Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Mits Takahashi Interview
Narrator: Mits Takahashi
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 20, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-tmits-01-0022

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TI: So, let's go to Shelby. I'm curious, so you were part of the, one of the first groups to be drafted. And so when you go to Shelby, how were the draftees treated? Were they treated, do you think, any differently than the ones who volunteered?

MT: No. When we got down to Shelby, we were just a shell of a group, what we called the cadre. And some of 'em were draftees, some were volunteers from Hawaii, others were fellows that were in the service, drafted prewar. But they were the, what we called the cadre, and they were the ones that trained us in every aspect of army life. Oh, before we went to Shelby, we went into what we called a boot camp. It was strictly a basic training camp that lasted six weeks or something. And we got our basic... what would you say, ways of being a soldier, marching, handling guns, etiquette and all this. That was a group to make us, teach us what of soldiers were expected. And then from --

TI: I'm sorry, was that segregated or was that...

MT: It was, uh-huh.

TI: It was still segregated. So you went as a Japanese American group.

MT: And I think there were... I think there was one group ahead of us that were fellows that were in the army, and they were kind of scattered all over. And they were brought in to... this was in Florida. And they were retrained as infantrymen, and then they went, I think they must have gone on to Shelby. And then fellows like myself that were drafted, we went directly to a basic training camp, and we got, learned the ways and means of being a soldier. And then from there, we were given a furlough, and then sent to Shelby and joined the 442 there.

TI: And so tell me a little bit about the training at Shelby. What was that like?

MT: It was mainly to get acquainted with your different weapons and things. You were assigned to being a rifleman, machine gunner, mortar... we were told, taught to handle all, most weapons at that time.

TI: Now at this point, so the 442, so the main group, which were primarily volunteers, had already left to go to Europe, and they left this smaller group to train you. And at that point, was it clear that you were being trained to be replacement troops for the 442?

MT: I don't think there was any question that we were not going to the 442.

TI: Okay, so it was clear that you were going to the 442. And I'm wondering, in terms of your training, the original group, I heard some of the men talk about that because it wasn't clear when they were going to fight, their training was pretty prolonged. I mean, they had a lot of training.

MT: Yeah, they were trained for quite a while.

TI: And I was curious about your group. Now that the main group had already left, they were fighting, they were taking casualties. How much training your group got, compared to...

MT: Well, the nucleus 442 was already set up, right? So as trainers, trainees, or draftees, we filled into different companies, and we blended in with the greater part of the regiment. So in that sense, we didn't have to be trained separately as different units or anything. I mean, it would be like a junior high graduating and going into high school, blends right in with the senior high school class group. It would be similar to that. We blended into the 442.

TI: So was your training period shorter than the original group?

MT: I think so, yeah.

TI: And so when you were sent to Europe, were you sent in smaller groups, or was it a pretty large group that went?

MT: I think at that time, I really couldn't say how many, but I imagine there were five, six hundred of us went over together and joined the 442.

TI: While you were at Shelby in training, what did you know about what was happening with the 442 in Europe? Did you, did you get reports back?

MT: We were getting reports, but we were kept pretty busy training and I think we were a lot more concerned about what we were doing than what was happening over there. We were aware of what was happening over there.

TI: And so were you aware of the level of casualties that the 100th and 442 were taking?

MT: Oh yeah, that was something we were all aware of.

TI: And what, and what did you guys think about it? When you guys heard about that and knew about that, did you guys talk about that very much?

MT: I don't think so. I think that was just one of those things that we felt that, "I'm gonna be lucky, I'm gonna be all right."

TI: And so what, what kind of role were you being trained for while you were at Shelby? You said you were being trained with all different ones, but...

MT: It's strictly infantry.

TI: But then within infantry, was there a certain kind of role or a certain, yeah, role that you played, like a rifleman or, in infantry?

MT: Yeah, well, we were trained, or we were oriented how to handle machine guns, mortars, never any artillery as far as that goes. There was a little driving, but every aspect of infantry.

TI: Okay, so that makes sense, because you were, I guess, being trained in all facets, because when you joined the 442 you would be sort of inserted. Versus, I think the early groups sometimes early on they were trained to be, like, a rifleman or a BAR or something like that.

MT: Uh-huh.

TI: Because they were forming these units earlier at Shelby.

MT: And then like the 442 had their own engineer group, they had the artillery, so these fellows were selected. Whoever there was that was selecting them, selected them to go into certain units of the 442 itself.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.