Segment 1


Sakato was born in Colton, California at a Union Pacific and Southern Pacific hub for the Railroad company. His parents had a barbershop, pool hall and bath house. The train conductors would all come to get a haircut, play pool and get a bath and then go back to their trains. They were there for a few years and then his parents started to get arthritis in their hands and couldn't cut hair as well so they decided to buy a grocery store. Sakato's brother-in-law was a butcher at a grocery store in Riverside. He suggested they buy one in Redland. They bought a fruit stand and market in Redlands, California. Sakato went to high school in Redlands and graduated there in 1941.On December 7 [AnnotatorÂ’s Note: 1941], they started opening the store when they heard on the radio that Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. Soon after, they got orders saying their radios, short wave radios, cameras, rifles, pistols, etc. had to be given up. A few months later they were still in the store. Whether or not they would have to go to a camp was the next question. In February 1942, they were told to move out of the state or get put into a camp. They had just purchased a meat case and had a meat market and fruit stand combination. The person bringing them produce said he would move them to Arizona. Sakato's brother-in-law's brother was working in Arizona on a farm and didn't have to go to camp. They were told in three days to move out. They sold the meat case for $300 and threw in the store. They got in a truck and followed a car into Phoenix, Arizona. They were on the south side of the tracks near the Buddhist Temple. They were told they'd have to move to the North side of the tracks because people in the south were getting sent to a relocation center.They moved again when a fellow on the North Side offered the back of his porch to the family in exchange for work on his farm. They picked cantaloupes in 110 degrees temperature. He had just graduated high school at 165 pounds. At the end of the melon season, he weighed 135 pounds. He worked as a clerk at a grocery store on Grand Avenue since he had worked in a grocery store before. In the meantime, the 100th Battalion, the National Guard of Hawaii was sent to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin for basic training. They were shipped over to Sicily to join General Mark Clark. They went from Sicily to Italy, Anzio, Arno River, and got to Monte Cassino, which was an abbey where Germans could see for miles where troop movements were. The 100th Battalion was ordered to take that hill and so many men were getting hit that they became known as the Purple Heart Battalion. General Mark Clark requested more soldiers like that.In March 1943, Sakato tried to join the Air Force. His draft card said 4-C, enemy alien. He wondered what that meant because he was born in America and was an American. A fellow soldier told him that he couldn't serve in the Army, Navy, or Marines. Well, after Mark Clark requested more Japanese-American men, President Roosevelt made it so that they could join the Army.The Army unit was forming at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. All the volunteers from the camps came there and all the pineapple workers from Hawaii came there too. They formed a unit called the 442nd Regimental Combat Team [Annotators note: from here on, will be typed as 442nd RCT]. They took their basic training there and went overseas to join the 100th Battalion. The 100th Battalion became the 1st Battalion of the 442nd RCT and A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H Companies were 2nd Battalion, H, I, K, L companies became 3rd Battalion, then Cannon Companies, Field Artillery units, etc. [Annotators note: Sakato meant that the 100th Battalion went overseas while the 442nd RCT was still training at Camp Shelby. Troops from the 1st Battalion of the 442nd RCT were used to replace losses from the 100th Bn. When the 442nd RCT was deployed, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions went overseas while the 1st stayed behind to train replacements.] Sakato still wanted to join the Air Force. His brother was drafted in 1939 [most likely 1940, with the 1940 draft] and was at Fort Ord and then moved to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri as a clerk in one of the barracks. He was inducted at Fort Douglas, Utah and got on a train to Camp Blanding, Florida. He stepped out and asked where the planes were. He was told he was in the infantry and that the 100th Battalion needed replacements and he'd be one of them. All of the early war draftees had to take their basic training over again too. Sakato remembers being at Camp Blanding for eight weeks of basic training, with the early draftees. Then, they were at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Then they formed a unit and went to Newport News, Virgina for the port of embarkation, although, they did go to Camp Kilmer first. They boarded ships in Virginia and left with three transports for soldiers. They got to sea and he was seasick. He woke up the next day and there were eight or ten more ships. The next day he woke up and there were more. He remembers they eventually had around a hundred ships in convoy to Europe. They would go Southeast and then later would go Northeast in a zig-zag pattern. It took them 28 days to get to Oran, Africa to refuel. From there, they went to Naples, Italy.


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