On Saturday, January 26, 2019, JAVA members exchanged New Year’s greetings as they gathered at the Harvest Moon Restaurant for an outstanding Winter Quarterly Luncheon. After the Pledge of Allegiance, VP Mark Nakagawa recognized some attendees, including JAVA member and guest speaker, General (GEN) Paul Nakasone, MG Garrett and Maria Yee, JAVA President emeritus Gerald and Nancy Yamada, Dr. James McNaughton, and all of the “first time” luncheon attendees. He then shared memories of some of the JAVA members and supporters who passed away in the past year, and the group observed a moment of silence for all of our members who have departed.
Mary Murakami, widow of WWII veteran Dr. Ray Murakami, shared a wonderful benediction, and all enjoyed fellowship and a tasty meal. As Mark related, the menu selection we enjoyed during the luncheon was originally chosen by the late Grant Ichikawa, recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, and JAVA traditionally enjoys this luncheon menu at its Harvest Moon gatherings. A special surprise treat came for dessert – a birthday cake blazing with 95 candles, provided by Akio Konoshima’s family, Mari and Taro, allowing us to wish Aki “Happy Birthday” in word and song.
Mari shared some details about how Aki and his family were interned in Heart Mountain camp during WWII, his service in the U.S. Army as a linguist in post-war Japan, and his later service as an Army interrogator during the Korean War. Aki went on to serve in the U.S. Government in both the legislative and executive branch as a career civil servant. Aki will be moving to California soon with his daughter Mari, and all will miss seeing him at local JAVA events. GEN Nakasone, presented Aki with his personal organizational coin in recognition of his lifetime of service to the nation.
JAVA Executive Committee member, Rod Azama, introduced GEN Nakasone with highlights from his military career and accomplishments. GEN Nakasone began his presentation with an excerpt from a recent obituary for 99-year-old MIS Veteran Yukio Kawamoto, and observing the functions of WWII MIS Soldiers like Kawamoto continue to be performed by members of today’s Cyber Command and National Security Agency. He spoke eloquently of the enduring nature of the responsibilities for those charged with these types of national security missions. He also spoke movingly about how his father’s MIS service and his family’s journey from Okinawa to Hawai’i and his birthplace in Minnesota led him to his current duties. We are thankful that he and his family, Team Nakasone, are serving our nation. We were inspired and heartened by his message.
GEN Nakasone, Yukio Kawamoto, Mary Murakami, and Aki Konoshima. All serve as examples for us. Along with so many other JAVA members, they have continued to perform the hard work that keeps America a place where “liberty and justice for all” is an enduring standard.