Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Eugene Tatsuru Kimura Interview
Narrator: Eugene Tatsuru Kimura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 5, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-keugene-01-0023

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: I'm curious, you're in Nebraska, and there was a well-known Nisei who was serving in the Air Force, Ben Kuroki.

EK: Yeah.

TI: Were people aware of Ben when you were in Lincoln, Nebraska? Was he well-known at that time?

EK: Yeah. The newspapers wanted to advertise the fact that their native son, American-born Japanese, was serving the army, and so forth. So I think he received quite a bit of favorable publicity.

TI: Did that help you and the other Niseis to have the Ben Kuroki story out there?

EK: Probably, probably. Because the exploits of the 100th and the 442nd, of course, helped to a greater degree. So even one Nisei, I think, his exploits would help in his immediate neighborhood.

TI: And what about in terms of your military service? You were draft age, what happened with you?

EK: Well, during the Battle of the Bulge, they must be scraping the bottom of the barrel, because they, I got an order to report for a physical examination. So I took the bus and I went to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, with a lot of other potential GIs passed the physical. "You're 1-A, we'll expect you in about a couple of weeks." I had heard that the army did not, at times, report or rather ask the people to come back until about a month or so, so I just kept on going to school. One month went by, two months went by, and so forth, nothing happened. Then they finally gave me, sent me a letter for me to report. So since a certain number of months had gone by, and for some military reason or technical reason, I had to take a second physical. This time, the examining physician pressed kind of hard on my appendectomy scar, pushed hard, and said, "Does that hurt?" I said, "Of course it hurts." He didn't say a word, said, "You're 4-F." I didn't argue with him because I knew that a replacement for a combat unit, a replacement does not last long. So that I did not question it and saying that, "I'd like to have an opinion, second opinion." So I just took the train back and went back to Nebraska. So there were advantages and disadvantages of not serving in the army.

TI: I'm curious, were you ever aware of the Military Intelligence Language School? Because --

EK: Yes.

TI: The reason I ask was because of your Japanese language ability, you would have been a strong candidate for that.

EK: Yeah. A candidate, true, but then not a specialist. Because I would feel that the specialists would have been the Kibeis who were born here but may have attended college, and some of them may have gotten military training intelligence, so they would know the military terminology. Whereas the Niseis probably would not know all these difficult terminology, nor the writing, not the simple hiragana, katakana, kanji, but then the script type. But whatever their reason was, probably a sufficient number of Kibeis who served there and served the purpose of the army.

TI: But there quite a few Niseis who also were in the MIS, and probably your Japanese language abilities would have been superior to most of the Nisei.

EK: That I don't know. That I don't know.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.