The first came at an early age. His mother died during the Great Depression so he went to live in a childrens’ home for Japanese-American youth in San Francisco from 6th grade to about 10th grade. And every summer he enjoyed the Army’s “Fresh Air” camp which gave city kids an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.
He was a high school senior in 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mr. Komatsu was relocated to the Heart Mountain camp near Cody Wyoming where nearly 10,000 Japanese-Americans were held. While in Wyoming, he was drafted into the US Army and trained to be an interpreter at Fort Snelling. The war ended while he was being trained but he was sent to Japan for seven months to do “occupation duty.”
When he got out Mr. Komatsu went to Los Angeles and used the G.I. Bill to go to college at Pepperdine University. He spent 25 years working downtown in the arts and crafts field, making fine jewelry.
:: Please click on the white arrow to watch a beautiful slideshow of images of Mr. Komatsu, taken by our staff photographer John Docter. You’ll also get to hear Mr. Komatsu telling a bit of his own story too.
After he retired he began to search for subsidized senior housing. He found an advertisement in the Japanese daily newspaper Rafu Shimpo for The Salvation Army’s Silvercrest Residence and was soon after chosen by lottery to move in when it opened in 2004.
The Salvation Army’s Silvercrest Residences are apartment-style communites for low-income seniors that fill an urgent and growing need. According to the AARP, for every available unit of affordable housing for Americans 65 and older, there are nine eligible seniors.
So, for the second time in his life, he’s happy and comfortable being cared for by The Salvation Army.
In fact, he’s so grateful for all the people and companies that have helped our Army serve people in need that Mr. Komatsu drinks his coffee every morning at McDonalds in honor of Joan B. Kroc.
Mrs. Kroc is the McDonald’s heiress who left her $1.6 billion estate to The Salvation Army, earmarked for building high-quality, sustainable community centers that bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn and enjoy life.
:: To find out more about our services to senior citizens, please click here.