Paul Bannai oral history interview, part 2 of 8, September 15, 2002


Dublin Core


During Paul Takao Bannai's school years in Utah, and Colorado there are no Japanese American students. Paul's friends are mainly white. When he moves to Los Angeles, CA, his friends are more diverse, and he meets other Japanese Americans. Paul becomes more interested in his culture and is active in the Japanese American community.

After graduating high school, Paul applies to several banks. Paul says where he goes, he wants to help people. He learns from his parents to be kind and help others. Therefore, Paul talks to California Bank to open a branch in Little Tokyo, downtown Los Angeles. There are many Japanese American-run businesses in Little Tokyo. Moreover, Paul helps coordinate a banking system in Manzanar.

In addition, Paul works with the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and writes many letters. Paul feels it is wrong for the United States Military to deny American citizens the right to serve in the United States Army. As a result, the government relinquishes its position and allows Japanese Americans to volunteer in the military. The government realizes the need Japanese speaking people in the military during the Alaskan Campaign. Over 5,000 Japanese Americans served during the Pacific.

When Paul goes into service, his parents put a star in the window. His parents are proud that Paul is serving in the military. Paul is the last one to evacuate to Manzanar and considers defying evacuation orders. Paul discusses three courts involving Japanese Americans and evacuation.

At Camp Shelby, Paul recalls the relationship between the mainland soldiers and the Hawaiian soldiers. Later, Paul goes to Camp Savage for the Military Intelligence Service Language School. Paul is not as fluent in the Japanese language. He studies harder to catch up with his classmates.

After completing training, Paul goes to Michigan to teach the Military Police (MP) elementary Japanese. When he arrives in Michigan, the MPs are needed overseas for the Japanese Prisoners of War (POWs). Paul goes to New Guinea with the MPs.



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Date of Birth

1920 Jul 04

Location of Birth

Incarceration Facilities

War or Conflict

Branch of Service

Entrance into Service


Bannai, Paul: narrator, Nakaishi, Russell: interviewer, and Go For Broke National Education Center: publisher, “Paul Bannai oral history interview, part 2 of 8, September 15, 2002,” Japanese American Military History Collective, accessed May 27, 2024,