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Personal Narratives of the Forced Removal and Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II: Veterans History Project (U.S.)

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Series I: Formerly Incarcerated People (continued)
Edward Miyakawa Collection
Collection ID: 5771
Digital content available
Miyakawa was incarcerated at Tule Lake Relocation Center, California, as a child. After completing a loyalty questionnaire, his father was permitted to move the family to Colorado, where he attempted to reestablish his produce business before eventually returning the family to California. Miyakawa served in the United States Navy from 1952 to 1956. He is the author of the novel, "Tule Lake".
BOX VHS-81 Video Interview with Edward Miyakawa, April 29, 2003
93 minutes
MV01: Topics covered include: Growing up in Japanese community in Sacramento, California; father highly educated, worked in produce business; attack on Pearl Harbor; prejudice against Japanese Americans; racism; forced remocal; Executive Order 9066; moving from home to temporary incarceration camp; on train to Tule Lake Relocation Center, Quaker woman and daughter passing out sandwiches, symbolic of people who didn't agree with what the government was doing; living conditions, shared latrines, laundry, mess hall; didn't like food, stopped eating and began losing weight; had a miserable time in camp, felt friends turned against him; loyalty questionnaire; forced reomoval from Tule Lake to Colorado; first Japanese American family in Boulder, Colorado; moving back to California; reasons for joining the military; joined the Navy for GI Bill; surveyor with Seabees; serving in Japan.
Yukio W. Miyamoto Collection
Collection ID: 19359
Digital content available
Miyamoto was incarcerated at Poston Relocation Center, Arizona, until 1943, when he was released to move to Chicago. In 1944, he was drafted into the United States Army and served in Italy with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. after the 442nd was disbanded, he was transferred to the 5th Army Headquarters, and susequently served with the 206th Army Ground Forces (AGF) Band; 117th Army Ground Forces (AGF) Band; and 74th Army Ground Forces (AGF) Band.
BOX VHS-250 Video Interview with Yukio W. Miyamoto, April 24, 2004
54 minutes
MV01: Topics covered include: early life; thoughts on being drafted; training; first experiences in battle; use of weapons; casualties; enemy prisoners of war (POW); transferred to the 5th Army Headquarters; changes in attitudes towards Japanese Americans; work post war; memorable experiences.
BOX-FOLDER MSS-701/1 Biographical information, undated
1 folder
MS01: Unattributed biographical sketch of Miyamoto entitled, "Moving With Music"; Unattributed biographical sketch of Miyamoto entitled, "Proving Their Loyalty."
BOX-FOLDER MSS-701/2 Military papers, 1946
1 folder
MS02: Separation form; Honorable Discharge certificate; Honorable Discharge form; Presidential Commendation certificate signed by President Harry S. Truman.
BOX-FOLDER MSS-701/3 Photographs, circa 1944-1946
1 folder
PH01: Photocopy of photograph of Miyamoto wearing false "bugged-out" eyes unfolding a pin-up picture, Italy.
PH02: Photocopy of photograph of an unidentified soldier, Italy.
PH03: Photocopy of photograph of Miyamoto playing a string bass, Italy (12/1946).
Takanori Mizuta Collection
Collection ID: 98950
Digital content available
Mizuta was incarcerated at Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Wyoming. In 1944, he was drafted into the United States Army and completed basic training at Camp Blanding, Florida, before serving with the Quartermaster Corps, 3rd Army, in France and Germany.
BOX CD/DVD-408 Video Interview with Takanori Mizuta, January 29, 2010
30 minutes
MV01: Topics covered include: reaction to being drafted; incarcerated at Heart Mountain War Relocation Center, Wyoming; basic training; experiencing racial segregation for the first time; arrived in Europe after the end of the war; attending college classes while in Europe; giving candy a child and finding her again many years later; occupation duty; rarely wrote to his family; brother's service; difficulty remembering everyday things; photography; sightseeing trips; travel to Europe; friendships; Japanese Americans in the service; feelings about having served; adjusting to civilian life.
Arthur Takashi Morimitsu Collection
Collection ID: 93003
Digital content available
Morimitsu was incarcerated at Tule Lake Relocation Center, California, before enlisting in the United States Army. He trained at Camp Savage, Minnesota and served with the Mars Task Force, Military Intelligence Service in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater, and with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Japan.
BOX VHS-579 Video Interview with Arthur Takashi Morimitsu, July 15, 1985
60 minutes
MV01: Topics covered include: early life and attitudes towards Japanese Americans; Japanese Americans' role in agriculture; special interest groups that turned people against Japanese Americans; sent to Assembly Center; life in forced reomoval camp in California, Tule Lake; Army needed to recruit translators and interpreters; reactions to his decision to enlist; entry into the Army; sent to language school at Camp Savage; sent to North Burma in a commando unit as a muleskinner and interpreter for Japanese prisoners of war; arrival in Burma; commanding officer's instructions in the event of capture; duties as a muleskinner; Burma road mission; translating documents and learning Japanese order of battle; interrogating Japanese prisoners.
BOX-FOLDER MSS-2479/1 Civilian Papers, September 1998
1 folder
MS01: Copy of Morimitsu's death certificate.
BOX-FOLDER MSS-2479/2 Clippings, 1998
1 folder
MS02: "NJAMF announces agenda for upcoming board meeting," Pacific Citizen, 10/16/1998 - 11/05/1998. Includes notice regarding Morimitsu's memorial service.
Kennie Namba Collection
Collection ID: 8094
Digital content available
Namba was incarcerated at the Portland Assembly Center, Oregon, and Minidoka Relocation Center, Idaho. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1944 and served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in France and Italy. He was wounded by a German hand grenade while in combat in Italy, and spent 40 days in the hospital. Following his service he attended the University of Portland and worked at Pacific Power and Light for 30 years. In 1947, Namba and his father, Etsuo Namba, helped file a lawsuit, Kenji Namba v. McCourt, successfully challenging the constitutionality of Oregon's Alien Land Law that had prevented people of Japanese ancestry from owning land in the state.
BOX VHS-147 Video Interview with Kennie Namba, July 10, 2003
122 minutes
MV01: Topics covered include: family, farming, and the depression prior to the war; reactions and verbal abuse from whites prior to war; executive order to move to camps; losing everything and being loaded into trucks and taken to camp; reparation from the government; living conditions in the camps; decision to join the Army; service in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team; return to the states and discrimination by locals in spite of being in uniform; wife Ruth's discrimination in the town she grew up in; "No-no" group who refused to state their loyalty to the United States and service in the Army; split in the Japanese American community over the No-nos; and Ruth's war work in Minneapolis. Kennie Namba's wife, Ruth Inukai Namba, was also interviewed along with her husband for the last 30 minutes of the interview. Their joint segment focuses on her experience as a Japanese American formerly incarcerated person at Tule Lake, California, and life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during World War II.
Calvin Ninomiya collection
Collection ID: 71769
Digital content available
Ninomiya was incarcerated at Puyallup Assembly Center (a.k.a. "Camp Harmony"), Washington, and Minidoka Relocation Center, Idaho. After completing high school at Minidoka Relocation center, he attended Oberlin College, in Ohio. In 1946, he was drafted in to the United States Army and trained in military intelligence but was discharged on compassionate grounds after both of his parents died and his brother was killed in action. Following his discharge, he attended the University of Washington followed by law school at the University of Chicago and began a career with the United States Treasury.
BOX miniDV Video Interview with Calvin Ninomiya, September 23, 2009
86 minutes
Topics covered include: born in Seattle, Washington; unknown eldest sibling; lived in Seattle up to age 15; little contact with parents; father from Okayama; parents came separately for economic reasons; grew up in Japantown; 15 when Pearl Harbor was bombed; curfew; no understanding of direct effect of the war; street signs about forced remocal; too young to be too concerned; sent to Puyallup Assembly Center (a.k.a. "Camp Harmony"), Washington; fairgrounds converted to barracks; 9,000-10,000 people there, mostly from Seattle; arrived in May 1942; sent to Minidoka Relocation Center in August 1942; Bainbridge Island experience; considerable property losses for Japantown residents; forced reomoval was an example of militarized racism, used to usurp Japanese properties, prejudicial action; bad mark on United States government; amends and compensation not sufficient; brother was in service; was a student leader at Minidoka high school; Caucasian teachers at Minidoka; Minidoka located near Jerome, Idaho; how and why teachers were recruited; teachers lived close to gate of the Center; guidance counselor to help resettle or relocate children at the camp; attended Oberlin College in Ohio; difficult adjustment; brother was killed in action while Ninomiya was at Oberlin; senior roommate took him to congregational minister for counsel; received draft notice; went to Cleveland for physical examination; after first semester, went back to Minidoka ahead of draft (early 1946); worked at camp newspaper and for minister until called into service in June; inducted at Fort Douglas, Utah, with other Japanese Americans; sent to Camp Fannin, in Texas; integrated with white inductees (not black); notified that father had died while at Camp Fannin; parents had left Minidoka by 1946; father killed in hit-and-run, no ID at the time; mother left alone; compassionate leave for funeral; became member of different company on return; provision for sole surviving sons; transferred to Military Intelligence Service Language School at Fort Snelling; mother hospitalized; difficulty speaking to mother in Japanese; mother died before he could be discharged; discharged at Camp McCoy despite parents' death; had attended Japanese language after-school in Seattle; entered service around end of European War; brother served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, in Bruyeres; brother had poor eyesight; brother sent to Fort Sheridan, Illinois to do medical work; then directed to Camp Shelby to join 442nd Regimental Combat Team; letter from fellow service member; wife and Ninomiya visited Bruyeres; wrote article for Seattle Times; meeting other Japanese veterans through the article; brother's body sent to Seattle cemetery; wound up being the beneficiary of brother's GI insurance; after discharge, returned to Seattle; sister and brother-in-law operated a hotel; moved into a room in the hotel; attended University of Washington; graduated early; attended University of Chicago law school; decided to go into government work; got a job with the United States Treasury in Chicago; transferred to Washington DC; career with the Treasury.
BOX-FOLDER MSS-2020/1 Clippings, May 30, 1999
1 folder
MS01: Clipping pulled from "Seattle Times" about Ninomiya visiting the place where his brother died in World War II; also includes several images provided by Ninomiya's family that include: his brother, Ban's burial site at Epinal, France after his death in battle; Ninomiya's family standing at the monument of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in the woods outside Bruyeres, France; Ninomiya and Ban before drafted in the Army; Ninomiya and wife stopping at a road sign "Rue du 442eme Regiment Americain d'Infanterie" in Bruyeres, France.
BOX-FOLDER MSS-2020/2 Digital Prints, 1945-2009
1 folder
PH01: Service portrait of Ninomiya [06/1945 - 02/1946].
PH02: Ninomiya at the time of interview [2009].
BOX-FOLDER MSS-2020/3 Photocopy of photographic prints, 1945-1946
1 folder
PH03: Photocopy of a photograph of an unidentified man. PH04: Photocopy of a photograph of an unidentified woman. PH05: Photocopy of a photograph of Ninomiya and buddy. PH06: Photocopy of a photograph of an open field.
Alfred T. Nitta Collection
Collection ID: 70270
Digital content available
Nitta was incarcerated at Minidoka Relocation Center, Idaho, before enlisting in the United States Army. He served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy.
BOX CD/DVD-177 Video Interview with Alfred T. Nitta, February 17, 2010
39 minutes
MV01: Topics covered include: Early life and family; boyhood working on farm with siblings; enlisted while incarcerated at Minidoka Relocation Center, Idaho; service due to father's accident; basic training in Florida; emergency furlough; basic training again; after V-E Day; Camp Ritchie, Maryland; Japanese soldiers with weapons for troops on way to Pacific Theater; after V-J Day to Italy; Naples to Pisa; guard duty; public profile; members of 442nd Regimental Combat Team; treated well by Italians; lots of passes and no KP; German prisoners of war (POW) worked for United States Army; from Pisa with integrated unit; traveled all over Italy; citations; the usual but no combat; after 13 months in Italy spent 13 months in the United States; Camp Beale, California for discharge in 1946; not much communication; retired to farm; GI Bill; bought ranch from father with loan; own family with five children; military today does a good job; would do service again if asked; glad to be in 442nd Regimental Combat Team and honored everyone; gave money to National World War II Museum; name is on museum's wall; being asked by Army to play enemy soldier which was the worst experience in service.
George Okamoto Collection
Collection ID: AFC2001/001/85765
Digital content available
Okamoto was incarcerated at Poston Relocation Center, Arizona, with his family as a teenager, but was released when he secured a job as an illustrator in Chicago, Illinois. In 1944, he decided to join the military. After being rejected by the Marine Corps and the Navy, he enlisted in the United States Army and served with Company I, 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy. He was severely wounded during combat operations in Northern Italy. Following his recovery, he was discharged and returned to Chicago to work as an artist and illustrator.
BOX AC-657 Audio Interview with George Okamoto, January 10, 2007
SR01: Topics covered include: Life in Poston Relocation Center, Arizona; brother drafted; enlisting to be with brother; Japanese Americans only allowed in Army and not other branches; digging fox hole; getting shot by Germans; one year in hospital; V-mail sent to parents.
BOX CDDVD-288 Without Due Process: Japanese Americans and World War II, 1992
44 minutes
MV01: Documentary about Japanese detention centers in the United States including interviews with the Okamoto, family members and others.
BOX-FOLDER MSS-02316/1 Military papers, July 26, 1946
1 folder
MV01: Okamoto's discharge paperwork (07/26/1946).
BOX-FOLDER MSS-02316/2 Printed Matter, 2001
1 folder
MS02: Cover submitted with documentary film MV01 (2001).
Toshikazu Okamoto collection
Collection ID: 106737
Digital content available
Okamoto was incarcerated at Pinedale Assembly Center, California and Tule Lake Relocation Center, California. He was also briefly transferred to Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Wyoming. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1944, and served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy. Following his discharge, he worked as a mechanic in the motor pool for the Seattle Fire Department.
BOX CDDVD-494 Video Interview with Toshikazu Okamoto, August 31, 2016
20 minutes
MV01: Topics covered include: biographical information; detention detention centers; drafted into Army; heavy duty mechanic, tanks, DUKW; unit forms, training in California; put with other Japanese soldiers, go to Italy; replacements for 442nd Regimental Combat Team; attached to the 88th Infantry Division 08/1944 to 09/1945; after war, visiting veterans; language problem, barrier at hospital; founding of Keiro nursing home; end of career, retirement; legacy, children.
William Hisao Omoto Collection
Collection ID: 65384
Digital content available
Omoto was incarcerated at Salinas Assembly Center, California, and Poston Relocation Center, Arizona, before being drafted into the United States Army. He served with the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, in France and Italy.
BOX CD/DVD-137 Audio Interview with William Hisao Omoto, July 26, 2007
56 minutes
SR01: Topics covered include: birth in Los Gatos, California, moving to Monterey, California, growing-up pleasant; how Monterey changed, more small town than now, walking to get places; parents, father moved to Monterey to work for Owl Cleaners, owned by friend, good with tools; after Pearl Harbor family moved to Gonzalez, sent to Salinas Assembly Center, California; train to Poston Relocation Center, Arizona; graduated from high school in detention center; enlistment in Army; living at camp being harder on parents than younger generation, participating in athletics, layout of camp; loyalty questionnaire received in detention center, asked if he pledged allegiance to the United States, if he would enlist in military, a few people replied no and were sent to federal prison; basic training; protest, anti-Japanese sentiment, Monterey close-knit community; when camp closed Monterey Herald published advertisement welcoming Japanese American citizens; Monterey Savings and Loan took care of house so still owned property; pay for work at camp, many families lost homes; when Pearl Harbor attacked, watching movie with brother, movie interrupted and soldiers told to report to base, parents worried, some families burning everything they owned with Japanese writing on it; government confiscated cameras, father collected old cameras, were returned after war; served in 442nd Regimental Combat Team, after basic training in Florida, visited family, some Japanese went into military intelligence; train back home, stopped in south, experiencing racial segregation, confusion over what bathroom to use; treated with respect while serving in Army, invited to sit in first class seating, preferential dining service on train; joining 100th Battalion, hearing about rescue of Lost Battalion in France, about 800 casualties, knew replacements were to be needed, serving on border between Italy and France; making friends with other Japanese Americans from Monterey area; work consisted of going on patrol in region, unit pulled out, sent to Italy, diversionary operation, supposed to trick Germans thinking it was full attack, was expected to just hold Germans but overran them to Lake Pomo, elite German troops left; what it was like going to war, aloof about participation in Europe, everyone thought Germany would be defeated, men of 442nd Regimental Combat Team worried they would not be sent to Pacific because of ancestry; when one patrol helping to carry ammunition for machine gun, sniper shot at them, bullet hitting his rifle, had to find another gun, finding a Thompson machine gun; named squad leader, leading men down vineyard to village, Germans firing on them, using vineyard as cover, Thompson gun had bad range, had to find new gun; man shot in stomach by sniper, died, from Monterey, friendly fire; in constant combat, not considered the worst, too young to be affected; not treated differently than white soldiers, the white soldiers often stuck up for them, when discharged in Chicago, Army members would buy them drinks; VE-Day, sent on time killing tasks, sightseeing, guarding prisoner of war (POW) camp, mostly old men; receiving medals, some upgraded by government years later; life after war, discharge, time in Chicago, moving to Monterey, fixing family home for father and brother, GI Bill for college at Hartnell, time working for bank, plumbing company, for county of Monterey, real estate appraiser, retirement; proud of service, friends who died from basic training by 88 millimeter shell, family proud of service, brother sending newspaper clippings about 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
BOX-FOLDER MSS-1885/1 Photograph, July 26, 2007
1 folder
PH01: A contemporary photograph of Omoto sitting in his home, Monterey, California (7/26/2007).
BOX CD/DVD-137 Computer file, July 26, 2007
1 CD
CF01: A CD-R containing audio recording (SR01) in MP3 format and photograph (PH01) in JPEG format.
Peter K. Ota Collection
Collection ID: 77134
Digital content available
Ota was incarcerated at Santa Anita Assembly Center (Santa Anita Racetrack), California and Granada Relocation Center, Colorado (a.k.a. "Amache"), until he was drafted into the United States Army in 1944. He served with the 9206th Technical Service Unit in Kentucky and California as a Japanese interpreter for prisoners of war.
BOX CD/DVD-222 Video Interview with Peter K. Ota, February 17, 2011
52 minutes
MV01: Topics covered include: introduction; growing up in Los Angeles, mix of nationalities; parents born in Japan immigrated to United States in early 1900s; father in agriculture started own business; younger sister; Japanese incarceration; father, who was member of Chamber of Commerce, picked up by FBI, the family did not know where he was for two months; family sent to Santa Anita Assembly Center, father stayed in jail; detailed background on family being separated during incarceration; Granada Relocation Center, Colorado (a.k.a. "Amache"); attended school in the detention center; drafted 1944; segregated boot camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky; military did not know what to do with them; sent to Fort Meade, Maryland then orders overseas to Europe; end of war in Europe; sent to Angel Island, California; interpreter for Prisoners of War (POWs), Imperial Marines die-hards from Guadalcanal and Saipan, didn't believe war was over, included civilian soldiers and teenagers aged 14-16 from Okinawa; the teenagers wanted to stay in America, nothing left in Okinawa, they were kept separate from Marines; recreation, off base to visit friends in Oakland and San Francisco, California; wrote letters; moved to Los Angeles, California, after service father and sister already there; school on GI Bill, Accountant; met with friends from detention center, Joe Guerra, from elementary school; treatment by others, racism; spoke during government hearings on treatment of Japanese.
William T. Oune collection
Collection ID: 98428
Digital content available
Oune was incarcerated at San Joaquin County Fairgrounds (Stockton, California) and Rohwer Relocation Center, Arkansas. Following World War II, he and his family moved to Japan, where he lived until 1950. After moving back to the United States, Oune studied English and worked on farms. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1952, and served as a translator in Japan and Korea.
BOX CDDVD-398 Video Interview with William T. Oune, January 14, 2015
90 minutes
MV01: Topics covered include: Early life in Lodi, California; grandparents immigrated through Hawaii (Kauai Island) in early 1900s, worked on a sugarcane farm, returned to Hiroshima, Japan; mother and father both born on Kauai; parents were American citizens, grandparents weren't; in 1931, parents wed in Japan then went to Hawaii; father's older brother was in Lodi; parents moved to California, worked in vineyards and fruit farms; childhood recollections; mother used box for makeshift crib while she picked grapes; went to Hamilton Elementary, then Buchanan Grammar School; at Buchanan when war started; spoke Japanese and English; parents' names; eldest of four siblings; got notice to assemble in 1942; some belongings, left furniture, cars; after Pearl Harbor, Oune suddenly became 'enemy' at school; peers were no longer friendly; harassment got worse; stopped attending school; aunt from Los Angeles came to stay in Lodi; parents were disappointed and angry; parents' attitudes about Pearl Harbor; grandparents in Japan had to surrender metal religious objects to government; living conditions for relatives in Japan during the war; parents kept working; farmer friend stored parents' belongings when they were incarcerated; assembled at Stockton horse racing track (Stockton Assembly Center); some people had to live in horse stalls; Oune and family lived next to aunt; waited for camps to be built; took train to Arkansas (Rohwer Relocation Center); swampy place; catching crayfish in flooded ditches at camp; attended third grade at camp; loyalty questionnaire; father was so angry about forced reomoval he signed "No-No", sent to Tule Lake Relocation Center, California; Tule Lake formerly incarcerated people made snail shell necklaces; father would harvest cypress cones in Rohwer for decorations; father excavated arrowheads at Tule Lake; farmland outside Rohwer; too isolated to try to escape; incident where guard shot an unjustly removed person, riot followed; tank came through camp as scare tactic; after war ended, family went to Japan in 1946; friend's recollections of Hiroshima bombing, black rain falling, people burned; grandparents protected by a mountain; injured Japanese had to go through grandparents' village to escape, impromptu nursing station set up for victims; cousin was in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, was protected by a wall falling on her, had radiation cancer years later; impact of radiation on survivors of the Hiroshima bombing; family lived on grandparents' farm; father had a short-wave radio they smuggled into the detention center; heard news on the radio, like Emperor's surrender; discussion in the camp about why the war had even happened; rationing after war; ten people had to share a 100-pound bale of rice; made rice into gruel, add whatever vegetables handy; picked matsutake mushrooms; made compost; visited Hiroshima (city) unaware of radiation risks; desolation, ruins of city; went to see Atomic Bomb Dome; 13 years old when went to Japan, stayed till 18; grandfather said farm boys didn't need education; father was angry, said to study in America; parents wanted to return; Oune returned to United States in 1950; went to Lodi with relative; picked cherries, grapes; went to San Francisco to study English; started high school (freshman year) in 1951; picked pears in summer of 1952; got drafted into the Army that summer (age 20); no animosity from white people; parents' decisions re: staying in United States versus going to Japan; free boat ride to Japan; father and siblings returned to United States later; basic training at Fort Ord (infantry); sent to Japan, near Tokyo; ordered to Chiba for Korean language school; assigned to 23rd Company, Military Intelligence Service (MIS) as replacement for translator; sent to Korea; able to visit parents in Hiroshima; grandparents passed away during service; after Korean War ended, wanted to be a mechanic; used GI Bill to go to Northrop (mechanic school); caught Asian flu/pneumonia six months in; spent all money on medical care; had to work instead of go to school; mother stayed in Japan; after flu, worked in Japanese hardware store in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles for 12 years; bought a house in Fountain Valley; became a gardener, tree-trimmer; met wife through friend; dance group; first date; [wife joins interview]; wife's experiences in America; meeting each other in 1958; married in 1960; first child in 1962; childrens first visit to Japan; children and their occupations; family life; retirement; reflections on American attitudes and Muslim people; desire for global harmony.
Hank Oyama collection
Collection ID: 82752
Digital content available
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