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Joining the army

And because of my background, when I got drafted, of course they’d put you in the motor pool, or repairing cars and trucks. I must confess I really didn’t enjoy that. I says, “What am I doing here? I’m supposed to be in the army.” We had no military training, our jobs was simply like a civilian job. They didn’t even trust us to be on the Pacific coast. They shipped us all inland. I was in Oklahoma.

It was interesting because the local Indians would come up and run up to you and say, “Hey, hey, what tribe you from?” We were dark, suntanned like they were. And I said, “Oh we’re a southern California tribe.”


442nd Regimental Combat Team armed forces military retired military personnel United States Army veterans World War II

Date: January 3, 2015

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Lily Anne Y. Welty Tamai

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Susumu “Sus” Ito was born in 1919 in Stockton, California, to Japanese immigrants, Sohei and Hisayo Ito. Like many other Japanese American families in their community, the Itos worked as tenant farmers, sharecropping to harvest celery, beets, and asparagus. Sus Ito grew up with few luxuries.

In 1940, at twenty-one years old, Ito was drafted into the military—before America’s direct involvement in World War II. Initially, he was assigned to a non-segregated Quartermaster truck and vehicle maintenance unit at Camp Haan near Riverside, California. During the war, he served as a Lieutenant in the “C” Battery of the segregated 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion while his family was held in the American concentration camp in Rohwer, Arkansas. After World War II, he studied Biology with the help of the G.I. Bill and later received his PhD in Biology and Embryology. A pioneer in his field, Dr. Ito joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1960, and has been professor emeritus since 1991.

He passed away on September 2015 at age 96. (September 2015)

George Ariyoshi
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George Ariyoshi

Prom during the war

(b.1926) Democratic politician and three-term Governor of Hawai'i

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Bill Hashizume
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Bill Hashizume

Laid off for being Canadian

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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi
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Jean Hayashi Ariyoshi

Day Pearl Harbor was bombed

Former First Lady of Hawai'i

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Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Japan vs. the United States (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Life in camp as teenager

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Robert Katayama
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Robert Katayama

Being ordered to keep a diary that was later confiscated, ostensibly by the FBI

Hawaiian Nisei who served in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Bombing of Pearl Harbor

An expert researcher and scholar on Japanese immigrant clothing.

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Barbara Kawakami
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Barbara Kawakami

Helping soldiers

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Mas Kodani
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Mas Kodani

Fun at concentration camp

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Father as prisoner of war in hospital

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Patriotism versus loyalty

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Postcards to Nisei soldiers

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Hiding what happened in camp

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Camp as a positive thing

(1922–2014) Political and civil rights activist.

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Yuri Kochiyama
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Yuri Kochiyama

Rounding up Issei and Nikkei

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