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

<Begin Segment 1>

Tom Ikeda: Okay, Spady, let's get started. This is your second interview, and it's a real pleasure. I interviewed you -- how long ago was it? It was about, over a year ago...

Spady K.: Yeah, over a year ago.

TI: ...that we interviewed. And, and I remember at the end of the interview we got to -- through World War II, through the point where you were injured, and then through your recuperation at -- in Spokane, at -- was it the Bax...?

SK: Baxter -- B-A-X-T-E-R...

TI: Right, Baxter (General Hospital).

SK: ...the current location of the Spokane Veterans Hospital.

TI: Right, right. Anyway, I got to that point, and the stor -- we ran out of time, and I really wanted to continue. So you are back in Seattle, so we're going to continue it. We're in the end of June. It's June 28th, 1999. I'm Tom Ikeda, I'm the interviewer, and then we have Spady Koyama back. So let's pick up the story from right there -- where you're now leaving Baxter Hospital -- and explain to me what happened then.

SK: I was out of the service, approximately fifteen months in Spokane. And I got a job at what is known as the Galena -- G-A-L-E-N-A, Galena Air Depot, which is a forerunner of the current Fairchild Air Force Base. And people there discovered that I had been in, in intelligence work in General MacArthur's Headquarters in Australia in World War II, and that I had a security clearance. So they gave me a pistol to wear on my hip, assigned a tall, six-footer as my assistant, and together we would drive a great big truck down to the main post office in Spokane and load up all the classified mail for the depot. And then we'd lock it up, and then saunter across the street to the nearest coffee shop. And all the citizens around me would do one of these double takes when they see this Oriental with a pistol on his hip, because this is summer of 1946 -- less than a year after the end of war. And I was doing that, when I got this very mysterious and perplexing kind of a letter from Pentagon.

TI: Before you go there, did you ever talk with anyone? When you said you got these sort of looks -- the sort of perplexed looks of, you know, why does this gentleman have a pistol who is, looks Japanese, is probably Japanese. Did anyone ever ask you?

SK: Not directly, no, but I know they asked my -- the Caucasian who was my assistant about me.

TI: And what did he say to the...?

SK: [Laughs] Well, he just told them that, "He's an American, he's a GI -- ex-GI, and he's my boss." And that we work in the, out at Galena Air Depot.

TI: And when people -- during this fifteen-month period, you mentioned how, because you worked in Military Intelligence in General MacArthur's Headquarters -- when people find out about that, like employers, you said that sort of elevated you, sort of into a special class that you could be trusted because of -- you said you're given security clearance and things like that?

SK: Well apparently so.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 3>

SK: And I was doing that when I was frozen in recruiting. And I just couldn't see myself spending a lot of time in recruiting for the Army Language School, so I asked for what -- is known at that time as Camp Holabird, home of the Counter Intelligence. So I applied for that and got accepted. And I went back there and attended (MD,) the basic officer's course at the CIC School -- Counter Intelligence Corps School, Camp Holabird, which later on became Fort Holabird. (The school) is now located at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. I was finally sent to Japan (in 1949). And there's an interesting sidelight. After I graduated and while I was waiting assignment to what turned out to be Japan, there's a -- there were other Nisei officers there, including a fellow named Richard Sakakida, of Hawaii. He and I were both waiting assignments, and he is waiting to be assigned to the Air Force OSI, Office of Special Investigations. And I was waiting for assignment to 441st, CIC Detachment, Tokyo. And every chance we got, we would be participants in a poker game, just to while away the time. And Richard Sakakida at no time mentioned anything, not a word, about his fabulous background that he had suffered and survived through years of torture and -- all the other kinds of treatment that he had suffered while a prisoner of the Japanese in the Philippines.

TI: Well, let's talk about that. So Richard Sakakida, was he an ex-MIS?

SK: And he had gone into CIC work. And he had been assigned to Philippines as a sergeant -- was a cover story. And he was there before war started. And after war started and MacArthur was getting ready to evacuate the Philippines down to Australia, and Sakakida had an opportunity to go there, he declined. He stayed put because he gave up his seat to another Nisei. And stayed on in the Philippines, and finally -- became a subject of investigation by the Japanese intelligence.

TI: Now, did he stay specifically for counterintelligence reasons?

SK: Right, right. Because he was placed under a cover story into the Philippines for that purpose, before World War II started, you see. And he finally -- when the war tide turned against the Japanese, and they were evacuating farther and farther up north, he went so far. And then he (escaped) to try to get back to American lines, and finally succeeded after he was wounded in -- I think it was the stomach area. And he took care of himself and survived.

TI: Well, I'm a little confused. So let's go back. So he, he stayed in the Philippines to do counterintelligence. He had a cover story -- I believe he was, a cover story was a Japanese businessperson? Was that his cover story?

SK: No. His cover was -- he was a deserter from the merchant marines because he had jumped ship. Therefore, "I cannot be seen associating with Americans because they will arrest me and put me on trial. And that's the reason I hobnobbed with you fellows in the Japanese community, staying away from the Americans."

TI: Okay.

SK: That was his cover.

TI: Uh-huh. So he was doing this cover, and then the Japanese started investigating him?

SK: Just to make sure. That's right.

TI: Okay.

SK: Yeah.

TI: And then what happened?

SK: And he survived all their torturing methods, and finally reached the point where they finally thought, "Well, why not use him? He's a linguist -- he speaks English and Japanese. We need linguists." So the Japanese assigned him to a colonel to be his errand boy. And this colonel was very lackadaisical about security. So Richard was able to ferret out a lot of useful information, which he gave to the local Filipino guerillas, who in turn transmitted the information down to Australia.

TI: So -- wow. So he was like an undercover, I mean, he was actually working with the Japanese military then, with this colonel, and was able to take that information and give it to the underground.

SK: And his greatest achievement, I believe is that he engineered the successful prison break of 500 Filipinos imprisoned by the Japanese, by posing as a Japanese, by ferreting out bits of uniforms of the Japanese, and posing as a Japanese. And he successfully succeeded in this prison break. So that, as far as I know, he has probably the highest Filipino decoration.

TI: So he, he did this while he was still working with the Japanese...?

SK: Japanese -- that's right.

TI: ...the Japanese colonel?

SK: Right. Right.

TI: And this was sort of covertly...

SK: Right. Right.

TI: ...he did this.

SK: That's the reason why we tried -- through this Colonel Harry Fukuhara of San Jose -- years to try to get him the Congressional Medal of Honor from the U.S. government, which did not succeed. So that we finally settled for the Distinguished Service Medal, which he finally got quite recently. I think it was early (1999) in Hawaii that the ceremony was held, because I was given (a) written invitation to attend that ceremony. I believe it was February of this year, (but my wife was still recovering from surgery.)

TI: When Sakakida was doing this, was he still part of the counterintelligence reporting somehow to...?

SK: Right. Right.

TI: How does that work? How does he get orders, or does he have orders? Does he...?

SK: Oh, he has orders before he goes in, to look for this and this and this, of course. Any useful information because he's trying to find out among the so-called Japanese businessmen, who are the military personnel among these so-called businessmen. How did they come in the gate? Through what channels? Through whom? Anything that would be useful to the American side.

TI: And when you said that when the Japanese questioned him -- investigated, and then you said tortured him, was that because the Japanese knew that he was a...?

SK: Suspected, possibly, that he would confess if, if placed under physical torture.

TI: But obviously he didn't confess. And then...

SK: He didn't confess. He survived.

TI: ...and then the Japanese decided to -- that he was -- he checked out.

SK: Yeah. Right.

TI: And, "Let's utilize him as a..."

SK: He survived.

TI: ...linguist."

SK: Right.

TI: And so now let's go back to your training. And you're playing poker with this gentleman. And you said he never talked about this with you?

SK: He never talked about his background. We never suspected. We didn't know. We just didn't know. And that would be 1948, '49, something like that. And it wasn't until 1991, at Presidio (of) Monterey, California, where the MIS is having their national reunion. And I'm on the stage at the beginning of the ceremony to lead the Pledge of Allegiance on the stage. And I notice that Richard Sakakida and his wife (Cherry) are seated on the stage. And after I got off, I asked somebody about the, the presence of Richard. "What's he doing on the stage -- ?" and so forth. And I learned for the first time that he's the main speaker. And it was at that time that he finally unloaded all that had happened to him during World War II, much to the shock of his wife. She didn't even know.

TI: So he went on stage...

SK: That's right.

TI: ...and that was the first time that you...

SK: First time he publicly...

TI: ...his wife, had ever heard...

SK: That's right.

TI: ...about it.

SK: Right. That's 1991.

TI: And...

SK: And it's, that's why, to me, it's been a source of pride for me to have been the person who nominated Richard -- Lieutenant Colonel Richard Sakakida of Hawaii, to be honored by having a building -- permanent building, in Fort Lewis named after him, which we did. And that, if you ever get to go to Fort Lewis, there's a operational building of the 201st Military Intelligence Brigade, commanded by a full colonel, named Sakakida Building. That's in honor of Richard Sakakida.

TI: Right that's, that's interesting. That's a wonderful story.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Now, let's go back to your story now, and you're -- so you're training for counterintelligence. Let's go on from there. So what happened next?

SK: So from there I was finally assigned to Japan -- to Tokyo. And, one day I, I was driving right by the Japanese Army Demobilization Bureau, and recalled the fact that I had promised a prisoner in New Guinea, in 1944, who asked for my name and address because he wanted to thank me after the war for what he claimed to be kindnesses that I had given him and other prisoners.

TI: Right. You told that story in the first interview, how...

SK: Yeah.

TI: ...and then how later on, we did the reunion. So we...

SK: Right.

TI: ...went ahead and told that story. So let's keep going -- or a question I have is, when you went back to Japan, did you look up your siblings?

SK: Yes. I found that, that my younger brother was a sergeant in the Japanese Army. And since he knew how to drive a truck, I suppose -- he and I used to drive the truck on the farm together near Spokane -- he was teaching novices how to drive a Japanese one-man tank, and had never left Japan, fortunately for him. The closest call he had was the day before what they refer to as the flash bomb -- pika-don -- flash bomb dropped, in reference to a, the A-bomb, he had gone through the city of Hiroshima on a train. And that was the closest call he had to being obliterated, I guess. So he survived. And because of his smattering knowledge of English, I suppose, he was the liaison officer from the Japanese side, supervising Japanese mechanics and coordinating with a American Air Force platoon assigned to this air field in Osaka, repairing damaged helicopters and planes from Vietnam, during the Vietnam War.

TI: This was Viet -- so is that -- is that, and that's when you got in touch with him?

SK: And I saw him twice while I was there in Vietnam.

TI: But when you first went to Japan, did you see him then?

SK: Oh, yes, because I found where he was.

TI: Well, explain to me how it felt seeing your brother, because this was one of the things your mother really wanted you to do...

SK: Yes.

TI: ...was to go to Japan and find --

SK: And through him I found, where my younger sister and my older sister was located. And of course, I conveyed all that back to my mother. And I'm sure she was fully satisfied that all her sib -- kids were alive and doing well. And none of them wanted to come back to the States because they all had taken out roots and had married and had families of their own. And none of their kids spoke English, of course.

TI: What were their lives like after the war? I mean, now that you meet them, and I've heard that life was difficult in Japan...

SK: It was.

TI: ...after the war.

SK: But I think the fact that I was in service was a source of pride for them, especially my younger brother, because the first time I saw him from Vietnam -- I visited him at his work site at the airport. And he said, "I want to show you something." So I thought he was (going to) show me a damaged plane or a helicopter. Instead, he took me in and led me to the American platoon that was assigned to the airfield, to introduce me and brag that this is my, my brother from Vietnam.

TI: The colonel that...

SK: [Laughs] Yeah. Right -- right.

TI: So his platoon would all have to salute you? [Laughs]

SK: Yeah. Very impressed. [Laughs] I guess they got a pretty good lesson in, in our kind of relationship.

TI: Uh-huh.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Well, in thinking about Japan, when you first got there, can you remember some of the things that you saw that, that would describe what Japan was like during the occupation?

SK: Well, in what way? The damages?

TI: The damage, the people...

SK: Oh, yes.

TI: What was it like?

SK: The city of Tokyo was, was in shambles in many places. But when you go out into the countryside where no damage had occurred, it was just as if you were visiting the old Japan itself. When I visited my old home site outside Okayama prefecture, I recall some of the locations and where I used to walk -- work away at the garden, and also walked the kids to school every morning and through this path and so forth. It was -- it brought back a lot of memories because I spent almost six years in Japan, after I lost my father in Spokane, you see.

TI: What was it like when you came across people that you knew back then as a U.S. Army officer?

SK: Well, most of them were gone. I think most of them were of military age and had perished or were still elsewhere. And because -- I don't recall meeting up with any of the kids that I knew when I was a youngster. [Pauses] I can't recall any specific instances along those lines, because I spent most of my time working out of Tokyo. And very seldom did I get a chance to go out into the prefecture or other areas. Was there something else along those lines that...?

TI: How about other people that you didn't know when you were there? Were there other people that you were able to talk with on the street, and get a sense of their lives and what it was like?

SK: Not too much because, because of the nature of my work. See I'm on civilian status. And here I am, a commissioned officer. But because of the, the nature of my assignment on civilian status, you didn't go around out of your way to expose yourself unnecessarily because by associating with... for example, if I work next to a fellow at the desk and we both take off for lunch, and we both meet each other in a, say, a public Japanese restaurant, there would be no recognition between us because just in case he's under surveillance or I am. We would jeopardize the other person just by associating with each other -- basic procedure. So we didn't go out of our way to get next to the general public or to, to sample their opinions about anything concerning the war or after the war, or relationship with the Americans.

TI: Now, at this point were you married?

SK: Oh, yes.

TI: And with children?

SK: I had two sons. And I even hired a tutor to come to our place to teach them basic Japanese language. But they came up with some of the most novel excuses because they said, "The team is waiting, as you see, Daddy, out there. They're waiting for us to come out. We got a very important practice or game or something." So they would both take off. And so that's what -- that's the reason why my two sons don't speak Japanese. And my older son, who is now a principal (of Lynnwood Elementary School) near Seattle, has a daughter who majored in Spanish and lived with a Spanish family in Spain at one time. So here comes a good-looking gal, speaks perfect English and perfect Spanish, but not a word of Japanese because her father never learned, because of the excuses he came up with in Tokyo. [Laughs]

TI: How old were your sons during this period?

SK: They were, oh, I'd say senior high school, college age, I suppose.

TI: Oh, so they were quite old.

SK: They were quite old. Yes, that's right. Because my second son -- the one who's now buried in Minnesota -- on the basis of his high school achievement in Tokyo, got a scholarship to Johns Hopkins in Maryland while I was assigned to Fort Holabird, you see. And then from Johns Hopkins, he came home after his mother got ill -- he came home to the state of Washington and went to University of Washington and got his Ph.D. there. And from there, he got picked to be with the staff and faculty of the Saint Cloud State University (in Minnesota. When he died unexpectedly in 1989 from a massive heart attack, he left a wife and a baby daughter.)

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Well, what was it like for them? I mean, they were quite old. And was living in Japan an enjoyable experience for your family?

SK: I think so. I think so. They had the security of living on a U.S. base installation. And yet every chance we got, we would go out and take a sample of the Japanese food, restaurants...

TI: Were you ever concerned...

SK: ...sightseeing.

TI: ...for their safety because of the type of work you did?

SK: No, no, no. About the only time that I was threatened was during this, during the Korean War, when we had this so-called "case of the seven dwarves," when I got a threatening telephone call.

TI: Let's talk about this. So how long were you in Japan before this case came up?

SK: I was there from '49 to 1954. So about, almost five years? Would that be about five years?

TI: Uh-huh.

SK: And then I came back to staff and faculty of -- the Holabird Army Intelligence School for about three-and-a-half years, before I went back to Tokyo for roughly six years. So all together I spent roughly eleven years on civilian status, which means I wore civvies and drew my housing as a GS, instead of a military rank.

TI: And so what year, or what time period did this trial, the "seven dwarves" trial come up?

SK: That happened in 1951. The Japanese intelligence referred to that (case) as a "2-12 Incident" because on second of December, 2-12, 2nd of December, the Japanese intelligence (in Tokyo) arrested seven communist defendants, seated around the table with maps of U.S. bases in Japan in front of them -- caught red-handed. But trouble was that the Japanese intelligence could not break all seven and complete their pre-trial investigation. Therefore, in desperation, they turned the matter over to the Allied Occupation Forces, asked for support and, or whatever. And the Allied Occupation said, "We will take it over. You assign three of your key investigators on a team to work with our team of three investigators that we will assign. And they can work together and complete the investigation." So they did that. And among the Allied occupation, three of us Nisei were appointed. And we worked daily with the Japanese team in investigating the seven communist defendants. And we concluded successfully all seven investigations, and went to the last trial in the U.S. Provost Court in Tokyo before the peace treaty went into effect. And we got convictions on all seven. And the Japanese side were so elated, to think that -- where they had failed, with the entry of the American investigators, they succeeded. And came to the conclusion that at a public -- well, it wasn't exactly public, but at a celebration meeting where (they) toasted the president of the United States and all the commanding officers all the way down, they presented us with a Japanese sake drinking cup with the imperial crest inside of it, which I still treasure. And they gave us a package each of Japanese cigarette. Each of the cigarettes had the imperial crest on it. They just looked real nice, but they didn't taste as good as it looked. [Laughs]

TI: What was it that the American investigators brought to the investigation that the Japanese couldn't do?

SK: Probably the persistence in looking at little, tiny loopholes presented by the answers. And since we knew from the previous investigation the nature of the work that they did, we're able to correlate more closely -- rather than the Japanese side -- what they should have known about it, anyway, in the first place. Because...

TI: Let me make sure I understand this. So you...

SK: ...because most of us...

TI: had more information than the Japanese from your other...?

SK: ...because the three of us selected to form this one-man team -- one team, (possessed) more detailed knowledge about the Japanese communists' daily activities than the Japanese team, because they were selected from the Japanese intelligence -- intelligence side, but not necessarily those who were the most knowledgeable about the communist side. And I think that we had the advantage there because we were more experienced in what they -- what to dig into, rather than the Japanese side. And we succeeded where they failed. But they were so pleased -- the Japanese side were so pleased, that they toasted us. And they wrote up the entire sequence of events of the trial. And they introduced the entire trial, from beginning to end, into their Japanese police academy curriculum, including where they failed, and where the American side had to be asked, and where the American side came in with a team of three investigators. And that, to us -- to me, anyway, is, one of the highest accolades that we could receive.

TI: Well that's impressive. Were you able to -- were you -- did you also question...?

SK: Oh, yes, we questioned. And the Japanese side -- the lawyers for the Japanese communist side questioned us on, on the stand, each one of us. And they even had a cartoonist from the Red Flag, Akahata, Red Flag -- that's the communist journal of the Communist Party. Cartoonist (drew) sketches of us. So I wore the same clothing every day, and parted my hair the wrong way -- I had more hair to part in those day -- but parted my hair the wrong way. And wore my wristwatch on my left hand. And I knew that I was being drawn, being sketched.

TI: Oh, so to make sure -- so you actually did things differently so it would, so that those sketches wouldn't be as valuable...

SK: That's right.

TI: ...later on...

SK: Then later on.

TI: identifying you.

SK: Yeah.

TI: So during the trial you actually had to come out of your sort of undercover, or your sort of anonymous persona. You were there...?

SK: Yeah, right. Right.

TI: a very public setting.

SK: And it was during that period that I received the threatening telephone call at home. And so I reported that, and they authorized me to draw a shoulder holster (weapon) underneath my clothing. Just in case.

TI: Right. Because this...

SK: Yeah.

TI: ...this -- the story you're telling was -- I think I originally, I asked, did you ever feel that your family was threatened there?

SK: Right, right.

TI: So that was the one time.

SK: Yeah.

TI: Now, did this change your relationship or your job, because now people could identify you in Japan. Did this change...?

SK: No, no. Because where I went, I was very careful as to whom I associated with in public. Because I didn't want to draw attention to me or to anybody else who associated with me. So there were certain basic precautionary measures that one would take. And instead of meeting some of my associates or informants in a certain place, I would pick him up on the road.

TI: Now, the Japanese recognized the accomplishment of what you and the two other American investigators...

SK: No, the Japanese intelligence did.

TI: ...American, Japanese intelligence.

SK: They appreciated that -- right.

TI: How 'bout the U.S. side? I mean, obviously...

SK: Well...

TI: ...they assigned you to this, did...

SK: Right. Well, unfortunately, there were some officers who were reluctant, shall I say, to push for the recognition of three Nisei investigators. So in my opinion, even at this late date, I feel that the three investigators should have been properly recognized by the American side. Because certainly the articles that appeared in the Stars and Stripes of that time -- copies of some of which I still have -- would indicate the tremendous accomplishment to thwart the activities of the communists and the efforts of the Allied side to protect South Korea, by sending in troops from Japan into South Korea. So it was a very crucial time. But we, we thwarted their plans for sabotage in Japan through this one sabotage incident.

TI: Why, why do you think the three of you weren't given the accolades that you thought...? You mentioned that...

SK: Well, unfortunately, one of our superiors happened to be of Japanese descent -- was a Nisei. And I think he bent over backwards not (to) give the impression to anybody, anywhere, that he was pushing for the recognition of somebody who happened to be of Japanese descent. And I could appreciate his viewpoint, although I don't agree with it. But I think that's what must have happened, because we never got the recognition that I feel that we should have gotten, considering the reaction on the side of the Japanese. And considering the overall ramifications that followed -- that there were no other subsequent effort by the communist side in Japan to thwart the flow of support from Japan to South Korea -- that I know of.

TI: Well, good.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: Let's talk about you... okay, so after the trial of the seven dwarves -- this was 1951, and then 1954, about 1954, you went back for more training or to teach -- I guess, to teach?

SK: At staff and faculty, right.

TI: In Maryland?

SK: Right.

TI: And then you were there for, you said, about what -- two-and-a-half years? Three...

SK: Three-and-a-half years.

TI: ...three-and-a-half years.

SK: Yes. Something like that, yes.

TI: What was it -- what was that like? Was there anything interesting coming back, again, to the states?

SK: No, because I was assigned to the counterintelligence department of the Army Intelligence School. And I had some instructors working under me. And it was very pleasant. And then I was assigned to be the liaison officer. And that would be, well, I'm talking now about -- well, you're talking about little earlier period?

TI: Oh...

SK: 19...

TI: ...1954 to 1957?

SK: ...'54 to '57. No. That would be a little early because I, I started going on liaison after I came back on my second tour to the school. So it was, it wasn't too... there wasn't -- I can't think of any unusual events.

TI: Let me go back to this: why did you go, why did you leave Tokyo to come to the States?

SK: Oh, because my tour was over, and I was being reassigned. And I was being reassigned back to the Army Intelligence School.

TI: And, so that's a pretty normal army thing, to...

SK: Yeah. Because when I'm not overseas, I'm with a school to, to share my background and experiences with the students, I suppose.

TI: And what rank were you during this period?

SK: I was [Pauses] major. Captain and major, I guess. Yes, I think I was a senior captain. And then I went through the officer's advanced course for officers, senior officers. And then three, about three-and-a-half years later, I'm back in Tokyo. And I reclaimed the job that I had before I left Tokyo.

TI: Now how does that come about? Did...?

SK: The man who had replaced me was ready to go. And...

TI: And so they were looking for somebody...

SK: I, I just came back, and...

TI: ...and you came back.

SK: ...and here I come back again, see? So it's a natural, fortunate transaction there. This time, I'm back in Tokyo roughly six years, before I go back once again to the staff and faculty of the Army Intelligence School.

TI: And you're there for how many years at the -- now the -- back at the Army Intelligence School?

SK: This time I'm back there until December '66.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: And then...

SK: And I'm assigned -- well, in the meantime, I'm the liaison, I'm selected -- in addition to my teaching requirements I'm selected as the liaison officer for the school, which meant that once a week, usually on a Friday so that I could avoid the need to participate in the parade, you see -- I would go down to Washington in civilian attire, driven by a uniformed driver and I would hit the Pentagon and then hit the FBI and then the national CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia. And I was doing that until December '66, when I was called on my, one of my visits to Pentagon. I was informed that they had me slated for the biggest job of my career, that of taking over the counterintelligence job for the United States Army, Vietnam, which meant that nominally, I would be the head of -- all counterintelligence efforts in Vietnam. And as it turned out, I was assigned to the G-2 office, working under G-2 directly. (On my last visit to the FBI, I was given an autographed photo of J. Edgar Hoover which still hangs in my hallway.)

TI: Now, at this point, what was your rank? Were you then...?

SK: Lieutenant colonel.

TI: ...lieutenant colonel.

SK: And I was a senior lieutenant colonel. And I was also in charge of the daily operational requirements of a military intelligence detachment, commanded by a lieutenant colonel, who reported to me on a daily basis. And we were concerned with the security requirements for the headquarters, of course. And I was doing that for one whole year. And, oh, this is Vietnam. And my need for use of the Japanese language had expired with World War II, of course. And here in Vietnam, this lieutenant colonel in charge of the military intelligence detachment came in one day and reported to me that, that one of his men is having difficulties controlling, or understanding one of his informants. And I inquired, and I found out that this informant is a former Korean officer of -- from one of the Korean infantry divisions, that had been assigned to Vietnam. And he had gotten out and had become an informant for the Americans. So I asked, "About how old of a man is he?" When he told me, I thought, "Well, maybe this fellow...? I didn't tell him, but back of my head, I thought, "Maybe he understands Japanese."

TI: Because it was a situation where this officer didn't understand or speak English, and the American officers didn't speak Korean...

SK: Enough Korean, right.

TI: ...and so you recognized that this...

SK: Because if he's an old, old fellow, chances are very good that, in the old days, every one of them spoke Japanese.

TI: Because the Japanese occupied...

SK: Japanese controlled, occupied Korea...

TI: ...Korea.

SK: many years, see? So I went along with the agent. And sure enough -- oh, the Korean's eyes lit up, he was so happy to hear me speak Japanese [Laughs] 'cause he understood Japanese just like any Japanese. And so I interrogated him because I had -- already talked to the agent, and he wanted to know certain things. So, when I got the answers, I interpreted to him right then and there in English. And my agent wrote it up in English, signed it and forwarded it. So I had to laugh later on that, here I was in Vietnam, and I had to use Japanese to interrogate an informant.

TI: Well, it -- was it unusual for the head of counterintelligence to do almost this field work, this...?

SK: Oh, yes. [Laughs]

TI: ...this sort of...

SK: That's right. But it was a very pleasant break for me.

TI: Because your position, as head of counterintelligence, was a high position.

SK: It was, yeah.

TI: And were there any instances or cases where people were surprised that a Japanese American was in such a high position?

SK: Oh, yes. Because you see, I'm occupying an office, the door of which is open because we want to -- every possible chance to get the air through that building, and I'm seated behind a big desk. Oh, I don't know how many feet long. And everybody who comes in has to walk in front of that open doorway to get to my shop to get briefed and oriented and fingerprinted -- as a new, incoming individual.

TI: So every, every soldier or every officer?

SK: Every officer. Now, therefore, when the officer comes in, he casually glances my way, he notices the fact that there's an Oriental seated behind a, behind a big desk. And then he goes in and gets briefed. And I'm sure he asks, "Well, who's that officer, or who's your officer?" Or my personnel voluntarily says, "You passed in front of our CO." And then when he gets finished, on his way out, he doesn't just walk straight out in front of -- front of my office, but he's looking at me every step of the way as he walks in front of my office on the way out, because now he knows who I am. So it was a live moment.

TI: Well, how knowledgeable were army officers about the MIS during World War II? Did...?

SK: In Vietnam area they knew because, invariably, they would say, "My boss, Colonel Koyama, blah-blah-blah-blah," you see -- "wants this, wants that or whatever." And I toured various parts of Vietnam twice on helicopters and in jeep convoys. And that's the reason why I think today that I was exposed to Agent Orange. And well, maybe you can see. You see these red marks?

TI: Uh-huh.

SK: These are Agent Orange red marks. Can the camera pick that up?

TI: Uh-huh.

SK: I have these red marks on both my legs. And 'bout two weeks ago I had my back inspected, but none on my back -- just my two legs and my arms. Agent Orange -- doesn't itch, nothing, just there.

TI: That's interesting.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: And so, going back -- so people found out about the MIS in World War II because they would ask, "Well, Colonel Spady Koyama -- ?" And they would understand or hear about your history and why, and how you got to your position. Because it must have been, to many people, sort of puzzling to see...

SK: Just last Memorial Day, Memorial Day this year, in Spokane, at a large cemetery called Fairmont Cemetery, We had the annual Memorial Day services sponsored by -- every year -- by the Marine Corps personnel of Spokane. And the main speaker was the mayor of Spokane. And he knew me from before, so he came up, and I'm in uniform, he greeted me. And the master of ceremonies, he knew me, he came up and greeted us. And of course, later on, strangers -- there were about five, six hundred people there, I guess, with cameras, some of them had cameras, they wanted to take my picture. I said, "What about the mayor?" "I want your picture," 'cause I'm in uniform, the mayor is not.

TI: Uh-huh.

SK: And some of them would ask me, "Well, can you tell us a bit about -- ? Well, I've been to three wars in the U.S. Army -- World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. And they're just flabbergasted. They never -- I said, "There were thousands like me in World War II in the Pacific." And they're just flabbergasted. To this day, the general public is unaware.

TI: Uh-huh. How about others like you that were with the MIS? I imagine during the occupation there was -- they recruited a lot of the ex-MIS soldiers to join, as they did you. Did very many of them continue on and serve in the Korean and Vietnam conflict?

SK: I think quite a few did because, at the same time in 1946, when I was asked to go back on active duty, that resulted from a special recruiting directive that was concocted back East, because of the need by General MacArthur for linguist service and support in Japan. And that in itself should prove how valuable we were to his effort. I'm sure that he could have gotten Japanese citizens to speak English and support it. But he needed Americans to do that same job, so that he could trust them completely -- cleared for security job. So he needed Americans who were linguists -- that's us. And most of us were getting out of Japan on point system because of our need to go back to the Pacific Coast and get our families out of so-called relocation camps, get them settled in old homes and get their jobs back and their possessions back. And reportedly, MacArthur sympathized, but he says, "I still need them with me here in Japan." And that's the reason why I got that special letter inviting me to come back on active duty. Not ordering me. And they were willing to give me a special waiver of my disability to do that.

TI: And how many? Are we talking about dozens or hundreds or...?

SK: Well I would say, I would say dozens and dozens, because, to the best of my knowledge, there are about -- I'd say from the top of my head -- two dozen or more, two dozen to maybe thirty of us who made the service a career and who are retired today as top three graders. That, by that, I mean majors, lieutenant colonels, or colonels -- perhaps more. I think there were about, oh, last... quite recently, I attended the, what we call -- what do we call that -- roast and toast of a Colonel Harry Fukuhara, in California. And there were eleven Nisei full colonels in attendance. And I tried without success, group picture of the eleven, but I couldn't get it. But there were eleven -- I counted them -- eleven of us from World War II days, you see. Now, not one of us made general because we were not in grade long enough, because we were enlisted and not officered, unlike those who are coming in today from, say, universities, ROTC -- directly as an officer. Now, they would have enough time in grade to keep on going. And therefore, today we have what? About six, seven who are retired as generals or admiral. And we have a four-star general, Eric Shinseki -- unheard of in World War II, see. So...

TI: And do you -- because I know General Shinseki gives credit to the Niseis and what they did in World War II. Do you believe that, that you helped pave the way for people like General Shinseki?

SK: Yes, because if it hadn't been for us -- and we proved, through our blood and guts -- in every campaign in the Pacific there were Nisei linguists -- because the thousands of us who, who graduated from the, the so-called Camp Savage language school, which was very closely held, were scattered all over the Pacific in small groups of complete team -- translator, interrogator, who could interpret, who could cave-flush, go into caves and flush out the personnel in those caves. Oh, anything that required language work, we could do. And we were scattered in every campaign in the Pacific. And that brings to mind the fact that we were never allowed, never allowed to enlist in the navy. Therefore none of us were in the Marine Corps. And that's the reason why, when I was wounded and they cut off my uniform, they thought that I was a navy -- that I was a Marine. They put me in a navy hospital, until couple days later, someone with a paper and, paper and pen, comes in and says, "What's your home unit?" And I said, "Well, GHQ, Australia. "No, no, no -- your home unit." I said, "Well, Sixth Army at Holladia, New Guinea." "No, no, I want your home marine unit." I said, "I'm no marine -- I'm army." They thought I was a marine.

TI: Right. Okay.

SK: And to this day, the Marine Corps does not carry any list of Nisei personnel assigned to them because they were not assigned to them. They were just borrowed from the army.

TI: Uh-huh -- yeah.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So Spady, we were talking, where we sort of left off, we were -- we're still Vietnam...

SK: Am I all right?

TI: Yeah. You're okay.

SK: Okay.

TI: And so we're December 1966 -- you're the head of counterintelligence, Vietnam -- and we talked a little bit about this. But you were there for one year?

SK: One year.

TI: And then what -- why did you leave Vietnam?

SK: Because my one-year tour was finished. And I had been notified that I would be returning to the staff and faculty of Army Intelligence School where I had left my family.

TI: Okay.

SK: And...

TI: Before we get there, in the history of Vietnam, what time period -- ? What was going on in Vietnam at around 1967, December of '67?

SK: December, '67. We are on the offensive and everything's going very smoothly. And -- but unknown to us, the other side is planning a major counter-attack to change that status. And so several months after I left, they initiated a campaign that we refer to as the Tet Offensive, which included incursions right into the heart of Saigon, and overran many major Allied positions. But, by that time I'm back in the States with the staff and faculty.

TI: But before we do that, I'm trying to understand. I'm remembering my history about the Vietnam War. It was right after the Tet Offensive that, that our military involvement really escalated. Is that, is that correct?

SK: No -- it was before then. It was a strange war, in that we did not go all out from the very beginning, if you recall history. And we were stymied and held back in many instances from the kind of offensive that we would envision our side to take, that we could take. But we were simply following regulations and orders, I suppose, and... so it was a, somewhat of a frustrating period. But since my tour of assignment of one year was finished, I was due back to, to the staff and faculty because I had left my family in, in Baltimore. And so I returned in December, and went back to staff and faculty. That would be December '67. And sometime in '68 or '69, I had occasion to seek medical help at the Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C., because I'm still on active duty with a, with 40 percent disability from World War II, you see. So I was down there for some medical treatment. And it was noted by some clerk that I was on active duty as an officer all those years since 1947 -- with a grant of a special waiver of my 40 percent disability. And before I knew it I was summoned back there in -- I think it was early 1970 -- to face a medical board of officers commanded by a full colonel. And when I appeared there, in essence, he, the colonel told me that, "We find that you no longer qualify to remain on active duty as an officer because of your disabilities. And therefore, we have decided to let you go home" -- in his words -- "to the Evergreen State of Washington, to go fishing." And I've been doing that now for twenty-nine years, come next month -- July.

TI: When you were originally granted the waiver, was there a time limit on the waiver?

SK: None...

TI: It was open-ended.

SK: ...whatsoever. That's right. That waiver was one point, and the second -- as I've mentioned before -- is my highest World War II rank. Unfortunately, I was only a five-stripe sergeant. And thirdly, if I passed the physical, minus my disability, that I might qualify for a direct commission as an officer. But there was -- what's good about it, or hard about it, is that I explained all this to my Japan-born mother. And all she said -- she smiled and said, "General MacArthur needs you again. You go again." Because she's the one who urged me a few days after Pearl Harbor in the first place, five years earlier.

TI: Right.

SK: December 1941. That you know that no matter who says what to you, she said, "You know that this is your country." And I agreed. I said, "I know that." And she said, "As such, you should be thinking about fighting for your country. But I want you home for Christmas and for New Year's. And then you go." That's what my mother told me. So I waited until after New Year's. And on fifth of January 1942, now -- 1942, I packed my things, and without opposition from anyone, I said, "Goodbye," and walked to the selective service office of Spokane, and then more or less announced that I'm ready to go. Well, they wouldn't process me.

TI: Right. Now -- and you told that story before.

SK: Yes.

TI: So we have that.

SK: That's how I got in.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: But you mentioned your mother and her encouragement to not only volunteer originally and then to go back to Japan. When, when did she die?

SK: Oh, she died while I was gone. But to her -- her best, most lasting, and top accomplishment in life was the fact that she was retired and is buried as an American naturalized citizen. She got her citizenship after World War II.

TI: Tell me about that. That must have been important to her.

SK: Yes, because many leading Issei from Spokane joined her in applying for citizenship, based on the fact that we had proved our loyalty to this country, you see -- World War II. Not only in the Pacific, but also in Europe through, 442nd. And I'm assigned to the 441st -- that's why I said 441st. But 442nd in Europe, and there was those of us in the Pacific had proved through our blood and our guts -- with many lives lost or disabled for life, like myself -- that, that this is our country, just as it is for anybody else. And that just like somebody said, "Americanism is not a matter of what color you are or how your eyes slant, but it's what's inside your heart." And as I say, my mother accomplished her greatest achievement when she got her citizenship. And she's buried in Spokane as an American citizen.

TI: Did she ever tell you how proud she was of you?

SK: No -- but see, I can tell by the fact that, that she urged me to go in the first place, in World War II. Two days after Pearl Harbor, an Issei telling me, "This is your country. You should go fight for your country." And I know that she had the support of, of several Issei friends in Spokane, who felt the same way, although their kids were being sent to Europe to fight for -- with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Because I'm the only one (from Spokane) that I know of who went out into the Pacific. In some cases, it resulted in my mother getting ostracized by other Issei who didn't agree with her outlook. Now, if I had gone to Europe, it would have been all right, as long as I didn't go fight Japan in the Pacific, you see.

TI: Oh. So there was additional pressure. I know...

SK: Oh, yeah.

TI: ...there was pressure on the Issei, just to have their sons fight, or join the U.S. Army...

SK: That's right.

TI: ...and most of the Nisei -- correct, went to Europe. But there was additional pressure on those whose sons fought against Japan?

SK: That's right. And then, and then to the Issei family and their family -- Nisei families in Spokane area, all gathered in Spokane waiting for the evacuation order that never came. They lived out of suitcases throughout World War II. So you can imagine the, the pressure on the shoulders of these Issei in Spokane area, many of whom were (in) Spokane to be with friends, so they could be with their friends when they were evacuated to wherever they were going to be sent.

TI: Right.

SK: So they just kept on waiting and waiting. Like my first wife's family in Pasco. They moved, sold their restaurant, got rid of all their belongings and moved to Spokane, just because one of their members of their family, who lived on the other side of the Columbia River in Kennewick, were forced to evacuate and be sent to a relocation camp.

TI: Yeah. That's interesting.

SK: So they said, "Well, we're next. So we better sell our stuff and, and move to Spokane to be with our friends in Spokane." So they did. And waited for the orders that never came.

TI: Yeah. Going back to this, this -- sometimes this pressure, or being ostracized that your mother felt, did she ever tell you...?

SK: No, no.

TI: ...what people said to her, or...

SK: No.

TI: How did you -- how do you know that she was ostracized?

SK: Because, for example, there is certain Issei group that got together and made cookies, and sent cookies to Europe, to their sons fighting in Europe. I never got one in the Pacific. That, that hurt. And I know that my mother realized that at the same time, because she was an Issei. She never expressed anything like that out loud to me, but... so to her, it was a triumphant time for her to realize that, that the U.S. government trusted me so much that they wanted my services again, to go help General MacArthur in Japan. Because all she said was -- she smiled and said, "You go because General MacArthur needs you again. You go." I think she was fully vindicated.

TI: Yes. That's interesting.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: So 1970, you retired from the army. One of the things that you do now, or have been doing, is you speak in front of groups.

SK: Yes.

TI: Schools -- you go to prisons...

SK: Every chance I get. I've never declined an opportunity to speak when asked, unless it's out of town, and if it's during the four months of the year when I don't drive out of Spokane. That's November, December, January, and February. Last fall -- I think it was either October, September or October -- I was asked to make my fourth appearance at the Walla Walla State Penitentiary, where we have dozens and dozens of veterans incarcerated, paying their debt to society. And by the crimes committed and the period assigned for their incarceration, they are grouped into different groups. Therefore, only thing common that they have is the fact that at one time other another, they served the Red, White and Blue. They're all ex-veterans. And they thrive on the fact that they are able to get outside speakers from different fields of endeavor to come over and talk to them. And apparently, I'm one of the very few or, if not the only one of intelligence -- military intelligence background willing to go down there and talk to them. I note, of course, that I have to go through a very strict security procedure to get inside there because of -- I think a recently -- several years ago, I think, they had attempted jail break.

TI: Well, we have to talk about that. I'm more curious about, what do you tell these...?

SK: They're very curious about my background, such as, where do I come from? How long have I served? Where have I served? And where did you get your beginning? Where did you get your training? And I tell 'em all that. And some of the places where I have served, exactly -- like in General MacArthur's Headquarters in Australia, "What were you doing down there?" And I tell 'em, "I interrogate key prisoners who are brought down to MacArthur's Headquarters from all over the Pacific." And why are they key prisoners? Because they have certain matters from their previous life in Japan -- where they worked, where they lived, what they did -- of what we would find after we get into Japan.

TI: Right.

SK: That was not to my liking because I'm more interested in, where's the machine gun? Where are the land mines? Something that a commanding officer of a unit can use right now. And so I started to -- that's at Allied headquarters in Australia. And I started to bug my officer in charge, (an Australian major.)

TI: Right. We talked about that earlier. So when you talked to the -- and you've gone back, you know over and over again. There must be something that you get from speaking to these prisoners, to these people in prison. And what -- is it what they tell you? Or, why do you go back over and over again?

SK: I think there are various ways of expression of appreciation. And the fact that I'm imparting to them knowledge that they did not possess before I started. And because they tell me in so many words that what I say is new to them. In other words, no one else has ever thought of, or had the background or the knowledge, to give them the kind of information that I'm able to from my background.

TI: And they're appreciative?

SK: They're very appreciative -- very. Judging by the fact that, I think I've told you before that, for example, I appeared four times at Cheney High School -- four-year high school in Cheney, Washington, right outside Spokane. Every four years. Why every four years? Because when I go down there every four years, I speak six times -- three times a morning, and then I have lunch with teachers and answer their questions [Laughs] during lunch period, and three more times in the afternoon. So that by the end of the day, after six talks to combination of classes, I've addressed the entire student body of Cheney High School. So they don't need me for four years. That's why every four years. And I've been down there four times.

TI: So it's a big day. It's the Spady Koyama day, where everyone...

SK: Right.

TI: Gets to...

SK: Right.

TI: ...hear your stories.

SK: Yeah.

TI: And what reaction do students have?

SK: Very appreciative. And lots of questions, even down to the -- when I appeared -- even down to elementary level. Like I spoke last to ten, eleven year old kids -- full of questions, especially when I'm in my uniform. Because, since I lost my paunch five years ago when I survived (an) eight bypass coronary, this uniform fits me like a glove, you see. So they want to (ask) all kinds of questions.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<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.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Is there anything, I mean, when you think about all that you've gone through, do you consider yourself lucky, or how do you think about your life?

SK: I consider myself -- I think the good Lord upstairs still doesn't want me, I guess. Because here I am -- I'm eighty-two, you know. And the good Lord doesn't want me because four times now he's interceded in my life. First time when I was wounded. Second time when I went to Vietnam.

TI: So was there a close incident in Vietnam? Well, let's go back. There's the story about stopping smoking.

SK: That's the Vietnam one.

TI: Right. Let's -- tell that one, because we haven't told that on camera.

SK: I had given up smoking on a temporary basis, I thought, when I left for Vietnam. And when I went to Vietnam, they had assured me in Pentagon that (my) predecessor will stay in place for two weeks to break (me) in. So when I reported to Vietnam, my predecessor, colonel so-and-so is not there at the airport with the driver. And the driver says, "Oh, he's in the hospital in Japan, fighting for his life." And I found out, after I reported in, that the colonel whom I'm to replace was waiting early one morning on a street corner along with others, waiting for the bus to come, but he was trying to light a cigarette. And since there was a breeze, he was cupping his hands and bent over this way, trying to light a cigarette, when somebody hollered, "Grenade!" And they all went down except my buddy, from this position he should've gone down. But he looked up, realized what was happening and went down. But too late. Piece of shrapnel got him in the back of the neck. And so I thought, "That's a message for me." I had just given up smoking, and here my buddy's trying to light a cigarette. And he's fighting for his life. So I stayed quit. I have not smoked since. That's December 1966.

TI: Because up to then, you had -- you were a one pack a day smoker?

SK: Pack a day.

TI: You quit on a, a, temporarily on a bet, but then you had started smoking, and then you quit again when you went to Vietnam. But again, you thought probably temporarily? But then...

SK: Right -- right.

TI: ...when this happened, you decided...

SK: I got the divine (message.)

TI: ..."At this point, I will stop."

SK: Yeah. Intervention message.

TI: Okay. That's...

SK: Because I gave up -- I started when I was teenager, about twelve, thirteen I guess, on the old Cubeb. Do you ever hear of Cubeb? C-U-B-E-B. That's the cigarette that the entertainers smoked to soothe their throat area, I guess. So I'd go to a cigarette shop and say, "My dad wants a Cubeb." He said, "Like hell, he does." And he'd still sell it to me. [Laughs] And then I graduated to Bull Durham. And I learned how to roll it one hand, and mix it up with sawdust and Bull Durham. So I was a dyed-in-the-wool smoker.

TI: Right. So that's two. So your wound -- when you were wounded -- your smoking...

SK: Third time, third time was in New Guinea, when we sent roughly 500 prisoners from New Guinea to Australia. And I accompanied the MPs down to the, where there's -- ships will come in...

TI: Okay.

SK: load them. And along the beach were...

TI: Oh, yeah. You told that story -- where the sergeant came out...

SK: That's right -- sergeant came running, rushing along...

TI: Yeah, armed to the teeth.

SK: ...armed to the teeth, followed by armed personnel. And they come right to this one particular place where I am. And the water -- the enlisted bag's right there, and the prisoner with the long-handled cup -- he's 'bout ready to drink, and he sees a rushing sergeant bearing down on him, so he -- instead of drinking, he goes like this, and hands it to the sergeant. And the sergeant says -- he swore, and he says, "I'm not taking that from him," or something like that. So I grabbed the handle, and I said in Japanese, "Let go. Let go. Give it to me." And I took it, and went like this, and I poked it in the sergeant's stomach. I said in English, as loud as I could, "Okay, then, sarg, here you are!"

TI: Yeah. That's a good one.

SK: And with that, he took it. And he says, "Well, this is different!"

TI: Uh-huh.

SK: Afterwards, on our way back to the prison, the MP says, "How come you were right there? You could've been anywhere else, but -- ?" I says, "I don't know why I was there, but I was right there."

TI: Yeah. And you saved the -- yeah, the situation.

SK: Yeah.

TI: So that was the third one.

SK: And of course, I remembered to speak to the sergeant in English. (Had I) spoken to him in Japanese, I wouldn't be sitting here next to you. [Laughs] He would've probably shot me.

TI: And, and not just in English, but in a way that would...

SK: Right. Right.

TI: ...would, would -- yeah.

SK: And of course, the fourth time is, is my right shoulder ached so much that I insisted on having the doctor check me out, and he found all the blockages.

TI: Okay.

SK: That's five years ago. Four times, I can distinctly recall in my life that the good Lord intervened.

TI: Well, good. Well, Spady that's, that's all I have. Thank you very much for...

SK: Well, I thank you for the opportunity.

TI: ...for coming.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.