Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Arthur Nishimoto Interview
Narrator: Arthur Nishimoto
Interviewer: Alisa Lynch
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: August 22, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-narthur-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

AL: Today is the 22nd of August, 2012. This is the Manzanar National Historic Site oral history project, we're doing an interview with Colonel Arthur Nishimoto. The interviewer is Alisa Lynch, videographer is Kristen Luetkemeier, and before we begin, we'd like to just confirm that we have your permission to record this interview, to archive it in the Manzanar National Historic Site, and to use the information for educational purposes. Do we have your permission?

AN: Yes, go ahead.

AL: All right. Well, first of all I want to thank you very much for spending some of your day with us. And my first question is I'd like to ask you for your full name and when and where you were born.

AN: My full name is Arthur Keiichi Nishimoto. I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii.

AL: And what date were you born?

AN: Oh, I'm sorry. August 28, 1923.

AL: Okay. Happy birthday, it's almost your birthday.

AN: Yes, uh-huh. [Laughs]

AL: You said your middle name is Keiichi, how do you spell that?

AN: K-E-I-I-C-H-I. That's my grandfather's name.

AL: What is that, what do the characters translate as, do you know?

AN: I really don't know. The character... I used to know, but I forgot what it means. I can't recall. I remember my mother told me what it stood for, but, of course, there is a meaning to it, like honorable or something like that.

AL: Ichi, I know ichi is "one."

AN: Number one, yeah.

AL: So you're the "number one kei."

AN: Yeah, we'll I was the firstborn anyway in my family.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AL: Okay. So tell me about your family, your parents' names.

AN: Well, my father's name is Sadayoshi Nishimoto, and he came from the island of Shikoku in Japan. Japan is divided into four main islands, Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku and Hokkaido. Well, he came from Shikoku when he was about seventeen years old. He left Japan and joined with the young kids about, yeah, with the young teenagers that all went to Hawaii, adventuresome. And he got there and he started working as a houseboy, that's where he started, and of course later on he met my mother. My mother is a Hawaiian-born Japanese American, so she's a Nisei. So anyway, so he met her and then got married.

AL: What is your mother's name?

AN: My mother's name is Maogo Tsueno, T-S-U-E-N-O, Tsueno Nishimoto, Maogo Tsueno Nishimoto. Her maiden --

AL: And how do you spell Maogo?

AN: M-A-O-G-O, Maogo.

AL: Okay.

AN: They called her Maogo, yeah.

AL: And when... do you know the date of birth of your father, the date and year he was born, or approximately?

AN: I had it, I forgot. I knew when he was born.

AL: Do you know about how old he was when you were born?

AN: He died... of course, he died many years ago, but he died when he was at my age, eighty-nine years old, and so did my mother, same age, they were both about eighty-nine years old, they both were, when they passed away, yes.

AL: What was the approximate age difference between them?

AN: About ten years. My father was older than she was.

AL: Do you know the name of the village in Shikoku that your dad came from?

AN: I know the prefecture, Kochi-ken, K-O-C-H-I, it's one of the prefectures, Kochi.

AL: Do you know what his family did in Kochi? Were they farmers or merchants or fishermen?

AN: I really don't know. I can't recall. Yeah, I think they were farmers over there, yeah. My dad was. Of course, he was just a young boy when he left.

AL: How many children were in his family?

AN: As far as I know, just he and his brother, but they could have had more. I have the genealogy.

AL: Okay.

AN: I have the complete genealogy of both my mother and his side. That's another story, going through the genealogy.

AL: Yeah, it's always interesting to see how people's parents, why they came over. So your mom you said was born in Hawaii. Do you know where her parents came from in Japan?

AN: Yeah. Her parents, my grandparents, they came from Hiroshima, Japan. That's where they came from, Hiroshima.

AL: And do you know, were they married when they came to Hawaii, or did your grandfather come over first?

AN: Yeah, they were married when they came here, as far as I know. I got a, I gathered their genealogy, I have all the dates when they were born and where they came in, and when they were married. I can't recall right now, but I've got a whole slew of 'em. [Laughs]

AL: You have a lot of information. So what did they do in Hawaii, your mom's parents? Do you know what they did in Hawaii?

AN: My grandpa? He was a carpenter, he was a carpenter when he first came, that's what he did, carpenter work.

AL: Is that the grandfather that you're named for?

AN: Yeah.

AL: And what was his last name?

AN: Kurata, K-U-R-A-T-A, Kurata.

AL: Did your mom have brothers or sisters?

AN: Yes. She had, she come from twelve, twelve brothers and sisters. She's the oldest among the girls. She's the number three child, she had two older brothers, and then the rest. So there were twelve of them. And today, I have her sister, which is my aunt, who's younger than I am. [Laughs]

AL: When you have a big family, that's not uncommon.

AN: Yeah. So I guess her mother and my mother gave birth the same time. It was almost same time, to my aunt. So my aunt is about a week younger than I am. [Laughs] And she's living, and her sister, that's all. The rest of them, the ten of them already just passed away. In fact, my uncle just passed away a couple of weeks ago, he was ninety-five, and now my two aunts are the only ones left.

AL: Wow. So do you know, were your parents, was it an arranged marriage in Hawaii? Did they pick each other, or did they have...

AN: No, I don't think it was arranged. It was meeting together, I guess, as far as I know, yeah.

AL: Do you know about what year they were, got married?

AN: Yes, I was born in 1923, so they were married in 1922 or '21, in that area.

AL: You're the oldest. How many other children did they have after you? Could you give me your brothers and sisters and their names?

AN: My mother's...

AL: Your brothers and sisters, yours?

AN: My own?

AL: Yeah.

AN: I have only one brother and one sister, we have three children. My brother George and my sister Marion, that's all I have. So we were only three children in our family.

AL: Are they still living?

AN: Yes, they're still living.

AL: And did Marion, does she have a married name?

AN: My sister Marion? Yes, uh-huh. Her name is Kawasaki, like Kawasaki motorcycle, that's her married name.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AL: So could you give us just kind of an idea of your early childhood, some of your earliest memories of growing up in Hawaii?

AN: Yes, I had a very good, I had a very good childhood, I really did. In fact, I was almost spoiled with all the uncles and aunties I had. I had a real happy childhood. My mother used to, at least once a week, took me to the beach and let me play in the sand and get in the water. So I was practically raised on the sandy beach, because we weren't far away from Waikiki, and so I was, I had a very happy childhood.

AL: Where did you live in Oahu, I mean, in Honolulu?

AN: In Honolulu? I lived in a district called McCully, M-C-C-U-L-L-Y, McCully.


AL: Do you remember your address, approximately?

AN: Yeah, I know my address. It's 738 Hauoli Street, H-A-U-O-L-I, Hauoli Street. That's where I grew up most of the time, that's where my father built a new home there, and it's still standing there. That's where I grew up. It's near, it's very close to Waikiki. I used to walk from my home to the beach all the time, because I used to like to surf, and that's what I did. I just loved the beach.


AL: So you said you liked to surf. When you were a smaller child, before you were surfing... well, first of all, what is the difference in ages between you and your brother and your sister?

AN: My brother and I were three years' difference, and my sister and I, we're about seven years' difference.

AL: What was your neighborhood like? Was it primarily...

AN: Oh, we had a real nice neighborhood. I lived in a real nice neighborhood, yes. The area I lived in was really nice. My grade school was nearby, it's just a block away.

AL: What was it called, your grade school?

AN: Lunalilo. L-U-N-A-L-I-L-O, Lunalilo school. That's one of the old Hawaiian leaders, I don't know, whatever they called it. So anyway, that was my grade school there.

AL: Who else lived in your neighborhood, I mean, was it, like, ethnically a mixed neighborhood, or how would you describe it?

AN: My neighborhood were mostly Japanese Americans around the whole block. Yeah, mostly Japanese Americans. The people who lived there, the kids were all my age, too. So as I say, we had a good neighborhood, we had a good time together. We did bad things together. [Laughs] And so we had a lot of fun.

AL: What were some of the bad things you did together?

AN: Well, I tell you, some of the bad things we did was like, for instance, we were learning how to smoke cigarettes, you know. We had no business doing it, but said, "Well, let's try it." We thought we were real big boys, we'd try it. But that didn't last long. And another bad thing that I can remember is there was a friend of mine whose dad loved to smoke cigars. So one day we went together, and he went up and stole his father's cigars, and said, "Let's go down to the beach and smoke it." So we both went down to the beach and lay on the sand, and we start smoking. And before long, the whole world was turning upside down on us. [Laughs] Those are some of the things we used to do, you know. But it was fun. We were mischievous, but not real bad, you know. But we tried all kinds of things like that.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

AL: Did you go to a Japanese language school?

AN: Yes, I did. I went for, let's see now, probably through the fifth or sixth grade, and that interrupted my surfing hours in the afternoon, so I finally quit. And also, the only thing I enjoyed going to Japanese school was us kids were learning judo, we took lessons in judo, so that was interesting. So I went to the Japanese school to learn judo, that's about all. I finally told my mother I don't want to go anymore. I wish I did, though.

AL: What was, for somebody if they were not familiar with Japanese language school, could you explain the kinds of things that you would study and do in, like, did you study religion or history? What did you study in Japanese language school?

AN: Well, in Japanese we mostly, of course, we were in grade school level. So we had like normal American grade school stories, learn how to read, learn how to write the different characters, things of that sort. So I was, like I say, just going to fifth grade, so I didn't have much of an education. But when the war came, I regretted it. I wish I had completed, like some of the boys did, they finished their grade school and some of them went to high school in Japanese. And those were, most of those were the ones that went to MIS, because they learned, they can speak the language. And many families spoke the Japanese language at home. So all my friends were able to read and write letters during the war to their parents in Japanese. And I envied that because I couldn't -- of course, my mother was American-born, so I just wrote English. But I only wish I had learned a little more.

AL: Did your father speak English at home or Japanese?

AN: He spoke half and half, half and half. He was a little more stronger on Japanese.

AL: How often would you go to Japanese language school and how long would you stay?

AN: Every day for about an hour and a half, Monday through Friday, right after English school.

AL: What was the name of your Japanese language school?

AN: McCully, McCully Japanese Language School.

AL: How do you spell McCully?

AN: M-C-C-U-L-L-Y, McCully.

AL: Oh, I thought it was a Hawaiian name. [Laughs]

AN: No, no.

AL: It sounds Irish. It's a big help that you're spelling then names, we appreciate that. Because ultimately the interview will be transcribed, and it's helpful. So did your mother work outside the home at all, or was she a homemaker?

AN: No, she was strictly a homemaker.

AL: And were her parents still in Hawaii when you were growing up there? Did your grandparents live in Hawaii?

AN: Oh, yeah, they lived in Hawaii all the time.

AL: Did you get to interact much with your grandparents?

AN: Yeah, because my mother always used to take me over to Grandma and Grandpa's house. I went there quite often to play with her brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles.

AL: Tell me about your grandparents.

AN: My grandparents? Oh, they were... they were really nice to me, because my mother was the oldest, and I guess I was one of the first grandchild. So I was treated really nice by my grandparents, yeah. They really treated me very good, I enjoyed them. Too bad, because I didn't realize then, but my grandma died when she was only fifty-four years old, something like. I didn't know she was that young. To me, she was old, but she wasn't.

AL: When she died, did she leave behind small children?

AN: Yes, she left her family, of course.

AL: Were any of those children still, like, in elementary school?

AN: No. They were all grown up, yeah. They were pretty well grown up.

AL: And your family, like your grandparents, what was their... and your parents, what was their religious background?

AN: My grandparents? I believe that they were Buddhists. Buddhists, yeah. That's what they were.

AL: Do you know which sect of Buddhist?

AN: No, I really don't remember.

AL: But were they practicing Buddhists?

AN: I don't think so. They had their altar at home, so I guess you can say they practiced their religion.

AL: What about your father? What was his religious background?

AN: My father was a Christian so he went to Christian church in Hawaii. Old folks like my father, that age group, they have a Japanese Christian church. So he attended Christian church once in a while. Not every time, but he participated quite a bit.

AL: Was it any particular denomination of Christian?

AN: I think he just called it Japanese Christian church.

AL: Do you know, was he Christian in Japan or Christian after immigrating?

AN: I really don't know. All I know is when he came to Hawaii, I know he was a Christian.

AL: So in your own childhood, could you describe your religious formation as a child? Like did you go to Sunday school, did you go to Buddhist services?

AN: Well, as far as religion is concerned, I was free to act on my own. They didn't persuade me to do this, to go to this church or that church. They felt that the time will come when I will make my own decision, and that's what I did. I was free to join any church I desired to go. So they didn't force me, they didn't direct me, they said, "You're on your own on that."

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AL: Did your family celebrate, or I should say what kind of holidays did your family celebrate? I mean, like Christmas or did you celebrate Boy's Day? Could you describe some of the traditional holidays?

AN: Oh, yes. All holidays, no matter what. It was always a get-together with the family, with my uncles and aunt, we'd all go to picnic, we'd have a party at my home. I remember quite a few of those that my grandpa and all my uncles and aunts got together. Annually we had a family picnic, annually. We would go out to the park and we had a whole bunch of us get together, the whole family. After all, with twelve children all married, and all my cousins and aunts, we always had an annual picnic, that I well remember.

AL: What park did you go to?

AN: Oh, we went to, out in the country somewhere, what we call Kaawai, K-A-A-W-A-I, there was Kaawai Park. We used to go out to a country park, a nice park right on the beach. Those were fun days.

AL: Did your family celebrate Boy's Day?

AN: Boy's Day? Yes, they did, in a small way. Not like they do in Japan, but they did.

AL: So speaking of Japan, do you know any, the level of communication like between your father and his family or your grandparents and their family in terms of communicating back and forth with Japan?

AN: As far as I know, my father was communicating with his family or his brother. That's the only communication that I know. Probably my grandpa was also, but I wouldn't know. Yeah, that's what it was about.

AL: Did your family ever visit Japan before the war?

AN: Did what?

AL: Did you ever visit Japan before the war?

AN: My dad went back when he was single, before he got married. He made enough money to take a trip to Japan, he did. I think he did a couple of times before he got married.

AL: Do you think he had any plans to ever go back to Japan?

AN: No, I don't think so. Although that was a trend of most of the people that came from Japan, that they'll make money and then go back, but I don't know. Most of the Hawaiian people, people that came from Japan to Hawaii, once they started raising their families, I don't think they had any idea of returning there with their families. Because now they knew that the kids were Americans, and the only thing they would send their kids back to Japan is to go to school, which was a good idea, to send them to school. Mostly they went to college, college-age, and they'll send them to college. That's where, during the war, many of the kids that went back to Japan to go to college there, they got caught in the war. And those are the people that were forced to fight with the Japanese forces, and here they have their own family back home in Hawaii. So actually, if their brothers, one brother's fighting for the U.S.A. and the other's fighting for Japan. And we had several like that.

AL: Do you know... these are personal friends that you knew that that happened to, that got caught?

AN: I'm trying to recall. No. I know some that went back, but they didn't have brothers. But I learned later on that there were quite a few of 'em.

AL: So speaking of Japan, like when you went to Japanese language school, what did they teach you about the emperor? Did they talk about him at all?

AN: For me, since I was in grade school, it was strictly reading, writing and arithmetic, that's it. Not too much else. And maybe Japanese history, but I can't recall.

AL: And so your regular, your other school, was that a public school that you went to?

AN: Uh-huh.

AL: What was that like? I mean, who were the teachers, who were the students?

AN: Well, as far as the English school is concerned, regular English school like any other place. But the grade school in America, no difference.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AL: So when you were in school, when you were growing up in Honolulu, what was the U.S. military presence like? I mean, I know that Pearl Harbor used to be a fueling station, or coaling station. What was the military, the U.S. military presence like in the territory?

AN: Well, obviously they were stationed there for, as a key area where they needed to have armed forces, that's all air force, navy, army, all there. In case of something happening there, right in the middle of the Pacific, where they can reach out almost throughout the world from there. So strategically, yes, it was a key place for the armed forces to be stationed there. So it was good, we felt protected. And to this day, of course, we still need, it's right in the middle of the Pacific, a key place where you could jump off to any part of the world.

AL: So did you remember, like, seeing any of the ships, the military ships coming in and out, or any... what kind of things would you see of the military as a Hawaiian civilian?

AN: Well, to us it was a natural thing to see ships, military, air force, and all that. It was nothing new to us, it was just part of our everyday living. Let me add that the Japanese also used to come from Japan on their training, naval training ship that came from Japan to Hawaii. They trained with the navy. I still remember a couple of times they came over from Japan to give their cadets training in there. So Japanese also came. I went to, one day my dad took me over to see the Japanese naval ship come, you could see all the sailors, you know. I said, "Oh, boy, they all look Japanese, yes." [Laughs] But anyway, that was interesting. So that was part of their training from Japan to Hawaii, for the navy.

AL: Were they training with the U.S. Navy, or just training on their own?

AN: Oh, on their own. They were, Japanese, they were cadets, yeah.

AL: So I see a lot of old pictures of, like, sailors down at Waikiki, you know, before the war. Did you see much interaction socially like the sailors when they were just out visiting Waikiki, did you have much interaction with military personnel?

AN: No, I didn't. That was a common, common thing for just... it was a daily thing, all service personnel, whether they're air force, navy or army, you always, you just mingled with them. It was just part of our lives.

AL: What were race relations like in Hawaii?

AN: The race relations was, among the Hawaiian people, we were all unified. But one thing, yes, we did have a little prejudice against white people, we did. Somehow, I don't know where that came from, but there were some of the islanders that didn't care for the white people. But it wasn't that bad, but there were some ill-feelings, yes.

AL: And how did the non-islanders treat the islanders? Did you have any kind of racism between the, you said white people, between white people, how they treated Hawaiians?

AN: Yeah, just a little bit, yes. The islanders were a little prejudiced against the whites that were living in Hawaii. Yes, there were some, but nothing very serious that I know of.

AL: What was the best thing about living in Hawaii before the war?

AN: Well, for me, it was, like a lot of people say it's paradise, for me. Because I just loved... obviously I was born and raised there, so I just loved, I loved the lifestyle, easygoing, nothing, no pressure, because I was still young, so I didn't have much responsibility except play, so maybe that's the reason why I really enjoyed it.

AL: What was the worst thing about living in Hawaii at that time?

AN: Oh, I can't think of anything that's worst or bad. I can't think of anything. The only thing I can say is that too bad, we had to import a lot of things, food, things that we wanted, all had to be imported. However, that was all right because we had plenty. But that's one of the handicaps that we had, because we didn't have enough of our own, except that we shipped out a lot of sugar cane and pineapple. That was the industry. But other than that, we didn't raise the home crops.

AL: Did you ever visit any of the other islands?

AN: Yes, I did. I went to... I visited.

AL: Before the war?

AN: Yes, uh-huh. See, when we were, when I was in junior high school, in the summer, they would ask junior high school kids to volunteer to work in the sugar cane fields on a different island. And one summer I took that up. I went over to the Big Island and worked in the sugar cane fields, just for experience.

AL: What was that like?

AN: Oh, it was rough. I mean, as far as I'm concerned, I was a city boy going to the country in the fields and work, and I never had that experience. So my parents said, "You've got to go out in the field and see how they work, and so I did. It was a good experience, yes.

AL: What were the living conditions like?

AN: Oh, the living conditions good, like a regular plantation, with plantation homes, and all of us were assigned to plantation homes. And so it was fun, but a lot of hard work, then I found out how hard it is to be working out in the fields.

AL: Did you go with other friends in your neighborhood?

AN: Yes, my schoolmates, yes.

AL: So where did you go to junior high and high school?

AN: Well, junior high school was Washington, Washington junior high school, which was in my neighborhood. Then I went to McKinley High School in my neighborhood.

AL: And I meant to also ask you about, did you see any of the buildup, or what did you see of the U.S. military buildup like in the 1930s around... did you see any of the development of Pearl Harbor, any of the fields around there?

AN: No. Of course, I wasn't interested, so my attention wasn't there. I suppose they were building up always... all I know is that were always a strong navy, air force, and army stationed there. To us, that's part of our living. They were just part of our community, so I really don't know, I was too young to know whether they built it up or what.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

AL: What was high school like at McKinley?

AN: Oh, it was okay, it was fun. Again, I went over there to, regular high school kid, I wasn't really an outstanding student. But someone told me that I was listed one year on the honor roll or something, whatever it was, I didn't know. But I went there to participate in swimming for the high school and things like that. So I enjoyed my high school years.

AL: Any teachers or experiences that stand out for you in high school?

AN: No... my high school teachers were all good, they were really good, I enjoyed them. They were good people.

AL: What was the ethnic makeup of the teachers? Were they haole or white?

AN: Yeah, they were white, mostly white, yes. High school teachers were mostly white.

AL: Did you have, when you were in high school or younger, did you have a career goal of what you wanted to be when you grew up? Did you give that any thought?

AN: No, not really. In a way, I wanted to go into the field of accounting, and that's the reason why I went to a special private business school. But that was all changed because of the war. That was my goal.

AL: When did you graduate from high school?

AN: 1941.

AL: What month?

AN: In June. Oh, wait a minute. You know, my graduation was not there, because... I know. I quit in the middle of high school and went to private school before I graduated high school. And then war broke out, so I had to come back, instead of continuing, I went back to high school two years later. So I, actually, I'm supposed to be a 1941 graduate, but I think I graduated 1948 with my kid sister, because I remember jumping part of my high school senior year, I said, "No, I'm going ahead of my classmates," not realizing how important high school was. And I did that, and when I came back from war I said, "Wait a minute now, the high school diploma's important," so I went back again and then continued. [Laughs] So I was interrupted.

AL: You mentioned your sister who's seven years younger. How was her childhood different than you and your brother as far as being a girl?

AN: Oh, I don't know. I think she enjoyed both of us, two brothers. She had, all, my brother and my sister, we children had good family life, we really did, the three of us. And so we really enjoyed one another. There were no difficulty. And to this day, we're like that. We still love each other and we still care for each other.

AL: So did she go, like, to Japanese language school also with your brother? Did your brother go?

AN: No.

AL: How come? They didn't go?

AN: No, they didn't go at all.

AL: Was there a lot of pressure on you as the oldest son? You hear a lot in Japanese culture about the chonan, the oldest son, everything is focused on the oldest son? Is that true in your family?

AN: No, not really. I didn't feel that way at all. Of course, perhaps they expected me to perhaps lead out, but I just did my own, and what I did was good in their eyes, so they didn't force me one way or the other.

AL: Did your family follow the news at all in terms of what was happening in world events like when Japan invaded Manchuria or went to Nanking, any of those things that were happening in the 1930s? Did your grandfather, your father, your grandmother, follow the news and know what was going on with Japan?

AN: I'm sure they were. I really don't know, but I'm sure they had their ears to the radio and news. I'm sure they did, but of course I wouldn't know. Because the old folks obviously wanted to know what their own country's doing. They didn't forget completely, so most of the Isseis, dare I believe, kept up with what was going on.

AL Do you know, have any impression of sort of the feelings of your family in terms of how they felt about the expansion of Japan?

AN: Of course, they were alarmed like all the Japanese people. They couldn't believe it, neither could we. They just couldn't believe what was going on when they attacked Pearl Harbor. And so there were mixed emotions, and now they knew families like myself, we were at the age where we were going to be drafted anyway. And that's when, of course, we all volunteered instead of waiting for the draft, and that's what happened. So they said, "Go right ahead, this is your country, you're born here." So they didn't hesitate at all. They knew that all the loyalty is to whatever country you were born in. So there were no problems of us going to the armed forces.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

AL: What do you remember of December 7, 1941?

AN: Remember what?

AL: Of December 7, 1941. Could you tell us about that day, what you saw, what you heard on December 7th?

AN: Yes. Of course, that was early in the morning. I was getting ready to go to church, and all of a sudden I hear this roaring of the airplanes real loud. So I said, "I don't know where all this noise is coming from." So I stepped out of my home and looked up in the sky, and lo and behold, they were already descending toward Pearl Harbor. And I looked closely, and it was so obvious, they're low, I could see the plane with a big red dot on their wing. I said, "Why, this is Japanese. What are they doing here?" And as I look all around, they came from all different directions, and I could actually see the pilot, that low. They were just descending from where we were, just a few miles and there'd be Pearl Harbor. And so I thought, "Gee, something's wrong." So I climbed my garage roof to see. I know they were headed toward Pearl Harbor, so I looked toward there, toward Pearl Harbor, and lo and behold, from all directions, they were coming in and converging on Pearl Harbor, and I could see the plane just diving back and up. And before long, big huge smoke, black smoke, like mushrooms, and I said, "Uh-oh, this is bad. This is for real. They have been bombed." And it was a beautiful Sunday morning, blue skies, clear, had these big, black mushroom clouds started coming up. Then I knew that they were, we were in trouble. And so I watched that for a while and I said, "Oh, we're in big trouble now." I mean, right above my rooftop almost, they're coming down over. And so I had a firsthand view of it, of the attack.

AL: Were you able to hear anything? I mean, I know you could see it, but could you hear anything but the planes? Could you hear any of the explosions?

AN: Yeah, in the distance I could, very softly, because we were about twelve miles, fifteen miles away from there. It wasn't that far. Not that audible. But we could see very, I could see very clearly from my rooftop what was happening.

AL: You said you felt like "we were in trouble." When you say "we," who were you talking about? Your family?

AN: I'm talking about us islanders, all those who were living there. I was thinking about us, the residents, especially us Niseis, that we were in big trouble, younger generation. I was thinking about my age people and our parents, too. I guess I was just thinking generally of all the Japanese people on the islands.

AL: Were there other people who came out on the streets? Who else, what were the reactions that you saw around you in your neighborhood?

AN: Well, all around, just unfortunately, to this day, I really don't know what happened. But my neighborhood was bombed, because my grade school, drugstore, all the businesses, were blown up, and I had my friends' parents wounded, and so that's the only one in there as far as I know, Honolulu it happened. Where it came from, I don't know. But as far as I'm concerned, it was not one of the Japanese planes. The Japanese planes were in Pearl Harbor, not in my neighborhood. And to this day, I don't think anyone confessed when that happened.

AL: Do you think it could be the anti-aircraft?

AN: Our own anti-aircraft, I think, was short. It just happened to hit our neighborhood. It wasn't Japanese, I know it was not Japanese, there were no planes, they were all at Pearl Harbor. But during their raid, going back and forth, as far as I know, truth is, no one talks about that. But it just happened to be my neighborhood.

AL: What did you see? Did you actually see those bombs come down?

AN: Yeah, what I saw was the destruction. I ran down a couple of blocks from my home, and there was a fire all over the whole block. And so my friends, some were there to warn the parents. And so that's the only thing that was so close to us. But I don't know, no one talks about it.

AL: Did you realize, or at what point did you realize that the attack went beyond just the harbor? You know, Hickam Field, Kaneohe, and all of these other bases that were being attacked? At what point did you realize that it was more than just the ships in the harbor?

AN: Oh, there was no doubt in my mind, as soon as I saw the wave of planes there, I knew. I didn't hesitate for a moment what was going on. It was just obvious.

AL: Could you tell they were also attacking Hickam?

AN: Oh, yes, I could tell. I couldn't see it directly, but I know because Hickam and Pearl Harbor are next door to each other, so I knew that the whole area, Hickam Air Force base, the navy base, were being bombed, yes. I couldn't see it, but I could tell by the smoke and all the things going on.

AL: How long did the attack last?

AN: Gee, couple hours, I guess. I didn't time it, but the Japanese were having a field day. They were having fun, I gathered, because we weren't prepared at all. Not at all.

AL: Why do you think that is? Why weren't we prepared?

AN: Well, there's all kinds of stories on that. Probably miscommunication, or not paying attention to the planes coming in. We had radars and all that, but I guess it just... I guess we just weren't paying too close attention. Although there were indications that there will be some problems. But never thought that they would be attacking directly. So anyway, as far as I'm concerned, we were caught flat-footed. Maybe the higher-ups, they expected that, but not that I know of.

AL: Did you hear any, like, air raid sirens, or what kind of sounds would you have heard?

AN: There was no warning at all.

AL: What about after the attack started? Did you hear anything?

AN: Well, after the attack, then, of course, radios, blackouts, all those things went into effect immediately, yes.

AL: Do you recall your parents' or your grandparents' response?

AN: Well, their response was just like ours, they were just devastated. They didn't know what to think, that their own country people would do this to us. So they were as surprised as we were, and emotionally mixed, with mixed emotions, they couldn't understand why, what happened.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

AL: -- interview with Colonel Arthur Nishimoto on August 22, 2006, with Alisa Lynch and Kristen Luetkemeier. We were just talking about December 7th, and recollections or the reactions of your parents and grandparents. I wanted to ask you about that night, that first night of December 7th. What do you recall about that night after it got dark?

AN: Well, at first, I really couldn't sleep, because there were too many activities going on, all activities there. And that was mostly because I wasn't involved in it, but I know by radio broadcast, the wounded were coming in by the hundreds to the hospitals. So we kept our ears close to the radio all night long, what was going on.

AL: Were they able to deal with all the wounded?

AN: Were they what?

AL: Was there enough hospitals to care for all of the wounded?

AN: I guess there were as far as I know. Of course, they were overloaded at all the hospitals, downtown as well as the military.

AL: Could you see the flames from the Arizona burning?

AN: No. All I could see was the smoke, I didn't see the flames, they were too far away. But I know I could see mushrooms after mushrooms, yeah.

AL: Yeah, a friend of mine lived in Aiea Heights, and he said that he recalled, for like three nights, seeing the glow of the Arizona as it burned. What were the days after Pearl Harbor like, those first days and weeks?

AN: It was a chaotic, chaotic condition, of course. At that time, I used to work part-time for the radiogram station, I was a motorcycle rider with a little motorcycle group that we had. And so we all volunteered to carry messages for the government, and that's what we did. The radiograms were coming in fast, and so all of us motorcycle riders volunteered to do that.

AL: So who were you delivering the radiograms to?

AN: Well, whatever office they need to be addressed to, mostly government offices.

AL: What was the effect on the civilian population? I mean, I know martial law was declared eventually, but what, like your daily life, how did it change?

AN: Oh, it changed tremendously. We were restricted, obviously, and the worst thing that happened was that since we weren't prepared, there was a, shall we say, food shortage in the market, people went out and started buying things right off the shelf to, for their survival. And I think that was a great challenge, because most of the things were being shipped in, and so whatever they had at market, people went out and bought it, just cleaned out the market. So that was a challenge for many families.

AL: Did the schools close down?

AN: Yes, uh-huh, the schools closed down at... gee, I don't know. At the time, I wasn't interested. I was not going to school, so it shut down, I believe it shut down for a while at the start there.

AL: How long did it take for... I mean, I know there were a tremendous number of soldiers, sailors, who went over to Hawaii and embarked during the war. How long did it take before people got there to respond? You know, like the infusion of more sailors, more soldiers, more airmen?

AN: That I don't know. That I don't know. You know there were replacements from parts of the United States, I really don't know. I really don't know about the military buildup or anything like that. I'm sure there were, but I don't...

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

AL: And you said a couple times that you realized when this attack happened that you were gonna be drafted. So did you know then that you would definitely end up in the military?

AN: Yeah, we were at the age where our draft numbers would be considered, so I assumed that we were going to be drafted right away, because we were right age where we were going to be drafted.

AL: So what did you do?

AN: So then, of course, we realized that since we're going to be drafted, then we might as well get in and volunteer and form our own unit, because we had one, well, really two purposes in mind. One was the enemy, whether it's Japanese or European side, and the other one was we know the prejudice against the Japanese Americans in the United States, and here because we heard about the evacuation plans and so forth. So that kind of stirred us up a little bit, so we had two wars to fight. And that made a difference in the spirit of how we got together and formed. And that's the reason why the 442nd, the 100th, and the MIS were all Niseis, when they joined. We had a closed unity of brotherhood when we fought. Not just another military unit, but we were all one as far as spirit goes. So perhaps that drove us to really unite ourselves and fight like mad. Then we had to prove ourselves as citizens, because when we were, when we went to the army after the 442nd was formed, and we wore a uniform, we were still classified as "enemy aliens," even though we wore a uniform. That's how, shall we say, I call it just plain ignorance of the government. Here we are in American uniform, we're volunteers, we're sworn in, and yet, our classification was 4-C, "enemy aliens." Of course, that was changed, so you can see that we had to go through all that, that type of period.

AL: Why do you think they classified you 4-C?

AN: Because we were just Japanese. That's all I can say, because we were Japanese Americans, because of our race, regardless of whether we're U.S. citizens or not, we're being classified as 4-C. Of course, that was the dumbest thing they did, and they admitted that. So after we got in for a while, and then they reclassified as regular. I mean, they should have never had classified as "enemy aliens," and that's how I called it, how stupid the government was, doing such things like that, which angered us quite a bit. And that's where we really found out how the people saw us. So with that in mind, we formed the 442nd and the 100th.

AL: Did your parents know before you volunteered, or your grandparents, did you tell them that you were gonna volunteer?

AN: No, they had no idea. But they knew that we were the draft age, and so they expected us to serve in the military, but not like the way we did, that we would be drafted like anybody else.

AL: Did they have any advice for you when you went to war?

AN: The only advice that most parents gave to us was that, "You're American, you fight for your country," simple as that. No qualms about it. Most all of our parents, that was their feeling. Even though they're Japanese, even though they are immigrants, they say, "You were born here, you're American, you fight for your country, go." Simple as that.

AL: Did you, when you volunteered, were you prepared to fight Japan?

AN: Yes. We were up whenever. So, of course, we knew that we were gonna go Europe instead of Japan. Of course, the MIS people that went to MIS, of course, they were going to Japan. But as a combat unit, no.

AL: So when you volunteered, did you know that you were gonna go to Europe?

AN: Yes, we knew that that was our area of fighting, not Japan.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

AL: And when did you volunteer and where did you go? Were you at Iolani Palace?

AN: Yes, uh-huh.

AL: Tell me about that.

AN: Yeah, we were, we were the originals. We were all processed, and after being inducted officially, we were going to Iolani Palace, and the government gave us a little farewell aloha, and then we all went. At that time, I guess there were about three thousand of us. But there were, I believe, over ten thousand volunteers, and they picked only three thousand of us, so I happened to be one of them.

AL: And when you came to the States, the mainland, you came on a luxury ship I read in your book, that you came on the Lurline, wasn't that a luxury ship?

AN: Yeah, that's one of the luxury ships that brought all the tourists back and forth, yes. And, of course, that was converted to a troop ship when the war was, broke out. So yes, we did ride on a luxury ship.

AL: So how did the, how was the ship different? What did they do to convert it?

AN: Well, I don't know what it was like before, but it was made so that they can carry thousands of people on it. It was a comfortable trip; I enjoyed it. I think all of us did. It wasn't like a regular military transport, but it was a nice ship, of course.

AL: Do you recall any of your emotions in saying goodbye to your family?

AN: Yes, we all felt... we knew that we're gonna be in combat, we know that we're going to be trained to fight, not play soldiers. We knew we're going to be highly trained and specialized to fight. And so we also knew that some of us were not going to return. And so it was an emotional thing for all of us to live, and, of course, that's what happened to some of 'em, never returned. But we were young, so we could, we faced the realities. We knew that was gonna happen.

AL: And were you ready?

AN: Yeah, I guess we were. We were. If we weren't ready, we wouldn't have volunteered. Don't forget, these were all volunteers, we were all volunteer, we weren't forced to go. So we were just volunteers, and we know what we're volunteering for.

AL: So where did you, could you just give us the, the trajectory of where you went when you came to the States? Which bases you were at, what your training was like? Did you do any training in Hawaii or was it all in the mainland?

AN: No, no. We did, we went straight to our training camp in Mississippi, Camp Shelby, Mississippi. From the time we landed, they took us on the train and went straight to Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

AL: Which port did you land at?

AN: I believe we got into Oakland. And then from there, we got on a train, and then all the way to Mississippi.

AL: What do you recall about the train ride?

AN: Well, the only thing I thought was rather odd was that when we boarded the train, all the shades were down. And I don't know why, but anyway, then I later found out that they didn't want the people in California to know that we were there, all Japanese kids were there, because of the many hatred in California. And so we sort of like snuck in until we got out to Nevada, and go up to Utah, from there go down to Mississippi. That was, we thought was rather odd, that all the shades were drawn down.

AL: You talked in your biography that I read last night, you talked about coming under the Golden Gate on the ship. Could you tell us that story about when you first saw land, when you came into...

AN: Well, of course, for us, that was our first trip. Of course we knew about the Golden Gate. Not for reality for most of us, wow, we finally saw the whole Golden Gate, and so we thought that was really something there, we had really reached the mainland. And so I guess we all got out and stood on the ship once we passed underneath the Golden Gate, that was a thrill for most of us, yes.

AL: Were there people up on the bridge watching you come in, or just...

AN: [Yawns] Excuse me. I don't recall; I don't think there were.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

AL: So what was it like to arrive in Mississippi?

AN: Well, we knew that was a desolate place.

AL: Could you describe it? I mean, what made it desolate? What did it look like around there?

AN: Well, because we're not used to the humid, that humid weather. And the camp wasn't that beautiful, we had to still fix some of our quarters. For me, I wasn't too pleased with the place, but I had to accept, well, this is the army, so we're in the wilderness someplace. But later on, we got to know some of the people in town, and they were real nice to us.

AL: Did you have any sort of an escort when you went on the train, you know, in terms of any other soldiers, or was it just you guys on the train? Or did you have any sort of escort?

AN: As far as I know, we were the only ones. Not like the evacuees that were evacuated, they had the soldiers guarding them. Not us, no.

AL: So you didn't do any training in Hawaii then, everything started at Camp Shelby, your training?

AN: What was that, in Hawaii?

AL: Did you do any training in Hawaii or you just went straight to Shelby?

AN: No.

AL: So what is it like as a Nisei to arrive in a place like Mississippi which had some racial tension at that time, probably still does. How did people respond to you Nisei there?

AN: I think that people responded to us real well, the Southern people. I can't recall any racial... of course, we didn't go in town much, very... we didn't have time. So I can't... as far as I know, the people were nice to us. I didn't see any real hatred or prejudice. The only prejudice we saw was our own people in training, the American soldiers that trained with us and the different units that trained in Camp Shelby. That's the only one.

AL: Could you tell us about that?

AN: Well, once in a while, typical Americans, without really direct or any sort of... they'll call us "Japs." Of course, we didn't like that word "Jap," so we had a lot of fighting over there. If someone said "Jap," well, they found a [inaudible] in their mouth. [Laughs] But anyway, that's about all that really happened among ourselves, among the soldiers.

AL: So it was among Caucasian soldiers?

AN: Yeah, mostly they were Caucasian soldiers. The Caucasians were calling us "Jap" and things like that.

AL: So did they ever call you "Jap" a second time, or they learned their lesson?

AN: No, no. Then they started to learn not to call us that.

AL: Did you make friendships with any of them?

AN: Yeah, we had some friends, yes, we did. But sometimes we misunderstand them also, because they used the word "Jap" not in the slang way, but they don't know the word's a dirty word with us. They mean Japanese American. So we told them, "Never use that kind of word again, that's a fighting word." [Laughs]

AL: And did they respect that?

AN: Yeah, yeah, they respected that.

AL: Were there any African American soldiers there, or did you see...

AN: Yes, I saw 'em.

AL: What was the relationship like, or the interactions?

AN: Well, we didn't have much to do with them, but we know there were black soldiers there. But what surprised us was that when we go in town, there were lots of seat in the back seat, they couldn't mix there. So I thought, gee, this is, we're in the South, they don't like the colored people. That sort of, you know, surprised me, I didn't know that there was such prejudice down south. So if the back seat was filled, they had no room for them. But they accepted that's the way their life was.

AL: So where, in these segregated places, I've heard some Nisei say they didn't know where they were supposed to go. Because they're being chased out of California because people were saying, "You're not white," you go to Mississippi and they say... I mean, were you confused at all about where you were supposed to be in the segregated society?

AN: No, I wasn't confused. I think one of the first things they talk about orientation when we were there, way down south, there's such a thing as black and white. So they said, "You folks are considered white, so wherever there's white go, you go white." Plain as that. So we were told that, so there was no confusion in my mind.

KL: You were told that in army orientation? Did the military, the army told you, when you see black, white, you go "white"?

AN: Yeah. They told us that, "You're considered white." Whenever it says go to the white bathroom, white places.

AL: So who were, who was doing your training, who were your officers?

AN: Oh, the officers were regular... we had white officers and we had our local university commissioned officers that were a little older than us. So we had a mixture of white and Japanese American officers.

AL: At the time when you were there, was the 100th already in combat?

AN: No. The 100th were in training in Wisconsin. Then after they got through with their training, they came down to join us in Mississippi.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

AL: Could you explain, if somebody doesn't know anything about the units, what the relationship is between the 100th and the 442nd? Like what is the difference? Like who's in which one, and does it matter? Could you just explain the difference in the units?

AN: Well, the 100th I have always considered as my older brothers. They were the people that were drafted prior to the war, and they were training in Hawaii. And then later on, they were transferred to Wisconsin to do more training there. Of course, then in the meantime, the 442nd was being formed. And, of course, they already had planned that the 100th would join us, which they did. So I have always considered the 100th as my older brothers, they were a couple, three or four years older than we were. And so after their training in Wisconsin they came over to join us. And after joining us, then they went to overseas, they were sent overseas. and once they went overseas, then after a few months of battle, obviously they needed replacement. And we had a full regiment with three battalions, and I was in the 1st Battalion. They took replacements from my battalion. So actually, the people in my battalion were being transferred to the 100th as they needed the replacements. I was transferred out of there, the 1st Battalion, and went to 2nd Battalion for those of us that didn't have to go. So their plan was eventually when we go there, the 100th will come in with us and they'll become the 1st Battalion, but we wanted them to hold their numbers, the 100th Battalion, instead of calling them the 1st Battalion, then we wanted them to hold their title as the 100th Battalion.

AL: Why is that important?

AN: Because of their... before we joined them, I guess they were about nine months ahead of us in combat, and we knew of the record and the way that... they were an outstanding outfit, and we had to follow in their footsteps. And so I'm sure they had a, already a plan, so when we went to overseas, they joined us and became the 1st Battalion. There were three battalions to make a regiment, but the 1st Battalion was used as all replacements. And so they became the 1st Battalion, but we told, that they'll keep their name as the 100th Battalion. But by that time, they made name for themselves, but they weren't making it for themselves, but because of the way they fought. So that became the 1st Battalion. That's the reason why we call them 100th and 442nd. We still like to have our older brothers have their identity. And yet, people like us with the 442nd were in there replacing the wounded.

AL: So the 442nd does not have a 1st Battalion, that is the 100th.

AN: Yeah.

AL: And then they have a 2nd Battalion and a 3rd Battalion.

AN: That's right.

AL: The 100th, when they went over and were fighting, where were they fighting?

AN: Southern Italy, a very fierce battle, yes. They were in major battles over there. Really, what I've seen and what I've read, before we went there, we said, "This is a hard act to follow." But they joined us and we listened to them, and then we learned from them how to fight.

AL: Did you know any of the guys in the 100th from your childhood or your neighborhood?

AN: Oh, yes. I had some good friends in there, the original. I had a couple of good friends in there.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

AL: So let me ask you about the 442nd. There's a lot of stories that you hear about when the kotonks, you know, the mainland Nisei, met up with the Hawaiians.

AN: Uh-huh.

AL: Could you tell me about that?

AN: Well, actually, it's sort of maybe a little misunderstanding on our part, the Hawaiian people. We speak our own language, and the mainland Japanese speak their own language. And we thought because of their English, they spoke much, because the English was much better than most of us Hawaiians, and we felt maybe a little offish, the way they spoke, and we didn't quite understand that they were raised here in the mainland, and so their language was much better than we were, the Hawaiians. So it was a little misunderstanding. We thought they sound offish, but I wasn't, that's your way of speaking. And so we just, a little misunderstanding, we later found out that they weren't that way at all.

AL: So were you guys all mixed in together in terms of where you were bunking, where you were eating? Were the Hawaii guys and the mainlanders all mixed up together?

AN: Oh, yeah, definitely.

AL: Did you visit the camp at Jerome?

AN: No, I did not. There were several of 'em that did, and they came back and found out what the mainland Japanese Americans were, the families were going through. Then we Hawaiians had our eyes opened and found out what they're going through. And that made a big difference of us getting much closer to one another, and brought us more, that really brought us unity. Here we are from Hawaii, our parents were not treated like that, our family were not treated like that, but some of the boys were at the relocation center and saw that, and told us what they're going through. Then we begin to understand what they were going through.

AL: Do you know how many of the Hawaii boys went on that visit to Jerome?

AN: I don't know. I really don't know.

AL: Have you ever thought about if your parents had been confined in one of the camps, would you have still volunteered?

AN: Yes.

AL: Why?

AN: Well, because our parents' desire was for us to go and fight. There's no two ways about it. I think most of the parents that went to these camps and their sons and daughters also, they were told to go and fight, and they did. Because we had a whole slew of them come over and join us.

AL: Do you think there was a difference, as you were with these fellows soldiers, do you think there was a difference in the way people fought, whether they were volunteers or whether they were drafted? Could you tell a difference? Did you know who had volunteered and who had been drafted?

AN: Well, in our unit, the 442nd was all volunteers except for the 100th. But they had already proven themselves, so as far as I'm concerned, we fought together with the right attitude and that right spirit.

AL: So later units, then, did they include the guys who had been drafted out of the camps?

AN: Yeah, did the same thing. When they came over, they had the same spirit, they had the same feeling, and they fought that way.

AL: So you said you were in Company G. How did you get assigned to a company?

AN: I don't know, I just, one day I said, they said, "Okay, now you go to Company G, 2nd Battalion." In other words, they were breaking up the 1st Battalion. They didn't have enough people anyway, and so they were making room for the 100th to become the 1st. So I was just assigned, I don't know why.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

AL: What was your rank?

AN: At that time, sergeant.

AL: And what would you do, what was your role in the military?

AN: Well, at that time I was a sergeant as a squad leader. So I went as a... I guess a three stripe or four stripe, I forgot. Anyway, I was a squad leader.

AL: Who was your commanding officer?

AN: I forgot his name. I knew him real well. Captain Ault, A-U-L-T, Captain Ault, I think.

AL: I've seen his name in writing. I don't know anything about him, but I've seen that name. Did you know Colonel Kim, Colonel Young Oak Kim?

AN: Yes, I knew him. I knew him later on in life, right here in Las Vegas, as a matter of fact. He and I had a good visit before he passed away, about a year or so before he passed away. He was living with his niece or nephew that lives here, so I called him one day, I said, "I want to talk to you," and he came over. And we sat down and chatted for about three or four hours.

AL: How come you wanted to talk to him?

AN: Well, because I know of him, what he did in the war, how he came into our unit and so forth, and how, what good leadership he had.

AL: So how did he end up in your unit, and what made him a good leader?

AN: Well, as far as I know, he just volunteered like anybody else. And, of course, the army said, "But you're Korean." He said, "Doesn't make any difference, I want to go through that outfit." He came in as an officer, and he did well, really well. As far as I'm concerned, he's one of the heroes of the 442nd.

AL: How come?

AN: Because of his combat record, because of his leadership, because of his desire from the heart to serve with us like anybody else. And he did well leading his people. He was a good officer. I wasn't an officer then. The highest rank I had was a tech sergeant, a platoon sergeant. The platoon sergeant as far as I'm concerned is the heart of the operation, in a company. You heard of lone platoons fighting? That's the fighting arm of the company, and I was one of the platoon sergeants.

AL: How long were you at Camp Shelby?

AN: Let's see now. Probably about... let's see now. Maybe about six, seven months, I guess.

AL: Where'd you go from there?

AN: I finally went directly overseas.

AL: To where?

AN: Italy.

AL: And I know from reading your biography and the little bit I know about the 442nd, you have a long history, and you were in a lot of those key battles. So I do want to hear about them, but I was going to ask one question. You mentioned in your book that you went to Vatican and you saw the Pope. Was that before you went into combat?

AN: Yes. As we... see, the 100th and we joined at that period during Rome, we landed over there, and then we joined together. It was during that short period, we had a break to go, couple of days off, so I went to the Vatican, I heard so much about the Vatican. And it just happened that the day I went, the Pope came out and blessed all the people. So it was a real treat for me to see him.

AL: That was Pius XII?

AN: Huh?

AL: I think it was Pope Pius XII, I think, during World War II.

AN: Yeah, I think it was Pope Pius.

AL: So what was it like to see the... I mean, I've seen it, it's huge.

AN: Yeah, it's huge.

AL: What was that like?

AN: There were thousands of people. I guess everybody knew when he will come out, the time of day, and he'll come out and give a blessing to all the people. It just happened that I was there that day. And so when I went to the Vatican I saw the thousands of people there milling around. Then I found out that, oh, they're waiting for the Pope to come out. So I just stood with them and waited.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

AL: So at the time before you went overseas -- you've mentioned that you're Mormon -- were you Mormon at that time?

AN: Yes, uh-huh.

AL: So could you tell us a little bit about your faith journey, how and when you became a Mormon, and just how that, if it affected your outlook at all as you... I mean, that's a pretty big thing in your life.

AN: No, Mormon, of course, is a nickname. The real name of our church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And the word Mormon comes in because of the historical records that were translated from various brass plates, and that's where the Book of Mormon was formed. And so my... of course, I didn't join the church for a long time. I went to the church because I loved the sports program, and I loved the missionaries, and I loved the teachings of Jesus Christ. And so I finally joined the church because I found out that there's nothing wrong with the religion at all. Of course, they talk about polygamy and all that, but that's way, way back history. And when you really come down to it, the whole Christian world kind of points finger at the Mormons because of being polygamists. Because the Bible, as far as I know, all believe in the Bible, and all the leadership in the Bible, the old prophets, they have more than one wife, they had concubines. So it was, you've got to understand that at that time, it was not against the law of the land to have... it was directed. And many people don't understand that. The Mormons, when they went to polygamy, that wasn't everyone, that was only certain people. However, like anybody else, their weaknesses, "Well, he can do it, I can do it, too," until... that was not breaking the law of the land, until the law of the land says there's no such thing, then everything stopped. Because our church, they believe in, to live the law of the land, no matter what. So it's okay, so they stopped that. But then the hard core Mormons, they took off, they got up and broke off, and they formed their own church. They called it the Reorganized church and the fundamentalists, and to this day, they have that. But the main body of the church followed the law of the land, so they got to stop that, well, we have to stop that.

AL: Did your parents or your brother or sister, are any of them, were any of them Mormon or just you?

AN: No, just me. Just me. And later on, my sister joined the church.

AL: Okay. And I apologize if I use any of the wrong terms, but how old were you when you were, is it called received? Received into the temple? How old were you when you became Mormon?

AN: Oh, I guess I was sixteen or seventeen years old.

AL: And that was your choice. So you mentioned also before that you got engaged when you were at Camp Shelby. Can you tell us a little bit about the woman who became your wife, what her background was, her maiden name?

AN: Well, anyway... she was a Mormon girl, too.

AL: And what was her name?

AN: Grace. Grace Dono, D-O-N-O. And yeah, she was a Mormon also. And so we both went to high school together. Actually, she was my high school sweetheart, so we said, well, like I said before, well, we might as well get engaged. That was the selfish part on my part, that when I'm at war, I didn't want her to be fooling around with anybody else. [Laughs]

AL: So how did you propose? You said you were at Camp Shelby when you got engaged?

AN: Yeah. I just wrote her a letter, and I sent her a ring. I said, "This is official." [Laughs]

AL: "This is official, don't be fooling around." [Laughs]

AN: That kept her on track.

AL: Okay, so you... and what were her parents' names, and did she have brothers, sisters, could you just give us a little...

AN: No, she was the only child in the home.

AL: And was she Nisei?

AN: Yes, uh-huh. She was just like a... born and raised.

AL: When you were in Hawaii, I don't know what year it was built, but the temple that's up by...

AN: Laie?

AL: Yeah, where the Cultural Center is, was that there at the time?

AN: Yes, oh, yes. The temple, as far as I know the Mormon Temple's been there since 1900s.

AL: Is it? Okay. Were there many Japanese Hawaiians, Japanese Americans who were Mormon?

AN: There were not many, but... well, we can say many, quite a few, yes. Yes, there were.

AL: I've been to the cultural center up at Laie, and is it the Polynesian Cultural Center?

AN: Uh-huh.

AL: That's pretty amazing. Anytime, if I go back, and I took my mom there.

AN: Oh, yeah?

AL: Yeah, it was neat. I mean, the chance to see all the cultural stuff.

AN: That's where we have a mixture of all the islanders, Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, they all may look the same, but they all come from different islands.

AL: It's kind of like, I don't know if you've ever been to Epcot Center in Florida, where they have the whole world in like twenty acres, that's kind of like what the cultural center is. Here's Samoa, here's Fiji, here's Tahiti. Yeah, it was interesting. So I've seen the outside of the temple at Laie.

AN: Yeah, that's right the whole area was Mormon people, you know, from the different islands.

AL: So your wife, what did she do during the war?

AN: She worked for the government, regular government employee.

AL: Doing what?

AN: Government employee during the war. I think she worked for the U.S. Engineers.

AL: Did your parents or grandparents do any work, or you know what they did during, actually during the war?

AN: No. Well, my dad worked as, worked, but my grandparents, no. Because my grandpa, like I said before, a carpenter, he did his own business. But my dad worked regular work he had.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

AL: So we were, I know we're bouncing around a little bit, I just want to make sure I understood just your background. So you go to, back to Italy, so you're, you go to the Vatican, which is the, you know, like the Catholic temple, and from there, did you go straight into combat?

AN: Yeah. That was just a pit stop for us. And then got together, the 100th joined us, and from there on, no picnic anymore. From there we went all the way through battle until we finished the war.

AL: So what... I mean, I've never been in combat, obviously, Kristen hasn't. We don't... I think never having served in the military, you completely miss, maybe, but I've heard, for people who listen to this who don't have a military background, who've never been in combat, can you explain just your emotions in terms of somebody who comes from Hawaii, a high school kid, suddenly in combat. And talking about the battles, but also just the emotional journey of all of a sudden you land in Italy, and you have this war to fight. What was it like for you personally?

AN: Well, obviously, we went in with the idea that we're going to be in combat, but, of course, one never gets to really know until they get into combat. So our hearts and minds were... we know we're going to combat until the day we come into combat, until they day we were going to combat. Of course, we were ready, however, we didn't know what the reality was. So as far as I'm concerned, I don't think we really knew what fear was, we're just looking for action. And once we got into action, then we found out the reality hit us, hey, this is no plaything anymore, this is for real. And especially where you see your own buddies the first, second day getting killed, there were now, our feelings have changed. Our outlook has changed. Hey, now, this is for real. So although we came to reality that now we say, okay, so this is it. And with that in mind, that's what we came for, and now we really know what we're here for, and we just, spirit that we had, that's the way we fought. Whether we get killed or not, we're going to do our share. That's what happened.

AL: I know in your... the thing that I read that you wrote, you talk about things that you experienced that your faith played a role, like you talked about a German soldier. I don't know if you're comfortable sharing that story or any of the... you know, where you felt like your faith changed how you approached combat.

AN: Oh, you're talking about time before, yeah, when we ambushed the German soldiers that walked right into our path? And, of course, they were caught flat-footed, they didn't realize that we had already occupied the town, and three jeeps full of... we were surprised that they were coming right at us. And so we all hid ourselves on the side of the road. And when they came, it just happened that my sergeant and I was a sergeant, too, my platoon sergeant at the time and I, and all of us, jumped out in the road and stopped the enemy. Then what we were going to do was to capture them and taken them as war prisoners. But in the first jeep, there was an officer in the back, and he raised his hand and he had a gun in his hand, and that's a no-no. So as soon as he raised that, we felt, then, of course, we blasted them. And then one soldier fell right in front of the jeep, toppled over, and, of course, he was bleeding, and I looked at him, and all of a sudden, my compassionate feeling came over me. I said, "I hate to see anybody suffer like this, so I think I'll just put one bullet in him and end his life." Because he's going to die anyway. But I couldn't use my gun because I have a, I'm a close-in fighter. I lead patrols to enemy lines, and my weapon was a .45 millimeter submachine gun. And so I couldn't use that, because that bullet will, if I shot his head, he wouldn't have a head left. So I borrowed one of my men, said, "Give me your regular rifle," so I'll just put a bullet in his head. Because he was already bleeding from his mouth, nose, ears, already took the blood and pumped out of him, so I said, "Well, I cannot let this man suffer like this." So with a compassionate feeling to get him out of misery, I thought I'd go end his life. But then as I aimed at him, I thought to myself, "Wait a minute, what am I doing? Am I playing God or somebody? Who am I to decide whether he lives or dies? That's not my role." So all of a sudden, that feeling came over me, I said, "No, I cannot shoot this man like this." Even though my feelings were that way, I was wrong. I'm not supposed, I have no right to decide whether that man should live or die. I'm not God. So that was some experience for me. I wanted to end his life where he don't suffer anymore, but then who am I to judge that? So that's what happened. But, of course, he eventually died.

So sometimes you get emotionally, I guess, emotion takes over. Yet, on the other hand, you can get mad, when especially one of your men gets wounded. I didn't like the snipers at all. There's nothing personal about this war, because the enemy is fighting for his country like I'm fighting for my country, it's nothing personal. And so when I see a sniper, in one case, the sniper hit one of my men right here in the collarbone -- lucky he didn't shoot his head -- and break his collarbone. And I told his sergeant, "Patch him." And the sergeant was trying to, he panicked a little bit, and he couldn't get all his bandoliers and equipment off his shoulders to patch him. So I went over there to help him, and it was a sniper that did it. And at times like that, I said, I just said to my men, "If you get a sniper, give him to me. I'll take care of him myself." I just didn't like the snipers. Because I had a sniper at one time shoot at me and my radio man that always stays with me, went back and the bullet came right between his head and my head. And so somehow I just didn't like the snipers. In fact, it wasn't hatred, but I just didn't like snipers around. But when we fight, we fight... if you fight with hatred, with blood in your mind, that's not the right idea for me, because there's nothing wrong with him, because he's fighting for his country like I am. So I never had a personal hatred, he's just fighting for each other. And if you tell him be a sniper, he's a sniper. And my job is a patrolman, I go in and blast everybody. So it's sort of... I don't know how the rest of the men feel, but that's my thinking of war, is not to go in with hatred in your heart, but to do your mission, not personal hatred. Yes, you have to shoot, you have to kill, but that's not with hatred in your heart. That's the difference.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

AL: -- Alisa Lynch, tape three of an oral history interview with Colonel Arthur Nishimoto. The videographer is Kristen Luetkemeier, the date is August 22, 2012. So Colonel Nishimoto, you were talking about war, and that war is not personal. One of the questions I was gonna ask you is, we hear so much about the 442nd and that, you know, it's the most decorated unit for its size and length of service, the amazing bravery, the fighting spirit, "go for broke," all those things that we hear. What do you think, you know, in terms of somebody who was actually here, is all of that... what am I trying to say? As someone who was there at the time, I never hear stories of men being scared. People talk about their greatest fear was they didn't want to bring haji, shame on their family, but actually, when you were there at the time --


AL: -- or was there fear, was their homesickness, you know, the feeling of the guys over there? Because a lot of people said they didn't write their true feelings home to their parents because they didn't want to worry them. But as far as somebody who was actually there at the time, do you have any sense of, sort of, the emotional geography of your men and yourself?

AN: Well, all of them... this is a few years back, I told some of my people that I fought with, my own people, we have a reunion. I said, "You know, we don't talk about that to our family, but learned a lesson a few years ago," and I told him about me writing those things. I said, "Well, we were together, I know we were together, however, you and I were together, but I don't know what went in your head. I don't know how you felt when you and I were fighting together, when we saw our friends getting killed, I don't know how you felt. I don't know how you fought, I mean, as far as emotionally. So why don't you write those things down so that your children, your grandchildren do it, and that's what I'm doing now, so write it." But they think that, well, we were together, so it's about the same thing. I said, "No, it's not. We're different. You got to write you, how you felt." I really don't know. Said, "Well, I was with you." I said, "Yeah, we were there physically, but inwardly, how did you feel?" I really don't know. I know how I felt, and that's what I'm writing. "So why don't you write, and then we'll share each other's stories?" That's what I've been trying to do. But some of them did answer me, some of them didn't. But these are some of the things that I wish the 442nd people would write about it like you said. I think they should. But many of them don't want to talk about it anymore. And in a way, I don't blame them, because they just want to forget it. But it's hard to forget something like this, that we went through. So we shouldn't kid ourselves that we can forget it, we never forget it. It is always in our heart. But I think... well, each person carries this by themselves, differently, I guess. I think, I believe it's good to talk about it now, and I feel, I'm happy that even though it was late, that I'm now gathering these things and writing them, like the little book, that was just one of my chapters as I was writing my personal history. I just thought that's one chapter in my life. And I don't think there's many in my outfit that writes a personal history. Many of us in the unit, I don't think, have written personal histories, nor did they follow up in their genealogy. I follow all these things up, because this is what the church has taught us to do. And so I'm just following what our church taught us to do, and I think that's very important. And that's why I get started on this. But I can't think of many of my friends are doing this. And this is where you come in, you have at least an interview with them, and you sort of get the, you skim over the top of it, but not real deep. I don't think they'll, I don't know, maybe you might reach way down, but I hope you do in the interviews.

AL: So let me ask you a question then. How do you think that we can help reach... just as an interviewer, what advice would you have? Because Kristen and I were actually talking about this this morning, we wish we knew how to interview about war, about combat. Because we want to be respectful, and we want to be knowledgeable, but we don't... just any words of wisdom. Because to be honest, and I've interviewed other soldiers, but most people will just say, "I was in this unit, and then we went here and then we crossed this river, and then we came here, and then I came home, and I couldn't get a haircut at home." But they don't talk about...

AN: How they felt when they were going to the war, how they felt when they were wounded, how they felt, because most of them were wounded, you know. And most of them saw their buddies getting killed or wounded, but they don't talk too much about that.

AL: So what advice can you give us, because we hope to do more of these interviews, I mean, just how could we do it better?

AN: Well, the questions you asked me to day will rouse them, I think. You're on the right track. And that if you can get it out of them, that'll be fine, but I think you can be more direct in your questioning. "How did you feel when you first saw your own men get killed or wounded?" "How did you feel when you were asked to help your own men wounded?" "How did you feel when you were patching him up?" "How did you feel when they were killed?" I think if you ask those direct questions, they'll answer you, or maybe they'll say, well, they might shrug it off. But I wouldn't hesitate to be direct. You got to get them out of there. It's in their heart. I'm sure you'll get some responses that way.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

AL: So can I be direct with you?

AN: Well, so far.

AL: So let me ask you, how did you feel the first time you took another life?

AN: First time?

AL: That you killed somebody.

AN: Well, I don't know if I killed anyone. To this day, I do not know if I even killed one person or not. Because we're in combat, I don't know if my bullet was one of them that killed the enemies. We're attacking. I'm not picking just one and shoot, pick another and shoot, no. My experience in combat was not that way. In fact, all of us were, very few had that opportunity. When we were fighting en masse, en masse. Okay, here are the enemies, we're confronting a whole bunch of enemies, and we're going to go over them. And so where our bullet lands, on who, or which bullet killed, them, all we know is that we ran over them. That means we were more effective in fighting than they were. And come to a point where, a time where they'll give up. But initial was that we fought. So here we are, for me, I was blasting away like the rest of them, I'm leading my men to go blast away, but which one? Whose bullet killed who? I don't know. Some may know it, like some, when they attack a machine gun nest, some of the people have gotten... then you, because they will, two, three of them that went and did that. But generally, when we fought, I cannot say I killed that one, I killed. So I don't know. I never counted. I can't count.

AL: How did you feel the first time you lost a man who you were responsible for in your platoon? Do you remember who it was?

AN: Well, sure. Of course, I felt, I felt real bad. The first thing came to my mind was that, well, I thought about their family. However, said, well, this is what we came for. But yes, I felt real bad. But we also know that was our mission, so be it.

AL: Do you remember the circumstances of his death?

AN: Well, yeah. It was strictly combat by enemy fire. Enemy fire showered upon us, yes. Fortunately for me, I don't know why, but I didn't see too many of my men being killed. I've seen many get wounded, but being killed, very few. Although I knew they were killed, but I didn't see that. So my witnessing of my men being killed was very few.

AL: Could you give us just the chronology of the battles that your unit was in?

AN: Oh, I cannot...

AL: Or maybe not chronology, but I know that you were, you fought in the Vosges Mountains, Lost Battalion, Po River, Arno, could you just tell us some of those?

AN: Well, which one? I mean...

AL: Any of them. You tell us just some of your recollections.

AN: Well, the most fierce and the most, shall we say, the most roughest one was in the Vosges Mountains. And that was a battle; that was really a battle because of the terrain that we fought in, we had to go to the Vosges Mountains, black, dark forest.

AL: This is the rescue of the "Lost Battalion"?

AN: Yeah, yeah. That's the campaign that followed. So that was really a rough one for us.

AL: How come?

AN: Well, because, first, number one, the weather, the terrain, and the enemy. There were... they had the battalion, the Lost Battalion, I'm talking about, pretty well surrounded, and we had to break through that. I wasn't one of them that break through that, it was the 3rd Battalion that broke through them. It's just different locations we were in. And so the 3rd Battalion's the one that really broke through to save the Lost Battalion, where we were on one side and the 100th was on the other side ready to move in together. But the 3rd Battalion had the brunt of it, and they're the ones that really went in and suffered a lot. Their loses were... well, they lost nearly every man in that outfit that went in. That was a fierce battle. We didn't, we went up to a point where we were gonna attack the... of course, they're fighting up to that point, yes, we were, but actually, the rescue of the, the last push was the 3rd Battalion, company that went in.

AL: Do you think it was worth it to take eight hundred and something casualties to save two hundred men?

AN: Well, that remains to be judged by...

AL: How do you judge it?

AN: Of course, when you talk about numbers, I don't think it was worthwhile. But yet, at the same time, no matter one or ten or eighty, we still were trying to save our people. So it's just that maybe the way we were ordered to do it, I don't know. But anyway, at that time, our commanding general was not too popular with us.

AL: Is that [Dahlquist]?

AN: Yeah.

AL: Why was he not popular?

AN: Well, I didn't have any personal contact with him, no, but got close to. But the way he ran the whole outfit, the whole 442nd, we didn't like it. We felt that we were expendable. It didn't mean nothing to him for us to... he just wanted to get that. And we also knew that he wasn't really a combat general. And so we didn't have too much respect for him.

AL: What was his background?

AN: I really don't know. As far as I'm concerned, he was nothing but a pencil pusher. And so anyway, maybe he was right, maybe that's the reason why we were able to save them. But that was a very, very expensive battle for us. We lost a lot of men. So that's one of the toughest battles that we ever fought.

AL: Why do you think it was that the 442nd was able to break through when so many have tried and could not rescue them? What made the 442nd get through?

AN: Well, we always had, shall we say, the fighting spirit that we... when they gave us a mission, we're gonna do it, no matter what. And that's the thing that most of the unit didn't have, the Americans. We were a little different. Like I say, we had reason to fight. And so we didn't question any mission they gave to us. They want us to do this, impossible. But they want us to do it, we're gonna do it no matter what it is, okay? If they want us to, we're gonna do it no matter what. And that's the attitude, and that's the spirit that we had. That's why were able to accomplish so much. Because that's the reason why we kind of did so many Purple Hearts and all that, too.

AL: Where does that spirit come from, though? Is that what they call yamato damashii, the Japanese spirit, or is it "go for broke"?

AN: Yeah, in a way, but I think it's a... shall we say, I hate to use the word pride, but like I said, that's the whole thing that we had in our heart, was the unity, because we had sound reasons for this. And the main reason was not just the enemy, but because of racial prejudice. We wanted to kill this once and for all. We didn't want this to linger on anymore, because we grew up with it, and now we see what had happened in reality during World War II, how the family was treated on the West Coast, I mean, this is it. We're not going to stand for it anymore. We're going to pull it one way or the other, and that was our mission. So I guess we fought differently than an ordinary unit trained. And we were well-disciplined, too, because of our upbringing. One thing, Japanese Americans, our upbringing was good. Our parents brought us up properly. Not like American families. American families there was a lot of freedom and, and there's nothing wrong with it, but I think we were more disciplined by our parents, so our upbringing was different, too.

AL: A lot of people talk about, that it made them angry that the military units were segregated at that time, again, African American, everything before the military was desegregated, do you think the 442nd would have had the record it had if it had been an integrated unit, if it was not all the same?

AN: I don't think so. If we were integrated with other races, all that? I don't think we would have that unity, that spirit of what we were fighting for. Because the way we were organized, it was just one. One thought, one spirit, one mind. In fact, if we were integrated let's say with white people, black people, that would never happen, because they wouldn't understand. I don't think we would have the record that have right now.

AL: So you also, of course, went on to serve in the military until 1972. Did you see that difference in Korea and in the other campaigns once the units were all integrated?

AN: Yeah, I saw a little difference, yes, uh-huh. It was different than what the 442nd was. Yes, I did. It was, of course, after the World War II, even when the Korean War and all that going on, still, I think, the military wasn't what I'm used to. It was different. And that's one of the reasons why I went back and see how it is to serve during peacetime. But the peacetime didn't really come because of the different wars.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

AL: So when you were in the 442nd in Italy, what did you hear about the MIS guys? Did you have any sense of what was happening in the Pacific campaign?

AN: Yeah. How I got into MIS is very interesting. I was in Japan, and the third morning I was there, I got up, the Korean War started. And I don't think I was tapped to go to Korea, however, I didn't want to take any chances. So what I did was I heard about this MIS, Military Intelligence, and especially Counterintelligence.

AL: So this is during the Korean War?

AN: Yeah.

AL: Okay.

AN: And so I thought maybe I'll try this field. Instead of being a field officer all my life, I'm getting kind of old, at twenty-eight years old. [Laughs] I thought, well, I'll try a different field in the service. So I thought maybe I'll try intelligence. So I went over to his headquarters in Tokyo, Counterintelligence Corps, CIC, because I didn't know much about it, what kind of outfit it was. Then I found out that it was a really highly intelligence outfit, and that they had their own headquarters back in the States, in Maryland. And so I was interviewed, I was tested, they said, "Yeah. You want to change your branch of service?" I mean, not the service, but the occupation in the military. I tell them, "Yes, I do." Said, "Okay, we'll work on it." And so I was from the field of infantry, then I went into intelligence, that's how I got into intelligence. Then I found out what counterintelligence meant, and of course, I enjoyed that work very much. After I got through with Japan, I was sent back to this main school to further my education and so forth. And from then on, my military career was always counterintelligence school. And this is when I met many of the MIS people, because now, when I was in Japan, I saw these Niseis that spoke and wrote Japanese, and I know there were some of them from Hawaii. I said, "What are you doing here?" They said, well, during the war they got caught and they had to serve the Japanese army. After the war, they got jobs as Counterintelligence Corps because they know both the languages. And I know they were from Hawaii and from mainland, and they were good in Japanese because they were going to school in Japan. And that's how I got to know them. And so my entire career was spent in Counterintelligence Corps.

AL: So during, when you were back in Italy, like during the war, World War II, what did you know at that time of what the MIS was doing? Did you hear anything about the Pacific Theater, or were you guys just so focused on...

AN: Yes, yes, I heard about it, because there were a few from the 442nd that were recruited to go to MIS. Some of my friends went there while we were training, they recruited them. These were the young men that went to school in Hawaii and they were well-versed, as far as I'm concerned, in Japanese. So they were transferred into MIS. So I knew that they were there. But I never kept up with them. All I know is that... and until after the war, then I found out what they were doing and what they did. And I'm glad many of the things that they were now declassified, and now we have so many videos of what they did. And I think that should all come out. They did a terrific job as far as I'm concerned. They had dangerous missions kind of like the 442. Yeah, they did a good job.

AL: So if... I know you only went to elementary Japanese language school, but if you had been fluent in Japanese and you had your choice between, if you could go back and redo it, you had your choice between 442nd in Italy or the MIS in the Pacific, which one would you have thought was the better situation?

AN: Oh, I would have gone to Europe.

AL: Still go to Europe?

AN: Yeah. I'd prefer that than going, but I got no say in that. [Laughs]

AL: That's our uncle.

AN: Even when, like I said, even when we're 442, they pull you out. They pulled you out because they needed more MIS people.

AL: So after the rescue of the Lost Battalion, did you guys have any sort of a break before you went to your next campaign?

AN: Oh, yes. After every battle or between battle, or between battles, we always have a little break. We have to. We have to come back, pull back, rest for a couple of days, change our clothes, get all cleaned up, freshen up and go. We cannot continue two or three weeks without bathing and all that, we have to.

AL: How were you treated by the other U.S. units over there?

AN: Oh, we were treated real well. I think they were well aware of who we are. After several battles they said, "Hey, wait a minute, these guys are for real." So we had respect from all the units that we served with.

AL: What about the Germans when they first encountered Nisei? Were they surprised to see...

AN: Oh, yeah.

AL: Because Nihonjins are supposed to be their allies.

AN: Yeah, they were surprised. Yeah, they were surprised. Later on, of course, they found out that these Japanese boys are fighters. They found out pretty quick that, hey, these guys are for real, they don't mess around. And they had respect for us. In fact, some of them, I think, were afraid of us when we first came. [Laughs] I think we had a reputation.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

AL: Did many Nisei get captured as POWs, and conversely, did you take many German POWs? What was the POW situation?

AN: You know, talk about POW, I have a very interesting story to tell you. As far as I'm concerned, we had no POWs except one, and that happened to be my man, my own personal man. And that was not because he was with the 442nd. This young man, his eyes was bad. In fact, he shouldn't be in the army at all. His glasses were like Coke bottles. But he was with me, and one day he broke his glasses and had to go back to the battalion to get new glasses. Well, when the doctor examined him, he said, "You got no business in the army."

AL: This is a Nisei guy?

AN: Yeah, Bob Ito, Robert Ito. I think I got it in the book there. And so he went back, I never heard from him, and I forgot about him. I said oh well, he'll probably come back. But then I didn't see him until we had a reunion in Hawaii after the war. And I saw him, I said, "Bobby, what happened to you?" He said, "Well, when I went back, they wouldn't send me back to your, to the outfit." I said, "Why?" "Because of my eyes." "So what did they do?" "Well, they sent me to another unit way up north in Europe." "And what happened?" He said, "Well, when I went up there, the whole unit got captured by the Germans and I was a POW." [Laughs] I said, "I'll be doggoned."

AL: So you don't know of other Nisei POWs?

AN: No, he's the only one that I know. In fact, he may be the only one. [Laughs]

AL: Do you know if he's still living?

AN: Oh, yeah, he's still living. As a matter of fact, he came out in the, when they had the Congressional Gold Medal, came out in the Washington Post, it was on the front page as one of the recipients.

AL: It would be interesting to talk to him, for sure.

AN: Yeah, he's in Hawaii.

AL: Oh, well, that would be even more interesting. [Laughs] So I know the 522nd, I mean, I've heard that the 442nd was often credited with liberating one of the Dachau camps. It was the 522nd, is that right?

AN: Yeah, that's a field artillery outfit, yeah.

AL: But it was part of the 442nd?

AN: Yeah, that's part of the regiment.

AL: Could you tell us that story? What have you heard about that? What do you know about it?

AN: Well, as far as I know they were detached from the 442nd and went up north to fight with, to support another unit, an American unit. And that's where they ran into the POW camp. So they had a unique experience there. Of course, at that time, I didn't know that they were gone from the unit until afterwards. And I had a friend in there, and after the war, I got together with him and I said, "Tell me what happened." He gave me a rundown on what happened, and that's what I put in the book for you, the little I did.

AL: Could you tell us just a little bit about it on the camera?

AN: No, I really don't know too much about it except what I wrote in the book. All I know is that they were transferred to support there, and they had, they were in combat over there. And supporting it, too, because artillery. And I guess they won, they overtook the enemy, and they also were the first to hit one of the POW camps there, the German. And that's why the 442nd, the first time the Japanese Americans saw what was going on in those camps. So they got nice, lot of stories to tell about that, and how they were starved, what they went through in terms of watch them. And so they had a firsthand view going through, going through the different stalag over there.

AL: When did you first hear about the camps in Germany in Poland, the German death camps? Did you know about that at all during the war, that they existed?

AN: Yeah, I knew a little bit, not too much. But anyway, I knew a little about it. And what little I knew about it was the way the Germans were murdering the Jews, Jewish people, how they were shot and how they were burning them. And, of course, after the war, I went in to see the places, Holocaust. Awful, awful. I can't believe that the human race could go through such a thing as that. But anyway...

AL: Did you go see those camps right after the war, or you're talking about years later?

AN: No, just after the war. After the war we had a tour by ourselves. We had a reunion by ourselves, we had a tour, we went to the same, back to the same place where we fought during World War II, just to see all the... especially all the American cemeteries where our buddies were still buried there. And one of the places we went to was the German camp, stalag, where they were, that's where the ovens were there, burned and all that.

AL: Do you know which camp it was?

AN: Yes. I forgot the name of that number, but...

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

AL: What was... well, one question, just back during wartime, could you describe a little bit the civilian impacts? As these battles are raging, what was happening to the civilians?

AN: Well, I don't know too much about... well, the two main countries, of course, Italy and France. The Italian people, of course, were going to, like any other country at war, hardly any food, and trying to make [inaudible] with things that they had. Like, for instance, now, one day we had a whole pot full of mush or something, and we gave it to them and they warmed it up. And one day I was invited to this one family to eat spaghetti. Well, that wasn't a big fancy meal, but it was just spaghetti and a very light sauce, but they didn't have the real ingredients. But I enjoyed their cornbread called polenta, and they baked their own cornbread, that was delicious, a huge round thing like that, that high, and you cut it with a string. But that was Italy. So they were going through some difficult times like any other country would during a war. In France, it was the same thing. We noticed they lacked all the good food that they used to do. War, every country during the war is about the same, I think. Even here in the United States. We didn't have everything what we wanted.

AL: What do you think would have happened if the Axis has prevailed?

AN: If the what?

AL: If the Axis had prevailed, if Germany and Japan and Italy had won -- of course, Italy dropped out, but if they had won the war, what do you think?

AN: If they won the war? Well, it'd be a sad day for all of us, I think. It'd be a sad day. I think we won't stand for it. I don't think the United States ever even think about giving up. I think our country was determined to win and that's it, no two other ways.

AL: So was there ever any doubt in your mind that the United States would win?

AN: Oh, yeah. There was no doubt in my mind that we were gonna win no matter what. But what was saw, and what we did to them, we know their strength was depleted, or was depleted real fast. And so as far as I'm concerned, these United States, as far as I'm concerned, is God's country. After all, my knowledge of this country that we live in was established by the Lord Himself, if you go back. We didn't do it by ourselves, it was established by the Lord, appointed by the Lord to be just part of his, the world, going to be us as an example to the world, that this is the way I like to have the people live during their mortal, mortality, and that we are an example to the world. Because He will establish it, He has helped our forefathers come up with a constitution and everything. And the main thing was that He wanted this country to establish that we will exercise our free agency. This is the key thing, we have our free agency, where other countries don't have it. They think they do, but they really don't have. That we'll establish and exercise our free agency. And if there's any other countries that try to usurp this free agency, we have the right to defend it. You know, come to think of all the wars, not one war have we... we never started a war in our life, but we have entered the war, but we never started the war. All these wars that we're going through right now, we never started them. We never caused it, so we didn't begin any war, but we did enter the war. Because they were now infringing upon our lives. To this day, that's the reason why you don't see any devastation of war in this country, it's always outside our country. But the day when they come and damage one bullet in here, then we're going to have some real fighting. Because we are the kind of people can defend this country, because we know how it was established. It was established by the Lord itself, as far as we're concerned. Our forefathers have so said this. If you really study their, the history, you find out that the good Lord Himself has helped us take a portion of this land in the world that ours...

AL: So when you were in the military, obviously your faith is very important. When you were in the military, how did that change how you approached your tasks in the military? I mean, did you have chaplains with you? Did you have any Mormon chaplains in your units?

AN: No, in our unit we didn't have, but we conducted our own selves. We can; we were trained to do that. And so like in the 442nd, we told the chaplain, "Chaplain, you know us Mormon boys from Hawaii?" He said yes, he was a chaplain from Hawaii. Said, "Oh, yeah." So we said we're going to conduct our own meeting. Said, "Oh, yeah, we know you can do it. Go right ahead." So we conducted our own services by ourselves. He knew that we could do it.

AL: So what would you say like the religious makeup of your unit was, like in terms of Buddhist, Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, no religion? What were the different groups that were represented?

AN: I really don't know. Most of them were Buddhist. And so, of course, I didn't attend any of... I didn't attend Buddhist at all, services, but they had regular Christian services by the chaplain. So that and then us Mormon boys, LDS boys, we had our own.

AL: Do you think there was any difference in how people approached combat based on their faith or no faith?

AN: I don't think so. I think we all... I think our, the way we approach combat was not by religion, religious belief, although we Mormons entered the war with that belief that no one's gonna take away our free agency, okay, that's one, and number two was, of course, no one's gonna have any racial prejudice against us. So we went in with the right attitude, with the right spirit. So I think there was nothing wrong with all of us going together.

AL: Did you have contact with your family or your fiance?

AN: During the war?

AL: During the war? Like how would you communicate with --

AN: Oh, just letters, regular letters back and forth.

AL: Were they censored?

AN: Yes, I think they were censored, yes. They were censored.

AL: Were you injured? I noticed in your list it said you had a Purple Heart. Was that during World War II?

AN: Yeah, uh-huh. I just had one of the shrapnels pierce my leg over here, you know. It was not too big deal about it, I mean, it's just because I drew blood, they called it Purple Heart. But it wasn't that serious. Of course, it hurt a little bit, but the man who looked at me said, "Oh, Art, you survived." I said, "How bad is it?" "Oh, don't worry, I'll just patch you up, keep on fighting." [Laughs]

AL: Well, can you tell us about, the day of that picture, the famous picture of the 442nd, you're the man at the far left, and there's the, what, three or four guys with the flags? What were the circumstances of that picture?

AN: That was the, after the war, after the rescue of the battalion. And I think that was the one that we were being decorated, some of us. I think that's when I got my Bronze Star. And I believe that's the one that the general said, "Where's the outfit?" and our colonel said, "Well, this is it." We just had a handful of people, you know. That was the ceremony.

AL: That's General [Dahlquist]?

AN: Yeah.

AL: So did Mark Clark replace [Dahlquist], or was Mark Clark with a different group?

AN: No, Mark Clark was above him. Oh, yeah, Mark Clark was the number one general. He was above him. Well, Mark Clark was above him by then, I mean. Mark Clark had Italy, Dahlquist was France, so Dahlquist was another general.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

KL: Yeah. Since you had a career in the military, I was curious if you talked to African American World War II veterans and how you think the Japanese American military experience in World War II was different or similar to the black experience during World War II, and what people got out of it, or how it affected them.

AN: Well, I really didn't know too much about the blacks in World War II. I really don't. We had an outfit that we joined which was a black, because 92nd Division, they were all comparable. They were an all-black outfit, and we were all-Japanese American outfit. But as far as I'm concerned, we didn't have much to do with them. All we know is that they held the line while we were in France and came back, and they were still at the same place when we left. And so one of the guys was telling me as a joke, we asked one of the black soldiers, said, "How come you guys are still here where we left?" "Why didn't you guys make sure to go ahead?" Just a joke, I guess, a story. And then the guy in the foxhole says, "You know, when they tell us to attack, we just lean forward in the foxhole as far as we go." [Laughs]

KL: When you talked to other veterans after the war, do you think that black soldiers felt like they lost or gained anything in an integrated army?

AN: I really don't know about that outfit. All I know is about the air force, they did a real good job, black air force. I think now they came out in a movie.

AL: Is that the Tuskegee Airmen?

AN: Yeah, they were good. It's about time they were recognized. But come to think of it, I'd never heard of the 92nd. We were attached to them just for a little while until we finished the war. But... in fact, we know there was such thing as a whole division, and now we're three regiments full of black soldiers, we didn't even know that. We had, personally I had nothing to do with them, I never associated... I really don't know what happened to them.

AL: What about the interrelationships between the Caucasians and you talked a little bit about Colonel Young Oak Kim, but the other commanders within, within your unit, I mean, were there Japanese Americans who rose up to be commanders, or was it always Caucasians over...

AN: No, it was a good mixture.

AL: It was? Okay.

AN: Good mixture. In fact, a lot of the people like Dan Inouye and all that, they got battlefield commission right there on the spot.

AL: What was Daniel Inouye like over there during the war? I mean, he's very famous now, but just as a soldier, were you with him?

AN: Well, he was a good soldier, he was in E Company next door to me. And, of course, of his one acts, so he went through, lost his arm, and he became a hero. Because Daniel and I, we grew up together, and he was always a bright kid, with good head on him. So it didn't surprise me that he had good leadership capability. He was good. So he deserved... I heard about when he got hit, but I didn't know what happened. And later on I found out that he was sent back to the United States because he lost his arm in that one battle, but he lived. He was an officer then. So that's what happened.

AL: I know you mention in your book about Sadao Munemori, who received the... he's the only Japanese American to receive the Medal of Honor during the war period. His mother, his brother, his sister were in Manzanar. And we actually have his mother's blue star banner that she hung in her barrack window, and his sister, Yaeko, who died in 2004/2005 had sent that to us, and she said, "Mom had this in the barrack window, and when he was killed, she took it down, put it in this wooden box." And his sister Yaeko said, "I never want to see it again. You guys can have it if you want, I never want to see it again." And we have it in our exhibit. I'm just curious about, over there, the guys from the camps. His mother was in Manzanar when he received the Medal of Honor, she was under armed guard at Manzanar. When you look back on that, what do you think about that?

AN: Well, frankly, I didn't know about that until way afterwards. I didn't know anything about it, except what you folks read and I read, because I never with him in the same... well, we were in the same outfit, but I never knew what he had done. So I really don't know too much about it except what you have.

AL: Were there any acts that you would consider acts of heroism that you saw over there that have never been recognized?

AN: No. To me, everything was just regular. It was not act of heroism. Everything was combat to me, so unless it was really outstanding, like what Danny Inouye did or something like that. Like for instance the Congressional Medal of Honor, four of them belong right with me in my outfit. I didn't know anything about it until it came out the names came out, I said, "Wow." Joe Nishimoto and three others. I said, "They were with me," but I didn't know what they did that was so outstanding. So I guess I wasn't looking or I didn't pay any attention. To me it was just another battle. But just how much, I don't know, because I've never seen them there.

AL: Did you go to Washington recently for the Congressional Gold Medal?

AN: No, I didn't.

AL: Did you receive one?

AN: Yes.

AL: What was that like? I mean, how did you feel in getting that seventy years later?

AN: Oh, was, I was... our church, every Fourth of July has a program, patriotic program, and they heard about me getting one, so they asked a congressman over here, a congresswoman, that always attends, she's not a Mormon, but she always likes to attend our service, I mean, the program. So they asked her to come over and present me the award. But that's what happened this last July. So they wanted to make a big thing out of it, patriotic thing, so I said go ahead, so we did it. That's the way I got it, so the congresswoman mentioned that, "Since Colonel Nishimoto wasn't able to attend the service in Washington, D.C., I will make a formal presentation." [Laughs] That's it.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

AL: This is tape four of an oral history interview with Colonel Arthur Nishimoto. Today is August 22, 2012, the interviewer is Alisa Lynch, videographer Kristen Luetkemeier. So we were talking about the Congressional Gold Medal. I wanted to back up a little bit and talk about during the war. I know that you're being recognized now, seventy years later, but when you came home from the war, where did you come to and what was the reception like?

AN: Well, the people in Hawaii did not know when we'll be arriving there, but there were shiploads that came in, and the people were just come to the pier to see if their sons or daughters were, happened to be there. And so my engaged wife, every time a boat comes in, she and her mother would go to the pier and watch. And it just happened that one of those, I was on. And that's the way it was. They didn't make any announcement who was coming home or anything like that. So that's the way I returned, I was just happy that she was there waiting for me. So she said, "I've been doing this every boat load that comes through."

AL: Good thing she had the ring, or she might have met some other guy, huh?

AN: Yeah. [Laughs]

AL: What was her... did you see her face the first time she recognized you?

AN: Yeah, she, of course, it was a good meeting after this long period. But in actuality, we weren't away that long, couple of years. Not that long when you really come down to it. All counted, that was only about a year. But in the short year, we accomplished so much, that's what made us outstanding, I guess, we accomplished so much in such a short period of time. That's the amazing part of the whole thing, if you look at the whole picture.

AL: Well, you know, you say a year is short, but I think for me, I can't imagine making through a single day of that. I've read some of Ernie Pyle's writings, you know, his warfront writings, and last year I was reading them kind of day by day, I'd read the day's worth of Ernie Pyle, and it was gut-wrenching and I wasn't even there. I was reading it from the comfort of my home, and it was just, I can't imagine. That's why I keep saying I can't imagine, I can't imagine. So when did you first see your parents?

AN: My parents? Well, they took me home to my parents' place, and that's the first time I saw them, at home.

AL: Were they surprised to see you?

AN: Yeah, yeah, they didn't know I came home. So it was my wife and her mother, she's the only child anyway, so she and her mother came over just to see who was there, just happened that I was on the ship. And they took me home directly to my home. That's the way I came home.

AL: And your brother and sister were still in school?

AN: Yeah.

AL: When did you get married?

AN: I came home in December, and I got married in January. I didn't waste no time. [Laughs]

AL: Where did you marry?

AN: In Honolulu.

AL: Is there a temple there? I mean, where is it in Honolulu.

AN: Over in the, I got married in the Tabernacle, the Hawaiian Tabernacle.

AL: Is it still there?

AN: Yeah.

AL: What is it called? Does it have a name or is it just called the...

AN: Yeah, it's called a Tabernacle, it's on Pau'a. It's a regular church meeting house. Then later on, we went to the temple to be married, I mean, what we called sealed together.

AL: In Laie?

AN: Yeah.

AL: Did you go to Hawaii for your honeymoon? That's what everybody wants to do, or did you stay in Hawaii?

AN: No, I went to Maui.

AL: Oh, okay.

AN: Yeah, I went to Maui, not to the Big Island. I went to Maui for about a week or so with our friends over there. That's where I went.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

AL: Did you... I mean, I would imagine coming back, you were probably a different, you had seen so much and lived so much in those two years, would you say that you were the same man coming home? How was your life, how had you changed as a person if you hadn't gone to war, if you'd just stayed in Hawaii?

AN: I guess I, I guess I matured during the war. Yes, and I began to appreciate what life is. But the only thing I feared was, was I, did I have a shell-shock, and was I still in war? Because I've heard some of my friends, when we came back it was December, and for New Year's there was firecrackers. And when they heard that, they hit the ground, even downtown, it was kind of embarrassing. And I heard that people were doing that, some of the boys. I thought, I hope I'm not that way, but I was, a little bit. Because one day I was out hanging my laundry out there, on the clothesline, and my neighbor fired some firecracker. And instantly, without knowing it, I threw the basket and hit the ground in my backyard. I thought to myself, oh look, I felt sheepish and embarrassed, but no one saw that. And so I thought, well, yeah, I do have that instinct in my mind yet, I got to get rid of it. I wasn't crazy, it's just an instinct, it comes natural. And so that was the only time I did that. After that, I heard firecrackers going off, I didn't move, I was okay. It's just the first time without warning I heard that, bang-bang-bang, I just threw my laundry, basket of laundry, and I hit the ground of my yard. I looked around to see if anyone was watching. So I guess we come that way, every day and day out, subconsciously, we do that. We outgrew it, but some people didn't. Now, today's war, it's the most saddest thing to find out that nearly every day, yesterday, the news said, nearly every day, one soldier's committing suicide. Let me tell you, now that's bad. Something is wrong there.

AL: What is the difference? Why do you think it's happening now?

AN: I don't know. I really don't know if it's more than... the youngsters today are different than when we were youngsters. They're different. I don't know what it is, I can't put my finger on it. I think it was, here they were, they're soldiers, they've been trained, and why do they do that? Is the war that much different? Yes, I can see the war is different than when we fought. And so I don't know. I don't know if this new generation... I think their upbringing is different than when we were, yeah.

AL: Were you aware of any guys from the 442nd and the 100th who committed suicide after returning?

AN: No. I'm trying to think... no, I haven't heard of anyone committing suicide. They may have, but I haven't heard.

AL: Did you guys keep in touch, like your unit? When did you start having reunions and getting together?

AN: Oh, yeah. Well, for me, it was over twenty years before I got together for reunion, but I was in the military, I wasn't around. So after nearly twenty-seven years of service, then I came back, and then they told me that we have a reunion. So I joined them really late, just in the past ten, fifteen years is when I joined them.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

AL: So when you went back into the military -- because you had a break from '45, right, until '46. When you went back in, was that by your choice, or were you called back in?

AN: Yeah, it was by choice, and yet, I was called in. They asked me to sign up, I was in the reserve, and they said, "Why don't you sign up to be, go on active duty?" I said, at that time I was struggling with raising a family and then trying to go to school at the same time, so I had to make up my mind whether to work full time or not, but I wasn't educated enough to work full time, because I didn't finish my college. I thought, oh, well, I'll go back in the military and then go to college. We could do that. And so I joined, I signed up to be called back, and that's when they were releasing a lot of officers instead of calling them back. But somehow I got called back. I didn't think I will be, but they called me back on active duty. And then once I got in, then that ten years, the first ten years, they were releasing a lot of officers. And here I am a new one, and I'll be the first one to go, but no, they kept me, they kept me, they kept me, and all the rest of the officers, my friends were being released.

As a matter of fact, after about ten years, I was, of course, with Intelligence, and there was a full colonel. And one day, he came to me, I was working in New York, we worked in the civilian area, we don't go to military base, wear civilian clothes. Anyway, I was working in New York City and I see these names come through as a sergeant. I said, "Wait a minute." As far as I'm concerned, because he's in civilian clothes, but he's ranked as sergeant. I said, this man is a full colonel when I was a second lieutenant. And so I waited for him, he came over and reported to me, he was going to come and work for me. So when he came, I said, "Colonel, what's this, you're a sergeant?" He said, "Yeah." "Why?" He said, "Well, I only got two more and they rifted me. I had eighteen years in, I just want to finish up two more years and then I can retire as my full colonel. So I came back in, I couldn't gain any rank for the next two years." But as far as we're concerned, no one knows his rank. We all call each other Mister. So I told him I was living on Staten Island, I said, "I'm going to assign you to Staten Island. You don't come in the office at all, okay? You're my agent over there, you take care of the investigations over there, don't come in at all." So I left him there for two years. But that's how much they're rifting people, all the high-ranking officers, and here I'm still in. And somehow I've been blessed, I've never missed a promotion, every one, up and down, every step until I became a full colonel. Gosh, somebody's watching over me. And so I went through that period and I retired.


AL: So you, yeah, you said that... so where were some of the places that you were stationed? You were in counterintelligence the whole time?

AN: Yeah.

AL: And where were some of the stations that you had?

AN: Oh, like in the United States, I was in San Francisco, Baltimore, I was in Florida, I was in Alaska. So north, south, east, west. Of course, most of the time was in Japan and Korea. I loved my job, because I had an operation going, undercover work, those kind of stuff.

AL: So what kind of things does counterintelligence do? Is that like what we would consider like the CIA except it's military?

AN: Yeah, that's it.

AL: So you're a spy?

AN: Yeah. I can tell all kinds of stories on that, but I won't. [Laughs]

AL: Okay, yeah, we'd have to turn off the camera.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

AL: So you're, you have, you said, two sons? You have two sons? Four sons, okay. Could you tell us the children that you have and when they were born?

AN: Well the oldest is, I commissioned him when he graduated, he was an ROTC colonel at BYU. He went to BYU, and he was the top dog in the ROTC over there. And so I was still active duty in Arizona, so came graduation and commission, I came over and I commissioned him in front of everybody. That's number one.

AL: What's his name?

AN: Castle, like a castle, C-A-S-T-L-E. And I commissioned him and he stayed in the military for ten years, said, "Dad" -- all my kids were born in the military so they know military life. And so he says, "You know, the army today is bad." I said, "What do you mean, bad?" He said, "We just got a bunch of civilians in uniform, they're worthless. They're not leadership, they're a bunch of people that kiss others' butt." He said, "This is not no army anymore, I'm getting out." Too much politics, too much rubbing noses and all that, so he got out. I said, "What are you going to do?" He said, "I'll go to FBI, they'll take me anytime." So he just transferred from the military to the FBI, still federal work, right? So, of course, now he's retired from the military. And then he wasn't just an ordinary FBI agent, too, he was in the FBI, the elite outfit called HLT, lot of people don't know about that, hostage reconciliation, they go all over the world putting out fires, like Waco, like Idaho, Columbia, all those places. Anyway, he was one of them, so he's retired now.

Number two boy... in fact, all my children, I was able to help them to go to college. Because I didn't finish, I envied that, and I wanted them to finish. So number two boy, he's also retired. My oldest boy now is about sixty-five, sixty-six, sixty-seven... sixty-five years old. And the second boy is sixty-three, they both retired. My number three boy, he's a... by the way, my family is what we call "law and order." The reason why is because all my children are all law enforcement types. FBI, police...

AL: We better behave ourselves, huh? What is the number two son's name?

AN: Number two is in the, Utah.

AL: What's his name?

AN: Spencer.

AL: Spencer?

AL: Yeah, Spencer. And he's the only one that chose a different field. He chose a field where he worked for the Utah State mental school, so he specialized in that, and he retired after thirty years working in a mental school. And so, and number three boy, he was associate dean of a college, and his specialty was all criminal justice. So as associate dean, he had different colleges under him, and this past year, he called me up and he said, "I'm going to quit that." I said, "What are you going to do?" "I'd rather go back to teaching. I don't like all the politicking in the college, I want to go back and teach college," rather than sit on top and have several colleges under him. So he asked to be released as associate dean and put him back on a staff of teaching.

AL: And what's his name?

AN: Ian.

AL: Ian?

AN: Yeah. So he's there now. He will retire in a few years. Number four son is, you often have one prodigal son, unemployed, no more work, that's it. The reason why is because last year he quit his work to keep us, help us, mom and dad. He said, "I'm going to, since I'm not married, I'm going to take care of you folks, but I'm going to resign from work."

AL: What was his career?

AN: His career, he's another, he's a college graduate, he's a criminal justice.

AL: And his name is Wells?

AN: Wells, yeah. And he had all kind of experience in criminal justice. And so, anyway, the last job he had was, the last five years were working for the state prison, okay. And before that, he worked at a correction office in Utah, and he looks like a nice peaceful man, but when it comes to prisoners, he's a mean old... but respected by the prisoners. They're all respected.


AN: Yeah, his name is Wells, and what he did was he resigned from work to take care of both of us, because my wife got Alzheimer's the past five years. And so he said, "Now, Dad, I will take care of her," but not that serious, not that bad. You can talk to her, she'll answer you, but she was losing it little by little, you know. And so he said, "I'm going to resign from work, I'm going to take care of both of you." I said, "Go ahead." So he said, "I'll move in with you, because only you two cannot be living like the way you're doing. You need the help." And so that's what he did. And now, today, for the first time, prior to going into law enforcement work, he learned the gaming control, the gambling over here. When he first came here, he led such a sheltered life, he didn't even know what a deck of cards looked like. Really, he didn't know. "What is this?" "That's clubs," or it's diamonds. "What's this picture?" It's king, queen, jack, ace. I said, "You've got to learn all these if you want to work in a..." because he's a criminal justice graduate, he wanted to get into the different types of... he never learned in college. He said, "I want to get into this field." I said, "You can't, this is too much for you." He said, "I will." I said, "You don't even know what a deck of cards look like." And he did, and he went to school here, college, learned all the gambling, okay, and then how to cheat, how not to cheat, because now he's going to be investigating, he's going to be one of those surveillance operators. And he did, he mastered that whole thing. Now he knows what we call pai gow, Chinese game, all regular American surveillance operators know that game. He studied that. And so he just applied today, he was processing to work at the Hard Rock.

AL: Oh, really?

AN: Hard Rock, he got a job at the Hard Rock. He said, "I'm not worried about getting a job." I told him to go back to work, because I'm by myself now. He doesn't have to worry about me. He's just going to be gone for eight hours and come back, so I'll be all right. Anyway, that's what he's doing now. Instead of going back to jail, he said, "I don't want to go back to jail anymore." Well, he had high respect from the prisoners, very high respect there. They respected him, because he wasn't those kind that, like he said, "I didn't bring my level down to their level." But many of the officers, they bring their level down to their, the prisoners' level, talk like they do, use the language they do, and they think they're tough. And he said, "I never bring myself down, but I try to bring them up to my level," and that's what he'd been doing to all the prisoners. He counseled them, helped them, he met them on the street after they came out of jail, they call him, they say, "Hey, Wells, I'm out." Couple of them right here in Las Vegas. Wells says, "When did you get out?" He'll say, "When you coming back?" [Laughs] They laugh, but they love him. But they also know that they don't fool around with him. So he said, "I don't know why these officers cannot see what they're doing. They're bringing themselves down to their level." He said, "I'll never do that, but I'll try to bring them up to my level, and they'll have respect, and they won't have much trouble with me."

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

AL: How many grandchildren do you have?

AN: Oh, I don't know.

AL: You don't know? Okay. [Laughs]

AN: No, I have about twenty-six or twenty-seven, out of which maybe about eleven, yeah, eleven great-grandchildren. In fact, just last night I was thinking I couldn't name all of them. [Laughs]

AL: Yeah, we won't ask you to name all of them. But let's just say one of your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, is watching this in twenty years. What do you want them to know about your life, about the most important...

AN: Well, I want them to know that Grandpa was a man that they can say that he really served man, God, and country. I want them to know that, that at least he did that. I want them to have that image of me, that I did serve, and my whole life was service, and that's my inner feeling, that I'd like to, my whole life is service. That's all I've been doing. I've been serving the church, I've been serving the military, I've been serving, you know, people. And so I enjoy it. I like to help people, to lift them up when I can, if I can, and that's my whole... I hate to see people down and people kicking them when they're down. I don't know why, I'm just that way. I guess that's the way I was brought up maybe, I don't know. But that's my feeling on it.

And I haven't finished my family yet. I've got one more. Of all things, this one little baby came out, it was different. We never had a baby like this before, it was a girl. My wife said, "What is this?" [Laughs] We never had that experience, we had four boys and this one girl. And I said, "Mom, what are you going to do with things like this?" She said, "I don't know, I've been taking care of boys all my life." I said, "This is a mistake." But we finally had a girl, and she turned out to be real good.

AL: What's her name?

AN: Erin. She's the baby of the family. And the reason why I call them "law and order," because she's an attorney, okay? And she wound up with a big mouth, she was, what do you call it, a debate champion in high school. And I remember one day I said, "You know what, Erin?" You got a mouth so big that you can be a lawyer. I didn't say anything, quietly she went to school, graduated university, went to law school, became a lawyer. [Laughs] And now she has three little girls, yeah. And so, then she still -- she doesn't practice law, but she keeps her license alive in California. She's Anaheim. She used to work for the Orange County DA's office, and she loves to prosecute.

AL: I would not want to mess with your family. [Laughs]

AN: Oh boy, she loves that. But she worked only a little while, you know.

AL: What is her last name?

AN: Kailiponi. She married a Hawaiian from back home, from Maui. So that's the reason I say my house is "law and order." All cops and law. [Laughs] And then the Supreme Court is here. I'm the chief judge, my wife and I. And then my daughter, you know, my daughter gets the four boys together, they said, "You know, you guys are nothing but a bunch of dumb cops." She said, "You guys better learn how to behave yourself and know what's right and what's wrong. You guys, all you know is like to fight." [Laughs] And when the four boys get together, the boys get together, all the war stories come out, their police experiences, oh, it's lot of fun.

AL: What is the age range between your oldest and your daughter?

AN: Twenty-five years.

AL: Whoa.

AN: So in other words... no, twenty-four years. So when she, I remember when she graduated high school, went to the graduation, she was a cheerleader for her high school, and my boy Wells would play football for the high school at the same time. And so... and she was one of the commencement speakers, with the mouth... and so she was one of the speakers in the stadium exercise. So after that we all went down to congratulate her, and of course, the school staff was there, the principal and everything, and they were congratulating Erin for her nice talk she gave and all that. And so my oldest boy Castle went down, and we were following him, and the principal met him and said, before we can talk and introduce ourselves, the principal looked at Castle and said, "You know, your daughter was one of our favorite students." So mom and I, we backed off. We backed off, let it go, let it go. [Laughs] After all, there's twenty-four years' difference, you know. So he fell right into play and talked like he was the father and we're the grandma and grandpa.

AL: So how old were you when she was born, you and your wife?

AN: This is a miracle for you women. She was forty-eight years old, forty-seven years old. [Laughs] I told her, she should belong in the Guinness... that's why I said she got pregnant and then we got a girl, we were bewildered, we didn't know what was going on. What the heck's going on here? Yeah.

AL: After four you didn't know what caused it? [Laughs]

AN: I said, "Well, we might be eating some wrong food here or something." Oh, boy, that was really something.

AL: That's when we should have turned off the camera. So I understand that, I know that you lost your wife last year, and we're sorry to hear that.

AN: Yeah, well, it's too bad, but can't help it.

AL: But who was she as a person?

AN: Hmm?

AL: Who was she as a person? It sounds like you guys led a very interesting life. How would you describe her?

AN: Oh, I'd describe her as one that had patience, one that always considered the family first, especially the children, and especially when she had four boys, she had to use some strong language on them once in a while, you know. When they were teenagers, when they started going on dates, she told the boys in plain language, "If you take the gal out tonight, but don't forget, keep your pants zippered up, okay? You know what I mean? Do that." And she gave 'em some real sound, solid advice, and they did. Actually, she brought up the boys more than I did, because I was out in different assignments in the military. But she was a really family-oriented person. The reason why, because she was the only child. She wanted to have a sister or brother, but she didn't, she grew up by herself. So at first, when I met her in high school, I thought maybe she's a spoiled brat, but she wasn't. She wasn't. And she told me all her life, she said, "I wish I had a sister or brother. I was the only child. So when I had my own children, I made sure that my kids all enjoyed each other." So she was really family-oriented.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

AL: And your parents, you said both of your parents passed away at eighty-nine. What did they do the rest of their lives, just retire? Did they stay in Hawaii, your mother and father?

AN: Yeah.

AL: What did you think about the redress movement? I mean, I know that was really about people who were in the camps, but you know, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988? I mean, the bill is HR442, you know, where people who were in the camps got an apology and a payment of $20,000. Did you have any sort of opinion on that?

AN: Yeah, I thought, well, first of all, going to camp, that was the most dumbest thing they did, moving over a hundred thousand people from the West Coast, I thought that was stupid. That was the most dumbest thing the government ever did. Because of a few of the leadership in the West Coast, especially General what's his name, the military general, he should know better. And then all fell in line with him, the governors, I mean, the politicians, they all fell in line with him. And then it went as far as all the way up the West Coast, even to Utah, Idaho, it caught on like fire. In other words, all these years, they had it in the hopper, no one came out and talked until when the war came out, then they let out everything how they felt about the Japanese people. Number one, they were good farmers, not only farmers, but they were good businessmen, all up and down the coast, and they were jealous of their business. I think that's the reason why they hated the Japanese, because the Japanese people are industrious people, they are. And so I think they hated that because of their business acumen and whatever they had, they were good at it. But the war gave them an excuse to say something, and they said the wrong thing, and they convinced the President of the United States that they should remove. And that was a costly move, too, all the extra money they spent. And if the people were there, I think the West Coast would be better off today. I really think that the West Coast, California especially, would not be in the condition they're in today. The frustration is California's broke. They're broke.

AL: Why didn't they take the Japanese Americans on Hawaii?

AN: The reason why is because we were the majority. We held the islands together. If they shipped all of us out, who they going to turn to to run the islands? They didn't have people to, that can run the island. They cannot depend on the Hawaiians, the Filipinos, because they weren't that motivated to do those things. They were more laborer type, work in the field, where the Orientals, the Japanese and Chinese in Hawaii were businesspeople, government people. If they shipped all of us out, they would have sunk. The military would have had their hands tied, they couldn't move. And then the military and the government, they knew that they can trust us; they loved us. That's the reason why they went back to President Roosevelt and told him, "Hey, don't ever touch any of these people, we trust them. We have to rely on them. There's no such thing what you guys are doing on the West Coast. You guys are doing the wrong thing, it's up to you people, but don't touch the people in Hawaii." That's what happened; that's our government in Hawaii, told them don't touch us. That's the reason why many of us weren't sent to camp. There were a couple of them, a few of them that went.

AL: Do you know why some people from Hawaii went to camp?

AN: No, I really don't know, but what I heard, because they were, some of them were good businesspeople, some of them were schoolteachers teaching Japanese school and all that. Maybe those are the main reasons why. But there weren't too many, just a handful.

AL: So I should know the answer to this but I don't. The people who were in Hawaii, or the guys that were in the 442nd, you guys did not get redress because you were not in camp, right? You didn't get anything out of the redress act of 1988?

AN: We didn't get nothing out of what?

AL: The payment. You didn't get the $20,000 payment.

AN: Oh, no, no.

AL: It was only people in camps.

AN: Only in camp. Yeah, we didn't.

AL: Why do you think, or what do you think is important about sites -- I know you haven't been to Manzanar, but do you think these sites should be preserved, and if so, why?

AN: I think they should be preserved. I think it's a good idea that you're preserving at least one or two of 'em, anyway, to remind the people what had happened. Because this is not a small thing that happened, it was a major thing that happened when they opened up these camps. I think... what, we had ten camps? I think each camp should have some memorial or something, where they were, all ten of 'em, to remind the people that this is the place, this kind of place where people of the United States were sent to. I think they should, at least something. Let the younger generation know that things can happen here in this country.

AL: Do you think it could ever happen again?

AN: I don't think so. But, you know, the Japanese are not the only ones. Don't forget, the Italians were also incarcerated, we don't talk about them too much, but they were. There were some Italians and maybe a few Germans. They were, like we were, but they weren't en masse like we were.

AL: So you mentioned before that you had gone back to Italy. How many times have you gone back?

AN: Where?

AL: To Italy.

AN: Only once after the war.

AL: What was that like, to go back?

AN: Oh, it was a real memorable trip for me, all of us. We couldn't believe that we did this, did we go over that? You know, we couldn't believe what we did. But it was... and, of course, the people in France, Italy, treated us real royally. It was really the way they welcomed us, the whole town come out, played music for us, parade and all that. Of course, the main thing was that we went to see the cemeteries of all our friends that are still buried there, in France and Italy. I didn't realize that we had that many of our boys buried that didn't come home.

AL: They're still young men.

AN: Huh?

AL: They're still young men.

AN: Yeah.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

AL: Let me just see if there's anything... I don't know, Kristen, if you had anything else to ask? Oh, I know one question I was going to ask if that's okay. Did you know Mike Masaoka?

AN: Yes.

AL: Because he's probably the most famous Japanese American Mormon that I know, I don't know much about him. But just, who was he as a person, because you know he's a very controversial...

AN: I believe he was a lobbyist. He spoke for us in Washington; he was a lobbyist. And do you have my statement on him, the last part of the book? Take a look at it.

AL: Oh, the creed, the JACL creed? Yes, we have that.

AN: That's a wonderful piece of message that he wrote, yeah. I visited him once in Washington, D.C., because I met him, first time I met him was in Salt Lake. I just knew him briefly, but I love the man. He did a lot for the Niseis in California.

AL: You know, the memorial in Washington, D.C., I don't know if you've ever seen the memorial, it's called the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II, very long title. It's up by Union Station off of Constitution, I don't remember the cross street. Anyway, it has different inscriptions, it's got names of the guys that were killed in the 442nd. And it is, like all the monuments in Washington, D.C., it falls under the purview of the National Park Service. That creed that Mike Masaoka wrote, is on that memorial.

AN: Oh.

AL: It is extremely controversial, and actually there was a lot of fallout to the National Park Service for putting it on the memorial because some people say he, Mike Masaoka and the JACL, is the one that told everyone to go to camp. He wasn't in a camp himself, his brother was in Manzanar, but that he basically made arrangements for everybody to go peacefully to camp, and that they, there's anger about that on his part. And that quote being on the memorial has been very controversial. Do I don't know if you're aware of that or if you have any feeling towards...

AN: First time I hear about that.

AL: Does that represent your feelings, the creed that he has?

AN: Yes. I love that. Nothing wrong with what he said. That's the reason why I put it in my book, exactly. Nothing wrong with that. His brother was with me, my company, and I'm trying to think whether he got killed or not.

AL: Is that Joe Grant? Joe Grant Masaoka or a different one?

AN: I forgot which one. He had three brothers. I forget some of them.

AL: We have his biography in our library, but I have not read it. Is there anything else that we have not asked you about, or anything else that you want to add? Any stories or advice or anything for us or for Manzanar?

AN: No, not really, nothing. Like I said, I live a very dull life. Nothing that I can think of. I think you covered everything, more than I expected. Anyway, I thank you for coming all this distance as to hear my story. I appreciate that. I don't mind contributing what little I have today to help the future; I really do. I really think about the future generations. Perhaps the reason why I feel that way is because now that I have so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I feel that way, I guess. Although all my grandchildren and great-grandchildren have name of Nishimoto, but they're blue-eyed, blond hair, redhead, Hawaiian, not one Oriental.

AL: So they're all hapa?

AN: All hapa, all mixed. We are all "chop suey." I've never seen a family like that. [Laughs] When we had a family reunion last year, so Mom, my wife and I, I said, "Hey, let's find out who belongs to who, okay?" [Laughs] The kids would come up, "Hi, Grandma and Grandpa." We'd say, "Who are you? What's your name? Who's your daddy and mommy? Oh, that? Okay." [Laughs] I can't believe it, not one. All mixed.

AL: What would your father or your grandfather have thought of that? Could they have imagined?

AN: I think they would turn over in their grave right now if they see all that.

AL: Why?

AN: Oh, they never expected that, I guess. But anyway...

AL: You know, I always think it's interesting, I know Nisei women who married hakujin guys, and their parents said, "You're bringing shame on our family." And then the hakujin guys say to their son, "You're bringing shame on our family." But anyway, well, I want to...

AN: Well, the thing that really was a surprise to me many years ago was when the blacks was getting married to whites, and they married, and even Orientals were marrying blacks. I thought that was something different. I don't feel bad about it, I just thought it was different. I thought, hey, this is something different that I'm seeing.

AL: So you ever imagine, we have a President from Hawaii whose parents are interracial, it's... regardless of politics, I think it's a big change from what I would have even expected in my time. Well, you know, it's a real pleasure and honor to meet you because, of course, I only heard your story in a radio earpiece, we didn't get to meet, and Rosie said, "Oh, you've got to talk to this guy, he was really good." So I just want to thank you on behalf of Kristen and myself, the National Park Service, we really appreciate your time.

AN: Well, thank you for coming over and taking your time to do this. I don't mind it at all.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

AL: I just realized I have one more question, I promise, last one. Did your parents become citizens when the law changed?

AN: What?

AL: Did your parents ever become U.S... your dad, I should say, did he ever become a citizen?

AN: No, I don't think he did. No, I don't think he did.

AL: Did your mom --

AN: My mom is very...

AL: She was Nisei, but did she lose her citizenship when she married your father?

AN: Yeah, I think so. I never, I never dug into his background that deep yet.

AL: Because there's... I don't know if it was a California law, I think it might have been a U.S. law that a Nisei woman who married an Issei lost her citizenship.

AN: Yeah.

AL: So I was just curious if they got their citizenship in 1952.

AN: That I don't know. All I know, us kids, like me, for instance, I became a dual citizen, I know that.

AL: So they registered you at birth?

AN: They registered me in Japan. And so that's how I found out. So when I went to Japan, sure enough, I was in the records, they crossed it off. My friend living out here just recently told me his son, his son gave up his U.S. citizenship and took up Japanese citizenship, that's the opposite.

AL: Yeah, you have dual. So you visited Japan, right?

AN: Yeah.

AL: What is it like? Have you ever gone back to your ancestral home?

AN: Huh?

AL: Have you ever gone back to Shikoku, right, to your family, where your family was from in Japan, have you visited that area?

AN: Yeah, I did. I did.

AL: You said you have grandparents from Hiroshima. Have you ever visited Hiroshima?

AN: Yeah. I was stationed there, in fact.

AL: Do you have any... what is your personal feeling about how the war ended, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

AN: Well, I think... I believe that had to be done. I know it's cruel, because I went there. I was stationed there after the war. I went to Hiroshima and I saw all the people, the skin blistered and all that. As a matter of fact, I almost got out of the army, almost going to work for them, the American APCC, Atomic Bomb Commission. I was going to take a civil service job and work for them, but I thought I might as well stay in the military. I was stationed there, I saw the place where it was bombed, and I didn't see too many patients, but I saw enough evidence, pictures.

AL: What year were you there?

AN: I was there 1950, I guess. So it wasn't too long after the war was over. At that time, I wasn't stationed at that time there, I was stationed in... I went to Japan about three times. The first time I wasn't stationed there, but I went to visit there. But that did it, though, that ended the war. That's the reason why, today, the United States is very touchy about, what's that Iran and all that, they're working on nuclear bombs, North Korea and all that. And, of course, the world knows what we can do, too. But that's a horrible thing to do to humanity.

AL: Well, that's a heavy subject, but like I said, I hope... I went to Hiroshima and I felt guilty. I wasn't born until 1966, but I was horrified. I've also been to Pearl Harbor, and being in all of these places, it's like it's, I think every person should see that. But I really, like I said, I really appreciate, we really appreciate your time and sharing your story and your memories. So thank you, Colonel Nishimoto.

AN: You're welcome. Thank you.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2012 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.