244 – Sam Mihara

Sam Mihara is a second-generation Japanese American (Nisei) born and raised in San Francisco. When World War II broke out, the United States government forced Sam, age 9, and his family to move to the Heart Mountain, Wyoming camp. After the war ended, the family returned home to San Francisco.

Sam attended UC Berkeley undergraduate and UCLA graduate schools, where he earned engineering degrees. He became a rocket scientist and joined the Boeing Company where he became an executive on space programs. Following retirement, Sam changed careers and is now a regular visiting lecturer at the University of California and is a national speaker on the topic of mass imprisonment in the U.S. He has visited many federal prisons including those for undocumented immigrants. Sam helped in the preservation of the Heart Mountain historic prison site in Northwest Wyoming and is now a board member of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, the non-profit organization that oversees the National Historic Landmark site.

Sam speaks to educators, schools, colleges, libraries, museums, government attorneys, law schools, law firms and other interested organizations about his wartime experience. Sam has had repeat performances at National Council of History Educators, U.C. Berkeley, UCLA and the U.S. Department of Justice. He has spoken to over 50,000 teachers and students in the last few years and usually ends his presentations with a discussion of the lessons learned from this injustice and how the lessons apply to today’s problems such as immigration and racial or religious issues.



Chapters is a five-part Creative + Cultural Podcast series dedicated to stories surrounding the exclusion, forced removal, and internment of Japanese-Americans. The program also parallels a narrative thread through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Chapters is supported by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program administered by the California State Library. This episode was recorded live on November 18 at the 1888 Center located in the Historic District of Old Towne Orange, CA.

Producer: Heritage Future
Host: Trevor Allred
Guest: Sam Mihara
Audio: Brew Sessions Live
Music composed and performed by Dan Reckard