Mesa man recalls his time in Arizona internment camp

March 23, 2012

As we celebrate Arizona’s centennial this year, we look back at a part of our history that many would like to forget.

Mess hall at Gila River Relocation Camp Gila River Relocation Center, Rivers, Arizona. A line of evacuees waiting for lunch at one of the mess halls. (Photo by Francis Stewart - via National Archives)

At the start of World War Two, the U.S. rounded up Japanese-American families and shuttled them to internment camps. Two of the largest camps were in Arizona.

Thomas Koseki, 75, was in first grade when he and his family were bused from Los Angeles to the Gila River Relocation Center southeast of Phoenix.  It became home for more than 13,000 Japanese-Americans. KJZZ’s Weston Phippen recorded Tom Koseki's story.

After two years at the Gila River Relocation Center, Tom Koseki’s family was moved to a military base in Utah, where he spent the rest of his youth.  Koseki later joined the U.S. Navy — where he served his country for 38 years. He currently lives in Mesa.

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