Interview — The War Stories by the Experienced

Tsuruko Miyazato

b.1934 from Zamami

Experiencing Airstrikes in Yakabi Island

There were numerous air strikes, jets would fly over us
And fly back around, dropping bombs
We learned how airstrikes happen through experience
We made air raid shelters and all hid there
Once the jets were gone, in the afternoon
We would come out (of the air raid shelter)
All the houses were burned down
By the end, there were no houses left
We no longer had anywhere to go

U.S. Forces landing on the island

They landed on the island
Vehicles (of American soldiers)
Came up (the mountains) at night
By the time someone tried to go shoot something
They were already on the island
The combat vehicles were there
So we wouldn’t go beyond that area
There were people coming back
I think they (soldiers) landed during the night
My grandpa, grandma, children, and aunt’s family were also there
Our family was in the gama (air raid shelter)
The U.S. Forces landed that day
They were there by early morning

Experience in the gama

(In the gama—air raid shelter—we were hiding in)
There was someone who spoke English
So we told that person to go
And see what they (U.S. soldiers) were saying
Whether they were telling us to come out
Or whether they were trying to kill us
They said they wouldn’t kill us
But we didn’t know if it was true
They told us to come out so we put our futons down
We were still hesitating whether to really come out
Maybe they thought that Japanese soldiers were inside
A hand grenade was thrown into the gama
And this grenade hit someone
My mother was hit by this hand grenade
The U.S. soldier meant to throw it at the rock
But instead, it hit a person
It didn’t hit anyone else
The injuries were so bad
I couldn’t stand to look, it hit her face and head
Her face was cut from the hand grenade
It was bleeding out
My aunt showed the U.S. soldiers standing at the entrance
An object with blood on it
To showed them that someone was injured
The U.S. soldiers were surprised
They took her away in a stretcher
But she was no longer alive
When I think about this incident
I wonder why the U.S. soldiers threw the hand grenade
Once hit (by a hand grenade), your life is gone
You just die

Looking for Mother’s Remains

Eventually, all of us came out
But we didn’t know where they took my mother
They said they took her to the ship because she was dead
But I was convinced they had thrown her into the ocean
There were rumors
That she might be buried in the Aka Bay
So I went to the bay to dig her up
I brought her back to Zamami

The Postwar Flashbacks of the Sound of Airstrikes and Mother’s Death

I am still reminded, till this day
There are planes that make odd noises while they fly
When I hear that sound
I wonder if it’s another airstrike
Even yesterday and the day before (hearing the sound)
I was reminded of how the airstrikes sounded similar
I still can’t forget the airstrikes
And its sound, even now
That image of my mother pops in my head
The image of her in the gama, with severe injuries
Only my mother (was hit by the hand grenade)
From her head… I couldn’t bear to look
Even till this day, I still remember
How tragic of a death it was

How The War Experience Was Told to the Children Postwar

I haven’t
I know I need to talk to them
About what their parents experienced during the war
I’ve been thinking about talking to my children
About what happened
And the things that I went through

A Message to Your Children and Grandchildren’s Generation

This thing called “war”
Is better off not existing
If there were to be another war
Like there was back then
I just know
How awful it would be