Angel Island

Angel Island, CA

Angel Island, CA

The story of Angel Island as a center for processing US immigrants did not end with the Administration Building burning down in 1940.  Almost 700 Japanese immigrants were sent from Hawaii 7-8 December 1941 and over 98 from the mainland; another 105 were sent to Sharp Park, near Pacifica.  This was a layover point before those interned moved on to such places as Tule Lake and Manzamar.

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They were part of 17, 477 people of Japanese descent who were interned for all or part of WWII.  According to Tetsuden Kashima in “Judgement Without Trial”, 13,798 Germans and Italians were also imprisoned as ‘enemy aliens’.  “We have found the names of about 81 Germans and Italians who were interned at Angel Island for at least a short time…”   These civilians were sometimes housed alongside POWs.

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An account from Yasutaro Soga describes: “Living quarters for all 49 of us were 2 rooms measuring about 36 feet by 70 feet on the second floor of an old building that had once been the Immigration Bureau office.  Because there were about 90 internees from California already housed there, space was very tight.  The beds were tri-level bunks with barely enough walking space in the aisles.  There were about 10 windows and one ventilator, but with 140 occupants, air circulation was poor.”

Arrival

Arrival

Patsy Saiki described that the internees decided to do something about the food by volunteering to help in the mess hall and cooking rice the way the Japanese liked it.  “The men were allowed to walk the grounds around the dorm for ½ hour three times a day.  They exercised loudly and joyfully.”  Within 5 days of arrival, Group 1 was on it’s way to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin.

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Curtis Burton Munson submitted two reports to Pres. Roosevelt, he wrote, “There is no Japanese problem on the West Coast.  There will be no armed uprising of Japanese…  For the most part, the local Japanese are loyal to the U.S….”  But, this did not to halt the continued arrest and incarceration.

Angel Island carvings

Angel Island carvings

A few of the internees left writings on the walls of the former immigration barracks.  Professor Charles Egan of the San Francisco State University has found some writings in a former closet that now houses an elevator, so these are unfortunately not accessible to the visitors walking the grounds today.

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The Angel Island organization is the source of this information.  On their website, they provide videos and first hand accounts that can be searched by name or photo.  Should you or a family member wish to contribute to Angel Island’s index, they welcome hearing from you.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Political Cartoons – by Dr. Seussrighteous-protest

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Dr. Seuss apologized to the Japanese people for his attitude during the war by writing, Horton Hears A Who!

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A Hug From Home for deployed servicemen – a PIZZA____

http://www.aol.com/article/2015/07/04/retired-sergeant-sends-pizzas-7-000-miles-for-airdrop-to-us-troo/21204996/

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Personal – Shout Out – 

To the veterans of Little Rock, Arkansas – I hope you enjoyed your 4th, ate too much at the River Market, listened to that fine music and library personnel!!  Thank you for helping to ensure our freedom!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bartle – Okeechobee, FL; US Army, WWII

William Carroll – AUS; RAA, Ist Battalion, Vietnam, KIAMemorial_Day_Art_American_Soldier_Salutes_Half_Mast_US_Flag-01

Samuel Crews – Prattville, AL; US Air Force, Vietnam

Robert Eickelkamp – Sioux Falls, SD; USMC, Korea

John Georgette – Stratford, CT; USMC, WWII, PTO

James Jones – Seligman, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 188th Reg,/11 A/B,

Edward Lambert – Knoxville, TN; US Air Force (Ret. 20 years), Vietnam

Harris Daniel McGirt – FL & Ashville, NC; US Navy, USS Antietam, navigation

Normand Phelps – Rosemère, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Michael Runyan – Newark, OH; US Army, Iraq, 25th Inf. Division, Sgt.

Burt Shavitz – ME & NC; US Army, (Burt’s Bees)

Keith Whiting – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on July 6, 2015, in Home Front, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 79 Comments.

  1. What an engaged community! In three years you’ve accomplished so much.
    Interesting post. Everywhere I look, there’s something interesting to see:
    folding the flag,
    political cartoons.
    I am a huge Dr. Suess fan. A connection between WWII and Horton Hears a Who? I never would have guessed.
    Thank you so very much for following my blog. I am honored.

    Like

    • I appreciate your comments. Knowing what you do about blogs, I take that as quite a compliment. I am always asking my readers and friends to ask questions, discuss among themselves, suggest any topic, contribute their stories – and they do! They have truly made this site their own – I am merely the behind-the-scenes narrator. They deserve ALL the credit!!

      Like

  2. Very interesting reading on this island gp, the internment of civilians doesn’t get the airspace as much as the general overview of the war does. We had internees here as well, Italians and those of German descent, the Italians actually played a big role in the agricultural area of Australia during the war years.
    Cheers.

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  3. A not very well known episode in American history. Interesting post. Also fascinating to see the Dr. Seuss political cartoons.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A lot of people were unaware of his political start in the cartoon area. Glad to hear you found this article interesting – one never knows what the public is looking for.

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    • Hi Ken!
      Funny seeing you here! I commented on the political cartoons too. I actually had my history students make political cartoons for a while.
      Janice

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  4. I remember going on a field trip to Angel Island for school when I was a girl, but we never went though camps or anything – just nature hike kind of stuff. My little friends and I counted how many different kind of flowers we saw. 🙂

    It’s a beautiful island – at least it was in the 70s when I was last there. I remember the ferry ride and how chilly it got. I love that aerial photo! It’s much bigger than I realized!

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    • Thanks for sharing your experience there, funny, I never picture any part of CA being chilly. It’s the largest natural island in the bay, but still is only 1.2 square miles in area. It must be the aerial camera angle that makes it look so large.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It could get quite cold out on the Bay! LOL When I was little, I lived in a SF suburb, and once it got down to 28 degrees on the temperature sign by the local mall. I was so astonished, and I was afraid people were going to instantly freeze, because who ever in the world thought it could actually get below freezing?! I had no idea temperatures could actually get so low. Now an adult and living in the Chicagoland region, 28 degrees in the winter seems downright balmy. 😉

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        • I haven’t felt 28 degree weather in a mighty long time [actually miss it]. It got down to the 20s here in FL back in the 1970s, but the next time I see snow, I want to be in the mountains!! I believe you about out in the Bay, but it seems strange.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Well rounded subject matter on your blog, gpcox. Keeping “we are at war” in mind, Angel Island was only one of many “special” prisons established immediately after Pearl Harbor. My friend Bruce H.’s father was one; he was just active in the Buddhist church in L.A. and “put up a stink” for FDR stripping him of his rights as a citizen. He was not released until a year after war’s end if I remember correctly.

    A place called “Byron Hot Springs” was a stop after Angel Island, including a few of the POWs from the Pacific. Byron Hot Springs (I bought the book, lent it to someone but no longer remember to whom… sound familiar?) was a converted hot springs resort from the Hollywood hey days. Rooms and hallways were expertly wired by G-2 and listened in on by Nisei’s as well as German speakers. It was at this camp – post Angel Island – that the Nisei interrogators established treating the Japanese prisoners (from war zones, not the Japanese already living here) with some level of respect and camaraderie (like offering cigarettes and “pal-ing”) yielded more information. The Nisei’s informed the brass that the prisoners were indeed fearful their families would be punished if their true names were given out, for example.

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    • Very interesting, Koji. The name sounds familiar, but I don not recall any specifics – thank you. With just a quick peek at some info, I see it had its name changed to Camp Tracy when it became an interrogation camp and a book about it is – The History of Camp Tracy: Japanese WWII POWs and the Future of Strategic Interrogation – so, I’ll have to be on the lookout for that one!! Thanks again, Koji.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So far I haven’t found that blessed book of cartoons—but memory popped up a cartoon from (mid last century?) … ‘Giles’ was one of Britain’s most brilliant all-rounder cartoonists. On the occasion of a visit to the UK by a German Chancellor (or whatever—head honcho) Giles’s cartoon showed an austere accommodation room obviously in a Brit Army base. Sitting at a desk was a fit-looking sergeant penning a letter, the wastepaper basket at his feet was a WW2 coal-scuttle Nazi helmet.
    The caption was obviously the thoughts he was putting down …

    “Dear Chancellor Adenauer
    whilst you are here as our guest things have changed a bit in the last few years and you are quite welcome. And should it ever come to your attention, please forgive the few words I uttered spontaneously when one of your lot lobbed a grenade that left us upside down with a few teeth missing and the tea knocked over. Please disregard anything I may have said at the time …”

    Very much my paraphrasing, but memory grows dim. I loved that cartoon at the time~!

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    • It almost sounds true – “…lobbed a grenade that left us upside down with a few teeth missing and the tea knocked over. Please disregard anything I may have said at the time …” That dry humour is unique. Don’t worry about the book – you’ll find it one day when you’re looking for something else!! 🙄 Thanks for adding some humour here, Argus.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting post. My wife’s paternal grandparents were from Hawaii and were interred at Manzanar. Her dad joined the Army and served with the Japanese-American battalion in Europe, and was awarded the DSC for action in Italy. PFC Thomas Y. Ono. What a great man.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I often wonder why someone feels/felt it’s necessary to apologise “to the Japanese people for his attitude during the war” … given the circumstances of the time.

    Do we think that someday it may be nice to apologise to the perpetrators of 9/11? A poor analogy, I know … was Pearl Harbor perhaps the fault of the swabbies there at the time? Should their relatives apologise on their behalf for them presenting so irresistible a morsel?

    Dammit—somewhere around here I may still have a copy of ‘Victory Cartoons’ from WW2. If I can find it I’ll post a few (with apologies to any Nazis or Japanese—in advance—for any feelings hurt).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve tried to make a similar argument on other sites, but just manage to get tempers in gear. And once the ranting starts – I know any rational discussion is out the window. I don’t feel we should be in the Middle East anymore, we’ve given them many years of assistance and our children’s lives – yet they still can’t seem to function on their own [I believe they’re too accustom to receiving our money to live on].
      We went in to retaliate for 9-11, but we did it by being politically correct – do you see anything politically correct about WWII ? – and that is that LAST war we ever won!! IMO – an army goes in to win or don’t go in at all!!!!

      Liked by 4 people

  9. Can see why that bit of history hasn’t been broadcast too freely. Never heard of Angel Island before I have to say, so learned something new again. Didn’t sound like very comfortable living conditions.

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    • Although the US government planned for one full year for war, they didn’t have any forethought about prisoners; so everything was done as needed.

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      • Hmm! They planned for one full year for war…but the history books say it was all started because of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Now I know the difference, but that is what we were taught.

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        • No, it is not what we were taught, but who oversaw the publishing of our text books? We were told who our heroes were and how the generals and admirals went to war and cleaned things up. Our lessons were tied up in a neat little bow and we studied them. Now, if the information comes out of the archives by some avid researcher – we can all learn it by way of technology. Some people still don’t want to believe that FDR knew and even maneuvered for us to be in the war [there were quite a few things he needed to cover up and a war was the only way – one i.e. – Lend Lease], but that is their prerogative.

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  10. Been to Angel Island several times. Due to shortness of time and Ferry schedules was not able to learn too much about the history in terms of the internees. I can see why they enthusiastically shouted during their time allowed outside. It is a beautiful place and the climate during the daytime is very nice.

    The island is mostly promoted as a park for picnics, bike riding and limited camping.

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  11. There is a parallel story of internment camps for Canadian citizens of Japanese ancestry. They were all removed from the Wet Coast and shipped to the Interior of BC and Alberta. All their property was confiscated and auctioned off to the highest bidder. It is only recently that the Canadian government finally apologized to the survivors.

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  12. These people are a bit of a forgotten group. Many were indeed citizens of the adopted country and loyal to them, yet because of their background held captive and treated quite badly for it. An interesting post highlighting them.

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  13. Thanks for this post. I know of Angel Island, but frankly did not know its history. I think its part of our histroy we don’t play up too much! Thanks again!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Very interesting article, Everett. Saw the one pic and it sure was crowded with those beds. You wrote: “Group 1 was on it’s way to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin.” Will have to look that up since I am wondering where it is.

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    • I know they allow visitors and Sparta, WI is the closest town – that’s about it. Oh, and Chicago is about 250 miles away. Glad you found the article interesting, Kathy.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. it was interesting , but it is CA ( re: a comment )

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  16. I’ve been out to Angle Island. It’s a short ferry ride from San Francisco. You can walk all the way around the island or just visit the historic sites that are within easy walk of the boat dock. It’s one of those forgotten places that is better understood by walking it. Thanks for posting about this!

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    • I thought most people know about the camps and Ellis Island for immigration, but so few are aware of this little island’s part in the major scheme of things. Have you happened to make a post yourself about your visit, Andrew? If so, please leave a link.

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  17. Interesting tidbit about Dr Seuss.

    Like

  18. A really interesting post. Thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. We interned our German residents. There was a shop, I think a delicatessen, In Wimbledon Broadway, which changed its name from Brandt to Brand. It was still there during my childhood in the ’40s and ’50s. I never knew it with its German name.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Close quarters indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I have seen a couple of films about these internments. I often wondered if there was any real problem of Japanese immigrants who were US citizens actually supporting Japan. Surely some Japanese Americans fought as combat soldiers during the conflict?
    I just read this GP, and answered my own question.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_American_service_in_World_War_II
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get excited when I see people get curious enough to go investigate a topic!! It truly was an embarrassing time of US history, especially when they discovered no spies. Thanks for being interested, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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