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-02-0002

<Begin Segment 2>

gky: Tell me, when you -- was it Poston that you were at, Poston internment camp?

RM: Pardon?

gky: What internment camp did you go to?

RM: Oh. Jerome, Arkansas.

gky: Jerome.

RM: First they sent me to Santa Anita Racetrack and they place, they put me in was a horse stable. And I got so mad and, of course, you know, I had a quick temper. But I couldn't do anything about it; that's more frustrating. The thing is, when I came back -- I graduated from high school in '33 and was a Depression time. And I worked hard, and President Roosevelt started NRA, National Recovery Act, and social security and everything else, so I voted for him. Then this Executive Order 9066 put me in the concentration camp, classify me as "enemy alien," and that's upset. At the time, I decided to change to Republican, then I find out like Earl Warren, and thing like that, he was district attorney in Alameda County and then became governor, finally, but he never apologized what he had done to us. I'm still mad at him. He never apologized and very bitter about it and still is. I mean, I vote for the man, so affiliation doesn't mean anything to me.


RM: So, you have to let them people know what you did, and I did a lot of things not supposed to be doing in peace time but, you know, service required. So I have to, somebody got to do the dirty job, and they entrusted in me so I have to do that. Sometime I regret that shouldn't be, but then they claim that they depend on me because I'm able to do that, so that's why I had all different kind of assignment. The reason I kept my stripe was, you know, I did the right thing, otherwise I made a lot of people mad about it, but they cannot bust me because I did my duty. And those are things I cannot repeat but lot of things I put -- even the superior or subordinate put them away on account of duty because they might be testing me, so I cannot just bribe or things like that. So I had a hard time. So people ask me, "How was your army life?" you know. Well, I told them I spend twenty years because I had an idea what I have to do and then I did the right thing. But I would say if people ask me how was the army life, I'd say, "Well, just like swimming in shark-infested ocean and finally reach the shore, the other side. And that much because on account of unfortunate or fortunately I'm of Japanese descent, and that's... I cannot help it. But the people tell me all kind of degrading discriminations, and I don't want to go into detail now, but still...

gky: Well, let me ask you some questions about that. But let me first ask you something about when you left Jerome. Did you have to leave by cover of night or did you have to sneak out?

RM: Yes. We left early in the morning, the assemble, so that other people wouldn't know it. But we'd been briefed because lot of Kibeis in there, and me Kibei being, you know, and some people call me traitor and so forth, and "spy school." But I didn't know anything about it. My objective was just get out of there because my freedom was taken away. But since I joined there, not just a patriotic reason, but the reason is I want to prove that I'm a good American so I'm going to show them what I can do. And, well, I did my best to help my country so that we been treated equally, but still isn't. Still some people call me "Jap" and so forth. But being in the army for twenty years, I retired in '63 so more than twenty years, but anyway, still these things going on. So that's why I tried to do the PR work for the Japanese communities and for Japanese descent.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.