Capt. Carolyn H. Tanaka

Carolyn H. Tanaka, 75 Army Nurse Corps, Vietnam
 – Nicole Smeltzer. 

     Tanaka was living near Pismo Beach and in first grade when she and her family were sent to an internment camp (block 307-3-C)  in Poston, Ariz. She lived in the camp for three years during World War II. She later became a registered nurse and, after eight years, decided to serve in Vietnam.
      After Vietnam, she returned to Fresno and was head nurse in the emergency room at Fresno General Hospital (later known as University Medical Center) until she retired 32 years later. 
      Tanaka talked about what she would do for patients in the Army field hospital who knew they were going to die: 
      We “stayed there and held their hands and listened to them tell us about their families and their loved ones at home. If they asked, we promised them we would write to their mothers and tell them how brave they were at the end … I wrote many letters home for the soldiers that asked me to write to their mothers.” 
      She recalled the patients she cared for and the dedication of the nurses:
     “We took care of many soldiers with their faces messed up and their heads half gone off, you know, blown away. It was a very difficult thing for my young nurses to deal with, that kind of trauma. What we see in stateside, we might see a gunshot wound in the emergency room, but nothing like the injuries that we see in Vietnam. And, so, I was just totally amazed with how well they coped … I didn’t have one nurse that jumped ship and went home. They all served their time in Vietnam and did very well.” 

Source: http://clovisindependent.com/2011/05/30/valley-veterans-share-their-war-stories/

Carolyn Tanaka                                 FSC 1965

My name is Carolyn Hisako Tanaka.  I am 72 years old and was born in Santa Maria, California.  I lived on a ranch in Guadalupe, California until WWII broke out and all Japanese Americans on the west coast were herded up and sent to internment camps across the United States.  Our family was sent to Poston, Arizona (block 307-3-C) for three years.  Even at that young age I could not understand why we American citizens were put in these camps.  This was one of the biggest mistakes our government made in history.  It took our country over forty years to admit it had made a mistake and try to compensate us for the internment.  It was NOT the money we wanted, but an apology from our government and an admission that it had made a terrible mistake.  We loved our country and the men and some women went off to war to prove we are truly American citizens.

My hero in Guadalupe was cousin, Abraham Abe Ohama, who went from camp to join the 442nd Regimental combat Team.  He used to baby sit me, and my aunt told me that I followed Abe everywhere he went.  I remember him putting me on his broad shoulders and romping with me on Pismo Beach.  He was sent to Europe from camp when he joined the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team, going from Italy to France.  Near Bruyes, France, he took a bullet from a German soldier that took his life when he went under heavy fire to rescue a comrade who was trapped behind enemy lines.  He was awarded the Silver Star for his heroism.  This unit was the most decorated unit in military history.

After WWII, our family moved to Fresno to start life anew.  This is where my mother, Helen Iwata, was born and raised…Our home in Guadalupe had been burned to the ground by Japanese haters while we were in camp, so we had no home to return to.  I finished grammar school at Lincoln Elementary School.  Because we lived on a farm, I had to go to Fresno Colony Elementary School in the 7th and 8th grades, while my church friends went to Edison High.  I joined them in the 9th grade and graduated from Edison in 1953.  I started college at Fresno State for two years as a PE major, but mother told me there was no future for a female athlete and I should consider going to nursing school where cousin, Miya was graduating.

Therefore in September of 1958, I applied for a scholarship and was awarded a full three years scholarship to the Fresno General Hospital School of Nursing.  This was given to me by the Ladies Auxiliary to the Fresno/Madera County Medical Society.  We all went to Sacramento to take our RN boards and we all passed.  Therefore, I became a nurse instead of a PE teacher.  I have never been married, but have had a few flings which shall remain a secret.  During my three years in training, I lived in Huntington Hall, the nurse’s dorm at the time.  Our class was the last for the FGH School of Nursing because the county said it did not get the nurses it wanted from our graduates.

As a student, I took care of a terminal patient who was Hispanic, and with whom I conversed each day. I cared for him.  He taught me a new word everyday, and by the time he passed away, I was pretty fluent in Spanish.  I never got the chance to return to Japanese language school, so I am more fluent in Spanish than in Japanese.

My most vivid patient recollection in Vietnam was a man who lost his entire face from an exploding rocket.  He had only been in Vietnam ten days when this accident took place.  I stood over a patient without a face.  My young nurses could not take care of him so it became my job.  He wanted to communicate, but couldn’t, so I handed him a clipboard with a piece of paper on it and a pen with which to write.  Without being able to see, he wrote the words, “NO FACE”. 

Over the years I had no recollection of this patient until my daughter, Arline Martinez, was reading an issue of People Magazine.  She asked me, “Isn’t this the patient you took care of in Vietnam?”  I looked, and sure enough it was.  People Magazine could not give me any information on him, so I called my friend Nancy Osborne of Channel 30.  Through her media contacts she found him, but she asked me to wait one day because she wanted to record our conversation, but she had to cover the elections that day.  She came to my office at VMC with her cameraman and I placed the call.  I stayed up all night wondering what I was going to say to him.  However, the conversation came easily as we talked about Hoosier football and basketball, and I told him about my interests in sports.

Then in 1993, when the Vietnam Women’s Memorial was to be dedicated, I again wrote to People Magazine and asked them to pay the expenses for Rory and whoever needed to accompany him from Valpariaso, Indiana to Washington, DC.  They were interested in doing a story on our meeting, so agreed to pay their expenses, that was the most memorable experience in my 32 years nursing career.  I picked them up in a taxicab each morning, took them to breakfast, lunch and dinner and back to their hotel, after touring the city.

I held jobs at FGH, VMC, and UMC from staff nurse on up to interim Director of Nurses.  My most significant contributions in my 32 years of work there happened between 1973 to 1980 when I was with the Outpatient Department, and was asked to oversee the 7 year project of remodeling that was happening.  During those seven years, I started clinics in Mendota, Fresno County Jail and Industrial Farm, Juvenile Hall, the move of the Family Practice Clinic to Huntington Hall, the building of the new Children’s Clinic and the remodeling of the emergency department from small 5 exam rooms to the enlarged 32 exam rooms.  I had to find storage space for all the old furniture, and make room to store the new furniture until the remodeling was completed.  I used every space I could find and cleared out others to make room.  My Vietnam experience came in handy as I scrounged for furnishings.  Mr. Jett, the auctioneer asked, “Who is this Tanaka person who is taking all my furniture?” I had labeled every piece of furniture I could find to save with my name on it for the reconstruction project.

In September, 1966, I joined the Army Nurse Corps because they were the only unit who would guarantee me as assignment in Vietnam during my two year tour of duty.  My two brothers had joined the Army that year, and I did not want to be the only Tanaka sibling who was not a veteran.  My oldest brother was a Korean wartime veteran. I really joined the service because of my cousin, Abraham Abe Ohama, who died a Silver Star hero in France during WWII trying to save his buddy trapped behind enemy lines.  Before he went on this mission, he told his other sergeant, Jack Wakamatsu, “I’m not coming out of this mission alive, so when the war is over, I want you to write a book about that we’re doing here because it is an important part of America’s history.”  It took Jack until 1984 to get his book, “Silent Warriors” published, and cousin, Abe is mentioned throughout this book.  Since I had my BSN and eight years of nursing experience as an RN, I was given the rank of Captain.  I had plenty of training taking care of automobile accident victims, GSWs and SWs at FGH in the ER.  But nothing prepared me for what I was to see in Vietnam.  The weapons of war are designed to mutilate the human body, so you don’t just have a through and through GSW, but you are faced with multiple organ systems among the wounded in any war.

The Army Nurse Crops was the best training I ever received.  I came home from Vietnam in September, 1968.  I thought I had done my duty for my country and would not have anything more to do with the military.  That held true until I received a call from the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project in 1986, asking me to become a volunteer for the Project to help raise funds.

I went to the phone directory and got a military directory and began writing hundreds of letters to get invited to speak and raise funds for our Memorial.  I never asked for money, but most of the organizations gave me a check for my speech which I forwarded to the Project.  I paid my own expenses and sent every bit of money collected to the Project.  I went to Washington, DC with my daughter Arline, for the dedication of our Memorial.  While we were back east a few days early, I had her drive us through upper New York State and across to Niagara Falls.  We then came down to Washington, DC.

I did not hear from any of my nurses until I joined the Project and started searching for them.  The Army Nurse Corps taught me about discipline, service and perseverance.  After Nam, I remained a civilian until one day in 1994, as I was walking across a parking lot on the way to a movie, and I heard this booming voice behind me calling my name.  I turned around and it was Chuck Monges, founder of the Legion of Valor Museum in the old civic auditorium on the corner of Fresno and O streets.  He told me to come and take a look and see because he wanted to add women in this museum.  So again, I wrote to as many women veterans I knew to get pictures and stories to put in the museum.  I put up the women’s display as it is today.  In 1993, I joined the Vietnam Nurses Haven, and now communicate with them on a daily basis on the computer. 
Source: www.csufresno.edu/ccchhs/institutes...bios2/Tanaka_Carolyn_1965.doc
STORIES OF SERVICE: Valley Veterans Remember World War II, by Janice Stevens. ISBN: 978-1-933502-08-3

     Stories of Service is a remarkable collection of stories by veterans and civilians of the San Joaquin Valley who lived and fought during World War II. Section on Japanese-Americans and the War: "My Hero",  and "Internment" by Carolyn H. Tanaka.


Reaction to Lies

 Korematsu and Hirabayashi Families, Legal Teams React to Solicitor General’s Admission

Gordon Hirabayashi
SAN FRANCISCO — The families and legal teams of Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi, two civil rights icons, are reacting to the news that the U.S. Department of Justice has finally admitted its mistakes in the cases challenging the government’s World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans.
     The “Confession of Error,” posted by acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal on the department’s website Friday, is the first such admission of wrongdoing since the 1940s, when the Supreme Court ruled against Korematsu and Hirabayashi, two young men who challenged the incarceration and related curfew orders that compromised the civil rights of Japanese Americans.
     The statement only provides one explanation behind its timing: that it comes during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May. On Tuesday, Katyal and Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. spoke at an AAPI Heritage Month event at the department’s Great Hall.
Fred Korematsu

     In 1942, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Korematsu was arrested for defying U.S. military orders that forced Japanese Americans into incarceration camps. That same year, Hirabayashi turned himself in to the FBI after being convicted for violating the government’s curfew order imposed on Japanese Americans. Both plaintiffs eventually appealed their cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld their convictions on the grounds that the forced removal of Japanese Americans was justified due to “military necessity.”
     In 1983 and 1987, after the discovery of new evidence proving the government had known there was no grounds for the mass incarceration, both Korematsu and Hirabayashi reopened their cases, leading their convictions to be overturned in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit, respectively. Their cases never reached the U.S. Supreme Court again, and the high court’s decisions in Korematsu v. United States and Hirabayashi v. United States are widely condemned as among the darkest chapters in American legal history.
     In the statement, Katyal cites evidence that the solicitor general at the time, Charles Fahy (who is not mentioned by name), suppressed evidence in the Korematsu and Hirabayashi cases that clearly stated the minimal threat posed to the nation by Japanese Americans. “Those decisions still stand today as a reminder of the mistakes of that era,” Katyal writes.
Minoru Yasui
     Katyal’s statement did not mention a third similar case, that of attorney Minoru Yasui, which was also reopened in the 1980s. Yasui passed away in 1986 before his second case was decided.
     “My father always believed the incarceration of Japanese Americans was unconstitutional. He encouraged all Americans to stand up for what is right,” said Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu and co-founder of the Korematsu Institute in San Francisco. “We are appreciative of acting Solicitor General Katyal’s remarkable stand to correct the record. Let this be a constant reminder of how justice for all can only be achieved if the people responsible for upholding our rights act with integrity, responsibility and honesty.”
     “Solicitor General Katyal’s May 20 posting, ‘Confession of Error,’ is indeed momentous,” said Lane Hirabayashi, who spoke on behalf of his uncle, Gordon Hirabayashi. “If Gordon didn’t know at the time that government prosecutors distorted evidence, however, he knew in his heart that mass incarceration was unconstitutional. It remains a shame that the Supreme Court never confronted the constitutional issues at hand in Korematsu, Yasui and Hirabayashi.”
     “What Katyal has done is to acknowledge out loud that the nation, at the top-most echelon, failed to uphold justice. It doesn’t heal the wounds, but it’s the right thing to do,” says Lorraine Bannai, a member of Korematsu’s 1983 legal team. “What a vindication for Fred, Gordon and Min, and the 110,000 other Japanese Americans who suffered the consequences of the deceit.”
     Korematsu, from Oakland, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 86. In 2010, California passed a bill to mark every Jan. 30 as “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution,” the first day in U.S. history named after an Asian American.
     Seattle-born Hirabayashi, 93, is a retired sociologist who taught for many years at the University of Alberta in Canada. Since 2007, East West Players, an Asian American theater company in Los Angeles, has produced stage plays based on Hirabayashi’s life.
     Originally from Hood River, Ore., Yasui spent his later years in Denver. A foundation in Denver administers an annual awards ceremony in his name to honor his spirit of community volunteerism. A statue of Yasui also stands in Denver’s Sakura Square.  

Source: http://rafu.com/news/2011/05/korematsu-and-hirabayashi-families-legal-teams-react-to-solicitor-general%E2%80%99s-admission/



Acting  Solicitor Gen. Neal Katyal says one of his predecessors, Charles Fahy, deliberately hid from the Supreme Court a military report that Japanese Americans were not a threat in World War II.
Solicitor Gen.Charles Fahy

By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
May 24, 2011

     Acting Solicitor Gen. Neal Katyal, in an extraordinary admission of misconduct, took to task one of his predecessors for hiding evidence and deceiving the Supreme Court in two of the major cases in its history: the World War II rulings that upheld the detention of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans.

       Katyal said Tuesday that Charles Fahy, an appointee of President Franklin D. Roosevelt  deliberately hid from the court a report from the Office of Naval Intelligence that concluded the Japanese Americans on the West Coast did not pose a military threat. The report indicated there was no evidence Japanese Americans were disloyal, were acting as spies or were signaling enemy submarines, as some at the time had suggested. 
     Fahy was defending Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066, which authorized forced removals of Japanese Americans from "military areas" in 1942. The solicitor general, the U.S. government's top courtroom attorney, is viewed as the most important and trusted lawyer to appear before the Supreme Court, and Katyal said he had a "duty of absolute candor in our representations to the court."
     Katyal, 41, who is of Indian American heritage and is the first Asian American to hold the post, said he decided "to set the record straight" Tuesday at a Justice Department event honoring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He said that two of the government's civilian lawyers had told Fahy it would be "suppression of evidence" to keep the naval intelligence report from the high court. "What does Fahy do? Nothing," Katyal said.
     Instead, Fahy told the justices the government and the military agreed the roundup of Japanese Americans was required as a matter of "military necessity." Roosevelt issued the order on Feb. 19, 1942, about two months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, which plunged the U.S. into World War II.
     In 1943, the high court unanimously upheld a curfew imposed on Japanese Americans in the case of Gordon Hirabayashi vs. United States. And in 1944, the court in a 6-3 decision upheld the removal order imposed on Japanese Americans in Fred Korematsu vs. United States. The majority accepted the government's claim that it was a matter of "military urgency."
     Scholars and judges have denounced the World War II rulings as among the worst in the court's history, but neither the high court nor the Justice Department had formally admitted they were mistaken — until now.
     "It seemed obvious to me we had made a mistake. The duty of candor wasn't met," Katyal said.
     Korematsu, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton, died in Marin County in 2005 at age 86. On Tuesday, his daughter Karen said she was grateful that Katyal had acknowledged the mistakes of his predecessor. "It was a remarkable statement he made," she said. "It proves what my father believed all along — that removing the Japanese Americans was wrong and incarcerating them was unconstitutional."
     Korematsu was sent to a camp in Utah, one of 10 in the country. California had two, Tule Lake and Manzanar.
     Katyal said that last summer he was doing research for several immigration cases when he came upon some ugly, disturbing comments about Asians in 19th century briefs submitted to the Supreme Court. Chinese immigrants were described as "people not suited to our institutions." People from India were described as a "subject race." He then looked into the history of the World War II internment cases, including documents revealed in the 1980s. Peter Irons, a professor at University California San Diego, had found reports in old government files that showed the U. S. military did not see Japanese Americans as a threat in 1942. His research led to federal court hearings that set aside the convictions of Korematsu and Hirabayashi. Congress later voted to have the nation apologize and pay reparations to those who were wrongly held.
     Katyal said he decided it was important to publicly acknowledge the mistakes made in the solicitor general's office. Hiding the truth from the justices, he said, "harmed the court, and it harmed 120,000 Japanese Americans. It harmed our reputation as lawyers and as human beings, and it harmed our commitment to those words on the court's building: Equal Justice Under Law."
     Hirabayashi is now 93 and living in Canada. His memory of the World War II years has faded, said his nephew Lane Hirabayashi, a professor of Asian American studies at UCLA. "I know Gordon would be very pleased by this. He didn't know at the time that government prosecutors had distorted evidence. However, he knew in his heart that mass incarceration was unconstitutional," he said.
     "I thought it was good and very long overdue," Irons said of Katyal's statement. "This was a deliberate, knowing lie by Fahy to the Supreme Court. For the government's highest counsel to make that statement now is quite noteworthy and admirable."

Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-japanese-americans-20110525,0,3517138.story


The "NO NO Boys"

“NO NO” BOYS and Cultures of Protest and Resistance

     Of the approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in 1941 not all of them went to the interment camps quietly.  Many were upset and angry for a variety of reasons, but the most of the dissent was initiated by the loyalty questionnaire sent out by the  U.S. government to all Japanese Americans (over 17 yrs old) who were interned.  There was an estimate of approximately 12,000 labeled disloyal “No No Boys”.

     In 1943 when the loyalty questionnaire was first asked, the initial group of the “No No Boys” was identified. 

#27Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?

#28. Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and for swear any form?

     Those who answered these questions “No”, or refused to answer were branded as disloyal and were segregated and sent to Tule Lake in Northern California, a higher security internment camp.  They were sent to Crystal City, Heart Mountain and various prisons.

     At Heart Mountain there was a group of men who answered with a qualified statement.  They stated that under “the present conditions and circumstances” they could not answer these questions.  They felt their freedoms and rights should be returned and if so, would defend their country. Later when being drafted from camp to the Army, they became draft resisters.  Sixty three of these men were tried, found guilty and sent to prison for three years at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and McNeil Island, Washington.

     There were many different groups of Japanese Americans who comprised these cultures of protest and resistance.

Japanese temporarily living in America
There were the Japanese National living in U.S. as visiting professors, businessmen, diplomats, they were deported back to Japan or imprisoned until they were used as exchange to bring back U.S. citizens living in Japan.

Japanese Aliens
These were individuals who had migrated to the U.S. to start a new life, or here working and hoping to one day return to Japan.  These people had been living in the U.S. for as many as 40 years or more in the U.S., but they were considered aliens because the laws did not permit them to become U.S. Citizens but they had considered America as their new home.  Most of these men were community leaders, heads of local churches, and ministers.  They were rounded up by the FBI and sent to various prisons throughout the U.S. as soon as the war broke out.

These were American citizens, born in America of Japanese immigrant parents, who had been sent to Japan at a relatively early age by their parents for either education or employment. They were bilingual with the ability to read and write Japanese. 

There were several reasons why some internees either refused to answer these questions or said No:

     Many Japanese/Japanese Nationals living temporarily in U.S. most had allegiance to Japan.  If they answered “Yes”, they would be fighting their brothers, and other family members from Japan.

     Many were Japanese Aliens who immigrated to make the U.S. their home, thought themselves as Americans, having lived here for many years. Their children were born in the U.S. (Nisei) and were U.S. Citizens, but because of the Alien Immigration Law, the Japanese immigrants were not allowed to be American Citizens.  By answering “yes” they, in their mind, were denouncing their Japanese citizenship and swearing allegiance to the U.S. even though they could not become citizens, thus in essence, they would become people without a country.
Because many of the heads of the families were taken away by the FBI, and entire families incarcerated, they felt they were not wanted in this country any longer.

     Another group of men were U.S. Army veterans from WW I, or currently serving in the U.S. Military.  (My Father was stationed in Georgia in the U.S. Army at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack).  After Pearl Harbor many Nisei who were serving in the Military were discharged from active service by transferring them to the Enlisted Reserve Corps, for the convenience of the Government, as a method used to discharge them from the Army.  These men were very bitter because of the incarceration and felt that it was an insult because their loyalty to United States was being questioned.  Because of the bitterness, many of these men swore, as they were behind barbed wired fence, to “become a Jap” and never do any work for the U.S. again. 

     For most Japanese Americans the Japanese cultural tradition of obedience to the father was very strong, and usually the father’s decision would prevail without question.  So for many families, if the father told them to answer “No”, the entire family would do the same.  Even if the father left the loyalty question decision to the children, if the parents answered “No”, the children followed their lead because they wanted to remain with their parents.

     There were some Nisei  like the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee who did protest based on their conviction that America’s constitutional rights were for all people and not just some.  As Mits Koshiyama, one of the draft resisters said, “if a person is going to fight for freedom and democracy, shouldn’t he be enjoying the same rights he is entrusted to defend?”

     The embittered Issei, Nisei and Kibei felt they should return to Japan, where they could be with people they could identify with, without discrimination they received in America.  If they went to Japan they felt they wouldn’t need U.S. citizenship, since citizenship was useless if it could not protect us against their own government.

Submitted by Henry Kaku


Mary Higuchi's Painting

Booksigning Celebrates 50th Anniversary 

April 25, 2011 

By Joanie Harmon
      California State University, Dominguez Hills is proud to announce the unveiling of a third painting in a series that commemorates the university’s 50th anniversary. “E Pluribus Unum” was created by South Bay artist Hatsuko Mary Higuchi (Poston block 318) .  The evening included a reading and book signing by Dr. Don Hata, emeritus professor of history, of the 4th edition of “Japanese Americans and World War II: Mass Removal, Imprisonment, and Redress,” which he wrote with his late wife, Dr. Nadine Ishitani Hata, in 1974.
Hasuko Mary Higuchi & Donald Hata, PhD
 Higuchi says that she created “E Pluribus Unum” to reflect the diversity of the student population at CSU Dominguez Hills, not only in ethnicity, but in circumstance.

     “When President [Mildred] GarcĂ­a invited me to create a painting for the 50th anniversary of the university, I decided the best way to most accurately depict the uniqueness of CSU Dominguez Hills would be to immerse myself in as many campus events as possible,” says Higuchi. “In the process, I met many students who, like me, were the first in their families to aspire to a university education. Like Ellis Island in New York Harbor, or Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, CSU Dominguez Hills is a port of entry to higher education and the American Dream.”

     Hata, who introduced the book’s 4th edition last December at the Albany Civil rights Institute in Albany, Ga., says that the story of the Japanese American struggle for redress after World War II should be a lesson for all Americans regardless of ethnic origin and those who would violate their rights.

     “Most U.S. history textbooks and teachers at all levels barely mention the World War II diaspora and gulag experience of Japanese Americans, and when they do, they still get it wrong,” says Hata. “They treat it as a one-time aberration, and fail to see it as one of many similar episodes that pervade U.S. history. Although the wartime convictions of individuals like Fred Korematsu were vacated in the lower courts, the right of all U.S. citizens to due process remains officially unprotected—hostage to any federal government claim of ‘military necessity.’ The question looms:  In the wake of 9-11, can another group of Americans be targeted for racial profiling and mass incarceration?”
     Donald T. Hata was born in 1939 in East Los Angeles and incarcerated at age 3 at Gila River, AZ., during World War II due to Executive Order 9066, which authorized the mass removal and incarceration of “all persons of Japanese ancestry” on the West Coast. He taught at CSU Dominguez Hills for 33 years and received the CSU Trustees systemwide “Outstanding Professor Award.” He was elected as planning commissioner and city councilman of the city of Gardena and served on the governing boards of the California Historical Society and Historical Society of Southern California, and was an elected officer of the American Historical Association.

     Hatsuko Mary Higuchi, who was born in Los Angeles, was imprisoned with her family as a small child at the U.S. War Relocation Authority Concentration Camp in Poston, AZ, from 1942 to 1945. Many paintings in her “E.O. 9066” series reflect this chapter in American history with great pathos and have won top awards at major exhibitions hosted by the International Society of Acrylic Painters, the San Diego Watercolor Society International Exhibition, and the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies.

     Last August, Hata and Higuchi spoke on “Kids in the Nikkei Gulag-Diaspora,” sharing recollections of their childhoods in the camps at the Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center in Independence, Calif. Higuchi provided the cover art for the 4th edition of Hata’s book.
Source: http://www.csudhnews.com/2011/04/unveiling-of-commemorative-painting-reading-by-don-hata/


P-38 Emergency?

Please ask around if anyone recalls seeing or hearing about a P-38 making an emergency landing near Poston in 1943.
...."These growing feelings of uneasiness and resentment were compounded even further by the fact that military aircraft were making low flights, or "buzzing" the camps at all hours. The intensity of feeling generated by these activities may be judged from a letter written by Tetsuo Hirasaki,  Say, what is this? Just as I wrote this, three bombers came roaring overhead flying so low that the barracks shook. Every now and then the Chinese Air Force who are training somewhere close to Poston, come zooming down at us here in camp. They must think it's funny. A couple of weeks ago, one of the bombers (twin motored Douglas attack bomber) crashed on the other side of the Colorado and burst into flames. It wasn't right, but a lot of us were kinda glad in a cynical sort of way. God forgive us for the thoughts that are beginning to run amok in our brains".50

..."A little over a month later Louise Ogawa wrote,  "In the day time they [the military aircraft] often swoop down very low and try to scare us. They don"t scare us anymore - just get on our nerves. Now a ruling has been issued that if they swoop down on us lower that 200", we should take down the number and report it to the officials".51

50. Tets Hirasaki to Clara Breed, 16 November 1942, SDNHP.
51. Louise Ogawa to Clara Breed, 30 January 1943, SDNHP.                                
Source: http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/96summer/nikkei.htm


Camp blueprints

Many thanks to Bob Iwamasa (Poston 220-14-G) for  the thousands of hours making available the images which you now can view of the blocks at Poston and camp blueprints located at:


When you visit the site, please leave a *comment*.  We would like to know if this  information is important to you.

Please let us know if there are any errors or deletions.  
We will correct the maps.

This type of information on family history is what the Poston Restoration Project hopes to preserve.  Please support our project.


Nisei Baseball

May 7, 2011

Fresno Grizzlies Nisei Baseball Tribute Night.

     The Fresno Grizzlies minor league baseball team honored the Japanese-American Nisei (2nd generation) baseball leagues in the Central Valley with a Nisei Baseball Tribute Night. 

(Click on photo to ENLARGE.)
PHOTO: Standing (L-R): Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama (Poston 227-2-A), Howard Zenimura, Ben Mitsuyoshi, Lefty Nishijima, Kerry Nakagawa, Travis Ishikawa, (grandson of Amache, CO internee), George Yamamoto, Mas Takemoto, and James Morioka (Poston 305-10-A).   Bottom (L-R): Kale Nakagawa, George Toyama, Sab Yamada, Nori Masuda and Brandon Zenimura.
     The Grizzly pregame ceremony honored the Nisei baseball players that played for the Fresno Athletic Club and legendary Kenichi Zenimura. Three Nisei who played for the Hiroshima Carp team, Kenso Zenimura, Fibber Hirayama (Poston block 227-2-A) and Ben Mitsuyoshi threw out the first pitches to Yonsei (4th generation), Travis Ishikawa. The Grizzlies wore jerseys modeled after the old 1927 Fresno Athletic Club Nisei design, which were auctioned off post-game to benefit the Nisei Baseball Research Project and the Japan Quake Relief. 

     During the 7th inning stretch, professional musician and Fresno City College music instructor, Larry Honda played ‘God Bless America’ on the alto saxophone.
     Following the game, the award winning film, ‘American Pastime,’ a story of Japanese-American life and baseball during World War II was shown on the Chukchansi Park jumbotron.

Dinuba Team  1920

 (Click on photo to ENLARGE.)

CA. Dept of Ed Stds

Currently, the California Department of Education, (CDE), through their Social Studies Standards Department has required the inclusion of the history of the Japanese American incarceration experience in 3 grade levels:

1.   4th Grade California History studies include a section of the Japanese American experience as over 2/3 of the individuals incarcerated during World War II were from the State of California.

2.   10th Grade Government-The Japanese American experience is included in the discussion of civil rights and liberties.

3.   12th Grade Civics-This is a recent addition to the California State Standards requirement effective July 2000. Civics teachers are now required to teach the US Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. United States as one of a string of cases involving the civil and constitutional rights of individuals who have been historically discriminated based on the color of their skin or ethnic origin.


Ugly Chapter

From Orange County to Poston, Arizona: An Ugly Chapter in American History
By Paul Brennan
published: Sun., Feb. 19 2006 

     Today is the 64th anniversary of a dark day in American history. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving the Secretary of War the authority to declare any area of the United States a military area "from which any or all persons may be excluded"and authorizing the internment of what were called in sterile bureaucratic language, people of "Foreign Enemy Ancestry". In practice, this new power, combined with the racist tinged war fervor stirred up by the attack on Pearl Harbor and the longstanding prejudices against Japanese immigrants and citizens of Japanese ancestry, led to rounding up of thousands of "Japs" (as they were called then, regardless of citizenship), mostly along the West Coast. Ten internment camps, as well as fifteen "assembly centers", were built in seven states, and approximately 110,000 people were shipped to them, for no reason other than who their parents were.

     California's Manzanar camp remains the most famous of the "Relocation Centers", though for Orange County, Poston, Arizona is much more significant. Most of Manzanar's population came from Los Angeles, while most internees from Orange County were sent to Poston's three camps. Poston was unique among the internment facilities. It had a dual purpose, as the Poston Restoration Project's website explains:

     The three camps served not only as a place to house thousands of Japanese detainees but the infrastructure created by and for them also served to recruit more Native Americans from surrounding smaller reservations to the much larger and sparsely populated Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) reservation after the war. The Japanese detainees held at the three Poston Camps were used as laborers to build adobe schools, do experimental farming, and to construct an irrigation system that could later be used by the Native Americans thus aiding the settlement of the area as planned by the Office of Indian Affairs (known today as the Bureau of Indian Affairs).

     Using the labor of one despised minority to build facilities for another despised minority– you can't fault the government's sense of efficiency. (You can, however, fault it's sense of irony: the Native Americans moving onto the CRIT reservation were officially called "colonists".)

Isamu Noguchi
      Poston was also the scene of a brief but interesting attempt to make the government's concentration camps more humane. In 1942, Isamu Noguchi, one of America's greatest sculptors, arrived at Poston, as a voluntary internee.  Born in Los Angeles in 1904 to a Japanese father and an Irish-American mother, Noguchi fit the racial profile of an internee, but he lived in New York, which, unlike Anaheim, the War Department didn't consider an important enough city to declare off limits to persons of enemy ancestry. Noguchi– who had apprenticed under Gutzon Borglum, the designer of Mount Rushmore– had been appalled by the naked racism and betrayal of American values the internment camp system represented, and soon after Order 9066 was issued, he founded "Nisei Writers and Artists for Democracy" to counter the anti-Japanese-American hysteria sweeping the country. The group, as he later admitted, proved to be a complete failure. Another part of his efforts to turn the racist tide produced results, however.

     Noguchi traveled to Washington, D.C. (another city not put off limits– apparently the War Department considered Washington less vital to the war effort than Santa Ana), where he did find one sympathetic official, John Collier of the Office of Indian Affairs. Collier was responsible for the reservation where the Poston camps were located, and he was determined to make the camps models for the rest of the country. "Though democracy perish outside, here would be kept its seeds,"he told Noguchi, describing plans for an almost utopian colony instead of a concentration camp. Suitably impressed, Noguchi volunteered to be interned at Poston, where he intended to develop parks and recreational areas. But almost as soon as he arrived, Noguchi discovered that the euphemistically named War Relocation Authority, which controlled the camps, was thoroughly unimpressed by Collier's vision– all the WRA wanted was a standard issue concentration camp. Noguchi applied to leave– since he had entered voluntarily, and only spent his time in New York and Washington D.C., instead of truly important cities like La Habra or Yorba Linda, he was eligible for release– and in seven months, he was granted a "temporary" release. 

     Noguchi never received his permanent release papers, leading him to observe decades later, "So far as I know, I am still only temporarily at large." Noguchi may have been joking when he said that in 1968, but Executive Order 9066 wasn't rescinded until April 19, 1976. So in 1968, he was, legally speaking, still only on temporary release.

     None of Poston's other 18,000 inmates qualified for a temporary release like Noguchi. Insights into their lives in the camps can be found in the Japanese American Oral History Project, part of Cal State Fullerton's excellent Oral History Program. Begun in 1972, the project has published three anthologies culled from its interviews, and has also co-published two novels dealing with life in the camps. One of the novels is by Orange County's Georgia Day Robertson, who, during the war, supervised the teaching of mathematics at the Poston camps' high schools. How far real life in the camps was from John Collier's naively noble vision can be surmised from the title of Robertson's novel, The Harvest of Hate.

     Perhaps somewhat fittingly, The Harvest of Hate seems to be available only in the UK currently. The camps dropped from the consciousness of most Americans as soon as the war ended. But a determined group of former internees fought for decades to clear their names of the black mark of interment. Responding to their efforts, President Carter established the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians.

      After a thorough review, the commission issued its findings in 1983: the internments were not the result of any military necessity. On August 10, 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, based on the committees recommendations, which entitled surviving internees to a cash settlement and a letter of apology.

     The shadows of the camps are still very much with us today. In 2004, Fred Korematsu, who refused to leave his home in San Leandro, California when ordered to the camps and who fought his "evacuation" order all the way to the Supreme Court (he lost, though Korematsu v. United States is generally considered one of the Supreme Court's worst decisions, and in 1998, Korematsu's commitment to civil liberties was recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom), filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of another group of internees– the alleged "enemy combatants" held at Guantanamo Bay.

     Korematsu died in March, 2005, to early to see what is going to happen with our latest internment camps. But as Bush administration claims more and more power for the Executive branch, it's worth reflecting on what we know now about the origins and consequences of Executive Order 9066. 

Source: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2006/02/from_orange_county_to_poston_a.php