Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Francis Mas Fukuhara Interview
Narrator: Francis Mas Fukuhara
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Elmer Good (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 25, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-ffrancis-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Well, then after... so this was basic training?

FF: Yeah, basic training. I was there for eight months and then... no, I was there for about ten weeks, I guess. And just about... well, when we were well into our training, the Germans broke through in the Battle of the Bulge up in Belgium and they needed guys right away, of course. But, so really, infantry training as a whole was accelerated, and that's what that Camp Blanding was, it was an infantry training center. Of course, we were cannon fodder for the 442. So, and the 442 had just come off of that, the battle in Bruyeres and the rescue of the "Lost Battalion" and so they needed guys. And so our group was going over, okay... but for some weird reason I got left behind and I went to MIS. There was about four of us.

TI: So they sort of targeted you as having adequate Japanese language skills to go to MIS?

FF: Well, I don't think they ever thought of me as having adequate Japanese skills. They put me in a, I was in a group with, that was strong in English and weak in Japanese. They had such a category. I don't know how much you know about the MIS, but in most of their practical applications, the real linguists in MIS were guys educated in Japan. They were Kibeis. And that's kind of ironic, because jeez, you know, DeWitt went on for a half a page justifying the evacuation of Japanese... one of the things that he pointed out was that, really these, that these Nisei were, couldn't be trusted because they had all this knowledge of Japanese and Japanese culture, and Kibeis were the worst of all because they were educated in Japan. And it's kind of ironic to me, that really, they took us and threw us into camp for that very reason, and recruiters came in, really, and were recruiting us for that very same expertise.

TI: So they were actually recruiting those who had the most Japanese language, culture, to help them in the U.S. military.

FF: Right, and really, especially the Kibei. If it weren't for the Kibei, I don't think they would have had a successful MIS. And cripes, I mean... boy, DeWitt had nothing but bad to say about them guys.

TI: But if they were looking for people with really strong Japanese skills, why do, why do you think they chose you to go to the MIS?

FF: I don't know. I think they probably thought all Nisei... I think, I think it's probably at least a grain of truth to this, but they probably thought, felt that we had a higher propensity for learning Japanese or aptitude for learning Japanese simply because we've heard it all of our lives. In fact, I think really, for most of us, our first language must have been Japanese; we were raised by people that didn't speak English.

TI: But within your unit of Japanese Americans, they chose four. Was it almost a random process to get you four? How do you think they...?

FF: Oh, I don't really know how they chose.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.