Densho Digital Archive
Loni Ding Collection
Title: Herbert Y. Miyasaki Interview
Narrator: Herbert Y. Miyasaki
Interviewer: Loni Ding
Location: Hawaii
Date: December 2, 1985
Densho ID: denshovh-mherbert-01-0010

<Begin Segment 10>

LD: What did you do for Merrill? You were his interpreter?

HM: Right. Well, primarily, he spoke fluent Japanese to start. He was in Japan for a good many years, and he spoke fluent... yeah, General Merrill, he was a military aide in Japan. And he used to hum the Japanese military songs and all that. The times he had some question about the Japanese activities, then he would come and ask me, "Now, how would you think, what do you think, why they made that kind of a move?" Or whenever a captured map comes into the headquarters, the map is all kind of Japanese writings and everything, and arrows showing here. Then after he looks it over, certain things he cannot understand. Not, I don't mean the words, the arrow, why he's gonna attack from this end and this end? The troops are massed here, and this is captured Japanese troops on our map. Then he'd call me in. "You tell me why they would attack from there. You know Japanese thinking," all these things. I have to look at the map, I can see why all this. I would read the writings all on the map, and, "They attacked from that direction because it's a dawn attack, they're gonna attack four o'clock in the morning." Dawn attack, the sunlight comes from this direction. The sunlight comes from this direction, the attack is held back, the sun's gonna shine directly into their eyes, which is against them now. So they swerve to the side, and by using that sunlight coming, they're stymied at that point now. The sunlight would become advantageous to them. All those things, it's on the map, and yet very hard to explain why. That's the kind of times Merrill used to call.

And then he used to have staff meetings of his officers, G-1, G-2. G-1 is personnel, G-2 is intelligence, G-3, operations, G-4, logistic supply. He has a meeting with all the top brass, all colonels, and maybe the underlings come in, too. At that time, he want to explain certain maps, captured map, then he might call on me to explain.

LD: Your father was from the Big Island.

HM: Right. I have to go to --

LD: Just two things I want to ask you. I want to ask you about what do you think the difference between your father's life and your life, and how has it changed? Was your life very different from your father's life?

HM: My father's life was narrow, small channel, with a language barrier. He didn't have the knowledge of a United States of America or Caucasians, different nationality, let's say. Because he lived in Japan until he came to Hawaii, among Japanese only. All predominately Japanese, maybe ninety-nine percent, he might have had a few Koreans and Chinese, I don't know. When he came here, he spoke one language, Japanese, that was it. He went to school, started... he didn't graduate there, but he went to grammar school, that's all. So when he came here, there wasn't anything he could do. He couldn't take certain job, language, he couldn't read. Everything was foreign to him.

LD: But even with language, a lot of the Nisei couldn't have certain opportunities.

HM: No, we didn't have. We were denied. For instance, now, military, there were national guard units throughout the islands, we Japanese -- Japanese now, not Orientals, couldn't join the National Guard. They wouldn't let us join. Only Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Hawaiian. And a good many of them, when I went in as a draftee, a good many of them couldn't even read and write. They used to sign their checks or payroll with an X. And they were sergeants, staff sergeants, because length of service gave them. That's the kind of people in the Hawaiian National Guard at that time. And after we went basic training, then basic training finished, we were sent to all these units throughout the state here, but we were sent to Big Island units. Naturally, because we could read and write, we're educated beyond those guys, all the jobs could be done on a clerical basis were given to us as privates now. Maybe the job was for a sergeant, we did their work as a private. Because there was no opening. In a given unit, there's only so many sergeants and so many corporals and all that, they're all occupied by these illiterates, I would say.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1985 The Center for Educational Telecommunications and Densho. All Rights Reserved.