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

<Begin Segment 1>

EM: Well, I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Our family, that's my father, my mother, and three of us, my elder brother Andrew, and I was the second son, and my sister Nancy. In the early days, my father started as a laborer on a sugar plantation, but then something happened to his back and he was unable to work for a while. And during that time, he was told about doing some work without using his back, and that was to drive a taxi. But being a Japanese immigrant to Hawaii, he had seen some cars, but had never been near any cars himself, and he was kind of wondering how he could ever learn how to drive a car and at the same time get a car. But then he had people who told him that things like that could be done if he would like to do it and be interested. Because there were three of us, myself, my brother and my sister, that he had to support. And, of course, at the same time, my mother was out there working, she was working in one of those pineapple factories. And at other times and days off, she would be working as a maid at the homes of some wealthy people, people who could afford to have maids at that time. And in that sense, my father didn't want any one of us to think about working or anything for the simple reason that he had an idea that after all, we were born in Hawaii, and that we're studying English and all that, and that they want to make sure that we had enough education to be able to take care of our own careers, to get into something later on in life. Of course, he didn't have any ideas what we could do in the future, in a new country all, after all, he was just an immigrant himself. But he just wanted to make sure that we would be prepared to do something, get into something in the future. So he got his friends to help him to learn how to drive a car. And then after he learned how to drive a car, well, as to how to get a car then. After all, it meant some money would be needed. And in that sense, he used to call fellow immigrants from the same prefecture, Kumamoto, came from the Kumamoto Prefecture, was ready to help him. And they had this, I think what they call the... I don't exactly know what it's all about, but it's something called tanomoshi or something, where they would, all the friends would get together, these people from the same prefecture would gather together and put in some funds to help anybody needed it. And that was the way he was able to get his first Model T, which was selling at that time, that was probably fashion in Hawaii. So he got himself a Model T, he'd already learned how to drive it, and started his taxi business. And then, six months later, he had been doing pretty well, so he turned the Model T in for another car, it was a Ford car, it was a better sedan, four-door sedan. And he went into this taxi business for quite a while.

And at that time I was in high school, my brother was at the university, and yet my father wouldn't allow any one of us to even think about getting a job. He said, "No, I'm making enough for you. You're getting three bowls of rice a day, getting your things to give you enough energy to study and to play and do what you want." And it was only after my brother finished University of Hawaii that my father felt that he could at least sort of slack down on his work to support us, to support the family. But at the same time, my father never did push my brother as to what sort of job he should have or what he should be looking for or anything. So my brother went around and he found a job with a newspaper company back in Hawaii, in Honolulu. So he started working for that company, and he did pretty well. And as a result, he was helped, he was doing very well to help the family. So for the first time, my father felt much relieved, and was taking it a little easier as a taxi driver.

And then, four years after my brother had graduated and was now settled doing newspaper work, I finished high school at McKinley in Honolulu, McKinley High School in Honolulu, and decided to find a job or so. But then my father interfered again, he says, "No," he says, "Your brother went to university, he's got a job now, he's doing well, you go to university, too." He said, "Let me take care of your expenses while going to school." I rejected it, but my father had his way. He had a way of getting us to follow his ideas or his ways of thinking.

LD: How did he do that?

EM: What?

LD: What was your way, your father's way of bullying you around?

EM: Yes. The way my father did it was he said, "Look, I'm here now. And you are my wards here, I'm trying to take care of you, and that's my duty. That's my work as a parent, to take care of my children. And then I want to make sure that you get enough preparation, so you will be able to do something in the future for your own job and for your own work and for your own family. As of now," he says, "this is a new country," he says, "I'm new to here, too, and I want to make sure that you have the right start. And the only way that I know that you will get a right start will be to get as much schooling as you can in this new country." And he says, "Look, I'm still healthy, I can still, with a job, I can make enough money here, we have enough to eat. So why do you have to worry about whether we're going to eat or not, or whether we're going to have a place to live or not?" So he says, "Please, after all, I'm trying to do everything I can to help you, so let me do it," he says. "That will give me a purpose in life, too, and I want you to help with that purpose in life." In that fashion he sort of talked us into letting him help us and keeping him going. He says, "If you can do that, it would make me very, very happy. That it was worth the time and worth the effort for me to get you through the school." And he was very, very serious always, so we believed him. We thought that he was doing the right thing, giving us the right philosophy, the right thing about relation between the parents and children. And so we figured that we should do something to make him happy, and that was to be able to go through school and get something which would be worthwhile and which would give some happiness that he had done something right for us. And we felt that we would like to do something to make him happy, so we thought the best thing was to continue schooling.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

LD: You were a pretty good student?

EM: Yes. Well, I say yes because it wasn't that I was a genius or anything like that, but like everybody else, I was doing all right in school. Of course, being children of immigrants, we all had to start off at the bottom, ABCs and everything, and trying to learn how to speak English and everything. But of course learning how to speak English wasn't the only thing. Because that was only in the school that we learned how to speak English. But outside of school it was something else. The young kids in Hawaii at that time out of school had their own language, a very mixed up language among the Japanese immigrants, children, English and Japanese and some Hawaiian words. And then the Hawaiian boys there would be mostly English and some Hawaiian words, and for the Chinese, would be the same thing. Some Chinese, some Hawaiian, and some English, and mostly English, of course. But mixing all, everything up together, we always were able to converse with each other and get along pretty good. But the thing was, in order to do, well, in order to make it all worthwhile, we had to learn our English in school in order to be able to keep on going and to get enough schooling so that we'd be able to get jobs which would be, well, would give our parents some kind of happiness and that, would make them feel that their efforts and their sacrifice had been worthwhile.

LD: When you were in high school, did you have some idea of what you wanted to do with yourself or what you would like to do?

EM: No, not exactly. But I thought right after high school maybe I could apply at one of those firms in town and get a job there doing whatever job might be open at that time. Not only myself, but a lot of the other kids were also thinking the same way, too, because they were all the same level, same boat as we were, their parents were working very hard, and they were thinking of helping their parents, helping take care of the family and earn some money on their own. So I was thinking the same thing, too, so after high school, with my brother already at the university, I felt like my dad was having... well, I thought it was too much for my dad alone to do it, so I thought maybe I could help, and help my brother go to school at university. And where that caused some argument in the house because then my brother thought that he should be the one helping me get through high school, and then if everything goes well, he might be able to go to university. So we had those arguments at the house here and there, but my father was always the one to make the decision. "No, you people keep on studying and continue going to school, and make sure you study hard and make something out of it so that when you get out, you can get a job that would be worthwhile."

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

LD: Your father actually picked up one of your teachers one day when he was a taxi driver, right?

EM: Yes. That was when I was in college, it was my freshman year. And so my dad had a taxi stand while somewhere, at one of the streetcar stations. And the professor at the university was coming out from some apartment in Waikiki area, and get off at this particular corner where my father had his taxi stand. So he used to use my father to take him up to the university. But one day, as I was walking up to school on the hill right near the university, just by coincidence I happened to be going up the hill there. And my father was passing by with his taxi, with the professor as his passenger, his usual passenger. He had already told me before that he had a passenger who was teaching at the university, but I didn't know who it was, my father didn't talk to him, I wasn't able to converse with the professor and everything. And so this time, at the time that I was walking to school and my father was driving up the hill, he waved his hand, and all of a sudden my father stopped his taxi. So I was wondering why. And he was bowing to the passenger, and the passenger was waving his hand to me. So I went towards the car, towards the taxi, and saw that it was my professor, my English literature professor, Dr. Sinclair. And he said, waves me to the car and says, "Come on, get on your father's taxi here. Let's go to the university together." So I got on and everything, and my father dropped us off. Dr. Sinclair was very, very understanding, didn't make me feel as though it was something of a big deal or anything, he wanted to keep it down to a level where he and I would be more like friends. And what I'd like to say here now is that later on in years, Dr. Sinclair became the president of the university. He was a very understanding man, and he tried to get along with the fellows in Hawaii knowing their capacities, their weaknesses, their problems and all that.

LD: How did you feel? Your father was driving a taxi, and he had the professor in his backseat, he sees you, is that what happened? I mean, how did it happen? You described that... your father is driving the taxi.

EM: Yes. He started waving his hand...

LD: Start with, "My father was driving the taxi."

EM: My father was driving a taxi, and he saw me walking up the hill there, so he just sort of waved his hand, and the professor saw him waving the hand and asked him, "Oh, you know him?" My father said, "Oh, that's my boy." The professor said, "Oh, your boy?" So he looked again, he said, "Oh, stop. Is your boy going to school?" My father said, "Yes, to the university. It's his first year." He says, "Stop," says, "pick up your boy." And that's the way my father stopped his taxi and picked me up, or the professor picked me up. He opened the door and let me in the backside.

LD: What did you think of that?

EM: To tell the truth, I was overwhelmed. To find a professor, my own professor, telling my father to stop to pick me up. Of course, my father was very happy about the whole thing. To him, it was, well, it was more like finding that a man can be like a god, too. Very understanding and very kind, very gentle, especially my father being an immigrant from Japan, and here is a white professor, makes a lot of difference. Because in Hawaii from those old days, the governing or the ruling or the managing groups were all whites. And to find a professor like that telling my father to, "Stop for your boy, pick him up," he saw who I was and he knew that I, he remembered me as his student. That, to me, was a wonderful thing.


LD: That was a very impressive thing that happened to you.

EM: Yes, impressed me very much. And it showed me that in essence, good people are good people. That even a man who had the stature of a big professor at the university, one of the big name professors there, would be, was kind enough and gentle enough and was thoughtful enough. And was really open, was not just being formal about it, he was just very happy that I was his student and that my father was driving. And from then on, my father, he never used any other taxi except my father's. Except when my father might be ill or something, not at the taxi stand, but my father was usually always waiting for him to be there on time at the corner, whenever the professor got off the streetcar to get a taxi to take him up to the university.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

LD: That's how you remember your father, as someone who really took care of you and he sacrificed for you, take care of people.

EM: Yes. Well, that's why I said, give my father full credit for how his children grew up, and like I say, that it wasn't so much how my father disciplined me, but it was much more than that. That what he was doing for us at that time, he was struggling, I knew he was hurting his back, his back was hurting. And yet he would never ask us, to tell us, "Come on, I've worked all day, and will you massage my back?" or something like that. He never said that. We know that the doctor would massage his back, and the doctor would tell us, "If you want to help your dad, massage him." So without Dad ever asking us to massage him and all that, we would take turns doing it. And then, of course, at times, when he knew that it was our study time or we're supposed to be going out with the boys to play or something, or went out to, somewhere with the boys or something, he would tell us, "Just forget it, that's all right. My back is fine tonight, so you can, don't worry about it." I don't think there was ever a time when he told us, "Come on, do it on my back," when he was driving taxi. And it's the way that he talked to us. Surely he scolded us at times when we did something wrong, but he never lifted a hand. That is the... well, I've heard of other fellows telling me his father slapped his head or maybe give him a whack in the back or something like that. But for some reason, my father would get mad as he could be at times, but never use his hands. And he would, of course, calm down, and then talk to us again, and tell us, or if, for instance, it was studies, he would get mad at us when we don't study. Because he says, "Look, I'm trying to, what do you call, help you for your futures. I'm working now as your father, and I want you to study. And if you're not going to study, how can I be happy when I'm trying to do something for you?" So maybe you can play at times, there's no question. But he says, "When study time is now, I would like to have you study. Because after all, that is the main purpose that I'm working very hard to send, to do something for you both," especially two brothers. And girl, he didn't think about my sister as a career for her or anything like that. It was in terms of myself or my brother. He was very thoughtful about my sister, too. So in this case, with my father taking care of us in that fashion, never giving up, doing things... I mean, getting his prefectural friends to help him, and he would, that's why he was always willing to help others in that same group, or anybody else, for that matter. I would say that he was a "never say no" man when somebody needed help.

LD: He told you by example, or did he also tell you some things about how to live your life?

EM: He also told us that in this world, you have to have friends. They're the ones that will help you all the time. Like now, I needed help, they helped me. They need help, I help them. And people must help each other, especially in this world of people. He says, "You're going to find all kinds of people. You're not going to find all good, kind people all the time, but," he says, "you have to be strong yourself. You have to be ready for anything." So in this case, that's what they call that, making sure that you get your meals and you go to school, and especially when you get into fights with the other children and everything. "I don't want you to feel as though you're doing something bad. If you have to fight, you have to fight." But he said, "I don't want you to, what they call, fighting the wrong way, that is, doing something wrong to somebody. You have to do it the right way." You shouldn't be what they call the man to start the fight or anything like that.

I got into a lot of fights myself in those old days. And I'd get hurt or something and then he would ask why I got into a fight. I would explain to him, if you thought that I wasn't wrong or anything, he [inaudible] but he was nice to me. Very kind, very helpful, and if he thought that I was wrong, he told me about it. But then one thing he told us, "Don't be afraid to fight if you have to fight." So I'm not what they call being, trying to say that there was a fight in those days as a kid, but I was never shy when somebody came up, if you had to fight for your rights... well, like for instance, I'm selling newspapers as a kid and somebody else comes around and grabbed the paper or wanted to tell you to get out of that corner or something, tell you that's his corner or something, we have to fight. If you're going to fight, you get pushed around again. And so I got into all kinds of fights in that fashion. Of course, you get fighting to school when you're playing or something. He would never say don't fight, you have to fight the fight, he says.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 6>

LD: You were saying that there was a lot of mutual feeling out there, and some of the guys had special feeling for the fact that you were a Japanese also. You told me something about what they did the first time you saw a Japanese dead body, when you had to get the things off the dead body. Can you tell me about that? There was something they did for you.

EM: Well, the first time that we got into action and then we saw --

LD: Tell me where you were. The first time you got into action, you were where?

EM: We had just left, we had got into Burma, and must have been about... maybe about a couple of weeks, I guess, after we had got into Burma, forgot exactly the dates or anything like that. But I think it was a place called Walawbum, and places like that, where we had our first action. And we heard the firing ahead and everything, and all of a sudden it was spasmodic firing, and then all of a sudden silence, and then, what do you call, go ahead signs. So we started moving forward, and then for the first time I saw some dead bodies there, in uniform. It was kind of hard to look at bodies like that, but then we're passing by, you have to look, and I saw they were Japanese soldiers. And for our work, like for myself and my partner, the other Nisei fellow, would be to sort of check for the bodies and see, look for identification. And, of course, the main thing was to look for identification of who would be in that area, what units or whatever, what military units would be in that area and all that. And maybe an idea as to whereabouts it would be, looking for papers and all that. The fellows that I was with told us, "Keep going, Eddie. We'll get the things for you." So later on, they would show us some of the things they had gotten. Because the thing was, the way that they kept the soldiers away from the bodies was that watching the bodies could be boobied, you see. Then if someone, firing is done, and then right after that you see bodies, there's no, nobody's going to be able to put booby traps on that. But that was a good excuse to keep people moving, you see. But then would be my task, so [inaudible] to look for something. And at first, of course, I thought maybe because they didn't want us to look at the bodies or turn the bodies because we being Niseis and those being dead bodies of Japanese soldiers, would be too much for us. Well, it wouldn't be too good, I guess, in a sense, racially and all that. They probably thought in that fashion, I don't know, see. But they told us to, "Go ahead, we got the things," of course, meaning that whatever can be found can be passed on to us later.

LD: Bodies in the jungle putrefy very vast. They're infested with... what do they call those worms? It's a very ugly business, and very unpleasant. So it's not anything anybody would want to do, but it was your job.

EM: Yes.

LD: Could you tell us that... I know this only from having read about it. The viewer doesn't know that. Could you tell us... you're in the jungle, you're in Burma, you're behind enemy lines. You're with Merrill's Marauders. What is your job, what is the situation, and what is it that your buddies did for you because they have some sensitivity and some concern for you, and knows about that. What do you think, why they did that. Put the... "I was..." you can start with maybe the subject is, and the way in which your fellow soldiers, who were not Nisei, have concern, consideration for you, or consideration for the other Nisei, but certainly consideration for you.

EM: Yes. Soon after we entered Burma, in our march from India to operate behind Japanese lines, we encountered our first action with the Japanese. I was with a group that's sort of behind. The advance groups were more patrols than anything else, and they were the ones that got into with the Japanese troops there. Well then after some firing, everything got still. Well, during the firing, we all stopped, and when the firing stopped, we started moving again, they told us move forward again. And then after a short while of walking, then we came to the point where action had taken place, and saw the bodies. And, of course, I and my buddy were there to take care of what we call the military intelligence. In that sense, it was our jobs to find or search for any kind of intelligence materials. And when we came across bodies, then work -- not work, but what we should be doing would be to see whether we can find any kind of paper or some identification on the dead soldiers for, to give us war intelligence on what would be in front of us. However, the fellows that we were with, the regular white soldiers, the ones that we had become very close with, didn't want, they felt that it would be very, very difficult, very hard for us as Niseis to be searching Japanese soldiers, bodies of Japanese dead soldiers. And so they, when we arrived at the point where the bodies were, they told us, "Keep going, we'll get the things for you." So they wouldn't let us stop there to take a look. So we kept on going, and later on, they brought things back to us something. Of course, I would say my buddy was a damn good linguist, so at least we sort of verified what would be ahead of us and all that.

LD: You're saying they searched for things like diaries and papers?

EM: Anything, yes.

LD: Anything like that.

EM: And sometimes there were things that are attached to the clothing, you can see what units they belong to or things like that.

LD: So three things they did for you. They tried to spare you the feeling of looking at another Japanese dead person. They were trying to spare you the danger of being, lifting a booby trapped body, maybe, and they were trying to spare you the unpleasantness of any dead body. They did all that for you.

EM: Yes.

LD: Why did they do that for you? You must have developed a good relationship with them.

EM: Yes. The relations were such that I would say we were really close buddies with the fellows that we were working with in the jungles. Of course, this all started from the time that we got on the same ship with them from San Francisco to go over to, get over to India, where we were supposed to train for our general warfare, for our jungle invasion.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

LD: Let's put you at Savage and the first time you're approached. In fact, let's talk about the fact that you flunked the test and shouldn't have been going at all, right? So why did you get pulled in and what did they say to you about that? Pulled you in, right? That's kind of interesting, why don't you tell us about that? How you got, what they said to you about why they said you.

EM: Okay, how shall I start now?

LD: Just say, "I was... they pulled me out of the 100th Battalion to go to language training and I actually flunked the test." Put it that way.

EM: 100th Infantry was at Camp McCoy. The language school at Camp Savage sent out some of the instructors to test the Japanese ability, Japanese language ability of the Niseis in the 100th Infantry. And, of course, they didn't check everybody, but they did make some selections -- not some selections, but they interviewed most of the fellows in the 100th Infantry. And I was one of those, so I was called in for a Japanese language test. And this was verified later on, that I flunked the test. I was one of many who flunked the test that they had given, the language test. And as a result, I never thought that I would go to this language school. And yet, about a week later, after the language test was given at Camp McCoy, the commanding officer of our 100th Infantry Battalion called me in and said, "Sergeant Mitsukado, you will be leading a group of about sixty to Camp Savage." I said, "Camp Savage? Where the hell is Camp Savage?" And he says, "Well, I don't know where it is, too, but it's in Minnesota somewhere, and they have a language school, a Japanese language school." And he says, "You will lead this gang to the school." So he says, "Make sure that you round up all the fellows who are supposed to go," you're responsible to make sure that all, I think there was about sixty of us from the 100th Infantry to go there. So then I told the colonel, I said, "How come? Something's wrong here." He said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Goddamn it," I said, "I flunked the test. I'm no Japanese linguist. I don't know too much Japanese." And the colonel said, "I don't know, your name is on the list here. So knowing you, Eddie," says, "I'm getting you to take this group to be responsible for taking this group of sixty to Camp Savage." I said, "Gee, how come?" I said, "I flunked the test and everything. Colonel," I said, "when I get there, can I ask for a return back to 100th?" He says, "Well, you can, I don't know what good it's gonna do, but you can try it."

So I took the group up to Camp Savage, and then I went to see Colonel Rasmussen, who was the commandant of the school there, and asked him, told him that I had no business being in the school there. And he asked why, so I told him that I had flunked the test and all that, and that I wouldn't be the right kind of material for the school here. But he told me, he says, "No." He says, "Look, we're not taking only those who know the Japanese language, but we're taking those who also know the English language, too." He says that, "You have showed that you can talk with the fellows, talk with the boys and everything, and that you're very familiar with, back in Hawaii you talked with everyone with the 100th Infantry. You get along very well with the boys, and you can talk to every one of them, even the fellows who don't know too much Japanese," I mean, too much English. He said, "You can talk to them," and this and that. So the main thing is that we wanted some people who would be able to work with fellows who know a lot of Japanese and not enough English. Said, "Maybe you can make a good combination." Because even if you don't know too much Japanese, if your ability to talk in that Hawaiian pidgin and all that, you might be able to help out a fellow who knows Japanese very much, very well, but not able to put it into English, which would help the outfit, to help whoever you are working for.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

LD: There was also, when you were at Camp McCoy, one of your buddies found out his father was locked up there.

EM: Oh, yeah. Well, at Camp McCoy, all of a sudden one day, during lunch break, one of the fellows came barging in, throwing his gun down and throwing his hat down and yelling and saying, "Get me some beer," and all that. So a fellow that I knew very well, so I went to him and I said, "What the hell is wrong with you?" He says, "Eddie," he says, "goddamn..." well, of course, we knew each other real well, so we call each other by first names. "Eddie," he says, "goddamn it, look, I have an American uniform on. I've been drilling, we've been training out there. And today, what do you think I saw?" he says. "Across the fence," he says, "I saw my father, I saw my dad." Says, "What the hell, they've got my dad as a prisoner over there, I'm over here as a U.S. soldier in a uniform, and getting ready to go out and fight for my country here, U.S." Says, "Goddamn it, I can't understand it." And he says, "What the hell can I do?" and that's why he was yelling around and kind of losing his head and everything. So I told him, "Look, let's go have some beer." I don't drink, but got him out, out of the way, and got some beer for him and sort of calmed him down and told the captain, "We've got to calm this man down here."

So I talked to him and everything and he says... and his father used to be the principal of a Japanese language school in Honolulu at that time. And just because his father was a Japanese language teacher and everything, they thought maybe he was dangerous, so he was one of those that they gathered, collected in Hawaii and took over to a special camp for, well, for confinement anyway, so that they wouldn't be able to get out or do any damage as they thought they might do. All kind of suspicions and everything. And so this fellow was really all lost, he was emotional, and there was no way you can blame him for even crying. "What the hell," he says, "goddamn it, what the hell can I do now?" So I told him, "You have to more or less get yourself down, your father's out there, yes, and you're over here. But the only way you can help is get out there and show yourself, that's what we're supposed to do, prove ourselves and all that." He was swearing away this and that, said, "Goddamn son of a bitches," this and that. But then he finally settled down, and, "Yes," he says, "I'm going to prove myself and get my dad out of there, get my father out of that place when the war ends." And he sort of really cooled himself and became a very serious soldier. And to this day, now, I haven't met him since the war ended and everything, I don't know whether he's back in Hawaii or whether he... he went to the 100th Infantry to Europe, and I don't know whether he's still living or not. But as I say, it's one of the most striking incidents that affected practically the whole battalion. Because everybody heard about it, said, "Gee, man," it was an uproar.

But the funny thing, or the strange thing is that there wasn't a single guy that said, "I give up, I don't want to fight anymore." And, in fact, they were much, they were even, they were ready to show that they can fight with another division, a Texas division that was in the same camp with us, that was 2nd Division. And, of course, every time we went into town, every time the 2nd Division people went into town, we got into fights. But when 2nd Division left before us, the general came over and told us that the boys were, had a lot of respect for the Hawaiian unit here. They had a lot of fight with the Hawaiian boys, but they respected them for their, what do you call, fighting ability. At least they weren't afraid to fight, that's the thing. So they wished us good, well, and we wished them well, too. Because at one time, in fact, things went so bad between the fellows in the 2nd Division and us, they almost had a battle there. We had our guns and everything ready, too. And their answer was that they're gonna come down and "kick the shit out of us." But things got settled down, and we got to be good friends.

LD: Where you fighting about?

EM: Oh, just going drinking out there, and sometimes, of course, some racial slurs or something like that. But never got to a point where it became a wide open thing, I mean, as far as the racial slurs was concerned.

LD: The 100th got into a fight with somebody.

EM: Yeah, when they thought that, well, they call... "What the hell are these Japs doing here?" or something like that. But get into a fight and then nobody knows what the fight was all about. The 2nd Division guys would get in fights with us, they'll give us something and we'll pass on drinks to them, too, and all that. But things did happen, no question about that. And happened in Camp McCoy, too, when we're training to be soldiers to fight with the U.S. Army. But nobody really got hurt or anything, we wished them well when they left before us, and as I say, they came over and saw our commanding officer and told our commanding officer that they wished us well, they respected the unit, and aloha and all that.

LD: There were other fellows in the 100th who also had problems there, right? More than one guy.

EM: Yeah, more than one guy. Those things started coming out, see, later on.

LD: At that time, how many guys, do you think? They must have said it to the other fellows. You said the whole unit was in uproar.

EM: Yeah, well, just the fact that, well, we're all so close together. Well, that's the thing about Hawaii, see. It's a small place, people are, feel much closer to each other than I would say a place like Texas where the fellows were scattered here and there. But in our case, it was a small place, you're bound to know somebody who knows your friends. Or you're bound to know almost anybody, for that matter, at that time. The place wasn't that big at that time, and Japanese population was, I'll call it the... you know, the population wasn't too big. So we would know most of the families and know each other. But even if you didn't know the person personally, you would know the name and you would know where he came from and things like that. So there were others whose parents were in there, but I don't recall about how many of them, probably maybe half a dozen, maybe more, I don't know. I forgot now. But this person just so happened that he was with our unit, our company, and happened to be with our platoon.

LD: He didn't get to see his father?

EM: No, he didn't get to see his father.

LD: That's what bothered him?

EM: No, that didn't bother him. He'd rather not see his father, because it would make it harder for him, make it worse. So he never, I don't think he ever asked for special permission to see him like that. He went across the thing. He went and, as I say, I don't know exactly what happened after that, because I didn't go with the 100th over to the European side.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

LD: Let's go to the Merrill's Marauders. Let's go to, you are at Savage, and you're graduating, and you're a team leader, they want to make you the team leader, and they want you to organize something.

EM: Yes.

LD: What is it that they... what is it that Rasmussen, what does Rasmussen say to you? He's the CO, commanding officer?

EM: Yes.

LD: Okay. Say, "When I was at Savage, the commanding officer..." and graduating, right?

EM: We had graduated already, so they were making out assignments. So after we had graduated six months' training Japanese language at Savage, I was called in by Colonel Rasmussen, and along with me was Herbert Miyasaki, and we were told by Colonel Rasmussen that there's a special mission that had been worked out. And the special mission would need the help of interpreters, of people who knew the Japanese language. So he said, "What we want are volunteers for this mission, and," he says, "this will be a very dangerous mission, and," he says very seriously, "fifty percent should be able to come back, they will be lucky." He didn't think even fifty percent would be able to come back. So he says, "I want this only on a volunteer basis. Sergeant Mitsukado, do you think you can, will you organize a group of sixteen linguists including yourself?" Including myself, I was the worst linguist. But he says, "Including yourself." I said, "Fine." So I went out, I put out a sign asking for volunteers to a mission, to a very dangerous mission, return not guaranteed. And lo and behold, I thought the whole school had volunteered, because there were so many names on that list. Not only amazed me, but made me feel very good, that here we're asking for volunteers for a dangerous mission, where there's no guarantee you'll be returning alive, and yet, fellows in the school there, when they're studying language for six months, I don't know how many of them signed up, to tell you the truth. I know I saw so many of them, I just didn't, what do you call, didn't count or anything. It's only in talking with other people, I finally got fifteen names other than my own self, making that a group of sixteen.

Well, at that time, another very unusual thing happened. While I was asking for volunteers, before I took down the poster, I got a call from a hospital nearby, a hospital where one of the fellows was... he had been in there for about a couple days or three, I forgot how many days, anyway, for hemorrhoid operation. And he called me specially on the phone, and I didn't know him from Adam, too, because his Japanese was way over my head, he was way up in the higher classes, about class 3 or something. He was Herbert Miyasaki's class there. And he told me, gave me his name and everything, and told me that, "I want to volunteer, too," he says, "but I'm in the hospital, I can't go there and sign my name." He says, "Will you please take my name down?" And the way he talked and everything, I was so much impressed that I told him, "Yes, I'm taking your name down, but I will put you down as one of the volunteers." And, well, I don't mind mentioning his name, it's a fellow named Jimmie Yamaguchi. He was out in Japan, too, and he got married to a Japanese girl and everything. He was very, very helpful in the campaign.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

LD: You have all these people wanting to sign on, and you're going to have to make choices, you and Herbie, to pick 'em. So what are you looking for? What qualities are you looking for, I mean, besides the language skill, which is obviously important. You've got to find somebody who speaks good Japanese, strong Japanese, you want somebody strong in English, I know those things. But what qualities are you looking for for this thing? What personal qualities? Let's start with, you have a lot of guys wanting to sign up, and we had to make our choices, what's the basis?

EM: The questions I asked was about different persons.

LD: Start with, "We had a lot of guys."

EM: We had a lot of guys, and a lot of guys wanted to go, they all had signed up. They all... well, they didn't even read the thing about "your return would not be guaranteed," no guarantee about your return and all that. So the only way I could pick the fellows up were to look for fellows who I thought would have... not so much because I knew, the fellows that, if they had signed up already, that they had guts and everything. It wasn't a matter of guts and everything, but what I was looking for then was fellows who would have good intelligence, of course, fellow who could think on his feet, and fellows with a reputation of being a very smart guy and this and that, not only in the language. And then, of course a fellow who was very cheerful, fellow who had a good sense of humor. And again, I was looking for a fellow who would have some sense of ego too at the same time. Because without the ego there, the fellow would not be what you call, showing... even if you had some initiative, you might hold back on initiative and all that. I wanted a fellow who would be able to come right out, fellow like Herbie, fellow like Russ Kono. They don't, fellows, they didn't seem to... Herbert being aside, but the others don't seem to be fellows who would be putting themselves forward. They don't have to put themselves forward, they would be fellows who were aggressive enough in their own way of doing things. They would come out and say, well, should be this way. They were honest enough to come out and, in a sense, the quality of honesty.

Those were the things I was looking for, language ability being on the side, because what I was looking for also was language ability and combination, that's the reason we had some fellows like Jimmie Yamaguchi, who was more the Japanese language than the English language. Then we had other fellows like [inaudible], turned out to be a very well-balanced team. I wasn't looking for any heroes. Because anybody who's going to sign up, I was pretty sure that that man was already brave enough to sign, well, fine, that man showed his courage already. I didn't have to think about his courage. I didn't have to think about whether he would be a good soldier or not. Because after all, it's not the uniform, it's the guy that's in that uniform I felt would be the person to be with, the fellows I would like to be with myself in this case, Herbie and Akiji, with Russ Kono, with Jimmie Yamaguchi, people like that.

So it turned out that... and this was never done by deliberation or in a pre-fixed way, that is just by accident I happened to pick seven fellows from the States and seen fellows from Hawaii, including myself, of course, from Hawaii. Nothing was premeditated or was done in that fashion, "He's from States, got to be one. He's from Hawaii, we got one." Everything was just one pile, and without thinking, without thinking about where the person was from, was the way I picked the fellows. There was no selection for area. I mean, there was idea whether being from Hawaii, I would pick only fellows from Hawaii or something like that, but it wasn't that. Just by coincidence, I just picked seven and seven.

LD: How do you think the fellows did? These are the fellows who became Merrill's Marauders.

EM: They were excellent. Good language ability, both English and Japanese. Of course, a couple of fellows like Jimmie weren't too good in English, but good enough to be able to explain things and everything to anybody who needed that information. And they were fellows that you could talk to, fellows that you can play with, and fellows you can drink with. And not fellows that would lose their head so that it becomes obnoxious or become... some fellows you drink with, and after a while you want to sort of get him on the side or something, get away from there. But these were regular fellows, turned out to be. Fellows that they were sure, they were smart, people that could think, people that had consideration for others, all that. Turned out to be real, what they called, normal fellows, I would say.

LD: Why do you think so many guys wanted to sign on?

EM: Well, I think strictly because the Niseis who were in camp then, they were ready to go and everything. And they were, what do you call, their friends or colleagues or families were in different camps, different, what do you call those places, concentration camps.

LD: Relocation centers.

EM: Relocation centers, right. Those relocation centers. So I guess they wanted to prove that we should not be under suspicion, I think. To let the rest of the U.S. know that they were really good Americans, too, they were willing to volunteer for service, something that they could do. So they could prove themselves, too, that they were doing something for their country.

And I doubt that they, like myself, too, they were thinking in terms that they were fighting Japan at that time. I mean, it could be fighting Italy or fighting Germany or something, except, of course, when you come across any kind of fighting in, what do you call it, Southeast Asia or in the Pacific or something like that, there's no question, as soon as you see something on the other side, and see who the other side is, you become sensitive to that, there's no question about that. As myself, I'm not thinking about, too much about the fact that the other side is my own race, I'm thinking in terms, you know, that they're against us and we're against them. I think that was the general, I would say was the general idea that the fellows in the school had at that time, and they just wanted to get out to prove themselves, and they were ready to. And that's the reason, as I say, even in the commandant's office, everybody else were completely surprised, completely taken aback. They thought they would have to assign these people to go out, well, you'll be going outside, so you're assigned to so and so. Well, then nobody said anything, sure, they'll be going with the assignment. Because that's all that's ready, so it's fine. In this case, you'll be asking for volunteers. And it's already said in the beginning, it's a very dangerous mission, return not guaranteed, and, of course, as Colonel Rasmussen told us, if fifty percent should come back, you'll be lucky, he says. So that's the way I put it to the fellows who asked me about it. And yet, with all the signatures, it's more than enough. I don't know how many signed.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

LD: That is amazing. Let me ask you one final question. A lot of the Nisei tell, the mainland, say that their kids don't know the story, kids haven't asked. And a lot of Nisei who were locked up, they don't want to talk about that whole period, it's full of bad feelings. So they don't even tell 'em about their own time, time, work, military. What would you want your kids or your grandkids to know about that experience of yours? I mean, everything that you went through, if you had a couple, just few things that you want them to understand about that time, what the Nisei went through, and what you guys did, what you had to do, you felt you had to do. What kind of things, what do you want your...

EM: I'd like to have my children to know that human beings are human beings, that is, know everything that can be told. Because I don't want my children -- well, don't have my children -- I don't want my children to think that, for instance, that putting America on the, well up there, on stage, and saying, "This is an ideal country," so and so. It's a great country, yes, but as far as people are concerned, and putting the country in the backside here, that no matter where, in America, too, or in Japan, too, people have their failings because they're people. They have certain, they are brought up certain ways, and then for some reason or other, they learned about other countries, and then maybe the other countries are not the same kind of country, of course. Positions different, but then some countries you learn to sort of, maybe look down upon, and other races you look down upon, too, and other races you sort of look up to. All kinds of complexes that come in.

And I think that they should be told all those things because they can be... I don't think that's right to give the children, not only the American children, but I would say children all around the world. After all, people are living in this world here, they got to learn that people are people and they can get along together if they'll forget this damn idea of race and all that. And then if they can do that, they wouldn't be having these so-called, well, the only thing I could say is call it racial hatreds or racial complexes. If they can forget that, it'd be fine. But I think it's a good idea that our kids, the Niseis who went in camps, our parents who were in the camps and all that, relocation camps. I think the young kids today should be told about those things so they'll know that even in America, things like that happen. America is not a perfect country, it's like any other country, too. And I think that's the way we should like to look at things. Because there's no country, no people are what we call perfect. Sure, even South Africa is having problems now. And yet, we have to help them, not... I don't think we should cut them down or anything. I think we should give them as much help as we can to fear themselves. And I think the same things in the States, I want the kids to know what happened so they'll know, so that things like that won't happen again. I mean, if people know, it'll take some thinking before they'll do things over again, do it once more, things like that, bad things. Bad things have to be shown, things that are not right, things that are wrong.

LD: Did the war, your wartime experiences have some particularly lasting effect on you? Is there something about you that changed because of what you went through, or was different?

EM: Yes. Well, to tell you the truth, in my case, it's very true. Because if it weren't for the war, I probably would be, still be somewhere in Hawaii, living the life, a comfortable life maybe. But not knowing what they call too much about the outside, that is, limiting myself to a very small place. And I think, in a sense, what this war did to me was to really make me, what do you call, look at the world in a bigger sense, a broader way, that there are other people, you get to know them. I got to know a lot of different people, people in Canada, people in England, people in China, people in India, people down in Southeast Asia, my friends down in Malaysia, people in Singapore, people in Thailand, at that time it was called Siam. I've been around, I feel that I've been around here and there, and it's given me a much more balanced picture of how people think or how people operate against each other and all that. And I think, to me, it's helped me to form a very, well, as far as I'm concerned, a fixed opinion that this is a very wide world, and there a lot of other people. You can't be what you call, just sitting by yourself in your own little room or something and feel that everything's going fine. You have to be aware that there's a big world out there, a lot of country's around you, there are lot of people around you.

And unless... if the war hadn't happened, of course, in my case, I probably would be in this little place in Hawaii there, not knowing very many people, outside people. But probably be having a comfortable life there, and maybe happy for that matter, but then when I look at it now, that kind of happiness would not be happiness for me. I like it now better because I've been in Japan, I know Japan. I didn't know the language itself very much. The first time I ever came to Japan was after the war and everything. And I've learned to like and learned to love this country, I've learned to love the people here, I get along very well with them, too. And I've been around to the other places during the war and everything, I know that all around, you can make so many good friends and all that. And you just can't be tied down to just one little place. And otherwise, if you're just in one place, your mind doesn't broaden out.

And I think the greatest effect on me was getting around from a small little place in the Pacific, being able to get around throughout the world almost, and to be able to see better what this world is like. It's not that I'm going to make a big reform or big change or anything like that, but if I can do that, maybe others, which is we're getting to this situation where you can always travel around now without any problem. I think that's... and knowing other countries and other people too, and knowing about others, I think we helped a great deal in preventing all this kind of fighting and warring between nations. Well, I guess, to me, it's knowing others, knowing other people, is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1986 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.