Ono Family during World War II

This series shares the stories of the author’s family and relatives during their tumultuous journey from when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and how their own American government treated them as the enemy without any due process of the law. This series will highlight some of their experiences upon being placed in unusual and harsh conditions and their hardships in and out of the camps.

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Letters from Camp - Part 3

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In all, the documents and letters, even telegrams, showed that there were many pleas for hearings to be held so that he could make a case for his parole and release. All of his and the family’s pleas were turned down. The main reason given was that there was never any new evidence introduced to make them change their original judgment. While the family’s efforts were well-meaning, I also could not see any new reasons for their appeals until the family faced a tragic loss.

It was when Jichan’s oldest son Hiroshi, while working ...

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Letters from Camp - Part 2

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In 2003, in response to a request I’d submitted to the National Archives in Washington, DC for documentation relating to my grandfather’s arrest and imprisonment by the FBI, INS and the DOJ during WWII, I received well-over 190-copy pages of records from his personal file, which included a filled-out 28-page “U.S. Department of Justice, Alien Enemy Questionnaire.” I learned that he was in: Fort Missoula, Montana; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Camp Livingston, Louisiana; Lordsburg, New Mexico and ended-up at the Santa Fe, New Mexico Detention Center.

Much to my surprise and delight, among these documents ...

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Letters from Camp - Part 1

These were not letters from a summer camp like the funny one from a young homesick camper as written by songwriter, Allan Sherman, in his 1964 Grammy Award winning song which began, “Hello Muddah – Hello Faddah – Here I am – in Camp Granada…” No!…Although the letters from the camp of which I speak were from Granada, they were actually from the Granada War Relocation Authority Center, a prison camp!

The WRA camp’s name was changed from Granada to Amache to avoid confusion with the post office in the nearby town of Granada, Colorado. Amache, the name of a Cheyenne ...

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Denver

As mentioned in “Amache Arrival”, our father, Sam Masami Ono, 29 (a San Franciscan) and George Dote (a Los Angeleno), were both released February 10, 1943 from Amache, the Colorado War Relocation Authority camp near the small town of Granada, Colorado. They were invited to go to Denver to audition/interview for translation and broadcasting jobs with the British Political Warfare Mission (BPWM). The British agency partnered with the U.S. Office of War Information (OWI) in a “Joint Anglo-American Program of Radio Propaganda Program,” to broadcast to war-enemy Japan. The OWI had a staff of up to eight Japanese ...

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Amache Arrival

On September 18, 1942, finally, after the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe train engine, the last of the different locomotive engines that took their turn pulling our passenger train carrying us Japanese evacuees aboard through their own railroad company jurisdictions, we arrived at the small farming town of Granada, Colorado. It took three days of confined discomfort. The seemingly endless travel time was caused by the priority given scheduled passenger, military and freight trains over our “special” evacuation trains, which had to pull over to side rails numerous times to let them pass. According to George and Shig Hirano, who were ...

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