George Matsui oral history interview, part 1 of 3, September 11, 1998


Dublin Core


George Matsui grew up in Long Beach, CA, and his parents are farmers. George's father decided to go back to Japan when George was in junior high school. In Japan, George attended Japanese Grade School and learned the Japanese language. When George turned 18, his father sent him back to the United States. After High School, George attended Junior College off and on.

In 1939, George decided to start his grocery store after working in the Produce Market in Willington. In late 1940, George received a draft notice from the Army and reported to San Pedro MacArthur Induction Center in February 1941. George completed basic training within four months.

On December 7, George was on leave from the Army when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Several days later, all the Nisei soldiers were placed in a warehouse. The following year, George received a letter from the Company Commander that he was reassigned to an unlisted reserve.

Shortly after going home, George was evacuated to Santa Anita Assembly Center. He worked in the Personnel Department for about five months until the internees were sent to different camps. Summer of 1942, George went to Tule Lake until the Army sent him a letter to report to Camp Savage for Military Intelligence Service Language School. In his free time, he took a bus to Minneapolis.

In the summer of 1943, George went overseas to the Central Pacific Area. On his team, there were eight Niseis were from the mainland and two Niseis from Honolulu, Hawaii. The training at the MIS School helped prepare George for his role overseas. George learned interrogation, translation, and interpretation.

George's duty overseas was an interrogation. He recalls in Saipan, he went with Sergeant Honda to interrogate people hiding in the cave. For his service in Saipan, George was awarded the Bronze Star for going above and beyond his duty. He also received a letter of accommodation for his service in the Marshall Islands. George helped interpret the coral islands' map and found a harbor for the squadron team to protect them from submarine attacks.

After his service in Saipan, George went to Honolulu for rest. Years later, George was assigned to return to Saipan to train 20 new Niseis for one month on weapons.



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Date of Birth

1915 Mar 01

Location of Birth

War or Conflict

Branch of Service

Entrance into Service

Location of Basic Training


Matsui, George: narrator et al., “George Matsui oral history interview, part 1 of 3, September 11, 1998,” Japanese American Military History Collective, accessed July 16, 2024,