HISAO "Mat" MATSUMOTO

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  • "What a wonderful tribute to your father. Our thoughts and..."
    - Renee & Dave Seibel
  • "May your spirit have eternal life with God!"
    - James Marquart
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    - Steve Jensen
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    - Andrea
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MATSUMOTO HISAO MATSUMOTO "Mat" (Age 89) Hisao "Mat" Matsumoto, a US citizen who survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb, US Air Force veteran, lifelong employee of the US Library of Congress, beloved husband, father, and grandfather died February 13, 2018. His life story can only be described as extraordinary. Mat's parents, Kumekichi and Sekiyo Matsumoto, immigrated to America in the early 1900s and worked in the coal mining town of Superior, Wyoming. They eventually moved to Los Angeles and owned a flower shop. Mat was born on February 9, 1929 and, when he was two years old, his parents moved back to Hiroshima, Japan to care for elderly family members. World War II started when Mat was 12 years old, and students like him were mobilized to work in factories. Mat was 16 years old and working in a rifle factory in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb exploded. He recalled a white flash through the windows and an enormous bang, causing the glass to shatter and the ceiling to collapse. Their house, located approximately three miles from the hypocenter, was miraculously spared and utilized as a refuge for survivors. With complete destruction of the city, there was little prospect for higher education or work, and the future looked bleak. In the ensuing years after the war, Mat helped survivors at his home and worked in the fields around the home. Because Mat was born in the US and a US citizen, he bravely chose, at age 19- all alone and speaking little English, to make the voyage back to America to seek a better future. He arrived in Sacramento California and attended Sacramento High School, graduating in 1951 at age 22. During this time, the Korean War had begun and Mat enlisted in the US Air Force immediately after high school graduation. He spent time in Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia before being sent to the Korean War Theater, assigned to the Far East HQ in Tokyo, Japan. He was honorably discharged in 1955 as a Staff Sergeant. He attended The University of California Berkeley under the GI Bill, graduating in 1958 with a major in Political Science. He and his new bride, Reiko, drove cross-country and settled in Northern Virginia where Mat began work at the Library of Congress. His goal ... to live the American dream. Working full time and raising three children, Mat received his Master of Arts Degree in International Studies from American University in 1963. Mat's 36-year career at the Library of Congress took him and his family to Japan for eight years where Mat was the Field Director of the National Program for Acquisitions and Cataloging in Tokyo, and the Washington DC area where Mat was the Head of the Library of Congress Japanese Section and later acting Head of the Asian Division. During his tenure, he was instrumental in greatly expanding the Library's collection of books and literature about Japan. In 1977, he received the Superior Service Award from the Librarian of Congress, Daniel J. Boorstin. He also had the honor of meeting and escorting Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan during their official state visit to the Library of Congress in 1994. For his exemplary service and contribution to Japan-US understanding and relations, in 1995 he was awarded by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, one of the nation of Japan's highest honors: the prestigious Order of the Sacred Treasure Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, a rare accolade for a non-Japanese citizen. Mat loved driving cross-country, golf, visiting relatives and friends across the US, taking his kids to baseball games, national parks, college basketball, and doting on his grandkids. He believed in and lived a life of education, patriotism, hard work, resilience, and humility. Mat's loving wife of 57 years, Reiko, predeceased him in 2016, and he is survived by his children, Kent (Connie) Matsumoto, Esq; Mimi (Herbert) Backhausen; and Cal (Lisa) Matsumoto, MD (COL, USAR); grandchildren Sarah, Andrew, and Michelle; and brother Akira (Teiko) Matsumoto of Hiroshima, Japan. A memorial service and interment with military honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. Mat's loving wife of 57 years, Reiko, predeceased him in 2016, and he is survived by his children, Kent (Connie) Matsumoto, Esq; Mimi (Herbert) Backhausen; and Cal (Lisa) Matsumoto, MD (COL, USAR); grandchildren Sarah, Andrew, and Michelle; and brother Akira (Teiko) Matsumoto of Hiroshima, Japan. A memorial service and interment with military honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
Published in The Washington Post from Mar. 30 to Apr. 1, 2018
bullet Korean War bullet U.S. Air Force bullet World War II
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