Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: George Fujimoto Interview
Narrator: George Fujimoto
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: July 5, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-fgeorge_2-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

MA: What about your work at Fort Riley? You were telling me earlier that you had to do...

GF: Oh, that, that was detail work in Fort Riley. So, most of us Niseis there had to do garden work or take care of the mess hall for mess officers. Some of 'em took care of the swimming pool. And I was stuck with taking care of a lieutenant's house, kind of sweep and clean the house and fix their beds up. That, just real dirt detail, I thought. That's what I thought. So, when we had a chance to get a leave, we took the leave and then when we took the leave we had somebody else, "You want to take my place?" Say, "Yeah, I'll take your place." So when they took the place, well, I never did go back. [Laughs] We let them have it.

MA: Did the white folks, the white soldiers, have to do that kind of work or was it just the Niseis?

GF: No, that was all Japanese people. That whole... we had a real big house. It was a, it was a national, it was a prison building is what it was. And that's where we was all stuck in there. I don't know how many Japanese people was in there, but there was a bunch of us in there. And we all had to do that kind of work. In fact, when, maybe I shouldn't even mention it, but since come to that, I just heard one of my friends that I knew in Fort Riley, we were gonna go to baking and cooking school to get away from all the bad detail. But I said, "No, I don't think I want to do that." But this fellow here he, he went to the baking and cooking school and right now he's pretty sick and he's in the hospital here in Denver.

MA: So he actually left.

GF: Pardon?

MA: Did he leave the service then?

GF: Oh, no. It's after. It was all over with.

MA: So, what was the morale like among the Niseis at Fort Riley? I imagine, there was some...

GF: I guess it really wasn't too bad. The, lotta things that, that made 'em feel bad is, in Fort Riley, the cooks that cooked for all the Nihonjins there? They were all Chinese cooks. So at that time, the Chinese and the United States were allies, remember? So the Chinese people had a button on there says, "I'm Chinese." And they were separated. I mean, they didn't have too much to do with the Japanese, which is different today. But they had not too much to do with the Chinese and... but that's why at that time, I didn't like 'em. Because that's the way they felt us. But it's all right now. It's changed. I mean, things change.

MA: But they were really separating themselves from the Niseis?

GF: Oh yeah, uh-huh. They were at the time. 'Cause they, they cooked for all of us and they had a different place to stay then we did.

MA: So were they treated better than the Niseis?

GF: No, I don't think they were treated any better. It's just, it was just that way.

MA: So, how long were you in Fort Riley?

GF: We was in Fort Riley... oh, I don't know how long. But, anyway, we left there sometime early in '43 to go to Camp Shelby.

MA: So why were you sent... 'cause Camp Shelby was another basic training.

GF: Right.

MA: Why were you sent again to basic training? To another, another one?

GF: Well, see, that's when they organized the Japanese, all the Japanese organization, so they thought that we need another basic training. So we took basic training all over with some of the new recruits that we got which was, most of 'em, from Hawaii and some of the people they got from these camps, if they want to go. And there's some people from camp did not go, which I don't blame 'em. So that's why the training was, 'cause we had to train new people.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.