New Documentary Tells the Story of a Japanese-American War Hero in WWII

Honor & Sacrifice tells the story of Roy Matsumoto, a hero who fought for the American army, even as three of his brothers fought for the Japanese.

Honor and Sacrifice

Roy Matsumoto (right) fought in the Southeast Asian theater during WWII. Matsumoto is the subject of the new documentary Honor & Sacrifice

Karen Matsumoto had known that her father served in WWII, but it took until she was 30 to find out just how heroic, and difficult, his story really was.

That story is the subject of a new short documentary, Honor and Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story, touring the country this year, with upcoming screenings in Bainbridge Island and Seattle. The documentary was made by Sourwater Pictures, in association with the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community and supported by a Humanities Washington grant.


What: Screenings of Honor & Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story
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Honor & Sacrifice tells the story of Karen’s father, Roy Matsumoto, a translator with the U.S. Army. He was part of Merrill’s Marauder’s, a high-risk unit that fought in Southeast Asia, often crossing into Japanese-controlled territory. The documentary includes the harrowing story of how he earned the Legion of Merit on this campaign.

It also tells the difficult truth of Roy’s backstory – how Roy enlisted from a Japanese internment camp in Arkansas, that most of his family lived in Japan (Hiroshima, to be exact) during the war, and three of his four brothers were fighting for the Japanese army.

Filmmaker Lucy Ostrander says the documentary brings up questions like, “What do new immigrant groups have to go through to prove themselves true American citizens? The Japanese Americans experienced suspicion, imprisonment, loss of property and denial of their Constitutional rights. What can we learn from this history in regard to other groups when America is under threat?”

Two screenings are currently scheduled in Washington (see You Can Go for more information); the film is also for sale at

The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community has extended the conversation into the classroom, with a free curriculum guide available on its website.

Honor and Sacrifice 2

Roy Matsumoto’s father, Wakaji, was a photographer living in Hiroshima during the war. He took this photo of the Tori Gate, outside the city.

The film also features beautiful, never-before-seen photos of life in Japan and America, taken by Roy’s father Wakaji.

With these resources, the film aims to spark conversation about heroism, nationalism and the history of Japanese-Americans.

Ostrander said, “We’re very appreciative (of the grant); it’s an important story” to tell.

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