Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Roy Uyehata Interview
Narrator: Roy Uyehata
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: El Macero, California
Date: October 20, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-uroy-01-0001

<Begin Segment 1>

gky: Okay, this is October 20th, the year 2000, with Roy Uyehata, U-Y-E-H-A-T-A. Why don't you pronounce your last name for me?

RU: Uyehata.

gky: Okay, Uyehata, and this is in El Macero, California. Roy, can you tell me a little bit what it was like being that first class at Camp Savage, what the camp physically looked like, what the guys were like?

RU: Well, in those days, I had them brought up from Camp Wolters in Texas where we were so mistrusted and distrusted. When we shipped from Fort Ord to Camp Wolters, we took the job over as collector of camp garbage. That's how much trust they had in us. So we were very mistrusted. Not only mistrusted, but we had no morale. Morale was very poor among all the Nisei soldiers there because when you're confined to a job that was formerly done by stockade prisoners, that really destroys your morale.

gky: So this is after Pearl Harbor?

RU: After Pearl Harbor, that's right. And this was in March of 1942.

gky: That's kind of a long time for you all to have, to not be trusted and to, you know, from December to March to have to do things that the prisoners were doing.

RU: Yes, that's right. Well, they seemed to favor the stockade prisoners over us. That's how low we were in the army hierarchy, and so it was very bad for morale. And then they, when we got the orders to go to Camp Savage, we were very happy because we all wanted to get out of the job of collecting garbage every day.

gky: What made you volunteer to go to Camp Savage?


RU: In July of 1941, Captain Rasmussen came to Fort Ord to interview each Nisei soldier to see what proficiency we had in the Japanese language, and so I was among those that were selected to go to Camp Savage or Presidio San Francisco in November. And then they had us bring a note home to have our parents sign it, agreeing that we were, we'd be volunteering to go to the Presidio class. And I brought home the slip of my paper and my father signed it. There were five people selected in our company to go to the school, but four of them received, I guess, the authorization of their parents, but one of them didn't. So he did not attend Camp Savage when we were sent over there in May of 1942.

gky: What made you volunteer? What made you want to volunteer for the country that had put your parents in camp?

RU: Oh, yeah, well that's true. But in 1941, before Pearl Harbor started, there wasn't, we weren't even thinking of the camp. That's the reason. We wanted to do our duty and so volunteered.

gky: But you didn't go to the Presidio.

RU: No. But you want to know why we didn't go to the Presidio? Because there were five men selected from our company but only three had been to Japan. So they selected the three that had been to Japan to go to the school, and the two of us who had not been to Japan were rejected at that time.

gky: But when you went in June of 1942, by then your parents had been thrown into an internment camp.

RU: That's right, that's right.

gky: Didn't that change how you felt?

RU: No, we all felt that our, the way they were treating us at Camp Wolters, we -- same as Walter Tanaka at Fort Custer. He was shoveling coal into the stoves, and none of us wanted that kind of a job, so we all volunteered.

gky: So it was a matter of getting out, rather...

RU: That's right. We wanted to get out of that kind of predicament.

gky: How do you remember Camp Savage as being? Physically, what did it look like?

RU: Camp Savage was a deserted CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] camp, and it was, which it turned into an old man's home. And then I don't know, so many years afterward, even that had been closed. So it was dirty, dilapidated buildings that were given to us, and we had to go over there on our hands and knees and scrub all the floors, clean all the windows, and clean everything up before we could move in.

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