- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

CODY, Wyo. (AP) - The reunion weekend at Heart Mountain Interpretive Center brought former incarceree Takashi Hoshizaki and Raymond Uno, son of internee Clarence Uno, to the site where thousands of Japanese were held during World War II. They share their stories here.

In the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 to remove people with Japanese heritage from the West Coast.

For one former U.S. World War I veteran, his move from Ogden, Utah, to Southern California cost him his freedom. Clarence Uno - who volunteered and fought in France in “the war to end all wars” - and his family were incarcerated at Heart Mountain during World War II.

“I always say he was a loyal American veteran who served his country and died a prisoner of war of the United States Government,” said son Raymond Uno, who entered the Heart Mountain camp at age 11. “It’s kind of ironic.”

Before his time at Heart Mountain, the senior Uno helped start the Commander Perry American Legion Post in Los Angeles in the 1930s. Interned at Heart Mountain, he helped form the camp’s USO.

Then, on Jan. 20, 1943, Clarence Uno, confined behind barbed wire, died at age 48.

In an open-casket, Uno lay in an American flag-draped coffin. About 1,000 people attended the funeral, including members of the Cody and Powell’s American Legion. He received a send-off of a 21-gun salute deserving of a patriot, not a POW.

From his experience at Heart Mountain, the younger Uno was, he said, active in “tearing down racial barriers.” With a law degree from the University of Utah, Uno became the first minority judge in the state of Utah.


A decade before the landmark Civil Rights case Brown v. Board of Education, another judge sentenced 63 draft resisters from Heart Mountain to three years in a federal penitentiary.

For one defendant, Takashi Hoshizaki, it was a question of fairness, not race.

A 1943 graduate of the Heart Mountain high school, he received his draft notice in spring 1944 to join about 5,000 other Japanese-Americans in the war effort in Europe.

“From where I stood, I would most probably die in the war,” Hoshizaki said Friday. “I thought it was very unfair. My parents were still behind barbed wire.”

The draft resisters’ position was, he said, “Let our parents go home and get our Constitutional rights back. Then I will gladly serve.”

Held in a Cheyenne courtroom, the draft resisters’ trial was to bring attention to their stance, he said.

“During the trial,” - the largest one in state history - “that fact was never brought up,” Hoshizaki said. “The only question was ‘Did I or did I not report for my physical exam?’ That was the basis for the whole trial.”

The defendants had decided on a trial by judge, not jury.

“That was a bad decision, but we didn’t know it at the time,” he said. “(Judge T. Blake Kennedy) turned out to be a racist. He called us ‘you Jap boys.’”

Confined to the penitentiary at McNeil Island near Tacoma, Washington, Hoshizaki said he was in the garden when he heard the U.S. dropped the atom bomb on Japan.

“I studied physics and chemistry; I understood such a weapon was possible,” he said.

It wasn’t until July 14, 1946, that he was released from McNeil Island. With President Truman’s Christmas Eve pardon in 1947, he and other draft resisters regained their full citizenship: including the right to vote and be drafted.

In 1953 Hoshizaki was finishing his master’s degree at UCLA and was soon after inducted into the armed services during the Korean War. His first assignment was in a highly classified position for developing biological and chemical warfare.

“So here I go from someone who was thrown in prison to someone thrown into something highly classified,” he said. “This is absolutely crazy.”

His orders were soon changed and he instead served as a medic at Fort Hood, Texas.

“Most of us adapted well enough in getting out of camp and prison,” he said.

He worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory doing research for NASA.


Information from: The Cody Enterprise, https://www.codyenterprise.com

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