Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0035

<Begin Segment 35>

RT: And (Sadao) Munemori and I went through recruit school together. In fact, I slept in the bed this way, and he slept in the first bed this way. And him and I were the ones, we've always, we always used to laugh at each other because he was one that was sent to Camp Savage. Because he was another one that went to Japan to study. And I was sent to Camp Savage. And, gee, when I got off the train, I couldn't understand it, I wasn't going to go to the 442nd. And then it dawned on me, "Hey, maybe the reason why I'm not going to the 442, Savage is a military intelligence." And I didn't want no part of that.

So then Munemori, then Munemori has said like, see, his sister and his brother-in-law went to Japan just before Pearl Harbor, because his mother got real sick in Japan. And his sister's husband was a doctor. So he volunteered to the family to go back and help her. And then he got caught over there. And like he told me, he says, "You know, I could never be there, thinking I may be shooting my own brother-in-law. I don't wanna go." But it took them a little longer to send him down to Shelby than it did me, because, as soon as I got off the train, this guy that came to pick me up, started talking Nihongo to me. And right away, I figured out somethin's wrong. I says, "What'd you say?" He'd say something else. "Speak English, damn it. Aren't you in the American army? What'd you say?" And he finally pushed me into the jeep. And pretty soon, here comes a guy walkin' from the other way. He's comin' this way, too. And it was Munemori. So they started talkin' Nihongo to him, and he says, "I will not become an MISer." He says, "I refuse." So we became the coal tenders. You know in the army they have these pot-belly stoves, so at night you can keep, everybody can sleep comfortably? Well, the two of us, we had the job of keepin' those pot-belly stoves goin'. [Laughs]

TI: Well, in your case, I'm curious, because you would have been very valuable with MIS, because not only of your Japanese language skills, but also some of the training, the Japanese military training and so you had that knowledge. And so how did you decide you wanted to be with the 442, rather than the MIS?

RT: Well, the way I looked at it was, I knew a lotta guys in Japan. And I did not want to have to shoot one of them. If I don't know the man, it wouldn't have bothered me.

TI: And yet, you didn't know, the 442 could've been a fighting unit in the Pacific.

RT: Yeah, yeah.

TI: So possibly, you would have been in the infantry or a rifle...

RT: Well, no, but we, we had thoughts. See, the way it looked was, we would not go to the Pacific. Because I don't think Roosevelt woulda trusted us over there, the way his mind went. So otherwise, they would have had to make sure that those of us in the 442 understand a little Japanese. And you can't have officers that don't understand Japanese then. So we figured that we were European-bound. It took Munemori a little while longer to get out of, of Savage. But because, now I just was not going to do what they tell me to do. I figure, the hell with 'em. You guys wanna throw me in the stockade? Go ahead. I don't give a damn. So then they shipped me down to Shelby. And then after I got shipped to Shelby, I think it was about four days later, Munemori came there. That's the reason why we went through the same recruit school. So they had class, so and so, A-B-C, and so forth. We were the last recruits to go through recruit school. After that, we were ready to go overseas. And see, usually, any unit trains in the United States for eight months, and they're sent overseas. We trained for twelve months.

TI: Right.

RT: And after all this was over and everything, going into Washington, D.C., going through archives and all this, we found out the reason why we weren't shipped overseas immediately. 'cause they had nobody that would accept us.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.