Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Roy Matsumoto Interview
Narrator: Roy Matsumoto
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Washington, D.C.
Date: November 8, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-mroy-02-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

gky: So, do you think very many other Japanese values that you held, very many other Japanese values?

RM: Yeah. Well, I felt that's the thing. He directly didn't help me much, but he was so appreciated. He said, "What can I do for you?" I said, "Nothing." But then he said, "Anything to wash, your laundry," things like that. Then he did it for me, so I appreciate it. He is very, very appreciative. He's an old man. I forgot his name but, anyway, it doesn't make any difference even if he's a Mexican descent, or whatever.

gky: No, no. I mean do you ever, ever think about values you held like not bringing haji to your...

RM: Right. Well, that's why I don't want to... see, in my line work when I was inducted into Military Intelligence Hall of Fame -- this is not the Ranger Hall of Fame -- but then some people told me since I was in the army and the rest of thing I did, well, some say it's undercover. But it's actually not. I'm in uniform and I had my own job, see, and doing that. But beside that, I have a other job that may be primary in case something happen. In other words, I don't like the word spy, or snitching, or, you know. But there is a thing called mole, you know, or double agent. They [inaudible] there so dig out information, so we cannot trust even though, even we have in CIA, still we got a mole and double agents. They just sneak in there and selling our country. Those are the thing I despise. I don't like that. But the things I had done was some intelligence work, so they said some people -- I don't want to mention name -- but said these citations read not only of what I did in Burma, but in subsequent services, see. Because I did the service, see. They have no way of recognizing, because if they recognize, be revealing what I did, so they cannot say that what I did.

gky: So there are things that...

RM: So that's why they just deleted that. So next thing I only got Military Intelligence work in Burma. They don't even mention that after I got out of Burma, like I mentioned before, the Chinese National Army forces, that was just the cover, see. Of course, now I have past fifty years, so nobody say. But I don't tell what I did, but the people talk about it. They said demolishing bridges, you know, something like that, interrupting their communications. Of course, one thing I didn't do is dirty work, killing people, assassinate, you know, assassin. But the thing I did was in case I blow up a bridge, that's a saboteur, see, sabotage. And saboteur, what he do if he get caught? He'll be executed.

gky: Or tortured.

RM: Torture, yeah. Well, they execute if you're related to the enemy and the enemy got a hold of you. No question asked because of Geneva Convention. If you do spy and things like that, and get caught, you know.

gky: How did you feel about facing the Japanese? People who looked just like you, you had relatives in Hiroshima, but you were facing these people as enemies. How did you feel about that?

RM: Well, this is my country, see. Of course, I had a brother in Japanese army. There, well, no choice. They have to be loyal to emperor, see. To me, I have no, even though I got a Japanese education, but this is my country and I been so much, not physical abuse but mentally discriminated. One thing I felt very bad was one of the things, even the black guy discriminated me because I was marching from Ledo to Hsamshingyang, then I was so thirsty because I had a canteen. But there was cold water, lister bag, they call. You know, put the water in there and the plastic rubberized closed bag there, and they put ice in there and cool water. Then some hakujins get it. And I asked him, you know, "Can I have a drink of water?" He says, "No, not to Japs." So I was worse than second-class people. Wouldn't hurt them. They could just replace the water, they were construction engineers, see. So I felt very bad. Of course, I have to drink my warm water. But those kind of thing. And after in the service, people working for me, but they're talking about -- I stay in the barracks first, you know, in Okinawa, and the people talking, "That Jap sergeant," you know. They mention me. I happened to pass by there. "Why you call Jap sergeant? Just say Sergeant Matsumoto," see. But the "Jap sergeant," they're talking about me, and the other things behind my back they're talking about me. I didn't do anything wrong. My job with people, lot of people don't know, but maybe I don't if I should mention that, but since long time ago, fifty years ago anyway, so probably safe to say that. My job was not just in charge of labor section, you know, handling native people, but my job was signal security. We don't want anybody to sabotage our crypto machine, or teletype, typewriter, so forth. And also we have transmitters, receiver, we don't want anything to put the dirt in that thing to jam up that machine, so I have to watch that, see.

gky: This is during the war?

RM: Well, some native working there and then hey, because on account of no job, so they work for the occupation forces, you know.

gky: Roy, when you think back on your days with Merrill's Marauders, what's the saddest thing that comes to mind?

RM: Saddest thing? Well, Marauder, well, after Marauder was a sad thing, was drop the bomb on Hiroshima and my family wiped out, because I know exactly where they stayed. So, what happened, this epicenter was a block and a half away, so no way survive, see. That, what I was in OSS [Office of Strategic Services], see. But I didn't say it was OSS, I was with the Chinese Nationalist Army attached. But actually, when I was there, then the radio and they said tree and grass will never grow for seventy-five years. Those kind of exaggerations, see. Then one year later, I went down there and the grass was growing, so it wasn't that bad. But, I mean, according to my mother's and other people's testimony, it was very bad. But, I mean, the first sad thing was family wiped out. They're innocent civilians. What can I do, you know, that's national policy. Truman just dropped the bomb. That was one. Then it turn out that, well, I just gave up, you know, what can I do? People got killed, died instantly. Because epicenter, drop, I know exactly where they said was the drop, so I haven't been there, but I know the place already. That was one of the sad things. But it turn out that they evacuated few miles away at that time, so they survived. But they still got that radiation effect, but...

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.