Moriso Teraoka
100th Infantry Battalion

Pearl Harbor Career

Moriso becomes an apprentice machinist at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in January 1946. He becomes a journeyman machinist in March 1950.

Moriso encounters some prejudice and discrimination, but manages to rise in the supervisory ranks becoming the first leadingman of Japanese descent in his shop.

For the last 15 years of his 38 year career, he serves as a Nuclear Ship Superintendent, retiring in 1985.

[The following text is excerpted from "My Legacy: The Inheritance of a Will" by Moriso Teraoka.]

Apprentice Machinist

I became an apprentice machinist at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in January of 1946.

During World War II, the Navy did not hire a person of Japanese descent. After the war ended, the Navy had no recourse but to accept all veterans seeking employment at the shipyard. I was one of the early applicants starting as an apprentice machinist.

As an apprentice I spent four years of on-the-job training to become a journeyman machinist. I learned to operate all the applicable machinery related to the machinist trade: lathe, milling machine, drill press, boring machine, and all the portable tools that are pertinent to the trade. I learned to overhaul and repair all kinds of machinery and engines. Apprentices spent three weeks in the shop alternated by one week of academics: mathematics, trade theory, mechanical drawing, physics, and English grammar.

Journeyman Machinist

I graduated from the apprenticeship program by March of 1950 and became a journeyman machinist.

My rise in the supervisory ranks was hampered by prejudice and discrimination. During those early days in the 1940s and 1950s, it was not so much how skilled and knowledgeable you were in your trade, but who your acquaintances were. We of Japanese descent had very few friends.


But perseverance and hard work prevailed. I became the first leadingman in the supervisory capacity of Japanese descent in the Outside Machine Shop. James Yanagihara was the first Japanese supervisor in the Pipe Shop and James Sakamoto became the first supervisor in the Electronic Shop. We began to be recognized as supervisors on the waterfront.

On the first day as a leadingman, I was called into the office of Mr. Bhomann, the head of the Outside Machine Shop. “Teraoka, I know that there are Portuguese, Chinese, Filipino and even a haole clique in my shop. I don’t never want to hear that you had formed a Japanese clique,” Bhomann said.

I assured him that there will never be a time that he would hear that I was favoring Japanese workers in the shop. “I know all about discrimination, Mr. Bhomann. I come from the sugar plantation. I lived with discrimination. You can be assured that my workers will be treated fairly and equally,” I said.

A year after working as a leadingman, Mr. Bhomann addressed the entire group of shop supervisors. I was really surprised to hear him say that if all the supervisors in the shop ran their respective gangs like Teraoka’s gang, he would have no problems at all.

My 38-year career at Pearl Harbor was not without pitfalls, unfairness, and discrimination. Subtle promotions were practiced throughout our shop and the criteria usually amounted to how well a person was acquainted with the supervisor handling the promotion. Fortunately, there were supervisors in the minority that recognized knowledge, hard work, and devotion as the traits for selecting a man for promotion.

After my graduation to the level of journeyman in the machinist trade, I was fortunate to be assigned to such a supervisor. His named was Harold Swanson, specializing in repairing sonar, radar, snorkel, and periscope components on the submarines.

Nuclear Ship Superintendent

I ended my career at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard as a Nuclear Ship Superintendent responsible for the timely completion of the repairs to the nuclear propulsion power plant on the submarine. I held this position for fifteen years until I retired in 1985.

"My Legacy: The Inheritance of a Will" was reprinted with the permission of Moriso Teraoka. Photographs courtesy of Moriso Teraoka.

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