Matthew Poye was born in January 1928 in White Valley, Pennsylvania. He had two brothers and four sisters. His family moved a couple of times during his childhood because his dad worked in the coal mines. They eventually settled in Cokeburg, Pennsylvania. During the Great Depression, he would put cardboard in his shoes when the soles wore out. He would go to the dump and find coal to sell to farmers to make a few dollars and his family had victory gardens. Poye was 13 or 14 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii]. He recalled that Sunday morning, listening to the radio and hearing the news flash. After Poye graduated from high school, he was drafted into the Army and completed his basic training at Camp Polk, Louisiana [Annotator's Note: now Fort Polk, Leesville, Louisiana]. He remembered the weather being hot and humid during basic training, along with dealing with a lot of unfamiliar wildlife. At Livingston [Annotator's Note: Livingston, Louisiana] he did additional training in his MOS [Annotator's Note: Military Occupational Specialty] as a shop mechanic. Poye was then sent to Camp Stoneman, California and did marches in parades for a little while before being deployed. In 1946, he embarked on the ship, Sea Devil [Annotator's Note: cannot verify ship], to head towards Japan. Poye can recall that there was no fresh water on the ship and he had to shower in sea water. The ship was jammed packed with troops. He was seasick for about three days and was sent to the dispensary.
Once he completed his training, Matthew Poye was assigned to the Eigth Army as part of the occupation force in Japan. In Japan, he was stationed in Toyama City [Annotator's Note: Toyama, Japan]. He had two Japanese interpreters with him and was responsible for inventorying supplies at factories. He traveled all over the area to large and small factories doing inspection tours. He also rationed out supplies to factories as industries began again. He remembered the Japanese being respectful and they cooperated well with him. Poye recalled that much of Japan was destroyed or damaged, especially in Nagasaki and Hiroshima [Annotator's Note: Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the two Japanese cities which were hit by atomic bombs]. In Toyama City, people were living in corrugations and huts. Poye's unit stayed in a damaged building but it was livable.
Matthew Poye was assigned to the Eigth Army as part of the occupation force in Japan. While stationed in Toyama City [Annotator's Note: Toyama, Japan], he can recall some cultural differences between the Japanese and Americans. For one, he remembered he was told not to eat the food because the Japanese would use human feces to fertilize their gardens. He also remembered seeing the Japanese cremate dead bodies out in the rice paddy fields. After 14 or 15 months he finished his tour in Japan and returned home. On his journey home, he was put on the USS Bundy [Annotator's Note: USS General Omar Bundy (AP-152)] which was a much more comfortable ship than the Sea Devil [Annotator's Note: cannot verify ship] on his way to Japan. He was discharged in Fresno [Annotator's Note: Fresno, California]. He took a plane back to Pennsylvania which was an 18 hour trip with multiple stops. Poye thought his experience was a great experience for a young guy and he did his duty.
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