Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Yoshimi Matsuura Interview
Narrator: Yoshimi Matsuura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Date: June 17, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-myoshimi-01-0026

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TI: So let's talk about, so you now go into the language training at Snelling, or Savage...

YM: By the time I (...) finished my basic training, they had moved to Fort Snelling.

TI: Okay, so you're now at Snelling.

YM: Yes. Which was better because the accommodation and all that was much better.

TI: Now, earlier in the interview, you mentioned that you weren't really a very good student at Japanese school back in...

YM: Yes, I wasn't a very good student at Fort Snelling, either. I went in as a PFC after basic, and then they gave me a T-5 rating, which is two stripes and a T, technician rating, and that's where I stayed. I didn't get any promotion. [Laughs] We had, I happened to be in the right class. None of the people in my class went beyond T-5, so that was okay, I was comfortable. We ate the same food, we got shipped out at the same time, but the assignment was different after we shipped out, because we were not capable of interrogating. So we wouldn't be sent into a cave or anywhere to talk to the prisoners.

TI: So at what point of the war, what was the date that you were shipped?

YM: We were shipped out, my timing was just perfect. The war ended as we were getting ready to get shipped out. We shipped out of San Francisco under blackout. We had troop transport engine problem when we were going across. We drifted around in the ocean for about four days, they were trying to get the engine going. And finally, when they got it chugging along, we went to Hawaii. And while they were repairing the ship, the engine, we stayed at Camp Aiea for five days. And my timing was just perfect all the way through, charmed life, finally. And I was in Manila, never went into, never saw combat at all. I didn't have to interrogate any prisoners. My job there, my name came up once for an assignment at one of the islands. I didn't report because I was working as a guard on a dump, and I was gonna use the excuse that I've already got an assignment, which is a dumb way of doing things, but you don't think. [Laughs] But nothing would ever come of it. That's how the army ran. So from Manila I went to Japan, occupied Japan.

TI: And before we go there, I'm just curious, I want to ask you, so the Philippines were occupied by the Japanese military. And so now that the Americans are there, you're Japanese American, how did the Filipinos treat...

YM: Filipinos, my commander or the officer in charge told me, "Watch your back. They don't like you here."

TI: Even though you were American?

YM: Yes, even though we had a uniform. I was guarding this, what they called the dump. It was a supply dump. And you're standing up on top of the pile of cartons covered with tarp, and he comes and he tells me, "Watch your back, they don't like you here." Well, what can you do? You're up there all by yourself. But he says, he comes right out and said, "They don't like you." The thing is, I met one family there, young family, who worked, by then the Japanese had been, had taken over the factories and stuff and they were running the factory. And he said, "My boss was a Matsuura." I thought, "What?" And he saw my name, he said, "My boss was a Matsuura." But it was none of my relatives, but happened to have the same name. But he was, no, I was, we had a really good relationship with him. I had a good relationship.

TI: Good.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.