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-02-0014

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Well, is there anything that you want to say in finishing this interview that comes to mind that we haven't covered? We've, we -- anything?

SK: Oh. (When I left Vietnam, I was asked, just a few weeks before leaving, to extend my tour to cover that of my superior, the Senior Colonel who was G-2. When I explained that I was already expected back on the staff and faculty as well as my family expecting me, he said I'd get the Legion of Merit if I extended. I declined, but the Pentagon gave full credit for command and general staff college which led to promotion to Colonel.)

TI: Or anything that you'd like to share. I mean, this -- think about, oh, fifty, a hundred years from now, and people...

SK: Oh.

TI: ...are learning about the history of what you went through. Is there anything that you'd like to share at this moment?

SK: That -- did I mention about the fact that when I retired, I was given back my 40 percent disability?

TI: Oh that's right. Go ahead.

SK: However, because I'm retired as an officer with a longevity, minimum twenty years, of course, it turns out that, that 40 percent of my retirement income as a colonel is tax-free for the rest of my life. In other words, that 40 percent attached to my rank and longevity is much, much greater than the, the 40 percent disabled percentage allowed of, say -- 40 percent would be what? Say for example, $100 a month or whatever it is. Because now, it's now attached to my rank and the number of years I served, you see. Because I'm being retired by the army for disability, not necessarily for longevity. That's secondary. So as long as we have Uncle Sam, I won't, I won't have to look around for extra money to buy fishing tackle.

TI: Right. Well, you mentioned, from World War II, you had 40 percent disability.

SK: Yes.

TI: And then -- go ahead.

SK: And so I'm a walk-in patient at the veteran's hospital in Spokane, where I get all my medications. If I don't go there, they'll send it to me through the mail. Invariably, they'll -- sometimes they'll ask me, "How many percent are you disabled?" I says, "Well, I'm -- on paper," I said, "I'm 40 percent, but I'm actually 130 percent disabled." They said, "No such thing as 130." I said, "Just a minute." And I bring out my paper, and I show them. I said, "All in one body, I have seven things wrong with me from World War II. One is for 40 percent, three for 20 percent each -- that's 40, 60, 80, 100 right there -- and then 10 percent, three 10 percent disability more, which makes it 130 percent." I said, "Do you want to see it?" [Laughs] And I show it to 'em.

TI: Well, why don't you go ahead and tell us what those things are.

SK: All right. Forty percent, spinal disk -- 20 percent lung, because my -- the made-in-Japan souvenir is in my lung wall, you see -- 20 percent for that. Twenty percent arthritis. Twenty percent nerves.

TI: What would nerves be?

SK: Beats me. I don't know.

TI: [Laughs] Go ahead. Keep going.

SK: Maybe I'm nervy. Ten percent resection of my fifth rib -- my fifth rib is cut out because the main piece of shrapnel missed my head, and fortunately, they missed my flat Oriental nose, missed my chin, and just barely went in here.

TI: Into the rib?

SK: Right about here. And instead of going this way, went in this way because I'm going down -- because I saw the bomb coming, which landed on my left side beyond my driver, Andy, and he got the brunt of it and I got the ricochet. And therefore, this main piece that hit my -- knocked my helmet off, missed my face, missed my chin and my flat nose, entered here, (cut) my fifth rib to pieces -- so my fifth rib is cut out -- kept on going, and it's now lodged in my lung wall, see. So if it had gone in this way, I wouldn't be here telling you about it. And if I hadn't been wearing sunglasses, I would have lost some of my, one or both of my eyesight, because the sunglasses apparently protected my eyes. I've got tidbits of metal embedded in my face. These are burn marks from the hot metal, you see. And the, the rim of my sunglasses apparently (cut me) -- right here above my eye. See this scar here? And then blood is flowing into my right eye. So when I found myself on -- the open beach with twenty-five others -- naked except for our shorts, and our arms all down like this -- I thought, "Well, I could hear firing going on nearby." You know, I (thought), "We could get strafed any moment." And I thought, "How come we're without our uniform?" Our boots gone, socks gone, everything's gone. And I thought, "Oh, maybe they need to know immediately at a glance, where our injuries are. Therefore, we must be waiting our turn for medical attention." So I thought, erroneously, of course. And so...

TI: Right. Yeah, you told this.

SK: And I told you how I checked my face and...

TI: Right. Your eye.

SK: ...but left my arm on my chest -- instead of putting it down like this. I think that was a divine intervention, another one, which saved my life, because I never got buried alive, because everybody else was waiting to be buried.

TI: Okay. So you told five. So the last one was a rib. What other disabilities are you...?

SK: And resection of fifth rib, and 10 percent for hypertension...

TI: Uh-huh.

SK: ...I guess. And 10 percent for my shoulder injury or something.

TI: Uh-huh.

SK: And so on this shoulder injury, because I had aches around my shoulder, five years ago I checked into the leading hospital in Spokane to get my right shoulder checked. And in doing so, they found all the blockages on my left side around my heart. So in -- within 24 hours, I'm an emergency case. And the doctor says, "I've got to leave you now, because I've got to get on the phone and try to line up a first-class team to work on you, ASAP. You've gotta have surgery." Within 24 hours I'm on the operating table. And I wound up with eight-bypass coronary surgery. And hospitalized for five weeks, during which time my, my wife was called up to the hospital twice -- both times after midnight -- because the thinking was that I would not survive. But I did. But I lost so much blood, that they had to give me fifty-six pints of blood transfusion -- fifty-six pints. And ever since then, I have no qualms, no hesitation, referring to myself as all-American -- all-American.

TI: That's funny. Well -- good.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.