Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: George Yoshinaga Interview
Narrator: George Yoshinaga
Interviewer: Alisa Lynch
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: August 10, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-ygeorge_5-01-0015

<Begin Segment 15>

AL: So you were talking about when you left that they were jeering you more than the resisters. Did you... what time of day did you leave? Were you one of those people who left in the middle of the night?

GY: No, I left at eleven in the morning. It was about thirty of us, they sent us to Camp Leavenworth in Kansas and then while we were sitting there they sent us to Camp Blanding in Florida, and being a country boy, that was really an experience for me to go to a place like Florida. [Laughs]

AL: I can imagine. What did your... did you see your mother again after you left that morning?

GY: No.

AL: Do you remember her last words to you?

GY: She just said, "Take care." And the thing was, she was sadder than I was, you know, at that age when you're going away, but I noticed she was really moved by when we left and they came down to the gate, my sister and my mother.

AL: So it's the last time you ever saw her.

GY: So when she passed away there's nothing I could do, you know.

AL: Do you ever, when you think back about that and the circumstances that brought you from the student body president and the football player at Mountain View High to leaving to go in the service and leaving your mom in the camp. I mean, that's obviously not something you could've envisioned would ever happen.

GY: But the thing is, that's why I when I think back lot of the things that are said today never occurred to me like, hey, my mother's locked up in camp and I'm fighting for the U.S.A. that locked her up. Those kind of thoughts never entered my mind. I was there, I said okay I'm going to go to war and do you know whatever I can. And so I tell these people that today when they talk about the "No-no boys" and I said, "What do you think would have happened to us," I said, "If all of us refused to go?" It would have changed our life completely I think, and because we went and served and the 442 did such a magnificent job, we were able to re-establish ourselves more quickly. And they can't answer that question when I ask these "No-no boys." That if we all refused to go, where do you think we would've ended up? I says, probably in Tule Lake and on a ship going back to Japan where we never been. [Laughs]

AL: What was... you said that going to Camp Blanding was a different experience for you, what was it like to be off the West Coast?

GY: Well, I could just sense the different type of thinking that people in the other part of the country have or had of Japanese Americans.

AL: In what way?

GY: Well, like when we were taking basic training we'd go on the weekend pass and we're in uniform and we run into say another group of Caucasians in uniform and they act like we were Japanese soldiers, they'd say, "Hey, there's some Japs, let's go get 'em." This happened so many times a lot of us refused to go on our weekend leave.

AL: So at Camp Blanding was that... you weren't a segregated unit there?

GY: We were.

AL: You were, but were there other units?

GY: We were being trained to replace the 442.

AL: So a lot of those guys were also though at Camp Shelby right? Is this just another... what was the relationship between Camp Shelby and Camp Blanding?

GY: I didn't have any relationship problems but the only thing was, as I said, when they came... I don't know if I mentioned this story to you but when they came down to give us a test.

AL: Right, you were talking about that.

GY: Yeah.

AL: So you at the time when you thought you were going to the 442, and after like Ted had been killed and other people, did you think at all about your own mortality that you might not come back?

GY: After Ted I lost two other friends, and at that time I started thinking, what's going to happen. I didn't give it that much of a serious thought but I would follow what they were... 'cause since we were training for replacements we used to get a lot of news about what they were doing in Europe.

AL: What were the names of your other two friends that you lost?

GY: The what?

AL: The other two friends that you lost?

GY: One was the first week in combat he was killed.

AL: Who was that?

GY: I guy named Yamamoto.

AL: Do you recall his first name?

GY: Jim.

AL: Jim Yamamoto. And what about the other man?

GY: That was Ted.

AL: Oh, Ted, okay.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright &copy; 2010 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.