Heart Mountain Relocation Center: A Japanese-American Family’s Story of Internment & Freedom

Heart MountainOn Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 6:30 p.m., the Craven County Genealogical Society will begin the evening with a cookie and punch reception where guests and members are welcome to discuss their research and learn more ways to find their ancestors.

At 7 p.m., the Society will host a free special program about the “Heart Mountain Relocation Center: A Japanese-American Family’s Story of Internment & Freedom” by Mr. Tom Sugiyama who will share the compelling story of his parents Frank U. Sugiyama (1905-1984) born in Shizuoka, Japan and Seiko Watanabe (1919-2013) born in Buhl, Idaho. His parent’s marriage was pre-arranged and they were married within ten minutes of meeting each other in Salt Lake City, Utah on April 1, 1940.

The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the United States officially declared war on Japan the next day. Soon after this, internment camps were established and many Japanese were forced into them, his parents included. They were forced to stay in a camp called Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.  He will relate their experiences and the effects it had on their families.

Mr. Sugiyama was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1959 and is a retired USMC Gunnery Sergeant of twenty-two years, and is currently a logistician supporting an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) program at MCAS Cherry Point.  He is married to Mrs. Dorinda Cahoon Sugiyama and they have five children from previous marriages and ten grandchildren.  If you would like to contact Tom, he can reached via email..

Following Mr. Sugiyama’s presentation, we will have our popular Genealogy Q&A, so please bring your questions and hopefully someone in the group may be able to assist you.

The Society’s monthly meetings are held at the New Bern LDS Church located at 1207 Forest Drive off Trent Road.  The monthly meetings are free and open to the public and membership is encouraged.  The Society has a vibrant and diverse membership representing not only Craven County and North Carolina, but also many other states as well.  The members are dedicated to fostering interest in the research, preservation, and sharing of family heritages. We welcome you to join us for this month’s meeting.  For more information, please visit .CravenGenealogy.org or contact President Nancy Perdue at 252-638-3291.

You are invited to visit the New Bern LDS History Center which is free and open to the public on Tuesdays (1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.), Wednesdays (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.), and Thursdays (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.).  It is staffed by researchers who are happy to assist you in learning how to find your ancestors.  The Center provides free on-site access to some of the most popular online genealogy research databases as well as having books relating to local area family history.

Submitted by: David French, Family History Society of Eastern