Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Hiro Nishimura Interview
Narrator: Hiro Nishimura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 28, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-nhiro-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: So let's talk about it. So you get orders to go to Camp Savage. And you go there, so tell me what that was like.

HN: Reaction? I was angry, I didn't want to go. I was very angry. But I thought, "Well, okay, I'm going to be the dumbbell of the class," I was so upset that I didn't go to... but anyway, that was my first reaction. "I'm going to be the dumbbell of the class. I'm not going to study," because I didn't want to study. But my class, my deskmate was Captain Jones, Professor Jones was my deskmate. And I thought, "Well, I don't want to be the dumbbell of the class. I don't want him to think I'm real dumb." If I didn't study, I'll be a dumbbell, and I didn't want him to think that he was smarter than me. So I said, "Well, I'm going to study. I don't want him to think I'm a real dumbbell." So I studied. Plus, the competitiveness of my fellow Nikkei. You know, they're studious, they're very studious. But the main thing, I didn't want this hakujin to think I was a real dumbbell, so I studied. Maybe all in all, on the hindsight, that was a good thing for me because I may not be here if I went to 442. A lot of my guys that I played basketball with in the church, one became amputee, one was killed, two were killed, three were killed. I could... I could go on and say, you know, I could have been one of them, too. So this is in hindsight after many years. Getting back to what you touched on, I have to give credit, gratitude to my parents that made me go to Japanese school, you know that? I look back on that. I said, you know, even in spite of my anguish playing hooky, just like for Japanese school, maybe because of that I'll survive.

TI: That's ironic.

HN: Yeah, ironic. That's the way I look at it, positively, see. Then I talked to my hakujin friends, they asked me, "Hiro, were you 442?" I said, "No, MIS." So I tell them about that.

TI: But going back to the MIS, how hard was it for you, the training? You said six months, eight hours a day.

HN: Yeah, I know, very hard. No let up, because... well, it's wartime, and then there were instructors, there were three or four instructors. Everything is... it's wartime, so everything's dead serious. So you have to study hard. In fact, I had no time. I had no time to goof off. I didn't want to goof off. I wanted to be competitive. [Laughs] Well, you know, when you get into a situation, Japanese as a cultural trait is to study and work hard. I think that's our cultural trait.

TI: And you think the whole group was pretty competitive?

HN: Oh, definitely. No question about that.

TI: And so everyone was concerned about the scores they would get on tests and try to be better than someone else?

HN: Of course, of course. Of course, yeah. You can't avoid that. Then I don't want to be the dumbbell, so I have to work hard.

TI: So tell me --

HN: Well, that's okay, that's okay.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.