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-01-0020

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: And so you went from typing in dog tags, what was your job with the 1800?

CS: The 1800, I think at first I was with the pick and shovel like everybody else. And then as we started moving around and got bigger, it was a real engineering outfit. It had all the equipment, everything, all (except) weapons, so they needed a motor pool, somebody to run the motor pool. So we couldn't get promoted, so I was acting motor pool sergeant. And then they had a big supply department, so they moved me over and made me the acting supply sergeant to take care of the supplies. And then the company commander or somebody pulled me into his office and made me the acting company clerk. So I was working in the office with the Caucasian officers.

TI: When you got these jobs, you mentioned how you couldn't be promoted, so you're still a private. But when you say supply sergeant and things like that, the other men, would they call you Sarge or were they...

CS: Oh, no, nobody called me -- the only Sarge were the cadres who took the soldiers out on different projects.

TI: Even though you were doing the job of a sergeant, they still...

CS: Gee, come to think of it, nobody did call me Sarge. [Laughs]

TI: It just seems so natural to call you Sarge, they go to the supply depot and the motor pool.

CS: Not at the 1800. Just one of them.

TI: And so you're now the company clerk, and then, so what else happens during this time?

CS: Well, until the war ended.

TI: In general, how did the officers treat you and the others?

CS: Well, I think because I was there and was able to tell our story and everything, they were very sympathetic. And that's why I think they treated the soldiers well, and the morale was high, because they understood. In fact, I'll tell you one incident. Periodically, they'll pass out a brief questionnaire. "Are you now willing to serve overseas?" Well, being (in the office), I know they were gonna pass that out at the mess hall the next day. And well, my opinion was to get up there and tell (Lt.) Lovell that (...), "If you were in our shoes, how would you answer it?" you know. So he came, passed that out, and I got on this mess hall table and he took off. So the next day I went to the office and, "Hey, how come you took off on me?" He says, "I know what you had planned." [Laughs] Because, you know... in the office I was telling them, "Hey, if you were in our shoes, how would you have answered?" So they knew. So they knew I was gonna put 'em on the spot. [Laughs]

TI: So did you have a reputation of being outspoken? Because that, to stand up on a table and call out someone would be...

CS: I guess so, I don't know. I was a translator for all the Kibeis, those that couldn't speak English. So I got along with the Kibei. In fact, I was, I still had the intention of going to Japan, so I was studying and the Kibeis were teaching me and I came with a dictionary, I was trying to learn all the Japanese words. So the Kibeis and I got along real well.

TI: So you mentioned periodically they would come out with these questions to see if people would change. Were, in the same way, were you always, like an interview, in terms of your viewpoints?

CS: Interviews they just passed out. And those that answered "yes," I think about fifty of 'em were cleared and sent out to either the 442, the MIS or to the Panama Canal. 'Cause a couple of 'em wrote to me from Panama Canal and said, "Hey, we're in the Panama Canal. We're on these flatbeds with the cannons, we're guarding the Panama Canal." [Laughs]

TI: That's good. As an engineering unit, one of the articles I saw was, I think, flood relief that you did.

CS: What?

TI: Helping with the floods, or after the floods?

CS: Oh, yes, uh-huh.

TI: I thought that'd be a good thing to describe just so people understood the type of work the 1800 did.

CS: Yeah, because all the work was all construction as they were a regular engineering group. And then one day, I guess the White River in Arkansas had the biggest flood ever. And so we were sent to help combat that, placing sandbags on the river and all that, but somewhere else it broke, and the whole area got flooded. We got marooned. Our whole unit had to find a bluff, so with the cattle and the horses and all that, we were up on the bluff all surrounded by flood water. And then the army engineers sent out a couple of steamboats to rescue us, and then after that, they put us on a riverboat on the Mississippi River. They had these, it's a cabin floating on water, so we were operating out of there after that.

TI: And so what kind of work, I mean, so later on, you repair the levees and things like that?

CS: Yeah, because then we had the bulldozers and everything. So that was regular flood work, trying to... and we had fun, too. A lot of 'em were fishermen, so the water's all muddy, so they get soap, put it on as bait, and it sparkles in the sun. So I think I have pictures of a lot of fish that they caught, had for dinner. And then one fellow shot... couldn't be having (no) gun, so it must have been a cadre, shot an alligator, and I have a picture of that, and they served that for dinner. We had fun, too, because it was work, but, you know, work so many hours and take some, go to town or something, visit the town, go to restaurants and all that.

TI: Earlier you talked about having bull sessions when you were in the MIS. Did you guys have similar bull sessions in the 1800?

CS: No. That's why I didn't know who were in the 1800. Only after I left, I found out that the McClellan boys were there and these boys were there, and never asked, and never talked about ourselves. In fact, when the Fort McClellan incident came out, I was saying, "Oh, those dumb guys," you know, and here they were all in the 1800 and I didn't know it.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.