Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Shoso "Sho" Nomura Interview
Narrator: Shoso "Sho" Nomura
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: December 14, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-nshoso-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

gky: This is December 14th, the year 2000. We're talking to Sho Nomura. Do you always go by Sho?

SN: Yes.

gky: Sho, S-H-O Nomura, N-O-M-U-R-A, and we're talking in L.A. Sho, what year, when were you born?

SN: When? October 1, 1918.

gky: And how long were you in the MIS?

SN: From November 1942, then I served, or I got my discharge, in January 6, 1946. It's really just four years, three and a half years. I got married in '49 and she was a girl -- she was called a "stranded Nisei." Her family went to Japan before the war in 1939 or '38, I forget. But anyway, I went to school with her, my wife's older sister, in Pasadena Junior College, and a mutual friend, when I was working in the occupation in the early years, Anna Saiki gave me the older sister's address. So I wrote to Anna saying I was over there and then when I got a vacation I'd like to come down and see you, and talk about old times, you know, the school days. So I went down there then and I met Anna's younger sister, who is my wife. And that was the starting of the beginning of the end, so to speak. [Laughs] And so I called her up to live in Tokyo and then she could work part time as a nationalist, as a foreign nationalist. She hadn't got -- well, she did got her citizenship back. And like I say, she came out to Tokyo in late '48, early '49, and then we got married in November of '49.

gky: Why did you want to leave Gila River and join the MIS?

SN: I know it would be the proper thing to say that patriotism or loyalty and all that was the driving force. Well, in a way it was, but unless you had lived in a relocation center, to anybody -- in my mind, you know, it was just a dulling experience. A road that leads to nowhere. So when they came around asking for volunteers, that was our only escape to get out of that type of atmosphere where one day is same as the day before and the day after will be the same as it was today, and God knows how long it's going to last. You could be sitting in that camp for, 'til, for the duration of the war and nobody had any idea how long the war is going to end. So, I just looked at it as an opportunity to get out of that type of atmosphere which had, to me, had no future. So...

gky: On the other hand, when you volunteered to be in the MIS, there's always a possibility when you go to war that you could be killed, you could be maimed.

SN: Yeah, that's true.

gky: So you sort of have to weigh that against staying in camp, or are you young and naive and you think you're not going to get, you're not going to get...

SN: There's your answer. I was young and naive... but not that young, but I was willing to take that chance. So be it. At least that I might, you know, by that same token, it reflects where your loyalties lie too. So to me there was all win, no lose type of situation. I get away from the dismal atmosphere of camp life and go into the army, and who knows what our future. The future in the army didn't really concern me that much.

gky: What'd your parents say?

SN: My dad was very supportive and my mother understood what I was telling her. I told my dad that people had come to our camp and was asking for volunteers, and to learn the Japanese language and that sort of thing, and so he was all for it. He says, "Well, after all, you are American," and so I didn't run into any, for any opposition at all.

gky: When you went to Camp Savage, how good were your language skills?

SN: Very poor, to be honest. I think we had 22 sections graded according to their ability in the Japanese language, and I was in Section 17 which is only five from the bottom, so...

gky: So you must have been one of the people that went to the latrines at night to...

SN: Oh, yeah, to study and bone up. I never studied that hard in my life. But it was worth it, it really was, because I learned enough in that school to be able to pick up a civilian job after the war, to go work in the occupation, so...

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.