Oct 6, 2015

Former internee to share memories of living at Heart Mountain during WWII

Sam Mihara’s wartime confinement at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center began when he was 9 years old.

Following the 1942 attack on Pearl Harbor, soldiers took Mihara and his family from their home on the West Coast and moved them to a guarded camp in Wyoming. They lived at Heart Mountain, in a barrack room that was 20 feet by 20 feet in size, for three years.

In a free “Memories of Heart Mountain” program at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at the Cody library, Mihara will recount the story of family and friends who lived with him in prison camp.
The Heart Mountain Relocation Center was once the third largest city in Wyoming. Peak occupancy was 10,767 people prior to closure in 1945.  Photo courtesy Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation
Mihara is a second generation Japanese American. He was born in San Francisco in 1933.

During World War II, the U.S. government sequestered 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming and Arkansas.

Mihara will also describe the redress movement that resulted in a formal apology from the U.S. government. He will conclude with the lessons learned that apply to everyone, not just Japanese Americans.

The "Memories of Heart Mountain" program will include rare photographs and video footage. An open discussion will follow the presentation.

Mihara also will present the program at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15, at the Powell library and at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 16, at the Meeteetse School. Following his talk at the school, folks have the opportunity for a field trip from Meeteetse to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. There is a charge for the guided tour.
Japanese Americans were held under armed guard as they boarded trains bound for relocation centers.
Photo courtesy U.C. Berkeley Bancroft Library

When the war ended, Mihara and his family returned home to San Francisco. Mihara earned degrees in engineering from UC Berkeley and UCLA.

He worked as a rocket scientist and executive with The Boeing Company. He currently owns a high-tech consulting firm.

Mihara serves on the board of directors for the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. He is also a member of the Japanese American National Museum and the Japanese American Citizens League.

The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center is located between Powell and Cody at the intersection of U.S. Highway 14A and Road 19. For more information, visit heartmountain.org or call 754-8000.

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