Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Spady Koyama Interview II
Narrator: Spady Koyama
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: June 28, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-kspady-02-0013

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: Well, let's talk about it. When you wear your uniform, how do people react to you?

SK: Like this morning, when I came here. This fellow salutes me in civvies at Keiro. And the lady who was seated, answering calls says, "Just a minute." She hung up, slammed the receiver down and stood up, and, "May I help you?" I mean, this uniform [Laughs] gets a lot of reaction, surprised reaction. I'm, I'm almost reluctant to face people or to put them in such a position. Because I've been, I've been retired (since 1970). And all I wanted is a chance to tell my story and educate people and inform them and entertain them, possibly. And unless my story is told -- and through me, what thousands of us Nisei went through in the Pacific, fifty-some years ago -- it dies.

TI: It does. Can you show some of the things on your uniform? Some of the patches, just so that we can see those?

SK: This is a GHQ, which stands for General Headquarters, of course. Like I was asked by a eleven year old kid -- that was last fall, when I addressed a class of students -- and I said, "Do you know what GHQ stands for?" And there was dead silence. So I said, "That stands for General Headquarters, because I was assigned to General Headquarters of General MacArthur in Australia. And the kid in front of me turned to his partner, and in a loud whisper says, "Hey, who's that general?" And that stopped me short because I realized then that probably his parents were not even born.

TI: Right. How about the other patch?

SK: And of course, they all want to know, well, "Since you got wounded, you have a Pur -- is that the Purple Heart?" And they all point to the Purple Heart. And they all know that. And I said, "These are ribbons that reflect medals. If I were to wear medals, I would have a medal under each one of these. These are ribbons that indicate the medals, itself."

TI: Can you talk about some of them, the ones that are really meaningful to you? You have your...

SK: Well, they're all meaningful because -- every one of them stands for something. I don't have the Congressional Medal of Honor, of course, nor any Distinguished Service Cross or anything like that -- all the higher medals. I have some of the very, well I wouldn't say low medals, but -- indicates where I have been and some of the activities that I was involved in during three wars that our country was involved in. But all in the Pacific. No, not in Europe, but all in the Pacific, World War II, during Korean and Vietnam Wars.

TI: Uh-huh. So those are the ribbons on this side. What about the other side?

SK: And these are...

TI: Or, go ahead. Talk about that.

SK: Overseas during wartime.

TI: So there's two, four, six...

SK: Should be eight or nine.

TI: Eight, nine.

SK: Yes.

TI: So nine...

SK: Times six. I was overseas so many times that, not only during the wartime, but all the wars together.

TI: And so each -- I'm sorry -- each stripe represents like one tour of duty overseas?

SK: No, no, no, no, no -- just six months.

TI: Six months.

SK: Yeah.

TI: I see. Okay. But that doesn't include all time that you were in Japan, then?

SK: Yes, yes, it does...

TI: Okay.

SK: ...because from Japan, I'm operating on behalf of South Korea during the Korean War.

TI: Uh-huh. And so every six months you'd get a patch for that?

SK: Apparently, yeah.

TI: Okay.

SK: Because when I retired, the person whose job is to maintain the roster and what, what you're authorized to wear, in what sequence and so forth, so forth, these were all assigned to me.

TI: Uh-huh. Now how about the ribbons on the other side? What do those...?

SK: These are presidential citations for the Philippines, or the presidential citation and navy citations, that my unit won. These are unit citations.

TI: I see. And then you have these clusters around your collar. What are those for?

SK: These are the -- this is the military intelligence branch, which did not exist until after World War II. We wore the crossed rifles and other insignias, instead of the military intelligence branch, because we did not have a branch. Now we do. This is it.

TI: And how about the other patch on your left shoulder?

SK: This is the -- does it say retired?

TI: Oh, yes, yes -- United States Army...

SK: Yes.

TI: ...Retired.

SK: Right. Right.

TI: Well, good.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.