Matsuba, George Kazuo


George Kazuo Matsuba was born in Sunnyvale, California, on May 1, 1919, to Takutaro and Kiwa (Masuda) Matsuba, both Issei from Kumamoto. George was one of four children and grew up in Mountain View, California, helping with his father’s truck farm. He graduated from Mountain View High School in 1938. Before his family was forcibly removed from this home, Matsuba worked as a truck farmer and automobile mechanic. A few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he turned the family’s Silvertone Radio and Winchester rifle into the Mountain View police. The radio would follow the family, first to Heart Mountain and later to their postwar life, back in Mountain View.

Four members of Matsuba family—George, his younger brother Jimmy, and their parents—went first to Santa Anita Assembly Center, arriving on May 9, 1942. They arrived at Heart Mountain on September 13, 1942. They lived in apartment 24-11-D. While incarcerated at Heart Mountain, Matsuba applied for seasonal work leave several times, leaving for Naperville, Illinois, and for work in Montana with the Great Northern Railroad Company.

In February 1943, he responded Yes to Question 28 and “no, unless our status is cleared” to Question 27. Though Matsuba left several times for work opportunities in 1943, he returned to Heart Mountain after each departure, before being called for his pre-induction physical on March 26, 1944. On April 7, 1944, Matsuba was arrested and removed to Cheyenne County Jail. Along with other draft resisters from Heart Mountain, he was convicted in June 1944 and sentenced to three years in the federal prison at McNeil Island, Washington, for violating the Selective Service Act.

After his release from McNeil Island in July 1946, Matsuba returned to Mountain View, where his family had resettled. He was pardoned by President Harry Truman on December 24, 1947. Matsuba worked as a construction laborer and carpenter.

George Kazuo Matsuba died on April 12, 2016, in Mountain View, California. He was the husband of the late Hellen “Mae” Matsuba, the father of two children, Diane and Bob, and the grandfather of three.

©2013-2024 Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation