeah, yeah," he says, "Were you at the 'Lost Battalion'?" and I said, "Yeah, I was there." He says, "I was in there."

TI: So he was one of the two hundred men that you rescued.

FS: Yeah, yeah. And you know, I, it's one of those things. I, I could just feel myself getting really, I was angry, God, and I turned to him and I said, "Do you know how many men we lost, we lost getting you guys out of there? Do you know how many of my friends died in there?" And, well, he said, "You know, if you guys were in there, we'd have come after you." And I shook my head and I says, well, he said, "Anyway, I want to thank you," and he put out his hand, and I turned away and looked out the window. I, I've never been really proud of that, but I, at the time, it was just too fresh. I just could not, I couldn't even shake his hand.

TI: And, and it was a feeling of anger?

FS: Oh, yeah. I was just hot under the collar.

TI: Was it, was it something he said, too?

FS: No, no, it was just the fact that here was a guy we had rescued, and, you know, and he was thankful. He was thankful, he wanted to thank me. But I, what, what comes to mind is seeing this friend shot in the head, and the guys that we left behind on that hill, and I thought... it was, it was irrational, I know it was irrational, but at the moment, there was nothing I could do. I just was just... if he'd have said one more thing, I'd have punched him, I think. I was just... it was kind of hysteria.

TI: Now, if you were able to see that same man today...

FS: Well, I, first of all, I would shake his hand and apologize. It was, it was really, it... God. It was, it was not good, but...

TI: Well, this is, this is powerful to me, because it really helps me to somewhat understand a little bit just the, how, how -- what's the right word -- wired you guys were. I mean, you were just like angry.

FS: Well, you know, it was, it had, it had been a year. But just the, it was just, just... here, this, out of, this guy's, "You rescued us, thank you," and I should have said, "Hey, you're welcome," but I was just angry.

TI: Do you think the other men of the 442 felt in similar ways?

FS: I, I don't know. I don't know.

TI: Now, when you share this story with some of your, your comrades, the people that you fought with, I mean, what do they say?

FS: They, they understand. They don't say, "Hey, I'd have done the same thing," but when they say, "Yeah, okay, that happens." And I... it was just, I just, I think about that nowadays, as an old man, I think, "God, that was not very nice."

TI: Well, thanks for sharing that.

FS: Yeah, yeah.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 42>

TI: Now, coming back to Spokane, how was it different for you, or was it different? I mean what was it like coming back to Spokane?

FS: Geez...

TI: Well, maybe the question is, how were you changed? Maybe Spokane didn't change, but how were you changed?

FS: Well, you know, I can't say that I had any sense of purpose. More than anything else, there was this, this sense of relief, Jesus, man, you've made it. I didn't, I don't recall that I particularly wanted to do anything or go anywhere or anything, I just, I just wanted to hunker down somewhere, I think. That was pretty much the way I felt. But once you're in, in your family, there are always these obligations. You have to socialize, you try to look up friends who got back ahead of you. And I... I wasn't much of a drinking man, so I didn't get involved in that particularly.

TI: How did people in Spokane treat you? Was there any incidences as a Japanese American, that, any sort of prejudice or anything that you noticed?

FS: Well, I, I recall that I was, we were out somewhere, I think, I think... God, I don't know. Yeah, I was, we were, we were -- oh, I know. We were on a double date with somebody, I was on a double date with somebody, and we went skating. I was confronted by a guy who said, "You dirty so-and-so, you tied me up and beat on me," obviously claiming he was a, was a Pacific war veteran or something. And I don't know whether it was true, but he was drunk. And so I, they just pulled me off and went away, but I, I remember that as the guy, the guy was anti-Japanese, or anti-Asian or something.

TI: And they said they pulled you off because you, you went after him?

FS: Well, yeah, we were, were gonna hassle, you know. But at that...

TI: Now, I'm curious. If that happened before the war, would you have gone after him in the same way?

FS: No, I'd probably back down. But in reality, I think I backed down anyway. [Laughs] I didn't need any more hassles. Two years of hassles in the army was enough.

TI: Now, how, how familiar were people in Spokane, sort of the Caucasians, about the 442? Did anyone know anything about that?

FS: I don't think so, although my, my mother made a point of, in the window she put those stars for us, that two of her sons were in the army. And I'm sure, as I say, in the newspaper article they were aware that I was, had been in the army, or was in the army at the time. But other than... again, my sister says there was an occasional newsreel story about us, and so they were aware that the Japanese Americans were fighting in Europe. But the story of the 442nd took a long time to come together, and it was not until the '50s and '60s that people really knew that there was such a unit, and that it, it fought with distinction in Europe. People, lot of people know about it now.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 44>

TI: Okay, so let's, let's pick it back up. We're, so let's go back to Gonzaga, because when you were at Gonzaga, this is after the war, you're studying, getting your chemistry degree at Gonzaga. You, during this time, met your, your future wife at that point.

FS: Yes.

TI: So why don't you talk about that?

FS: Well, you know, we were, there were several other, at that point, Japanese American kids at Gonzaga, and we kind of fell together, Bill Nishimura was that, kind of the leader of the pack, and so we would, we would date as a group, and so they introduced me to Lily. I had, of course, we knew, my family knew her family because the Nakais were, were an old Spokane family. And we dated for quite a while. Boy, I don't know what the timeframe was, but we were dating for a time through while I was an undergraduate, and then I went off to, to the UW to do graduate work.

TI: Well, before we go there, so what was it about Lily that attracted you to her?

FS: She's a really pretty young lady, very, very vivacious, attractive young lady. Very quiet in those days. And so we, we seemed to hit it off well.

TI: And if you'd ask her at the same time what attracted her to you, what would she have said?

FS: Well, she'd probably say I had a full head of hair. [Laughs] I don't know. I didn't have this line of BS I have now, okay? [Laughs] I, you'd have to ask her, because... I must have bamboozled her a lot. No, she was a lovely young lady.

TI: Now, did she ever say that she noticed you? Because you kind of probably knew of each other before the war.

FS: Oh, yeah. The families knew each other.

TI: Right, so did she ever mention that she had always had her eye on you or anything like that?

FS: I doubt that. I'm sure she had of lots of other beaux, she's a very attractive young lady.

TI: Well, did you notice her before the war? Did you kind of...

FS: No, I don't think I was aware of the family, I mean, aware of her. Because we, again, as I said earlier, we lived out, out of town. My mother knew her mother and that kind of business, but no, I don't think so.

TI: So after you graduated from Gonzaga, was the thinking that you would go on to graduate school?

FS: Yeah, I, yeah, I planned to go to graduate school.

TI: Okay, so let's pick it up there.

FS: So I went to UW, and that was kind of a disaster, you know. [Laughs] I really wasn't prepared to how intense graduate school was. It was really intense. It was just, just about all I could handle, and so at the end of the year I quit. I just, it was time to go to work. And I, I looked around, work was, it was hard to find work. Partly maybe because I wasn't qualified, and secondly, there was still, in Spokane, this, the residual of prejudice and so on. Spokane tends to be a pretty isolated place.

TI: So what you do think -- I mean, coming out with a, a degree in chemistry with one year of graduate work, if you were Caucasian or white, do you think you would have a hard time getting a job in Spokane?

FS: Well, probably. Technical jobs were pretty skinny in those days. So, so what I did is I thought, well, well, I'll, I could get a teacher's certificate in a year, and so I went back to Gonzaga under the GI Bill, had some GI Bill left, and thought, well, I'll get a teaching degree and teach. But it was just not a good fit. I, I did that whole year, and I have a teaching, I got a teaching certificate, and I decided, I taught, student-taught chemistry at one of the high schools here -- [laughs] -- and I just discovered that the kids and I just were not going to get along, and they were just more than I, more than I had bargained for. So I thought I'd start looking for work and I, again, I thought, well, God, I was about ready to pack up and move. I heard some job, work available in San Francisco, and so I went over and talked to my old mentor who was, who was my biology, bacteriology instructor at Gonzaga, and he at that time was a consultant to a local pharmaceutical firm. He says, "Well, why don't I see if I can get you a job there?" So he got me my first job, that was in '53, '54, something like that, as, as a chemist/bacteriologist, just general utility man in this pharmaceutical firm. The pharmaceutical firm manufactured allergens, things to treat allergies. So it was a unique kind of a place. And so I, so, you know, it was a job. It didn't pay a hell of a lot, but it was a job. And I went to work there, and after that, we worked, jobs came pretty easily. My first job was a tough one, and I, if I had to, if I hadn't looked after me, I don't think I'd, I'd have moved away.

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

TI: So you're working there, and it was about this period of time, '53, '54, that the United States started allowing Isseis to become citizens.

FS: Yes.

TI: Now, so what, did your, did your parents become --

FS: Oh, yeah. I... let's see, that was 1952, and -- this is, this is really something. We, we, they announced this thing, it was 1952, and so they, they were, they were allowed to take the citizen's exam in Japanese. And so my brother Roy and I would coach -- before they went down to the tests or something -- we would coach them on, on the material. As I recall, it was a series of meetings or series of, yeah, questions for the, for the Issei, and so they would go down once a week and do this, so we would coach 'em. And my mother was, my mother was just hilarious. You know, "Where was the Constitution signed?" And, "Mom, it was Philadelphia." And there's nothing in Japanese that quite fits that, the "Philadelphia." And it would, "Hooloodaupiya." And we were rolling on the floor from this, but they, they did go down, they did pass this thing. I'm sure all the Issei who would, who tried passed the thing, and they were then citizens. It was, it was really quite an occasion. But often, I... I could feel, I said, "Hey, Fred, you had a part in this one." And it was with, with some pride that I'm aware that they became citizens because, because of us in the 442nd.

TI: So because of, of the, of what the 442, the accomplishments and the sacrifices, you felt that you earned this...

FS: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I said, "By God, you had a piece of this one."

TI: Well, in the same way, do you think the, because of what the 442 did, that it opened up other, other things, other doors?

FS: Yes, absolutely, I think so.

TI: What are some of those things that, that come to mind, that you think that really, the 442 helped?

FS: Well, you know, I... what I see in talking to my friends in Hawaii is that, hey, if it hadn't, if it hadn't been for 442, the 442nd, the young Nisei realized that working together, they could, they could change things in Hawaii. And gradually -- well, over time, they came politically active, and they, they got voted in to the territorial legislature, people like Dan Inouye and Spark Matsunaga led them, they formed unions in Hawaii to make sure that they and their parents got a, finally get a fair shake from the plantation owners, and they recognized that political action was the thing. And that's finally, I think, that brought Hawaii into statehood, is these, these young Japanese Americans who were joined by other minority groups, finally pulled this off in Hawaii. And the political activity that, that started in Hawaii then moved to the mainland. And you could see the chronology of these things, the guys became active in, in California, and people became, you know, county commissioners and state reps and all of these things. And that, that, I think that's, that's the way, this wasn't a tidal wave, but it was a wave and it gradually grew and grew. So they, there's, there is a sense of finally gaining some sense of equality in this country.

TI: Now, in talking about you -- I'm jumping around a little bit -- but currently, you're on the Washington State Commission for Fish and Wildlife.

FS: Yes.

TI: Is that part of this wave, do you think?

FS: Well, it is in a way. It, if you said in 1950, "Hey, Fred, why don't you try for the Fish & Wildlife Commission?" I'd say, "You're crazy. They're not going to appoint a Japanese American to an outfit like that." And, but it's a matter of the Nisei gaining confidence in themselves, I guess. Who am I to know that, but yes. And, and the other, other minor ethnic groups like the Chinese Americans and others are following this thing. You see, now see in places like Seattle and, well, on the west side, Portland, there are Asian, Asian Americans in state legislatures and in, in congress as a result of this. But there had to be this sense of confidence that, "I can do this. I'm as American as that, as that blond-headed guy across the street." Something, something took place. Times have changed.

TI: And you think it, part of it started, or was part of, the 442 experience was part of all this?

FS: Well, it had to be. It had to be. We made, we made the sacrifices, it was a sense of, "Hey, I earned this." It's not that you owe me, it's this, that we have earned this. But I always tell those guys in Hawaii, "You guys started this thing."

TI: Yeah, and in a similar vein, when I, when I read about the redress movement in the '80s, and how that started gaining momentum, how it was powerful to have, at that point, Representative Wright, speaker of the house from Texas, actually be the, the key sponsor. And one of the reasons he talked about, going back to your story, was he pointed back to the rescue of the "Lost Battalion," who were Texan boys.

FS: Yes.

TI: And as part of the reason to do that.

FS: Yeah, that's right. So there, there was just, there was, there was a momentum there, you finally get a sense of confidence in yourself that you can do this thing. Japanese have always been kind of hold back, enryo. And, but that's changed in this period. And you and my son and so on... while there is this latent prejudice, but they move with confidence through society.

TI: No, I agree totally. We're the beneficiaries of what your generation has done.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

TI: So I want to go back, so we're now in the sort of, in the '50s, and about this time is when you got married.

FS: Yeah, well, I, it's a bad, it's not a good story, but we were engaged back in 1949 or 1950, and I couldn't get work. You know, it was just impossible. I was working in the laundry and trying to find work and finally I decided, well, boy, I can't get married if I can't find work. So I asked Lily to let me off the hook and we did. Finally, it was not until 1954, '53, '54, I finally got work at this Hollister-Stier Laboratories, and started earning money, and gained enough confidence to think that I was going to make it. And so I, we did, it was a tough choice for her. She had other choices.

TI: But she waited for you?

FS: Well, I don't know whether she waited for me or whether... I hope that's what it was, but we finally did get married in 1955.

TI: And about this time, your, your father's health wasn't that good.

FS: Yeah, my father's health failed. He had cancer, and he was failing very rapidly. And I think I told you the story about my brother.

TI: Well, yeah, I wanted to talk about it. So it was during this time, and we had talked about, earlier, about your oldest brother, George, who you would describe as very bright, very smart, and earlier we had established that he was in Japan when the war started. So why don't you describe briefly what happened to him when he was in Japan.

FS: Well, this is a story that I get secondhand from my sister, but he... my father, of course, my brother was the oldest son, and so with I guess the expectations from my father, he was sent back to Japan to go to school. And of course, he was like me, I don't think he knew, he knew a lick about Japanese, but they did, he went to, he went to a school that teaches foreign Japanese, Japanese to people, to speak, learn Japanese. And so he went there, and after two years, he was, he was admitted to a Japanese college to study, and that was about 1940, I guess. As I say, he's a really bright guy and doing well in college, and then the war broke out. And of course, at that point, we lost all contact with him. There was no way that we could hear anything, my sister wrote to the, wrote to the International Red Cross to see if they could find something about him, but we, we didn't hear a thing from then on until after the war was over. And it turned out that, that as he was an American citizen, the Japanese military couldn't touch him. But he, he, and he insisted he was, and he refused to, to go in the army. Until finally at some point, they took away his ration cards. I know he went out to the country to, to either my father or mother's home and tried to live there, but when they took away his ration cards, they were trying to starve him out. And so he finally went into the military, and the chronology I'm not sure of, but he apparently got ill somewhere in there and spent most of the time hospitalized or in some kind of medical care. And from what I can understand, never served actively in the Japanese army. It was shortly after the war, I think -- and I'm... somehow my mother or my father got word through somebody that he was alive in Japan, and then my youngest brother, Floyd, went to Japan and they got together. And my brother George then worked, I understand, as an interpreter for the, the U.S. military in Japan.

TI: Now at that point, when he worked for the, the U.S. military, was he working as a, as a U.S. citizen, or what happened to his citizenship?

FS: No, no, he was a Japanese, still a Japanese citizen. He has lost his --

TI: Because when he went into the...

FS: Military, Japanese military.

TI: ...military, he had to, to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

FS: Yes, yes, absolutely. So, so he, he was stuck there, and he married this, this lovely Japanese girl, and he had, of course, had decided to settle, obviously, settle there and live, and live in Japan as a Japanese citizen. When my father was, was finally, he was dying of cancer, and we, and my sister was active in the JACL and knew, knew the ropes, anyway, she said, she told him, "Dad, Dad wants to see you before he dies, so come home." And we somehow got a visa for him to come home, this was 1956 or '57. But he, so we, but my sister said, "If you come, bring your family. Bring your wife and daughter with you," and so he did that. And once we, once we got him into the States, the, my sister initiated through some attorneys here in town, he sued the, she filed a suit for him to sue the government for his, to get his citizenship back, claiming he was coerced into the Japanese military.

TI: Now, was this something that George wanted?

FS: I, I'm not sure. I'm not sure. But it was...

TI: Because you had mentioned earlier how he --

FS: But he, but he obviously agreed with this thing, or he would have, would have said something, but he, I think maybe he did want to come home. But yeah, he, and so the suit was filed, and we were ready to go to federal court to do this thing. And I guess the expression is at the courthouse steps, thereabouts, we got a letter from the Secretary of State saying that, that his citizenship has been granted, been reinstated. So he was now, again, an American citizen.

TI: So, so your father in some ways was able to see the whole family back together before he died.

FS: Yes, yes. That was a, in a way, that was a good story. Because he, he was, he was, at that point, terminally ill and bedridden.

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 47>

TI: So I want to jump back now to your, your family. So at this point, you and Lily are, are married.

FS: Yes.

TI: And so let's pick it up there in terms of children. Why don't you talk about your children?

FS: Oh, we, we were blessed with a son and a daughter. Nancy is the oldest, she was born in, I think, 1960. And she's, she went to college here in Cheney at Eastern Washington, and has a degree in education. And she, she taught here in Spokane for three or four years and then went to, went to Japan on an exchange, two-year exchange program. So then she liked the country, liked the kids so well that she, she applied for a job with... she was teaching in the public school system there, applied for a job at this, was directed to ask this Catholic Girls Academy in Nishinomiya to see if she could get a job there, and she's been there ever since. So she's in there teaching at this Girls Academy for almost twenty years. Seems happy there, she just in the last few years built a house, and I suspect that she's put down roots in Japan. But she again was, like the rest of us, couldn't speak a lick of Japanese. I can recall that she would call us about every other day from Japan, and one of the conversations that we had was, "You know, Dad," she says, "I might as well be on Mars." She says, "I can't speak the language, I can't read anything, I can't order any food, I just, I'm really," she was really homesick at that point. But she came right along and she, after a few, maybe after about five or six years, she took a year's sabbatical and went to this intense Japanese language school, and she's developed great skills and she reads and writes and all this kind of stuff. So she, she seems to be happy there.

TI: I'm curious, what is it about Japan that really attracted her? Here she was, grew up as an American, went there, and struggled initially, but then decided this is where she wants to make her home.

FS: She's, she's really very adventuresome, obviously, but she's, she's, ever since she was twelve years old, was gonna be a schoolteacher, that's what's she's gonna do. And when she, well, I'm sure a lot of school systems are the same, she started, they start 'em out in probably the toughest schools, I guess, just to season them. And she was really disheartened with the things she had to put up with and the circumstances of the kids, the family backgrounds, some of them were, were abused children, others would, I recall that she would give away some of her clothing to the kids because --

TI: This is within Spokane?

FS: Here in Spokane, kids came to school without jackets and stuff. And it was, I think it was really discouraging. She was finally moved to a, another school here in a more affluent part of town, and I think she enjoyed it more, and I know that the other teachers really liked her. But then there was just this opportunity to do the exchange program. And from what I gather, just listening to her, she, Japanese students come to school to go to school. She didn't have to take care of the social problems and all this kind of stuff. And so she, she really liked it, she liked the kids, and she likes these kids at this Catholic Girls Academy. They're, they are, kids whose parents have money, but in most cases, they, these kids are, their circumstances are such that they study. They know that that's, they have to, in order to get ahead, they have to go to school and learn things. And so it's easier for her to teach. She just doesn't have to wipe noses and, you know, "kick butt," I guess, is the expression. [Laughs]

TI: Now, have you and Lily ever been to Japan?

FS: Oh, yeah, we've been there twice. The first couple years, after about two years we went over there, this was in the late '80s. And she was teaching in the public school then, and last year, we went again to, to see her, and she was, we went to this Girls Academy to see her. She, by then she had had this house built, and she's living by herself in this, this little house. She seems to be happy, and we're pleased.

TI: So you mentioned you had two children...

FS: Yeah, and we have a son Michael, and Michael is the younger, he's a great kid. He grew up pretty, he's really independent. Both kids did well in public school, but Mike developed this interest in gardening from a young age. We had, when I was, when I was a director of the air pollution agency here, one of the, one my board of directors, the chairman of the board of that air pollution agency was a gardener, but he, his specialty was he grew dahlias for show. And so I would go over to talk to him about, about the air pollution program, and Mike would go with me. And so he, he picked up this dahlia thing, and finally he went to ask, he said, "Dad, would you ask him, Mr. Allen, if he would show me how to grow dahlias?" And so Mr. Allen, this commissioner, took him under his wing and gave him roots, and he would come over and help him plant the dahlias. And Mike got to be a heck of a dahlia grower. He was in, he would compete in the 4-H dahlia show at the, at the interstate fair, and he would win everything. The kids just hated Mike, he was so good. He'd get all, he'd get all the cups. You'd see his flowers, and there would be four cups there all around his... and, but, and with that, at first, the whole backyard was, there were 150 dahlia plants, and there were umbrellas covering them so that they didn't get, get bleached in the sun and all this stuff. And along with that, he would start vegetable gardening in flower beds and stuff. So he did this all through high school; he didn't tell his friends that he was growing flowers. [Laughs] But, so it was time to go to college, and I said, "Well, why don't you go to Gonzaga where I went?" He went down there and he was not really pleased with that, and so he wanted to go to UW and I said, "Well, what are you going to study?" He said, "Maybe I'll study pre-med." And, "Great, go at it." And then he decided that wasn't his thing, so he got into civil engineering. And he did that for a couple years and says, "Dad," he wanted something that would be out of doors, and I said, "Mike, for cripes sake, you like, you like outdoors, you like gardening, why don't you go into landscape architecture?" He said, "Well, no, I want that as a hobby. I don't want to, I don't want to do stuff like that." But he finally gravitated to the, to the landscape, the architecture, landscape architecture plan, and I guess it's a two-step thing, you go through so much undergraduate and then you go into these specialty schools. But got in right away, God, his grades went up, and he, he, obviously he enjoys that. Except, I think he's discovering that if you do your job well, then they make you manage people, and that, that's always a difficult transition.

TI: Because right now he manages big, big gardens, right?

FS: Yeah, he manages, he's one of the managers of the Seattle Park Department's new park program. He does like to work outside, but he also is, manages people, and that's not always easy. We've, he and I have discussed this many times. That's what happens when you do a good job.

TI: It's really clear from you talking about both children, how fond you are of both of them.

FS: They're, well, we're pleased. We're pleased; they've done us well.

TI: And Lily, what activities is she involved in?

FS: Well, she was mostly a stay-at-home mother. She, she worked part-time on occasions, but she's a, she's a housekeeper. And her interest nowadays, well, ever since Nancy was born, she's played golf on and on, and but that's, that's her warm weather thing, she likes to play golf and she does play at least two times a week.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 48>

TI: And for you, what are your activities, when you think about what you love to do?

FS: Well, I've always been, I'd like to be involved in, in some sort of civic thing, and I used to, I belong, I was active in a service club here in Spokane, the downtown exchange club. But just, just avocation-type things. I, now, I guess I learned from my son and I garden all summer. That's, that's a big thing, we have a big yard and a big garden. But just for avocation, I'm a fly fisherman. I, ever since I've been appointed to the commission, I've suddenly discovered that there just isn't enough time to do all of this stuff, so I, I have fly fished a lot less than I would like. When I first retired, I used to get out a lot. And I do my own flies and I make my own fly rods and own a little boat that I row around. So it's, it's great outdoors. For a guy who, I'm involved with the public a lot, and so... fly fishing is a solitary sport, very contemplative. You can think a little and mumble to yourself a lot. It's, it's this great, great outdoor thing.

TI: Well, I'm curious, when you're contemplating things out there alone, do you ever think about just the, the progression of the Japanese in America, the Issei, the Nisei, and then your children, who are Sansei? And as you look at Spokane, because your family has such a rich history here, how it's, it's changed? And I guess the question I'm asking is, in a very short period of time, the whole Nisei generation will be gone, and in thinking about how you'd want the Niseis to be remembered.

FS: [Laughs] Well, it's, not, it's not something that I -- I never think, I never contemplate anything that profound, okay? [Laughs] I usually, usually contemplate what kind of bug is that on the water, or something. But, but I do, at home, sitting down and reading or something, and thinking about these things, and I do say, "This," and I think about my mother and father and how hard, how hard they worked to, to keep mind and body together, they both worked hard in the laundry, my mother had five children to raise and rear and feed and clothe. And I think about, well, then you think about, these thoughts, boy, they sacrificed a hell of a lot. Life is a hell of a lot easier, has been a hell of a lot easier for me. There've been some bumps in the road, but what I'm really pleased is that the Sansei, my kids, are, can pretty much do what they want to do, go where they want to, do what they want to. You know, they've got the brains and the guts to do it. And that's, that's been progress. In, in three generations, they pretty much blended in to American society.

TI: And what about the future of the Japanese American community? Past Sansei, looking at the next generation...

FS: Well, yeah, what I see -- I'm a member of that Highland Park Methodist Church -- and what I see now is that, gee, with so few Sansei around, the Sansei are, are marrying outside of the Japanese community, and you see, I think probably half the church now is, is, they're mixed-marriages, marriages are mixed anyway, but this kind of, they're marrying Caucasians. And so, I see that probably in one more generation, we will, they'll, the Japanese surnames, the kids will have blond hair and blue eyes or something. It's, it seems to be going that direction.

TI: And how about the, the institutions like the Methodist Church or the JACL that you mentioned earlier, in Spokane? What do you think will happen to these?

FS: Well, the Methodist Church will prevail because it has its, the young kids are coming in and they're, the Sanseis' children are, are coming to church. And so regardless of their surname or their appearance, they are part of that church, and that's what, that's what churches are supposed to be, and they shouldn't, I don't think they should be segregated. The rest of it, I don't know. [Laughs] It's difficult to say.

TI: Well, we just have a couple more minutes, and I'm wondering, is there anything that you, that we haven't talked about that you'd like to, to share and get on the record, on tape?

FS: I suspect that you have, have taken more than a hundred percent of the stuff I know, and so I don't know what else to tell you. No, what I'm really pleased with is that you and the Densho people are taking hold of this whole program in the Northwest and I've often thought to myself, "What are we gonna do to save all this stuff about my parents and the other Isseis?" And it's happening, and I thank you and congratulate you. It's just, it's been, it's been delightful.

TI: Well, thank you for, it's been delightful for me, too. And again, the best part of my job is to, is to sit down and hear these stories. So thank you very much.

FS: It's certainly been my pleasure.

<End Segment 48> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.