Roy Matsumoto, the man whose fascinating story is told in this film, is actually a resident of San Juan Island, and recently celebrated his 100th birthday here. His story is that of a Japanese immigrant family ripped apart by World War II. The Matsumoto family included five sons, two who fought for the Americans and three who fought for the Japanese. The eldest, Hiroshi (Roy) fought against the Japanese with Merrill’s Marauders, an American guerrilla unit in Burma. He became a hero when he used his Japanese language skills and military training to save his surrounded, starving battalion deep in the Burmese jungle. At the same time his parents and sisters were living in their family’s ancestral home, Hiroshima. The story is told by Roy’s daughter Karen, as she discovers her father’s work in military intelligence, kept secret for 50 years.
Roy Hiroshi Matsumoto, who was born in 1913 in Laguna, California, spent part of his youth living with his grandparents in Hiroshima, and the other part living with his parents in California. At the beginning of World War II, he was interned with other Japanese-Americans in an Arkansas concentration camp. In 1942, he volunteered for the U.S. Army, serving as a Japanese-language intelligence specialist and earning both a Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit. He remained in the Army for 20 years, retiring in 1963.
In 1993, Matsumoto was inducted in the U.S. Army Rangers Hall Of Fame and four years later was made a member of the Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame. Many San Juan Islanders will remember when he and other Nisei veterans of World War II received the Congressional Gold Medal In November of 2011. Observed Senator Maria Cantwell during the award ceremony, “In the face of grave injustice during World War II, the Nisei veterans fought to preserve America’s free democracy. In fact, they went on to become one of the most highly decorated groups of veterans in United States military history. These soldiers fought for what this country could be, even while their families lived in internment camps. In the process, they paved the way to victory in World War II and a brighter future for all.”
Running time 28 minutes