Densho Digital Archive
National Japanese American Historical Society Collection
Title: Takashi Matsui Interview
Narrator: Takashi Matsui
Interviewer: Marvin Uratsu
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 12, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-mtakashi-02-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

MU: And then, is it from there that you got orders to go to Camp Savage?

TM: Yes. The way it came about was, we were not doing anything at Fort Warren, being assigned to the headquarters company. We were just moving old furniture and stoves and things like that from one end of the warehouse to another end of the warehouse, back to the same place. An old civilian used to tell us what to do every day. And so one day I was in a day room of the company, and happened to notice a little booklet, saying how to speak Japanese. And a friend of mine and I were looking at it, and found quite a few mistakes. And we were criticizing the book and I think a Caucasian sergeant heard us commenting on the book, and I believe he mentioned that to his company commander, who reported that to somebody, and so in about couple of weeks I had a -- three weeks or so -- I had an order to go to Camp Savage.

MU: Were you alone at that time?

TM: Yes.

MU: Or, others went with you?

TM: No, I was the only one who got that order. I wasn't sure whether I was being punished or what. And I didn't know what Camp Savage was, nobody knew. And I got on a train, and ended up at Camp, no, Savage, Minnesota. And a black porter says, "This is Savage, you get off over here, now." So I got off. And somebody was waiting for me there.

MU: A welcome committee, huh?

TM: Yeah, a committee of one. [Laughs]

MU: So what happened after that?

TM: Well, he took me to so-called Camp Savage, which was only a few blocks away. It didn't look like a camp, it looked like a... I don't know. Some kind of a rest area. I think that's what it was. And he took me to Colonel Rasmussen, who was the commandant of the area. And immediately he showed me a Japanese textbook and asked me to read. And I read, and he asked me, "What does it say?" So I told him in English what it said, and he said, "Oh, fine. I will assign you to A-1 class." And that was top class outside of special class at that time. The school was going on since June. And so it was halfway through. And the next day I went to class A-1, and there were fellows like me in the class. [Laughs] So that's how we started.

MU: You got to know the fellows pretty fast then, because they were all like you, similar backgrounds, huh?

TM: Most of -- to me, most of the students in there were Kibei boys. There were some so-called Nisei but I was able to get along pretty well with all of them.

MU: Now, with your background, MIS school must have been very easy.

TM: Yes, it was easy. Of course, the basic training was easy, too. But school work, learning how to read and write, and, of course, conversation was no problem. Military terminology was also no problem. And so it was a very easy life for me.

MU: How long did your class last?

TM: Our class ended in December, before Christmas.

MU: So that would be three months?

TM: Yes. Half of the school was over.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.