Hiroshi (Henry) Maeyama

By Ilaisaane

Hiroshi (Henry) Maeyama

Hiroshi Maeymaa, also known as Henry, was a World War II veteran. Born in 1923, he grew up with his mother and father, sister and brother. His father was leasing a farm to grow crops.

It was not an easy time for Henry, especially as a Japanese immigrant. Most Japanese families in America during that time worked as farm laborers on land that they leased from others. “That’s how we made life,” he said with a huge grin. He had great pride in how his family managed to survive through difficult times.

Henry and his siblings attended Crescent Elementary. Then he transferred to Rockville Grammar School and was one of the two students to graduate from eighth grade that year. He went to Armijo High School and was very active. He was involved in sports and played both basketball and football. Henry remembers that there were about 290 kids who went to Armijo with him, and only about 2% were Japanese.

Like his father, Henry’s goal was to become a farmer but he wanted to actually own the land that he farmed. His school days ended in May of 1942, when President Roosevelt stated that all Americans of Japanese decent were to be evacuated from the west coast to internment camps in Arizona. That’s where he and his family spent months of their lives. The camps were not like concentration camps in Europe. Instead, they were a place where Japanese-Americans would live together. They were put there because, after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, there was a fear that anyone who was Japanese might side with their ancestral land, and America wanted to protect their territory.

Within one camp, there were about 5,000 Japanese. Henry wanted to be released in February of 1943 so that he could go to Salt Lake City. Henry was allowed to leave and trained to be in the American military to fight for his country. As a military man, he went to many places like Ft. Douglass in Florida. Before World War II was over, he traveled to Italy and fought against the Germans. During that time, he shared, he also met and married the most beautiful woman in his life… “besides my mom,” he said.