MR. KOMATSU | “The Salvation Army helped me twice”

Mr. James Komatsu

Mr. James Komatsu had two brushes with The Salvation Army in his life.

The first came at an early age. “I just can’t say any more about what The Salvation Army has done for me all of my life. It started when I was a youngster in San Francisco. After my mother passed away, my father — it was right in the middle of the Great Depression — asked The Salvation Army to take care of me,” he says.

He lived in the The Salvation Army’s home for Japanese-American youth in San Francisco from the 6th grade until about the 10th grade. And every summer he enjoyed the Army’s “Fresh Air” camp which gave city kids an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors on the American River.

At 16 he went out on his own to work while he finished up high school.

Mr. Komatsu was a high school senior in 1941. “ I was in 12th grade when Pearl Harbor happened so all the Japanese living on the West Coast had to evacuate to internment centers,” he said. Without malice or any trace of bitterness Mr. Komatsu explained that he was sent to live at 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 eventually trained to be an interpreter at Fort Snelling.

He explains, “at first they didn’t want us — we were 4F— but finally after the D-Day invasion all of us were drafted. They needed infantry soldiers so most of the Japanese Americans went to Europe as infantry soldiers. They also needed interpreters and translators for the war in the Pacific so I raised my hand for that.”

When he got out Mr. Komatsu went to Los Angeles and worked in the Post Office at night. Since his days were free, he used the G.I. Bill to go to college at Pepperdine University and got his bachelor’s degree. He then went on to do graduate work in Lexington, Kentucky.

He returned to Southern California and spent 25 years working in downtown Los Angeles in the arts and crafts field, making fine jewelry.

“When I became a senior citizen in Southern California, I wanted to find subsidized housing. I tried for five years. The Salvation Army came to my rescue again,” said Mr. Komatsu.

He found an advertisement in the Japanese daily newspaper Rafu Shimpo for The Salvation Army’s Silvercrest Residence in Lakeview Terrace, California. “I’m lucky I caught it — The Salvation Army only advertised for one day. That’s how I learned about the Silvercrest,” Mr. Komatsu says.

Mr. Komatsu in the doorway of the Silvercrest Residence in Lakeview Terrace, California.

He was the second resident 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.

For the second time in his life, he’s being cared for by The Salvation Army. “I just can’t say enough about the Silvercrest program. I just couldn’t be happier,” said Mr. Komatsu.

Mr. Komatsu walks down the street every morning to have his cup of coffee at McDonalds in gratutude for McDonald heiress, Mrs. Joan B. Kroc’s history-making estate gift to The Salvation Army.

In fact, he’s so grateful for all the people and companies that have helped The Salvation 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.

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Silvercrest Residences by State in the Western US


Chula Vista
El Cajon
El Sobrante
Lakeview Terrace
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Fe Springs
Santa Monica
Santa Rosa

Colorado Springs (2)



New Mexico

North Las Vegas



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