Densho Digital Archive
Preserving California's Japantowns Collection
Title: Louie Watanabe Interview
Narrator: Louie Watanabe
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary); Jill Shiraki (secondary)
Location: Sacramento, California
Date: December 8, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-wlouie-01-0035

<Begin Segment 35>

TI: So when you were in camp, you mentioned your brother got drafted. But before that, there was a period where, I think the term was called registration, or the "loyalty questionnaire."

LW: Yeah.

TI: Do you remember when that happened at Granada, when they came through and had people fill those out?

LW: Well, we didn't know what, actually, going on, whether to sign yes or no. Because the question was so tricky. So everybody kind of hesitate, and that's the reason a lot of people didn't volunteer. You get drafted, you have no choice, because were classified as class C or something like that, "alien," so we didn't have to worry about getting drafted. But then they changed the law, so that's the reason I got drafted, too.

TI: But were you drafted when you were at Granada or later?

LW: No, in Granada, my senior year.

TI: So talk about that. So you got drafted when you were in Granada. What happened next?

LW: We went to take a physical in Denver, we had to go to Denver to take a physical, so we took the train, and overnight, and take the physical and come back. But out of my group, there were about fifty of 'em. Maybe I and another guy was the only one that got rejected. I didn't want to argue why I was 4-F, I was glad I was, didn't have to go in the army.

TI: And so why were you disallowed or 4-F? What was the reason, did they tell you?

LW: I just put on the show that I was double-joined ankle and it kind of bothered me. I'll show it to you. See? See the ankle?

TI: Oh, so you...

LW: That was the excuse I made, but I got rejected, so I was happy. I mean, nobody wanted to go then, you know. People that wanted to go, they volunteered earlier, right?

TI: Because at that time you were drafted, it was a little bit later. I guess it was probably, a lot of people were being drafted to be maybe replacement troops for the 442?

LW: Right, yeah.

TI: And so it was probably, people would read about how many casualties, how difficult it was.

LW: Well, no, that time, the first group went overseas, but the time I heard of it, they were still training in Camp Shelby, Mississippi. And that friend of mine, that Matsuoka, he's second brother, he volunteered, and the parents were really mad at him. And the first thing I noticed, he was, got a notice he was prisoner of war. That's the last I heard of him. Then he ended up, after the war, he came out, he came out pretty good.

TI: And how about your parents? How did they feel about...

LW: They didn't say too much, they just left it for us, whether you want to go. They didn't say too much. It's not like, "You can't go." They're not that, really Japanese diehards.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright (c) 2009 Densho and Preserving California's Japantowns. All Rights Reserved.