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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Bill Thompson Interview
Narrator: Bill Thompson
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: June 30, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-tbill-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Okay, I'm gonna quickly get up to the war years. And generally, a question that we ask people, since it was such an important date, was on December 7th, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Can you recall what you were doing that day and how you heard about the attack?

BT: I was working at a service station, and saw all the cars going back and forth, rushing along the highway. And then the announcement came that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. And then the owner said to close down the station. So I went home.

TI: Can you remember what you were thinking when this was going on?

BT: I kind of forgot.

TI: Okay. Eventually they allowed, or they decided, to form the 442, or to allow Americans of Japanese ancestry to volunteer for the military. And you were one of the ones who decided to volunteer. I guess the question is, why did you decide to volunteer?

BT: I felt that I just had to go. You know, just that your country needed you. You have to go for your country, yeah.

TI: And was that pretty much true amongst the people that you knew, your friends and other people?

BT: Yeah, my friends were signing up, too. I heard about that, so I figured yeah, I'm going with them.

TI: And what kind of reactions -- I guess my first question is, what positive reactions? Did people think that was a good idea? And what were they saying when they heard that you were volunteering?

BT: Actually, generally they were proud of what we were doing. There was some that said, "Well, you shouldn't." But generally speaking, I would say they were proud of what we were doing. Well, we were too young to know what we were doing anyway.

TI: Do you remember the ones who said that you shouldn't volunteer? What were they saying? What did they say? Can you recall?

BT: No. Not that you shouldn't volunteer for your country, but that, oh, I think that used to -- you know, well, I guess I never had that said to me personally. But some others said, "Well, you should stay home, take care of your parents," or things like that.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.