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-01-0025

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TI: Besides him, I mean, going back to the other, the 442 guys who were there and had fought for a while, how did they accept the draftees?

MT: They, they accepted us. There was no prejudice against us. Certainly I think they were, they didn't have the respect in the sense that we were not in combat with them, but they accepted us as soldiers, fellow soldiers that were there, and we got along.

TI: When I interview some of the ones who were there throughout the campaign, they, they sometimes talked about the draftees as being really green. And some of them said it was hard for them to get close to the draftees because the draftees were sometimes so green they wouldn't last very long. And so it was sometimes easier for them to not be friendly or become friends because they weren't sure if they were gonna last, because some of them in the first couple weeks, because they were so green, they would get hurt.

MT: Yeah, you hear a lot of stories like that, but... well, I think it would be like school, a senior and a freshman. Sure, you're class with the same school, but very few seniors would chum around with a freshman. I mean, there was a degree of age and things. I think it's the same in the 442. The originals and the ones that went through the different battles before draftees came in, they would stand off, a certain amount, not because they disliked us or looked down on us or anything, but we hadn't gone through what experience they did. I think that made a lot of difference then. I don't think it was a matter of dislike or anything like that, it was just a progression of what they had seen and we are seeing or as the draftees. There's a very different, definite distinction between the older fellows and the younger fellows.

TI: And did that start changing over time? I would imagine as you started fighting and working together, that changed.

MT: I don't think we ever... as draftees, I don't think we were fully accepted into that group, but as individuals, we were accepted right in there. We were always the underclassmen, or the draftees, but I think that was just a natural thing. And even, I think, in our society today, I mean, older people and younger people, I mean, you accept 'em, you get along, you may like 'em, but you're not the same. And it was the same in the service there. And it's not that they were trying to be prejudiced or mean or anything like that, it was just kind of a social standing that, that wasn't really defined or anything, but it was there. And I think it'll always be there in society, you know. I mean, it's separation of age and knowledge and things like that.

TI: So as, sort of, being that sort of underclassman, or having this distinction between kind of the older and the younger, did you feel or the other draftees feel like they had to prove themselves to the, to the older guys?

MT: I think we had that feeling. We had to, not so much to prove to them, but we didn't want to disgrace ourselves, we didn't want to disgrace them, we wanted to show that maybe that we're not as good as soldiers, but we were fairly good soldiers. And I think the draftees did that. And in fact, toward the end of the war, the 442 was probably down to about a third of the original, and the rest was filled up with draftees and things. And I think the draftees, we did our share of fighting. Not as much fighting as the originals, but what fighting we did, I think we did it with honor. Certainly we didn't have to hold our heads down in disgrace.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.