Roy H. Matsumoto at Ranger Hall of Fame, Ft. Benning, Georgia, July 19, 1993
Roy Hiroshi Matsumoto was born in Laguna, California, in May 1913 to Tei Kimura and Wakaji Matsumoto. His father, a farmer and professional photographer, was the grandson of Wakamatsu Matsumoto, an Issei "pioneer" in the rich agricultural lands of southern California. His mother, a mail order bride, was the daughter of Shinjiro Kimura, a famous fencing (kendo) instructor to Lord Asano of Hiroshima.
When Matsumoto reached junior high school age, he was sent to Japan to live with his maternal grandparents and to receive a Japanese education. After three years at the chugakko (middle school) level, he came back to California for his junior and high school education. He remained there after his parents returned to Hiroshima taking his four brothers and two sisters with them.
When the government of the United States began the removal and internment of 110,000 citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry from west coast states in the spring of 1942, Matsumoto, then living in the Los Angeles area, was incarcerated first at the Santa Anita Race Track (converted to an assembly center) in Arcadia, and then at the "concentration" (internment) camp known as the Jerome Relocation Center in Arkansas.
In the fall of 1942, Matsumoto and many other young Japanese Americans, including other future "Marauders", volunteered from the camps for service in the Army. After infantry basic and Japanese language training, he and 13 other Japanese Americans volunteered for the 5307th Composite Unit, Provisional, which was to gain fame in the jungles of Burma as Merrill's Marauders. Matsumoto himself was decorated with the legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.
When the provisional unit was disbanded, Matsumoto joined the 475th Infantry Regiment of the "Mars Task Force" and he was attached to Chinese Nationalist Army guerrilla forces operating behind enemy lines. Serving as an intelligence non-commissioned officer near the French Indochina border, he participated in several dangerous missions, including the demolition of bridges, capturing of prisoners, information gathering, and disruption of enemy communications. He heard about the bombing of Hiroshima while stationed in China, but did not learn that his parents and family had survived until after the war.
When the war ended, Matsumoto was assigned to headquarters, China Command, Shanghai, where he remained for a year. His duties including escorting 24 war crime prisoners to Japan by air. He was later transferred to GHQ in Tokyo where he was assigned undercover missions during the Occupation. During the Korean War, he was stationed in Okinawa. In 1952, he was transferred to Sixth Army headquarters, Presidio, San Francisco and then to the Oakland Army Base, from which he was reassigned to the Transportation Command, Fort Story, Virginia. He retired n 1963, after 20 years of Army service.
Matsumoto currently resides with his wife, Kimiko, in Berkeley, California. They have two daughters and three grandchildren. He is a life member of the Japanese American Citizens league, Merrill's Marauders Association, Military Intelligence Service Association, Ranger Regiment Association, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
On July 19,1993, retired Master Sgt. Roy H. Matsumoto was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame, Fort Benning, Georgia, "for extraordinary courage and service with Merrill's Marauders". Later that same year, at the MIS National Capital Reunion on October 23, he was presented the American Patriot Award for services to his country by the Japanese American Veterans Association. On August 24,1994, at Ft. Benning, he was designated by order of the Secretary of the Army to be an honorary member of the Seventy-Fifth Ranger Regiment "in the special interest of regimental continuity, tradition and esprit de corps."
[Courtesy of the Japanese American Veterans' Association, MIS in the War Against Japan, Personal Experiences Related at the 1993 MIS Capital Reunion, "The Nisei Veteran: An American Patriot", Edited by Stanley L. Falk and Warren Tsuneishi, 1995.]