Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: George Murakami Interview
Narrator: George Murakami
Interviewer: Steve Ozone
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 13, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-mgeorge_4-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

SO: So you joined the Air Force. What happened with them?

GM: Well, I went to basic training right near home there at Parks Air Force Base in Oakland. And then I went to Biloxi, Mississippi, for radio training. I thought I was going to go to a radio maintenance type of thing, and I found out it was radio operations, you know, where you learned Morse code and that sort of stuff. And after that I was feeling pretty good. I was being sent to Japan, but actually it was a detachment from Japan on Iwo Jima and that was a one-year duty there.

SO: Did you have much contact with people outside the base?

GM: Not in Biloxi, no.

SO: In Iwo Jima.

GM: Well, no, that is strictly military. No civilians on the island. Yeah, it was just strictly military. The Air Force, Army and Coast Guard were there. But I did have contact with some Japanese workers there. They were still salvaging some of the wrecks there, digging up copper, and I had a chance to talk to some of them.

SO: So for a whole year on the island?

GM: Yes. Well, I was sent to Japan for rest and recuperation for a couple times.

SO: And then what about after Iwo Jima?

GM: After Iwo Jima, I applied for Hawaii at Hickam Air Force Base there. And I spent another year there, and that was pretty good duty because off duty I could go visit my cousins and enjoy the sights and stuff there. And then from Hawaii I volunteered for duty in New York someplace. I just wanted to get discharged in New York and then travel back to California, but I got sent to Minneapolis, Camp Snelling.

SO: And so you were still in radio communications?

GM: Yes, I was still in radio communication. At Hickam Air Force Base I worked the communications with aircrafts that were in that area, mostly airplanes that were coming from the United States, flying over, and we would receive operation reports from the plane. They would have to check in every hour as they flew across. They didn't just come over. I don't know how long it takes now in a jet, but then it used to take hours and hours to get there. But at Fort Snelling, I was actually a backup for I think the U.S. had this thing called Dew Line up through Canada to watch for missiles or planes coming from Russia. We were just a backup for regular communication. If that got disrupted somehow, we would communicate by radio, Morse code, and still get positions of aircrafts or whatever, and they would plot aircrafts that went through... you've seen on these movies, the great big boards? Glass boards that write positions on them? That's what they were doing, and we were backup for them.

SO: At Fort Snelling, by the time you were there, MIS was moved.

GM: Yes.

SO: What was the base life like?

GM: Base life was pretty civil. You lived in a barrack and you had a mess hall there, but you had duty time and we usually worked around the clock. We worked six hours on, then twelve hours off. Six hours on, twelve hours off and then you get a day off or something like that. So you came and you went as you pleased. You just had to be there for duty. We didn't have parades. It was a pretty small unit. And actually we were a small group of radio operators compared to whatever they had then. There was also an attachment of Air Force fighter pilots, fighter squadron there also but I wasn't associated with any of that.

SO: Where was the field?

GM: It was where the airport is now. I think they still have National Guard and stuff.

SO: So, I don't know how long Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport has been there, but had that been built?

GM: Yes. It was still there. They basically used the same airstrip, I think, but the Navy was also there and the Air Force. I think they still do.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.