Image of PFC Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto of Ninole, HI on Go For Broke Forever Stamp to be release on June 3, 2021.
Wayne Osako, Co-Chair, Stamp Our Story Campaign
“Always be proud of your heritage.” -Fusa Takahashi (93), Stamp Our Story Founder/Co Chair, and Go For Broke veteran widow.
The U.S. Postal Service has announced that the official release date of the Go For Broke Japanese American Soldiers of World War II Forever Stamp is Thursday, June 3rd, 2021. The first city of issue for the stamp will be Los Angeles, California, where Ms. Takahashi and her friends started the stamp campaign in 2005.
The little stamp with a big story cannot come soon enough for its supporters, especially in light of the rise in anti-Asian American violence and hate crimes.
The USPS is currently working with the Stamp Our Story Campaign and community partners that rallied for the stamp such as the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC), Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF), Nisei Veterans Legacy, and Friends of Minidoka, among many others. The goal is to collaborate and assist the USPS in a community-based national rollout for the stamp.
A USPS national video dedication is being made, and special regional stamp dedications are being developed across the nation to commemorate the inspiring American legacy of the Go For Broke Soldiers.
Stamp Our Story is the coalition of family and friends of the Nisei soldiers that backed the proposal for the Go For Broke Soldiers Stamp, and includes the many organizations that have supported the cause. Nisei is the term for American citizens whose parents immigrated from Japan. The effort was started in 2005 by three California Nisei women who each endured incarceration in U.S. detention camps during the war: Fusa Takahashi (93) of Granite Bay, Aiko O. King (93) of Camarillo, and the late Chiz Ohira of Gardena. Two of the women are widows of U.S. Army Go For Broke veterans of the war. Ms. Takahashi ’s husband, Kazuo, was a Military Intelligence Service veteran from San Francisco, California. Ms. Ohira ’s husband, Ted, was a 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran from Makaweli, Hawaii.
“In the past, our founders have each expressed their wish that the stamp bring people and organizations together to remember and to honor what the Go For Broke Soldiers accomplished, and to be reminded of their American legacy that impacts us all today,” said Stamp Our Story Co-Chair Wayne Osako, who has been helping the campaign founders since 2006, and has a number of Nisei relatives who served in the 100th/442nd RCT, MIS, and WAC.
Some dedications are planned to be virtual, and some in-person, though limited due to the ongoing pandemic. Outreach to communities is currently being conducted to see if there is interest in developing local events. Ceremony planning is already underway in Hawaii, California, Oregon, Idaho, and Texas. Those interested are encouraged to reach out to their local affiliated veterans organizations that may already be in contact with Stamp Our Story. If not, they can get more information at www.StampOurStory.org.
Ms. Takahashi, campaign founder, shared the following statement to supporters: “We thank all of you who have supported the stamp campaign over the past 15 years. It took the support from many, many organizations and individuals to make this stamp become a reality. We invite you to celebrate the stamp with us when it comes out. And remember to always be proud of your heritage. As Nisei, it’s what our parents taught us that made these soldiers give their best. Thank you!”
The USPS named the stamp after the “Go For Broke” motto of the U.S. Army ’s 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), but which now commonly refers to all of the American men and women of Japanese heritage who served in the war. Most served in the 100th/442nd RCT, Military Intelligence Service (MIS), 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, Women ’s Army Corps (WAC), Cadet Nurse Corps, and Army Nurse Corps.
Find more information at www.StampOurStory.org. We also encourage you to visit the websites of our coalition partners, who have extensive resources on the Go For Broke Soldiers.
Hanako Wakatsuki, National Park Service Photo: Honolulu StarAdvertiser.
By William Code
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Reprinted with Permission
March 31, 2021
Honouliuli National Historic Site has its first superintendent, but the generally slow pace of planning within the National Park Service means it might take five or more years before construction of visitor services could even start at the wartime internment camp that held Japanese Americans.
Hanako Wakatsuki has been acting chief of interpretation at the USS Arizona Memorial and acting site manager for Honouliuli, which is on Oahu, since late last year.
Wakatsuki has a personal connection to Japanese internment during World War Il: Several generations of her family were incarcerated at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California.
"Hanako brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to this position," acting NPS Regional Director Linda Walker said in a release. "Her work at Japanese American confinement sites managed by the park service, coupled with her experience as a regional adviser for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make her well suited for this position."
On Friday, meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii introduced legislation that would promote public education about Japanese American internment during the war, The bill would permanently reauthorize the Japanese American Confinement Sites program with $38 million in annual funding to preserve internment camps across the country — including Honouliuli, according to a release.
The Japanese American Confinement Education Act eliminates a 2021 sunset provision of current preservation legislation, Schatz said. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii is a co-sponsor.
"The internment of Japanese-American citizens remains one of the darkest and most shameful periods in our history," Schatz said,
Honouliuli Internment Camp was the largest and longest-used incarceration facility in Hawaii during World War ll. Run by the U.S. Army in a gulch and called Jigoku-Dani, or Hell Valley, by the Japanese Americans held there, the Kunia camp held about 400 internees and 4,000 prisoners of war from 1943 to 1945.
The 160-acre internment camp had 175 buildings, 14 guard towers and over 400 tents. The majority of Honouliuli's civilian internees were American citizens — predominately Japanese Americans — who were suspected of disloyalty, the Park Service said. They were community, business and religious leaders. Some German Americans and other nationalities also were interned.
As a POW camp, Honouliuli held enemy soldiers and labor conscripts from Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Taiwan and Italy.
The facility has come to symbolize Hawaii's role in the discrimination that was directed at Japanese Americans in Hawaii after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War ll.
In designating Honouliuli as a national monument in 2015, then-President Barack Obama said, "Going forward, (Honouliuli) is going to be a monument to a painful part of our history so that we don't repeat the mistakes of the past.
Concrete foundations that in some cases were covered by several feet of earth are the main remnants of the former camp, now a weedy and overgrown, mosquito- filled place.
Wakatsuki said the public will eventually be asked what they'd like to see at the site, and that process will lead to a general management plan. Public access roads to the site still have to be worked out, she said.
"We need to address the access issue before we could go into the general management plan," she said. Being superintendent of Honouliuli is Wakatsuki's full-time job, and right now she's a staff of one.
"But we're anticipating hiring a few additional employees," and the Park Service will utilize interns, she said.
Nate Gyotoku, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, which has taken groups out to Honouliuli and has an exhibit in its education center, said, "I believe that things will move faster with a permanent superintendent there. Hanako has experience with Japanese American incarceration sites, which is also exciting. We recently had our first call together, and it sounds like there is progress."
Group visits by the cultural center to the site haven't occurred during the coronavirus pandemic, and its education center is open in a limited capacity, he said.
Wakatsuki also worked at Minidoka National Historic Site and Tule Lake National Monument, both former mainland internment camps.
[Ed Note: Thank you to Wade Ishimoto for recommending this article and to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser for granting permission to reprint.]
The Japanese American Veterans Association announces its annual Memorial Scholarship Program for 2021. The scholarships will benefit a range of graduating high school seniors, undergraduate students, and post-graduate and professional education students.
The scholarships include The Senator Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Scholarship ($3,000) honoring the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye’s iconic career of military and civilian public service; the JAVA Founder’s Scholarship ($3,000), which is awarded in memory of JAVA’s founder, Colonel Sunao Phil Ishio, USAR, his wife Constance, and their son Douglas Ishio; the Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin Legacy Scholarship ($2,000), a tribute to Ms. Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin, a longtime supporter of JAVA; and JAVA Memorial Scholarships ($1,500), honoring Nisei veterans, JAVA members and/or their family members. The 2021 JAVA Memorial Scholarships are:
Dr. Americo Bugliani Scholarship in honor of his liberator, Paul Sakamoto, 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd RCT veteran.
Tak and Carolyn Furumoto Scholarship in honor of Sam Kiyoto Furumoto, Tak’s late father, whose tenacity, industry, and positive attitude continue to inspire and shape Tak and his family today.
Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship in honor of Ranger Grant Jiro Hirabayashi, MIS veteran.
Colonel Jimmie Kanaya Scholarship in honor of Colonel Jimmie Kanaya, a three-war veteran – WW II, Korean, and Vietnam.
Mitsugi Kasai Scholarship in honor of CWO 4 Mitsugi Murakami Kasai, MIS veteran.
Ben Kuroki Scholarship in honor of Sergeant Ben Kuroki, a gunner in the US Army Air Corps, 505th Bombardment Group.
Matsui Scholarship in honor of Victor Matsui, MIS veteran, and wife Teru.
Colonel Virgil R. Miller Scholarship in honor of Colonel Virgil R. Miller Scholarship, Commander of the 442nd RCT, who led the Nisei soldiers in their rescue of the Texas "Lost Battalion" in the Vosges Mountains of France during WWII.
Robert Nakamoto Scholarship in honor of past JAVA President and Korean War veteran, Bob Nakamoto.
Betty Shima Scholarship in honor of Betty Fujita Shima, lifelong partner of 442nd RCT veteran, Terry Shima.
Shirey Scholarship in honor of Major Orville Shirey, 442nd RCT veteran, and wife Maud Shirey.
Descendants of those who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service, the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, or other United States military unit, including the Women’s Army Corps or Army Nurses Corps are eligible and encouraged to apply.
Current members of JAVA whose membership began prior to April 1, 2019, are eligible and encouraged to apply. Children of current JAVA members are also eligible and encouraged to apply if the applicant’s parent or guardian was a member of JAVA prior to April 1, 2019.
Past or present members of the Army’s 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry (USAR), are eligible and encouraged to apply for the Senator Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Scholarship. Applicants should demonstrate their lifelong commitment to public and uniformed service leadership for the nation.
Applicants should first review published rules and forms. Applications and supporting documents must be electronically submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 30, 2021, to email@example.com. Applications not received by that date or that fail to meet the submission requirements will NOT be considered. Applicants will be notified of a decision by early June 2021. Awards will be presented at a JAVA scholarship awards ceremony on July 17, 2021.
2021 JAVA Memorial Scholarship Program Overview here.
2021 U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Scholarship here.
2021 JAVA's Founder's Scholarship here.
2021 Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin Legacy Scholarship here.
2021 JAVA Memorial Scholarships here.
Scholarship information can also be found on the JAVA website:
JAVA send a warm Aloha to our new Veteran and Friends of JAVA Members.
Col. Kanji Asami, USA (Ret)
Kelly Bryant, USA
Wesley Chiu, USAF
James Harlan, USMC
Roy Imamura, USA
Walter Jackson, USAF
Christopher Kojima, USA
LTC Robert Mihara, USA (Ret)
Wayson Miyanishi, USA
Adam Muraoka, USA
Milton Omoto, USA
Gary Sakata, USA
Robert Smith, USA
Michael Takahashi, USN
Capt. Dale Uyeda, USN
Eric Yoshida, USN
Friend of JAVA
JAVA offers a heartfelt thanks to our generous members and friends for their gifts, memorials, and tributes given in support of our mission, events, and scholarships. We are truly grateful.
Anonymous - In Honor of LTC Robert Nakamura, USA (Ret)
Nancy Beck - General Support
Susan Pam Vokac Bennett - Colonel Virgil R. Miller Scholarship
Lynn Bettencourt - Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship
Lynn Bettencourt - In Honor of Terry Shima Birthday
Dr. Ann Bugliani - Dr. Americo Bugliani Scholarship
Dawn Eilenberger - 2020 Appeal
Tak & Carolyn Furumoto - Sam Kiyoto / Tak & Carolyn Furumoto Scholarship
Kei Hirabayashi - Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship
Kei Hirabayashi - In Honor of Terry Shima's Birthday
Kei Hirabayashi - Betty Shima Scholarship
Kei Hirabayashi - Major Mike Okusa Scholarship
Julie Kuroki - Ben Kuroki Scholarship
Kathryn Miller - Colonel Virgil R. Miller Scholarship
Amy and Anthony Nakamoto-Brown - Robert Nakamoto Scholarship
Mae Nakamoto - Robert Nakamoto Scholarship
Michael Nakamoto - Robert Nakamoto Scholarship
Dr. Kenjalin Ogata - 2020 Appeal - In Appreciation for JAVA
Joanne Sakai - In Memory of father and 442nd Veteran Lawson Sakai
Robert Vokac - Colonel Virgil R. Miller Scholarship
August 21, 1926 - February 16, 2021
Hason "Haas" Fujio Yanaga passed away peacefully. He is survived by his wife Florence and three daughters: Naomi, Valerie, Denise and their loving families.
Hass grew up on a 160-acre farm/ranch near Ft. Lupton, Colorado with an unobstructed view of Long's Peak. Born fifth into a family of six boys, he loved the land and nature thus his favorite song was "Where the Columbines Grow," the state song. His parents were immigrants from Japan making him a "Nisei" or second generation.
In World War II, he served at General Douglas MacArthur's headquarters in the Pacific as an interpreter. His work in the Military Intelligence Service allowed him to view Hideki Tojo in his prison cell at Sugamo Prison. Hass was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his distinguished service.
He attended the University of Denver on the G.I. Bill for his B.A. and also earned a master's degree of Education. He retired from the Denver Public Schools after 32 years. During that time, he volunteered with the Aurora Human Rights Commission. He had a subsequent career in security and as a police volunteer. For sports, Hass bowled in bowling leagues, was on a senior's softball team, and played tennis. In retirement, he enjoyed gardening.
Hass was a life member of the America Legion Post 1 and Voiture 97 Forty and Eight. In the interim, he served and retired from the U.S. Coast Guard after 15 years.
Hass leaves behind wife Florence (nee Endo) Yanaga, originally from Maui, Hawaii and daughters Valerie Appelbaum married to Alan Appelbaum of Littleton, Colorado; Denise Livingston married to Steve Livingston of Denver, Colorado; and Naomi Wilsey married to David Wilsey of Needham, MA. Hason and Florence's grandsons are Gierma Livingston, Scott Wilsey, and D.J. Wisley.
Internment will be conducted with a family-only ceremony at Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, Colorado, where Hass was initially inducted into the U.S. Army on November 21, 1944.
[Ed Note: Hason Fujio Yanaga was a Member of JAVA. Daughter Naomi Wilsey submitted her father's obituary.]
James Nobuo Yamazaki, 590th Artillery Battalion, 106th Infantry Division.
July 6, 1916 - March 5, 2021
His extraordinary life began, July 6, 1916 in Los Angeles, born to Rev. John Misao and Mary Tsune Yamazaki. Growing up, he stayed busy with attending (and cleaning) St. Mary's Episcopal Church, school, sports, playing in the actual L.A. river, going to the beach, Boy Scouts, ROTC and even learning to play the trombone.
After a whirlwind romance, Jim married Aki Hirashiki, while at Medical Field Service School. Months later James had to leave a pregnant Aki to ship out to Europe. Captured at Battle of the Bulge, marched and bombed while transported in trains, hundreds of miles, to POW camps. He witnessed the mutilated Wereth Eleven being buried by kind Belgium farmers. Another farmer fed and sheltered him and the wounded soldiers he accompanied on their long, winter march. He survived the deprivations of camp to return to Aki but had the further hardship of learning they lost their newborn son to a heart malformation, caused by Aki having rubella during pregnancy. Unfortunately, vaccines for this had not yet been developed.
Returning to California in '51, Dr. Yamazaki became a professor for the inaugural UCLA Medical School class. He realized it would be difficult to raise his growing family on his professor's salary and opened a private pediatric practice. He will be remembered fondly for over 35 years of compassionate care. Upon his retirement, he started to work on his biography. Children of the Atomic Bomb, published in 1995.
In 2007 Jim and Aki left their Van Nuys home of 55 years to move closer to family in Washington. Their marriage would last just shy of 70 years and as Jim would say "Not just 70 years, 70 GOOD years". He was preceded in death by Aki; son, Noel; grandson, Masami; his siblings, John (Fumi), Peter (Joy) and Louise; as well as most of his generation friends. This remarkable man's life touched so many. He will be deeply missed but his life fully revered and celebrated by his son, Paul (Sara) of San Francisco; daughters, Katharine of Taos, N.M., and Caroline (Brad) Roberts of White Salmon, Wash.; grandchildren, Yuki (Andrew) Romero, Taro, Mariko, Jazmin (Austin) Krentz and Taniya; seven great-grandchildren; many nieces, nephews, cousins, his loving caregivers and countless friends of all ages.
James requested that no services be held, nor flowers or koden sent. Please honor his memory by spreading his message or a donation in support of Social Justice, Peace, Children, Arts or the Environment.
[Ed Note: Jeff Morita submitted James Nobuo Yamazaki's obituary.]
Merrill’s Marauders. Herbert Miyasaki, BG Frank Merrill, Commander of Merrill’s Marauders, and Akiji Yoshimura in Burma, April 1944. Photo: U.S. Signal Corps.
The Japanese Americans who served with Merrill’s Marauders were Edward Mitsukado, Thomas K. Tsubota, Herbert Y. Miyasaki, Robert Y. Honda, Roy K. Nakada who were originally with the 100th Battalion and Howard Furumoto, Henry Gosho, Grant J. Hirabayashi, Calvin T. Kobata, Russell K. Kono, Roy H. Matsumoto, Ben S. Sugeta, Jimmy Yamaguchi, Akiji Yoshimura. They were led by Captain William Laffin, whose mother was Japanese. However, when the movie Merrill's Marauders (1962), https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056234/ and its fictionalized counterpart Never So Few (1959), https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053108/ were filmed, there were no Japanese American MISers in the them. Never so Few, which features Charles Bronson as a code talker did have several Japanese American actors including George Takei and Mako who play uncredited Japanese soldiers. Even though General Merrill, the famed leader of Merrill’s Marauders, had high praise for the Japanese American MISers, "[a]s for the value of the Nisei group, I couldn't have gotten along without them. Probably few realized that these boys did everything that an infantryman normally does plus the extra work of translating, interrogating, etc." One of the reasons World War II movies about the war in the Pacific left out the participation of the Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service may have been because of the classified nature of their work.
One movie featuring Japanese American veterans of the Pacific and Europe as themselves was the Next Karate Kid, released in 1994. My father, JAVA member Warren Tsuneishi and JAVA member Grant J. Hirabayashi are in the Next Karate Kid scene at the beginning, filmed near the Iwo Jima memorial as extras in a celebration for Japanese American veterans including Mr. Miyagi. When we took my daughter and her cousins to see it, they exclaimed, "there's grandpa" when they saw his headshot fill the screen. The 442nd of which Mr. Miyagi was a fictional member had their film, Go For Broke. Maybe it’s time for a movie about the Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service to have theirs.
U.S. Army Center of Military History - NISEI LINGUISTS
"The Marauder Samurai," Merrill's Marauders 5307 Composite Unit (Provisional), accessed January 2, 2015, http://www.marauder.org/nisei01.htm.
306th HQ Intelligence Detachment, XXIV Corps, Leyte, Philippines, November 1, 1944. Front row, l to r: George Shimotori, Saburo Okamura, Thomas Sasaki, Francis Yamamoto Herbert Nishihara, Warren Tsuneishi (author's father). Back row, l to r: Hiroshi Itow, Joe Nishihara, Lt. Richard Kleeman, TSgt George Takabayashi, Lloyd Shimasato. Photo: U.S. Signal Corps.
Facing the Mountain by Daniel James Brown to be released on May 11, 2021.
Daniel James Brown, Author
Carmel, CA. From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown, a gripping World War II saga of patriotism and courage: the special Japanese-American Army unit that overcame brutal odds in Europe; their families, incarcerated back home; and a young man who refused to surrender his constitutional rights, even if it meant imprisonment.
They came from across the continent and Hawaii. Their parents taught them to embrace both their Japanese heritage and the ways of their American homeland. They faced bigotry, yet they believed in their bright futures as American citizens. But within days of Pearl Harbor, the FBI was ransacking their houses and locking up their fathers. And within months many would themselves be living behind barbed wire.
Facing the Mountain is an unforgettable chronicle of wartime America and the battlefields of Europe. Based on Daniel James Brown’s extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, it portrays the kaleidoscopic journey of four Japanese-American families and their sons, who volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were deployed to France, Germany, and Italy, where they were asked to do the near impossible.
But this is more than a war story. Brown also tells the story of these soldiers’ parents, immigrants who were forced to shutter their businesses, surrender their homes, and submit to life in concentration camps on U.S. soil. Woven throughout is the chronicle of a brave young man, one of a cadre of patriotic resisters who stood up against their government in defense of their own rights. Whether fighting on battlefields or in courtrooms, these were Americans under unprecedented strain, doing what Americans do best–striving, resisting, pushing back, rising up, standing on principle, laying down their lives, and enduring.
Readers of the advance copy of the book have provided the following remarks which will appear on the book jacket.
“This is a masterwork of American history that will change the way we look at World War II. You don’t just read a Daniel James Brown story—you go there. Facing the Mountain is lump-in-the-throat territory, page after page.” - Adam Makos. author of A Higher Call.
“Facing the Mountain proves that the savagery of war isn’t restricted to foreign battlefields. Many went to war - those who remained incarcerated endured the wrath of their fellow countrymen. It is said that to be an American we should strive to live life worthy of the sacrifices of those who came before us. Our bearing with each other is dependent on it.” - Lt Col Michael J. Yaguchi, USAF (Ret); 1st Vice Commander, Nisei Veterans Committee (NVC).
"Daniel James Brown has done it again. HIs rich, nuanced recreation of the dark years when thousands of our fellow citizens were incarcerated because of their ancestry is a must-read contribution to the history of the 20th century. It’s also uplifting. I’ll never look at the World War II story in the same light. - Timothy Egan, author of The Worst Hard Time.
“Facing the Mountain” arrives at the perfect time, to remind us of the true meaning of patriotism. In Daniel James Brown’s gifted hands, these overlooked American heroes are getting the glory they deserve. Read this book and know their stories.” - Mitchell Zuckoff, author of “Lost in Shangri-La.”
“A must-read. You will not be able to put it down.” - Scott Oki, former VP Microsoft, Founder, Densho.
“Daniel James Brown brings to life the gripping true story of Japanese Americans whose steely heroism fought Nazism abroad and racism at home. Bound by Japanese values of filial piety, giri (social obligation) and gaman (endurance) and forged in the crucible of brutal combat, the soldiers served the very country that locked their families in American concentration camps for no crime other than looking like the enemy while camp resisters fought for justice denied.” - Lori L. Matsukawa, News anchor, KING TV, Seattle.
“The loyal and often heroic service of Japanese American soldiers is one of history’s most inspiring responses to bigotry and oppression. Daniel James Brown brilliantly pairs these events in an epic of courage and resistance.” - David Laskin, author of The Family: A Journey into the Heart of the 20th Century and The Long Way Home: An American Journey From Ellis Island to the Great War.
“This book’s breadth and depth are unparalleled as it poignantly traces the Japanese American thread in the rich fabric of America. We meet compelling individuals, witness war horrors and celebrate moments of triumph of the human spirit. The author vividly describes communities confronting prejudice with resilience and patriotism, surviving and ultimately having the opportunity to thrive.” - Terry Shima, T/4, 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Author Daniel James Brown.
Image of PFC Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto of Ninole, HI on Go For Broke Forever Stamp to be release in 2021.
In an article that appeared in the Hamakua Times February 1, 2021, issue. Pamela Elders, Chair of Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School, known previously as the Laupahoehoe Elementary and High School, took the opportunity to share the story behind one of Laupahoehoe's former graduates, PFC Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto, a 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran, whose photo will be featured on the U.S. forever postage stamp as a tribute to Japanese Americans who served in the armed forces during WW II. The soon to be iconic photo of Yamamoto was submitted to the U.S. Post Office by Shari Yamashiro of Honolulu.
As related in Elder's article, Shiroku Yamamoto was born and grew up in Ninole, a sugar plantation village. Shiroku’s mother left the family when Shiroku was still a baby and his father raised him. Shiroku’s father, a sugar planter, died when Shiroku was 16 years old. The Laupahoehoe school principal, Elvis Rhoads and his wife, Mary, brought Shiroku into their home and raised him. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, all schools in Hawaii closed and Shiroku volunteered for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), located in Hawaii.
In January 1943, Shiroku volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, was assigned to the Antitank Company, trained in Camp Shelby, MS, and was deployed to Italy with the 442nd. Shortly after the 442nd merger with the 100th Battalion, which had been fighting in Italy for the previous nine months, the Antitank Co. was detached from the 442nd for glider training. In August 1944 the Company was attached to the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Airborne Task Force which landed in southern France by gliders as part of Operation Dragoon. While Operation Overlord (Normandy invasion) attacked France from the north, Dragoon attacked from southern France. Antitank Company guarded the exposed right flank of the Seventh Army and it cleared mines, captured Germans, and guarded roads and tunnels.
Shiroku was discharged from the Army on January 3, 1946, and lived with his adopted parents, Rhoads, who by then was principal of Leilehua High School, Honolulu. Shiroku attended Leilehua and obtained a high school diploma in June 1946.
Shiroku used his GI benefits to attend Stout Institute (industrial arts school) in Menominee, WI. He left Stout after one year to learn watch repair in Albany, MO, and jewelry manufacturing, stone setting, and engraving in Newcastle, PA. In 1951, he returned to Hawaii where he married his high school sweetheart, Amy Motoyo. His first career job was as an instrument technician at the U.S. Army Hickam Airfield, Honolulu. He eventually served in the instruments shop at Aloha Airlines from which he retired after 22 years of service.
Yamamoto is proud to have served in the U.S. Army to protect the democratic way of life in the same tradition American patriots served before him. To read Elder's Hamakua Times article click here. The electronic version of Elder's Hamakua Times article about Whitey Yamamoto will appear at a later date on this link https://hamakuatimes.com/.
Links to other coverage on PFC Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto and the USPS Go For Broke stamp: