Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Yoshimi Matsuura Interview
Narrator: Yoshimi Matsuura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Date: June 17, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-myoshimi-01-0025

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TI: Okay, so let's go back to being drafted. And so you were drafted, where do you go?

YM: Yes, that was after my wife joined me here in Minneapolis. And after she got here, here I'm finally settled, she's settled, and I get a notice, "Report for draft physical." So I went to the armory and they took me over to Fort Snelling and I passed the physical July 1st. And he said, the person over there in charge looked at me and said, "We're sending you home, go back to your job." I told them, "I just quit my job to get in, go over here for the physical." And he said, "Well, we don't know where to put you, so go on back to your job." I said, "Okay, so I went back to work." I called my boss and my employer and told them that they were sending me home, can he use me? He said, "Sure, come back, we want you." So I went back to work. And a month later I get a draft notice again, "Report for draft." So that's when I decided, well, okay, then I will volunteer for Camp Savage MISL. I didn't want to go to Europe with the 442nd, I'll take a chance in the Pacific. So that's when I settled for MISL.

TI: Explain your decision of wanting to go to Pacific versus Europe. What was...

YM: We lost quite a few of our friends already in Europe, from hometown friends, people we grew up with were already gone. And the averages weren't good, so I decided this Fort Snelling, or Camp Savage and Fort Snelling would be nine months of school, Japanese language school, military language. And nine months, many things could happen in nine months. So I decided, playing the odds there. So I went to Fort McClellan (for) thirteen weeks of basic training. And while I was at basic training there, towards the end of the training, I had one of my closest friend, Yeichi Hiyama was his name, who I grew up with in school. And practically a neighbor, we worked together, summertime we played together. He was drafted earlier, and he was with the 33rd Battalion and he was going to be shipped to Europe. And for whatever the reason, they called me in to the day room, said, "You have a visitor here." And it was Yeichi, I couldn't believe it. And he was getting ready to ship out. I told him to volunteer. "Let's change it, let's volunteer for Camp Savage, MISL." And he said, "No," he said, "I'm not going to the Pacific, I'm going to go to Europe." In fact, they had a large picture (his father in) a Japanese naval uniform in the living room. And about three months later, he was killed in Italy. It was sad, I got a telegram from my sister, I believe it was, that said that he was killed in action. And I had just seen him, and it was just sad, really sad.

TI: You almost had a, almost like a premonition, wanting him to go to the MISL rather than...

YM: Well, the big thing was I knew what the odds were. There weren't that many being killed in the Pacific as an interpreter. But because there was a fewer number, of course. And chance of being taken prisoners, yes, I think that was in his mind, taken prisoner. But that's the odd that you work against. But you go to Europe, there's bullets, they don't care who you are, you're gone. So he was killed right there. So he didn't listen to me, he's gone. It's pretty sad when you think about all your friends that are gone like that, what the family goes through.

TI: Yeah, 'cause these are young men, just starting their lives.

YM: Yeah, that's right. Matter of fact, (he) just got married.

TI: Did you ever have that conversation with your wife and the dangers of going into the army?

YM: Well, I don't think we really discussed that. Because it was gonna happen, it's gonna happen, and we didn't want to get too... that was something that's unforeseeable, we didn't want to get into that. You figure you're gonna come back.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.