Life After Internment
James Tsutsui describes his life after confinement in the Santa Anita internment camp including his military service during World War II and his eventual reloation to Orange County
Recorded in Laguna Woods
I graduated in February of 1944. While in April I received notice from my draft board to report to Omaha, Nebraska for my pre-induction physical. After I got my 1-A, a man interviewed me and asked me what branch of service I preferred and I said, well, I‚d like to join the Marines. He looked at me and said ‚You‚re Japanese aren‚t you?‚ I says ‚Yes I am.‚ He says ‚Didn‚t you know Marines are the only ones fighting the Japanese?‚ I says ‚Well, I thought I might come in handy cause I understand a little Japanese.‚ He says, ‚Well, I appreciate your loyalty‚ and he took a rubber stamp and he stamped my papers and it said ‚Classified Service‚ That meant that I was limited to certain areas of service. Then orders came through for me to report to another white company. The platoon leader came to me and said ‚Tsutsui I want you to be a squad leader.‚ And I looked at the LT and I said Sir, you know I‚m Japanese. He says Yep. He says I know. I said ‚well, I don‚t know how the guys will be, you know take to taking orders from me.‚ He looked at me and says ‚You‚re an American, aren‚t ya?‚ I says ‚Yes, sir!‚ He says ‚You‚re my squad leader.‚ And upon receiving my discharge from active duty I enlisted for 3 years in the enlisted reserves. In the meantime my wife had moved to New York and she was working in New York as a Belve(?) nurse. So I went to join my wife in New York and I missed the slower pace of living in Los Angeles. So I convinced my wife that we should come back to Los Angeles and start our family here. We came back in Molata Park in 1946. I decided to transfer my family from Los Angeles to Orange County. We bought a home in Santa Ana and this was in 1960. And when he bought it we moved into that home there and there was nothing but farm land all around. It was before all the development started. I the meantime I had worked for a restaurant called Miyako Restaurants. After I left the restaurant in 1980, I went to work for a landscape construction company as sales manager and the largest contract I was able to obtain for the company was the landscaping of Main Place in Santa Ana. And so we moved to Leisure World in the year 2000. I think that‚s one of the best moves that I‚ve ever made. I belong to the rally(?) young club and you couldn‚t ask for a better group of guys. We‚re just one big family like. We have everything we need including wonderful people
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