Densho Digital Archive
Loni Ding Collection
Title: Edward H. Mitsukado Interview
Narrator: Edward H. Mitsukado
Interviewer: Loni Ding
Location: Hawaii
Date: February 1, 1986
Densho ID: denshovh-medward-01-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

LD: When you were in the 100th and it came time for you to leave with your unit, Hawaii, did you have time to say goodbye to your folks?

EM: Yes, I saw my dad. Well, actually, he knew that I was leaving, so the date I already told him.

LD: Could you tell me about that parting and what he said to you? Let's start with, "I was in the 100th Battalion, and we were leaving Hawaii and the United States." Start with that, just start with that introduction and tell me about what your father said to you.

EM: After the war started, I was one of the original members of the 100th Infantry, a group which was later on formed, the 100th Infantry. At the time, I was already, at the time when Pearl Harbor happened, I was already in the army, that is, I was with the first draft in Hawaii. And my discharge date was December the 8th. But December 7th, came around, Pearl Harbor, and I stayed in the army. And then, however, after the war started and everything, for some reason or other, all of a sudden, they got all the Niseis together into one group away from... the Niseis that I'm talking about right now, fellows who, like me, were in the first draft. And people in the first draft were with the Hawaii Territorial 298th Infantry. And we belonged to that 298th Infantry at that time. And when Pearl Harbor happened, we were all pulled out of the infantry, all the fellows of Japanese ancestry were taken out of the 298th and were taken to another place. And there, we waited a while to see what kind of decision would be made as to what they're going to do with this. And there was a speech made by one of the general who's telling us, "We have decided that you are members of the U.S. Army, and we're gonna see that you are U.S. Army, and then we will have you trained to get into combat for your country." And things like that, it was the lift that we needed at that time, because we didn't know what was happening, we didn't what was the trouble. We didn't think in terms of racial difference at that time, that is, just because of the racial differences. We're thinking in terms of the attacker was Japan at that time, and for that reason, maybe they had some reason for trying to segregate us from the rest of the other 298th Infantry people, members, soldiers.

And so after we formed into the 100th Infantry, they told us that we would be leaving for the States, for the training, and then for assignment on the other side, not in the Pacific. So when the day came, after I had dressed myself and was out in the, putting on my shoes... after I put my shoes on, my dad came up to me --

LD: I have to break into the story because I have to start at another point. Just tell me, "I was in the 298 Infantry when Pearl Harbor happened."

EM: Yes.

LD: That they pulled you out of there along with the other Nisei and took away your arms. So you guys didn't know what was going to happen to you, but then they finally decided they were going to form a new unit and send you to the States. That was what was going to become the 100th Infantry. And then that's when you went to say goodbye to your folks.

EM: Yes.

LD: Okay, you go back and you tell it to me about that short? Do it again?

EM: When I was... when Pearl Harbor happened, I was with the Hawaiian unit called the 298th Hawaiian Infantry. That was a local infantry organization. Then right after Pearl Harbor, I would say maybe several days or so, maybe a little longer, I forgot how many days it was. But then all the fellows of Japanese ancestry were pulled out of the 298th and taken to, were separated and brought together at another location. And while we were waiting as to what the government was going to do with us, we were, we had all kinds of thoughts. But at that time, we weren't thinking too much about the racial differences because the attacking party was Japan at that time. We really thought that they wanted to make sure that no racial, there was no problems against the Japanese. That's the way most of us thought at that time. And they organized us into a unit, into a military unit, and told us that we would be sent to the States for further training or combat on the other side.


EM: The day arrived for the Nisei group from Hawaii to leave for the States for the training. And as I stepped out of my house to say goodbye to my parents, my father stepped over to me and shook my hand and said -- my name is, my Japanese name is Hideo. He says, "Hideo," he says, "as I told you before, I, your father is Japanese." He says, "My heart is with Japan." He says, "My loyalty is with my country. But your country is America. You were born in Hawaii here, and it's another reason why I was trying to get you to study more at school and all that. And so this is your country here. You were born here, raised here, so now your country is at war, at war with my country. But," he says, "I wanted to tell you this: go out as an American soldier, fight as an American soldier, do all you can for your country. And the only thing that I would ask you about our connection, that is being Japanese, is don't do anything for the American army which would shame the Japanese blood. After all, your father's Japanese, your mother's Japanese, your blood is Japanese. But you are an American." But he said, "Don't do anything which would shame or disgrace the Japanese blood." And he, what you call, shook my hand, and he went back into the house. And so that's how I left the house to join my 100th Infantry unit at the Honolulu harbor before our departure to the States.

LD: What did you think and feel about that?

EM: I felt very, very thankful to my father. At least he was very honest to tell me that his, what do you call, that he himself would not change. He said, "I will not change, I am a Japanese." He said, "I'll be a Japanese until I die, because that's my country. I came from Japan. But you were born here, you were raised here. You're what they call, born in America, raised here, this is your country, your future is here." So he says, "Fight for your country. Don't, what they call, worry about your parents. We'll take care of ourselves." In that sense, it felt... so I was very much emotionalized when he told me all that. And there wasn't anything I could say except yes, especially when he ended up telling me, "Don't disgrace your Japanese blood."

LD: To you, when he said that, "Don't do anything that will disgrace your Japanese blood," what did that mean to you?

EM: To me it meant as a father, the things that he told about Japan, some of the ideals of Japan, how... what do call, used to be loyal to your friends, loyal to your family, and loyal to those around you. And be, what do you call, well, be really a man, help others, too." He says, "We think in terms of those things back in the farm." He came out from the countryside, had never been to the city. So he says, "We're always thinking in terms of helping each other, whenever we need help, and we're still doing it here in Hawaii." The fellows, all the old people that came, immigrants that came from Kumamoto, you see, or Hiroshima, whatever it is, whatever groups they were in, they had the same kind of mutual help organizations. So those are the things he used to tell me. He says, "Japanese are very helpful to each other and loyal to each other. And they're loyal to their family." So he says, "I don't want you to forget the Japanese qualities." Those are the things that even as kids, he used to say, "If you do this like this, you're not doing what I'm teaching you, Japanese qualities," we called it Japanese manners or whatever it is. Even if I should get hurt or cry or something, said, "Look, the Japanese kid would not cry like that. He'll hold back, he'll be strong enough to stand the pain and not cry or not yell for help and all that." So those were the things that impressed me very much, well, that he used to tell me about when I was a kid, about Japanese qualities, Japanese characteristics. And it sounded like anything else that I was learning outside, too, in Hawaii, going to school and listening to other teachers, not Japanese, but American teachers and American missionaries. Because I used to go to church next door.

LD: Were there times later during the war when you particularly remember some of your father's sayings to you?

EM: Yes, especially when I was in the jungles with my own outfit, with the Merrill's Marauders. The thing is that, while marching with them and training with them in the beginning and then marching with them, this and that, is you get to have a feeling of fellowship, feeling of comradeship, feeling of idea that here's a fellow that's fighting with you. You should protect him, he should protect you, and all that. And those feelings, not only myself or my other Nisei fellows who were with us, they were different columns. But the same feeling was going on with the, call it the white American soldiers with us, that I was with. They felt the same way towards me, too. They said, "Gee, Eddie, you're here, too. You're fighting against your own kind, but you're with us." And sort of a mutual comradeship, fellowship and all that, look after each other. And it wasn't so much... and you weren't thinking in terms of your own race, you were thinking in terms of what are you fighting for. And then if and when I felt a little fear or something, because it would have been human. Sometimes you're asked to do something or to go out on something, on a mission or something like that, you feel, "I wonder if this would be alright," or something. When you feel that, I always thought about what my old man told me. He said, "Don't try to disgrace your blood, too." And because, after all, it wasn't so much the idea that this was an ideal of the enemy or anything like that. I wasn't thinking in terms of... I was just thinking in terms of my own father telling me, "Don't disgrace yourself," and don't disgrace him or anybody else, that is. Just be a man. And that, I think, helped me a lot of times. Whenever I felt that I'm just kind of wondering if I can do this mission or not, whether I can do this work or not, and sometimes I'd get very tired, too, and you just want to rest and say, "To hell with this." And yet, the idea that my dad had instilled in me, don't disgrace... because in general, that's what it all meant, "Don't disgrace yourself." So I tried to keep on going, I tried to help, continue.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.