Japanese American Veterans Association

e-Advocate

Vol 1 No. 3, July 7, 2019 

Washington Post Reporter Ellen Nakashima "Talked Story" at the Spring Quarterly Luncheon


JAVA President Al Goshi and Washington Post Reporter Ellen Nakashima.  Photo by Mark Nakagawa.

JAVA Vice President Wade Ishimoto served as Master of Ceremony to introduce guest speaker Ellen Nakashima, a Washington Post reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, at the Spring Quarterly Luncheon and General Members Meeting on March 16, 2019.  After acknowledging Ms. Nakashima’s father’s service in the MIS and her uncles’ service in the 100th Infantry Battalion / 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Mr. Ishimoto praised her ability to accurately report detailed accounts of security issues while never compromising government secrets. Ms. Nakashima then took center stage and “talked story” - a term, she explained, from her childhood years in Hawaii when family and friends gathered, reminisced and shared life experiences.

Ms. Nakashima, an exceptional and engaging speaker, told the JAVA luncheon attendees she “never dreamed of becoming a reporter!” Nakashima further explained she always had an intense curiosity about the world and her parents, both social workers, instilled the importance of public service. “I guess reporting scratched two itches,” said Ms. Nakashima.

After graduating the University of California, Berkeley, Ms. Nakashima worked at the campus paper, The Daily Californian. She then moved to Bologna, Italy where she learned Italian working as an au pair and taught English. Several years later, Nakashima, settled in London and completed a Master of Arts in International Journalism at City University.

Back in the states, Nakashima spent five years covering local beats, first for the Quincy Patriot Ledger in Boston, Mass. and then for The Hartford Courant. While at the Ledger, Nakashima interviewed her father to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ms. Nakashima remarked, “the war experience was not something talked about while growing up.” Leaving the past in the past was the prevailing sentiment. That interview provided Nakashima’s father the opportunity to explore his war experiences with his daughter.

In 1995, Ms. Nakashima was hired by The Washington Post to cover Arlington, VA for the Metro Desk. She covered everything from education to county politics before being promoted to cover the Virginia state house in 1996 and then national politics in 1998. From 1999 to 2000, Nakashima worked with Washington Post editor and writer David Maraniss on a book about Al Gore titled, The Prince of Tennessee. Nakashima told us fascinating stories about her interview with Al Gore’s mother, Miss Pauline, and traveling country roads in Carthage, TN with his high school friend Steve Armistead.

Ms. Nakashima’s reflections then turned to the 2001 Pentagon attack. She recounted the surreal experience of reporting amid smoke and rubble at the Pentagon and her “amazement of the scores of volunteers sublimating their shock by helping the wounded.”

 A few months later, the U.S. celebrated the 60th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Ms. Nakashima said her father “couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the anti-Muslim rhetoric and the treatment of the Nisei after Pearl Harbor.” Ms. Nakashima recounted a story around her father’s MIS service and the challenges of having the “face of the enemy.’’ A comparison that for Nakashima’s father brought to light the discrimination Japanese Americans faced during WWII and Muslim Americans faced after 9/11.

Ms. Nakashima and her husband Alan Sipress, also a journalist moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, as Southeast Asia correspondents in 2002. She told our group she and her husband covered the terrorist bombings in Bali, the Muslim insurgencies, SARS, the Avian Bird Influenza and the 2004 Tsunami. Ms. Nakashima also shared an incredible story she experienced in the Philippines. “I received a call in my hotel room that US intelligence had picked-up a group who had taken locals hostage and were planning to kidnap a western journalist. I was told to stay put” and she spoke of how the military attaché in Manila hustled down to Mindanao to move her to a safe house. According to Ms. Nakashima, the incident illustrated how though there is legitimate public debate over the proper bounds of government surveillance, when done properly and lawfully it is just and it has saved lives.

Nakashima concluded her speech by briefly highlighting her recent reporting on Russia’s interference with the 2016 election. Ms. Nakashima offered, that while some have criticized the reporting The Post and other news organizations do as “fake news,” we “strive to report truthfully and accurately.”

Keeping with tradition, the luncheon came to a close with Al Goshi thanking Ellen Nakashima for sharing her story and Wade Ishimoto leading the group in with “God Bless America” in honor of the almost 40th anniversary of Operation Eagle Claw, the failed mission to rescue the American hostages in Iran.

 

Frank Nekoba, Ellen Nakashima and Ambassador John Dinger.  Photo by JAVA Research Team.


Six 100th and 442nd Veterans Honored with France’s Decoration



L-R:  (front) Royce Higa, Hidenobu Hiyane, George Oide, Clinton Shiraishi, Koichi Tokushige, Paul Watanabe.  (Standing) Catherine Delfino, Guillaume Maman, Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, Governor Ige and Mrs. Ige.   Photo by Morita.


Jeff Morita, Historian

Honolulu, Hawai'i.  On June 1, 2019 a prestigious ceremony at the Hawai'i Convention Center conferred to six 100th and 442nd World War II Veterans the Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest order of merit. Hawai’i Governor David Y. Ige, wife Dawn Amano-Ige, members of the Consular Corps of Hawaii and 150 family and friends of the veterans witnessed the historic knighthood.  Consul General of France in San Francisco, Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, presented individual medals to:

 - Royce Eiko Higa; A “Able” Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion/442nd RCT

 - Hidenobu Hiyane; Headquarters Company, 100th Infantry Battalion

 - George Kenichi Oide; Headquarters Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 442nd RCT

 - Clinton Ikuzo Shiraishi; Headquarters Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 442nd RCT

 - Koichi Harry Tokushige; A “Able” Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion/442nd RCT

 - Paul Sanji Watanabe; 232nd Engineer Company/442nd RCT

Kevin Morita, Choir Director at Kapolei Middle School and the son of Jeff Morita, played soothing ukulele prelude music. The 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Infantry Color Guard presented and retired the colors. Sandy Tsukiyama provided beautiful acapella renditions of Le Marseillaise, The Star Spangle Banner, and Hawai’i Pono'i. Members of the US Army Pacific (USARPAC) provided military escorts for the Honorees. Honorary Consul of France in Hawai’i Guillaume Maman provided the welcome address;  Governor Ige and Consul General Lebrun-Damiens commended the honorees. Theresa Tilley Maman, wife of Honorary Consul Maman, served as emcee. Joint Planning Committee Members included Lynn Heirakuji (Chairperson), Mae Isonaga, Grace Tsubata Fujii, Theresa Tilley Maman, Jeff Morita and community volunteers.

Since 2014, Morita, a retired US Army Sergeant First Class and GG-13, Department of the Army Civilian (40-years total service), has completed and submitted 43 application forms for 100th/442nd Veterans to receive the Légion d'honneur. To date, the Government of France has awarded this prestigious decoration to 23 veterans Morita has assisted. Morita (jeff_kine_57@icloud.com) welcomes any request for assistance.   

   

Jeff Morita (L) and Awardee Clinton Shiraishi.  Photo by Morita.


A Perspective on Filipino Contributions to the US Army

MG Tony Taguba, USA (Ret)

In 1919, the United States formed the Philippine Scouts under US Army control consisting of ten regiments: seven Infantry, one cavalry, two field artillery with supporting units and the Philippine Commonwealth Army commanded by GEN Douglas MacArthur prior to and during WWII. It was estimated that some 260,000 Filipinos served in the U.S. Army and the Philippine Army including recognized guerrilla units from 1941 to 1946.  

The Filipinos were granted US nationality status (not citizenship since they were territorial citizens) under the US Nationality Act of 1940. After the Japanese surrender in September 1945, several hundred Filipinos assigned to Philippine Scouts units were granted US citizenship.  My father, a Phil Scout, Bataan Death March survivor, and recognized guerrilla was granted US citizenship. Thousands of Filipino soldiers waived that offer.

In February 1946, the 79th Congress passed the Rescission Acts that revoked the Act and the soldiers US nationality status. The law also revoked their active duty status granted under President Franklin Roosevelt’s military order of July 26, 1941 which prevented them from receiving backpay owed during the war. My father received $60.00 after he was repatriated in 1945, but the Army took back $35.40 for “resettlement cost.” Not sure what that meant. His total pay for almost four years of war service was $24.60. His pay was documented in his military record which I have a copy from NPRC. From the time he was granted US citizenship in September 1945, my father remained on active duty until he retired in June 1962.

The Immigration Act of 1990 offered US citizenship to Filipino WWII veterans in which some 28,000 were approved. In 1992, a moratorium was imposed on this law, which also prevented their families from applying for US citizenship. In 2015, President Obama issued an Executive Order to allow families to apply for US citizenship under a parole program. The Executive Order was offered to only 5,000 applicants. I don’t have a current data on the number of applications approved, but I would assume less than 5,000 were received. There was a fee of about $500 for each application.

In sum, the plight and experience of the Filipino soldiers fight under the US flag was rife of injustice and discrimination since the colonial era.  It didn’t just start in WWII, but it is still ongoing to this day. We have some 4,000 veterans appealing for their backpay. Most of them are in their 90s and still hopeful and loyal to the US. [EDNote. We asked MG Taguba to provide his perspective concerning the history of Filipino contributions to the US Army. Filipinos have also contributed to the US Navy and other branches. MG Taguba and Debbie’s son, Major Sean T. Taguba, US Army and an Armor Officer, is currently serving on the Division staff, lst Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. He, his wife and daughter reside in El Paso, TX. He served as tank platoon leader and infantry company executive officer in Iraq. He also commanded an Infantry company in Afghanistan, and Cavalry troop at Ft Bliss, Texas. He graduated as a distinguished military graduate and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army from the University of Hawaii in June 2007.]