Frank Tanabe oral history interview, part 1 of 3, June 28, 2008


Dublin Core


Frank S. Tanabe was born on August 10, 1919 as Shinichiro Okamoto. His parents immigrated to the United States from Japan and later divorced when Frank was a child. Frank's mother married Mr. Tanabe in 1924. Frank and his sister grew up in the Tanabe household and changed their last name from Okamoto to Tanabe.

After the divorce, Frank's biological returned to Japan and opened an American-styled restaurant called Olympics Restaurant. Many Nisei who studies in Japan would gather at the Olympics.

Frank's parents taught him to study hard, and education was important. At home, Frank spoke Japanese and English. He attended Bailey Gatzert Elementary School and Japanese language school. In 1937, Frank graduated high school, and his family moved to Montana. After high school, Frank attended the University of Washington until Pearl Harbor.

Frank recalls the Pearl Harbor attack and evacuation. Frank and four other Nisei were sent to Tule Lake as the advance crew to set up the camp.
In September, Frank went to Idaho to help harvest the crops on a farm. Then he returned to Tule Lake and asked for a transfer to Minidoka.

In 1943, Frank volunteered for the Army and took his physical exam. Frank explains why he joined the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) because of a directive from the War Department. On February 1, 1944, Frank reported to Fort Sheridan and later went to Camp Savage.



Oral History Item Type Metadata

Date of Birth

1919 Aug 10

Location of Birth

Incarceration Facilities

War or Conflict

Branch of Service

Entrance into Service

Location of Basic Training


Tanabe, Frank: narrator, Tsukiyama, Ted: interviewer, and Go For Broke National Education Center: publisher, “Frank Tanabe oral history interview, part 1 of 3, June 28, 2008,” Japanese American Military History Collective, accessed April 20, 2024,