tv American History TV CSPAN December 10, 2016 3:48pm-4:01pm EST
plan to do that day, and after that, the next question is, what were you doing that day when it all happened? >> i was 20 years old. i was attending the university of hawaii as a junior. part of the rotc program. on the morning of december 7 i was sleeping off the events of the junior prom the night before. awakened by all this thunderous sounds that never ceased, until we went outside. from our house, we cannot see pearl harbor. but all we saw was black smoke and little white puffs up in the air. and, you know, we had maneuvers all the time. but this one looked real
serious. so i turned on the radio. and there was this -- i think we only had one or two radio stations. kgu. edwards was the announcer. i can still remember his name. he is screaming into the mic get off the streets! take cover! we're under attack by japanese planes! and i never forget this. he says, this is the real mccoy! because the whole thing was just surreal. it just... you know the fact -- when i heard the announcement that we're being attacked by japanese planes, you know, i felt like i'd been hit with a piece of shrapnel. you know it was just total shock. and utter disbelief and denial.
there was a tinge of, you might say, depression at the prospect that gee, what is going to happen to anyone who is of japanese ancestry? but my overall reaction was one of anger, just consuming anger which stayed with me for the rest of the war. and i was so angry that i said to myself, if i ever come across a japanese soldier, i'm gonna knock him down and beat him up and kick him in the groin. three years, almost four years later, when i was out serving in
burma, i did get a chance to visit a p.o.w. camp. >> i want you to tell me the story, which i know is a difficult one for you. the story about the time, as a soldier, you were turned away along with all other japanese, from serving your country. can you tell us briefly about that? >> leading up to that, the rotc, which responded on the morning of december 7, that afternoon it was ordered to be converted into hawaii territorial guard. so there were about 500, 600 of us. and we were assigned to guard the city for the next six weeks. and then, in the middle of
january, we were -- our company commander called us in and said that, you know, with tears in his eyes he said i'm sorry but all of you guys of japanese ancestry, you're discharged. and up till then, there was no sign or evidence of any kind of you know, distrust or doubt as to the fact that we were, you know, americans, just like anybody else. but somebody to be told that you are no longer, you know, trusted, wanted to serve your country, you know... we grew up with all the other kids of other races.
never had any thought about the fact that someday we might be, you know rejected by our own country. it's a terrible feeling. like i say, i felt like the bottom of my life had dropped out. >> one other story that is so unique is a story about your brother and you. and a lot of people don't realize this. in fact, i didn't realize this. but in many ways, for those of japanese ancestry, the pacific war was a civil war because many of the japanese americans or who held dual citizenship, that were in japan, traditionally getting education there and there for a short time,
especially from hawaii, were caught there once the war started. and, of course, one of those was ted's brother. can you tell us the story, briefly? >> i have an older brother five years older than me. his name is jim. and in 1936 or '7, he went to nyu, the school of aeronautics. and he became one of the pioneers in getting a degree in aeronautical engineering. upon graduation, even his -- the professor himself, he couldn't -- he wasn't hired by boeing or any of the american aviation companies. ostensibly because of his race. so he came home to hawaii.
even hawaiian airlines here wouldn't hire him. so somebody told him oh, why don't you go to japan and look around? that was in 1941. i don't know why he didn't catch the last boat out, but he caught caught in japan. and he spent a nightmarish four years in japan suspected -- the japanese their f.b.i., raided his rooms because in the japanese' eyes, anybody from america was a spy. and he got drafted by the japanese army. you know, because of the fact that he was an american, he used to get beat up by the corporals
his superiors. he just had a miserable time, because, you know, he's not -- he wasn't accepted or trusted in his own country and of course the japan, the land of his ancestors, he's treated like an american. you might say that his story was one of a man without a country. >> but your feelings towards him, you didn't know the story. can you share that? your feelings after the war, not knowing that story, how you felt towards him and how you united as brothers. your feelings were very different when you found out he was in japan. can you share that with us? >> well, you know, after the war, he regained his full american citizenship. in california, he got a job with
north american aviation and another aircraft company. by this time, he was in demand because he could speak japanese, and the american aircraft companies were doing business with japan. so it was a big help to the officials of the airline industry. so he lived a happy post-war life and settled down in oregon. he passed away last year. >> but when he came to family reunions, you were angry with him, not knowing that story? >> no, i wouldn't say angry. we were curious to know what his war experience was like in japan. and he always brushed me off.
and he put it off. so finally when he was in his last days, i visited him and asked him again. and he says, he says i'll never tell that story because i just hate the japanese so much, from what he endured. >> how would you like those that served in -- japanese americans that served their country how would you like them remembered? >> i think most people have read that world war ii, they were considered the most decorated unit in world war ii for its size just the regiment, and time in battle, less than a year, fighting campaigns in
italy, france and then back to italy. coincidentally last month they received the congressional medal of honor which was, you know, a very high honor. and here in hawaii, we're going to observe that on december 17 with a parade in waikiki and luncheon that we will be awarded replicas of the gold medal. >> thank you, ted. >> you're watching american history t.v. all weekend, every weekend, on c-span 3. to join the conversation, "like" us on facebook at c-span history. >> next, on history bookshelf
edward mcclelland talks about his book, "nothin' but blue skies: the heyday, hard times and hopes of america's industrial heartland." the author, who was born and raised in michigan examines the region's once powerful manufacturing centers an looks at how their decline has impacted the middle class. this was recorded at boswell book company in milwaukee, wisconsin, in 2013. it's about an hour. [applause] >> thank you. that was a really good introduction because it segues into what i wanted to talk about in the beginning, which was the fisher body plant in its heyday. it was -- i went to high school across the street from the fisher body plant in lansing michigan. it was perfectly integrated into the industrial life of the state. the high school was kind of part of the supply chain. it would provide the workers for industrial labor. and there was a saying that you had a diploma in