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Japanese American Military Experience Database

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Roy Hiroshi "Ranger Roy" Matsumoto

Birth date
Place of birth
Los Angeles CA, U.S.A.
1942-11-12, Jerome Relocation Center AR
Enlistment type
Service branch
Service type
Unit type
Units served
MISLS (Graduated Savage, Dec. 1942)
5307th Comp Unit Prov (Merrill's Marauders)
475th Inf
G-2 Southern Command
Det 202 OSS
701st MP USF
441st CIC Det
20th CID Det
8111th AU
6th Army Hq.
4th Trans Cmd
Military specialty
Military Intelligence NCO (Interpreter, translator, interrogator and Investigator)
Special agent (CIC and CID)
Operative (OSS)
Honor Escort (Military)
Supervisor (Security and Postal) Postal Inspector
USA: Camp Savage, MN; Ft. Snelling, MN; Camp Shelby, MS; Ft. McDowell; Presidio of San Francisco, CA; Oakland Army Base, CA; Ft. Story
Other Countries: India; Burma; China; Japan; Okinawa.
Ft. Story VA
Unit responsibility
Remove Japanese from Northern Burma
Capture Myitkyina Airfield and link up with the Burma Road to China.
475th's mission was to clear Japanese forces from Central Burma. One of Units (Det 202) was to coordinate wth friendly forces, gather intelligence, capture prisoners, demolish bridges, disrupt enemy communications, destroy roads, conduct raids, etc.
Personal responsibility
To be an eye and ear for my CO, gathering intelligence, assisting the unit in whatever whenever I can to complete our mission.
Major battles (if served in a war zone)
Walawbum, Siege of Nhpum Ga and Capture of Myitkyina.
Awards, medals, citations (individual or unit)
5307th CUP (Merrill's Marauders) was awarded Presidential Citation for capturing the all weather air field at Myitkyina.
Legion of Merit (at Walawbum)
Bronze Stars w/2 OLC(Nhpum Ga, No. Burma and China)
Nat Def Svc Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Good Conduct Medal w/5 loops
AP Theater Medal w/2 bzs
Victory Medal WWII
Occupation Medal for Japan
Presidential Citation (No. Burma)
Chinese War Memorial Medal
Myanmar Medal of Freedom
Ranger Hall of Fame Medal
Army Rgr Tab
Combat Infantryman's Badge
Expert Rifle M1 and Sharpshooter Carbine Badges.
Living conditions
Pretty rough during the combat, slept mostly on the ground, sometimes in the fox hole.
Bathed whenever bivouacked near the river.
Meals were mostly K-rations, but sometimes we had none due to no air drop, went to hungry.
No entertainment, we kidded ourselves.
Most vivid memory of military experience
I have spent more than a year in combat area (more than 6 months in Burma and more than 6 months in China). Therefore there are too numerous stories to tell. However, from my experience, this tactic works for any interrogator. Kindness kills. When I was with Det 202 in China, our Chinese commando brought in a Japanese prisoner to me. He was shaking with fear. I asked him in Chinese 'Have you eaten?' (Chinese greetings) He said, 'No.' He thought I was a Chinese officer. I told our Chinese cook to feed him. As I watched, he stopped shaking, and bowed and said, 'Thank you' in Chinese to me, and tears start to come out from his eyes. I told him, he could have a second. This meal happened to be a chicken fried rice. When he finished eating, without saying anything I pulled out a pack of cigarettes from my pocket and offered one. He took one saying 'thank you' in Chinese. After a few puffs, I said in Japanese 'Did you have enough to eat?'. His eyes popped and start crying. Then I said, 'Don't worry, you are o.k. now.' He said that he thought he would be tortured and killed. (POW only give Name, Rank, Serial No. land Age.) But, I obtained valuable info.
Missed most whilst in the military
Certain freedoms, but I have adjusted accordingly.
Most important thing, personally, to come from military experience?
The most important decision I made was to serve my country during the last war. And the second one was to stay in until retirement. Looking back at 20 years of army life, I would say that I have swum the shark infested ocean for twenty years and finally arrived at shore safely. But after a half century I have been rewarded more than I deserve. If I were KIA or quit, this would never have happened. Thank God. Under the circumstances, and nature of my works, I never told my family that what I have done in the service. Only recently my family was told by others at our reunion that in Burma I have saved a lot of lives. In China and post war assignments in Japan, Okinawa and Stateside, I had the dual assignments in the units I served. General public only knows one side of it. Leave it that way, since the assignments were highly classified and records have been deleted. I hope that my family understands that. I will keep every one in the dark, because my life depends on it.
Additional information
I believe this attached GO 122 Hq USAF CBI dtd 19 Sept. '44 is very pertinent. In order to protect me and to cover the incidents, Gen Staff intentionally omitted the essential elements of information: no specific W's, only I have done something somewhere. Generally Niseis' deeds were ignored. It was a great honor to receive this medal for a buck sergeant in the war time. The army could have withheld the award, but it didn't. I guess it was my luck. I got out of it without a scratch. I suppose someone up there looking after me.

Out of 14 Nisei Marauders, I was the only one getting all kinds of recognitions. I felt very bad about it. They should be recognized. A half of the Nisei rangers are pass in review. In spite of my old age, fortunately, I am fairly healthy. Therefore, I should do something to get other comrades get recognized. So, I am working on it. It is a dedication to the Nisei Rangers of the Merrill's Marauder. It is already approved by the army. 'Rangers lead the way'. SUA SPONTE.

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