Ray Nosaka
100th Infantry Battalion, B Company

Military Training: Camp Shelby

After the mission, Ray resumes training with the rest of the 100th Infantry Battalion at Camp Shelby. He is reunited with younger brother, Seichi, a Varsity Victory Volunteer (VVV) who joins the 442nd RCT.

Ray notes the discrimination faced by African Americans under Jim Crow laws and finds himself identified, in some situations, as white. Numerous times, he is called "Jap"; the epithet results in blows.

[The rest of the 100th] were training for a short maneuver. By the time we went back to Camp Shelby, they were slowly coming in and we met together again.

We went back to Camp Shelby and joined them.

Ray Nosaka, flyweight open champion

Camp Shelby not so bad because they had barracks, so it's not like when we first went to Camp McCoy. They had tents, yeah. But this one all had barracks already, so not too bad.


Oh, we went through the same training again [at Camp Shelby]. That's why we were one of the most well-trained outfits you can ever find. We went three maneuvers. You know, most of them, they get one training maneuvers and they go already. Us, we had three maneuvers but they don't know what to do with us. That's why the thing lags, lags, and we do the same thing over and over. So we were well-trained when we went overseas.

100th Battalion training, Camp Shelby

Reunited with Brother

When I went back to Camp Shelby, a few months later, the 442nd came. That's when I met my kid brother [Seiichi].

He was a student at the University of Hawaii and then he went to the VVV [Varsity Victory Volunteers]. When the war started, they guarded the installations. But they find out that they can't trust 'em, so they put 'em labor battalion in Schofield. He was only a freshman at the university.

VVV assembled in formal dress with gas masks, Hawaii

[H]e was the only one that gifted in my house. I am just an average person but he was very intelligent. I don't know where he got it from (chuckles) but I wish had some of his.

He was seriously wounded in Bruyeres, France. He lost his kneecap, he lost his leg on this side. But after that he came back, he finished his school at university. Then after that, he went to get his masters at NYU [New York University] and then he came back. But all during that time, he suffered the leg. He never was married, he was single. I don't know why. So maybe he was born to be a bachelor.

Race Relations

Had one guy's story, my kid brother told me. When the 442nd came, they had black guys walking across the street. And this side had some 442nd boys. And [a 442nd soldier], his nickname is "Nigger." So this guy don't know the black guys walking, yeah, [someone] said, "Nigger, Nigger!"

Ho, the guys get so mad they came charging up. Then one of the guys said, "No, that guy's nickname is 'Nigger.'" But they thought we were telling them guys, "nigger." So in the South, "nigger" is just like calling someone "Jap." So they took it, I guess. So it's something that I guess everywhere you go, you find those kind name-calling. Like if you're Polish, they call you "polack" and things like that. If you Chinese, you call "chink." But I guess human beings are like that. When you get mad, you say something which you shouldn't have said.

[W]e're not used to with the black people. Because we go on the bus, we're so used to over here, we always sit in the back. Just automatically, not because we're Japanese. As far as I know, I have the habit of sitting way in the back. So when I sat in the back, the driver stopped the car, he said, "Don't sit in the back, you sit in the front." I said, "Why?" He said, "That's only for blacks."

You're not used to, you don't do that here. Those are the things that you can't believe. Then we go to a restaurant, we go to eat inside but the black guys, they have a tray outside. They stand up and eat outside, the tray sticking out by the sidewalk and they're eating over there. They pay the same price.

That's how we knew about discrimination was really bad. And when went to a theater, had a long line and a short line. So we figure, what the hell, why go stand in the long line, so we go to the short line. That line is only for colored people. And when you go in the theater - when we stay home, they used to call "nigger heaven." They're assigned way on the balcony on top. Us guys, they don't know what to do with us but they put us just like [haoles].

"Colored admission" to movie house

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Even when I was wounded, they flew me on a stretcher, and they took me from Sicily to North Africa. You know when they had the registration, they have a paper you got to fill out. You fill out your name, and age, and things like that. Then one part came, the color has, "Are you white or are you black?" And they don't know what to do with me because I'm yellow and no more yellow in there, only get black and white. So the guy call the lieutenant, he said, "What shall we put the man sitting there?" And he looks, "Ah, put him white." So I came white for a while, you know (chuckles).

But that's how they even discriminate there. And then there's a small barbershop, and it says, "For blacks: Tuesdays and Thursdays." That's the only time. So if you, by mistake, go on Tuesday or Thursday, they won't cut your hair unless you're black. They discriminate right in a place like that. They were really treated unfairly, yeah, the black guys.

Being Called a "Jap"

[I was called "Jap"] many times, many times. In fact, when I was in Italy - wartime now - after I got wounded, they said I'm unfit to fight in the war, so they assigned me to one haole company; ordnance. They're way in the back - they fix car and all that. So now and then they get air raid, so they all gather one place.

And that area - they all came together - and had one haole guy say, "Where's that little Jap?" I'm the only Japanese, now, inside there. I go up there, I punch the guy in the nose. Next day, the captain call me inside. He said, "How come you go do things like that?" I tell him, "Oh, he call me names and I can't stand it."

Then, two weeks later, they transfer me to someplace else, not with them. The captain don't like me, so they transferred me to someplace else. But they still side for their haole people. If like our case, if somebody attacked somebody, we all jump in. But this one, nobody jump in. I hit the guy, they don't come in and hit me. But if our group, if you ever fight, oh, they all helping you. It's different. I guess the Hawaii people especially, they all stick together.


You know, most of us were treated pretty fairly. They treated us as white because they don't know what to do with us. Because they only have black or white, but I was one yellow, eh, they don't know what to do. So they treated us just like whites. I don't know why they do the things like that.

Even toilet, they have to get one special toilet for them. They're only wasting money, you know, special toilet for blacks, and others. But that's the way they were brought up. But now, it's not so bad. If you do something, if you did that, oh boy, you get a lot of comments. "Who you?" and all that. But those days, no such thing.

Ray Nosaka's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Ray Nosaka, Ted Tsukiyama, Library of Congress, and U.S. Army Signal Corps.

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