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

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

gky: This is November 8, 2000. We are interviewing Roy Matsumoto. R-O-Y, last name Matsumoto, M-A-T-S-U-M-O-T-O in Washington, D.C. Roy, what year were you born in?

RM: Pardon?

gky: What year were you born in?

RM: 1913, May 1st.

gky: How did you get into the army?

RM: Well, you want me to start from the beginning or...

gky: Just how you got in the army, how you were inducted.

RM: Oh. Well, the thing is, see, first sequence is when draft came out, they didn't need so many so I was, even though 1-A, but deferred. Then, in the meantime, war broke out so they put me in the concentration camp in Arkansas. And, fortunately, I wanted to get out so bad and, fortunately, a recruiting officer come around looking for people to serve in the army. So, in order to get out that, and also they classify me as a 4-C, that is 4-F, you know, that is physically unfit. But 4-C stand for "enemy alien" and I'm not an "enemy alien." I was born here and my grandfather came from old country, so I'd be a third-generation, native-born American classified me as "enemy alien." So I was so mad and tried to get out the dump, and fortunately, I tried to show them that I'm not an "enemy alien," show what I can do for my country. So recruiting officer come around so I volunteered. It so happen that this happened to be Military Intelligence Language School.

gky: How is it that you were -- you're Kibei, right?

RM: Yes.

gky: How was it that you got sent back to Japan when you were young?

RM: When I was young, well, as I told you before, my grandfather, Mr. Wakamatsu Matsumoto, came from Hiroshima and started farming in Southern California. So I was born there, and he treated me nice when I was a child, so I was very fond of him. Since my father was there and mother was there, so he want to do a early retirement. So he made a little money on some farm product, so he decided to retire even though he was in the fifties and he went back to his country. He was there and meantime, when I become school age, I was attending the Fruitland Elementary, they call grammar school at the time, that's elementary school. My mother and father asked me whether I would like to visit my grandfather. I had other younger brother and sisters, but my next brother and I were agree, were sent to Japan upon agreeing that I'd like to see him. And I didn't know that I'm going to stay there for a while but, anyway, to visit. My grandfather's brother, younger brother, is my great uncle, took me to Japan. That's the way end up there and then stay there until I went to high school there. So they tell me Kibei but, yes, they could classify me as a Kibei. When I came back, I went to Long Beach Polytechnic High School and graduate there. So either I be a Nisei but they classify me as a Kibei. So it's okay with me because I came back. "Kibei" means return to America, so...

gky: You, but you spoke Japanese fluently.

RM: Oh, yes. Well, I went to high school and I was an honor student there and I did pretty well. Beside, when I went there, very little knowledge of Japanese so I have to study hard and I have to meet with discrimination because they spoke funny Japanese. They tell me, "You're a son of the immigrant," and I was very upset and mad about it, so I don't know, I think I'll catch up and show them what I can do. I had a very short temper, especially when they tell me immigrant kids. A lot of immigrant kids there, too, because my family came from Hiroshima, so lot of immigrants came to... then a lot of them returned there, but they themselves were immigrants' kid.

gky: It must have been tough for you. You go back to Japan, you've got an American accent, you don't speak much Japanese. Then you come back to the United States and you've got a Japanese accent and you --

RM: Yeah, that right. Yeah, I think I still have. But, anyway, I study after came back to state. Still, I read the newspaper and read the Japanese book and study in the things I didn't know and I became very proficient. But, I mean as far as the school goes, only high school. So I didn't go to college like rest of the soldier did. Some people like Grant [Hirabayashi], you know, GI Bill, went to Southern Cal and so forth. But I stayed in for twenty years so I didn't have much education other than the service school. I attended Military Intelligence Language School, Military Intelligence School and Counterintelligence School, and so forth.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 3>

gky: So, what year you went in? '42?

RM: Yeah, '42. On November 12th, I was inducted at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and then sent us to Camp Savage, Minnesota. That's about 18 miles south of Minneapolis.

gky: Okay. When you went to Camp Savage, did you have to take some kind of language test?

RM: Well, before we went there they interview us. But then they already made a background, I think if I did a background test, they know I have Japanese education, so as far as the quota, even though I tried to flunk myself, but wouldn't because the record show he done well, and also working for Japanese grocery store and spoke perfect Japanese. So they know, they're after me -- well, of course, this volunteer because they didn't draft on account of 4-C deal.

gky: Right. How many years were you in Japan?

RM: About seven years, something like that.

gky: How old were you when you went over? Seven, eight?

RM: I don't exactly remember, but I was a small -- well, not small, but I didn't finish. I went for four years. But you could go to a university or college for four years, so same as a graduate if you have enough ability to pass the exam and I know I did well at the school.

gky: How old were you when you left Japan?

RM: Seventeen, or something like that.

gky: Seventeen. And you were ten when you went?

RM: Sixteen. Sixteen or seventeen. Because I didn't finish high school. People say high school graduate, but the same as a graduate because I know more than high school graduates, see.

gky: So you were over there from the time you were ten to the time you were seventeen?

RM: Yeah. I came back and I went to -- first, they didn't take me in the high school so even though high school age. So I have to attend the junior high school. But then, you know, I knew a bit of junior high school kids because I already know them. I just been taking the mathematics, algebra, and everything I knew. Also, I didn't have to take a language because they, well, what they did was they waiver. You have to take a language, either Spanish or French or German, that high school, see. But since I proficient in Japanese, so even though they didn't have a Japanese class. Later on they had, but at the time, you know. So, easy pass because I already knew in Japanese high school. So this side just require subjects such as government, United States history, so forth, the required subjects.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

gky: Let's talk a little bit about when you got into, when you left Fort Snelling, or Camp Savage. You went to school at Camp Savage?

RM: Yes.

gky: So, you were in what, the second class at...

RM: Yeah, second from the top. We had twenty classes and there was a second class with Hank Gosho.

gky: And you were supposed to graduate in June of 1942?

RM: June, yes.

gky: So, you were the first class at Camp Savage.

RM: First class Camp Savage. We'll be second class, first class was Presidio. And they came down there and graduate first class. That was in the spring they graduate. School started first of the year because I reported there in November, and meantime people started come in there in December. So we were the first one came out of camp as volunteers. Well, some people were already in the service so they got transferred. But like Grant, he was three days before war started, so he was in the service, then he went to Army Air Corps.

gky: Okay. Let me -- I'm a little bit -- I guess there's something I don't quite understand. These people come around, these recruiters come around to internment camps. You'd been put in there, classified as an "enemy alien," and yet you volunteered to --

RM: They made exception to it. See, that's why we're discussing a little while ago, and people already in, but they didn't understand, the people, they classify so they didn't even touch it. But we were specially-qualified people. That's why they're looking for. But you cannot draft because "enemy alien," so you have to volunteer and swear that you... to be loyal to your own country. So that was the provision. But, the meantime they did all the background check and some people were against this, like a "no-no boy" later on.

gky: So the government had insulted you by telling you were an "enemy alien," you were an American citizen, and yet you've gone and volunteered out of camp to serve your country?

RM: Right. I mean, I want to show because I been so much discriminated either here or as a Japanese kid. There, an immigrant kid. Then I been having a hard time. But, I mean, I forgot to mention this, but the reason why I'm so quiet is the time I was playing with a boy with a baseball and the kid yelled at me, "You kid of immigrant." See, "imin no ko" in Japanese. Imin, they think that they're, these people are better than us. It so happened that I was born in the United States and went there and happened to be my parents were, grandparents were immigrant, and so they call me, "Well, that's immigrant kid." That's okay, but then they're using for degrading term. That's why I got mad. I happened to have a bat and swung it, hit the man's, you know, the kid's head in the side and he was unconscious for two days, so I thought I killed him, but finally recovered. Later on, he apologized and I did, too. Then I thought I never going to get temper so I going to count ten and hold my breath and that's what I been doing ever since. So in the army, they think I was a quiet guy, but end up and got so mad. That's why sometimes things turn out in my favor and sometimes it didn't, see. But that's why now I realize that what's a crazy guy, this crazy kid do a thing like that, but that end up in me being inducted me being induct in the [U.S. Army Ranger] Hall of Fame, thing like that. But people didn't think that I was -- according to Aiko Yoshimura, he was one of the member of the Merrill's Marauders but he passed away a few years ago. Anyway, he described all the member, each one came out in the paper, in the Pacific Citizen, and he thought I was a quiet guy because didn't know me personally. Only time didn't know, he came from Amache, I think was, anyway relocation center, but I came from Jerome. I always call them concentration camp, but still is. But some article mentioned that he's mellowed quite a bit and doesn't say too much about camp, but still to me is a concentration camp, not the fancy name of relocation, see.


Then I asked the next door guy, he happened to be a navy veteran. Then tell him, "How would you like to live next door to the Jap?" Then he told them, "He's not Jap, he's an American. As a matter of fact, he's an American hero. What do you mean calling him a Jap?" you know. Then he chewed him out. But he didn't tell me what the name was. But still this thing going on. Just because I live in nice neighborhood on the island there, you know, I have beachfront house and a lot of people envy that. But, fortunately, you know, grace of God, I'm able to acquire the place and I enjoy very much. But anyway, that's beside the point. But still I feel, the way you look at it, call me "Jap." I resent that.

gky: When you retired from the army, what was your rank?

RM: Master Sergeant. I was lucky on account of citation, when I was awarded Legion of Merit, rank came with it. I was always one step ahead of -- I was buck sergeant, then when order came out, said staff sergeant. So when the war ended, I made master sergeant so been master sergeant for fifty-four years.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

gky: Tell me, how was it that you volunteered for the Merrill's Marauders?

RM: This I didn't expect to join, but they called me in. Then there was... the people I knew was Eddie Mitsukado, sergeant, he's still living in Hawai'i, and he was drill sergeant, and Thomas, Tom Tsubota was drill sergeant, too. Because they came from 100th Battalion. And I knew by reputation, other than that, I didn't know. But I knew Grant Hirabayashi because he was a corporal already and we were buck privates, just went there. It so happened that Hank Gosho and Karl Yoneda, he passed away, but my classmates, the second class, so I knew them very well. Then I've been called to office and went there, called my name, then there was Hank Gosho, see. So he might be one picked me up, I don't know. But, at the time, they didn't tell me what the score was, but there is a mission there and this will be a dangerous and hazardous mission. But the catch is that it's dangerous, but if you survive you'll be transferred back to stateside and duration of war you'll be serving in the States. So, that was the catch, so we bought the bait. So we volunteered. No, I know that we got to go to war anyway because we're soldiers, see. So that's my...

gky: But you didn't know whether it was going to be a three-month mission, a six-month mission, a two-year...

RM: Three months. They said three months. Of course, the time getting there and coming back, about six months' time you'll be back. Well, that the way probably told other people too. They told me -- they didn't say the nature, but this hazardous and expect 85 percent casualty, see. But, I mean, still young and reckless, you know, so I want to join because then Gosho was going and my classmate, he sat next to me at the table.

gky: So you were thirty-one years old now?

RM: Yeah, about. Let's see, it'll be in '42, so yeah.

gky: And when they say it's a dangerous and hazardous mission, you may not come back...

RM: Right, that's a possibility, but never can tell. And if you're lucky, just plain lucky, just playing... it's a poker or gamble anyway.

gky: But why did -- I guess I don't understand, when they tell you you might die, I...

RM: Well, everybody die if you go to war, you know, there's a possibility of getting killed. But then, well, later on, this is afterthought. But I didn't know why I did a crazy thing like that. But the thing is, people claim that it was a miracle that I survived because I was exposed to the enemy all the time. If I make one slip, I'd be captured, you know, what the Japanese going to do to me? But that's why I decided to carry two hand grenade, one for them and one for me if I get captured. So when in a foxhole, every time I go out, "Sarge, why you do a crazy thing like that? You might get killed." But always, I tell them, "Well, you know, if I don't go out and find out, all going to get killed, but at least there is a chance of survival." And that's why I end up in -- and we survive all of them. At that instant, we'd been losing people because every time we're surrounded for ten days, then every time the artillery bursts or mortar shell burst, somebody got killed or wounded and we been losing people. At the time, people getting sick, nothing to eat, and drinking dirty waters, so lot of people disabled, they're sick. So we lost that way a lot of people died. So we had casualty, but as far as that incident, they were going to wipe us out but end up nobody got killed. Not even a scratch. Nobody got wounded. But we found fifty-four dead Japanese there and two of them were officers. Then I don't know how many got wounded. I don't know how many were there. So they claimed that the ratio of wounded and killed is maybe ten to one, see. So, lot of people got wounded and maybe lot of them dead, but we don't know. Maybe dragged away. Because we're on top of the hill surrounded, but they are downhill so they could take people away. But at least we found fifty-four, that's actual body count. And they tried to give me credit, see. But some don't because I didn't do anything, just did his duty. Someone, some sergeant, Sergeant Warren Ventura, asked the commanding officer why Matsumoto wasn't recommended for a Medal of Honor. He said was, "Japs don't get any medal." But he didn't use that word. He said, "He's only enlisted man doing his duty and enlisted men don't receive such a medal." That was a quote that came out of a book. But, I mean, at least, to my satisfaction, I don't have to get a medal. I survived myself with rest of guy. That's why every time I go reunion, they hug me and shake hand and everything else, and still some few people send me a present every Christmas. They pay five dollars for postage and send me can of pecan or can of peanuts. And still people appreciate what I've done. So I don't need any medal, but so happened that after forty-nine years, finally somebody saw I be recognized so that's why they induct me to Hall of Fame, and then everything.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

gky: This is tape two with Roy Matsumoto on the 8th of November, the year 2000 in Washington, D.C. Roy, tell about your, you got shipped to the CBI [China-Burma-India Theater]. What is your first assignment with Merrill's Marauders?

RM: Well, first, we were sent to central India in high plateau and we learned from the British about long-range penetration in jungle fighting, so forth. So we took not the ranger training, but it that was a part of ranger training because we didn't, well, ranger type of training we did it, so that's why later on we've been awarded ranger tab. But that's what we did until March 27 or whatever. I know the exact date, 24 March. The reason I remember that is when I was awarded Legion of Merit, the general order says March 24 to -- no, February 24th. I corrected that. February 24 to March something.

gky: What year is this? 1943, right?


RM: Then and also we hike about 125 miles in ten days to reach a place called Hsamshingyang and that's where we start to form and then we went to jungle. So my assignment was the first assigned to the headquarters rifle company. But then when we get in, had to move out. They assign me to I&R Platoon. That stand for "Intelligence and Reconnaissance," in other words, scout platoon. In case we find the enemy documents, something like that, translate. If you happen to capture prisoner, we could interrogate. So I was assigned as intelligence NCO to platoon, this I&R Platoon.

gky: How many people were assigned with you?

RM: Two. Well, two -- this what happened. Our size was about regimental size, three thousand, so we had three battalions, so about 900, almost a thousand men to each unit. So we had fourteen Nisei linguists there, intelligence NCO they called them because all of them are non-commissioned officers, so they call NCO. My title was "intelligence NCO." Well, some people say just translator or interpreter. Of course interpret, but official army term is intelligence NCO, doing intelligence work, not only translating the language, but other, interrogate the...

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

gky: Well, it seems to me that you did some things that some other military intelligence people did not do, some military intelligence soldiers did not do. First of all, you were really in heavy combat.

RM: Right. As a, so even though we were military intelligence specialists, but they classify as infantryman. So we carry a rifle and not just paperwork. So we have to have a pencil and paper, not only myself, but everybody else, but primary job was duty, infantry soldiers, working soldier's duty. If occasion arrived to use our skill or language, if necessary, then we would do that. But the primary classify -- it so happen that he's a linguist soldier. So that's the difference from other people; they have a desk job and translate, or other, but ours is combat, see. Other MIS people were always attached, so not part of the unit. So that's why they don't get credit. But whereas fourteen of us are fortunate enough to be assigned as a soldier. So we had double duty. We have to do soldiers at the same time do any other thing arrive, just like cook, or medic, not only a soldier, but you have to do a specialized thing.

gky: But it seems to me that even though you did have to do a specialized thing, that you still had some sort of special protection, for example, having escorts when you went out.

RM: No, no.

gky: You didn't have any escorts?

RM: No. No, first before for going there, you know, so that other people don't understand us. Well, first they thought as we're the prisoners, the Japanese prisoners in the camp. Then now we're the turncoats, you know, and use as interpreter. So they thought we were Japanese soldier in United States Army uniform. Because some people don't know that, see. That's why some people comment that "we should throw you overboard, but good thing we didn't," you know. [Laughs] Just because look like Japanese, they thought we were prisoners. But anyway, later on we had orientation and then indoctrination, then they told people to, "Look at them and get familiarized and see, and these are the people, Americans, you know, so recognize, so don't shoot 'em." You know, they have to cover. That's why we had protection until -- then, since you're assigned to unit, everybody know because you're part of it.

But when we segregate, when first we went to West Coast from Minnesota, we were put in train and then a shade pulled down so nobody can see us, you know, Japanese face. And when we get there and we arrive the Camp Stoneman but we didn't stay with the troop. We were sent to Angel Island, this immigration part. They have that old fort there they call Fort McDowell. So we stayed at Japanese, well, American, in other words a member of the Marauder, but at the time they didn't call Marauders, just the 5307th Composite Unit Provisional. Anyway, we didn't know what kind of unit going to be. Then stayed there until boat put out so from there ferry across the bay and went to Fort Mason, San Francisco, and got on there. Then meantime, all the other soldier came from Panama or Trinidad, or mainland, East Coast, formed the one battalion; it was mostly 2nd Battalion. The troop stayed at Camp Stoneman near Pittsburg. They ferry there, then get on the boat. That's the time we met other people. So we were segregated, so we weren't together, so they didn't know until they get on that SS Aloha, this [inaudible] ship. We'd been segregated, too, from aboard, but fortunately we group, small group, assigned to stateroom, big stateroom. So we could see the window on our side. But whereas the troop were down the bottom in the hold on a cot in a stinking place. But we stay in a stateroom. But they didn't know. We was segregated so they thought, you know, some people rumor goes that these are prisoners. Going to use them as interpreter. But then we had orientation course and familiarization of other weapons and get to know the people. But at the time we didn't split them up so this whole group was, that was from the mainland. Then we were heading, go through. Then we saw the Diamond Head, so we thought going Hawai'i but we didn't stop there; turned south, then the first place we went to was Noumea, New Caledonia. That's where we picked up --

gky: Now, you were one of, all fourteen of you Nisei were segregated from the regular troops?

RM: Other troops, yes.

gky: And then you were put on Angel Island and the other troops went to...

RM: Camp Stoneman, until we leave.

gky: Okay. Until you left.

RM: So we didn't have any relation with the other troops, you know.

gky: So what did you guys do on Angel Island?

RM: No, just stay there and practice, you know, and...

gky: Drill?

RM: ...what you learn. Not the kind of military drill, but I mean the text. See, you don't want to carry the dictionary. It's a small one, too, but to help each other, what to say, and the procedure. Like me, I don't have to learn Japanese. Well, I hate to say that, but maybe I shouldn't say, but I knew better than some of the instructor there. But I don't argue, "This is wrong." I just let it go.

gky: Okay.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

gky: Tell me about -- okay, you are now over... you spent some time in central India. Now you're going to out in the field with Merrill's Marauders. What was the first scouting assignment you got sent on?

RM: Scout?

gky: Scout, as a scout?

RM: Well, I didn't go out as a scout. We have scout, leading scout they call, and those experienced guys have a keen eye and so forth, sharp guy as a scout. They don't dare send me because if they lose, then they won't have an interpreter or translator. So stayed more or less back but together, you know. But they had a unit, so we had a radio, so radio in, "Clear," then you could move in the jungle. Even though we don't know where their station is, garrison, they all occupied area, so we don't know exactly where they are. So we have to send out the scout. Then so happened that, well, I was going to say that unit going be split up. Three thousand men each battalion, three battalions, usually first, second, third battalion, but so happened that this is unique. They use the alphabet. A Battalion, B and C Battalion. No such a thing there, but they just started to use that, so B Battalion would be 2nd Battalion, and I'm 2nd Battalion. Then since we took training from the British, so the British way they made a column. So each battalion has two column. In other words, American combat team. So in order to differentiate or to identification purpose, they color coded something. So, therefore, 1st Battalion will be red combat team and white combat team. The 2nd Battalion would be blue combat team and green combat team. And 3rd Battalion in khaki and... let's see.

gky: Brown?

RM: I knew that, but let's see...

gky: So, tell me about a scouting assignment that you did go out on.

RM: Well, when we went out, we are ahead of, a place called [inaudible]. That was a hamlet, but the native were gone because the soldier came, so they've abandoned. But so happened that Japanese stay there. They'd been there for more than a year now because the Americans and British were chased out of there when the Japanese came and occupied the area. So their garrison there. So they had a time to fix up foxhole very neatly, and then plant grass and cover up the hole, so if you walk by the trail, you don't see it. But they had a machine gun nest there, then the first one got killed was Robert Landis, Private First Class, and he was the first casualty in my platoon. The platoon leader was Lieutenant [William C.] Grissom at the time, and after he retire as Lieutenant Colonel Grissom, and he's inducted to Hall of Fame, but when got killed he told me, "I was a schoolteacher in civilian life, but I don't know how to write, make a report to the next of kin." Hardest thing. He confessed to me, so I know it felt, how bad he felt. He lost the first man. Later on, in his memory, or honor, named the camp after him. So Camp Landis and he happened to be from Indianapolis, or somewhere.

gky: Can I ask you to not lean?

RM: Not lean? Okay.

gky: Yeah, yeah. So there are some pretty amazing exploits of yours that you encountered when you were in Burma. Can you tell me about something, you know, one of your scouting missions that saved a lot of lives, American lives, that...

RM: Well, I didn't, but they claim I did. That would depend on how you look at it. If they want to give me credit, they say I saved, but then -- well, that was teamwork and I don't want to say that I get, give me the credit. But it so happened that I've been recognized as such. Well, of course, great honor to be recognized but, to me, I'm satisfied because I came out in one piece, so, with my buddies.

gky: Describe to me what you did.

RM: Pardon?

gky: Tell me what you did.

RM: Well, I did was -- well, after that, a couple days later, this [inaudible], then we came through Wesu Ga, then we came to a place, Walawbum. And this was a little town. We're not getting the town, but the nearer town, there was a road constructed by Japanese and there was a jungle. There wasn't a road but the Japanese were stationed there so they made a road to hold supplies and also tank and truck go through. So they construct a road and so happened that we just got in between the division headquarter at [inaudible], then front echelon there, two regiment and fighting Chinese. Chinese try push it but they couldn't. So we went in between the headquarters, division headquarters, and the front line. So happened that the road, so we made a roadblock there, that is, cut the tree down and lay on the ground so that truck wouldn't get through. In the meantime, if they stop there we going to shoot them, so we hide in the jungle. Look up in a tree, there's a wire there, so look like a telephone wire. So climb up there and there's a live wire. Then, so what I did was Lieutenant Phil Piazza had heavy weapons platoon and so happened that they had a field phone for observation purpose, you know. They launch mortar. We didn't have any artillery so mortar fire and observe, see where land, then a guy climb up in the tree and wire, then direct. Of course, you cannot shout because enemy might hear, so quietly watch and see where it land, then they either say so many mils, that is degree, to south or put 'em at maybe five yard to the side, or whatever, if you want to destroy something. So they use field telephone, the one that crank up.

So borrow that handset, climb up that tree, sure enough, you know. Then take a turn. Other people go up there. Couldn't make out what's going on. If I say, that look like a degrading, didn't know anything, but they went to school, but so happen that they're not speaking standard Japanese. They are using a local dialect. So happened that this enemy we're fighting is 18th Division from Kurume in Fukuoka prefecture, then all the people around Saga, Nagasaki, but mostly Fukuoka and Kumamoto speak Kyushu-ben, see, Kumamoto, you know. So the people, we had... well, I forgot to mention that split up fourteen men, each battalion had four men assigned, and two men to regimental quarters, so that's a dozen plus two make fourteen. So two, Herbie Miyasaki and Akiji Yoshimura, regiment headquarters with General [Frank] Merrill. And Grant in the 1st Battalion and I'm 3rd Battalion, I'm 2nd Battalion, and Gosho was in the 3rd Battalion. And I have a list here who belongs to what unit. But, anyway, we had four in the 2nd Battalion. I had Roy Nakada, Bob Honda, and Sugeta and myself, four of them. So I team up with Bob Honda, then Sugeta and Roy Nakada were green combat team and I was in the blue combat team. So they move independently, so we have six unit so we could hit six different places in the same time, all together sometime, you know, four together. And when went Walawbum, Hank Gosho was in 3rd Battalion. They're already fighting the enemy there around that neighbor. But 2nd Battalion hit it. See, enemy hiding there but no fighting, so that's why we set the roadblock there. Then if they come through, truck come through, they could stop 'em and then we could capture, or if they're riding we could shoot them. But, anyway, that was during the daytime, see.

Everybody hiding in the woods, then I'm climb up. But enemy there so they shoot at me, but they're very, what I call, they're not sharpshooters, not snipers, so they miss me, you know. So I have to go the other side of tree and the bullet hit the tree and fortunately, I didn't get hit. But so happened that every time I go out, something come down. Other boy, I don't want to say they didn't know any better than me, but we went to same school, learn same thing, but why Roy Matsumoto knew better? Of course I know. I studied the local dialect, because I'm from, my people from Hiroshima so I'm pretty proficient in Hiroshima dialect. However, the people speaking there was using a Kyushu dialect, and we didn't learn at the schools. So I don't blame them because they couldn't get anything. You cannot, you miss it, you cannot ask them to repeat it because you're tapping the wire, see. So what I did was there was a lot of noise get in there, so what I did was unscrew the mike. First I cover, and it kind of hard, you know, hold in hand, then you cannot write, see. So what I did was unscrew the mike and just listen so no noise was going to go in there, see. Then enemy didn't know that we were tapping the wire. But the people up in the tree, you know, they shooting at us, but, fortunately, I didn't get hit. So I have to go the other side. You know, how could you stand that? Well, I don't want to get out of there but couldn't because of orders and the troop movement. Then later on, general asked, you know, who got this information because I had a buddy, my partner, is a communication sergeant, his name is Herbie Crowfine, a Jewish boy, and he went to signal school and he is a radio transmitter, so he transmitted the message but he knows exactly what to send, encoded, then send out on the radio so anyone intercept couldn't understand what's going on. So we got a machine, encoding machine, crypto machine they call, so the other end will receive it then find out what's new. So a lot of people say exactly what went but they never been because we had an S-2, that is an intelligence officer, he just passed away, but he's the one knows what's going on and then he's the one that sent out me and when it show to commanding officer, no. But other people didn't know what went on because I just dropped the message from the tree, pad, then I put my initial there so that who got this information. So when general asked commanding officer who got this information, see. So look up and see it happen to be Matsumoto. He got the credit. So that was very good intelligence, so that's why two occasions, see.

The citation mentioned about discovering the hidden ammunition dump location because they're begging what to do, you know, hidden. So happened that we had the same map as the enemy had because they took it from the British so they got a map, but we got the map from British. So using the same terrain map, exactly where the river was and where the trail was and so forth, so I know exactly where it's hidden by the river. They're talking about which one, they ask, and I understand it perfectly at the time. I don't know about now but, anyway, it was my luck. So, eventually, this ammunition dump was destroyed. We didn't drop a 500-pound bomb, but some people said, you know, plane come and they don't carry 500-pound bomb, don't need that big, maybe 50-pound would be sufficient to... but anyway, blew up the ammunition dump. Enemy, they send a thousand mile away from Japan and said ammunition they couldn't use it because it's destroyed. So they give me credit for that. That's a big accomplishment. Also they found out that divisional troop men, they're ordered to withdraw because they're fighting two Chinese division there, two regiments. So that much firepower Japanese had compared to Chinese, but whereas we had automatics, so we, less than one-fifth, still we got same firepower. Anyway, we found out that the troop was gonna withdraw. Then exactly they told where. Then later on find out that had made a bypass, just like I'm attending their conference, see. Everything they say, we knew exactly what they're going to do, so they're going to withdraw, so we know for sure, see. So that's the two incident they quote that for Hall of Fame citation.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

gky: This is tape three with Roy Matsumoto on the 8th of November, the year 2000, in Washington, D.C. Okay, you don't know...

RM: Well, maybe I shouldn't mention, but I'm not degrading or downsizing other people's ability. We went to same school and all graduate, you know, and we got certificate of finishing the school satisfactory, you know, passed. But when it comes to ability, I don't want to say I'm better than other people. The thing is, so happened that I happen to know the dialect and in our favor you might, my favor. I understood what to put, whereas other people didn't accomplish anything. The three other boys went up there and nothing, see.

gky: Well, you must have been...

RM: No, no, nothing. Couldn't translate, they talk too fast and what they tried to figure out, then all they said about it, see. So I don't know. I'm happy because even though I have to risk my life staying up there and people shooting at me, but at least I accomplished -- I want to go bathroom but, you know, I have hold and see anything important, see. And they take a turn, other people go up there, see, I know traffic going on but then no report, see.

gky: But weren't you -- how did you feel? I mean, you're up there, you have to go to the bathroom, it's...

RM: Yeah, the only time I went down was to take a bathroom or eat, and I didn't even have my own foxhole, because that busy. And that pissed me off, you know. But I mean ahead, I know I got to get them as much as I can. So I cannot tell others to come up there, they go up there, nothing come down, see. Mine constantly -- that's why then what happened was they claimed that they went up in the tree but nothing show. Then when they got drunk, then Grant told me and one other people told me, "They got mad at you, you know, because you get the credit." "We been up in the tree, too."

gky: Tell me more...

RM: Then one guy mention that "that uneducated moron," see. Of course I'm uneducated. Other guys honor graduate of University of Hawai'i. Then they tell me I'm uneducated. Of course, I only got a high school diploma, but anyway...

gky: But it's circumstance, common sense, luck. I mean, there were a lot of factors that go into that. It's not just language ability, or it's not just, you know, it's not one thing or another.

RM: Yes. So happen that I happen to know this dialect. Then, well, people say, "How did you know? How did you learn?" Well, of course, I'm not native of that Kyushu island, but what happened was you have to into the back, my background, is when I got out of high school, the Depression time, and I couldn't get any job anywhere. So I worked in fruit stand like in the vegetable department in the supermarket, and the Japanese did that. So I was -- when I went to high school, Depression and my relatives couldn't help me, or the friend, because they have a hard time helping themselves. So I have to help myself to go to school, because I had an uncle but he was in own place in the city, in an apartment, so I cannot stay with him. So, finally, I told classmate maybe I have to drop out. So then, "Why?" Says, "Well, nobody support me and I have to eat." Then this classmate of mine -- I don't want to mention name -- but anyway, she happened to be a girl, went home and told, "I have a classmate there, you know, and no place to stay, he might have to drop out." Then they pity on me, so come to my place and went there in Long Beach. Then so happened that they had a wholesale produce market there. So, "I need a hand there, so if you work at nighttime, you have to get up at three o'clock in morning." It's okay with me because I could sleep in the afternoon, see. So I work at three o'clock, go there, then work until 7:30, half an hour before school starts. So I run to high school, then I never tardy. One time, I was late five minutes and got demerit. At the time, they issue 100 points to give you, and every time you do something wrong, deduct two point or three point. Then I was tardy so put out three -- you know, they cannot discriminate, so kind of do me a favor. If I'm late, I'm late, see, because that's a school rule there. So they took me, rest of them I have 100 because I never tardy or took off class or skipped. I tried to learn everything I could. Anyway, so I worked for them. Then so happened that they're from Fukuoka. I was picking up little bit. Interesting, see, thing I didn't know I got to learn. Then what happen later on, my auntie -- maybe I mentioned last time -- but she was a barber, haircut. One time, that was before war.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

gky: Let's go back to the war. When you were in Merrill's Marauders, how did you feel when you were the target of Japanese enemy fire? How did you feel inside?

RM: Well, hoping that, you know, won't hit me because other people getting hit and unfortunately wounded, see. Well, a few people got killed, I witnessed. But happen so fast, you know, the next morning he's already stiff, you know. Don't even say, I shake them and already dead, see. So I know it gonna happen to me, but hoping that it wouldn't hit me. Then, as I know of it, half a dozen times, just sheer luck, I'm safe. For instance, the green combat team, Sergeant [George] Rose, he had the machine gun nest, two boys machine gun. He wasn't there, but two of his men there. Then hear some noise down there, and we be surrounded. In daytime, running around and I have to go there because no light. Before it used to be jungle but every time tree burst, mortar or the artillery, the branch come down and the bushes all gone up the hill. So only time you hide is the foxhole. If you move, they be hiding in the bushes down there, they could see. So they open up, but fortunately it didn't hit them. The one time I went to machine gun place, that's why want to know what's going on there. They hear Japanese talking, but they didn't...


RM: So then I went there. Then they stopped talking so I couldn't make out what's going on. Then I was talking and all of a sudden here come like a stone, somebody threw it, was a hand grenade. So happened that about a two-inch diameter tree was just in front of me and it hit the tree and bounced back. If it landed there, I have no time to pick up and throw back, see. But so happen that bounce back. Then now hear the moaning see, so he got wounded, or maybe died. I don't know because we didn't see it. But he threw hand grenade up high so you can throw, you could see it's coming up but happened to hit that. It was just sheer luck. If trying to hit even the target, most of the time you miss it, see. Pretty hard to hit the two-inch tree with even a pitcher, you know, baseball still wouldn't hit it. But so happened that the tree was standing there and it hit it and bounced back and died. Then my friend, he's a Mexican boy, I helped him. His name is Leo Espinosa. He was up in the hill and, then the Japanese send a [inaudible] mortar. That's a grenade launcher. And this round came down and exploded, then his back, fanny that hit it, and he got wounded. Then he got Purple Heart. But when I was going to go through there, enemy, I don't see 'em, but they hide in the bush. Then they, he'll come around. You could see because not a rifle fast, you know, because just like a launcher come up, then with a scissoring, you know. I thought it was going to explode so I was goner. But just fizzle then stop. It was a dud. How many rounds of dud, just in front of you? So I know I was lucky. So what it is, every time we have a ration or a supply drop, I always save a parachute cord. It comes in handy, see. Later on it came in handy. But at that time, too, so we tied together then wrap around, then went behind a tree, and then rolled it. Meantime, I dug a little hole there, so bury that. I don't want to tamper or anything else. Kick it, it might go off, see. But what happened was it was a dud, then we save ourselves and a couple guys there, probably we're saved there. Those kind of things.

Then this is a different place. We captured... of course, we survived so we were able to capture all weather airstrip at Myitkyina. Then enemy are still around there, because we just capture it and occupy then area, then hide in the bush, then open up and try to shoot us every time move. But the thing is, when they shoot it, the Japanese had a Model 38 Arisaka rifle, see. So there is a bolt action and five round clip, so each time you pull the trigger, you have to cock it again, bolt action. So takes time, see. So one goes off, we got time to move. So they shoot and miss at me. So they know where I'm at because they are hiding in the bush and we are moving, so they're open -- so I thought it was dangerous because already spotted, miss me. So I rolled and went to next bush then was empty, so Sergeant Fleer and his runner, he was the platoon sergeant in I&R. And so he went in and his runner, then hid where I was, then one bullet hit two people, see. Went through arm, then hand. The two people with one bullet, see, was there. So if I were there, probably hit me in my head or be goner. Those thing I realized how close I came, see. So I believe, well, some people laugh at me, "You're not that good." But anyway, I try to help people out, see. That was my practice. So when Depression time, I work in the market and some old man, well, go to find a job called keian, that's in Japanese, keian. That's information agency, see, keian. And old Issei boy down there, need a job, so ask them, well, to find a job. So what they do is supermarket or the vegetable stand grand opening, so they extra hire, so they assign there. So I work in their all day market so every time they had sales, extra hand come down there. And I always talk with Japanese, because Issei. Tell them, you know, you have a steady job, say no, see. This is the first one, so I ask them, "You got a place to stay? Oh, I'm staying with friends," you know. So I told them come over my place. I got apartment. So then you hungry. Oh, yeah, just got paid, but run out of money, no money, see, because Depression time. Even the farmer had a hard time. I witnessed this all. The reason is after I graduate high school, then I was working. But before I went there, I went through hardship, nobody give me a job and I have to support myself and the working --

gky: So, that's why you tried to help other people?

RM: Yeah, so I decided I appreciate -- I didn't have anything to, it so happened that Mr. Izumi -- well, I don't know whether to go into detail or not, but show you the sequence what happened was this place, I don't want to mention the name, but the classmates, I worked there, then had two brothers, see. One was a buyer and go out there in the countryside and buy apple, or peaches, or whatever, send them out. So the elder brother had a store in selling produce, you know, fruits and vegetables, and the other brother go out and buy apple and he went to wrong place. He went to different -- I remember what happened, in Watsonville, see. He bought quite a few green apple and many cheap because Depression times, but won't be able to sell that, you know, cheap one. So the two brother got in fight, see. Then one day I want to go market, see, because three o'clock in the morning. So I went there and tried to wake up. He had a pipe in his mouth and the gas. He tried to commit suicide because of fight. So that was a sad case.

Then, anyway, I have to leave that. Then I went to other place. Unfortunately, this man, this same produce, different people. Mr. Izumi, Tom Izumi, he himself goes to Los Angeles, Ninth Street or Seventh Street market, produce. Then bring back two Long Beach produce market. That's why I worked, I got the job, because I don't want to stand, two brothers fighting, so I say I don't want to stay. The meantime, I didn't want to tell family affairs to other people, but they know they had a fight. So it happened to be neighbor, next door neighbor. So he said, "Come my place, I could use you." But there was the Issei boy, I mean Nisei boy working there and he was a big boy and play basketball. I'm short guy; I cannot compete. But he always, you know, basket; he's a tall guy, reach it. But, anyway, I worked for him one day, he didn't come back. Then I got the telephone call he's in the hospital. So this helper and I went there, see. Alameda Boulevard from Los Angeles to Long Beach is foggy. So the truck in front of it, he didn't know it, he didn't see it and pull into. So he's internal injury. So, at the time, he was conscious at the time, but doctor says, you know, internal injury, lost a lot of blood, and he won't live much. Those are the things I experienced, hard time. Then, at the time now, there's no business, cannot stay. I have no place. So happened that people knew because big accident. Then I have no place to go so I work the people know, and they fed me, and I was about three days, nothing to eat. Of course, I had money, little bit, but I needed it for school. And just before graduate, then they helped me so I thought how I appreciate them, you know, people help. So my experience, the poor guy, maybe I shouldn't, but I help. Those things as the Japanese saying, if you sow nice seed, you will harvest nice crop.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 12>

gky: This is tape four with Roy Matsumoto on November 8, the year 2000, in Washington, D.C. Okay, go ahead.

RM: Okay. One time, it's in 1992, they had, Marauder had a reunion in Richmond, Virginia, and Grant and Hank Gosho was living at the time, so they came, the three of us Nisei met there. But, anyway, I took my two daughter with me and so happened I was, I wasn't going to come. But Burma News, that's our organ, Merrill's Marauders organ, mentioned that they're going to have next reunion at Richmond, Virginia. Then I told my daughter Fumi and Karen, they going to have a reunion in Richmond, next one. But I have been to others with the family but, anyway, just mentioned that news, Richmond, because I was stationed Virginia five years. Then while I was there, I know I'm not going to be transferred out, so I called my family, so they joined me. What they did was, they were living in Berkeley. They flew to Washington, D.C., by way of Chicago. So from Virginia, I was stationed at Fort Story, Virginia, Cape Henry, so I drove up Washington, D.C., to pick them up. Then they went to school there, so when I mentioned reunion Richmond, Virginia, so they want to come. So they want to go. "Let's go Daddy." So I thought maybe I won't be able to afford, cost too much for a family, four of us go." But that was in '93. I'm already retired so I don't have an extra income. But anyway, well, if you want to go, let's go. So decided to go there.

So what we did was we flew to Washington, D.C., because I live in Berkeley. I retired in '63, so many years meantime. They attended school in Virginia and they were already going school in Berkeley and graduated from school already. So I want to see Virginia again and want to meet classmate, or schoolteachers and so forth. So, okay, that case I will take you. So we flew to Washington, D.C., then rented a car and went to see the Smithsonian Institution, and museum, and aerospace, and Lincoln Memorial, and Washington Memorial, and those places. We'd been there before when Virginia but, anyway, we visit the places, those memorials and so forth, then we drove down to Virginia and went to Norfolk. First thing we went to was where I stayed in the barracks. Still the post is there. Fort Story they call, and they have a transportation corps and have amphibious training. So there's two lighthouse, old one, new one. So climb up there and let's go see school and see what happened to the schoolteacher. So she went to elementary school, asked them what happened to a certain teacher. "Oh, she was promoted. Now she is the principal of the high school, the Cox High School she started." So went there. She was so happy. Then let's go see Williamsburg, you know, that's historical places like some fort there and so forth. Then pass through Williamsburg, then went to Richmond and checked in reunion. So we went to hotel room. Of course, four of us. Then about time to go for banquet, you know. So dressed up, went down there, almost everybody in the room already, see. Then, so, look around and no place to sit, except around the entrance, some vacant seats. So we sat there. All of a sudden somebody notice that I'm there, see. Of course they knew I'm coming because I register already. So come to me and hug me, and, "Nice to see you again, long time no see." Some people I saw. I went to some St. Louis one, and also I went to one in Phoenix one, so forth. Anyway, then come to me and then talking to, and he said -- I forgot what one that said, probably I knew him -- but he says after talking, then, "You know what?" telling my daughter, see, that was Fumi. "What?" He said, "You save our asses in Burma." Saying in front of a lady. Then he kind of tried to tell my daughter, the one that talking, see. He introduce other people that never met before, you know. Tell them this is his wife. That's my daughter. And the other one, my wife, this is his daughter. [Laughs] My wife look young at the time. And the other one is already graduated college, school teacher, and so forth, eight years, something like that she taught. She thought my wife. Anyway, was kind of a laughing thing. GI talk, you know. Save our asses. That was kind of funny. Then people talking so lot of people come and see me because I haven't seen for, some of people knew so, families, you know. Then, all of a sudden, this president of the association, Mr. Phil Piazza, says, "Why didn't you come sooner? We had reserved seat table for you," you know. The main, you know, at the table there. But they'd reserve for me because they know I save their -- that's what they say. So every time I go there, they acknowledge me. Stand up and, "If he weren't there, then some of us won't be here tonight," see. Those kind of comments.

gky: And how do you feel about that?

RM: Well, kind of embarrassing. I didn't save, you know. We just survive. I mean, if you want to give credit, sure, I did. But the thing I did was end up in survival. But, actually, I want to survive myself, that's why I did it. I didn't want to make a hero, you know, I don't want to take a risk, but so that's why every time -- that was two years ago, three years ago. This guy came down there, "You remember me?" The change, I don't know, see.

gky: Talking about only about Merrill's Marauders...

RM: Yeah, that's why, Merrill's Marauders.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

gky: Tell me, what was the saddest thing you experienced with Merrill's Marauders?

RM: Well, not myself, but I felt sorry for Bob Landis. He was one of my boy and he talked to me. He was young boy about eighteen or nineteen years old, young boy. And getting killed, you know. He was from Ohio, Youngstown, Ohio. And I wrote them letter because commanding officer, Lieutenant Grissom, we discuss about it and sorry but he didn't know how to say it and how get killed, see.

gky: So what did you write? Do you remember what you wrote in the letter?

RM: Me? Well, I knew him and, "Sorry, but you know he died for country," something like that, that more or less a consolation, you know.

gky: Are you proud that you served your country?

RM: Yeah, well, I mention that to the country.

gky: No, but are you proud of your service to the country?

RM: Yeah, well, at least, the thing is I don't want to praise myself or want to be recognized, but what I did, my experiences, we've been discriminated knowingly or unknowingly, or I may not realize, but they talk behind me, in back of me, and treat me like a second-class citizen, but I may not be better than the other guy, but at least, you know, I'd be just as good as the next guy and show them that. That's why... this is nothing to do with the Marauders thing like that, but anyway, when I see my MIS President of Northern Cal, Marvin Uratsu, and I told him, "I'm not official capacity in public relation, anything, I'm not a representative." So happened that they made me the board member, but my job is to get the Nisei recognized. That's why I paid my own way to attend these meeting and show, expose myself, and the people treat me nice and they tell me, "See, we save a lot." Everybody ask, I mean appreciate what I've done, but I was scared. I may be crazy, but this is the thing I just want to mention, that two years ago came down there and my name is called. The member says, "Oh, name is familiar," but I didn't know that at the time. Oh, I knew a lot of people same unit, see. But he told me, "I was the guy with your foxhole, see." "Oh, you the guy ask me, you know, why I do the crazy things like that. And he said, "Sarge, why you do crazy things like that? You might get killed, you know. Shouldn't do that." But, I mean, I have to do it because if I don't do that, all of 'em get wiped out. That's about seven week or so you been surrounded, so I been going out every night. People don't realize because didn't see me, total darkness. They don't know what I'm doing. Then, come to think of it, I was single at the time. I didn't have any girlfriend and I didn't have any family home. I had a brother but he's in the army. But, anyway, more or less of revenge. I was going to show 'em, you know, even though I'm Japanese descent, just as good as American citizen and I'm very proud that I'm native born, yet they classify me as 4-C. That hurt me. So I want to show them. Of course, I cannot tell them, "See what I did," but I cannot say that. But, anyway, in my heart, you know, I want to, other people get recognized, see. Me, already I'm, more than I deserve, all kind of recognition. It's not out yet, but I ordered the -- I don't know whether I should mention or not -- but they consider, already approve, they make me a distinguished member of the Special Forces, that's Green Beret, and I cannot claim that, but already I've been notified that soon I should be inducted, but that's beside the point. I got more than recognition I deserve, but anyway, I want other people get recognized. That's why right here I'm telling what other people should get recognized, and fortunately...

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

gky: When you think about your children, what do you want your children to remember about you and your military service?

RM: I think, well, of course, they're born here. Because one of my daughter was born in Japan on the occupation, but that since I'm Japanese American citizen, so therefore they got automatic citizenship, see. Not adopted, see, my own kid. But so happened that I'm an American so she is. Even though my Japanese, I mean, my wife was a Japanese, but since then she's naturalized, see. So she's an American citizen. But normally, under normal circumstances, I wasn't able to marry my wife, but they made exception. Because on the record I was awarded Legion of Merit enlistment. He did something for the country, see. So he's a loyal American, not a traitor, because he risk his life to do the saving, things like that. So they made exception. They told me, normal circumstance I won't be able to marry because her family, one of the brother got killed in the Philippine, and the younger brother got captured in Manchuria and sent to Siberia. So they're very bitter about America. And they've been indoctrinated, then there's a "devil," you know, English and Americans in Japanese term, they call us a "devil" and so forth. So they hate Americans. That way they're indoctrinated see, they're brainwashed. Then they made a background thing, those things stand out. They know because official record, you know, the family, see. Then I want to marry so they made a background to see whether she is a sympathizer of the Communist idea or a criminal record or she was a street girl, whatever. So happen that her family is a doctor's family and they're both a medical officer, but they made, he was a major in Japanese medical corps. Make a, led a, make a banzai charge, even the medical officer then got killed in Philippine. So same thing lot of people bitter about it, because lot of discrimination going on. Maybe they're careful about it. For instance, two of my brothers were Japanese army, but they have to demand that he do the right thing. They check up on him.

gky: Were your brothers -- two of them were in the Japanese army. Are they American citizens, or Japanese citizens?

RM: Yeah, born in America and they never denounce it, see. But the thing is, they were inducted into, drafted into Japanese army, yet do the good job, do 'em, promote 'em, see. Because in the heart, might have a sympathize American. But they cannot betray because they check their work. For instance, say that's a translation. Of course, you could do the right translation, otherwise the Japanese, they understand English too. They know you mistranslate, see. Then you're not doing the job or not capable doing. Same thing happened to my cousin, Perry Omoto, probably I mention first time the taping. But just prior to war broke out, he was attending UCLA, University of California at Los Angeles, and he was born in Compton, and kind of far to commute, so he stayed with me, my apartment I had rented. So he was using my car. The reason that I had my company car, I used that. Then he used my car and commute. In the weekend, he went home. Then he was majoring in engineering. So the thing that pissed me off is the Japanese consular general's office came down there, then asked him, his family, "How would you like to go as an exchange student, tuition paid, and room and board, free?" But they had ulterior motive there. They're going to use them. Because he went to Compton Saturday school, the farmer family, so instead of Sunday's the Sabbath, but for the farmer, as you know, is Saturday is a holiday, so they have Saturday school there. He never been Japan. But he was a pretty smart kid, you know, engineering UCLA and attended Japanese school, so fluent Japanese, never been there in Japan. So, in other words, they give him a bait and he just hooked on that. So went there, then supposed to be in Japan. But what they saying was went to Dailin, that's technical college there. As soon as he went there, they conscripted him, Japanese government, because he's a citizenship they consider he's Japanese national. So I asked what it did because this one, I didn't know at the time, because since the war started and he was supposed to be in Japan, but I didn't know he was in the army, see. Then when the war ended, I was involved in war crime trial, so, like I mentioned last time, I screen the people to pick up suspect and material witnesses. And going through the unit roster and passenger list and found this Omoto name there. So I looked down where the domicile was and there was Hiroshima. So I knew right away it was my cousin. So I went to see him. Then I asked him what he'd do, put him in intelligence. He shouldn't say, but since we're cousins, see. I'm an American so at heart he's an American, too. He just been studying there, then conscript, and he's very mad about, but he have to do his job because his superior know the English and then he make a translation, he checks up, see. So he cannot cross. So you have to do your best. And what he did was he was intercepting the air-to-ground or air-to-air communication, those pilots, those fighter pilots, do communication and radio, you know, voice communication. So interrupt there then other people, they talk too fast so no ordinary people understand English but couldn't make out, but this American, 100 percent pure American, he understand. He said the sad part is he have to translate exactly what it is. He cannot lie. They find out and he'd be punished.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

gky: Tell me, Roy, when you think about what you did with the MIS, how do you think that, or what kind of effect that that had on redress finally passing on Japanese...

RM: Well, quite a bit. Not speak of myself or Marauder, but to then well-known, then they shouldn't be punished or they shouldn't be put them in the camps, so forth. So some people had fair mind and that's why started to compensate more or less, you know. To me, I'm still mad at because what happened was I worked for a Japanese grocery store. That's where I learned, as I told you before, pick up the dialect because I was too young to be a salesman so they made me a delivery boy. Then every time I delivery the good, groceries, they're talking some strange dialect, so I ask, "What does it mean in standard Japanese?" see. So they tell me, they laugh at me. So I made a note of it, wrote it down, then remember what that means. So I didn't know, new word to me, but I kept tha, all of that and try to, next time I had to use that word even though, mixed with the standard Japanese, I used that word and kick, laugh out of. But then I got interested in, so learned that. That was before the war, see. It came in handy. So the people says "uneducated moron," but I'm not moron. I am uneducated. But I'm self-made study, see. That's why people --well, I don't want to say because look like I'm bragging, but after went to school kind of ridiculous me learning Japanese, sit there. I should have learned something else, see.

gky: But we were talking about...

RM: Army school.

gky: No, about how the MIS and your service in there, and the other things that the Merrill's Marauders did had to help the redress cause.

RM: Well, I don't how much, but I don't know whether I, myself, contributed or not, but generally, well, the soldier who volunteer, there was a lot of... I don't want to differentiate, you know, "no-no boys." They had their own reason too, so that's why some of the MIS association, they feel sorry for them. But some are still against them, "draft dodgers," things like that, words they -- but to me, I didn't have immediate family. I had uncle, auntie, and so she had five gold star because I'm included because of family, and she was very proud that some of boys volunteer, some were drafted. Five of them. So she was really proud at the five stars, see. So I'm very proud. Auntie passed away a long time ago. But anyway, these people, even though their parents were in camp, but the boys went out there for the country, so I think they consider that and maybe some people felt sorry, people shouldn't suffer. But financially or mentally they suffered, that's why Reagan, you know President Reagan, apologized. I still got that wording, you know. I put in frame and he was a right guy. So I voted for him because he's the right kind of guy there. Even though he wasn't responsible, he didn't put us in the -- but I blame, not the President, but the advisor, you know, along there. And especially commanding general, you know.

gky: DeWitt?

RM: Yeah, DeWitt and like Earl Warren, you know, district attorney, attorney general, and governor. Those are the people, I don't know. Their interest in the farming, they take over the things, and also hatred and a lot of agitations and mixed emotions, because some people... I was working for grocery so I deal with the Chinese, and some Chinese are very sympathetic, and some will hate you just because being a Japanese. And I had a lot of kind of experience, and some even Chinese are very nice and I experience, even at this date, and five years, four years ago I made a trip to Burma and met the Chinese and they were very friendly and I appreciate. So they shouldn't have any discrimination anybody, you know.

gky: Tell me, Roy, do you have any last thoughts about being with the Merrill's Marauders or serving with the MIS, and your patriotism, or anything that you might have done to help the redress cause?

RM: Maybe little. Well, not directly involved because this thing started -- well, my case I don't think it influenced anything at all. But this individual case. But, to me, my satisfaction is they started with me, but to me that was team work, so I shouldn't get credit myself. Everybody should. That's why I worked hard and I happened to have an understanding officer, my friend, namely Mr. Piazza, and he happened to be the -- I have a very close connection with him. Because he appreciate what I've done by using his handset and he's very proud with the involve with him. So ever since Burma, more than fifty years we been friend, close friend. That's why I visit every year, twice, three times, and stay with him, then drive up to -- he's live in South Carolina. And he's responsible me getting involved in Ranger Hall of Fame, Military Intelligence, and he wrote a background statement. Also, I appreciate what Mr.... well, it was Lieutenant Ed McLogan, and I put him in for Ranger Hall of Fame. He's should be the one receive medal, I mean, Hall of Fame rather than me because this started himself because of his alertness. That's why commanding officer sent me to his place. But his eyewitness account helped me quite a bit to get this military intelligence.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.