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-02-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

SK: So anyway, the air force personnel at Galena Air Depot trusted me implicitly, of course. And I was doing that when I got this strange letter from Pentagon asking me -- not telling me -- but asking me to consider going back on active duty again, because they were willing to give me (two waivers) of my 40 percent disability. Number two, that I could come back with the highest World War II rank. I was a five-stripe tech sergeant -- technical sergeant. And number three, they said that if I passed my physical, minus my 40 percent disability, that I might, might qualify for a commission rank. And I -- and I turned right around, and explained every one of these three points to my Japan-born mother. And she smiled and said, "Obviously, General MacArthur needs you again in Japan. You go. You go again." Well, she didn't say so, but I know the fact that the lack of information regarding a son and two daughters still in Japan caught by World War II preyed on her mind. And, of course, the thinking was that if I get to Japan again, that I could find out what's happened to my brother and two sisters. And so I accepted in January, 1947 -- exactly five months -- five years to the day when I first had to threaten members of the Selective Service Board to enter the U.S. Army in the first place. (I asked for the names of the personnel to take to a local newspaper.)

TI: Right. You told that last time.

SK: Yeah.

TI: Well, going back, so you're, you mentioned your mother. And she said, "Go." And one of the reasons was to, perhaps look up some of your siblings that were...

SK: Right.

TI: Japan. How did you feel about sort of re-upping with the military, with the army?

SK: I thought, "Well, it was a welcome opportunity for me," because I thought that since I was discharged with 40 percent disability -- in October, 1945 -- that I would never qualify physically to ever go into service again or physically qualify to do any hard work. And I was resigned to that. And here comes an opportunity for me to get back on active duty again.

TI: And maybe you could explain that, because I'm not -- I don't have much military background. But if you have 40 percent disability, in general, yeah that's...

SK: Generally, you see if you have a disability, you don't qualify physically to pass the physical for the entry into armed forces. And here I am, 40 percent disabled and drawing the, the amount that I was getting every month for fifteen months -- 40 percent disability -- enough to buy all the fishing tackle I needed, and even buy my tobacco, because I was still smokin' -- and here comes an opportunity for me to go back on active duty. And what's more, chances were very good that I would find out what's happened to my younger brother and two sisters in Japan. So I welcomed the opportunity, and I went back in. And that was in January. By August I had won a direct field commission, and I jumped from a technical sergeant to that of a second lieutenant, U.S. Army.

TI: Uh-huh. And this was -- ? So you went back. And this is when you're in Japan now? Did you...?

SK: No, no, no. I was still in the States.

TI: Okay.

SK: I was doing recruiting work for the Army Language School -- which was now located in Presidio of Monterey, California -- when I was given the direct field commission. So when I got to Japan I was an officer.

TI: Okay. So you're recruiting. Who are you recruiting for the language school?

SK: For potential Japanese linguists to be trained at the Army Language School, Presidio of Monterey. And in the meantime, I was frozen in recruiting, and I couldn't stomach that. So I transferred from Presidio (of) Monterey, into what is known as Counter Intelligence Corps -- CIC.

TI: Yeah. Before we get there though, I'm curious about the recruiting. Who would you target to recruit? Are these...

SK: Nisei...

TI: ...other Nisei...?

SK: ...and Sansei -- older Sansei. I went on three recruiting trips, first to the Seattle/Spokane area, and second one was to Chicago area, and the third one was to Salt Lake/North Idaho area, Salt Lake City, precisely.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.