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  • 01 Dec 2020 10:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    National Museum of U.S. Army, Ft. Belvoir, VA. Photo: Rod Azama.


    By CAPT Wade Ishimoto, USA (Ret)

    Rod Azama and I toured the National Museum of the U.S. Army on November 23, 2020.  The Museum, set adjacent to Ft. Belvoir in Northern Virginia, is striking and impressive both inside and out. The building commands attention, the silent and strong type, as it rises from a grassy expanse. Inside, exhibits, galleries, and films tell the stories of individuals, units, and campaigns from the Nation’s colonial times to current conflicts.

    The Nisei WWII story is spread throughout the Museum in different galleriesThe 442nd Regimental Combat Team plaque that JAVA purchased is in a prominent position on the wall bordering the parking lot and leading to the museum. JAVA is also recognized on a large wall comprising one end of the Veterans Hall as a Silver Oak Leaf Cluster donor. The experience of Nisei soldiers in WWII is showcased on the third floor. A collection of donated artifacts such as an MIS dictionary and hand prosthetic along with photographs help tell the story of the 100th, 442nd, and MIS. A continuously playing video features interviews with Grant Ichikawa and Terry Shima. Grant is even sporting a JAVA polo shirt in the clip.


    Nisei Soldier Experience exhibit, third floor, National Museum of U.S. Army. Photo: Rod Azama.

    Innovative displays using touch screens that one can scroll to find in-depth details are stationed throughout the museum. For example, in the display of Colonel Robert Howard, a deceased friend and Medal of Honor winner, the touch screen covered Bob's individual actions and the operation that he was on in great detail.  It took me some 10 minutes to scroll through his write-up. The exhibits were equally fascinating. I came across one that caught me quite off guard–an exhibit on Operation Eagle Claw, the 1980 attempt to rescue 53 American hostages in Tehran, Iran. I recognized those in the photo as Dennis Wolfe, Norm Crawford, and Larry Friedman (who perished in Somalia years later).  In the middle of the exhibit was an object that I couldn't quite make out.  As I got closer to where I could read what was below the object, I was shocked to see that it was the shoulder holster I wore in Iran on the rescue mission.  I believe I had given it to John Bianchi, a close friend whose company made the holster.  John passed away about 10 years ago, so I have no idea who might have donated the holster to the museum 

    Rod and I had a great time.  Highly recommend a tour of the museum.


    Operation Eagle Claw exhibit, National Museum U.S. Army. Photo: Wade Ishimoto.


    Operation Eagle Claw Exhibit, Pistol Shoulder Holster. "Capt. Wade Y. Ishimoto wore this holster from 24-25 April 1980 as a member of Delta Force during Operation Eagle Claw, the mission to rescue American embassy hostages held in Tehran, Iran. National Museum of the U.S. Army. Photo: Wade Ishimoto.

    [Ed Note: The National Museum of the United States Army opened its doors on Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11, 2020. To watch the opening ceremony click on this link: https://www.dvidshub.net/webcast/25129.

    Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance. Click this link to make a reservation, https://www.thenmusa.org/timed-entry-ticketing/

    Visit the Museum’s website at theNMUSA.org or take a video tour of NMUSA by clicking this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wo-yEf4HF-s.]


  • 01 Dec 2020 10:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In a multi-episode series, David Ono, Channel 7 ABC News Los Angeles explores racial stereotypes and history in “FACEism.   Episode 3 features Japanese American and Army veteran Roger Shimomura and his art, Episode 8 covers President Reagan's apology for the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, while Episode 13 highlights 442nd veteran Lawson Sakai and his experience fighting in France and his return visit in 2019. Click on the links below to watch.


    Episode 3: Click on this link to watch Roger Shimomura confronts racism, stereotypes with art


    Episode 8: FACEism: Click on this link to watch President Reagan's apology for the US internment of Japanese Americans during World War II


    Episode 13: Click on this link to watch Japanese-American veteran receives a hero's welcome in French village he helped liberate in WWII (Lawson Sakai)

  • 01 Dec 2020 10:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)



    "With this commemorative stamp, the Postal Service recognizes the contributions of Japanese American soldiers, some 33,000 altogether, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II. The stamp, printed in the intaglio method, is based on a photograph. “Go for Broke” was the motto of the all-Japanese American 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and came to represent all Japanese American units formed during World War II. The stamp was designed by art director Antonio Alcalá."

    https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2020/1117-usps-announces-upcoming-stamps.htm


    [Ed Note: JAVA President Gerald Yamada has formally addressed the oversight that the stamp’s description does not include the contributions of the Nisei soldiers who served in the Pacific during World War II in a letter to the Postmaster General & Chief Executive Officer Louis DeJoy. We are awaiting the Postmaster General’s response.]


  • 01 Dec 2020 10:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    French Chevalier Charles Masuo Murakami and Family (l to r) Kerry Murakami (nephew), Linda Murakami (niece), Katelyn Murakami (Kerry's daughter), Kenji Murakami (Kerry's son), Yoshiko Murakami (our mom, Charles' sister-in-law) and the little guy is Nicolas Dajani (Linda's son).  Photo:  Courtesy of the Murakami Family.


    By Jeff Morita, Hawaii

    October 12, 2020 (Columbus Day) — The Carriage House Gracious Retirement Living in Oxford, Florida — On a picture perfect day, Mr. Charles Masuo Murakami (98) was conferred the rank of French Chevalier (Knight) for his personal sacrifice and gallant “Go for Broke” military service to help liberate France from oppression in World War II.   With COVID-19 Pandemic health and safety concerns on the minds of all, Mr. Laurent Gallissot, Consul General of France in Miami and staff made a special trip to personally and officially confer the French Chevalier (Knight) Medal.  Chevalier Murakami, a heavy weapons (caliber .30 machine-gun) section leader was assigned to 2nd Platoon, H “How” Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  Murakami was wounded in the neck by artillery shrapnel during the combat assault and liberation of Bruyères.  Also present for the historic event, Dr. John “Jack” Wyland, Mr. Murakami’s VA primary care physician who took it upon himself to contact Ms. Claire Mitani, Executive Secretary, 442nd Legacy Center and Veterans Club (Hawaii) to nominate Mr. Murakami for France’s highest decoration.  Morita then compiled a strong and compelling nomination that successfully competed with other nominations submitted to the French Government.  Mr. Murakami is Morita’s 30th successful induction into the prestigious “Chevalier dans l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur” (Knight in the National Order of the French Legion of Honor).  Much appreciation for the many other individuals and staff at the Mr. Murakami’s retirement living facility who helped coordinate this historic event.



    Consul General of France in Miami, Mr. Laurent Gallissot and a very nice showing of Chevalier Charles Masuo Murakami’s co-residents, staff and guests at The Carriage House Gracious Retirement Living in Oxford, Florida.  Photo: Courtesy of the Consulate General of France in Miami.

  • 01 Dec 2020 10:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For Veterans Day 2020, the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance honored all Veterans, Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., and Judge Vincent Okamoto with floral presentations at the Japanese American National War Memorial Court in Little Tokyo, CA. The videos were filmed and edited by Robert Horsting. Watch below or visit the website, https://www.memorialcourtalliance.org/veterans-day-2020 


    Veterans Memorial Court Alliance's  2020 Veterans Day Tribute, Japanese American National War Memorial Court, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA.

    Click here to watch.


    Veterans Memorial Court Alliance's tribute to CW2 Kirk T. Fuchigami, Jr., U.S. Army. Japanese American National War Memorial Court, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA.

    Click here to watch.


    Veterans Memorial Court Alliance's tribute to Judge Vincent Okamoto. Japanese American National War Memorial Court, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA.

    Click here to watch.


  • 01 Nov 2020 10:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    RDML Andrew M. Sugimoto, USCG, to Speak

    JAVA's Veterans Day Livestream Program

    Wednesday, November 11, 2020

    2:00 pm EST / 11:00 am PST / 9:00 am HST


    RDML Sugimoto, USCG, Assistant Commandant for Intelligence


    In keeping with its long tradition, JAVA will hold a Veterans Day Program on Wednesday, November 11th at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in WWII in Washington, DC. The National Japanese American Memorial Foundation will co-sponsor the program again this year. RDML Andrew Sugimoto will be the distinguished speaker for the Veterans Day Program. He serves as the U.S. Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Intelligence and leads the efforts of more than 1,100 intelligence professionals who conduct the service’s intelligence programs, including collection activities, analysis and production, geospatial intelligence, counterintelligence, cryptology, and critical IT and security functions. Rhianna Taniguchi, an Army National Guard veteran, is a member of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation board and will also speak. Ms. Taniguchi works as a digital marketing and public relations strategist at iQ 360.

    The Ceremony will start at 2:00 pm EST / 11:00 am PST / 9:00 am HST rain or shine. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the program will be livestreamed via Facebook. Viewers can go to the JAVA website at  JAVA-US.org and watch from JAVA’s Facebook page feed or click on the Veterans Day Program webpage,https://java-us.org/Veterans-Day. In light of COVID-19 challenges, members, friends, and interested persons are encouraged to watch the program online via Facebook rather than attending in person.

    JAVA’s Veterans Day Program has been selected by the Veterans Day National Committee, which is a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as one of the “Veterans Day observances throughout the country that represents a fitting tribute to America’s heroes.”  You can find the listing of all 2020 Veterans Day Regional Sites on the Department of Veterans Affairs athttps://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/docs/2020-Veterans-Day-Regional-Sites.pdf. The VA has also created a Veterans Day Teachers Guide, click here to read.



    Veterans Affairs letter notifying JAVA of NJAM designation as Regional Site.


    National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in WWII Regional Site Designation.


  • 01 Nov 2020 10:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Michael Omatsu is a retired Coast Guard Commander (CDR) with 22 years of active duty service.


    CDR Omatsu was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawai’i, where he claims he majored in Surfing and minored in Zoology.

    CDR Omatsu spent one semester as a graduate student at Arizona State University, then joined the Coast Guard from Phoenix, Arizona. Upon successfully completing Coast Guard Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned an Ensign and embarked on a career that took him to places he never dreamed about while growing up in Hawai’i.

    While in the Coast Guard, CDR Omatsu’s assignments included service on two ships and a wide variety of shore units.  He earned his master’s degree while assigned to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. While in the Coast Guard, he has been in 47 of our nation’s 50 states – yet to be visited are Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont – and has lived on all four of the Nation’s coasts (East Coast, West Coast, Gulf Coast, and Great Lakes) as well as enjoying two tours in his home state of Hawai’i.

    Today, CDR Omatsu is fully retired, which allows him to decide for himself what he wants to do each day.  His interests include archery, martial arts (Kendo), and playing ukulele (pronounced ooh ku lé lé, not you kuh lé lé). He has completed five Honolulu Marathons, but is uncertain if there’s one more left in him (the incentive is he has six grandchildren; he’d like to give a finishers’ shirt to each one).

    Welcome Michael!

    [EdNote: We have the highest regard and are deeply indebted to our former Treasurer Ruby Ellis. Ms. Ellis brought her astute accounting skills and professionalism to JAVA and in very little time updated our practices and ensured we were in good stead. We wish her the best.]


  • 01 Nov 2020 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    MAJ Kay Izumihara is a native of Cerritos, California and currently resides in Honolulu, Hawaii with her husband and two cats. She received her Bachelor of Arts from UC Irvine, California. She then received her Master of Science from Columbia University, New York with a clinical license in occupational therapy.

    MAJ Izumihara has been in the Army Reserves for 16 years. She began her career as an enlisted soldier, then transitioned to the officer corps about ten years ago. Her overseas tours include Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and more recently, Africa and Italy. She is currently assigned to USINDOPACOM and performs her reserve duty at Camp Smith, Hawaii.

    MAJ Izumihara recently started working as a civilian at US Army Pacific headquarters as an executive assistant at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

    Her husband is an active duty U.S. Coast Guard officer currently in command of a unit on Sand Island, Hawaii. In their free time, they enjoy hiking, reading, cooking, and preparing for the Honolulu marathon (hoping it does not get canceled).

    WELCOME KAY!

    [EdNote: Our thanks and appreciation go to Lt Col Linda Bethke-Cyr, USAF (Ret) who served on the Executive Council and most recently as Secretary. A move to Florida and an intense new job, left Linda with new responsibilities and no extra time. We wish much luck in her new home and position.]

    [EdNote: Update on Honolulu Marathon...https://www.honolulumarathon.org/]


  • 01 Nov 2020 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Ranger Grant Hirabayashi. Photo: Courtesy of Hirabayashi family.

    Robert Horsting

    Reading the October eAdvocate article reporting the passing of the Bill by U.S. House of Representatives awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the famed Merrill's Marauders, reminded me of an encounter that Grant Hirabayashi and Roy Matsumoto, two of the unit's Military Intelligence Service translators, shared during their respective Hanashi Oral History Program interviews with the Go For Broke National Education Center.

    Following Grant and Roy's stint in the jungles of Burma, Grant and Roy briefly worked with the British Royal Airforce. I said "briefly" because they were quickly transferred out of the unit to avoid a court-martial resulting from their not saluting an officer, a practice they had been conditioned to avoid so as not to identify officers to snipers. While stationed in Chungking, China, Grant went to interrogate a Japanese officer at SINTIC (Sino Translation and Interrogation Center). Per their earlier interrogation with this Japanese Lt., Roy and Lt. Akigi Yoshimura determined that he had been a POW for about eight years and held since the Sino-Japanese War. Roy recalled feeling that this was a waste of their time, thinking he couldn't provide any useful intelligence. While speaking with Grant, the Japanese Lt. pushed a matchbox toward him and told him about a Japanese program to develop a bomb that small that could destroy a city. Grant was both amazed and skeptical as he heard these words, then asked what the bomb was called. The officer said, "Genshi bakudan" (atomic bomb).

    This POW had studied at Tokyo University and worked with Professor Yoshio Nishina, who led the project at the University. Grant's original skepticism softened as he heard more details about the research. Challenged by his limited knowledge of scientific terms, he could only refer to an inadequate Japanese-English dictionary. After leaving the POW camp, Grant went to write up his report but met two newly assigned officers who had just completed OCS. Having shared the story of this matchbox size bomb with the power to destroy a city, Grant recalled the officers looking at each other and rolling their eyes as if to say, "he's pulling your leg." They then told him that their training included info on all the latest weapons and that there was no such weapon. Grant thanked them and left to write his report and complete his assignment.

    Grant felt his report was incomplete. Though he had been able to describe the general details of the atomic bomb program and its possible viability he realized, that without the clarification of accurate translations for all of the scientific terms, the full gravity of the information couldn't be conveyed. Hoping to secure permission to seek additional help or the resources to complete the report to his satisfaction, Grant made an appointment with Col. John Burden to present his findings in person. The Colonel seemed distracted, only looking at Grant when he mentioned the size of the bomb. Having completed his report, he paused for a moment, waiting to hear a response and hoping to get the assistance of an officer to follow up on this information, but that didn't happen, so he saluted and withdrew.

    When Grant got word of the bombing of Hiroshima, he went to see the POW. Upon hearing the news, the Lt. covered his face and said, "The war must be over." Grant expressed his hope that it wouldn't be too much longer. Returning to his post, Grant saw one of the Lieutenants and the Colonel, who both gave him a look of acknowledgment without exchanging a word.

    GFBNEC produced a documentary, "A Tradition of Honor," directed by Craig Yahata, which presents an overview of AJAs in military service during WWI, and includes segments with Hirabayashi and Matsumoto. https://www.goforbroke.com/shop/5

    Here are links to the GFBNEC Hanashi Oral History Program interviews of this account:

    Roy Matsumoto, Tape 3, Timecode: 5:33-7:28

    https://www.goforbroke.org/learn/archives/oral_histories_videos.php?clip=20203

    Grant Hirabayashi, Tape 5, Timecode: 7:28-19:09

    https://www.goforbroke.org/learn/archives/oral_histories_videos.php?clip=06705


  • 01 Nov 2020 10:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Vincent Okamoto. Photo by Shane Sato.

    JRT

    Torrance, CA. Superior Court Judge Vincent Okamoto, 76, a Vietnam War hero, community leader and JAVA member died on September 27, 2020 following a heart attack. He is survived by his wife Mitzi and son Darby.

    Prior to his appointment as a judge for the Los Angeles County, California Superior Court in 2002, Okamoto completed a three-year military duty, including one year in Vietnam; obtained a law degree; served as a banker; a business executive; elected and civil service official of the California state government; and an attorney-at-law. At the same time he provided pro bono assistance to veterans and others to apply for benefits and to complete legal papers, wrote two books, responded to speaking invitations from veterans and civic organizations from Washington DC to Hawaii, and led the Japanese American Vietnam Veterans effort to memorialize the Nikkei who were killed in the Vietnam War.

    A large part of Vince’s year in Vietnam was spent in Company B, 2nd Battalion, 27th Regiment. He was wounded three times. In addition to the three Purple Heart medals, one for each time he was wounded, Vince received the coveted Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, the 3rd highest medal for valor, three Bronze Stars for Valor, and the Vietnam Cross for Gallantry. Okamoto was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain.

    On Veterans Day 1995 JAVVMC dedicated a memorial to honor the 116 Nikkei, who were killed in the Vietnam War. This black granite memorial is located in the courtyard of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.   A website search noted that “The Japanese American Korean War Veterans (JAKWV) erected a memorial to their around 256 fallen comrades in 1997 and in 2000, the Americans of Japanese Ancestry WWII Memorial Alliance honored the over 800 Nisei soldiers who were killed in WWII. Together with the wall to honor those seven Japanese nationals who served in the U.S. Navy and assigned to the USS Maine which sank in Havana Harbor in 1898 and more recent conflicts in Grenada, Iraq, and Afghanistan the memorials collectively became known as the Japanese American National War Memorial Court,” with a total listing of 1,200 names. The Court “is the only place in the world displaying all the names of U.S. military service members of Japanese ancestry who died in service to our country.” The Court is administered by the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance.



    Japanese American National War Memorial Court. Photo by Shane Sato.


    The e-Advocate invited some friends of Okamoto to share their views about him. They are:

    Gerald Yamada, JAVA President, remembers Vincent Okamoto as coming from a family with a proud military tradition.  Okamoto “served as an Army Ranger during the Vietnam War.  His two oldest brothers served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  All six of his brothers served the United States in various branches of the military.”  Yamada also credits “Judge Okamoto as having the vision, planning, and fundraising to build the Japanese American Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was dedicated in 1995 in Los Angeles.

    The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), in a JANM press release, recognized Vince’s substantive contributions to JANM’s program. Mineta is also an Honorary Chair of JAVA since its inception in 1992.

    Former Japanese Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki (2008 – 2012) was informed of Vince’s passing and was asked if he wished to contribute to this tribute.  Responding in the affirmative, the Ambassador wrote “Yoriko and I wish to offer our deepest condolences to Mrs. Mitzi Okamoto,  Mr. Darby Okamoto, other members of the Judge Vince Okamoto family and the Japanese American community as a whole.  In 2009, Judge Okamoto received and briefed us at the Japanese American War Memorial Court, where we paid our respects to the Nikkei soldiers who were killed in service.  We have been very much impressed by Judge Okamoto's leadership and personality.  I also respect the Judge for making superior contributions to benefit the community including the establishment of the above mentioned Memorial Court.  May Judge’s soul rest peacefully in heaven.” Ichiro Fujisaki, former Japanese Ambassador to the United States, 藤崎一郎.

    Ken Hayashi, President of the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance and Japanese American Vietnam Veterans Committee, and a close personal friend of Vince, said “Vince was the inspiration and driving force in the building of the Japanese American Vietnam Veterans Memorial which was the beginning of the Japanese American National War Memorial Court as we know it today.  He cared so deeply about those who died, their families, and for all who served.  The Japanese American community and our country have lost an inspirational leader.  Veterans have lost an exemplary soldier, leader and dear friend.”

    Mark Matsunaga, AJA historian in Hawaii, said "Okamoto delivered the keynote address at the 442nd Veterans Club's 66th Anniversary banquet in Honolulu in 2009. He told a packed Waikiki ballroom, "After ten months of prolonged combat, having been wounded several times, I was physically exhausted, afraid and sick at heart. I desperately wanted to live and to go home.  At times, I wanted to pull my helmet down over my face and block out the violence and horror around me. I wanted to just give up and quit. But when I began to feel sorry for myself I remembered that in a previous war, other young Japanese American soldiers had it just as tough or tougher than me, and they never gave up. They never quit. Their example of courage and commitment gave me the strength to do what needed to be done because I felt I could not betray that standard.  So to the men of the 442nd RCT, I say thank you!" Okamoto also exhorted the next generation to "remember and honor those who fought, bled, and died for you. Remember that the blessings and unlimited opportunities we Japanese Americans enjoy today are ours in large measure because we stand on the shoulders of giants; men small in stature, but titans in courage, the soldiers of the 442nd RCT." A high school JROTC cadet in the audience that night got the message. "It inspires me to want to follow in their footsteps," he told a local newspaper reporter. That student went on excel at the U.S. Air Force Academy and as an Air Force officer. 

    Rosalyn Tonai, Executive Director of the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS), speaking from its Building 614 Learning Center at the Presidio of San Francisco, said “Judge Okamoto will not only be remembered for his tenure as a Superior Court Judge, but his steadfast efforts in securing a place of honor and respect for the Sansei men who sacrificed their lives in Vietnam War. Building 614, a former airplane hanger, was the location of the first MIS Japanese language school during WW II.

    Tim Holbert, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of American Veterans Center, whose mission is to preserve and promote the legacy of all military personnel, veterans and active, located in Arlington, VA, said “Okamoto was an American original.  Born in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II, he would become the most highly decorated Japanese American to survive the Vietnam War.  His story says so much about America, its ongoing determination to make itself better.  And it says so much about Vince, his unconquerable spirit and incredible character.  He was a hero in every sense of the word.”

    John Tobe, Chairman of the Board of the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, said “I have conveyed the news to members of the Board, who expressed deep regret over our great loss. I only met Vince once but he was very impressive and you could tell he was a strong supporter and advocate for the community.  He will be missed.”

    Tom Ikeda, Executive Director, Densho, Seattle, WA, said “we are saddened by the news of Judge Okamoto’s passing. He distinguished himself in many ways. His actions and leadership in the Vietnam War were heroic. He helped build the Japanese American Vietnam War Veterans Memorial, was a founder of the Japanese American Bar Association, and mentored young attorneys.  Our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”

    Robert M. Wada, Past Commander,   Kazuo Masuda Memorial VFW Post 3670 and Charter Past President Japanese American Korean War Veterans said “on behalf of Japanese American Korean veterans and members of the Kazuo Masuda Memorial VFW Post 3670, we extend our very deepest heartfelt condolences to Mitzi Okamoto and her son Darby upon the loss of their beloved husband and father Vincent Okamoto. Vince, as we all knew him, was a truly one of a kind heroic soldier, but not only was he one of the bravest men to serve our nation, he was truly a compassionate and considerate hero. We who were fortunate enough to come in contact with him all agree he was by far the most respected and revered individual in the Japanese American community. He was a very articulate and inspirational speaker treasured by all veterans and the entire Japanese American community as an inspirational leader. Needless to say, the Japanese American community has suffered a tremendous loss. Performing his duty as a soldier, Vince went far beyond the call of duty and as a community leader, he went even further. He will always be our hero. I am proud to be one of the many who can call Vince a friend.  May he Rest in Peace and God Bless Mitzi and her entire family.”

    Lynn Chiyeko Mikami, classmate of Vince Okamoto said "it was apparent from the first time that I met Vince at Peary Junior High School at Gardena, CA that he was special but the most extraordinary thing about him is that the more honored, celebrated and famous he became, the more he remained the same....a friend to me, my family and friends".   Lynn was born in Heart Mountain Internment Camp, is an occupational therapist and is an accomplished multi media artist.  She created a collaged personal homage to Vince (see photo below). 

    Shane Sato and Robert Horsting, who produced The Go For Broke Spirit:  Portraits of Legacy, said “we share a high regard for Judge Vincent Okamoto's service in the military and our judicial system. It was our honor to have met and worked with him. Dedicated to honoring the memory of those who died in service, Judge Okamoto inspired others to do the same. The Vietnam War veterans installed the first panel of the present-day Japanese American National War Memorial Court (see photo). The panels now include WWII, Korea, and those lost in conflicts, from the Spanish-American War to the Gulf Wars. RIP, your service is complete.” 




    "Homage to Vince," Original Artwork by Lynn Chiyeko Mikami.

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