This post is the fifth in a series featuring interviews from the Marlene Mayo Oral Histories. Currently, 29 of the oral history transcripts are available online. The remainder are available onsite in the Maryland Room, the reading room for Special Collections at the University of Maryland. For other featured oral histories, see this page.
Today, March 11, is Key Kobayashi’s birthday!
Key (Kiyokazu) Kobayashi (March 11, 1922 – November 15, 1992) was interviewed by Marlene Mayo, then Professor of Japanese History at the University of Maryland, on October 18 and 25, 1978. Of the 102 interviews conducted by Mayo with Americans who served in Occupied Japan, Kobayashi was one of a handful of Nisei. In the interview, he recounted his experiences as a Japanese American growing up in California and reflected on his family’s internment at the Gila River War Relocation Center. In 1944, he was drafted and sent to the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Fort Snelling, Minnesota (6,000 graduates from the school would serve in the Pacific theater during World War II and in the Occupation of Japan).
In 1945, he was assigned to serve with the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section, first stationed in Manila and then in Japan. When he arrived in Japan, he was transferred to the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). Though discharged in 1948, he was recalled to duty and served first in Korea and then in Japan until 1954. After his discharge, he joined the U.S. Patent Office and then transferred to the Library of Congress, where he served for 25 years as the Assistant Head of the Japanese Section.