Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Robert Moriguchi Interview
Narrator: Robert Moriguchi
Interviewer: Brian Niiya
Location: Granada Hills, California
Date: October 4, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-515-19

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BN: This is December of?

RM: December of '54. Fifty-four. December of '54. I graduated in September, and December I was drafted, and then they extended it 'til after Christmas. So I went after Christmas and went a couple of months to Fort Ord. And, of course, when you're in training, basic training, you can't leave the post, the camp. But since they don't have Buddhist church there, you were able to leave the camp to go to church to Monterey. So that was our excuse to leave the camp to go to Monterey, and my aunt Ayako had married Futakazu Sakino, who was from Monterey. So he was living not too far from the Buddhist Temple, so I would get off the bus at the Buddhist Temple and walk over to her house, and she would cook me up some Japanese food and home cooked meals. So I did that every Sunday. And then I finished basic training, and a lot of the people I was with were pharmacists, former pharmacists who had just graduated same time I did. And so we were all assigned to Fort Sam Houston in Texas. And we were supposed to be training as corpsmen and aidmen. And all the officers were all pharmacists also who had taken ROTC. So they were all people who graduated at the same time I did. And we had to, aidmen, we had to go in the battlefield to bring back wounded soldiers. And I was always the lightest guy, I was the smallest guy, so I was always the guy that they carried. [Laughs] So I didn't have to carry anybody, they always carried me. But while I was there, I was able to visit Sam Houston, the Alamo, I visited the Alamo. I also visited the Japanese sunken garden. It was called the Oriental Garden, at that time, I think, or the Chinese Garden, I can't remember what it was, but it wasn't called the Japanese sunken garden. But it was not on the river, by the river there, there was a Japanese garden. I don't know what it is now or if it's still there or not.

BN: Is this the one in...

RM: San Antonio, yeah. Still there. And I remember visiting that. And then one time I visited Austin, and I hit a sandstorm. You couldn't see anything, it was just sand all over. It was terrible, I got sand all over. Sandstorm. So anyway, that was about my experience in Sam Houston. Then we got assigned to our permanent station, and I got sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, 8th Field Hospital, 43rd medical group. So I was an aidman, and then I was able to get it changed to pharmacy specialist. And I gave a lot of lectures, lectures on pharmacology and CBR, Chemical Biological Radiological warfare. And also the captain, the captain of our unit was a former, it was a pharmacist, but he was in the military. And so when I got discharged, I gave him all my notes so he could give classes. And I was also the mailman. But we set up tents, we set up tents to set up the hospital, because it was a MASH unit, so we set up tents. So it was a surgical hospital, it's all tent by tent.

So you got anything else there about... oh, yeah. It was one my miserable time in the army was in Fort Lewis. Because it was so tedious doing the same thing over, and then you have guard duty, KP duties, walking the highway, picking up garbage, and it was really dumb, very bad for me. So I would complain and so forth, but I had a couple of interesting TDYs, temporary duties. And one was to go to Yakima, Yakima firing range in Eastern Oregon to support the National Guards in the reserves where they were training, but it was out in the desert. Sagebrushes, my allergy was terrible there because of the sagebrush. But the lieutenants who were there with me, they were all pharmacists just like I was, they graduated at the same time. So we were buddy-buddies, we went bowling together, we went to Yakima and bowled, or went to eat or whatever. So it was pretty informal, but that was just for a short period of time for temporary duty.

Then another temporary duty was going to Madigan General Hospital, which was located in Tacoma, and that was another great duty. We worked in the pharmacy, actually, there, filled prescriptions. But we were still in the army so it was very strict. You washed down everything with alcohol every morning. Everything else was pretty lax, you know, and nothing was too strict other than at work, doing the work there. But that was very good duty, but also got my experience there, I got my experience as a pharmacist. And so I finally got my hours, I got my hours of experience. So one day I went to the University of Washington in Seattle and asked them when they're going to have their practical exam. And they said, "Well, we're going to have it today." So I said, "Can I take the test?" And they let me take the test and so I took my test there and I asked them to send it down to California, so that's how I got my, all my hours in and now I was registered in California. Also, going to Seattle, William, Bill, my uncle, him and his friends knew of a friend in Seattle, so they introduced me to this family. What were their names? I can't remember their names now. But it was two sisters and a brother, they lost their parents, so they're all living together. So they let me come and they would treat me to homemade meals. So I used to go there not real often but quite often, I used to go to Seattle and visit them. So it was a diversion.

There was also... this I haven't told anybody. [Laughs] But I think it was a Buddhist church I went to, and I met this girl, Sachi I think her name was, I can't remember. She was from Idaho. And later, much later when I moved down to Los Angeles, the church, Buddhist church had a district or some kind of an area meeting, and so they had a picnic. So I met this same girl from Seattle, and her cousin came, they were from near Ontario, that's eastern Oregon. And I met them, and I came to be very good friends with them. In fact, I visited them in Idaho when I went to see my aunt up in Idaho when I was single, working. [Laughs] So anyway.

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