Tainaka, Ken Kenichi


Ken Kenichi Tainaka was born June 26, 1921, in Kennewick, Washington, the second of five children of Ihei and Soto Tainaka, who were immigrants from Japan. Throughout most of his life before the forced removal, Tainaka lived in Toppenish in Washington’s Yakima Valley, where he worked on the family truck farm. By the time of the forced removal, he was running the farm’s business. The family was sent first to the Portland Assembly Center on June 6, 1942, and they arrived in Heart Mountain on September 2, 1942. They lived in apartment 22-3-C. Tainaka’s file is dominated by more than 200 pages detailing his attempt to be paid $492.16 for losses his farm suffered when the company that bought its produce collapsed in late 1941. He was eventually paid by the insurance company in 1944 after more than 18 months of attempts to secure payment. In a September 18, 1942, letter to an associate seeking payment, Tainaka wrote: “I’m way out here in Wyoming, and we had a first snow last night. The weather is cold.” During 1943, Tainaka received leave clearance to work at Chipman’s Livestock Co. in Nounan, Idaho. He answered No to Question 27 and Yes to Question 28 of the 1943 loyalty questionnaire. Tainaka did not appear for his induction physical and was arrested on April 7, 1944. He was tried with the group of 63 draft resisters in June 1944, convicted and sentenced to three years in the McNeil Island, Washington, federal prison. He was released in July 1946 and pardoned by President Harry Truman on December 24, 1947. After prison, Tainaka moved to San Jose, California, where he married Florence. Together, they ran a restaurant–Flo’s Char-Co Grill. Ken Kenichi Tainaka died in San Jose on October 8, 2009.

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