Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Roy H. Matsumoto Interview
Narrator: Roy H. Matsumoto
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 17 & 18, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy-01-0058

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TI: And why don't we jump to Fort Mason where the fourteen of you go onto the SS Lurline, it's an ocean liner ship, to join two other battalions to be shipped to Asia. What were you thinking when you sort of went on the ship?

RM: Well, not that two other battalion but one unit battalion from the mainland and some came back from Trinidad or Panama to stateside, then got on. But we're not shipped out right away. We waited until people arrived so we arrived at Camp Stoneman, then instead of going Fort Mason we were sent to Angel Island and then Fort McDowell and stayed, waited there. 'Course, we're restricted, we cannot go to city of San Francisco. Of course, you see right across the bay, but we been held there. Then when the troop from Camp Stoneman came in and get up to Fort Mason then we put on the ferry, then went to Fort Mason, then took about forty days to arrive at the destination. But meantime, we don't know where we're goin'.

TI: I'm curious, when, so you're on the ship, fourteen Japanese Americans, what was it like when you first met the Caucasian U.S. soldiers?

RM: Well, some of the people from the back east never saw Japanese so I understand that there was a rumor saying that they thought we were Japanese prisoner, put 'em in American uniform and use as an interpreter. So they thought it was a enemy, they didn't think of it as a Nisei because they already, they know what the concentration camps. So, we been segregated, fourteen of us, fortunately, instead of down below in the bunk we were given a stateroom, a big stateroom, fourteen. So then we have a view out there and we could see through window and only thing is that we can never go out there until later.

AI: So even though you were segregated, at least you were segregated in a nice quarters?

RM: Nice quarters, yes, stateroom.

AI: And when was this that you were shipping out? Was that about September?

RM: September.

TI: September 20, 1943 is when they were shipped out. But even though, so you were given a stateroom, the fourteen of you were pretty close quarters?

RM: Yes.

TI: How did the fourteen of you get along with each other?

RM: Well, during the basic training and the school they looked down on us but now they have to worry whether... the Kibeis, has a confidence because they know, already know what, then also learn at the school, too. So, but the one never been to Japan, they don't know what they gonna, they gonna face with it. So kinda worried, so try to... so at the school, see, we been looked down, but now, approach us because they need your help, so they treated us nice. Then start to, to kill the time, well, play card or something like that and get together and know each other. And meantime, we been sent out to the deck and everybody assemble we been introduced and told of these, not Japanese, not prisoner. They're American and trained, and do what -- so introduced and then they get to know. But meantime, they see, some of 'em think, some guy, they hate the Japanese so they should have thrown overboard or something like that. They talk about it. Later on when it get intimate, friendly, they confess, they tell how they felt. But then they, well, when get into combat they find out how important we were. And...

<End Segment 58> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.