Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Ehren Watada Interview
Narrator: Ehren Watada
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 22, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-wehren-01

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Okay, so let's go now to, you're at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, so what are you doing there?

EW: That was, that was more classroom work and a lot of instruction, because they're trying to teach us how to be field artillery officers. And field artillery is pretty much, it's the cannons, the guns, and you spend a lot of work on, on training on the technical aspects of firing the guns. There's a lot of math involved, and trajectory and elevation, all kinds of things like that, weather. Then you spend some training on the other side, where you are the guys directing the fire from the cannons or from the rockets or the missiles onto the targets, and so you are spotting for the guys up front, in front of the cannons. And so you train on the various aspects, and that was a six-month course. It's the longest course of all the branches, and by branches I mean, like, you have your infantry, your aviation branch, which is the helicopters, you have engineering, transportation, chemical, what have you.

TI: And how do you get selected for these different, different areas, or how, do you select or did they assign you?

EW: They assigned, they assigned. It's, and that's different from the Marines or the Air Force or the Navy in which you can actually pick before you go in. So you go in to the Army OCS program not knowing what you're going to be until near the end. And ROTC is a little bit the same, too. It depends, really, on your, your grades, your standing, your grades, how well you do in the ROTC courses and things like that, and then they're, then it's given to you. Yeah, so it was, field artillery was assigned to me.


TI: Okay, so Ehren, we just, we were just in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where you just finished your field artillery training. So from there, what happened?

EW: Let's see. From there I went to Korea, and I spent a year over there, did a year-long tour, stationed just north of Seoul. And that was an interesting experience. It was very challenging, very difficult, one, because you're a brand-new lieutenant, it's your first duty station, and we had a very demanding commanding officer, very strict, and of course, the mission is different. Unlike being stationed back in the States, you are on a real world mission, training for an actual invasion by the North Koreans. So the operational tempo, the training tempo, was very high, as opposed to back in the States. You're constantly learning every day. They say a year in Korea is worth three years back in the States, and so, so they say a lot of lieutenants that come out of Korea are a lot more ahead of those lieutenants who trained back in the States.

TI: So is it a common thing to send a new lieutenant to a place like Korea? That's a...

EW: Sure, yeah, they go there all the time. It's just the luck of the draw, I guess.

TI: And so, and other new lieutenants will be based in the United States, for instance, and they'll be, they'll get their training there?

EW: Uh-huh. Or you could go to, at that time, Afghanistan or Iraq as a brand-new lieutenant.

TI: So even as a brand-new lieutenant, they would send someone there also. So again, you say "luck of the draw."

EW: Just where they need people, yeah.

TI: Okay, so it's kind of like what they need at the time you're finished training, then you get assigned.

EW: Yeah.

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