Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Aya Uenishi Medrud Interview
Narrator: Aya Uenishi Medrud
Interviewer: Daryl Maeda
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: May 13, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-maya-01-0018

AM: The chaplain, there was a Utica General Army Hospital, which was installed in one of their, one of the hospitals as a military hospital. And what they did was take the soldiers wounded from combat from Europe, European Theatre, in transit from the European Theatre to where they would be going to live in hospitals near where their homes were. And so Utica was a transit (point). The chaplain there found out about the Japanese family, so my dad was called on the phone and asked if my sister and I would go visit some of the GIs who were wounded from the 442 and 100th battalion. So this must have been spring of '45, sometime in early '45. And I remember we were asked to come and visit, and I had no preparation of what it meant to come and visit something like that. We were brought to a ward, and there were all these GIs from the 442, 100th Battalion, mostly Hawaiian. But they were guys just like us, I mean, we were Asians. And that was my first experience with what war really meant. I mean, you can talk about "raise the flag" and rah-rah-rah and stuff like that, but the human cost was something that I had never known. Nobody prepared me for this. The chaplain didn't prepare me, all he did was say, "There are some people you should say hello to." So my sister and I -- and she's always behind me, of course, I'm leading the way and she's behind me -- walking up, and then for the first time encountering people with faces blown away, missing limbs.


Well, when I walked through, and left that place, my sister and I had to catch a bus to go back home, but we had to transfer to a bus in downtown Utica. And while my sister -- Hope was all over the place, she was looking at the windows and stuff like that -- but I was standing there sort of in a, still in shock from what I had observed and that experience, and I was standing of the corner of the street waiting for my bus to come, and this woman came up to me and stuck her face right in my face like this and screamed at me, "You goddamn Jap, you have no right to be here. Get out of here or I'll kill you." And I was, having had that experience in the hospital, I had, you can imagine this frustration because I didn't know how to respond to her. I was angry, but at the same time, I was just terrified of what that meant, and I couldn't wait to get home.

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