Isamu Saito oral history interview, part 4 of 6, June 28, 2005


Dublin Core


Isamu "Sam" Saito describes life in the camp. Minidoka was the third-largest in Idaho, with approximately 12,000 Japanese American internees. Inside the camp, the people developed a police station, fire station, hospital, and administration. Moreover, various jobs were also available for those who wanted to work.

He remembers after a year at Minidoka, the government, allowed outside organizations such as the churches to enter the camp. The recreation hall was used for different religious services for the Japanese Americans.

The weather in the summer was hot and dry, and in the wintertime, the weather was cold and dry. In the winter, Sam went ice skating on the frozen pond. Also, social dances were organized by individual blocks. For school, the laundry room was utilized as a classroom.

In Minidoka, Sam attended school and continued to work with the advance crew in the garage. In the garage, Sam assisted the mechanics with repairing trucks. In 1943, Sam was inducted into the Army. He was aware of the 442nd because they came to the camp looking for volunteers. Volunteering for the Army was the fastest way out of camp.

Sam recalls the WRA giving the loyalty questionnaire, and some of his friends were deported to Japan. However, one of Sam's friends was able to return to the United States after the war. Sam was drafted into the Army, and his parents told him not to bring shame to the family.

Joining the Army was an adventure for Sam. The first day of Army life for Sam began at Camp Shelby, MS, for basic training. At basic training, Sam learned how to obey orders, physical strength building, and weapons. Sam says basic training was short because replacements were needed overseas.

After training, Sam's groups went to Fort Meade and then to Europe. Sam was left behind at Camp Shelby because he was sick. Later, Sam received orders to go to Fort Snelling Military Intelligence Service Language School.



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Date of Birth

1925 Apr 27

Location of Birth

War or Conflict

Branch of Service

Entrance into Service



Saito, Isamu: narrator, Hawkins, Richard: interviewer, and Go For Broke National Education Center: publisher, “Isamu Saito oral history interview, part 4 of 6, June 28, 2005,” Japanese American Military History Collective, accessed May 23, 2024,