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  • 16 Oct 2019 4:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    JAVA President Gerald Yamada (R) presents Dwight and Cathy Gates with Commemorative JAVA Coin. Photo: Neet Ford

    Serving as Master of Ceremony, JAVA Vice President, Howard High, introduced guest speakers Dwight Gates USA (Ret), a former Army and Department of Defense Intelligence Officer and history enthusiast and his wife Cathy Gates, the only granddaughter of Brigadier General Kendall “Wooch” Fielder. Sharing the stage, Dwight told members that his side of the talk would focus on Wooch’s leadership qualities and the unique role that he played as a “Champion of WWII Nisei Soldiers,” while Cathy explained that her grandfather’s accomplishments were unspoken and unknown to her as a youth and that she would recount her childhood memories of him.

    Before launching into his talk, Mr. Gates told luncheon attendees about his introduction to JAVA in 2002 when he learned that the late WWII Veteran, lawyer and Nisei historian Ted Tsukiyama of Hawaii was coming to DC to speak at a JAVA event. An admirer of Tsukiyama, who is known as the Father of National Archives Records Administration Project (NARA), Gates attended the talk. One thing led to another and Gates became not only a member of JAVA but also a charter member of the JAVA NARA team that over many years scanned hundreds of Japanese American military documents, many fragile, from the National Archives.

    In Mr. Gate’s eyes, “leadership was the real reason things went well in Hawaii and not in California” after Pearl Harbor. And leadership was practically woven into Brigadier General (BG) Kendall “Wooch” Fielder’s DNA. With a great, great, great grandfather serving in the Revolutionary War, a great, great grandfather in the War of 1812, a great grandfather in the Civil War and a father serving as a lawyer and Solicitor General, there was some destiny at play in Kendall Fielder’s remarkable military career. Born in Cedartown, GA in 1893, Fielder’s leadership skills were evident early on. At Georgia Tech, the Textile Engineering major, was captain of the football team his junior year. The star athlete was coached by John Heisman of famed Heisman trophy, an award that speaks to athletic ability and also hard work and dedication, all qualities that that could be used to describe the young Fielder.  Mr. Gate’s related that a misprint in the local newspaper was responsible for Fielder’s nickname – a name that he was forever known by; the sports headline read “Wooch Fielder” instead of “Watch Fielder.” Cathy added that she even called him Wooch and not Grandpa. Off the field, Wooch was President of the Student Governing Board as well as president of several campus organizations. At graduation, his classmates noted Wooch’s leadership: he was voted “the man who had done the most for Tech” and “most influential.” Perhaps not surprisingly, after finishing at Tech, he followed the path of his forefathers and joined the US Army to fight in World War I (but not before marrying May Crichton of Atlanta in 1917).

    Continuing with the early military career of BG Fielder, Mr. Gates told members that the recently commissioned Wooch was sent to France in 1918 with the 7th Division as a machine gun platoon leader. He fought at Argonne Forest and St. Mihiel and was wounded in action. After the war ended, he was part of the occupational force in France and then held several assignments at Camp Funston, Fort Meade, and the Military District Washington.  In 1927, Fielder was assigned to the Philippines and served for three years as a Commanding Officer of Company I, 57th Infantry. After returning to the states, he led as a battalion commander and was commanding officer of troops at the Army War College.

    According to Gates, the critical turning point in Fielder’s career came in November 1938, when he was assigned to Hawaii as a battalion commander and Executive Officer of 22nd Brigade. “One of Wooch’s responsibilities was training the 298th National Guard.” It was in this position, Gates remarked, that Wooch got to know “the loyalty of Japanese-Americans that served under his command.” However, Wooch’s knowledge of the Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) community went beyond the National Guard. At the time, Wooch was coaching a local football team and came to understand the vital role AJAs played in Hawaii. One-third of the population, AJAs were critical to the lifeblood of the islands. They farmed, fished, had businesses and defended Hawaii. Fielder’s fondness and appreciation of Hawaiian AJAs would shape his career and US History.

    In August of 1939, Gates told audience members, the FBI sent Robert Shivers to open a Hawaii office and work with military intelligence to investigate Japanese loyalty and possible “bad apples.” In June 1941, Major General Walter Short, Commanding General of the Army's Hawaiian Department, chose Wooch to be his G-2 (Intelligence Officer). In this new assignment, Fielder was called on to be a part of Shivers Committee for Inter-Racial Unity. Wooch’s committee work further confirmed his trust in the AJAs. The trust did not falter on December 7, 1941. As Mr. Gates related, “Wooch was getting ready to go to a picnic at Bellows Field when he noticed black smoke over Pearl Harbor. He immediately changed into his uniform and reported for duty.” Gates added that Wooch made the first phone call through Army chanels to let Washington know that the Japanese had attacked. The phone call was just the start. Wooch’s thoughtful leadership style and belief in the allegiance of AJAs were needed in the days, months and years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

    Gates emphasized that after the attack, the Islands were rife with unrest and rumors - stories were circulating about “invading Japanese paratroopers and cryptic arrows in fields pointing to Honolulu. Wooch started working with newspapers to put an end to misinformation and to calm the public." He made radio addresses on December 10 and again on the 14th to report that no sabotage had taken place. He also reminded residents that “citizens of all races must work and fight together.” Gates highlighted that not everyone shared the vision of “racial unity.” When Lt General Emmons took over island leadership, he came with marching orders that all AJAs should be put in concentration camps, possibly on the outer island of Molokai. Fielder, fellow Morale Committee members, along with FBI agent Shivers, saw the situation differently. Fielder and the others were certain of the ethnic Japanese’s loyalty. Gates underscored that sentiments on both sides ran deep, “the heated exchanges between Fielder and Emmons could have been cause for Wooch’s court martial.”

    Despite Wooch’s vigorous defense of the AJAs, ethnic Japanese members of the University of Hawaii ROTC were dismissed from Hawaiian Territorial Guard. In a show of loyalty, those dismissed petitioned for a defense role and with some persuading by Wooch, Emmons agreed in February 1942 to let the group form a unit, the Varsity Victory Volunteers (VVV), to shore up infrastructure. Fielder’s promotion of the group did not end there. He also arranged for Assistant Secretary McCloy who was visiting from DC to observe the VVV hard at work. Meanwhile, on the mainland, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 calling for the incarceration of over 120,000 AJAs living on the west coast. Although vitriol towards AJAs was strong on the mainland, Gates elaborated on how the tide of opinion had shifted in Hawaii, in large part due to the efforts of Wooch and the Morale Committee. By the fall of 1942, Emmons thought internment was the wrong path and sent Fielder to Washington to push the unpopular idea of an all-Nisei division. On January 1,1943,General Marshall approved the formation of what became the 100th Battalion and then the 442 Regimental Combat Team. Gates noted that in November 1944 Wooch was promoted to Brigadier General and “followed ‘his boys’ as they fought in Italy, France, and Germany." After the war, he served in the Pentagon and then returned to Hawaii in 1948.

    Mr. Gates told members that Wooch was humble, and although he is “sometimes called ‘Father of 442nd’ and is one of only three honorary members of 100th and 442nd, he was never one to take credit.” His life of strong leadership – standing up to his commanding officer, standing up against popular opinion, standing up for what he believed in – remains an example to all.

    Cathy Gates saw Wooch through a completely different prism. While growing up, he was just her grandfather. She may not have known about her grandfather’s military accomplishments, but she did know that he was a fabulous amateur magician and recalled him putting on a show for her and her friends. Affable and gregarious, Wooch and “Tutu” (the Hawaiian name for grandmother) were very social and loved going to parties. Cathy reported that as a young teen she visited her grandparents in Hawaii and she was whisked off to four parties during her stay but not before a shopping trip with Tutu to find just the right dresses. She added that Wooch was a scratch golfer and her grandparents had a home right on the golf course. In Cathy’s words “Wooch was fun, laughs and jokes.” In closing, Mrs. Gates told attendees that Wooch and Tutu are buried at the Punchbowl in Hawaii, at rest in a place they loved and that loved them.

    After a hearty applause from the audience that included The Honorable Norman Mineta, Minister Kenichiro Mukai and his daughter Mori, and Major General Garrett Yee, USA and his wife Maria, JAVA President Gerald Yamada presented commemorative JAVA coins to Dwight and Cathy and thanked them for a most interesting and informative presentation. Indeed, all left feeling like Wooch lived up to his college yearbook quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “The elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a Man.’”


    L-R: Dwight Gates, The Honorable Norman Mineta and Cathy Gates


    JACL DC Executive Director David Inoue and Minister Kenichiro Mukai, Embassy of Japan

    L-R Noriko Sanefuji, The Honorable Norman Mineta, Mori Mukai, Wade Ishimoto

  • 16 Oct 2019 4:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     

    JAVA FOUNDER Sunao Phil Ishio and Arthur K. Ushiro (third and fourth from left) Interrogate a Japanese prisoner in Papua New Guinea. Early 1943. Signal Corps photo.


    JAVA Research Team (JRT)

    Washington, DC.   “What are those two goddam Japs doing here?  Shoot ‘em.”  Someone said, “No, they’re good Japs, working for us.  Well, shoot ‘em anyway.”  The conversation occurred in 1942 in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, at XIV Corps, as Military Intelligence Service (MIS) linguists Shigeru Yamashita and Isao Kusuda walked by; American commanders as well as soldiers questioned the loyalty of Nisei and did not want them around.  A major task of Caucasian MIS Team Leaders, with varying Japanese language skills, was to change this anti-Nisei bias.  They also authenticated the Nisei, validated the accuracy of their translation or interrogation reports, and supported the Nisei in their interactions with doubtful Caucasian staff and commanders.  MIS Nisei linguists in Asia Pacific Theater had three missions:  help win the war, fight discrimination on the home front, and fight discrimination overseas. 

    From this challenging beginning, Nisei linguists diligently passed to combat commanders tactical intelligence obtained from captured documents and prisoners.  Caucasian officers and soldiers changed their attitude when they began experiencing how timely tactical intelligence from documents and prisoners won battles and saved lives.  When Japanese families began returning to their homes on the Pacific coast to racially-charged receptions, Caucasian soldiers who served overseas with Nisei, challenged the bigotry by vouching for Nisei loyalty and patriotism thereby accelerating their integration in America’s mainstream. The highest praise for the Nisei linguists' loyalty and indispensable skills came from President Harry Truman when he referred to them as “our human secret weapon.”  

    US military Japan Specialists in the War Department soon realized that intelligence officers with one or two years of language training were unlikely to reach the level of fluency needed to translate all handwritten Japanese documents.  They came to understand that native fluency could only be achieved by long residence in a Japanese environment and by attending Japanese schools. They recognized that for ideal intelligence officer candidates, the higher the level of education and the longer the stay in Japan, the greater the greater the knowledge of the language as well as ties to Japan.  This group, which the Japanese called Kibei (born in US, studied in Japan, returned to US), who had regained their fluency in English, ranked high for US Army recruitment.  Although some viewed such recruits with concern, there was no case of a Nisei violating his oath of enlistment. Meanwhile the Japanese military had incorrectly assumed Nisei were not being used in the Pacific War and took comfort that no Caucasian had the ability to read their written language.  

    The first class of 42 Japanese language trainees at the MIS Language School (MISLS), which included two Caucasians - 1st Lt John Alfred Burden and 1st Lt David E. Swift Jr., began in Fall 1941, just prior to the Pearl Harbor attack.  Nisei volunteered to serve in the first, second and third wave of Marine and infantry invasions to translate documents, interrogate prisoners and pass reports immediately to commanders to prepare counter actions.  They also entered caves to persuade Japanese soldiers to surrender.  While the risk of getting killed was high, many Nisei felt they could do the most good in those positions.  General George C. Marshall, who assumed Nisei served at the Division and Corps headquarters, was surprised to hear of their use on the front lines. 

    Eventually, some 6,000 Nisei linguists graduated from MISLS and were assigned in small teams to every unit that required them during and after WWII.  They also served with Allied forces of Australia and Great Britain.  When the war ended, Nisei served in the demobilization and occupation of Japan as well the war crimes trials - efforts that insured a peaceful transition from wartime to peacetime Japan.

    Burden and other Caucasian team leaders elevated the value and recognition of Nisei linguists in the Asia Pacific Theater.  Nisei linguists’ superior performance on and off the battlefield caused infantry and marine commanders to recommend them for combat awards, promotion to officer rank and for language team leader positions.  MISers reciprocated by staying in the service and using their language skills for post war duties in Japan. 

    1st Lt (Colonel when he retired) Burden attended school in Japan, obtained a medical degree in Kentucky, and served as a sugar plantation doctor in Maui, Hawaii.  When the first MISLS class was formed, his Army reserve officer status was activated and ordered to attend the first MISLS class.  Upon graduation he was sent as a MIS team leader to Fiji, where he was assigned to monitor incoming telephone calls, a duty that did not utilize his language training and knowledge of Japan. Japanese American MISLS graduates were also wrongly assigned. For instance, MISLS graduate Masanori Minamoto,was sent to Tonga where he was assigned as a truck driver, while MISLS graduate Tateshi Miyasaki,was assigned to be a General’s jeep driver.  During Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of Pacific Fleet, visit to Fiji he was introduced to Burden. Once he learned of Burden's language skills, Nimitiz told Burden to pack his bags, and take a flight to Guadalcanal.  

    When Burden reported to MG Alexander M. Patch, CG of XIV Corps, Patch said he saw no value in the assignment of Japanese linguists.  He wanted “all Japs killed.” Such a mindset was, all to often, shared by infantry and marine officers and enlisted ranks.  Meanwhile, Patch was sending documents to his rear headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia with a turnaround translation time of six weeks.  Burden convinced Patch and subordinate officers about the value of on-the-spot translations and interrogations, in addition to the preparation of air drop of leaflets to persuade the Japanese to surrender. Burden worked to have Minamoto and Miyasaki assigned to Guadalcanal and they began producing and circulating their reports that convinced American commanders the value of taking prisoners.  

    1st Lt (Lt Col when he retired) Swift, also a Caucasian graduate of MISLS first class, was also born in Japan, the son of a professor at the Tokyo Imperial University.  Born in 1896, he left Japan in 1913 to attend school in the US.   He enlisted in the US Navy and served during WWI.  Swift then joined the US Immigration Service and later transferred to US Customs Service. He received a reserve commission in 1933 while serving as a customs officer.  Swift led a team of eight graduates of the first MISLS class to Brisbane, Australia, where he helped activate and run the Allied Translation and Interpreter Service (ATIS). Retiring from the Army reserve in 1946, Swift returned to his US Customs job.         

    2nd Lt Benjamin H. Hazard, Jr., who was commissioned after studying Japanese at University of Michigan and MISLS, was assigned to Saipan toward the end of that campaign.  He was the unit leader when Hoichi Kubo entered a cave and convinced eight armed Japanese soldiers to release their 120 civilian hostages.  Knowing a high award for valor required eye witness affidavits from Americans and knowing Kubo was the only American in the cave, Hazard obtained affidavits from a few Japanese civilians of Kubo’s actions in the cave.  Hazard used these Japanese affidavits for the recommendation for Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), the second highest military award and highest battlefield award given to an MISer. 

    William A. Laffin was born in Japan of an American father and a Japanese mother.  He served with the Merrill’s Marauders in Burma as an MIS team leader.  After leading a patrol of Burmese Kachin soldiers to reconnoiter a route in the jungle, he did the same by aircraft. His plane was shot down by Japanese forces and he perished. Other Caucasian team leaders included Richard Kleeman and Horace Feldmanboth late members of JAVA, Lawrence P. Dowd, and William L. Dozier.

    JAVA Member Dr. James McNaughton, the US Government’s authority on the MIS, summed up the Nisei and Caucasian officers roles in MIS this way:  “During the American occupation of Japan [the MIS] helped turn bitter enemies into friends thus securing the victory and serving as a bridge between the two cultures.   Caucasian team leaders forged strong bonds with the Nisei linguists in the crucible of combat, even though their language proficiency was often much less. They quickly saw how the Nisei provided valuable intelligence on every battlefield and became their strongest advocates.”


    306th Hqs Intelligence Detachment, XXIV Corps, Leyte, Philippines. Nov 1, 1944.  Front Row, L-R:  George Shimotori, Saburo Okamura; Thomas Sasaki; Francis Yamamoto; Herbert Nishihara;  JAVA MEMBER Warren Tsuneshi; Back row, L-R.  Hitoshi Itow; Joe Nishihara; Lt Richard Kleeman; TSgt George Takabayashi; Lloyd Shimamoto.  Signal Corps Photo.



    L-R. Maj  Burden, Head of 25th Division Language Section; T/3 Frederick Odanaka and T/3 Tateshi Miyasaki, Vella Lavella, Solomon Islands; September 1943. Signal Corps photo.


    JAVA offers its thanks to the Caucasian team leaders for facilitating the Nisei linguists success.

    [Ed Note: JRT appreciates the research support to this article provided by Mark Matsunaga, Historian of MIS Veterans Hawaii.]


  • 16 Oct 2019 4:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    d Lawson Sakai, Co E, 442nd  RCT

    WWII Nisei Veteran Lawson Sakai served under Lt. Crowley in Co E, 442nd RCT. Crowley was a part of Company E from its inception at Camp Shelby in 1943 and went to Italy with the unit. Crowley's men respected him for his courage and leadership skills and Sakai reported that Crowley insisted on leading his platoon into combat and always considered the safety of his men.  Crowley was wounded in northern Italy in the Rome Arno campaign and evacuated to stateside hospitals. Although he did not return to the 442nd after his injury, Crowley was always a fierce defender of AJAs and testified to the bravery of the Nisei soldiers who fought alongside of him.

    Below is a copy of a speech that Captain Crowley gave to various community and professional groups in West Coast communities to combat anti-Japanese American sentiments and ease the way for Nisei as they returned home and resettled after WWII. In his remarks, Captain Crowley, eloquently describes the heroism of Nisei soldiers, and reminds his audience of the ideals of American democracy. Sometimes his remarks fell on deaf ears. Once, after a speech he gave at an American Legion post in a farming community in California's Central Valley, thugs beat up Crowley who was wearing his US Army's Captain’s uniform with his Combat Infantryman’s Badge, awards and service ribbons. 

    Following the WWII, Sakai has visited the Vosges area of France ten times, including escorting six group tours.  He has also participated in nearly every Co E annual reunion which have now transformed into a veterans reunion in Las Vegas, NV. 


    Speech By Captain Thomas E. Crowley



    [Ed Note: Patrick Crowley, the son of Captain Thomas E. Crowley provided JAVA with a PDF of the speech.]




  • 16 Oct 2019 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Ikito Muraoka, 100thBattalion.  Photo: Ann Kabasawa and Clyde Sugimoto


    Jeff Morita

    Puakea, Lihue, Kauai.    Ikito “Ike” Muraoka (97-years old),  Medical Detachment, 100th Infantry Battalion was conferred the French Légion d’honneur on August 31, 2019 at the Regency for participating in the liberation of France during World War II.  French Honorary Consul in Hawaii, Guillaume Maman, pinned the Chevalier (Knight) Medal on Mr. Muraoka. 

    Many Kauai government representatives, generations of the Muraoka Family, and guests were on hand to witness this event. 

    Jeff Morita, JAVA member, completed the detailed paperwork and submitted it to the Government of France for approval.  Morita has offered to assist any qualified veteran obtain the Légion d’honneur, the Republic of France’s highest decoration.  The award to Muraoka represents the 25th Légion d’honneur medal obtained by Morita since 2014.  



    Guillaume Maman,French Honorary Consul in Hawaii (left); Ikito Muraoka (center seated); DerekKawakami, Mayor of Kauai (right); and members of Muraoka family.   Photo: Ann Kabasawa and Clyde Sugimoto


  • 01 Oct 2019 3:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Gerald Yamada, JAVA President

    As JAVA President, let me thank those that supported me.  I also thank Al Goshi for his time and effort in serving as President for the past two years and on the Executive Council for a number of years before that.  Al has been very gracious in helping me to transition into this position. 


    I am pleased to announce the JAVA leadership team that has been put into place.  The elected officers are:

    Gerald Yamada, President

    Howard High, Vice President

    Ruby Ellis, Treasurer

    Linda Bethke-Cyr, Secretary

    In addition to the elected officers above, the members of the Executive Council are:

    • Mark Nakagawa, Chair of Finance Committee
    • Ken Washington, Chair of Nomination Committee
    • George Ishikata, Chair of Awards Committee
    • Cynthia Macri, Chair of Outreach Committee
    • Jason Kuroiwa, Chair of Communications Committee
    • Metta Tanikawa, Chair of JAVA Luncheon Committee
    • Marty Herbert, Liaison to Freedom Walk Committee
    • Dawn Eilenberger, General Counsel
    • Chris DeRosa has agreed to serve as Chair of Scholarship Committee for another year.  Brett Egusa will serve as Chair of Veterans Day Program Committee for this year.
    • I promised, if elected president of JAVA, to promote the legacy created by the valor and sacrifices made by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II; to increase JAVA’s visibility; and to strengthen how JAVA is governed and its accountability.   With the support of the Executive Council, we have already taken steps to fulfill these promises.
    • Promote the Legacy of the Nisei Soldiers.  I have felt that the Japanese American community needs to have a special celebration to acknowledge the benefits that have been derived from the legacy created by the Nisei soldiers.
    • To address this, the Executive Council voted to designate July 15 as a Day of Affirmation to commemorate what was accomplished by those who choose to put country first while their family and friends were imprisoned in America’s war relocation internment camps. 
    • It was on July 15, 1946, that President Harry Truman received the returning 442nd Regimental Combat Team at the White House Ellipse at 12 noon in the rain and praised their battlefield accomplishments by saying "You fought the enemy abroad and you fought prejudice at home, and you won.  Keep up that fight, and we will continue to win", thereby affirming the decision made by the Japanese American soldiers to serve their country and its ideals and to demonstrate loyalty as their way to fight the prejudice that they faced at home.       
    • On July 15, 2020, JAVA is planning to lay a wreath at the World War II National Memorial to honor all the Japanese Americans who served during World War II.  The honor guard will consist of Japanese American veterans of World War II or lineal descendants or ancestors of Japanese Americans who served during World War II.
    • On July 15, 2021, JAVA has reserved the US Army Museum for a gala event to honor the Nisei soldiers in addition to the wreath laying ceremony at the World War II National Memorial earlier that day.  Tours of the US Army Museum will be a part of the evening event.    
    • Be sure to mark your calendars for both of these Day of Affirmation events.
    • As part of its mission, JAVA found it necessary to raise its voice in defending the legacy of the Nisei soldiers in response to the resolution of apology adopted by the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League earlier this year.  JAVA’s letter to JACL, dated September 17, 2019, can be found at the JAVA website at java.wildapricot.org.
    • Increasing JAVA’s Visibility.  I have started to attend the monthly meetings of the National Military and Veterans Alliance and to circulate NMVA’s position papers and letters on pending legislation affecting the military, veterans, and their families to the Executive Council to determine whether JAVA should lend its support. 
    • Strengthening Governance and Accountability.  Proposed revisions to the JAVA By-laws have been posted on JAVA’s website -- java.wildapricot.org – for a 60 day comment period.  These revisions substantially amend the JAVA By-laws.  These revisions, if approved, will strengthen transparency, governance, and accountability of JAVA’s operations.  The goal is to present a revised set of by-laws, approved by JAVA’s Executive Council, at the January 2020 general membership meeting for ratification. The JAVA Executive Council has approved this schedule.  

    Anyone wishing to give me comments on these initiatives can do so by either attending the next JAVA quarterly on October 12th at the Harvest Moon Restaurant where I will be discussing these initiatives or by sending me your comments by emailing them to javapotomac@gmail.com.

    We ask for your continued support by attending JAVA-sponsored events and increasing our membership by getting another war veteran to join JAVA or to have a family member or friend designated as a Friend of JAVA.  See JAVA’s website at java.wildapricot.org for a membership application or information about being designated as a Friend of JAVA at no cost. 


  • 01 Oct 2019 3:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

              

    COL Menyhert and Pete Rubino. Photo; Provided COL Menyhert.

    COL Renita Menyhert,USA (Ret), JAVA member

    He always called me “Doll!” Very politically incorrect by today’s standards, but I adored it. It was proof I’d been accepted by Pete. And as a military journalist dedicated to writing about the Army’s heroes and their extraordinary adventures, approval by any Soldier is a must for me.

         I first met Pete Rubino at a chance outing at Gibbs Hall. He worked at the Suneagles Golf Course and offered to drive me around the area that sunny afternoon. As we conversed, I realized he was the man I’d been searching for.

         Ceremonies for the annual anniversary of the Normandy invasion were approaching, and I was looking for veterans to write about. Retired Col. Paul Zigo, Director for World War II Studies at Brookdale College had given me Pete’s name and assured me he would be a great subject.

        As Pete and I chatted during that first encounter, I knew Zigo was right. As a 29th Infantry Division infantryman, Pete was one of the first Soldiers to storm Omaha Beach in the early morning of June 6, 1944. When the subject of the most famous invasion in history came up, Pete was humble and nonchalant. “It was my duty,” he said simply. “I was an American who loved my country and wanted to serve it.”

           Pete had not always been comfortable sharing that infamous morning from over half a century ago. After he returned from overseas duty in 1945, nightmares of Omaha Beach plagued his sleep. For the next 40 years, he avoided the subject of World War II until he was approached by Zigo who was gathering material for the Center for World War II Studies and Conflict Resolution.

         “I was amazed when he agreed to a video taped interview,” recalled Zigo. “Although Pete insisted he had nothing to say, the 30 minute session turned into two hours!”

         Zigo described that time with Pete as “emotionally packed.” “The beach was red and the water was red,” said Pete. Those words alone prompted tears from Zigo and the television crew bringing production to a halt. When the taping resumed, Pete revealed for the first time what he and his buddies had experienced in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. 

        Thunderous battle noise accompanied by blinding flashes from deadly weapons firing back and forth ominously greeted Pete as his ship pulled up to the Normandy coast. But according to Pete, he never really “heard” the deafening sounds. He feared the English Channel more than he did the Germans because he couldn’t swim. Luckily, Pete had two tall Texans beside him offering to help him to shore.     

         “They called me ‘Dago,’” grinned Pete at the memory. “They said ‘Dago, just put your arms around us and we’ll walk you to the beach.’ But bullets were coming in from everywhere when we got off the ramp, and the fellow on my right got hit. He had my rifle so I had to wait until I was ashore to find another one.”

         Because the machine guns “were really raking” when the ramp started to drop, Pete began praying to his mother, the woman he looked upon as a patron saint. Afterwards, he always credited her for saving his life that day. 

         With bullets whizzing everywhere, Pete moved on the beach by alternating a few steps and then dropping flat. When he reached a small bluff he heard an officer yell, “We have two choices – either we stay here and get killed or we go up the hill.” With casualties mounting all around them, Soldiers who’d never been in combat dug deep inside themselves and found the courage to charge ahead.  

         Pete continued fighting through Normandy and was in Paris the day of liberation. The war ended for Pete when he was injured in Battle of the Bulge. He never did learn to swim. 

         When his family saw the video, they realized for the first time the tremendous sacrifices Pete had made on their behalf, his friends, community and country. They weren’t the only ones.

         Pete’s love of golf brought him to Fort Monmouth, N. J. where he worked for 14 years as a Recreational Aid at the Fort Monmouth Golf Course and was a member of the Fort Monmouth Golf Club. Many of his coworkers had no idea of his involvement in World War II until he entered Chip Dayton’s office, the Suneagles Golf Manager.

         Pete had come to inform Dayton about his upcoming interview about D-Day at Brookdale. Eager to hear the story, Dayton invited Pete to share the experience with him first. Pete accepted and for the next hour, Dayton sat spellbound as Pete described the morning on Omaha Beach.

         “We had to stop several times because Pete’s emotions got the better of him,” recalled Dayton. “It was like a history class as Pete took me from the boats in the ocean to the shores of Normandy and running up the hill.”   

         After the initial interview with Zigo, Pete found the courage to speak to outside audiences about his war time experiences in France and Germany. Thanks to his new-found confidence, people learned what a battlefield experience was like and understood the effort the “Greatest Generation” made to preserve the freedoms Americans enjoy today.

         “Pete Rubino became and will remain one of the great representatives of the “Greatest Generation,” said Zigo. “This was a title he bore well no matter where he went or to whom he talked.”

         I also reminded Pete “history should not be forgotten or rewritten,” and encouraged him to accept all the requests sent to him to speak about Operation Overlord.

         “Ok, doll,” Pete had grinned. “But you have to come with me.” I agreed, and for the next two years, we embarked on a special crusade together for the purpose of sharing D-Day.

         Pete lectured about the invasion to many local schools and organizations commemorating Memorial and Veteran’s Day and specific battle anniversaries. But the biggest impact he made was with school children. They were mesmerized by his simple, straight talk of what D-Day was like and appreciated his message why freedom should always be cherished and never taken for granted.

         “I had told Pete my office was always open for him after that first occasion,” said Dayton. “He would regularly come in after one of his appearances just to talk. It seemed like great therapy for Pete because he was so happy and excited after each of his speaking ventures.”

          Pete and I had met a few times to discuss various ideas for his upcoming D-Day story when he happened to talk about Soldier life before the invasion. He described being locked up in a camp and the bets starting as to where and when the invasion would come.  He snickered about the Army suddenly providing good food like milk, eggs, ice cream, and steak that Soldiers hadn’t seen for months, describing it as “fattening us up for the kill.” Then there were the long hours aboard the ship where GIs slept, prayed, and played cards. Since the days before Operation Overlord weren’t usually the ones usually read about, I suggested we approach Pete’s story from that point of view.

         When the article called, “The Days before D-Day,” was posted on several military related web sites and recognized by Department of the Army annual writing awards, the pride on Pete’s face was indescribable. When honored at an award ceremony, Pete was moved to tears where the audience stood and applauded him for several minutes.

          The 60th anniversary of Operation Overlord afforded Pete a special invitation by the French government for an all expense paid trip to Paris and Normandy.  When he expressed his doubts and concerns about the venture, I immediately advised him to set those aside and accept. After all, other veterans would be there, and here was a chance for closure.

         Upon his return, Pete eagerly showed me his French Legion of Honor, the highest award given by the French government. Pete was also exhilarated that he met the medic who had saved his life when he was wounded in Battle of the Bulge.

         More encouragement from Zigo led to a second Normandy visit the following year. This time Pete added two more significant experiences. On the previous visit, Pete and the rest of the veterans were denied the chance to walk on Omaha Beach and there was no time to see the Normandy American Cemetery.

         “I had to leave without finding all the men I knew buried there,” said Pete sadly.

          This time, with his entire family and Zigo by his side, Pete walked the shore of Omaha Beach from sun up to sun down. Later, he made his way through 9,387 white crosses in the American Cemetery.

         “Pete wore his French Legion of Honor everyday we were in Normandy,” said Zigo. “Wherever he went, people followed and were enthralled as he shared his D-Day memories.”

         Pete’s courage was tested a second time when a huge crowd gathered to hear him speak about D-Day in the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach.

         “I think it was obvious Pete came full circle on that trip back to France,” added Dayton. “When he came back we looked at all the pictures and his medals and reminisced about the trip. I think it was the best medicine in the world.”

         I visited Pete often when his health began deteriorating. Rather than dwell on his illness, we reverted back to our “politically incorrect ways” telling off color infantry jokes, singing old World War II songs, and reliving Soldier adventures. The laughter gave us both peace and the strength to appreciate the past and enjoy the future.  

        When the notification came that Pete had peacefully passed away, I wanted desperately to leave something with him that would keep us connected. Since the invasion had brought us together, I placed a vial of sand from Omaha Beach in Pete’s hands that also held his rosary. I said my final goodbye with a slow salute and a quote we both enjoyed when parting made famous by the film Saving Private Ryan.  “See you on the beach, Pete.”  “See you on the beach, Doll.”


  • 01 Oct 2019 3:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Discover Nikkei Website Home Page. Photo: Discover Nikkei

    Discover Nikkei

    Discover Nikkei (DiscoverNikkei.org) is an international, community-based web project of the Japanese American National Museum. The multilingual website—available in English, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese—brings together the voices and experiences of Nikkei (Japanese emigrants and their descendants). In addition, the project’s network of partners, participants, and site visitors connects Nikkei around the world.

    This year, Discover Nikkei celebrates its 14th year online and is pleased to be working with the Japanese American Veterans Association by sharing some of their veteran’s stories from the Advocate in the Journal section of the website. New articles are published every Monday through Saturday about topics ranging from personal and family stories to community histories, from sports to arts, and just about everything in between. In the interviews section, watch clips from video life history interviews with Nikkei, including veterans such as the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Susumu “Sus” Ito. JAVA was also recently featured as a Nima of the Month.

    There are many other important resources on the website, including the Japanese American Military Experience Database, developed and maintained by the Japanese American National Museum. JAVA members are invited to submit additional information for inclusion in the database. There is also how-to guides for recording your own life history interviews, as well as an online Events calendar and Nikkei Album where users can upload photos and videos to create collections to share with our global audience.

    We welcome your thoughts and questions at editor@DiscoverNikkei.org. Visit our contact page to sign up for Discover Nikkei’s monthly e-newsletter, or to follow us on social media.

    Discover Nikkei Home Office in JANM Pavilion. Photo: Discover Nikkei.

  • 01 Oct 2019 3:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The JAVA Executive Council is proposing to make extensive changes to the JAVA By-Laws.  The proposed revisions can be found on JAVA’s website -- java.wildapricot.org – and any interested person may submit comments on the revisions to javapotomac@gmail.com on or before November 30, 2019.

    The proposed revisions are intended to bring more transparency and accountability to how JAVA is governed and operated.  The revisions include, are not limited to:

    • Adding a purpose statement;
    • Removing the board of directors as a duplicative layer of governance;
    • Authorizing compensation to be paid to Executive Director;
    • Requiring annual budget be presented and approved by Executive Council;
    • Creating 6 categories of membership;
    • Imposing dues on all the categories except for Category 1 – war veterans;
    • Recognizing designation as a Friend of JAVA, at no cost, in lieu of joining as a member of Category 2-6;
    • Requiring JAVA membership be validated every two years;
    • Creating a teller group to tally election results;
    • Making Category 1 membership a requirement to run for 3 of the 4 elected officers;
    • Creating several standing committees with specified responsibilities;
    • Requiring more transparency when the Executive Council decides to expend funds or is deciding whether to donate $10,000 or more of JAVA assets to a person or another organization;
    • Inserting a removal procedure for elected officers and Executive Council members;
    • Inserting a whistleblower procedure; and
    • Inserting a document retention policy.

    For more information or questions, contact javapotomac@gmail.com.


  • 01 Oct 2019 3:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) voted at its quarterly meeting, held on September 14, 2019, to inform the National Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) of JAVA’s objections to the National JACL’s resolution of apology, adopted in August 2019. 

    The JACL resolution directed the National JACL to apologize to those imprisoned at the Tule Lake Segregation Center whose inmate population was described, in the report issued by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, as dominated by a “strongly militant pro-Japan faction.”

    JAVA President Gerald Yamada sent a letter, dated September 17, 2019, to National JACL President Jeffrey Moy stating JAVA’s objections: 

    • The resolution of apology is vague and overly broad, without any justifiable basis for its apology;
    • The resolution of apology is a betrayal of the American values embraced by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II and is knowingly divisive; and
    • The resolution of apology is a shameful and unwarranted demeaning of the legacy forged by the valor and loyalty of the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II, while at the same time, National JACL, its chapters and members, and the Japanese American community at large, including the Tule Lake resisters, have benefited and will continue to benefit from that legacy.

    In the enclosure to the JAVA letter, a full explanation in support of these objections was provided to JACL. A copy of the JAVA letter and enclosure are below.     

    Yamada stated: “It is important for JAVA, as a veterans service organization, to raise its voice to defend the legacy of honor, valor, and patriotism shown by the Japanese Americans who served during World War II while their family and friends were imprisoned in America’s concentration camps.”   

    Anyone wishing to comment on the JAVA letter may send comments to javapotomac@gmail.com.



    Japanese American Veterans Association

    P.O. Box 341998

    Bethesda, MD 20827

    Sent VIA Email:

    Jeffery Moy, National President

    National Japanese American Citizens League

                RE:  National JACL Resolution of Apology to Tule Lake Resisters

    On August 3, 2019, the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) adopted a resolution of apology “to those imprisoned in the Tule Lake Segregation Center for non-violent acts of resistance and dissent, who suffered shame and stigma during and after the war due to the JACL’s attitudes and treatment towards individuals unfairly labeled ‘disloyal’.” 

    On behalf of the Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), I am submitting this executive summary, with enclosure, to the National JACL registering JAVA’s objections to the National JACL resolution of apology.

    At its September 14, 2019 meeting, JAVA’s Executive Council approved the following objections to the National JACL’s resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters:

    • The resolution of apology is vague and overly broad, without any justifiable basis for its apology;
    • The resolution of apology is a betrayal of the American values embraced by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II and by the 95% of Japanese American adults who answered “yes” to Question 28 and is knowingly divisive; and
    • The resolution of apology is a shameful and unwarranted demeaning of the legacy forged by the valor and loyalty of the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II, while at the same time, National JACL, its chapters and members, and the Japanese American community at large, including the Tule Lake resisters, have benefited and will continue to benefit from that legacy.

    A full explanation in support of these objections is provided in the enclosure to this letter.  

    Sincerely,


    Gerald Yamada

    Japanese American Veterans Association, President

    Enclosure

    cc. David Inouye, JACL Executive Director

     


    Enclosure to Letter to JACL President Moy.

    ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION, September 17, 2019

    On August 3, 2019, the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) adopted a resolution of apology “to those imprisoned in the Tule Lake Segregation Center for non-violent acts of resistance and dissent, who suffered shame and stigma during and after the war due to the JACL’s attitudes and treatment towards individuals unfairly labeled ‘disloyal.'” 

    At its September 14, 2019 meeting, JAVA’s Executive Council approved the following objections to the National JACL’s resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters.

    National JACL Resolution of Apology Is Vague and Overly Broad.

    Based on the Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (aka “Redress Commission Report”), the Tule Lake Segregation Center was dominated by a “strongly militant pro-Japan faction” composed of:

    • Japanese aliens who refused to agree not to engage in any actions that would interfere with the United States’ war effort by answering “no” or refusing to answer Question 28 of the loyalty questionnaire;
    • Japanese aliens who asked to be repatriated to Japan;
    • Japanese Americans who renounced their US citizenship and asked to be expatriated to Japan;
    • Japanese Americans who refused to swear allegiance to the United States and to forswear allegiance to the Emperor of Japan by answering “no” or refusing to answer Question 28;
    • Japanese Americans who refused to serve in the United States military after receiving draft notices making this the second National JACL resolution of apology, first in 2000 and again in 2019, to this group;
    • Those who had been denied leave clearance because of adverse evidence in their records; and
    • Japanese aliens that the Department of Justice recommended for detention at the Tule Lake Segregation Center.

    The National JACL resolution of apology is given to the above Tule Lake resisters who engaged in “non-violent acts of resistance and dissent.”  By excluding only those who engaged in violent acts of resistance and dissent, National JACL demonstrates a shallow commitment to civil rights by including within its resolution Tule Lake resisters who engaged in non-violent acts of resistance and dissent such as coercive harassment, intimidation, and threats of bodily harm against Japanese Americans who volunteered for US military service and others internees who did not share the Tule Lake Resisters’ pro-Japan views.

    The National JACL resolution of apology also fails to distinguish between the Tule Lake resisters who wanted Japan to win the war and those who believed in peaceful disobedience but did not hold pro-Japan views.  The Redress Commission Report states that 31% of the Tule Lake Segregation Center population were family members who stayed with those who were segregated.  By failing to deal with these significant distinctions, the National JACL resolution of apology unfairly treats all the Tule Lake resisters as “disloyal.”

    For these reasons, the Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association finds that the National JACL resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters is vague and overly broad, without any justifiable basis for its apology.  

    National JACL Resolution of Apology Is a Betrayal of American Values.

    The Japanese American men and women who served in the US military during World War II suffered in equal measure with the Tule Lake resisters from the unconstitutional confinement imposed by Executive Order 9066, but unlike the Tule Lake resisters, those who served in the US military during World War II put country first, kept their faith in American ideals, and assumed greater personal risks by putting themselves in harm’s way. 

    Any shame, stigma, or label of “disloyalty” associated with the Tule Lake resisters was self-inflicted as a direct result of their actions, beliefs, and decisions which were antithetical to the actions, beliefs, and decisions made by the 95% of Japanese American adults who answered “yes” to Question 28 and by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II. 

    The Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II served with valor and honor that created a lasting legacy that has greatly benefited all those in the Japanese American community including the Tule Lake resisters.

    • The Japanese Americans who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), a segregated Japanese American combat unit, were involved in a 5 day battle in which the Texas “Lost Battalion” (1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment) was rescued while the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team suffered 54 killed in action and 293 wounded in action.
    • The 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd RCT liberated Jewish prisoners at the one of the Dachau Nazi death camps.
    • The 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd RCT is recognized as the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American warfare. 
    • The Japanese Americans who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd RCT were awarded 7 Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, and countless other medals including over 4,000 Purple Hearts for the valor that they showed in the battles that they fought in Italy, southern France, and Germany during World War II.
    • All surviving members of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd RCT in 2012 were made chevaliers of the French Légion d'Honneur for their actions contributing to the liberation of France and their heroic rescue of the “Lost Battalion” during World War II.
    • Approximately 3,000 Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service as Japanese linguists, a large number of them educated in Japan (aka “Kibei”), volunteered to serve in the first, second or third wave of nearly every Army infantry and Marine invasion to interrogate Japanese prisoners of war, translate captured documents, and pass the results immediately to commanders on the front line to prepare counter measures, helping to win battles and save lives.    
    • The Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service as Japanese linguists in the Pacific war theater are credited with shortening the war with Japan by two years, serving as interpreters during war crime trials to ensure fair hearings, and making significant contributions to transitioning Japan to a democratic government during the occupation and restoration of Japan after the war ended.
    • The 1399th Engineering Construction Battalion, composed of all Japanese Americans, served in Hawaii during World War II to rebuild Pearl Harbor and completed 54 construction projects that were critical to the defense of the Islands against further Japanese invasion.
    • Over 300 Japanese American women served in the US military during World War II.
    • The Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II followed advice given to them by their fathers: “do not dishonor your country, community, or the family and, if you are to die, die with honor.”  Almost 800 Japanese Americans who served in the US military were killed in action during World War II.  They died fighting for America’s freedoms.  They died with honor.
    • On July 15, 1946, President Harry Truman reviewed the returning 442nd RCT at the White House Ellipse and praised their battle field accomplishments by saying "You fought the enemy abroad and you fought prejudice at home, and you won.  Keep up that fight, and we will continue to win," thereby affirming the decision made by the Japanese American soldiers to serve their country and its ideals and to demonstrate loyalty as their way to fight prejudice at home.  

    The Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association condemns the National JACL resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters as a betrayal of the American values embraced by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II and by the 95% of Japanese American adults who answered “yes” to Question 28 and as being knowingly divisive.

    National JACL Resolution of Apology Demeans the Legacy of the Japanese Americans Who Served During World War II.

    During WWII, most Americans considered all persons of Japanese ancestry to be “disloyal” based solely on ethnicity.  The World War II JACL leaders worked to find ways to prove that Japanese Americans were “loyal” and could be trusted.  The JACL advocated to have the US Army create a segregated all-Japanese American combat unit.  The idea of a segregated combat unit was originally rejected by Gen. Eisenhower.  But JACL persisted.  By having a segregated combat unit, JACL’s hope was that its military successes would convince the American public that Japanese Americans were loyal. 

    Mike Masaoka was JACL Secretary during that time and was the main advocate for the all-Japanese American combat unit.  When the 442nd RCT was created, Masaoka was the first to volunteer.  Because of his role in getting the 442nd RCT authorized, he was assigned to the public relations staff of the 442nd RCT where he diligently provided information to the press about the successfully battlefield accomplishments of the 442nd RCT.  Masaoka is credited with generating the high praise that the 442nd received in the American press during World War II.  

    The opportunity for the Japanese Americans who served during World War II to forge a legacy of valor and honor was created by JACL.  During World War II, the JACL actively promoted serving in the US military as a way to show loyalty so there is a direct link between the World War II JACL and the legacy created by the Japanese Americans who served. 

    The National JACL resolution of apology disavows that link.  The JACL resolution of apology reverses the position of the World War II JACL in that JACL is now supporting the Tule Lake resisters’ acts of resistance and dissent as the way the community should have shown their loyalty rather than serving in the US military.  Of course, the National JACL resolution of apology ignores the fact that that the acts of resistance and dissent were in support of the resisters’ pro-Japan views. 

    As a national veterans service organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II, JAVA must raise its voice on behalf of those Japanese American soldiers by defending their choice as to how they showed their loyalty.

    The valor and loyalty shown by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II has greatly benefited the Japanese American community in the following ways: 

    • Cited by President Ronald Reagan for his decision not to veto, but to sign, HR 442 resulting in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (aka “Redress Legislation”) authorizing the US government’s apology and redress payments paid to the internees, including the Tule Lake resisters, who were still alive on the date of enactment;
    • Cited by the sponsors of legislation that passed theWalter-McCarran Immigration and Naturalization Act, giving the first generation of persons of Japanese ancestry, including the Tule Lake resisters, the right to become naturalized U.S. citizens;
    • The pivotal factor that convinced Congress to end its long-held opposition towards Hawaii's statehood petition resulting in Hawaii becoming the 50th State;
    • Cited by the sponsors of legislation creating a bipartisan presidential commission – the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians-- that determined that Executive Order 9066, issued by President Roosevelt and strongly supported by State and local elected officials such as then California Attorney General Earl Warren, was the result of “prejudice, war hysteria, and the lack of political leadership”;
    • Cited by the sponsors of legislation that authorized the building of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II, sited within view of the Capitol, Washington, DC;
    • Cited by the sponsors of legislation that authorized the $50 million grant program to fund the preservation of confinement sites, including the Tule Lake Segregation Center, used during World War II to imprison persons of Japanese ancestry under Executive Order 9066; and
    • Cited by the sponsors of legislation that awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in November 2011 to the soldiers who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd RCT, and Military Intelligence Service during World War II;

    The Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association denounces the National JACL resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters as a shameful and unwarranted demeaning of the legacy forged by the valor and loyalty of the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II, while at the same time, National JACL, its chapters and members, and the Japanese American community at large, including the Tule Lake resisters, have benefited and will continue to benefit from that legacy.

    /signed/

    Gerald Yamada

    President, JAVA


  • 17 Sep 2019 12:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    JAVA Response to JACL Resolution of Apology

    JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION

    P.O. Box 341198, Bethesda, Maryland 20817

    javapotomac@gmail.com

    September 17, 2019

    Jeffery Moy, National President

    National Japanese American Citizens League

    RE:  National JACL Resolution of Apology to Tule Lake Resisters

    On August 3, 2019, the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) adopted a resolution of apology “to those imprisoned in the Tule Lake Segregation Center for non-violent acts of resistance and dissent, who suffered shame and stigma during and after the war due to the JACL’s attitudes and treatment towards individuals unfairly labeled ‘disloyal.'” 

    On behalf of the Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), I am submitting this executive summary, with enclosure, to the National JACL registering JAVA’s objections to the National JACL resolution of apology.

    At its September 14, 2019 meeting, JAVA’s Executive Council approved the following objections to the National JACL’s resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters:

    • The resolution of apology is vague and overly broad, without any justifiable basis for its apology; 
    • The resolution of apology is a betrayal of the American values embraced by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II and by the 95% of Japanese American adults who answered “yes” to Question 28 and is knowingly divisive; and
    • The resolution of apology is a shameful and unwarranted demeaning of the legacy forged by the valor and loyalty of the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II, while at the same time, National JACL, its chapters and members, and the Japanese American community at large, including the Tule Lake resisters, have benefited and will continue to benefit from that legacy.

    A full explanation in support of these objections is provided in the enclosure to this letter.  

    Sincerely,


    Gerald Yamada

    Japanese American Veterans Association, President

    Enclosure

    cc. David Inouye, JACL Executive Director

    Enclosure to Letter to JACL President Moy.

    ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION, September 17, 2019

    On August 3, 2019, the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) adopted a resolution of apology “to those imprisoned in the Tule Lake Segregation Center for non-violent acts of resistance and dissent, who suffered shame and stigma during and after the war due to the JACL’s attitudes and treatment towards individuals unfairly labeled ‘disloyal.’” 

    At its September 14, 2019 meeting, JAVA’s Executive Council approved the following objections to the National JACL’s resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters.

    National JACL Resolution of Apology Is Vague and Overly Broad.

    Based on the Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (aka “Redress Commission Report”), the Tule Lake Segregation Center was dominated by a “strongly militant pro-Japan faction” composed of:

    • Japanese aliens who refused to agree not to engage in any actions that would interfere with the United States’ war effort by answering “no” or refusing to answer Question 28 of the loyalty questionnaire;
    • Japanese aliens who asked to be repatriated to Japan;
    •  Japanese Americans who renounced their US citizenship and asked to be expatriated to Japan;
    • Japanese Americans who refused to swear allegiance to the United States and to forswear allegiance to the Emperor of Japan by answering “no” or refusing to answer Question 28;
    • Japanese Americans who refused to serve in the United States military after receiving draft notices making this the second National JACL resolution of apology, first in 2000 and again in 2019, to this group;
    • Those who had been denied leave clearance because of adverse evidence in their records; and
    • Japanese aliens that the Department of Justice recommended for detention at the Tule Lake Segregation Center.

    The National JACL resolution of apology is given to the above Tule Lake resisters who engaged in “non-violent acts of resistance and dissent.” By excluding only those who engaged in violent acts of resistance and dissent, National JACL demonstrates a shallow commitment to civil rights by including within its resolution Tule Lake resisters who engaged in non-violent acts of resistance and dissent such as coercive harassment, intimidation, and threats of bodily harm against Japanese Americans who volunteered for US military service and others internees who did not share the Tule Lake Resisters’ pro-Japan views.

    The National JACL resolution of apology also fails to distinguish between the Tule Lake resisters who wanted Japan to win the war and those who believed in peaceful disobedience but did not hold pro-Japan views.  The Redress Commission Report states that 31% of the Tule Lake Segregation Center population were family members who stayed with those who were segregated.  By failing to deal with these significant distinctions, the National JACL resolution of apology unfairly treats all the Tule Lake resisters as “disloyal.”

    For these reasons, the Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association finds that the National JACL resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters is vague and overly broad, without any justifiable basis for its apology.  

    National JACL Resolution of Apology Is a Betrayal of American Values.

    The Japanese American men and women who served in the US military during World War II suffered in equal measure with the Tule Lake resisters from the unconstitutional confinement imposed by Executive Order 9066, but unlike the Tule Lake resisters, those who served in the US military during World War II put country first, kept their faith in American ideals, and assumed greater personal risks by putting themselves in harm’s way. 

    Any shame, stigma, or label of “disloyalty” associated with the Tule Lake resisters was self-inflicted as a direct result of their actions, beliefs, and decisions which were antithetical to the actions, beliefs, and decisions made by the 95% of Japanese American adults who answered “yes” to Question 28 and by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II. 

    The Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II served with valor and honor that created a lasting legacy that has greatly benefited all those in the Japanese American community including the Tule Lake resisters.

    • The Japanese Americans who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), a segregated Japanese American combat unit, were involved in a 5 day battle in which the Texas “Lost Battalion” (1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment) was rescued while the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team suffered 54 killed in action and 293 wounded in action.
    • The 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd RCT liberated Jewish prisoners at the one of the Dachau Nazi death camps.
    • The 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd RCT is recognized as the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American warfare. 
    • The Japanese Americans who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd RCT were awarded 7 Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, and countless other medals including over 4,000 Purple Hearts for the valor that they showed in the battles that they fought in Italy, southern France, and Germany during World War II.
    • All surviving members of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd RCT in 2012 were made chevaliers of the French Légion d'Honneur for their actions contributing to the liberation of France and their heroic rescue of the “Lost Battalion” during World War II.
    • Approximately 3,000 Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service as Japanese linguists, a large number of them educated in Japan (aka “Kibei”), volunteered to serve in the first, second or third wave of nearly every Army infantry and Marine invasion to interrogate Japanese prisoners of war, translate captured documents, and pass the results immediately to commanders on the front line to prepare counter measures, helping to win battles and save lives.    
    • The Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service as Japanese linguists in the Pacific war theater are credited with shortening the war with Japan by two years, serving as interpreters during war crime trials to ensure fair hearings, and making significant contributions to transitioning Japan to a democratic government during the occupation and restoration of Japan after the war ended.
    • The 1399th Engineering Construction Battalion, composed of all Japanese Americans, served in Hawaii during World War II to rebuild Pearl Harbor and completed 54 construction projects that were critical to the defense of the Islands against further Japanese invasion.
    • Over 300 Japanese American women served in the US military during World War II.
    • The Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II followed advice given to them by their fathers: “do not dishonor your country, community, or the family and, if you are to die, die with honor.”  Almost 800 Japanese Americans who served in the US military were killed in action during World War II.  They died fighting for America’s freedoms.  They died with honor.
    • On July 15, 1946, President Harry Truman reviewed the returning 442nd RCT at the White House Ellipse and praised their battle field accomplishments by saying "You fought the enemy abroad and you fought prejudice at home, and you won.  Keep up that fight, and we will continue to win," thereby affirming the decision made by the Japanese American soldiers to serve their country and its ideals and to demonstrate loyalty as their way to fight prejudice at home.  

    The Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association condemns the National JACL resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters as a betrayal of the American values embraced by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II and by the 95% of Japanese American adults who answered “yes” to Question 28 and as being knowingly divisive.

    National JACL Resolution of Apology Demeans the Legacy of the Japanese Americans Who Served During World War II.

    During WWII, most Americans considered all persons of Japanese ancestry to be “disloyal” based solely on ethnicity.   The World War II JACL leaders worked to find ways to prove that Japanese Americans were “loyal” and could be trusted.  The JACL advocated to have the US Army create a segregated all-Japanese American combat unit.  The idea of a segregated combat unit was originally rejected by Gen. Eisenhower.  But JACL persisted.  By having a segregated combat unit, JACL’s hope was that its military successes would convince the American public that Japanese Americans were loyal. 

    Mike Masaoka was JACL Secretary during that time and was the main advocate for the all-Japanese American combat unit.  When the 442nd RCT was created, Masaoka was the first to volunteer.  Because of his role in getting the 442nd RCT authorized, he was assigned to the public relations staff of the 442nd RCT where he diligently provided information to the press about the successful battlefield accomplishments of the 442nd RCT.  Masaoka is credited with generating the high praise that the 442nd received in the American press during World War II.  

    The opportunity for the Japanese Americans who served during World War II to forge a legacy of valor and honor was created by JACL.  During World War II, the JACL actively promoted serving in the US military as a way to show loyalty so there is a direct link between the World War II JACL and the legacy created by the Japanese Americans who served. 

    The National JACL resolution of apology disavows that link.  The JACL resolution of apology reverses the position of the World War II JACL in that JACL is now supporting the Tule Lake resisters’ acts of resistance and dissent as the way the community should have shown their loyalty rather than serving in the US military.  Of course, the National JACL resolution of apology ignores the fact that the acts of resistance and dissent were in support of the resisters’ pro-Japan views. 

    As a national veterans service organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II, JAVA must raise its voice on behalf of those Japanese American soldiers by defending their choice as to how they showed their loyalty.

    The valor and loyalty shown by the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II has greatly benefited the Japanese American community in the following ways: 

    • Cited by President Ronald Reagan for his decision not to veto, but to sign, HR 442 resulting in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (aka “Redress Legislation”) authorizing the US government’s apology and redress payments paid to the internees, including the Tule Lake resisters, who were still alive on the date of enactment;
    • Cited by the sponsors of legislation that passed theWalter-McCarran Immigration and Naturalization Act, giving the first generation of persons of Japanese ancestry, including the Tule Lake resisters, the right to become naturalized U.S. citizens;
    • The pivotal factor that convinced Congress to ending its long-held opposition towards Hawaii's statehood petition resulting in Hawaii becoming the 50th State;
    • Cited by the sponsors of legislation creating a bipartisan presidential commission – the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians-- that determined that Executive Order 9066, issued by President Roosevelt and strongly supported by State and local elected officials such as then California Attorney General Earl Warren, was the result of “prejudice, war hysteria, and the lack of political leadership”;
    • Cited by the sponsors of legislation that authorized the building of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II, sited within view of the Capitol, Washington, DC;
    • Cited by the sponsors of legislation that authorized the $50 million grant program to fund the preservation of confinement sites, including the Tule Lake Segregation Center, used during World War II to imprison persons of Japanese ancestry under Executive Order 9066; and
    • Cited by the sponsors of legislation that awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in November 2011 to the soldiers who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd RCT, and Military Intelligence Service during World War II;

    The Executive Council of the Japanese American Veterans Association denounces the National JACL resolution of apology to the Tule Lake resisters as a shameful and unwarranted demeaning of the legacy forged by the valor and loyalty of the Japanese Americans who served in the US military during World War II, while at the same time, National JACL, its chapters and members, and the Japanese American community at large, including the Tule Lake resisters, have benefited and will continue to benefit from that legacy.


    /Signed/

    Gerald Yamada

    President, JAVA


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