Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Roy Takai Interview
Narrator: Roy Takai
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: El Macero, California
Date: October 20, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-troy-01-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

gky: When you went to Camp Savage, what was it like? Can you describe physically the camp?

RT: Camp Savage is a, used to be an old man's home and they converted it into an army camp, and it was isolated. It was eighteen miles south of Minneapolis. There were very few people in the, Minnesota who knew about the camp. It was a very lonely place, and the training was very stringent. We had to study a normal eight hours a day, and after supper we had to study two more hours in the classroom. So every day we studied about ten hours a day, and we had to learn fifty new Chinese characters a day. It was a very, very hard training. And coming directly out of camp, military life was strange to us to begin with, and it was tougher on those who went directly to Camp Savage without any army training.

gky: You were also a kid from California. This must have been the first time you were in weather as cold as Minnesota.

RT: Yes. The climate was very, very cold there and every Wednesday we used to be given a half a day off to go into Minneapolis to bowl and to have recreation. And one Wednesday, it got so cold and it snowed so much that no one could make it back to Camp Savage. It got that cold, and it was very miserable for those of us in California who were used to a nice climate.

gky: Were you one of the people who went to the latrines at night to study?

RT: No, I didn't have to do that. I know that there were quite a number who did that, but I managed to get through my lessons and learn enough so that I didn't have to go through the latrine at night to study.

gky: What was, what class were you in at Camp Savage?

RT: What class we were in, the class that started at Camp Savage in December 1942, and there were approximately twenty-five different classes. And I was in Class 9, nine out of twenty-five that -- top linguists were in Class 1 and the poorest linguists were in Class 25.

gky: So you were in about the middle?

RT: A little above middle, yeah. Nine out of twenty-five.

gky: Okay. In June, '43, you went to Camp Shelby to do basic training?

RT: Yes.

gky: Can you talk a little about that?

RT: After we completed our training at Camp Savage, all those of us who had no army training previously were sent to Camp Shelby to undergo basic infantry training. And we were sent there, approximately 125 of us were sent there and we went through basic training with the members of the 442nd there. They formed a special company and called it "Company S," which was very unusual, they had no Company S infantry designation of the U.S. Army, but they named us Company S because of Camp Savage or because of the school.

gky: Was training, was basic training hard?

RT: Basic training was very difficult for us because it was a rush job. They wanted to give us enough training so that if we were sent to the combat, so we would know we would be able to survive and defend ourselves. They made us take the same training that the members of the 442nd were taking and that was really hard, hard training.

gky: What was the hardest thing that you remember?

RT: The hardest thing I can remember is the forced marches. You wear a full field pack, you carry a full weapon, and you go on marches. And you have to cover a certain number of miles within a certain number, in a certain period of time, and that is very tough unless you're really physically trained to do something like that.

gky: When you first were shipped out, you went to Miami. What was that like going to Miami as opposed to the West Coast?

RT: It was kind of a surprise to us that our team was sent to Miami. We were not told where we were going, except that we were going to Miami, and we arrived in Miami and we expected to go somewhere in Miami, someplace overseas. We didn't know where, and we discovered, they discovered that we had not taken yellow fever shots, and we could not ship out for at least two weeks after we took our yellow fever shot. So we were stationed there in Miami, waiting to be shipped out, and we -- even though we were all equivalent and non-commissioned officers, we had to do kitchen duty, KP duty, and regular duty that all privates had to do in Miami. So it was quite an experience for us.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.