Moriso Teraoka
100th Infantry Battalion

December 7, 1941

On December 7th, Moriso notices two strange events. The trans-pacific seaplane China Clipper lands in Hilo Bay instead of Honolulu. A Navy patrol seaplane also lands in the bay.

On the radio, Moriso hears that Japan has bombed Pearl Harbor.

Later, Moriso’s brother Sakae, is discharged from the U.S. Army for being of Japanese ancestry, then relocated to Tule Lake Incarceration Camp for being a kibei (Japanese-American educated in Japan).

[The following text is excerpted from Go For Broke National Education Center's oral history interview of Moriso Teraoka (Go For Broke)]

Observations of Hilo Bay


On December 7, I was home at the plantation and I remember the China Clipper, the trans-pacific passenger flying seaplane.

That particular Sunday, this plane is landing in Hilo Bay. I say, “That’s the China Clipper!” They had to detour and not land at Pearl Harbor where they have the landing facility there in the water [rather] than in Hilo.

Soon after that a huge U.S. Navy patrol seaplane landed in Hilo Bay, too. That’s another unusual thing that happened at that time.

Then, listening to the radio, I found out that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. That’s how I remember the start of the war.

Hilo High School


I was a senior at that time. [When] war broke out Hilo Intermediate School was taken over by the army. We had to share [our campus] with the Hilo Intermediate School [students]. The high school [students had] half a day and the other half was devoted to Hilo Intermediate School students. That was after the war started.

Studio portrait of Moriso Teraoka as a Hilo High School graduate. Hilo, Hawaii. June 1942.
Studio portrait of Moriso Teraoka as a Hilo High School graduate. Hilo, Hawaii. June 1942.

Father’s Concerns


Not so much that day but soon after that I think my father started to get concerned about what’s going happen to us. Especially him being a community leader.

Already the F.B.I. at that time, I think, Mr. Kajiwara and the whole family was taken away. Maybe a week after Pearl Harbor, I’m not sure, but soon after war was declared they were taken away.

Mr. Kajiwara was a registrar for the Japanese Consulate. Every Japanese child was [registered with] the Japanese Ministry via the Consulate. We became dual citizens for that fact. It was reported that my parents gave birth to Moriso. After the war, after I came back, I renounced my dual citizenship.

Some people, being afraid of being persecuted — prosecuted - they went to burn or bury [their belongings] or whatever. But we never needed to because we never had anything to bury anyway.

My father’s concern was perhaps he being a community leader would be picked up [by] the F.B.I., but they never did because they couldn’t afford to. He was an essential worker.

For that matter everybody in Hawaii was an essential worker to maintain the economy. It wasn’t like the West Coast, fortunately.

Brother: Sakae Teraoka


[Sakae] was drafted before the war started. Already the United States was mobilizing. He was a medic [in the U.S. Army].

When the war started, soon after, they corralled all the [Kibei]. [Sakae] was educated in Japan. And those that are born locally and educated in Japan are called Kibei - and he was a Kibei- so I guess the U.S. government thought that he’s a dangerous risk to have around so they corralled him with some other Kibeis and they shipped him to Tule Lake.

Moriso and Sakae Teraoka when Moriso visited his brother in Denver, Colorado, while on leave after completing his basic training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
Moriso and Sakae Teraoka when Moriso visited his brother in Denver, Colorado, while on leave after completing his basic training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

Already by that time he was discharged — honorably discharged — and he was shipped to Tule Lake. Anyway, he eventually got relocated and started to work on a farm in Colorado. He stayed there, working over there, until the war ended.

When the war ended he moved back down to California to be a landscape gardener.


"Excerpts of Moriso Teraoka's oral history transcript are courtesy of the Go For Broke National Education Center. Photographs courtesy of Moriso Teraoka.

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