Heroes: the Marine Corps
"...In checking the objects, I was surprised to find they were all in new looking condition, and I began to sort through them. I found a raincoat, a velvet purse with bills and coins still inside, cigarettes, two small flags, one a meatball and one a rising sun, various writing tools, including what seemed like a personal stamp, and a photograph album with many pictures of what seemed like young men all about the same age in uniform..."
Keith W. Johnson, 1943, taken shortly after basic training
Keith W. Johnson
- Branch of Service: USMC
- Unit: 1st Radio Intelligence Platoon
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: Pacific Theater, Guam,
- Rank: PFC
- SN: 480706
- Birth Year: 1922
- Entered Service: Rockford, IL
Keith W. Johnson
U. S. Marine Corps, USMCR # 480706
the Pacific Theater: Guam and Iwo Jima
7 September 2004: We have just received new materials from Mr. Keith W. Johnson regarding his ongoing exchanges with his recently found friends of Japan.
Mr. Johnson recently was amazed to find out that another item that he had located back in the war on Guam, in fact had belonged to yet another Japanese soldier: Mr. Fujio Goto of Hukushima City, Hukuhima Prefecture, Japan.
Mr. Goto passed away in 1998.
Nr. Goto's late widow exchanged the following information with Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Johnson has now returned yet another item that he had found back on Guam during the war.
The material that follows was contributed by Mr. Johnson as his ongoing tribute to the men who were in two opposing armies -- each with his own mission. Mr. Goto also survived the war. Locating Mr. Goto's family after all of these years makes for a truely wonderful human interest story.
Keith and Cynthia Johnson, 2004
A portion of the original story received from Mr. Keith Johnson which describes the circumstances surrounding the finding of the items that he has been attempting to return to the original Japanese owners...
"...The fighting had progressed far beyond us, although we could hear the sounds of rifle and machine gun firing in the distance around the clock. We dug foxholes and used our poncho's for a roof to shed the rain and wondered what we were to do. It happened that the LST with all our intercept equipment was sunk on the way to Guam, so our mission had to be changed to searching for Japanese radio equipment in caves and huts. The areas we could search were limited to a respectable distance from the fighting front, so it did not keep us busy all the time. I left one day, when I had no assignment, to check out areas closer to the action near the airfield and off to the hills beyond.
There were teams of flame throwers shooting the cave entrances and airplane revetments by the airfield, and I thought better of being there and headed back.
On the way back, I came upon what seemed like a depression in the ground and there were many objects still lying in a neat pile as if the person was coming back soon. In checking the objects, I was surprised to find they were all in new looking condition, and I began to sort through them. I found a raincoat, a velvet purse with bills and coins still inside, cigarettes, two small flags, one a meatball and one a rising sun, various writing tools, including what seemed like a personal stamp, and a photograph album with many pictures of what seemed like young men all about the same age in uniform. There was Japanese calligraphy on the inside pages, and I wondered what the characters meant.
The first letter was a result of an inquiry by Mr. Izumi Sato, the first former Japanese soldier that Mr. Johnson had contacted when he attempted to return a photo album that he had found on Guam..."
March 12, 2004
Dear Mr. Izumi Sato,
Thank you for your cooperation for the investigation of the things that Japanese soldiers left behind during the war.
We would like to report about the stamp holder with the name, "Fujio Goto," which you sent us on August 28, 2003.
It will be sent to Mr. Goto's family by Fukushima prefectural office very soon.
The information about Mr. Fujio Goto is following.
We also examined the bankbook with the name, "Kojiro Todoroki," which you also requested.
Unfortunately, our database does not have conclusive information. We asked a few related prefectural offices, but they could not come up with the person, either.
We have to ask your generous understanding.
Lastly, we would like to let you know that we are working on the other bankbook with the name "Kazuo Sumitomo."
We apologize for the late response. The examinations take a while.
1. The possessor
(1) Name: Fujio Goto (born in 1918. died in 1998)
(2) Position: Navy
2. The family
(1) Name: Kinu Goto
(2) Relation: Wife
(3) Current Address: Withheld to protect privacy.
(4) Phone Number: Withheld to protect privacy.
Ministry of Health, Labor and Wealth,
Community Welfare and Services Division
The next letter is postmarked May 20, 2003 and is from Mr. Izumi Sato to Keith Johnson.
Dear Mr. Keith Johnson,
How are you doing?
I am very fine. I enjoy myself everyday.
I would like to thank you for having sent me another thing of a Japanese soldier in late July.
To find out fhe person, I asked The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for the examination.
And finally, they came up with one person.
I just wanted to make a small report about that.
Please take care of yourself.
I'll keep in touch with you.
Letter dated May 12, 2004 from Mr. Keith Johnson to Mr. Izumi Sato.
May 12, 2004
I have finally had your recent letter translated to English and was surprised at the contents. It would seem that you and these other comrades combined your property at the time of leaving so fast into the forest to escape being captured as it was all found in the same spot. I am so glad you did follow up to find the rightful owners of each item. it is a wonder there are any records left because there was so much destruction during the war. I would certainty like to know any further information you manage to find out on the remaining name.
I am now 82 years old and in fairly good health. We are both fortunate to live long lives. My wife, Cynthia is still with me after 58 years of marriage which is a good fortune to me.
It has been interesting to communicate with you and I hope we can continue to do so for as long as we live.
Keith W. Johnson
This letter is from Mr. Keith Johnson and is to Mrs. Kinu Goto, the widow of Mr. Fujio Goto. The letter is dated May 25, 2004.
May 25, 2004
Dear Kinu Goto;
I write to you under what may seem mysterious circumstances, but which you may have some idea by now for the reason. Through the Ministry of Health, Labor and Wealth and Mr. Izumi Sato of Hiroshima, I received information about property returned to you which was a stamp holder with the name Fujio Goto.
This was returned to Mr. Sato by me, thinking it belonged to him and he replied that it did not but he would try to locate whom it did belong to. He was true to his word and was informed by the above named Ministry, that the stamp holder belonged to Fujio Goto and you were his wife. This was a complete surprise to me, as I believed everything I found belonged to him.
This was found during the invasion of Guam in 1944, in a camping place evidently used by Izumi Sato, your husband and Kojiro Todoroki (he has not been found) prior to the attack by United States Marines and capture of Guam.
I would be interested in any experiences your husband, Fujio Goto told you about that time of his life. Mr. Sato wrote of his experiences of that time in detail and that has been entered in an Internet Site as follows: http://carol_fus.tripod.com/marines_hero_kjohnson2.html along with my own experiences of that time. I know this was a sad and unfortunate experience and may be too painful to remember. I tell you this because you may have relatives who in the future would like to know this information.
I would Kke to hear from you. I am 82 years old, have a wife of 58 years, and have many memories of that time and am trying to preserve them for my descendents.
Keith W. Johnson
This next letter is in reply to Mr. Johnson's inquiry. It is by the widow of Mr. Fuhio Goto, Kinu. The letter is dated June 12, 2004.
Letter to Mr. Johnson from Mrs. Kinu Goto. Translation is below.
Thank you very much for your letter.
On 16th of March, I received Fujio's signet case that you had kept carefully, from Mr. Izumi Sato in Hiroshima. I was so surprised, and it was like a dream. Thank you very much. I am sure that Fujio would go to Hiroshima to tell his appreciation to Mr. Sato if he was alive. I actually visited Fujio's grave to tell him the story about his signet case.
Fujio visited Guam from June 14th to 19th in memory of Truk Island, and from September 30th to October 5th for 50th memorial service. On Truck Island, divers pulled up 37 dead bodies from Shinkoku-Maru and Sekijyo-Maru that are sank off the coast of the islands. Those dead bodies were cremated and buried in the naval cemetery in Chidorigafuchi, Japan. There are a lot of people are sunk under the sea... And I feel so bad that it is now "popular" tourist attraction for young honeymoon couples. They take pictures of heads, hand, or heads of bodies that were pulled up from the sea. I wish that every body will be pulled up as soon as possible... It must be so cold in the bottom of the sea. I am thinking how hard it was for you, Mr. Sato, and Fujio to have war experiences.
I heard from Fujio that he went to Truk Island for order. At that time, Guam was disaster, and he came back without any personal belongings. But!!! After 58 years, he received his signet case that he left in Guam from you. Again, thank you very much. I heard from Fujio that the American combat plane was about to dive when he was swimming, so he got to dive into the sea to escape. He used to say that he was so lucky.
He was the only one in his family that came back safely. His two brothers, one was in army and the other was in navy, were both killed in the war.
I will be 81 years old on 9th of August. Fujio would be the same age as me if he was alive. I am too old to write, so it must be hard to read, but I hope you will accept my appreciation.
This letter is in reply to Mrs. Kinu Goto from Mr. Keith Johnson and is dated June 14, 2004.
June 14, 2004
Dear Mrs. Goto;
Thank you so much for answering my letter. I will seek to have it translated at a college near here, but until then I wanted to let you know that I did receive it.
I am honored that you would send pictures of Fujio, yourself and your family. It looks like you have a healthy, beautiful family.
I had always thought the items I found on Guam Island belonged to just one person, Izumi Sato. I commend him for the effort he made to locate you and reporting back to me. There are two other items, (bank books) from two other persons, one is "Kojiro Todoroki", not located and lastly "Kazuo Sumitomo", which the Department of Health, Labor & Wealth is still working on. If vou know of anything that would help them, I am sure they would appreciate this knowledge.
It does seem that my effort in returning these lost items has been worth it as I know they are a part of your family history and as such would have a sentimental value. It is sad that I didn't do it sooner before Fujio died so he could have seen his lost items.
If there is anyway you could express your thoughts in English, it would speed up the process of communicating. Yours is the third family touched bv these "souvenirs" of Guam, as I met a student named Tomoko Morishima who translated letters for me last year.
Keith W. Johnson
Goto Image #1
Goto Image #2
The images pictured top and to right were received by Mr. Keith Johnson from Mrs. Kinu Goto, the widow of the late Mr. Fujio Goto.
Image #1. Fujio and Kinu Goto in formal attire. He died in 1998.
Image #2. Kinu Goto in front of front door of her house.
Image #3. Kinu Goto and granddaughter in the garden.
Goto Image #3
Image #4. Kinu Goto family members.
Image #5. Funeral pyre of 37 dead bodies recovered from two sunken ships off Truk islands.
Goto Image #4
Goto Image #5
Mr. Johnson was interested in returning a photo album to the owner, Mr. Izumi Sato, who lived in Japan. The photo album, along with other items was found on Guam by Mr. Johnson while he was serving in the U. S. Marine Corps, there during the invasion of the island.
You can read the entire story related to this cultural exchange between two former enemies by clicking on the links below and then once finished, you can return to this page and read the rest of the story on this page.
Now you can read updates and NEW information regarding the continuing story of "The Returned Photo Album".
Keith Johnson has recently returned an additional item that he had found on Guam during the invasion. He has returned another family treasure to yet another family of a former Japanese soldier.
Keith Johnson: "The Returned Photo Album"
Keith Johnson: "The Returned Photo Album" Part 2
Keith Johnson: "The Returned Photo Album" Part 3
Story received on 7 September 2004
Story placed on website on 25 September 2004
We are deeply grateful for the material provided to World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words by Mr. Keith W. Johnson. This happy ending to his World War II story was made possible through the tireless efforts of the following wonderful folks: Priscilla Stillwell, Rie Nagashima, Tomoko Morishima and Keith's wife, Cynthia.
Without their dedication, this human interest story would not have been written.
September 5, 2002.
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