Update: Poston concentration camp barrack


     The Poston Community Alliance is in immediate need for additional funding to relocate a barrack in its original state from Parker, Arizona to Poston Camp I Site.  

     The historic preservation team is struggling to find funds to stabilize the fragile barrack before our deadline: May 15.  
      Although the Alliance has already received $31,000 from the National Park Service and $10,000 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to meet the requirements of the Department of Interior, an additional $10,000 is required.  
     Please send your tax-deductible donation to:
Marlene Shigekawa, Treasurer
Poston Community Alliance
956 Hawthorne Dr.
Lafayette, CA 94549

Payments can also be made via paypal by sending money to marshige@gmail.com


Documentary film call for Poston mothers

Call for Poston Mothers

The Poston Community Alliance received funding from the National Park Service to produce  a short documentary film on Poston's Mothers & Babies.

 We are now in pre-production and are in search of former Poston internees who were mothers and can provide us with an interview.  

If you know of anyone who falls within this category, please contact Marlene Shigekawa, Producer, at marshige@comcast.net or call 510 290-1944.


USC's Honorary degree program

 At this year's University of Southern California Commencement ceremony, USC President C. L. Max Nikias will confer Honorary Baccalaureate and Honorary Master's degrees on Japanese-American former students who were interned during World War II......
      Referred to as Nisei ("second generation" in Japanese, although the term refers to first-generation Japanese-Americans), the students at USC and many other universities were forced to abandon their studies in 1942 when President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent and Japanese nationals living along the Pacific Coast.
      "We are privileged to honor the accomplishments and the dreams of the Nisei students who are highly deserving of receiving a college degree for the work they have done at USC," said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. "Through the years these students have been among the most passionate and dedicated members of the Trojan Family. We are honored that our Nisei students have an enduring devotion to USC and we want them to know that the university is also devoted to them

1.  Living former students who were enrolled at USC prior to February 1942 who did not complete their degree at USC as a result of the incarceration of individuals of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
2.  If you later completed a degree from USC, even if it was different from the one interrupted by the internment, you are not eligible for this honorary degree but are still welcome to attend Commencement.
3.  If you later completed a degree from another university, you are still eligible for this honorary USC degree.
4. If the relative is deceased, USC ill commemorate your relative with a special certificate recognizing them as “Honorary Alumni”.
5. If  you will not be able to attend the ceremony in person, indicate  that on the application form and the honorary degree will be mailed to you.
6. Click here to complete the application form or call (213) 740-4937 for further assistance.

-Cap and gown arrangements will be made for you.   
-The procession begins at 8:30 a.m. and the ceremony at 9:00 a.m., but it is recommend guests arrive by 7:00 a.m. to secure parking and seating. 
-Wheelchairs are available for checkout from 6:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Commencement.    (Checkout is located in front of Widney Alumni House. )

Those receiving honorary degrees or honorary alumni certificates + their guests are invited to attend a special reception following Commencement. 
Family members of deceased Nisei students are also invited to the reception.

You will not incur any costs related to Commencement (i.e., registration, cap + gown, diploma, special reception, parking on-campus) but will bear all travel costs.

Contact  Grace Shiba
Senior Director, USC Alumni Association
email:  nisei@usc.edu
Phone:  (213) 740-4937

Source: http://www.usc.edu/dept/pubrel/specialevents/commencement/Nisei.php


New video story added

"Passing Poston discussion" video added.  
See it listed under "Video Stories" on the left.


Former residents uprooted by WWII finally graduate

May 01, 2005
By Heather Bremner, Staff Writer

     It was May. They were supposed to graduate in June. They were supposed to don caps and gowns, join their classmates in the processional. Leave high school with a diploma in hand. But they never did.

     From 1940 to 1946, Japanese men, women and children born in places such as Holtville, Brawley and El Centro were told to pack up, leave their businesses and schools behind and move to Poston, Arizona.
     In Poston the families slept on Army cots in barracks. They ate in mess halls. The children attended school, played sports and learned judo.
      On Saturday evening, 11 former Imperial County residents who were forced to end their high school education after being relocated to internment camps were awarded high school diplomas at the Casa de MaƱana in Imperial.  Three of the 11 diplomas were presented posthumously to other family members. Diplomas were sent to 10 Japanese-Americans who could not attend Saturday's event.
      The Imperial County Board of Education, Imperial County Office of Education and the California Nisei Project made "Operation Recognition" a reality.
ICOE provided the diplomas and organized the "living voices" presentations that were staged at local high schools Friday.
      In January 2004, legislators approved AB 781, which gave high school, unified or county offices of education authorization to retroactively grant high school diplomas to any Japanese-Americans interned during World War II.
      Few of the Japanese-Americans who were relocated to internment camps returned to the Valley.
Akira Loveridge-Sanbonmatsu
      Akira Loveridge-Sanbonmatsu  (Poston 39-10-A)  told Central Union High School students Friday that during and after World War II many West Coast residents distrusted the Japanese-Americans and didn't want them living in their neighborhoods.  In 1944, when Sanbonmatsu and other families were discharged from the Poston internment camp, locals organized a rally in Brawley.  The locals made it clear: they didn't want Sanbonmatsu and his ilk back in the Valley, he said.
Only about 12 families returned. Sanbonmatsu's was one of them.
     Sanbonmatsu was lucky. He had lived on the camp for three years but was still young enough to return to Holtville High School and graduate.  Eventually he left the Valley to attend California State University, Los Angeles. After earning his bachelor's and master's degrees, Sanbonmatsu earned a doctorate at Penn State University. The Holtville native taught communications at State University of New York in Brockport.  He has since retired but still lives in Oswego, N.Y., with his wife.
     Sanbonmatsu's brother Yoshiya (Poston 39-10-A) remained in the Valley and owns the El Centro-based business Sanbon Inc.

From Poston to Germany
     Before Oscar Kodama (Poston 39-9-AB) was relocated to Poston, the San Diego resident said he often got into fights with kids who shouted racial slurs. One of his classmate's brothers was killed at Pearl Harbor "and he blamed me for it," said Kodama.
     After living on camp "20 days short of three years," the 19-year-old Heber native was drafted by Uncle Sam.  His draft notice identified him as 4-C, or an enemy alien.
He never did receive a diploma.  While serving with the U.S. Army, Kodama worked as a grave register and did what he called the "dirty work."  He was responsible for brushing the corpses' teeth, matching dog tags to dental records and placing each body in a plastic bag.
     On Saturday, Kodama donned a purple gown and plunked one of the purple, funny hats on his head.  He wore a huge smile. His eyes twinkled.  "I just tell my granddaughter (she's a high school sophomore), ‘I'll get my diploma before you,'" he said with a laugh.

Sixty-three years
     Hanako "Nishida" Manaka (Poston 59-4-C)  turned around and saw her.   "Tamiko," she said, flush with excitement but still dignified in her prim, cream-colored suit, a flower pinned to the lapel.  Manaka, who was relocated to Poston at age 17, had not seen her friend for 63 years.  Manaka was attending Central Union High School at the time. It was May when they were sent to Poston.  Manaka said she and her friends wrote to the school asking about their diplomas but never heard back.  Her family moved to Monterey after leaving Poston.   
     Manaka, who lives in Seal Beach, said she "was so excited" when she was invited to the ceremony.   "Oh gosh," she said, "I'm going to, hopefully, meet all my friends again."

Source: http://articles.ivpressonline.com/2005-05-01/operation-recognition_24205576

From the desk of: Many special moments at HHS class reunion
March 16, 2011
Dora DePaoli

     Although there were many special moments at the reunion, one of the most memorable was when Dick Ludwig, of the HHS class of 1946, gave his class sweater to Akira “Ike” Sanbonmatsu (Poston 39-10-A). It had hung in his closet 65 years.
     “Ike was my size, and I might have bought it off of him. I don’t remember that too clearly. … Because of economics I hadn’t ordered one earlier. … I don’t think I ever wore it,” Ludwig said.
     In 1942, President F.D. Roosevelt signed an order for the relocation of all Americans of Japanese ancestry. Almost two-thirds of the interns were Nisei, Japanese-Americans born in the U.S. It made no difference many had never even been to Japan and were loyal Americans.
     Japanese students were removed from school by the federal government. They and their families were thought to be a possible threat to the country and were forced to enter internment camps. One of those students was Ike.
     Ludwig said he played football with Ike but they didn’t hang out together.  “Ike was part of the honor society, and I didn’t even come close,” Ludwig said. “I was glad to give the sweater to him. He was tickled pink about it. He wore the sweater the whole evening.”
     Jim McKenzie, of the class of 1943, said he clearly remembered attending the junior/senior prom at the Barbara Worth Country Club with the late Yosh Sanbonmatsu (Poston 39-10-A), a brother of Ike’s. They both went stag. He said girls scared them in those days.
     “As we got to the door we were told Yosh couldn’t come in,” McKenzie said. “There was a curfew for the Japanese. They had to be in their homes by 6 p.m.”
     This was a very sad time in U.S. history. Ike’s wife, Joan Loveridge-Sanbonmatsu, wrote a book on this period. It is titled: “Imperial Valley Nisei Women-Transcending Poston.”  
     Poston was one of the 10 internment camps in the U.S. They were located in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

Source: http://articles.ivpressonline.com/2011-03-16/hhs-class_28700547


About the Renunciants

Multicultural group brainstorms memorial idea for tribal history, WWII Department of Justice (DOJ) camp
June 17, 2010 
By Martha Nakagawa
Nichi Bei Weekly Contributor

..........Former Nikkei Internees
     Before discussions of a memorial took place, former internees or their descendants shared their experiences.
     Former Tule Lake, Calif. renunciants Junichi Yamamoto (Poston camp 2), 89; Arthur Ogami, 88; and Hitoshi “Hank” Naito, 84, had all been at Fort Lincoln in 1945 and transported to Japan on the USS Gordon in December 1945.
     Yamamoto, a Kibei who never reclaimed his U.S. citizenship and travels with a Japanese passport, had not returned to Bismarck since 1945. Yamamoto felt that he received better treatment at the DOJ camp than at the War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps.
     “In the WRA camps, you’re an American but they treat you like a Japanese,” said Yamamoto. “That’s why you get mad. But here (Fort Lincoln), we became Japanese and they treated you like a Japanese.”
     Yamamoto was never ashamed about his past but not everyone shared his view. He talked about one incident at a community basketball game.
     “I went over to him and I said, ‘Hey, remember me? We were in Bismarck together,’” recalled Yamamoto. “He says, ‘Oh, don’t say that.’ He was ashamed to mention that, I think, so he took me into a back room.
     “All these years, I never thought that way. I don’t brag about being here, but I never felt ashamed about being here. I thought I did the right thing, but some people, I guess, feel kind of ashamed that they were here.”
     Yamamoto, whose family farmed in Salinas, Calif. before the war, had been imprisoned at the Salinas Assembly Center, Colorado River’s (Poston, Arizona) Camp 2 and Tule Lake. Yamamoto had bitter memories of Poston, where his father had passed away while awaiting travel permission to visit his regular physician in San Francisco.
     “Poston was hell,” said Yamamoto.
     In contrast, he fondly recalled the German internees’ welcoming party at Fort Lincoln.
“We were pleasantly surprised when the welcoming speech was made in Japanese,” said Yamamoto. Yamamoto also placed first in a swim meet between the Japanese and Germans. Although Yamamoto was born in landlocked Salinas, the Kibei learned to swim in Hiroshima.
     Ogami, who had not seen Yamamoto in 65 years, remembered Yamamoto’s swimming expertise.
     “When I saw his face, I imagined him at a younger age, and I distinctly remember him demonstrating how when a drowning person panics, they grab you, and he showed us how to flip them on their back,” said Ogami.
     Like Yamamoto, this was Ogami’s first time back to Bismarck since 1945. He choked up as he shared that coming to the UTTC campus felt “like coming back home.”
     “I had renounced my citizenship to keep the family intact,” said Ogami. “And when I renounced, I left the United States in 1945 with the idea that I would never return.”
     The Ogami family had been incarcerated at the Manzanar concentration camp in California, but were transferred to Tule Lake after Ogami’s father applied through the Spanish embassy to have the family used in a civilian exchange between Japan and the U.S. Spain, as a neutral country, served to communicate between the two warring countries.
     Ogami had never been to Japan, but once he renounced, he threw himself into learning the Japanese language at Tule Lake and then at Fort Lincoln. His father was sent to the DOJ camp in Santa Fe, N.M., while his mother and younger sister remained imprisoned at Tule Lake.
At Bismarck, the FBI questioned Ogami one last time before he was shipped to Japan. “They (FBI) tried to influence the young ones that had petitioned to go to Japan to change their minds,” said Ogami. “But there was no promise of having our American citizenship reinstated.”
     For Naito, this was his second time back to Bismarck since 1945. He had also attended the 2003 opening of a Fort Lincoln exhibit titled “Snow County Prison: Interned in North Dakota.”
Unlike in 2003, Naito was more open about his incarceration at Heart Mountain, Wyo., Tule Lake and Fort Lincoln. He described this Bismarck meeting as “more productive.” While there were stories of German internees swimming naked in the Fort Lincoln pool, Naito laughed that the “Japanese weren’t all that modest either.”
     Takashi Tsujita, another former Fort Lincoln internee, did not ship out to Japan. He was incarcerated at the Turlock Assembly Center, in California, Gila River, Ariz. WRA camp, Tule Lake Segregation Center, and the DOJ camps at Fort Lincoln, Santa Fe, and Crystal City, Texas.
     Tsujita had a difficult time recalling his time at Fort Lincoln. “I’m trying to fill a gap, a blank,” he said. “You know, after the war, you have to make a living. You can’t just sit still and be bitter about it. You got to forget and go on.”
     Tsujita thought he recognized the brick buildings but couldn’t be sure which one he was held in.
     “I remember I went to Japanese school,” he said. “I had interaction with the Germans when they built an ice rink, but I don’t remember who I borrowed the skates from.”
     Bill Nishimura, 90, was not imprisoned at Fort Lincoln but at Santa Fe. Unlike at Bismarck, where several wartime buildings still stand, Nishimura said the only indication that there had been a Santa Fe DOJ camp is a plaque.
     In addition, while the UTTC administration welcomes a campus memorial, Nishimura said placing even a plaque at the former Santa Fe DOJ camp had caused a national furor because many survivors of Japan’s Bataan Death March lived in Santa Fe and objected to what they mistook as a Japanese prisoner of war camp.
     “The atmosphere at Santa Fe is different,” said Nishimura. “It isn’t as welcoming as at Bismarck, so creating a monument that would represent all the Department of Justice camps is most important at Bismarck.”....................

Source: http://www.nichibei.org/2010/06/multicultural-group-brainstorms-memorial-idea-for-tribal-history-wwii-doj-camp/

Oral History Video

The War Years-Poston, Arizona (Click on the title, The War Years..."  to play the video.

    Born in San Diego, Joseph Yamada was evacuated to the Santa Anita Assembly Center and then incarcerated at the Poston camp 3 in the Arizona desert, where he met his future wife.  
  Many years later, he studied landscape architecture at University of California, Berkeley.  For over 50 years as San Diego grew and expanded,  Yamada was instrumental in providing landscape design for many of the landmark sites including Sea World, Seaport Village, Embarcadero Marina Park, the La Jolla Village Plaza and Scripps Institute of Oceanography. In addition, he did campus planning for 20 years at the University of California, San Diego and numerous other campus projects. Yamada was made a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1979.