Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 4, No. 49, July 1, 2022

The Go For Broke Spirit Opening Program at the JICC

Opening Program for Shane Sato's The Go For Broke Spirit exhibit at the Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), Washington, DC. Photo: John Tobe. 

Washington, DC.  An excited crowd gathered at the Japan Information & Culture Center for The Go For Broke Spirit Opening Program to take in Shane Sato's captivating images of Nisei World War II veterans and of Japanese Americans from Washington, DC, area who served in more recent U.S. conflicts. Sometimes playful sometimes serious, Sato's larger-than-life portraits and the accompanying descriptive placards of the Nisei veterans capture the fierce determination and resiliency of men who followed their instincts to serve their country.   

The evening program opened with soloist Michelle Fowlin singing the national anthems of Japan and the United States followed by welcome addresses from the three co-hosts: Ambassador Koji Tomita, Embassy of Japan; Gerald Yamada, President of the Japanese American Veterans Association; and Ken Hayashi, President of the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance. JAVA Executive Council member CAPT (Dr.) Cynthia Macri, MC, USN (Ret), then engaged Shane Sato in a discussion of his works on view.

Learning that Sato makes his living shooting celebrity photographs makes perfect sense after seeing The Go For Broke Spirit exhibit with its mega-size portraits, proportions usually reserved for stars, athletes, and models.  While the 100th Bn/442nd RCT achieved recognition, and even momentary fame after WWII when they were reviewed on the White House Ellipse by President Harry S. Truman (the MIS would have to wait until 2000 for official recognition by President George W. Bush with the awarding of a Presidential Unit Citation), most Nisei veterans lived lives out of the limelight and rarely talked about their experience. The silence of the Nisei and their families created a generation gap of sorts. Sato described his own "all-American" childhood in California during the1970s, filled with mac n' cheese and summer vacations, almost devoid of anything particularly "Japanese." Discovering that his mom was forced to go to "camp" bewildered him as a youth. However, as an adult, he came to understand why the Japanese American experience during World War II caused his parents and so many of their friends to repress that pain-filled period in their lives.

Realizing that he was not the only one who had scant knowledge of his family's history and also of the history of the Nisei veterans, Sato, after working on a project with the Go For Broke Educational Foundation (now the GFBNEC), became intent on photographing Japanese American WWII veterans and preserving their story for future generations. Zig-zagging the country, Sato traveled between coasts and to Hawaii convincing stoic veterans to sit for his project. Getting veterans to first agree to be photographed, then to loosen up for a candid shot, and lastly to break their silence and share their story was often challenging, but when he ran into difficulties Sato drew on the 100th/442nd's legacy for inspiration.    

Sato's 20-plus year quest by all accounts has been successful. His aged yet undeniably vigorous veterans in military dress invite curiosity about their lives and history. Viewers can't help but come away with a deep appreciation for the extraordinary commitment and sacrifice of WWII Nisei Japanese American veterans who served despite the racism they and their families faced. The Go For Broke Spirit exhibit celebrates Nisei veterans' service which continues to bring honor to the Japanese American community and the Nation. 

The Go For Broke Spirit exhibit runs until July 22, 2022, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday at the Japan Information & Culture Center located at 1150 18th St NW Suite 100, Washington, DC. Admission is free. 

For more information about Shane Sato’s work, please visit the website - https://www.thegoforbrokespirit.com/; Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/goforbrokespirit/; and Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/goforbrokespiritbook/?hl=en.

The opening program and event was co-sponsored by the Japanese American Veterans Association through donations from Glen S. Fukushima and Dr. Thomas T. Yoshikawa, the Japan Information & Culture Center, the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance through a grant from the Japanese American Community Foundation, and Mr. Shane Sato.

L-R: Terry Shima, 442nd RCT, MG Garrett S. Yee, USA, LTG Thomas P. Bostick, USA (Ret), next to Shane Sato's portrait of Terry Shima at The Go For Broke Spirit Opening Program, JICC, Washington, DC. Photo: Nicole Yamada.

L-R: West Point Cadet Givens and LTC Rod Azama, USA (Ret), next to Shane Sato's portrait of Rear Admiral Mel Chiogioji, USN (Ret), at The Go For Broke Spirit Opening Program, JICC, Washington, DC Photo: Nicole Yamada. 

L-R: Shane Sato and LTG Michael K. Nagata, USA (Ret), next to portraits (L-R) of RADM Mel Chiogioji, LTG Michael Nagata, and LTC Rod Azama at The Go For Broke Spirit Opening Program, JICC, Washington, DC Photo: Nicole Yamada. 

L-R: CAPT Michael Katahara, USN (Ret), and Loree Katahara take in Shane Sato's portrait of Wesley Kaname Koyano at The Go For Broke Spirit Opening Program, JICC, Washington, DC. Photo: John Tobe.  

L-R: Eileen and Rich Rouiler enjoying The Go For Broke Spirit Opening Program, JICC, Washington, DC. Photo: Nicole Yamada.

L-R: Glen S. Fukushima, SIPC Vice-Chair, and Gerald Yamada, JAVA President at The Go For Broke Spirit Opening Program, JICC, Washington, DC, Photo: Nicole Yamada.  

Gerald Yamada

JAVA President

The Go For Broke Spirit Opening Program Remarks

(as prepared)

On behalf of the Japanese American Veterans Association, I welcome you to this event.  JAVA is proud to be a co-sponsor. We are excited to help bring this historic photo exhibit to Washington, DC. 

This exhibit is important. The portraits in this exhibit tell the story of how World War II Japanese American soldiers fought to restore the freedoms and dignity of the Japanese American community in face of overt prejudice. 

This exhibit is made possible because of Shane Sato’s foresight in capturing these images starting some 20 years ago. 

Shane’s images reveal a “Go For Broke” spirit. “Go For Broke” is the motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. But, it is more than that. The “Go For Broke” spirit is an unspoken code of conduct that was instilled in the Japanese American soldiers by their parents who carried it to America from Japan, as part of their cultural heritage. 

The best expression of this spirit was related by the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye.  Dan Inouye volunteered to join the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  When it came time to report, his father took him to the Army induction center, leaving him with these parting words: “Whatever you do, don’t dishonor yourself, your family, or country, and, if you are to die, die with honor.” 

That spirit was shared by the Japanese American soldiers, as shown through their patriotism and personal courage, in defending America’s freedoms. You can see this spirit reflected in the portraits displayed in this exhibit.

In closing, let me express my personal appreciation to those who made this exhibit possible.

Thank you, Shane Sato for your dedication, skill, and talent.

Thank you to the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance for bringing this exhibit to Washington, DC. 

Thank you to the Japan Information and Culture Center for hosting this exhibit.  This is the first joint venture that JICC and JAVA have undertaken.  Thank you to the JICC for your full cooperation and professional assistance in making this a very enjoyable joint venture. 

Finally, I must thank those who supported JAVA in sponsoring this exhibit.  I give special recognition to Glen S. Fukushima. Glen’s extremely generous donation was made in memory of his dad, Fred Fukushima, who served in the Military Intelligence Service. Glen’s donation gave us the financial flexibility in shaping this opening program and exhibit. Many thanks go as well to Dr. Thomas T. Yoshikawa for his donation to The Go For Broke Spirit exhibit. I also thank Terry Shima, my senior advisor, and Neet Ford, JAVA Executive Director. 

And, thank you all for joining us. 

L-R: Ken Hayashi, Veterans Memorial Court Alliance, Gerald Yamada, JAVA President, Shane Sato, Megumi Koike, Embassy of Japan, Atsushi Iwai, JICC. Photo: Nicole Yamada. 

Join Us

In-Person or Online

2023 Day of Affirmation

Friday, July 15

2021 Day of Affirmation, JAVA President Gerald Yamada, National World War II Memorial. Photo: Nicole Yamada.

Day of Affirmation Ceremony

Friday, July 15, 2022

12:00 pm EDT/ 9:00 am PDT / 6:00 am HST

National World War II Memorial

Washington, D.C.

On Friday, July 15, 2022, at 12:00 O'clock, noon, JAVA will commemorate the 1946 triumphant return of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team from the battlefields in Europe to Washington, DC where they were received by President Harry Truman and presented the seventh presidential unit citation. 

For this year’s ceremony, LTC Robert Vokac, USA (Ret), will serve as the wreath escort. He is a grandson of COL Virgil Miller, who was the commanding officer of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team beginning with the battle to save the Texas Lost Battalion. One of the two wreath bearers will be Sandra Tanamachi, whose uncle, Saburo Tanamachi, was killed in action while serving with the 442nd RCT in its efforts to save the Texas Lost Battalion and is the first Japanese American to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. COL Miller was one of the pallbearers at Saburo Tanamachi's service at Arlington. The other wreath bearer will be Missy Higgins Abrunzo, whose father, Marty Higgins, was the commanding officer of the Texas Lost Battalion at the time the 442nd RCT rescued it. Later, Higgins helped to lobby Congress for passage of the Immigration Act of 1952 which granted citizenship to the Issei or Japan-born parents of the Japanese Americans.

All are welcome to attend this year’s Day of Affirmation Ceremony in-person at the National WWII Memorial, located at 1750 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C.; parking near the WWII Memorial is limited. Please click here for parking and transportation information. The program will also be livestreamed on JAVA's Facebook page - click here to watch or visit JAVA's website at www.java-us.org.

Join Us 

Day of Affirmation Dinner at National Museum of the U.S. Army

July 16, 2022

National Museum of the U.S. Army, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Photo: Howard High. 

The Japanese American Veterans Association

Invites You to Celebrate

Day of Affirmation Dinner 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

4:30 pm to 8:30 pm

National Museum of the U.S. Army

 Fort Belvoir, VA 

Cocktails: 5:00 pm

Dinner: 6:00 pm

Presentation: 7:00 pm

 LTC Robert Vokac, USA (Ret), will Share Memories from his Grandfather, U.S. Army Colonel Virgil R. Miller, of Commanding the 442nd Regimental Combat Team

RSVP by June 30, 2022

Business Attire   I   $150 Per Ticket

*Attendees are asked to arrive by 4:30 pm to clear security before the museum stops admitting at 4:45 pm. All guests will be allowed to visit and tour the museum at any time on Saturday, July 16th at no extra charge. Those who wish to tour the museum should allocate at least two hours to do so.


442nd Was High Point of Long Army Career

Retired U.S. Army Major Gerald (Jerry) A. Gustafson, age 100. Photo: Courtesy of daughter, Debra Gustafson. 

Article Reprinted with Permission from Jerry Gustafson.

As a U.S. Army Lieutenant in 1944, I reported to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team Headquarters at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where I saw the soldiers and wondered who they were, Chinese, Filipino, or Siamese? I admit I had some misgivings and wondered if I had volunteered for the right outfit.

Cannon Company reunion, Las Vegas, NV, May 2011. Seated, from left, Pearl Yanagimachi, Manny Kitagawa, and Yuki Murakami. Standing, from left, Osame Doi, Tsutoma Okabayashi, Arthur Doi, Gerald Gustafson, Frank Sugihara, Sumi Sugihara, and Tsuka Murakami.

The answer to my question was provided a few minutes later when I was ushered into the office of the Regimental Commander, Colonel Charles W. Pence. He assigned me to Cannon Company and added, “These men are Americans of Japanese ancestry. They are fine soldiers and I am damn proud to be their commander. If you have any problems serving with them, develop a prejudice or bias, report to my adjutant and you will be transferred within 24 hours!”

When I took over my platoon, I was somewhat apprehensive. I did not understand the problems of the “concentration camps” and the relationships between the islanders and the mainlanders. Their names and terms like “Buddha-heads,” “Katonks,” “Haoles,” and their pidgin English confused me. After all, I was just a young lad from the small country town of Stockton, Illinois. We had no African Americans, no Asians, and we knew no prejudice growing up. Perhaps we were a little naïve encapsulated in our own little world. Nevertheless, I was not going to chicken out!

U.S. Army 1st Lt Gerald Gustafson, AUS and 1st Lt Hitoshi “Moe” Yonemura, AUS, Cannon Company, 442nd. Camp Shelby, MS, 1944. Photo: Courtesy of Gerald Gustafson.

By the time we left for Italy, with help from my Platoon Sergeant Hajime Kamo, and Sergeant John Kashiki, I had pretty well mastered their names. I shared quarters with 2nd Lieutenant Hitoshi “Moe” Yonemura, a fellow platoon leader. We became close friends, and it was he who educated me about Executive Order 9066 and the incarceration of ethnic Japanese on the west coast of America.

Yonemura’s family had been sent to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, where he went after graduating from UCLA in 1942. We had many discussions about this by the railing of our liberty ship as we crossed the Atlantic. I began to sense the pathos and concern of my men who had families in the concentration camps, and the longing and loneliness of the men from Hawai‘i.

It awakened me to just how much anguish, stress and, most of all, sacrifice my men experienced just because they were different. All of that was in addition to being under the duress, danger, and hardships of combat. I understood their desire to prove their loyalty and patriotism and to be recognized as good citizens. I even questioned myself. I knew then, and vowed to myself, that I would be the best damn platoon leader I could be!

After World War II, I continued with my military career. When the Korean War broke out I was shipped to South Korea in December 1950. I was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, and fought in four campaigns from January to December 1951 as a rifle company commander.

Subsequently, I had the good fortune of being assigned to the 25th Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where I reconnected with the men of the 442nd and Cannon Company. In December 1962, I was assigned to South Vietnam for a year as the briefing Officer for Chief, Military Assistance Advisory Group. I retired in 1964 after 21 years of service.

After my assignment with the 442nd RCT, I could not help but compare that experience with the desegregated Army units of post-World War II. The circumstances of the Nisei were different, of course, than circumstance during the Korea and Vietnam Wars. Yet, when bullets, shells, and grenades are coming at you, it is not much different no matter which war it happens to be!

In my humble opinion, and with due respect to all others, the “esprit de corps” of the 442nd was the most outstanding. In addition, I pay tribute to the Nisei who have carried the torch from World War II into the present time. The spirit of “Go for Broke” has never ended.

The success of both their individual and group endeavors have enriched their communities and have left an amazing legacy for their sons and daughters and the generations that follow. I can honestly say that the greatest experience of my almost 91 years has been the kindness, the friendship and the love of Cannon Company veterans and their spouses and the remarkable 442nd Combat Team. I thank the powers above for the small part I had, and am damn proud to have served!

This article was originally published in Asian American Press, September 8, 2012.

© 2012 Gerald A. Gustafson; Asian American Press

Author Gerald A. Gustafson

Major Gustafson was born in Chicago and grew up in Stockton, IL. He participated in four 442nd battle campaigns and received two Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, Combat Infantryman’s Badge (CIB), and two Presidential Unit Citations. He received his second CIB in the Korean War. He was a recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal in November 2011, for his wartime record as a member of the 442nd.

Upon his military retirement, Gustafson was a high school social studies teacher in Phoenix, Arizona, for 18 years.

Updated September 2012 

Author Asian American Press

Asian American Press is a weekly newspaper providing quality news and information to promote diversity and unity among Asians, the general population in Minnesota, and the greater Midwest - grown out of a need for Asians in Minnesota to have a voice in their community and to share the Asian heritage. Founded in 1982, they have supported community events and provides services for community involvement.

Updated January 2013.

A Remembrance of a Dear Friend, Norman Y. Mineta

The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta. Photo: Department of Transportation.

EdNote: Sadly, just as we were confirming publication details of Mas Hashimoto's tribute to Secretary Mineta, we learned that our dear JAVA friend Mas had passed away. Mas, who served in the U.S. Army from 1958-60 and whose brothers were in the MIS, was a JAVA supporter and contributed thoughtful and beautifully written articles to the e-Advocate. His signature closing on correspondence "Onward!" always left us inspired. Our deepest condolences to his wife, Marcia.

By Mas Hashimoto

Norman Yoshio Mineta passed away of a heart ailment with his family by his side in Edgewater, Maryland at age 90 on May 3, 2022. He was born to Japanese immigrants in San Jose on Nov. 12, 1931, and was the youngest of five children. He was 10 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States into World War II.

In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 by which Norm and his family along with 120,000 others of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast were forcibly removed from their homes to one of ten concentration camps around the interior West, taking only what they could carry.

Photo from “Liberty Lost … Lessons in Loyalty” reenactment: Cub Scout Brandon Shimizu is portraying Norm in this reenactment.  The soldier is Randall Sparling. Rev. Shousei Hanayama, portraying Norm’s father, said, “Shikataganai, Norman.  It can’t be helped.”  Others (L-R) are:  Jeanette Otsuji Hager and Hank Cardona of WCCA, Police Chief Peter Chelemedos, and reporter J. P. Johnson.  Photo by Sayo Fujioka.

Norman was wearing his Cub Scout uniform and clutching a baseball mitt and bat when he and his siblings boarded a train in San Jose. He recalled a U.S. soldier confiscating the bat, calling it a deadly weapon. 

The Minetas were taken to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, a makeshift settlement surrounded by a tall fence and barbed wire. “Some say the internment was for our own good,” Norm later recalled. “But even as a boy of 10, I could see the machine guns and the barbed wire faced inward.”

In Wyoming, Norm struck up a friendship with a local Boy Scout named Alan Simpson, who came to visit the camp and later became a U.S. senator. Decades later, when Congressman Norm sought a reparations bill in the House, Simpson sponsored a companion bill in the Senate.  “He came through all that with the camps by just rising above any kind of resentment or bitterness,” Simpson told The Post in 2000. “You look at the way he’s handled it and how hard he’s worked since then and you say, ‘There’s a person of depth.’ ”

They stayed at Heart Mountain for only 18 months. The Mineta family had to be removed for their safety.  ‘No Nos,” pro-Japan, and others broke the windows of their barrack room when it became known that Norm’s older sister Etsu was engaged to Mike Masaoka, the Executive Director of the National Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).  Their misguided anger blamed Masaoka and the JACL for the incarceration.  The Minetas moved to the Chicago area, where their father — an insurance agent by trade — had volunteered to teach Japanese language courses to U.S. Army soldiers.  

In Manzanar and Poston, JACL leaders were threatened and beaten.  They, too, had to be removed for their safety.

Norman Mineta was a teenager when his family was able to return to San Jose.  Norm graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1953 and then served for three years as an Army intelligence officer. He subsequently worked for his father’s insurance company in San Jose before being prepped by the city’s Japanese American community leaders for political office.

In his career, this insurance salesman served as Mayor of San Jose, a congressman for 20 years (Leon Panetta was elected at the same time.  Some thought Mineta was an Italian), as Commerce Secretary in Bill Clinton’s administration.  He was the first Asian American Cabinet member.  I asked Norm, “When you sold your first insurance policy did you ever think that you would …”  He started to laugh because he knew my next words, ” …  become Secretary of Commerce.”

During his tenure in Congress representing Silicon Valley from 1975 to 1995, he championed civil liberties and played a key role in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of August 10, 1988, obtaining an official apology and compensation for Japanese and Japanese Americans who were forced from their homes during World War II when their ancestry made them objects of government suspicion.  Other Japanese American congressional leaders at the time, including Rep. Robert T. Matsui (D-Sacramento) and Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii, played crucial roles.

President, George W. Bush, tapped him as Secretary of Transportation in January 2001. His career was most sharply defined by the terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001. After the second plane hit New York’s World Trade Center, Norm and his staff made an unprecedented decision to ground all 4,638 planes in U.S. airspace. No emergency protocol had been established to bring them all down at once. All planes were grounded within two hours and 20 minutes.

While some in the nation wanted all Arab and Muslims in this country rounded up and placed in concentration camps, to his credit President Bush stated that we weren’t going to do to the Arab and Muslim Americans in this country like we did to Norm and his family.  Norm was in the right place and at the right time.

He oversaw the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which took over responsibility for aviation security from airlines. The agency hired and trained tens of thousands of federal baggage screeners and implemented a set of strict rules that transformed the American airport experience.  He was charged with restoring confidence in air travel after the terror attacks.

When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and other gulf states, the Transportation Department immediately went into action rebuilding roads and bridges so that fuel, food and supplies would aid those stricken.

George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, saying Mineta was “a wonderful American story about someone who overcame hardship and prejudice to serve in the United States Army, Congress, and the Cabinet of two presidents. As my secretary of Transportation, he showed great leadership in helping prevent further attacks on and after 9/11., Norm has given his country a lifetime of service, and he’s given his fellow citizens an example of leadership, devotion to duty, and personal character.”  He is shown here with wife, “Deni” Mineta.

San Jose’s airport had been named in his honor in 2001—Norman Y. Mineta International Airport.  “What an honor I told him.”  He replied, “Yeah, but this little old lady came after me at the airport.  ‘You Mineta?’ she asked. ‘Yes.’  “Well, there’s not enough ladies’ room in this airport!”

The once Secretary of Transportation should have a highway named after him, and today there’s the Norman Y. Mineta Highway (a portion of Highway 85 in San Jose.)  Light-heartedly, he told us not to call him if we get a speeding ticket on that stretch of the road.

When Norm was serving in Congress, a Los Angeles man sent him a token gift to make up for what he had lost as a boy. It was a bat that had belonged to and signed by Hall-of-Famer Hank Aaron. It was worth $1,500 — more than the $250 a House member could accept as a personal gift, according to federal rules — and Norm had to return the bat to its sender.  “The damn government’s taken my bat again,” he said at the time. Post script: When he worked briefly at Lockheed-Martin as a civilian before becoming Secretary of Transportation, the US Government returned the bat to Norm, saying they had no use for it.

During a quiet moment at the JACL Gala Dinner, Norm, Secretary of Transportation, asked if he could meet the young man who played him in our re-enactment of the evacuation, “Liberty Lost … Lessons in Loyalty.”  It was to be a memorable visit for Norm and Brandon.

When Norm was honored by the Panetta Institute for his service to this nation with the Jefferson-Lincoln Award and with Larry Oda’s help, we arranged a meeting at The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach.  Brandon was 13. The 15-minute meeting went on for 45 minutes, to the annoyance of the Secret Service agent protecting Norm.  To the family’s delight, Norm signed Brandon’s Cub Scout cap: “Brandon:  Thanks a million for your portrayal of me on the 60th anniversary.  Norm Mineta, Nov.  8, 2003.” 

Norm wanted to come to our reenactment but the 9/11/01, attack on the Twin Towers of New York, had taken place seven months before.

Norm and I were on the same frequency and at gatherings, dinners, and conventions, we would gravitate toward each other for we were both the youngest in the family, experienced “camp,” our families were threatened by the pro-Japan and No Nos, served in the US Army, worked for JACL’s basic mission, and became public servants.  In my role as a public- school teacher, I, too, served the public. 

One of the last remembrances that we have of our dear friend was when he stood up with our Watsonville-Santa Cruz JACL chapter at the National Convention in Salt Lake City, UT in support of our Nisei 100th/442nd/MIS’s opposition of an apology resolution to the Tule Lake No Nos.  We lost that vote.

His first marriage, to May Hinoki, ended in divorce. In 1991, he married Danealia “Deni” Brantner. In addition to his wife of Edgewater, MD, survivors include two sons from his first marriage, David Mineta of San Jose and Stuart Mineta of Redwood City, CA.; two stepsons, Robert Brantner of West River, Md., and Mark Brantner of Johnson City, Tenn.; and 11 grandchildren.

I asked, “Of all the assignments you’ve had, which did you enjoy the most?”  Without hesitation, he replied, “Mayor of San Jose.  I saw things getting done!”

Think of Norm when you’re at the Norman Y. Mineta International Airport in San Jose or at any airport, at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in Washington, D.C., on the light rail in San Jose, on Highway 85, or when you think of our JACL mission for civil and human rights, for social justice and equality, and educational outreach on our Nikkei history. 

Norman Y. Mineta and His Legacy Project:  An American Story. Image: Mineta Legacy Project, https://www.minetalegacyproject.com/.

Check Norman Y. Mineta and His Legacy Project:  An American Story on DVD. Also, check, What Does It Mean To Be An American?  The Mineta Legacy.  It’s free.  This curriculum is a great resource for teachers and students.

Norm help break the color-race-political barrier for Asian Americans in this country, for which we are eternally grateful.

He had a big heart, and for 90 years it served all of us.  Rest in peace.

Onward!  “Hey, Uncle Mas” … oh, that’s how Norm greeted me, and that’s another story.

Condolences and Remembrances

Norman Mineta 

The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, Ben Kuroki and daughter Julie Kuroki. Photo: Courtesy of Julie Kuroki.

The Ben Kuroki family sends their deepest regrets on the passing of this most prominent and courageous man to his family. My father, Ben, had strong memories of supportive interactions with Norman that launched us forward not only in our culture but in our nation's future. My mother spoke of his family as her fond college friends in Utah. We embrace all of his tremendous contributions and appreciate his willingness to challenge the acceptance of Asians post WWII, rising above and beyond...giving us the breath and life of today. Our future as Asians can give remembrance and thanks to JAVA Honorary Chair, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta...he and his family are in our hearts for all his magnificent contributions.

Julie Kuroki


Norman Y. Mineta,

JAVA Honorary Chair

On January, 27, 2018 then JAVA President LTC Al Goshi, USA (Ret), and Executive Council member LTC Rod Azama, USA (Ret), presented Secretary Mineta with JAVA's Courage, Honor, Patriotism Award at his home on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Photo: Courtesy of Rod Azama, 2018.

JAVA Speakers Address West Point Cadets and DOL Employees Nationwide on May 23, 2016. Secretary Mineta (center) and Deputy Secretary Chris Lu (left) discussed with West Point cadets the dynamics and responsibilities of leadership. Behind Mineta is LTC Alan Goshi, USA (Ret). Photo: Department of Labor. Photo: JAVA Advocate Fall 2016.

JAVA members had lunch with Judge and Dorie Kobayashi, JAVA members from Sacramento, California, on November 14, 2014, at the China Garden in Rosslyn. During their visit, the Kobayashi’s attended the JAVA Veterans Day program at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, and visited the U.S. Judge Advocate General’s graduate school at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, which has a special floor display of Dorie’s father, U.S. Army Colonel Walter Tsukamoto. They also had a private tour of the Pentagon and also met with officials at the Smithsonian. Front Row, L-R: Mary Murakami, Fay Froh, Miyako Tanabe, Dorie Kobayashi, The Honorable Norman Mineta; back row, L-R: Judge Kobayashi, Dr. Ray Murakami, Michelle Amano, Terry Shima. Photo: JAVA Advocate, Winter 2015.

Mizukoshi Completes Washington Assignment and Returns to Home. 

Front row L-R: Gerald Yamada, Secretary Mineta, Minister Mizukoshi, Glen Fukushima, Mary Murakami; Back row L-R: John Tobe, Terry Shima, Dr. Ray Murakami, Floyd Mori, Dr. McNaughton, LTC Allen Goshi, USA (Ret), LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret). Photo: JAVA Advocate, Fall 2014.

Japan Bestows Special Honor Upon World War II Veteran Terry Shima on May 21, 2013. Group photo following the award ceremony. L-R: Ambassador Sasae, Secretary Mineta, Congresswoman Hanabusa, Terry Shima, Congresswoman Matsui, and Congressman Meadows. Photo: Embassy of Japan, JAVA Advocate Summer 2013.

2012 Veterans Day marked by White House Breakfast, Arlington Program, and Nisei Memorial to Patriotism. Veterans Day speakers at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism. L-R: Lt Col Michael Yaguchi, USAF (Ret); Gerald Yamada, Honorable Norman Mineta, Michael Cardarelli, Daniel Matthews. Photo: Bruce Hollywood, JAVA Advocate Winter 2012-2013.

Lunch with Ranger Roy Masumoto. On October 26, 2012, JAVA members had lunch at the China Garden, Rosslyn, Virginia with Ranger Roy Matsumoto, who was in Washington, DC to speak at the American Veterans Center (AVC) conference. Matsumoto was also recognized at the AVC Gala Dinner. Front Row, L-R: Jimmy Kanemori, Karen Matsumoto, Ranger Matsumoto, Secretary Mineta, Lida Konoshima, Terry Shima. Mid-Row L-R: John Tobe, Gerald Yamada, Dave Buto, Calvin Ninomiya, Mrs. Kanemori, Grant Ichikawa, Aki Konoshima, Metta Tanikawa; Miyako Tanabe; Mark Nakagawa, Dr. Warren Minami. Back Row, L-R: Laura Wong, Noriko Sanefuji, LTC Kay Wakatake, Steve Ginder. Photo: Bruce Hollywood, JAVA Advocate Fall 2012.

JAVA Member MG James Mukoyama, USA (Ret) Receives Commendation for Contributions to Japan-U.S. Relations 

Consul General Tajima and MG James H. Mukoyama, Jr, USA (Ret). Photo: Courtesy of MG James H. Mukoyama, Jr., USA (Ret).

Chicago, IL. On June 10, 2022, JAVA Life Member, MG James  H. Mukoyama, Jr., USA (Ret), was honored by the Consul General of Japan to receive a special Commendation at a dinner at his official residence in Evanston, IL. The Commendation cited Mukoyama's more than fifty years of contributions to Japan-United States relations in the areas of military cooperation and his involvement in promoting Americans of Japanese Ancestry issues on the local and national level.

A sampling of Consul-General Commendation Ceremony Dinner. Photo: Courtesy of  MG James H. Mukoyama, Jr, USA (Ret).



(As Prepared)

MG James H. Mukoyama, Jr, USA (Ret) delivering remarks, Consul General Tajima to left. Photo: Courtesy of MG James H. Mukoyama, Jr, USA (Ret).

Consul-General Tajima, Honored Guests and Family Members:

Thank you to all for coming. You are all very special people in our lives and K.J. and I are very grateful for your presence. It is a distinct honor and privilege to be recognized with this award ceremony and dinner presented by the consul-general of Japan.

I accept this honor on behalf of the previous first generations of Americans of Japanese Ancestry, or AJA’s, the Issei and Nisei, who, by their sacrifices and personal example established the foundation upon which all future generations of AJA’s have benefitted. Their reputation and contributions to our nation opened up the doors of equal opportunity to those such as myself and others to follow.

I would like to recognize members of this generation present tonight, who are Mrs. Reiko Harada and Mr. & Mrs. Masaru Funai. The values inherent in the Japanese culture of honor, integrity, perseverance, respect for elders, were inculcated in my brother, John, and I by our parents, Hidefumi and Miye Mukoyama. Settling in Chicago prior to World War II, they were leaders in the Japanese-American community, helping establish the Japan mutual aid society and the resettlers organization assisting those relocating to the midwest from the concentration camps of the War Relocation Authority.

And the distinguished wartime record of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service paved the way for me to become a Major General in the United States Army.

I share any modest success in life equally with my dear wife, K.J. She has stood by me for over fifty years and both encouraged and inspired me with her personal example of sacrifice for others as a wife, mother, and daughter-in-law. While I was often away with my Army duties during my 32-year military career, she took care of my parents who lived with us in our home for the final 22 years of their lives. Her love and wise counsel have kept me grounded and made sure that my head did not excel my hat size.

Merrill's Marauders Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony

May 25, 2022

YouTube screenshot of Merrill's Marauders the Congressional Gold Medal, May 25, 2022.

Watch the May 25, 2022 virtual ceremony awarding Merrill's Marauders the Congressional Gold Medal by clicking here.

S.743 - Merrill's Marauders Congressional Gold Medal Act (116th Congress) "directs Congress to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), commonly known as Merrill's Marauders, in recognition of their bravery and outstanding service in the jungles of Burma (Myanmar) during World War II.

Following its award, the gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it shall be displayed and made available for research."


French Légion D’Honneur Conferment Ceremony

for Kimitomo Muromoto

Kimitomo Muromoto. YouTube screenshot from conferment ceremony on April 12, 2022. Video: Courtesy Dale Watanabe. 

“Sir” Kimitomo Muromoto (99) received the French Légion d’honneur in a  conferment ceremony at the Nisei Veterans Committee Memorial Hall-Seattle.  on April 13, 2022 and was hosted by Mr. Frederic Jung, Consul General of France in San Francisco. Mr. Muromoto served with I “Item” Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Mr. Muromoto is JAVA member and historian Jeff Morita's 38th successful induction into the “Chevalier dans l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur” (Knight in the National Order of the French Legion of Honor).

Click here to watch the ceremony. Video courtesy of Mr. Dale Watanabe.

New Commander Takes Helm of Joint Task Force Guantanamo

U.S. Army Brigadier General Lance A. Okamura. Photo National Guard Bureau.

U.S. Southern Command Press Release

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (June 1, 2021) – U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Lance A. Okamura relieved U.S. Navy Rear. Adm. Timothy C. Kuehhas as Commander, Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), during a ceremony on June 1, 2021, aboard Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. The ceremony was presided by the Military Deputy Commander for U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Andrew A. Croft. “I am truly honored, privileged and proud to serve as the newest Commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, one of the most important no-fail missions in the U.S. military today,” said Okamura. “I look forward to learning from our JTF warfighters and serving alongside them, as we uphold our mission to conduct the safe, humane legal care and custody of detainees.”

Brig. Gen. Okamura is the first military police (MP) general officer to command JTF-GTMO since its inception in 2002 and has served as the deputy commander of JTF-GTMO since November 2020. He is the 17th commander of JTF-GTMO and the first Army general to lead the organization since 2006. (Joint Task Force Guantanamo photo)

Brig. Gen. Okamura was Deputy Commander of JTF-GTMO from September 2020 to his promotion as Commander.

Brig. Gen. Okamura joined the US Army with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant  through the Brigham Young University ROTC program on April 27, 1995.   His first assignment was platoon leader of the 58th Military Police Company at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.  He held various staff and command positions in the US, including several tours in Hawaii, and overseas such as Kosovo and Afghanistan.  He wears many decorations and badges including the Legion of Merit and the parachutist badge.

Click here for a detailed biography.  

Class Ring Lost Nearly 80 Years Ago During World War II Finds Its Way Home to an Oʻahu Family

Kevin Kuroda, left, and Sebastian in France.

Reprinted with Permission

Hawaii Public Radio

By Russell Subiono, Sophia McCullough

Published June 13, 2022, at 6:18 HST

StoryCorps, the Brooklyn-based organization focused on preserving and sharing stories, was on Oʻahu recently to gather stories of people’s experiences with the military — stories like the one Oʻahu-native Kevin Kuroda shared with The Conversation about his uncle, Robert Kuroda.

"After Pearl Harbor was bombed, he had wanted to become an employee at Pearl Harbor and basically was denied access because of ethnicity," Kevin Kuroda said. "He became one of four brothers who enlisted in the Army. And of the four brothers, he was one of two that served in combat."

A member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Robert Kuroda was killed in action near Bruyeres, France, after leading his men in a mission to take out snipers and machine gun nests in October 1944.

For his bravery and sacrifice, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His older brother, Ronald Kuroda, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and received the Medal of Honor on behalf of Robert Kuroda.

Farrington High School class ring.

Around the time of his death, his 1940 Farrington High School class ring was lost.

About 77 years later in November 2021, a French man named Sebastian discovered his ring 6 to 8 inches underground using a metal detector. After months of failed attempts to reach the Kuroda family, the ring was finally returned to the Kurodas in May.

"Sebastian is just an incredible individual with an incredible family. He had done research to try to locate and return the ring to Robert's family. He had reached out to a number of 442 organizations without success," Kevin Kuroda said.

Sebastian eventually contacted Kuroda Auto Body on Oʻahu via a cousin in Iowa who could speak French and English.

"It was my cousin who had contacted me to say, 'Hey, there was someone from Iowa who has contacted the family to say that Uncle Robert's ring was found. They want to return it.' We weren't quite sure it was a true story, but I followed up with an email. We found that it was true."

"This is when COVID was just rampant. So we established a relationship with Sebastian and we asked him to hold on to the ring. And when time allowed, we had wanted to go to France, meet Sebastian, personally thank him. And that's what we ended up doing," Kevin Kuroda said. "(We) flew up, took a train to Épinal, France, got picked up by Sebastian and we spent three wonderful days with his family. And he had that day, presented Uncle Robert's ring to us."

Kevin Kuroda and his father at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl).

Sebastian took the Kurodas to the exact spot where the ring was found, and the area where Robert Kuroda was killed.

"I was saddened because it's the only sibling of my father who I never got to meet," Kevin Kuroda said. "After I got back, I made sure my dad got to see it. So my dad got to hold his brother's ring. Prior to Memorial Day, we went to Punchbowl where my uncle is laid to rest. And we made sure that we paid respect to Robert with my dad and the ring."

Robert Kuroda's class ring will live at Kuroda Auto Body alongside his Medal of Honor, he said.

Military-related stories like these are being collected by StoryCorps on Oʻahu and will be archived in the Library of Congress. Clips from those stories will air during Morning Edition later this year.

This interview aired on The Conversation on June 13, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Russell Subiono

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.

Sophia McCullough

Sophia McCullough is HPR's digital news producer. Contact her at news@hawaiipublicradio.org.


Nisei Impact: World War II Veteran, 99, Recounts Experience that Earned His First Purple Heart Distinction

Shane Kaneshiro, left, a McKinley High School JROTC cadet, and Jack Nakamura, behind the protective plastic barrier, celebrate Nakamura’s 99th birthday at Good Samaritan Society Pohai Nani. Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Kaneshiro.

Reprinted with Permission

April 13, 2022

By Shane Kaneshiro / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

On a typical day, Jack Seitoku Nakamura, a 100th Infantry Battalion nisei veteran, wakes up and has a good breakfast and sings harmonious tunes that radiate throughout his Good Samaritan Society Pohai Nani cottage in Kaneohe.

Jack Nakamura is delighted to celebrate his 99th birthday at Good Samaritan Society Pohai Nani. Photo: Courtesy of Shane Kaneshiro.

Nakamura then chuckles and apologizes to the nurses who listen for his singing and know where to find him.

“I am sorry. I can’t hear too well. A bomb fell next to me,” explains the 99-year-old Nakamura.

His favorite songs are Hawaiian and Japanese tunes such as “Koko Ni Sachi Ari,” as well as songs by Edith Piaf, a well-known French singer.

When Nakamura was honored with the Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight in the National Order of the French Legion of Honor) in January 2015 for helping to liberate France from the Nazis during World War II, he proudly sang the American and French anthems.

Nakamura says he faced discrimination when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

“Oh, boy, I had a bad time. They look at me and they call me Jap, Jap, Jap,” Naka­mura recalls.

To prove his loyalty as an American, at age 19, Naka­mura enlisted in the U.S. Army. He stood in formation on the grounds of Iolani Palace for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team farewell ceremony and was sent to train at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. He then traveled by boat to Casablanca, North Africa, before reaching Anzio, Italy.

In vivid detail, Nakamura recounts his first battle and how he earned his first Purple Heart.

As the Germans shot artillery shells, one of the shells hit the shack where Naka­mura and two others were hiding. The blast instantly killed Yoshio Nozaki. Naka­mura’s buddy was thrown 40 feet, and Nakamura, 30 feet. He was unconscious and blinded for a while due to the blood that was in his eyes.

“The bomb is so loud, it’s deafening. I thought I was dead. They gave me good lickins,” he laughs.

After the liberation of Italy and France, Nakamura was assigned to guard a platoon of German prisoners of war, one of whom inquired, “You look like a Japanese. What are you doing in an American uniform?”

Nakamura proudly announced, “I was born and raised in America, so I am an American.”

Recalling the joyous celebrations of gratitude from the French following the liberation, Nakamura provides delightful accounts of children cheering for “Chocolat! Chocolat!” as he gave them American chocolate.

“The children loved it,” he says.

“I am not a hero,” Naka­mura insists. He says he did his job well and nothing more.

After the war, working at Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Nakamura needed a haircut, so he entered a beauty shop where he met Alice Hisae Matsuoka. She refused to serve him since she only did women’s hair. But, Nakamura says, “I wanted her to be my lover.”

“I chased and chased my (future) wife,” he says. Then one day she stopped putting him off “and we got married!”

They had two children, Allan and Pauline, and three grandchildren, Brandon, Kelli-Rae and Stacy. “I have such good and beautiful children and grandchildren,” Nakamura says.

As a sansei, or third-­generation Japanese American, Allan Nakamura embraces his father’s selfless values and has the utmost filial respect for him.

“He gave me everything I wanted, so it’s my turn to give back,” Allan says.

“I am 99 years old. I can’t do too much and cannot remember too many things,” Nakamura says.

However, he will never forget the heroic rescue of the Lost Battalion in October 1944, when the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team was deployed to the mountains of northeastern France to extract a Texas National Guard unit surrounded by Nazi troops.

Nakamura says that after the mission, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the Japanese American soldiers to take leave for a job well done. He says he and some of his buddies wandered around France.

“We were looking for pretty girls,” he says with a hearty laugh.

Nakamura was in utter admiration when he encountered Eisenhower.

“I stood up and saluted him. Then General Eisenhower addressed me, ‘442nd soldier, I salute you. You did a good job.’

“Wow!” Nakamura says. “I was so happy! I was proud to have met General Eisenhower. I will always remember that for the rest of my life.”

Shane Kaneshiro. Photo: Courtesy of Star-Advertiser. 

Shane Kaneshiro is a sophomore at McKinley High School.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Editor’s Note: Nisei Impact is a youth storytelling project led by the Star-Advertiser and the nonprofit Nisei Veterans Legacy... we will publish a story, written by a high school student, about the Nisei veterans in our families and communities.

[Ed Note: JAVA wishes to thank the many JAVA members who recommended this series. JAVA also thanks Jayna Omaye and Marsha McFadden at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Lynn Heirakuji at the Nisei Veterans Legacy for granting reprint permission. To read the article online click https://www.staradvertiser.com/2022/04/13/hawaii-news/nisei-impact-world-war-ii-veteran-99-recounts-experience-that-earned-his-first-purple-heart-distinction/ .]

Save the Date

Upcoming JAVA Events

Nisei WWII Veterans Photo Exhibit, The Go For Broke Spirit at JICC, Washington, DC. The exhibit runs until Friday, July 22, from 9 am to 5 pm (EDT), Monday-Friday.

Day of Affirmation Ceremony, National WII Memorial, Washington, DC. Friday, July 15 at 12:00 (EDT).

Day of Affirmation Dinner at National Museum of U.S. Army, Saturday, July 16 from 4:30 to 9:00 pm (EDT).

JAVA Scholarship Awards Presentation, Livestream on Facebook. Saturday, July 23 at 3:00 pm (EDT).


Mas Hashimoto

Masaru "Mas" Hashimoto. Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Citizen

Watsonville-Santa Cruz JACL’s

Mas Hashimoto Dies

Reprinted with Permission

Pacific Citizen

June 22, 2022

Masaru Hashimoto of Watsonville, Calif., has died. He was 86.

Known to all as “Mas” — or “Mousie” by his friends as a child — Hashimoto was born in Watsonville on Sept. 15, 1935, to first-generation Japanese immigrants Nami (Haraguchi) and Ikuta Hashimoto, the seventh and last-born son, preceded by six brothers.

According to published reports, in recent years Hashimoto had been fighting pulmonary fibrosis, and he died from its complications on Monday, June 20.

In his adult life, he served in the Army from 1958-60. Mas married Marcia Hashimoto, who survives him, in 1970. Both he and his wife were educators. Mas Hashimoto spent 40 years at Watsonville High School — four as a student and 36 as a teacher of U.S. history before retiring in 1996.

Both Marcia and Mas Hashimoto were active members of the Watsonville-Santa Cruz Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. Both were also active members of the Watsonville Buddhist Temple.

Mas’ father died when he was 3. As a youngster, his mother and some of his brothers were removed to the Salinas Assembly Center prior to being incarcerated at the Poston WRA Center (Camp 1, followed by Camp 2) as a result of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066.

After retiring as a teacher, Hashimoto continued to educate others as a public speaker. In an oral history with Densho, he said, “I go to different schools … to teach about the Japanese American [incarceration] experience. I have a slideshow, trying to make it into a PowerPoint now. But I go to third, fourth grades because it’s in the curriculum. Eighth grade, juniors in high school, seniors. If it’s seniors, then it’s more on civics. So more on the Korematsu case and Min Yasui and Gordon Hirabayashi, to colleges and university, to Rotary clubs.”

To view Hashimoto’s TEDx lecture, click here.

To read online visit: https://www.pacificcitizen.org/watsonville-santa-cruz-jacls-mas-hashimoto-dies/


Glenn "Barney" Fusao Hajiro

Barney Hajiro on the 2019 100th/442nd 75th Anniversary France Battlefields Tour. Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Morita.

JAVA mourns the loss of JAVA member Glenn "Barney" Fusao Hajiro 70, of Pearl City, who passed away on May 14, 2022. Born in Honolulu, he was a retired teacher for the State of Hawaii Department of Education at Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School. Preceded in death by parents Barney and Esther Hajiro and brother Wayne, he is survived by his wife, Frieda (Hinazumi) Hajiro and son, Ian.

JAVA sends condolences to Barney's family and friends.

Questions or Suggestions: Please contact Neet Ford at javapotomac@gmail.com.

Japanese American Veterans Association:  Address: P.O. Box 341198, Bethesda, MD 20827 I www.java-us.org.