Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Dave Kawamoto Interview
Narrator: Dave Kawamoto
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary); Frank Chin (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 1993
Densho ID: denshovh-kdave-01-0003

<Begin Segment 3>

FA: In Heart Mountain, Dave, when word of the draft and reinstitution of the draft came down, what was your first awareness of the Fair Play Committee and the draft resistance?

DK: Can you repeat the question?

FA: Sure. How did you first become aware of the draft resistance in Heart Mountain?

DK: I became first aware of the draft being instituted in the camps through the camp newsletter, or newspaper. And, well, before they instituted the draft, as you all know, we were classified 4-C as an "enemy alien." So that had to be clarified first, before they could classify us 1-A. So when I found out, I wrote to the draft board asking they straighten out my classification. But did you know that I never got a response from the draft board?

FA: So you didn't hear back from them, so how did that affect your feelings when you read in the Heart Mountain Sentinel that they were going to reinstitute the draft for the Nisei, and you had already tried to enlist?

DK: Well, that all the more soured me on enlisting voluntarily into the segregated service.

FA: Spell it out for me, Dave. Why did that sour you? Spell it out.

DK: Well, first we were evacuated without due process of law and held without trial, and now they want to draft us. I don't think that was right. I think they should have clarified our status before even attempting to draft us.

FA: So did you, when did you decide that you weren't going to obey this draft, or the idea of the draft from the government?

DK: Well, as soon as I heard the news, or read the news, I was determined not to go.

FA: Dave, why were you determined not to go?

DK: Because our status as a citizen was not clarified. I think if we're gonna go fight, we should have the right as any other citizen to be able to travel on your own wherever you want to go.

FC: When you were evacuated, did you feel you were being treated like a criminal?

DK: [Laughs] Oh, definitely. I was devastated when we were evacuated; we had to walk between the soldiers with their bayonets out. And here we are, only two luggage, and older people, there were more older people and young kids. And then they had the jeep with a mounted machine gun behind these soldiers, going back and forth on both sides. And we had to walk through that to get to the train.

FC: Were you wearing your luggage tags? Family tags?

DK: Family tags, yes.

FC: Would you describe those tags?

DK: Well, at that, the family tags at that time, I believe it had just a name. I don't recall if we were given a number yet.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.