Military Intelligence Service
Hawaii Territorial Guard
The Hawaii Territorial Guard patrols selected areas of Oahu.
At age 18, Yoshiaki, a corporal in the HTG, is appointed squad leader, commanding men older than he.
In January 1942, the HTG is disbanded. No explanation is given. Yoshiaki recalls: "We were angry, disappointed. I think maybe we cried, too. We were discouraged. Here, we had no intention of being traitors to America but clearly we're being suspected and they're not trusting us."
In my case, I thought that was kind of funny. See, I was eighteen years old and the corporal, squad leader. Eighteen years old. Now, there was a fellow named Pro. Well, his nickname was Pro, he was a professional gambler. I think his name was Sadao Fujioka. But anyway, he was a taxi driver and twenty-five years of age. And so he came into my squad.
Now, you can just picture that situation. I was the nominal head of the squad but the one who was running the squad, was Pro Fujioka, twenty-five years. So he would tell me, "Yeah, I'm going to stay out all night tonight." And so I couldn't say no. "What are you going to do?" "We have a game, gambling game. You want to come?"
(Chuckles) So one night, I went with him and stayed up with him as he gambled. And on that occasion, he taught me, "Well, if you want to gamble, you better learn how to gamble. Now, if you're not going to learn how to gamble, never gamble." (Chuckles) Now, that was a twenty-five-year-old telling an eighteen-year-old about life.
I think this photo was arranged by Ted Tsukiyama because the original photo is in his hands. But it is a picture of the company, our company B, taken just before we disbanded. That was in January of 1942. But in that photo, Ted is there, but some of the others I recognize, Warren Higa, Hiroshi Kato, Camel - well, that was his nickname - Yoshimasu, or even Dr. George Goto, sort of a short doctor. Those people are in there.
I'm in there, too. And I thought it was kind of interesting that my grandson, who just made eighteen looks exactly like me in that picture. We look young, skin is tight and unwrinkled. Bushy hair, and yeah, we were young.
Ted was the top man, of course. Top non-com. But we had officers. Never really got to know them but our captain was Captain Nollie Smith. He was quite an athlete. But, well, that's the only one I remember.
Disbanding of the Hawaii Territorial Guard
In January of 42, the HTG was disbanded. I guess the decision was made in Washington by the bigwigs. We were told that we were going to be inactivated. And the rumor went around that it was so because we all looked like the enemy.
In other words, the HTG was packed full of niseis and they were afraid. But when the announcement was made by Captain Nollie Smith, he actually wept as he announced to us saying, they don't understand.
[W]e were angry, disappointed. I think maybe we cried, too. We were discouraged. Here, we had no intention of being traitors to America but already we're being suspected and they're not trusting us.
Yoshiaki Fujitani's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Yoshiaki Fujitani.