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TAPS Ted Tsukiyama, Father of NARA Project

05 Jul 2019 5:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Ted Tsukiyama, 98, died on February 13, 2019 in Honolulu. Tsukiyana was an authoritative historian for the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and Military Intelligence Service (MIS). This tribute discusses JAVA’s relationship with Tsukiyama, a JAVA member, pertaining to the digitization of National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) documents on the 100th, 442nd, MIS and a small part of the internment.

When Japan attacked Honolulu on December 7, 1941, University of Hawaii ROTC cadets were issued weapons to defend key locations. Twenty-six days later, the ROTC cadets were discharged because the government viewed them as enemy aliens. Determined to prove their loyalty, 169 Nisei cadets obtained the military governor’s approval to serve as civilian construction laborers to build roads and buildings and crush rocks. Calling themselves the Varsity Victory Volunteers (VVV), their espirit de corps and patriotism must have impressed Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, who from a distance observed the VVV at labor. Soon after McCloy’s return to Washington, DC the call went out in January 1943 for volunteers to form the 442nd RCT. Members of the VVV volunteered immediately and en bloc. While in basic training at Camp Shelby, MS, Tsukiyama and his colleagues with Japanese language proficiency were transferred to the MIS for intensive Japanese language training. Following training,Tsukiyama was assigned to the China-Burma-India theater where his duties included monitoring enemy communications.  

On one of Tsukiyama’s visits to Washington, DC in early 1990, he engaged Dr. Susumu (Sus) Yamamoto and wife Fumie to visit NARA to make copies of official documents pertaining to the 100th and the 442nd RCT. The Yamamoto’s and Maggie Ikeda, widow of Lt Chick Ikeda, made weekly visits to NARA pro bono for ten years (until health issues prevented Dr. Yamamoto from continuing the work). In all, they sent 25 linear feet of photocopied documents to the 442nd Veterans, Hawaii. The tremendous value of the copied documents was realized for the first time in 1998 when a review produced names and citations of Distinguished Service Cross awardees who met the criteria for upgrades to Medal of Honor.

In 2002, Tsukiyama proposed to JAVA an arrangement whereby JAVA would collect the documents at NARA and Tsukiyama would arrange funding from the 442nd,100th and MIS veterans in Honolulu. LTC Dave Buto, USA (Ret), a West Point graduate and JAVA Secretary, suggested a digital collection, which was approved. A team of JAVA researchers and scanners visited NARA pro bono for eight years, until 2010, to digitize the Nisei military and internment documents as they related to the 100th, 442nd and MIS. To access the NARA database go to  http://www.javadc.org/search.php. Or, go to  https://java.wildapricot.org/Research-Archive and look for the “Click here" to locate archived documents.

These NARA documents are now accessible to any researcher electronically from anywhere in the world. Researchers can call for the information using key words and dates, a feature not available at NARA. This database contributes substantively to achieving the goal of perpetuating the story of Nisei military experience during WW II. The person with the vision to accomplish this goal was Ted Tsukiyama, known at among members of JAVA as the Father of the NARA Project.     JAVA Research Team

Tsukiyama in NARA’s reading room.  Photo by Chosei Kuge.


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