Letter - April 11, 1943

Elizabeth Bayley Willis Papers. Box 1. Manuscripts and University Archives, UW Libraries.

April 11, 1943

Dear Mrs. Willis,

I do not know all the Garfield boys who volunteered but I gladly submit those names I can think of at the present.

First, of course, are Kay and Eddie Sato. Jun Hayakawa, Sadao Baba, Harry and Bill Yanagimachi, Frank Hatanaka are some others.

There are a few others already in the service I would like to mention. Sergeant Iwao Kawakami is stationed somewhere in Alaska. Private Jack Hamada is at Fr. Warren, Wyoming. I am wondering whether Staff Sargeant Paul Sakai was a Garfieldite because his brother, Sam, attended this school.

I wonder if you have Robert Kirk listed among your servicemen. He was stationed in the Philippines when the war broke out. I don't know where he is or what happened to him since then.

Henry Storeno is another boy who enlisted in the service and the last I hear (couple months ago) he was training at a flying school, I believe.

I don't know how to write articles or anything like that but I'll give some reasons why I did not volunteer. You must understand that I still had some grudge against the government but that was not all that governed my action.

I believed that the government was in no position to ask for volunteers right out of a concentration camp where residents were forced to stay. I had a "hunch" that we would be drafted anyway because American citizens are subject to draft. If I were to join I would join the army but I would like all branches of the service to be open for those who prefer others.

I think it would be all right for the government to call for volunteers from those who have gone out of this camp. I think it's all right to draft them after they're outside and had about 6 months to a year free from camp life.

Many Isseis are bitter because the American government feels so free about hurting their children and then asking them to volunteer and finally saying that they might be drafted.

Some of the Isseis volunteered in the last war. They were promised their citizenship to this country. They were promised better treatment.

Now these old folks say, what of us now. Have we got our American citizenship? Are we getting better treatment? What of our businesses? Our children are Americans yet they are bieing kicked around like dogs -- by Americans. The American government made a lot of promises in the last war. It is again making the same promises. The promises of today will be as good as the promises of the last war.

Do you wonder why so many of the first generation feel so bitter, Mrs. Willis?

But that is not all. When we moved into this relocation camp, the camp was still being constructed and many, many families had to share rooms with totally strange families while others lived in recreation buildings with a a number of others. The days were hot. The wind blew contantly [sic] and dust was always fogging up the rooms. It was impossible to keep rooms free of dust. I remember my mother mopping our room about a half dozen times in one day trying to settle some of the dust. We had no hot water. Our cold water contained chlorine and the smell and taste were repulsive. Our latrines were outdoor affairs. The men had not partitions (we still haven't). It was cold going to the toilets in sub-zero weather. There was a coal shortage. Rain settled the dust but made the ground so muddy people had to wear boots. In general, people suffered so much unnecessary uncomfortable situations that no one can really blame them for being bitter.

When the volunteers and many others are gone from here to continue their education or work there will be plenty of empty barracks. In other camps it will be the same way. One of these days the residents of the camps will be consolidated into one or two camps. Then I suppose we'll have to move again.

At the present I am trying to learn something in my auto mechanics class. That is one reason why I have not gone out to work elsewhere where I could make my own living. As soon as Kay Sato is inducted I intend to transfer to the garage as a mechanic's help to try to pick up more knowledge along that line. I feel that I could be of more use to the army after I learn a useful trade.

I am also not in favor of an all Japanese-American combat unit.

I thought we might have another and a better chance if I waited a while. I may be wrong but I am taking that chance and just hoping.

I hadn't intended to write a book but I hope you excuse my lengthy babble.

As ever,