Oral Histories

Lloyd M. Pierson

Lloyd Pierson

That was about the extent of my archeology there except to do a little anthropology seeing some of the natives. There was one Japanese-American kid that was with us who had grown up, spent part of his life there, and wanted to get up to see his relatives. One time we went up to one of the villages that hadn’t had the hell bombed out of it. Practical ethnology, I guess you would call it.

When we got down to the Philippines, down on the island of Mindoro, I did get to do a little collecting. One of the Mongyons (Tagalog for hill people) came in to camp (wasn’t too sure it was a guy at first) looking to get some canvas. It was on the days we were about to go home; would have been January 1946. The army in its wisdom wouldn’t let him have the canvas. They’d burn the damned stuff. Anyway, I got one of the houseboys who spoke their language and knew this guy to translate. The hill person had a little vest on and he had red lips which I thought wasn’t very masculine, but he wasn’t female. The red lips were from betel nuts. I started swapping stuff with him. He had a choker around his neck and he had a bolo knife and he had a little basket purse, and earrings. I was swapping shirts, knives and stuff. I sent the whole bunch off to UNM, to Frank Hibben and I don’t know what ever happened to it, whether he kept it for himself or put it in the Maxwell Museum. That was the extent of my anthropology. I wanted to go up and visit this character’s village and do a little ethnography but there were still Japs up in the hills and I wasn’t too sure the Colonel or General or Lieutenant would let me go – another missed opportunity.

J. What was your title in the army?

L. I was a technical sergeant. There were three of us; a 2nd Lt., myself and a staff sergeant that composed a team called the 38th Japanese Order of Battle Team and our job was to keep track of the Japanese units. They were getting prepared for the invasion of Japan. We figured out where the boundary lines were between the various units and where the units were. We worked with the Nisei interpreters quite a bit. It was kind of overkill because, before we got there, there was one master sergeant in the G-2 section, 96th Infantry Division that had been doing the job that the three of us were doing and more.

J. You were over in the Pacific when they bombed Hiroshima?

L. I was on an LST between Okinawa and the Philippines when we got the word that they dropped the first atomic bomb. I’ll never forget that either, cause there were no loud cheers. There was a bunch of infantry on board. We knew about the invasions, we knew that they were going in on Kyushu next and we weren’t in on that invasion, but we were slated to go in on Tokyo Bay. Okinawa and Iwo Jima and some of the other battles taught us that it was pretty obvious that everybody and their brother, even the two-year old kids would be out there throwing sticks at us or something. Of course, there were a lot of Japanese soldiers on Okinawa that gave up. Don’t know why, maybe they thought we were getting close to home and they might as well give it up. The philosophy of the Japanese soldier was to fight to the death and take no prisoners. The Nisei had to beg to get the GI’s to bring in prisoners so that they could find out what was going on out there.

J. Then you went back home?

L. I sat around for about 3 or 4 months. I must have been in some kind of semi-shock. I got my days and nights reversed. I was staying up all night. All of my friends were gone; all my old girl friends were either married or somewhere else. I wrote Paul Reiter, UNM archeology professor, about getting into graduate school. I said, “My grades aren’t that great and I didn’t get all the stuff that Dr. Brand thought a person should have to be an archeologist. What do you think?” I asked. He said, “Come on down.” That June he had a tour, literally a tour, right out from Albuquerque that went down to southern New Mexico. We visited the digs; Paul Martin’s dig in eastern Arizona.

When we started out, the first thing I did was to get hay fever again. We were riding in trucks and I was kind of miserable until we dropped off the Mogollon Rim into Arizona. All of a sudden everything cleared up and I was feeling great. The others looked at me and said, “You’re not the same guy we started out with.” After that summer tour of ‘46, I got back to school at UNM and met Marian. The next year, ‘47, we had a field school out at Chaco. I surveyed the canyon for my Master’s thesis. I had a crew of kids that would do the recording and collect sherds. The crews would switch off, some surveying, some digging and others cleaning and cataloguing. They tended to stick the gals with washing sherds and kitchen work in those days. Marian worked in the kitchen mostly. We were going together. I got most of the survey done that summer but had to come back in the fall to finish up. I lived by myself out there in October. That’s when I decided we’d better get married.

J. Did Marian also become an archeologist?

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