Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Cedrick M. Shimo Interview
Narrator: Cedrick M. Shimo
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Martha Nakagawa (secondary)
Location: Torrance, California
Date: September 22, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-scedrick-01-0019

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: Okay, so Cedrick, we're going to start the second hour. At the end of the first hour, we had gotten to Camp Savage, and you were talking about how you were kicked out and went to Fort Leavenworth. But before we continue the story, I wanted to go back to Camp Savage. Because when you were there, you were asked to fill out a "loyalty questionnaire," and I wanted to ask you about that and how you answered it. So can you describe that?

CS: Well, I answered "yes," I am loyal, "no," I am no longer willing to serve overseas. Only because a couple days earlier, I had applied for furlough to go to Manzanar and I was turned down for the reason I mentioned earlier. So I was pretty angry by then, so that's why. If it weren't for that, I probably would have answered "yes-yes."

TI: And again, that was probably some of the reasons why you were kicked out of the MIS.

CS: Well, because I answered "no" to "I'm willing to serve wherever ordered."

TI: Right, okay. So then you go to Fort Leavenworth, and you were talking about how nice the facilities were, the brick buildings, the lake or the pond and things like that. So what happened after Fort Leavenworth?

CS: Then we got ordered, then I guess the army decided to form this 525 Quartermasters Corps, which was made up of Germans, American soldiers of German, Italian, and Japanese descent, that's when we were first sent there. That's what we were demoted to private.

TI: And so at this point, what was your rank and what were you...

CS: I was a corporal and came down to a private.

TI: And so what... how did you feel being put in this unit, and you look around and there are men of Japanese ancestry, German ancestry, and Italian ancestry? What were your thoughts?

CS: I can't even think... I don't know, we did the best we can. And I had a soft job. My job was to punch dog tags all day. So others were on the pick and shovel, here I'm just typing dog tags and signing "Merry Christmas" to my friends on my dog tags, and had a good time. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, so with the blank ones, you would type in, like, "Merry Christmas"?

CS: Well, usually I would type out the new soldiers' name, rank and serial number, and I was in the office with all hakujin. They weren't typing, it was a medical unit, and they just had one machine, and that's the one I was operating. So it was a soft job, and good companionship. [Laughs]

TI: And how many other Japanese were in this unit right now, the 525?

CS: Gee, I don't know how many, but there must have been forty or fifty. I guess I never did take a count.

TI: And how large was the 525, roughly?

CS: Well, the Niseis, there was only maybe forty or fifty, but later on, I learned that there was a huge population of German Americans. Later on, I heard that thousands of them were in there. There weren't too many Italians, I remember one, we called him "Little Mussolini," we used to kid him. [Laughs]

TI: Would that make him pretty mad?

CS: Huh?

TI: You did that to sort of taunt him, to make him mad?

CS: Oh, no. We were sort of friends, and his name was Michichi or something. So, "Hey, that sounds like 'Mussolini.'"

TI: Okay. In this unit, was there -- the 525 -- was there any, like, special arrangements or considerations given to the unit because of your Japanese, German and Italian, sort of, heritage?

CS: Special consideration?

TI: Considerations, or did they watch you more carefully, did they, was there anything, restrictions maybe is a better word.

CS: I don't think so. Still army, and we got our furloughs, passes, we went out. All I know is we were all demoted to privates.

TI: And how would you, what was the morale like of this unit?

CS: Well, it wasn't bad. For me, it was... I don't know about those on the pick and shovel, but for me, I had a ball. [Laughs]

TI: And the cushy job, do you think it was because of your college education?

CS: No, they knew I could type. So they needed somebody, a typist to run that machine. I guess whoever was doing that before was transferred out probably.

TI: And so after the 525, I mean, what happened to the 525?

CS: That's my theory, is that they found out that despite our opinions, they were good soldiers, all of them good, obedient soldiers, obeyed orders. So they formed this 1800 Engineers, and so the 525 as a unit became the 1800 and we were moved out of Fort Leavenworth.

TI: And where did you go from Fort Leavenworth?

CS: I don't remember the sequence, but I think we went to Lebanon. There's a picture of the base camp there, and that's where we were transferred.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.