Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/340/

Finding his relative among Japanese prisoners

They're gonna have a war crime trial so since I was there, so therefore they appoint me to investigate, and so helped at the tribunal. And they wanted me to go find out, look and see the unit roster and also passenger list to be repatriate to Japan. But meantime their prisoners surrender, so they kept in the compound like a schoolhouses or playground or whatever and certain unit were segregated certain place. So they gave me the list of names who belong to a unit, happened to be 5th Division and I went through and looking for certain names because name was given a suspect who might have committed crime. So going through, then I saw the familiar name and the ring to me, happened to be name was Yoro Omoto. Then that's a similar name, you know, I had a relative there and then I know his name was Japanese, Yoro but his name was Harry Omoto and he happened to be my second cousin.

And so I commandeered the jeep and Chinese interpreter and he, driver, he know where the camp was so we went there, then at the guard and gate tell him, I want to interview this man. So they thought the MP or, I wore a MP band and so, armband, and went there so they thought I'm coming after him, and he thought he was one of the criminals to be picked up because everybody has a guilty conscience of minor crime they committed. So they're aware of that so they thought right away he was one of the suspect. But, so I give 'em a name and get him and as he turn around the corner he came, he spotted me even though I'm in uniform, he recognized me and he says, Hiroshi Niisan, that means elder brother Hiroshi. I'm not a brother but I'm closer than brother because he lived with me in Los Angeles before he was inducted in the Japanese army.


armed forces military World War II

Date: December 17 & 18, 2003

Location: Washington, US

Interviewer: Alice Ito, Tom Ikeda

Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Interviewee Bio

Hiroshi Roy Matsumoto was born on May 1, 1913 in Laguna, CA, a rural area on the outskirts of Los Angeles. His family was from the Hiroshima prefecture in Japan. As a young child, he went to Japan to live with his grandparents where he attended elementary and middle school.

Upon his return to the United States, he worked a variety of jobs, while also graduating from Long Beach Polytechnic High School. During World War II, he was sent to the Santa Anita Assembly Center. From there, he was sent to the Jerome Relocation Center in Arkansas where he stayed for six months before volunteering for the Military Intelligence Service.

Mr. Matsumoto was in the first MIS class at Camp Savage. For his heroism as a member of Merrill's Marauders, he was later awarded the Legion of Merit and inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame. (December 18, 2003)

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