Tahoe Pine Nuts: Tokyo Rose and Hanoi Hanna
Wow. I came across a letter the other day dated February 25, 1977, from Iva Toguri, aka Tokyo Rose.
For those too young to have heard of Tokyo Rose, she was a personality on Radio Tokyo during World War II. She played popular American music and propagated propaganda that would make our presidential candidates look like preschoolers.
She would sometimes tell her listeners when a certain allied outfit was going to be hit, and she was right just often enough to maintain some credibility.
Iva spoke perfect English. Raised in Los Angeles, she found herself stuck in Japan while visiting relatives as Pearl Harbor came under attack. Her post war history is an interesting one, as she was prosecuted by both Japan and the United States.
Pardoned by President Ford in 1977, Toguri traveled a little before retiring to a quiet life in the USA. One of her journeys took her to the Hawaiian Island of Maui, where I had an opportunity to interview her on KMVI radio.
I’ve never interviewed a more interesting lady. Later that year she sent a letter reinforcing my initial estimation of her…
Dear Mr. Layne,
I wish I could thank you personally for your kind words following the pardon and restoration of my American citizenship. The last month has been extremely busy for me with the dozens of friends and well-wishers who stopped by to say hello.
At the same time there was a flood of requests for television, radio and newspaper interviews from as far away as Japan, Brazil and Italy. I often wanted to say “no” to all the media requests, but I felt I had a responsibility to tell my story in the hope that it might help others caught in similar unfortunate circumstances.
Now that the attention has finally begun to die down, I’m looking forward to a good rest, the chance to resume my simple life, and a new peace of mind with the cloud of the last thirty years being lifted at last.
With warmest regards,
Iva Toguri d’Aquino
Interestingly, in 1966, Vietnam came up with its own version of Tokyo Rose, “Hanoi Hanna.”
Well, she went straight to school on Tokyo Rose, including incitements like, “Third Marines, you should know that you are going to be over-run Thursday night in Dong Ha.” And we would get hit, but on Wednesday or Friday. She was good.
We had one fellow in our squad who had some dental implants that were so perfectly aligned that he could hold his jaw at a certain angle, and pick up Hanoi Hana on Radio Hanoi. So we always knew when we were destined to be over-run, or not.
In light of President Obama’s recent goodwill visit to Vietnam, I wonder how Trinh Thi Ngo, or Hanoi Hanna, feels today about her role in the war. That would make for an interesting interview.
I would go back into radio just for that one interview, providing I did not have to get up in the dark and be at the studio at 6 in the morning…
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at http://www.ghostoftwain.com.