Go For Broke National Education Center announces Letters to Home - an effort to collect written material: letters, diaries and journals both to and from Japanese American soldiers during WWII. By gathering these stories, GFBNEC hope sto illustrate and explore the individual humanity expressed through these correspondences. This project is the basis for a future documentary that is in partnership with ABC7 News Anchor and documentarian, David Ono, who is also a member of our Board of Directors. Submissions and inquiries may be sent to email@example.com.
GFBNEC also announces the “Lawson Iichiro Sakai Memorial Scholarship,” a new opportunity focusing on students’ engagement and commitment to their community. This scholarship is funded by the family and friends of Lawson Sakai, who served in the 442nd RCT during WWII. Applications are in tandem with our 9th Annual GFBNEC High School and College Student Contest for which they are currently accepting essay and poetry submissions. First place winners from each category will be awarded $1,000 and additional monetary awards will be given to second and third place winners.
By Randall Kusaka, Puka Puka Parade, April 2021. No. 4/2021
[EdNote. Puka Puka Parade condensed the original article and we are condensing it even more but providing a link to the PPP version by pressing here. This story is unique for the detailed description and effects of combat. We recommend you read the skillfully-written fountain pen story. It is difficult not to become emotional. We thank Jayne Hirata, editor of PPP Parade and Randal Kusaka for approval to reprint.]
Papaikou, near Hilo, HI, Kisuke Kusaka was born into a family of sugar cane plantation laborers. His father, Kiichiro, and paternal grandfather, Okisaburo, worked in the fields around Kalaoa Camp, near Papaikou on the Big Island. Kisuke was 12 when he started part-time work at the plantation to help feed the growing family. He dropped out of English school after the eighth grade for full-time plantation work. He continued Japanese schooling for two more years before dropping out. Some of his English school teachers could not pronounce his name and assigned him various names. He finally settled for Richard K. Kusaka or Kisuke R. Kusaka.
He saw no future as a plantation laborer, so in 1939 he ran away from his Big Island home for what had to be a better life in Honolulu. He worked short stints at Pearl Harbor and a bakery in Palama. He was drafted into the Army on November 14, 1941. He was at Schofield Barracks when Japanese warplanes attacked Oahu on December 7, 1941. He put on his uniform and rushed to report for duty, but when the Caucasian soldiers looked at his face and name, they arrested him and locked him in the stockade, where he was joined by other Japanese American soldiers.
In 1942, Kusaka and other Japanese American soldiers formed the 100th Infantry Battalion, the famed "One Puka Puka" whose battlefield courage, heroism and sacrifices earned the nickname "Purple Heart Battalion. "He was wounded three times while fighting in Europe. The first time, shrapnel hit the bridge of his nose and knocked him to the ground. When he opened his eyes, he was shocked to find he could not see. For a moment he feared the shrapnel blinded him, but he quickly realized blood covered his eyes. After wiping away the blood, he was relieved he could see. The second wound was a minor left leg wound on November 30, 1943, near Scapoli, Italy. The third wound occurred in the vicinity of Seravezza, Italy on April 6, 1945 when he stepped on a landmine about a month before Germany surrendered. When he opened his eyes, someone was tying a tourniquet around his mangled left leg .
Kusaka said wartime soldiers had few personal items they carried in the field from battle to battle. Soldiers carried Zippo lighters, letters from home, Bibles, photographs and other small personal objects, but he possessed something few had: a fountain pen. After a hard-fought firefight, a wounded friend called his name. He knelt by his buddy's side as a medic patched his wounds. The friend asked to borrow his pen because he wanted to write a letter to his mother back in Honolulu. He promised that after he recovered he would find him and return it. He was reluctant to part with his pen because it was his cherished connection to his civilian life and he didn't know where or when he would find another. But this was his friend and for his friend's mother, so he took it out of his pocket and placed it in the man's and. His friend smiled and promised again he would give it back.
But fate intervened. He stepped on a landmine a month before the European War ended. He went to a hospital in Michigan, where he stayed a year, and transferred to another hospital for six months of rehabilitation. He returned to Honolulu and was discharged at Tripler Hospital in 1947. He remembered the friend who had his pen. The friend had probably recovered from his wounds and might be living at his family home. He didn't blame him for not returning the pen because war made such promises hard to keep. He found the friend's address and decided to visit. He walked up to the man's house. Behind the fence an elderly woman tended her flowers. He caught her attention and, speaking Japanese, asked if his friend was living there. The woman looked quizzically at him and questioned why he was asking for her son. He introduced himself and said he was a friend from the Army. Tears came to the woman's eyes and she beckoned him to enter her home. She said nothing as she led him into the living room toward the family shrine. Her tears made him suspect his friend had not survived. The friend's photograph in front of the shrine confirmed it. And in front of the photograph, on a small wooden stand, was his fountain pen.
The mother said her son's last letter mentioned how he borrowed a fountain pen from his buddy, Kisuke Kusaka, to write to her. He had promised to return it after his wounds healed. So when she found the pen among his possessions returned to her, she put it in an honored place awaiting the day she could fulfill that promise. Although it was one of the saddest days of his life, he felt some joy that his pen allowed the man to write a final note to his mother.
While he willingly shared some wartime stories, other stories upset him. For example, when asked how many men he killed, he reacted with an ice-cold glare, but after a moment, he answered he killed seven men. There might have been an eighth, but the soldier fell off a cliff and he could not see the body to confirm the kill. He was awarded Purple Heart Medals for his second and third wounds. His other decorations included the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, six Battle Stars, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon, and European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon.
Yuka Fujikura. Photo by Katelyn Elemad Photography.
Gaithersburg, MD. Yuka passed away peacefully on March 23, 2021 at the age of 94. Born in Hood River, Oregon she was the beloved youngest child of Masuo and Shidzuyo Yasui, sister to Yuki and Michi and her brothers Kay, Ray, Minoru, Roku, Robert and Homer.
Yuka attended high school in Hood River until May 1942 when Executive Order 9066 authorized the incarceration of tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry and resident aliens from Japan. She was removed and incarcerated first in Pinedale, California and then at Tule Lake, California.
She was able to leave the relocation camp unaccompanied at age sixteen to enter high school in Denver, Colorado. Upon graduation she attended the University of Oregon and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Yuka furthered her education by getting a Master of Nursing Degree from Yale University and a Master of Public Health Degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
She worked as a nurse at Grace-New Haven Hospital and later at the Visiting Nurses Association in New Haven. She won a Fulbright Scholarship to work and study Demography at the Institute of Public Health in Japan, where field studies were being done on people working in the rice growing, the coal mining and the fishing industries.
While in Japan she met and married the love of her life and “Best Friend” Toshio Fujikura, a pathologist. She returned with him to the states and had four children. She continued her volunteer work in Public Health while raising a family, gardening, cooking, doing Japanese embroidery, singing, and traveling.
She was the heart of her family and instilled in them the values of her father that “We are all born for a purpose, and that purpose is to make this world a better place for our having been here.”
A member of the Japanese American Veterans Association, Yuka served in its Speakers Bureau. She discussed her war time experiences at community assemblies, schools, professional organizations and government departments. She was also a resident of the Asbury Methodist Village where she was a valued speaker of the Keese School of Continuing Education.
Gerald Yamada, JAVA President
The U.S. Postal Service has announced that the “Go for Broke: Japanese American Soldiers of WWII” stamp will be unveiled at a virtual ceremony on June 3, 2021. This will be first day of issue and honors the 33,000 Japanese American men and women who served in the U.S. military during World War II. The Stamp Our Story campaign was started in 2005. It has been a long and uphill journey, but it paid off last year when the Postmaster General finally approved the “Go For Broke” stamp. JAVA along with other organizations actively supported this effort over these many years.
With more people being vaccinated, we can now move forward to plan our activities for this year. We postponed JAVA’s annual membership meeting normally scheduled for January. We have set July 24, 2021, as the date for this year’s annual membership meeting. The Harvest Moon restaurant has permanently closed so we have found a new location. This year, we will hold our membership meeting at the Peking Gourmet Inn, 6029 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA starting at 11:30am. We anticipate that the cost will be $30 per person. We have a full agenda. We will ask the membership to approve revisions to JAVA’s by-law to change JAVA’s election procedures. The program will also include announcing JAVA’s scholarship award recipients and winners of JAVA’s awards. We still need to identify a keynote speaker for this event.
Originally, the JAVA evening reception at the newly opened National Museum of the U.S. Army was set for July 15, 2021. The Museum informed us that there likely will still be COVID restrictions in place in July that could limit attendance. To avoid this, we decided to move the date. The new date is Saturday, July 16, 2022. We are arranging for tours of the Museum for JAVA members and friends during the day with an evening reception with a short program.
On March 27th, JAVA participated as a co-sponsor of the "23rd Annual and First Virtual Annual National Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk.” Since the program was virtual, I was asked to lead one of the breakout sessions instead of giving the usual welcoming remarks. My session was entitled “The Memorial and JAVA - Role of the Military in WWII and the Names on the Wall.” We had good participation and interest in the JAVA session.
The annual Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery will be held on Sunday, May 30th. JAVA will again be a co-sponsor.
We will hold the Day of Affirmation ceremony on July 15, 2021 at 12 noon at the National World War II Memorial which JAVA started last year. The program will again be live streamed via Facebook. This will commemorate the 75th anniversary of President Truman’s salute to the Nisei soldiers as loyal Americans.
JAVA’s annual Veterans Day Program will again be held at the National Japanese American Memorial on November 11 at 2pm.
Thank you for your continued support of JAVA’s activities.
JAVA Research Team
On Saturday, March 27th, the Japanese American Memorial Foundation along with JAVA and JACL-DC held the 23rd Annual and First Virtual Freedom Walk. The program which revolved around the significance of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II kicked off with rotating images of photos taken at Freedom Walks held over the years as well as a recording of Nen Daiko Japanese Taiko Drummers. Both NJAMF Board Member Martha Watanabe and JAVA Board Member LTC Marty Herbert, USA (Ret), welcomed viewers to the unique format followed by a moving narration of the symbolism captured in the Memorial given by NJAMF Board members. David Yao, who is currently Festival Director at the Asian Pacific American Film in DC, shared his early efforts to promote the first Freedom Walk in order to raise money for the Memorial to be built. Yao also commented on the significance of the Memorial after the 9/11 attacks. In many ways, the Memorial became a sacred space for Americans to reflect on the importance of upholding civil rights for all. Next, Minister Kenchiro Mukai, Head of Chancery, Embassy of Japan, noted that the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the Mayor of Tokyo to Washington, DC, as a gesture of the growing friendship between the two countries continues to affirm the affinity today. Minister Mukai remarked that as a Japanese citizen he feels a special pride in the story of Japanese Americans. Although it is a painful story - one of sacrifice and service - it is also an uplifting and inspiring story. Secretary Norman Mineta also spoke, telling his painful story of family internment but his unremitting pride in being an American.
After the formal program, participants had the opportunity to gather in virtual breakout sessions on the following topics: The Memorial and Tsuru for Solidarity; The Memorial and 9/11; The Memorial and NJAMF; The Memorial and JAVA; JACSC/NPS; HR 40; and Crane Making. JAVA President Gerald Yamada led the breakout session on The Memorial and JAVA (see remarks below). As the different breakout sessions concluded, participants were encouraged to join a general chat in a "lobby" or join a different discussion. All agreed that while they missed the beauty of the cherry blossoms and the serenity of the Memorial, the new platform offered participants a way to gather from around the country and discuss important issues.
On behalf of the Japanese American Veterans Association, I welcome you to the Annual Freedom Walk. My name is Gerald Yamada, and I am President of JAVA. We are again proud to be a co-sponsor of this event.
The National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II and the Freedom Walk tell the American story of how the government, motivated by prejudice, illegally restricted the freedoms and equality of persons of Japanese ancestry, and how the Nisei soldiers served to restore those fundamental rights.
The Nisei soldiers who served in World War II fought on the battlefields in Europe and in the Pacific. They fought against America’s enemies but also were fighting the war against prejudice at home.
They put themselves in harm’s way to prove their loyalty to the United States, while their family and friends were unjustly imprisoned at home. Those, who served, put country first.
They restored the dignity of all persons of Japanese ancestry with their personal courage.
Since the Memorial was dedicated in 2000, JAVA has hosted every year a Veterans Day program there to honor our veterans. We especially remember the 800 Japanese Americans soldiers who died during World War II. Their names are inscribed on the granite walls of this Memorial.
Today, we celebrate the legacy forged by the 33,000 Japanese Americans, who served in the US military during World War II. They served to restore freedom and equality as American values. The legacy of their sacrifices, and their spirit, must be remembered and honored.
The Memorial reminds us that we must guard against racially motivated governmental policies and decisions. We must promote programs to deter hate-motivated attacks aimed at any minority group. The war against prejudice is still on-going.
That is why the Memorial, the Freedom Walk, and JAVA’s Veterans Day program continue to be relevant, and important, 79 years after Executive Order 9066 was signed.
Lt Gen (Ret) Thomas P. Bostick, USA.
Arlington, VA. Lt Gen (Ret) Thomas P. Bostick’s book, Winning After Losing, Building Resilient Teams is available on book stands nationally and internationally. His strong academic and professional background in government and business supports his thesis that resilience is the key to survival and ultimate success. According to Bostick, “Winning After Losing is a book of stories and lessons about resilience; stories about how leaders and their teams learned how to bounce back even stronger after a loss, then learn how to win.” In the book, he asks the tough questions and provides the best answers:
In considering his reasons for writing Winning After Losing, Bostick stated, “there is an additional part of my personal leadership story that inspired me to write this book and sustained me through the months of research, writing, and re-writing. And that’s my background. My personal history." Bostick continued, “like so many others I grew up in a unique family. My mother was born and raised in Japan. My father was an African American soldier from Brooklyn, New York. I had one sister and three brothers – five of us growing up as ‘Army Brats’ moving from base to base, having to deal with change, and learning to value every dollar. That is where my leadership lessons really began. My father, who was an athlete and champion runner, taught me the importance of self-discipline. Because there wasn’t enough money to send five kids to college, I learned to think creatively–and that’s when I first considered the military as the way to a career. That’s also when I was introduced to my first mentor—a man who showed me how to overcome seemingly insurmountable roadblocks and started me on a lifetime of mentorship – both being mentored and becoming a mentor. So in several ways, many of my earliest lessons were foundational to both my successful careers in the military and in private industry.”
A retired 3-star General with over thirty-eight years of service, Bostick commented, “Over the span of my military career, I served in many leadership roles and each one taught me valuable lessons. Sometimes these lessons were learned when serving in the trenches. Sometimes while at the Pentagon. There were lessons learned in complex public-private-partnerships. And sometimes the most important lessons were learned during seemingly impossible missions leading a platoon of thirty soldiers whose greatest mission was to pass a maintenance inspection. And finally, some of my most rewarding lessons were learned while I was leading large teams of over 1M troops and 330,000 civilians as Director of Human Resources responsible for policy for the U.S. Army to Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the largest public engineering organization in the world. Many of the lessons in this book are the result of many factors. They are the distillations of the lessons I learned alone and with others. They are the strategies our teams employed and the tactics we tested. And finally, they are the successes and even failures our teams experienced. That is the Army part of this leadership book.”
LTG Bostick's career also included time in the private sector where he "served as the Chief Operating Officer of a publicly traded bioengineering company with multiple biotech companies and R&D divisions." He noted that "these companies and divisions with over one thousand employees–700 with advanced degrees, focused on health, energy, environment, and food," had goals that were unalike and at the same time alike. "The skills in leading teams to achieve success in fulfilling their mission are very similar whether it be in sales, in research, in new product development, or in mergers and acquisitions.”
A member of JAVA, LTG Bostick has shared his knowledge and wisdom as the principal speaker at JAVA and other Japanese American community events in the Washington, DC, area.
On March 29, 1973, the U.S. ended United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam and U.S. combat troops left the country. In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, the U.S. has established March 29 at National Vietnam War Veterans Day, and over 11,000 organizations around the country remembered and honored the nine million Americans who served. JAVA salutes our Vietnam Vets for their service and sacrifice. For more information about the 50th Anniversary and the U.S.A. Vietnam War Commemoration visit https://www.vietnamwar50th.com/.
BGen Mark A. Hashimoto, USMCR. Photo: U.S. Marine Corps.
On March 4, 2020, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III nominated Marine Corps Reserve Brigadier General Mark A. Hashimoto for appointment to the rank of major general. Hashimoto is currently serving as Commanding General, Force Headquarters Group, U.S. Marine Forces Reserve, New Orleans, Louisiana. BGen Hashimoto was born and raised in Honolulu where he graduated from Punahou School. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Stanford University and a Master of Business Administration from UCLA. He was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer through the Officer Candidate Class Ground Program in 1992.
BGen Hashimoto served on active duty as an Infantry officer from 1992 to 1998 and then transferred to the Marine Corps Reserves. He has had three assignments with Force Reconnaissance units and has had other assignments in Hawaii, San Bruno, CA, and Quantico, VA. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 2018 and his first general officer assignment was as the Deputy Commanding General, Marine Forces Pacific (Mobilization). He is a graduate of the USMC Amphibious Warfare School Non-Resident Program, the USMC Command and Staff College Distance Education Program, the Air War College Distance Learning Program, and the Join Forces Staff College Advanced Joint Professional Military Education program.
In his civilian life, Mr. Hashimoto is a member of the Senior Executive Service and is the Executive Director, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. As Executive Director he is a key strategic leader who provides leadership, managerial direction, and program expertise for all Marine Forces Pacific command functions. He is also his agency’s lead for the Defense Policy Review Initiative and human capital management.
CWO4 Sye Seichi Terauchi, U.S. Army. Photo: Terauchi Family.
Lahaina, Maui. CWO4 Sye Seichi Terauchi served in the 100th Infantry Battalion during World War II, and also served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars over a 30-year career, retiring in January 1971. Thrice wounded in action in the Italian campaign, Terauchi was sent home after the Monte Cassino campaign. After Terauchi's discharge, he studied auto repair in Colorado and then returned home to repair his neighbors’ cars in Waipahu, HI. In 1997, he moved to Oregon to live with his son's family. He died at age 95 and is interred at the Willamette (Oregon) National Cemetery.
His children are Geraldine Terauchi of Hawaii; Terence Terauchi of Los Angeles; Roderick Terauchi of El Cerrito, CA; Gregory Terauchi of Gresham, OR and Bryan Terauchi of Hawaii. There are six grandchildren.
On January 16, 1996, Terauchi sent a two-page letter to his children, presented below, which described his military career and was accompanied by a warm personal note. Terauchi’s letter includes the high points of his assignment as an infantryman with the 100th in Italy, as an operations sergeant with the 69th Field Artillery Battalion in Korea, and as operations sergeant at Headquarters, 3rd Brigade, 1st Air Cavalry Division in South Vietnam.
Terauchi's personal letters and memorabilia will be archived at the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, where they will be available for national and international researchers, film makers, LOC book writers and exhibits. JAVA offers its respectful hand salute to Sgt Maj Terauchi for a job well done.
[Ed Note: We wish to thank the Terauchi family for allowing the e-Advocate to print this story of a most remarkable and patriotic Nisei.]