Human remains in remote Sierra are from Manzanar detainee

Giichi Matsumura. Inyo County Sheriff's Office photo.
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MANZANAR NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE, Calif. (KOLO)-- The body discovered last October high in the Sierra in Inyo County, Calf., has been identified as someone being detained at the Manzanar War Relocation Center.

Giichi Matsumura joined others to leave the relocation center, which held 11,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, joined a group of other fishermen to fish in the lakes of Mount Williamson on July 29, 1945, according to a joint press release by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and the Manzanar National Historic Site.

On Aug. 2, 2945, Matsumura separated from the group and went to the Williamson Bowl to paint and sketch. A sudden storm moved through the area and after it was gone, the group could not find Matsumura. They went back to camp thinking the 46-year-old Matsumura had returned, but he had not.

On Sept. 3, 1945, Mary and Paul DeDecker of nearby Independence, Calif., found Matsumura’s body near Sixth Lake in the Williamson Bowl. The relocation center decided he was too high to carry down, so he was buried there. The Buddhist church held a funeral for him at Manzanar.
The joint statement said the surviving family lamented not able to visit the grave after the war.

On Oct. 7, 2019, two hikers found the remains on the far side of the Williamson Bowl. His DNA was matched through surviving relatives.

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The funeral for Giichi Matsumura. Photo courtesy of the Manzanar National Historic Site.


 

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