Posts Tagged ‘CCC Camps’

UNACKNOWLEDGED HEROS

December 19, 2011

Since we just passed the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, a story I discovered while I was doing research on stories of Highway 99 is stuck in my thoughts.
This story began much sooner. Robert Kinoshita was born in Honolula, Hawaii to Japanese parents. He graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical School then interned at Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon. There he met and learned to love a nurse named Evelyn.
Overriding objections to the inter-racial marriage by both their parents and the State of Oregon, they married. Dr. Kinoshita was soon an Army Reserve doctor with the Southern Oregon District Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC. He, his wife, and son Bobby, moved into a house on the South Umpqua Road, close to the South Umpqua Falls CCC camp, CO 2904 at Tiller, Oregon.
He and his wife looked after the boys of Co 2904, taking care of their medical needs and listening to their problems. He also treated the residents from surrouning communities when he was needed. In 1939, he was appointed District Surgeon and became responsible for the health care of 44 CCC camps working out of Medford.
The beginning of World War II ended the CCC program and Dr. Kimoshita was reassigned to Fort Omaha, Nebraska. While the family was in Portland for a visit before leaving for the new assignment, the mandate was issued for all people of Japanese Descent to report to collection centers for removal to Relocation Camps. The center in Portland was the former Portland Livestock Pavilion. Evelyn, pregnant a second time, gave up her civil rights and the family entered the “stinking” horse stall together.
Dr. Kinoshita and his family were sent to live behind barbed wire in a concentration camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.
On hearing the news, the people of the South Umpqua Valley prepared and signed a petition asking for their release.
It’s not known if the petition helped but the Dr. and his family were released in March of 1943. Still in the Army he was called to active duty serving in the European war theater. He crawled on his belly, dragging his medical kit to any of our wounded still alive, dragged them to safety and gave them first aid until they could be picked up. He survived time behind the German lines in Holland and the war, returning with a long list of honors for hes bravery and dedication. The family returned to the Portland area where he and Evelyn set up a family medical practice.

Resource–PIONEER DAYS IN THE SOUTH UMPQUA VALLEY Vols 27, p.25 and vol. 34 p. 26 published by the South Umpqua Historical Society