Densho Digital Archive
Loni Ding Collection
Title: James Lovell Interview
Narrator: James Lovell
Interviewer: Loni Ding
Date: March 25, 1983
Densho ID: denshovh-ljames-01-0002

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JL: I think that many of the white officers didn't understand what they were getting into, especially when we started getting them from the Officers Candidate School when we were at amp McCoy. One experience we had was a German boy came in and he was interviewed by Colonel Turner. He said "Gee, I didn't know I was getting into this," meaning that he was coming to an all-Japanese group. And Colonel Turner simply asking, "Isn't your name, aren't you of German extraction?" And he said, "Yes, I am," and he said, "Well, what is the difference?" And the young lieutenant said, "No, I understand now. I'll be very happy to serve." And he served with great honor, this young man did a terrific job, and gained the respect of all the men, truly an outstanding officer. But he couldn't understand what he was getting into at first. And I think that some of the others probably had the same feeling that he had at first, and I don't think they got over all of it entirely. I think most of them got rid of most of it, that is, within ourselves. I think if we had any of the question by officers, it was those outside of our battalion, not from those within. I think our own officers, there was none of that after they had been with us for a while.

LD: What kinds of things did they feel about an all-Japanese unit?

JL: Well, let's go right up to the top. I remember one time down at, near Kailua where we had our headquarters, the 298th, and a general officer and some other officers came down to Colonel Anderson's headquarters, and I happened to be the adjutant at that time. And we were down in sort of a gully and had some pyramidal tents there. And this general officer said to Colonel Anderson, "Where do you fellows sleep?" And there happened to be a few of these Japanese American boys were walking around in that particular area, and Colonel Anderson said, "Well, I sleep right there and Lovell's tent is the next one." And a general officer looked at him and says, "You do?" Meaning, "You trust these men enough to sleep down here with 'em? What could happen to you at night?" or something. The, of course, during General Emmons' time, when it got to a point where they thought about moving all of these boys out, it was suggested that perhaps they all be put in one group and sent to some sort of a camp in the mid-United States, where they'd be away from the border in case of attack or anything like that. And then there was recommended uses for 'em, maybe they'd go to camps and do work around the camps and things like that. And then in Oran, when Colonel Turner and I first went down to the Fifth Army headquarters there, we were asked, or it was intimated that they might be used to guard these trains, freight trains going across the country because the Arabs were stealing the food, clothing, ammunition, all from these trains. And this just didn't set well at all. And fortunately, it was shortly after that meeting there, or it was at that meeting an hour or so later that we got the telegram from the War Department that the 100th Battalion was to be used for combat, and this was a real uplifting thing for us, because this took away all fear that we might be used for guards or something like that. Those are a few examples that showed that people thought they might be used for something else rather than combat. But as soon as we got that wire, it verified some of the earlier reports we had, well, it was pretty safe that we were gonna be used for combat.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1983 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.