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:
The 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd RCT liberated a Jewish extermination sub-camp at Dachau, Germany, towards the end of WW II. In this photo by George Oiye of the 522nd, the inmates are seen milling around. Following the 442nd assignment to the Vosges forests, the 522nd was detached from the 442nd and assigned to LTG Alexander Patch’s 7th Army for the invasion of Germany while the main unit of the 442nd was assigned to the Maritime Alps, on the French side of the border between France and Italy.
Please join the North Shore Senior Center (NSSC)
161 Northfield Road, Northfield, IL 60093
for a ZOOM Presentation
"How Japanese American Soldiers helped liberate Jews at the Dachau Death Camp near the end of World War II."
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
10:30 am to 11:30 am CDT
11:30 am to 12:30 pm EDT / 8:30 am to 9:30 am PDT
Free to anyone who would like to watch on their home computer
To register: Call North Shore Senior Center at 847-784-6030 to give their name, home address, telephone number, and email address. Then early on the morning of March 16, a link to the presentation will be emailed. Registrants click the link at about 10:28 am, on Tuesday March 16, 2021, and wait for the host to admit.
NSSC Website: https://www.nssc.org/home .
NSSC Event Calendar Listing: https://nssc.augusoft.net/index.cfm?method=ClassInfo.ClassInformation&int_class_id=9229&int_category_id=4&int_sub_category_id=37.
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 Bn/442nd veteran.
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, 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 veteran, Terry Shima.
Shirey Scholarship in honor of Major Orville Shirey, 442nd 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:
Screenshot from APAICS Swearing-In Ceremony, 2021.
Washington, DC. The Asia Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies’ (APAICS) press statement said APAICS “hosted the Congressional Swearing-In Ceremony on January 29, 2021, for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) members and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) members of the 117th Congress. The ceremony serves as a recognition of the increasing diversity of federal leadership, in particular the historic high of the 21 AAPI members serving in Congress.”
“The event included statements from Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, and Judy Chu, Chair of CAPAC which was founded in 1994 by Congressman Norman Mineta. The ceremonial oath of office was administered by Judge Lucy H. Koh, U.S. District Court Judge from the Northern District of California.
“Because of this historic progress young Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI), girls and boys across the nation will grow up and see themselves represented at the highest levels of our federal government and know the sky is truly the limit.”
The year 2021 and the 117th Congress represent many “firsts” for AAPIs in the US Congress, including:
Sixteen AAPIs elected to the U.S. House of Representatives are Bobby Scott; Doris Matsui; Judy Chu; (Mr.) Ami Bera; Grace Meng; Mark Takano; Ted Lieu; (Ms.) Pramila Jayapal; Ro Khanna; Raja Krishnamoorthi; Stephanie Murphy; Andy Kim; Kai Kahele; (Ms.) Young Kim; Michelle Steel; and Marilyn Strickland.
The mission of APAICS, which sponsored this program, is “to promote Asia Pacific American participation and representation in all levels of the political process from community service to elected office at the local, state and federal levels.” APAIC, the executive element of CAPAC, is headed by President and CEO Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, who succeeded Floyd Mori in 2018.
For the video of the swearing-in ceremony, click here.
APAICS Conference, Screenshot from APAICS Swearing-In Ceremony, 2021.
French Legion of Honor Chevalier Medal
[Ed Note: Any American soldier who fought for the liberation of France during WW II is qualified to apply for the French Legion of Honor (see photo above). To obtain this prestigious medal, the Government of France (GOF} requires the submission of a very detailed application form. Many Nisei requested the form, started to complete it, but soon abandoned the effort because it was too tedious to complete. Jeff Morita, a U.S. government retiree, has worked patiently and tirelessly with the veterans to complete and mail the forms to the GOF. Thirty-five veterans of the 442nd RCT (including the 100th Battalion) received this award in specially arranged programs officiated by a GOF official. These veterans would not have received this well-deserved recognition without Jeff's initiatives. Twenty additional applications are awaiting GOF's approval. Thank you, Jeff for this achievement!]
Hawaii Convention Center, June 1, 2019. On behalf of the French Government, the Honorary Consul of France in Hawaii, Mr. Guillaume Maman, wife Theresa Maman and Consul General Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens and Staff of the Consulate General of France in San Francisco conferred individual French Chevalier (Knight) Medals to six World War II 100th/442nd Nisei Veterans. Each personally contributed to the liberation of France to include the villages of Bruyères, Belmont-Biffontaine, and the epic rescue of the lost ‘Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains. Documented as one of the U.S. Army's bloodiest battles, the rescue also ranks as one of the top ten battles in U.S. Army history. Also in attendance were Hawaii State Governor David Yutaka Ige, First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige, both of whose fathers served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, and many members of the Consular Corps of Hawaii, family and friends. The Légion d’honneur is France’s highest order of merit for military and civil service and was established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.
Royce Eiko Higa in uniform. Photo: Higa Family.
Royce Eiko Higa, June 1, 2019, Hawaii Convention Center.
Sergeant Royce Eiko Higa was assigned to A “Able” Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. As a light artillery cannoneer, Higa served courageously and gallantly in the Northern Apennines; (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps; and Central Europe (Alsace-Lorraine) Campaigns. Royce Higa and the 522nd FAB were later separated from their parent 442nd RCT and in Southern Germany known to have rescued and liberated many imprisoned Jewish people from a Dachau sub-camp, and yet others on their "death march." For his honorable service, SGT Higa received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars (AKA: Campaign or Battle stars); World War II Victory Medal; Expert Badge with Rifle and Heavy Machine-gun Bars; and the Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. Mr. Higa, 100 years old, lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Hidenobu Hiyane in uniform. Photo: Hiyane Family.
Hidenobu Hiyane, June 1, 2019, Hawaii Convention Center.
Technician Fourth Class (Tec/4) Hidenobu Hiyane was assigned to Headquarters Company, 100th Infantry Battalion. He is an ‘original’ 100th member serving in the U.S. Army before December 7, 1941. In the European Theater of Operation, Hiyane was later assigned to Headquarters Company, 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Hiyane excelled in electronics and was assigned to the communications platoon. Hiyane served courageously and gallantly in the Central Pacific (Hawaii); Naples-Foggia; Rome-Arno; and (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaigns. For his honorable service, Tech/4 Hiyane received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal; Bronze Star Medal; American Defense Service Medal with clasp; Army Good Conduct Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars (AKA: Campaign or Battle stars); World War II Victory Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB); Expert Badge with Rifle Bar; and the Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. Mr. Hiyane, 102 years old, resides in Pearl City, Hawaii.
George K. Oide in uniform. Photo: Oide Family.
George K. Oide, December 2018. Photo: Oide Family.
Private George Kenichi Oide was assigned to the Headquarters Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. As an artillery forward observer, Oide served courageously and gallantly in the Rome-Arno; Northern Apennines; (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland Maritime Alps; and Central Europe Allied Offensive Campaigns. George Oide and the 522nd FAB were later separated from their parent 442nd RCT and in Southern Germany later known to have rescued and liberated many imprisoned Jewish people from a Dachau sub-camp and yet others on their "death march." For his honorable service, PVT Oide received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars (AKA: Campaign or Battle stars); World War II Victory Medal; Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Bar; Sharpshooter Badge with Carbine bar; Marksman Badge with Rifle bar; and the Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. On January 27, 2021, Mr. Oide passed away just short of his 98th birthday in Honolulu, Hawaii.