Mansaku ‘Monte’ Fujita was born in 1916 in Compton, California, to Japanese immigrants from Onomichi, Hiroshima. Mansaku’s father came to America with his older brother to work on the railroad. He received a patent for growing mushrooms, but the war started, and he did not have the money to start a business.
The oldest of 5 children, Mansuku attended Burbank High School and Frank Wiggins Auto School and became a certified welder. After December 7, 1941 his family was interned at Poston, Arizona. Mansaku was drafted in the second draft in the Glendale/Burbank area of Los Angeles. After being inducted into the army at Fort McArthur, California, he joined other Japanese Americans at Fort Riley, Kansas.
When the 442ND Regimental Combat Team was being formed in the spring of 1943, all the Japanese Americans at Fort Riley were sent to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Mansaku was one of the few men that was retained at Fort Riley, but when the final call for all Japanese Americans came, Mansaku was able to go to Camp Shelby. Being a seasoned soldier, Mansaku and his friend Yoshio Doi were quickly sent as replacements to the 100TH Infantry Battalion and assigned to Able Company.
He was recommended to receive a Silver Star award but received a Bronze Star medal as all awards were reduced one level. At the end of the war he helped the American Red Cross photo lab take and process pictures of graves. Pictures that he processed have ‘M’ or ‘3’ written in the back of the photo.
After returning from the war, Mansuku became a truck mechanic and opened Monte’s Automotive Service in Los Angeles. The Japanese farmers and produce markets were his main clients. His hobbies were fishing and photography. His shop was a gathering place for 100th veterans because it was located in downtown near produce and flower shops. For many years he was the perennial President of the Southern California Chapter of the Club 100 until he passed away in 1991.