Statement from President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the Day of Remembrance of Japanese American Incarceration

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, eighty-one years ago today, it ushered in one of the most shameful periods in American history. The wrongful incarceration of 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent tore families apart. Men, women, and children were forced to abandon their homes, their jobs, their communities, their businesses, and their way of life. They were sent to inhumane concentration camps simply because of their heritage. And in a tragic miscarriage of justice, the Supreme Court upheld these immoral and unconstitutional policies.

Despite losing liberty, security, and the fundamental freedoms that rightfully belonged to them, 33,000 Japanese Americans volunteered or were drafted for service in the U.S. military during World War II. While their own families were behind barbed wires, Japanese Americans fought in defense of the nation’s freedom with valor and courage.

The incarceration of Japanese Americans reminds us what happens when racism, fear, and xenophobia go unchecked. As we battle for the soul of our nation, we continue to combat the corrosive effects of hate on our democracy and the intergenerational trauma resulting from it. We reaffirm the Federal Government’s formal apology to Japanese Americans for the suffering inflicted by these policies. And we commit to Nidoto Nai Yoni – to “Let It Not Happen Again.”

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/02/19/statement-from-president-joseph-r-biden-jr-on-the-day-of-remembrance-of-japanese-american-incarceration/

[EdNote: Many thanks to JAVA member Georgette A. Furukawa for passing along the White House Press Release. Georgette A. Furukawa is Advisor for Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) Office of the Chief of Staff, The White House.]


JAVA General Membership Meeting and Awards Presentation

JAVA General Membership Meeting and Awards Presentation. Top: CPT Wade Ishimoto, USA (Ret). Bottom: JAVA VP Howard High. Photo: Screenshot. 

The JAVA Executive Committee along with JAVA members and friends met virtually for the Annual General Membership Meeting and Awards Presentation on February 4, 2023. The virtual meeting allowed those from across the U.S. to enjoy a slideshow created by JAVA Vice President Howard High featuring highlights from JAVA events over the past year, to celebrate the Awardees, to learn about JAVA initiatives, and to vote on a proposed By-Law amendment. 

After a welcome by Vice President Howard High, CPT Wade Ishimoto, USA (Ret), led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. Then President Gerald Yamada reviewed the year and shared news of upcoming events. Particularly exciting is a Day of Affirmation Luncheon to be held on July 16 at The Army Navy Club in downtown DC. The luncheon will feature keynote speaker Landon Grove, Director and Curator of the Ritchie History Museum, and it will round out the programming centered on the Day of Affirmation ceremony at the National World War II Memorial on July 15. Yamada also announced JAVA’s co-sponsorship of an exhibit showcasing Eric Saul’s collection of photographs of Japanese American soldiers during WWII. The exhibit will be held at the Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), Washington, D.C., and will run from mid-September through December.  

Mr. Yamada introduced LTC Marty Herbert, USA (Ret), Awards Committee Chair, to present the JAVA awards. LTC Herbert explained the JAVA Award selection process, the eligibility criteria, a brief history of each award, and previous award recipients before presenting this year’s awards.

The Courage, Honor, Patriotism Award, JAVA’s highest award was presented to GEN Paul M. Nakasone, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command and Director of National Security Agency/ Chief, Central Security Service. Photo: Screenshot.

The Courage, Honor, Patriotism Award, JAVA’s highest award, was presented to GEN Paul M. Nakasone, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command and Director of National Security Agency, Chief, Central Security Service. GEN Nakasone expressed his admiration for Shane Sato’s photography featuring veterans. He also praised Bruce Henderson and his recent book on the MIS, which has tremendous personal significance for him. He expressed heartfelt thanks to receive the highest award and be counted among the other past recipients. GEN Nakasone remarked that his father was a Nisei who witnessed the Pearl Harbor attack and later served in MIS as an interpreter during the reconstruction of Japan post WWII. He added that he proudly serves today because of the example his father set as well as other members of the 442nd. GEN Nakasone also acknowledged the commitment and work of JAVA and those who work tirelessly to support it; he believes the mission of JAVA is essential – to help Japanese American veterans and families, to educate the public on the critical role that Japanese American veterans played in our nation’s history, and to keep alive the memories of those who sacrificed so much for our country.

2023 Terry T. Shima Leadership Award was awarded posthumously to CDR Michael Omatsu, USCG (Ret), former Treasurer of JAVA. Photo: Screenshot.The Terry T. Shima Leadership Award was awarded posthumously to CDR Michael Omatsu, USCG (Ret), former Treasurer of JAVA. CDR Omatsu answered the call to volunteer for JAVA Treasurer and was an outstanding member of the Executive Council, bringing both seriousness and lightness to the group. Michael was a Hawaii native who loved the ocean, which eventually led to his commission as a USCG officer. Sue Omatsu offered a statement thanking JAVA for honoring Michael, who was proud to serve and felt it was his duty to give back. Ms. Sheila Sumpter also provided a few words about CDR Omatsu, sharing that he made a big impact on his community by reaching out and connecting with fellow veterans. She added that his father, James Omatsu’s service in the 442nd RCT was a great source of inspiration to Michael and that he and all three of his brothers served their country.

2023 Veterans Advocate Award to Mrs. Christine DeRosa. Top: LTC Marty Herbert, USA (Ret) and Mrs. Christine DeRosa, JAVA Scholarship Chair. Photo: Screenshot. 

Mr. Herbert presented this year’s JAVA Veteran’s Advocate Award to Mrs. Christine DeRosa, Chair of the Scholarship Committee. Her dedication and work to award the many JAVA scholarships over the past several years have helped ensure the legacy of the 100th INF BN/442nd RCT/MIS lives on. In expressing her appreciation for the award, she remarked that the award recognizes the efforts of the Scholarship Committee over the last four years, and gave special thanks to Retired U.S. Navy CAPT Cynthia Macri and Dawn Eilenberger who have supported the committee since the start of her tenure as chairperson. Mrs. DeRosa closed by telling JAVA members that the Scholarship Committee’s work has been deeply rewarding because it honors the legacy of the Nisei veterans and their families, and also supports the younger generation as they pursue higher education.

2023 JAVA Legacy Award,  a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal,  presented to Bruce Henderson, author of “Bridge to the Sun: the secret role of Japanese American who fought in the Pacific in WWII.” 

Mr. Herbert presented the JAVA Legacy Award, a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal to Bruce Henderson, author of “Bridge to the Sun: the secret role of Japanese Americans who fought in the Pacific in WWII.”  Mr. Henderson said it was an honor to tell the story of the Nisei in the Pacific and an honor to receive the JAVA Legacy Award for his book. He gave special thanks to Gerald Yamada who shared his family’s WWII experience in an afterword he wrote for “Bridge to the Sun.” He then thanked Terry Shima, who greeted the MIS book idea with enthusiasm from the start to the finish of the writing journey. He also thanked the late Roger Eaton, who spent years collecting names of linguists who served in the Pacific and provided him a 3,000-man roster that Henderson was able to credit in the back of his book. Henderson shared that he has received close to 100 messages through his website, mainly from family members who are grateful that the story of the MIS is being told. After expressing his appreciation for the award, Henderson concluded by stating that the Nisei veterans’ patriotism must not be forgotten.

General Membership Meeting, Gerald Yamada proposes By-Law Amendment. Photo: Screenshot.

Mr. Yamada congratulated all the well-deserving award recipients and gave accolades to the Awards Committee for their hard work. He then proceeded to discuss the proposed amendments to the JAVA By-Laws regarding the composition of the membership. He explained that JAVA is a 501(c)19 organization and because of that status the IRS imposes certain membership requirements for JAVA to maintain its tax-exempt status. JAVA’s 501(c)19 designation also impacts donors who contribute financially to take tax exemptions for donations to JAVA. Mr. Yamada stated that under federal law, ancestors and lineal descendants of former members of the military are eligible for joining a war veteran’s organization with limitations. The organization must maintain at least 75% of the total membership of war veterans, defined as someone who served during a period of war. The remaining 25% can include non-war veterans, including military academy cadets, ancestors and lineal descendants of military members, and non-military. The IRS modified this requirement by putting ancestors and lineal descendants of military members into a subgroup of the 25% so that only 2.5% of total membership can be either non-military or descendants and ancestors. To comply with this requirement, JAVA would constantly have to adjust the 2.5% membership depending on increases or decreases in the number of war veteran members.As such, the Executive Council decided it would be better to make ancestors and descendants “Friends of JAVA” and not General Members. The minor impact is those in the “Friends of JAVA” category are ineligible to vote or hold office. But most of the offices also require former membership in the military. The larger impact is that the children of “Friends of JAVA” would not be eligible to apply for a JAVA scholarship, although they may qualify under other categories.Mr. Yamada called for a vote, and all members voted in favor of the proposed changes to the JAVA By-Laws with no one opposed.  Mr. High then commenced the Strategic Planning Committee presentation and encouraged audience participation. High stated the main efforts of the plan – a focus on outreach and the organization’s continuous growth. He explained that outreach could include military academies, and military installations, especially the Defense Language Institute (DLI) due to its origins and legacy of the Nisei MIS language school. High added that thousands of students graduate from DLI annually which provides a rich environment for recruitment to JAVA. Further outreach efforts could include current members reaching out to their social circles, working together with similar organizations involved in similar efforts, and working with descendants of the “Texas Lost Battalion” or those in the 100th INF BN/442nd RCT. Mr. High invited all to join this collaborative effort and to contact him directly for more information.Following Howard High’s report on the Strategic Planning Committee, other Executive Council members and committee chairs provided updates on JAVA activities and events. Mrs. Chris DeRosa announced the JAVA Memorial Scholarship program opening in March and LTC Marty Herbert, USA (Ret) encouraged all to attend the in-person Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk on April 1 in DC. Dawn Eilenberger, Chair of the Nominations Committee, told the group that the JAVA Biennial elections for President and Vice President would be held in early 2024 and that a call for interested individuals would be made in the fall.Howard High brought the meeting to a close by thanking all who attended and then offered everyone another chance to revel in slideshow scenes from 2022 as JAVA moves forward in 2023 and beyond.  

Biden Signs Law Preserving Japanese American Internment Camps

JAVA member LTC Rod Azama, USA (Ret) passed along an article from The East West Center’s online publication Asia Matters for America detailing the recently signed legislation preserving Japanese American Internment Camps. The article can be found at this link: https://asiamattersforamerica.org/articles/biden-signs-law-ensuring-preservation-of-world-war-ii-japanese-american-internment-camps

[EdNote: MG Suzanne Puanani Vares-Lum, USA (Ret), is a JAVA member. She is the President of the East-West Center.]



JAVA Post WW II Members View Bridge to the Sun as a “Must Read”

James Tanamachi.  Photo: Sandra Tanamachi.

JAVA Research Team (JRT)Washington, DC. Now some five months after Bruce Henderson’s Bridge to the Sun, the Secret Role of the Japanese Americans Who Fought in the Pacific in World War II, was placed in bookstores, 15 members of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) have reviewed this book as one of the must-have books worthy of being kept on their reference shelves. Bridge to the Sun is reputed to be equal in quality of research and writing to Henderson’s epic, Sons and Soldiers, The Untold Story of the Jews who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the US Army to Fight Hitler, which was a New York Times bestseller. Following the lives and wartime experiences of six Nisei combat linguists, Henderson reveals in riveting detail the saga of some 3,000 Japanese American U.S. Army linguists who fought in the Asia Pacific theater, as their families back home in America were being rounded up and held in government internment camps. It is a gripping true tale of courage, sacrifice, tenacity and adventure of a unit designated as the Military Intelligence Service (MIS).Due to the large demand to translate captured documents and interrogate prisoners, the War Department recruited from the only resource available, the Nisei, many of whom were educated in Japan and spoke and wrote formal and colloquial Japanese. After their training at a special Army language school in Minnesota, the MIS soldiers operated in elite intelligence teams alongside Army infantrymen and Marines throughout the Pacific, from Aleutian and Solomon Islands to China-Burma-India theater and from the Philippines to Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After the war, many of these soldiers, reinforced by several thousand more MIS linguists, served in the war crimes trials and helped General MacArthur modernize and rebuild Japan as a democratic country.JAVA members and friends submitted eloquently written and thought-provoking short commentaries of Bridge to the Sun.  Their views are fully presented below.  A few excerpts are noted here.  Sansei senior US government official and international business executive: ”Henderson gives us a full account of Nisei’s role in the Pacific.”   Yonsei high school teacher:  “Bridge to the Sun is a ‘must read’ for any history buff.”  Two daughters of a Merrill’s Marauder: “American history is revealed through memorable stories.”  Retired USAF Colonel:  “Evidence of Nisei patriotism is clearly presented.”  Retired educator: “My father never discussed the War with us. I learned a lot about Dad from Henderson.”  Sansei, wife of Nisei Army colonel:  “The stories of WW II Nisei veterans embolden subsequent generations to fight discrimination and racism.”   Retired Army Department educator:  “The book provides insight into life in the “post-Pearl Harbor” American landscape of fear and xenophobia, of suspicion and forced . . . incarceration . . .  .  Within this context, Henderson focuses on a “deep dive” into the lives and families, hopes and dreams, motivations and expectations of a few of these MIS, and shows us how remarkable and exceptional the soldiers of the MIS are.”   Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel: “I am grateful to be standing on the shoulders of MIS giants.”  Caucasian Vietnam War veteran: “I recommend Bridge to the Sun to young readers for life lessons and for the history of the Pacific war.”  Son of a Ritchie Boy veteran who fought Hitler in Europe:  “Bridge to the Sun gave me a better appreciation for the hardship Nisei endured.”  Following are remarks from JAVA members:Glen S. Fukushima, a Sansei and Senior U.S. government official and international business representative for Asia, said  “The Nisei MIS experience in WWII has not received the attention it deserves because the MIS operations were highly confidential, the participants were sworn to secrecy, and Nisei tend not to be self-promoters.  Henderson corrects this oversight by producing the first full account of the role of the MIS.  The Nisei used their knowledge of the Japanese language, psychology, and culture not only to help the United States win the war against Japan but also to save countless American and Japanese lives in the process.  Henderson has done an admirable job of telling the story of Japanese Americans who, despite being suspected of disloyalty, more than proved their loyalty to contribute significantly to the American war effort in the Pacific.  The Nisei experience is also a warning to those who unjustifiably blame Muslim Americans for the 9/11 attacks or Chinese Americans for acting as agents of the Chinese Communist Party.”   [EdNote. More specifically, Fukushima is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, served as a U.S. trade representative for Japan and China, and served as the” Asia representative for major international corporations such as Airbus corporation.  He served two terms as President of the US Chamber of Commerce in Japan.]James Corey Tanamachi, a fourth-generation (Yonsei) descendant of the Tanamachi family of Texas, represents a family which sent five boys to serve in the 442nd RCT in Europe and MIS during WW II.  He said “Bridge to the Sun is just plain great storytelling. The backstories of the MIS heroes featured in the book really get you connected to the men and their families and you really empathize with them along their journey throughout the war and beyond. I found the book not only thoroughly entertaining, but it was very educational for me as well.   Some of the battles I was learning about for the first time.  This book does a great job highlighting the Japanese American heroes of the MIS and it’s a must-read for any history buff.  I even found the epilogue fascinating as well. It makes me very proud of my Japanese American heritage and of my uncle who served in the MIS.”  [EdNote: James is the great-nephew of Saburo, Goro, Willie, and Walter Tanamachi who served in the 442nd, and great-nephew of grandmother’s brother Taira Nakao who served in the MIS.  James is also the grandson of his mother’s father, Ross Johnson, who served on the USS Mississippi which was docked in Tokyo Harbor from where he observed the September 2, 1945 surrender ceremonies on the USS Missouri which was docked nearby.  James, a graduate of The University of Texas at Brownsville, is the head tennis coach at Harlingen High School in Harlingen, Texas].Bernie Lubran said “my late Father, a refugee from Nazi Germany in the 1930s, trained in military intelligence at Camp Ritchie, MD, and served as an interrogator of prisoners of war during WWII.   Through my research into Camp Ritchie, I learned that Nisei GIs had trained there.    Digging deeper, I came across Bruce Henderson’s book, Bridge to the Sun, which gave me a better appreciation for the hardships Nisei endured following the December 1941 attack on the United States. The willingness of these young men to volunteer to attend the MIS at great personal risk, and their continuous demonstration of loyalty to the United States were remarkable. The intense training they underwent to master the Japanese written and spoken language proved immensely valuable as they were able to decode and translate important communications and secret documents that proved to be very valuable towards the war effort.” [EdNote: Lubran is the leader of Ritchie Boys Veterans and their sons and daughters.  They are planning to build a Ritchie Boys Museum at Camp Ritchie in western Maryland].Dr. Glenda Nogami Streufert, a retired Sansei/Yonsei educator at the Department of Army noted that most books of military history focus on battles or strategy or the generals and commanders.  This book by Bruce Henderson is an exception.  By focusing on a few MIS soldiers and officers, Henderson presents the human dimension of war – a war fought by people – not guns or strategy.  The book provides insight into life in the “post-Pearl Harbor” American landscape of fear and xenophobia, suspicion and forced relocation, and incarceration in internment camps. Within this context, Henderson focuses on a “deep dive” into the lives and families, hopes and dreams, motivations and expectations of a few of these MIS, and shows us how remarkable and exceptional the soldiers of the Military Intelligence Service are. They were fighting on three fronts:  domestic prejudice, and war against a foreign enemy; but also for their personal and family values.  On July 15, 1946, President Truman summed it up best “(I think it was my predecessor who said that) Americanism is not a matter of race or creed, it is a matter of the heart.    You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice–and you have won.”  [EdNote: JAVA recognizes this date, July 15, with an annual program entitled a Day of Affirmation held at the WW II Memorial located at the Washington, DC Mall. Gerald Yamada, President of JAVA, said Truman affirmed that “Japanese Americans who served in WWII are loyal U.S. citizens.”  Currently, Dr. Streufert is a Commissioner on the County of Kauai Planning Commission; Director on the Board of Directors for the Kauai Region, Hawaii Health Services Corporation (HHSC); and a member of the State of Hawaii Advisory Committee on Emergency Management]. Dwight Gates, a Vietnam War veteran, retired U.S. Army and Department of Defense employee, and a JAVA volunteer for various projects, said “Henderson’s Bridge to the Sun, is a well-crafted account of the MIS in the World War II Pacific War.  JAVA’s team to build a database documenting Nisei soldiers in the war discovered hundreds of MIS records pertaining to soldiers’ experiences, training, assignments, and accomplishments.  Henderson chose six soldiers as representatives of MIS members and their varied missions, while also telling a brief history of the Pacific War.  The presence in combat units of MIS linguists/translators increased combat effectiveness and saved lives with timely human intelligence.  MIS translation teams supporting major headquarters also played a significant role.  MIS efforts like the translation of the Japanese Navy’s “Z-Plan” to surprise and annihilate the US Fleet, lead to the U.S. Navy’s decisive destruction of the Japanese fleet and air forces in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.  Few books are written about the MIS despite the significant contributions by its members to win the Pacific War. I especially recommend the book to young readers for the life lessons these soldiers experienced and for the history of the Pacific War not often taught in classrooms.   Henderson’s Bridge to the Sun is a nice complement to Dr. James McNaughton’s book, Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II for students and scholars researching MIS history.” [EdNote: Dwight’s wife Cathy is the only granddaughter of Brigadier General Kendall “Wooch” Fielder, who trained Nisei soldiers who later formed the 100th Infantry Battalion, recommended the formation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and opposed mass incarceration of Hawaii’s ethnic Japanese.]Lynn (Hirabayashi) Bettencourt and Kei Hirabayashi, both Sansei, daughters of Merrill Marauders Grant Hirabayashi, who served in Burma said “Courage. Loyalty. Sacrifice. Honor. These are familiar words that describe the Nisei soldiers who fought in WWII.   We are familiar with these words as we were blessed with a humble father who was a warrior and a gentleman.  For many years, we only knew him as a gentleman; he, like his MIS brothers, was modest and upheld the code of confidentiality for 50 years. Author Henderson encapsulates their integrity within the personal stories of Military Intelligence Service (MIS) soldiers who fought in the Pacific in “Bridge to the Sun“.  Many others may not be familiar with the warriors who fought two wars: one at home and one with the enemy of their ancestry.  Henderson’s captivating storytelling expertly unfolds their accounts while serving in the MIS.  He weaves the interpreters’ and interrogators’ experiences into a connected life story of the men who volunteered for dangerous missions, even while their families were living behind barbed wire in internment camps.  A piece of American history is uniquely revealed through these memorable stories of six Japanese American MIS soldiers who served with Courage, Loyalty, Sacrifice, and Honor.”  [EdNote: Lynn is a retired administrative assistant at an early intervention preschool. Kei is a business test lead.]Karen Matsumoto, a Sansei and retired educator, is the daughter of Roy Matsumoto, one of the 14 Nisei linguists who served in the Merrill’s Marauders, a special forces unit that fought the Japanese military forces in Burma.  Karen said “Bridge to the Sun illuminates the untold stories of Japanese Americans in the MIS during WWII. Told with uncanny detail through the experiences of six Nisei soldiers, Henderson’s skill as an engaging storyteller weaves their personal stories into an accurate composite of the MIS experience.   As Roy Matsumoto’s daughter,  my father shared very few details of his wartime experiences in Burma with Merrill’s Marauders, and up until his later years, memories were only discussed with other Marauders who had shared experiences. Details captured in the book make these events available to a wider audience, including members of my own family who had never heard these stories before. I was very touched by Henderson’s melding of the personal thoughts and experiences of these brave individuals, transporting the reader to American concentration camps, the jungles of Burma, battlefields of Okinawa, and places and events recounted in each chapter of the book.”  [EdNote. In Burma, Matsumoto spotted and tapped Japanese phone lines.  Result:  enemy ammo dump bombed.  Later, Matsumoto crawled to the enemy bivouac area and eavesdropped on their plans to mount a major attack the next morning.  The battalion commander realigned his force and repelled the enemy attack.  In Matsumoto’s subsequent assignment to China, he joined CIA’s Detachment 202, and was sent to Ind o China where he sabotaged Japanese operations.]   Lynn Kanaya, a  Sansei and the wife of COL Jimmy Kanaya, said “to those Americans of Japanese descent born during and shortly after WWII like me, Bridge to the Sun, is a must-read. Many of our relatives did not want to share their personal painful memories of the war years.  Our families were in concentration centers and our sons were in the military to prove their loyalty. We heard the stories of the highly decorated 442 RCT and admired their strength, endurance, and courage. This book tells the rest of the story about the Nisei who were recruited as interpreters and interrogators for the MIS and fought in the Pacific theater. Their achievements helped shorten the war. Many Sansei had an empty place in their souls where fear, shame, and guilt for the color of their skin and ancestry were hidden away. The personal and heroic stories of the MIS help fill that space with gratitude and pride for the commitment, tenacity, and strength of those linguists. The stories of the 442 RCT and MIS build courage for the subsequent generations to continue to fight discrimination and strive for what is right.”  [EdNote: COL Kanaya served as a medic in the 442nd RCT, won a battlefield commission to second lieutenant, was captured and held as a POW by Germany and served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.]Sandra Tanamachi, a Sansei retired Texas school teacher, said “Bridge to the Sun is a brilliantly written book that tells us about the lives of six courageous Japanese American MIS soldiers who fought bravely in the Pacific during World War II.   This book describes the courage and struggles that each soldier encountered through the vivid details written in Henderson’s words.  Having the face of the enemy, and being incarcerated in internment camps, these men had to have bravery and strength to be sent to the Pacific. This book clearly explains the harsh conditions of the jungle.  My uncle, Taira Nakao, served in the MIS in the Occupation of Japan while his family was incarcerated in Rohwer, Arkansas.  In addition, I met Tom Sakamoto in Washington, D.C. in 2011 when Nisei received the Congressional Gold Medal.   It was riveting to read all he had experienced and endured during WWII.  Bridge to the Sun is a must read, as it clearly shows us how we owe many thanks to our Nisei soldiers and how we stand on their shoulders.”Govan Yee, a third-generation Chinese American and retired officer of the Montebello (California) Police Department, a former member of the Go For Broke National Education Center Board of Directors and the Hanashi Oral History Project, said ”It is important that members of the younger generation read this book to understand the hardships that their grandparents and parents went through in Japan and America especially during and after the Great Depression and the effects of EO 9066. The book gave me a better understanding of their decision to join the MIS and to fight for a country that did not recognize them as Americans. Their work was invaluable to help end the war and to save lives on both sides.  I was happy to learn that Mr. Henderson used many of the Hanashi Oral History Project’s (HOHP) videotaped interviews of the MIS Veterans as source material. Through the book, I was able to obtain additional details and knowledge about their important work in the MIS that I did not have before.” [EdNote: HOHP is a project of Go For Broke National Education Center].Marilyn Yutani, a Sansei and retired Kaiser Permanente pharmacist said “reading Bridge to the Sun I learned some facts new to me and gave more insight into the Nisei MISers in the Asia Pacific Theater. Among points of particular interest: 1) how the personal histories of the six MIS members contributed to their expertise; 2) much of the communication was not coded because the Japanese military felt that their language was too complex for westerners, and translations of Japanese military diaries provided intelligence info; 3) the magnitude of the impact the Nisei MIS made in the Pacific Theater with their interventions;  4) records for Nisei MIS were virtually nonexistent, being attached to other units, so no rosters were compiled by the U.S. military; 5) the emotional difficulty for Nisei MIS from Okinawa to serve there and their role in saving lives of people hiding in the caves. The story of Takejiro Higa was especially heartwarming.”Peggy Mizumoto, a Sansei,  retired IT Security Manager and daughter and niece of WWII veterans, said “the depth of research relative to Nisei MIS soldiers who fought in the Pacific came through, powerfully in this book.  It tells the story of a unique group of American soldiers whose parents happened to be Japanese immigrants. They reminded their children that America is their country and that duty and patriotism are key to loyalty. This historical book reads like a novel. The main characters are smart, brave, and dedicated to the military chain of command and fellow soldiers. Detailed knowledge of military concepts, terminology, and local dialects, allowed them to translate enemy plans accurately, saving untold numbers of lives.  My family served in WWII, including in the MIS. This is a treasured resource for anyone interested in the history of all brave heroes who wear the uniform of this country, especially those who fought racism before, during, and after their service. Their success in this regard is exemplified in the generations that followed their example of love of country and devotion to democracy.” Larry Oda, a Sansei, Vietnam war veteran, and civic leader said  “while I grew up with the children of the original instructors of the 4th Army Intelligence Language School, I was aware of the existence of the MIS but ignorant of its role in World War II. It wasn’t until the 2000 JACL National Convention in Monterey when I worked with the members of the MIS Northern California group to put on a dinner that I heard their stories and started to understand the significance of their service. I think Dr James McNaughton’s Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in MIS During WW II, was the first major book to be written about the MIS highlighting their significant achievements, but Henderson’s personal stories are unique and interesting. They give family background and history to cover a more personal side of the assignments given to the MIS.  Still today, the proper credit is not given to the soldiers of the MIS.  Bridge to the Sun gives the reader an interesting insight into the accomplishments of the MIS. [EdNote: Oda served on an aircraft carrier in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  He also served three terms as JACL National President and 2 terms as Chairman of the Board, National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism.] LTC Mark Nakagawa, a Sansei and retired US Army officer who served in Germany, South Korea, Turkey, the Middle East, and throughout the United States said “the service of the MIS is honored and highlighted in Henderson’s book, Bridge to the Sun.  It is meticulously researched chronicling their gallantry and legacy.  Henderson intertwines the history of the Japanese-American experience from the attack on Pearl Harbor, the issuance of E.O. 9066, forced incarceration, and men with unique skills volunteering to form the MIS.  The perspectives of six soldiers from Hawaii, California, Colorado, and Washington are chosen for the book.  Living in the Washington D.C. area, I met a few of the heroes.  Much like the soldiers of their generation, their humble demeanor belies the enormity of their dedicated services and achievements.  The men of the MIS were giants, their service impeccable, and their legendary service brought to light in an appropriate manner.  I too served in the U.S. Army and am eternally grateful for being able to stand on the shoulders of the giants of the MIS.  Highly recommended for post-WW II readers.”  [EdNote: In addition to overseas, Mark’s major stateside assignments included the White House Military Office, Pentagon, and the National Counter-Terrorism Center.  He has served on JAVA’s board of directors, held various positions such as Vice-President, Treasurer; served as a member of the board of the National Japanese-American Memorial Foundation.  He was a member of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Japanese-American Leadership Delegation to meet with Japanese government, political, business and education leaders in Japan].Col Brian Shiroyama, USAF (Ret), a Sansei, said “New York Times best-selling author Bruce Henderson’s superior ability to research, ensuring historical accuracy, clearly stood out in Bridge to the Sun.  In addition, his compelling story-telling style of writing made the accomplishments of six MIS veterans come alive.  Evidence of their patriotism and perseverance during the most difficult era in Japanese American history was clearly presented.  I was touched by learning about these six veterans’ courage while fighting the enemy in the Pacific and racism in their own country. I appreciated Henderson’s emphasis that these veterans fought proudly and honorably to prove that they were loyal Americans despite being subjected to government-sanctioned discrimination at home. After spending many years with Tom Sakamoto, I thought I knew him well.  However, I was delighted to learn even more about Sakamoto in Bridge to the Sun.  [EdNote: Shiroyama is Vice President of Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans, creator of the well-attended Nisei Veterans’ Exhibit aboard the USS Hornet permanently docked at Alameda, CA. , and one of Henderson’s researchers].[EdNote: JAVA Research Team thanks the 15 contributors for their blurbs which are thoughtful and to the point.  We appreciate especially your unqualified and immediate positive response to our invitation – the same way the MISers reacted to their recruiters who visited the internment camps and served their country as loyal Americans.  Thank you.]

Able Company Vets In-person Visit – These Guys Were Meant To Be Friends

Together again! Friends Don Miyada and Toke Yoshihashi fist pump! Photo: Courtesy of Peggy Mizumoto.

On November 19, 2022, Toke Yoshihashi and Don Miyada got together in person for a special visit.  With COVID concerns, like many of us, both Toke and Don have been very careful.  Most of their visits have been via FaceTime and Zoom, with their buddy and fellow A Company veteran, Mano Kawahara, who now resides in Arizona. These guys were destined to be friends.  The universe had them in the same proximity so many times through their lives, eventually the powers that be would have them connect for good.Peggy Mizumoto hitched a ride with Toke and his “uber driver” Pauline Yoshihashi, to visit Don, Sets and Marianne Miyada, and to join in on the fun visit.  It was great to see these two 100th Battalion vets chat and catch up in person.  We snacked on Pauline’s homemade cookies, Peg’s spam musubi, the Miyada’s kaki and hot tea. Pauline’s cookies were amazing, as always. The spam musubi passed muster.

Saturday the cross-town rivals, USC and UCLA, were playing later in the day.  Peg asked Don if he was rooting for UCLA, since he taught at UC Irvine (and Peg went to UC San Diego), and she found out that Don did his undergrad at UCLA – fun factoid!  We were in the company of USC alum, Pauline, so it was definitely a “mixed crowd” at the Miyada’s that day.

Note for sports fans – Don, an athlete himself, recalled these guys at UCLA “in those days.”  Any of you know UCLA football history? Pretty impressive era.

Johnny Ryland, Center; Don Ferguson, Halfback; Kenny Washington, Halfback; Woody Strode, End (first black halfback to go to the NFL after WWII); Jackie Robinson (lettered in 4 sports at UCLA – also an MLB Hall of Famer); Tom Fears (two-way End and Hall of Famer – UCLA undefeated season); Francis Wai, Quarterback from Hawaii, (Served in WWII; his Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.)

Don and Toke were able to connect, reminisce and answer questions about their military service and related travels and residences after the war.  It’s amazing that these two guys finally found each other later in their lives.  There were numerous times their “paths” nearly crossed.  They were both from Southern California; both did basic training at the same time at Camp Blanding in Florida. Don remembers hearing of Toke Yoshihashi at basic training because Toke was among several guys who were known for their expert rifle shooting.  They both went overseas on the Queen Mary. They both were in A Company of the 100th Battalion, though assigned to different platoons once they landed in France.  They both also served in combat in France and then in Italy and both were in Ghedi, processing prisoners at the end of the war.  They both returned to the U.S. via the same transport vessel. They both marched down Constitution Avenue upon their return.Toke had taken a two-year auto mechanic course at Pasadena City College, before entering the service. Because of that background, when Toke returned from the service, he was hired at a NAPA auto parts store in Columbus, Ohio for 5 years until 1951.  This is where timing differs – Don was also in Columbus, Ohio, at about the 1955-56 timeframe. It took Don a bit longer to get to their “common” location, because he did some time in Michigan to get his PhD, before post doc work in Columbus.  The universe was still trying to get these guys together, it seems.

Well, the universe finally had its way, when Don and Toke would meet again and this time stick the “landing” as good friends.The Southern California 100th Battalion Club would regularly convene a number of 100th vets including Toke and Don.  It seems some connections are meant to be, regardless of how long it takes to cement them. Don’s family was incarcerated in Poston and Toke’s family in Gila River, when they went into the Army and served in combat overseas. Upon return from the war, both married, raised successful children and had full careers before retiring. Both have been so generous and patient, teaching generations that followed, about the inspirational history of Nikkei soldiers of WWII. It’s a real honor to call these guys our friends.

Don Miyada and Toke Yoshihashi compate notes. Photo: Courtesy of Peggy Mizumoto. 

Don Miyada with Peg’s spam musubi and Pauline’s homemade cookies. Photo: Courtesy of Peggy Mizumoto. 

Sets Pauline, Marianne, Don and Toke enjoying post-COVID-19 get-together. Photo: Courtesy of Peggy Mizumoto. 


Patsy Mink to be Honored on Commemorative U.S. Quarter

Congressional portrait of Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink. Hawaii, ca. 1994. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2022638134/.

By Star- Advertiser Staff

Feb. 2, 2023

Reprinted with Permission

Late Hawaii U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink will be honored in the 2024 American Women Quarters Program, drawing applause from Hawaii U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono.

The U.S. Mint on Wednesday announced that Mink, the first woman of color to serve in U.S. Congress, will be honored in a commemorative quarter Opens in a new tab through the program.

“Patsy Mink was a champion for social justice, equality, and civil rights—she was a trailblazer in every sense of the word,” Hirono said in a statement. “As the first woman of color to serve in Congress and a lead author of Title IX, Congresswoman Mink worked to ensure that all women in our country have every opportunity men have. I’m glad to see the Mint honoring Rep. Mink as part of the American Women Quarters Program so that people all across our country can learn more about her immeasurable contributions to Hawaii and our nation.”

Hirono wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in 2021 urging the Mint to include Mink in the American Women Quarters Program, which features coins with designs emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of prominent women in the U.S.

Contributions from a wide spectrum of fields, including suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts. The Mint is issuing five coins with different reverse designs annually over a four-year period, from 2022 through 2025.

Hirono had also successfully advocated for the inclusion of Edith Kanakaʻole, a Hawaiian cultural icon who had played an important role in the Hawaiian renaissance in the 1970s, in the program.

To access the article online click on the following link:

https://www.staradvertiser.com/2023/02/02/breaking-news/patsy-mink-to-be-honored-on-commemorative-u-s-quarter/

[EdNote: JAVA thanks member LTC Rod Azama, who was appointed in 1968 by Congresswoman Mink to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Rod corresponded with and visited Mrs. Mink periodically over decades. He admired her courage and spirit in overcoming political and social obstacles and fighting for causes she believed in – such as equal rights for women.] 


Heart Mountain opens new exhibit on ties between Holocaust and Japanese American soldiers

Photo taken by Lt. Susumo Ito, of Charlie Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, on May 2, 1945, in Waakirchen, Germany. Photo courtesy of Eric Saul.

Reprinted with Permission

Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation

POWELL, Wyo. – The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center will open on Saturday, Feb. 18, its new exhibit, Parallel Barbed Wire, which features the remarkable stories of Heart Mountain incarceree Clarence Matsumura and Holocaust survivor Solly Ganor. 

Matsumura grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from UCLA and was working in radio before he was incarcerated at Heart Mountain with the rest of his family. Ganor was a child living in Lithuania before the Nazi invasion forced him and his family into a Jewish ghetto and then a forced-labor camp in Bavaria.

The paths of Ganor and Matsumura crossed while Ganor was on a death march from his forced-labor camp outside the Dachau death camp and Matsumura was in a forward observer unit of the all-Japanese American 522nd Field Artillery Battalion. 

Matsumura rescued Ganor after he had collapsed in the snow aside the road on which he was marching to the mountains south of Dachau. 

After the war, Ganor went to serve in the Israeli Army during its war for independence, while Matsumura returned to the United States. They lost track of each other until they were reunited in 1992 by historian Eric Saul. Ganor chronicled their relationship in his memoir, Light One Candle, which the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation has recently republished. 

“This exhibit has been over a year in the making,” said Krist Ishikawa Jessup, who curated the exhibit. “Combing through books, oral histories, primary documents, and with the assistance of Clarence’s and Solly’s families, we were able to piece together this amazing history. Though Clarence and Solly’s stories are a micro study of wider historic events, they expose the patterns and strategies of state-sponsored persecution and remind us that fear, racism, and hatred, when left unchallenged, can wreak destruction in any place and at any time.”

The exhibit uses archival photos and the words of both men to trace their lives from Wyoming, where Matsumura was born, to California, back to Wyoming and then Europe as a member of the U.S. Army, while Ganor weathered the hell of the Holocaust and then built a thriving life in Israel. 

Their remarkable friendship has been an inspiration to the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, and we are proud to bring this story to visitors to the interpretive center. 

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation preserves the site where some 14,000 Japanese Americans were unjustly incarcerated in Wyoming from 1942 through 1945. Their stories are told within the foundation’s museum, Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, located between Cody and Powell. For more information, call the center at (307) 754-8000 or email info@heartmountain.org.

For more information contact:

Heart Mountain Interpretive Center

1539 Road 19, Powell, WY 82435

307.754.8000 | heartmountain.org

https://www.heartmountain.org/heart-mountain-opens-new-exhibit-on-ties-between-holocaust-and-japanese-american-soldiers/

[EdNote: Much thanks to JAVA member Eric Saul for passing along the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation article. Many of these historic photographs and documents were collected by Eric Saul, working with Clarence Matsumura, Solly Ganor, and members of the 522nd Field Artillery, including Susumo Ito, George Ouiye, Tadashi Tojo, Fred Hirayama, Ted T. Tsukiyama, Hideo Nakamine, Royce Higa, Shiro Takeshita, Walter Inouye, and Captain Billy Taylor, as well as Chester Tanaka of K Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Chet Tanaka, the author of the Go For Broke book, first published the story of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion in his landmark book in 1981. Tanaka did this after interviewing 522nd veteran Albert Ichihara. For more information visit Eric’s web page on Japanese American Patriotism:

https://www.japaneseamericanpatriotism.com/

Here is an additional link to the Unlikely Liberators exhibit created in 1993:

https://www.japaneseamericanpatriotism.com/unlikely-liberators-exhibit

The Unlikely Liberators exhibit was originally shown at Yad Vashem: Heroes’ and Martyrs’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem.  It was during this program that I introduced Clarence Matsumura to Solly Ganor. Thank you Eric!]


In 1944, American Legion Post 22 removed the names of 16 Nisei soldiers from the public honor roll…last fall a public apology was made. Historian and JAVA member Linda Tamura to Give a Presentation March 4th Japanese American Museum of Oregon

As part of exhibition programming for A Long Road to Travel, the Japanese American Museum of Oregon will host a presentation on March 4 by historian Linda Tamura.

Saturday, March 4, 2 pm
220 NW 2nd Ave, 8th Floor
Portland, OR 97209

In November 1944, American Legion Post 22 removed the names of 16 Nisei soldiers from the public honor roll, and hundreds of letters poured from around the country in reaction. The Legion held onto the letters for almost 80 years, donating them to the Japanese American Museum of Oregon in a Veterans Day event and public apology last year.

Historian Linda Tamura will make a presentation on her work uncovering hidden histories in the Hood River Japanese American community and how that brought her to this unusual box of letters. Post Commander Carl Casey and Vice Commander Dennis Leonard of the American Legion Post 22 will also join the conversation.

A selection of the letters is on view now at the Japanese American Museum of Oregon as part of the exhibition A Long Road to Travel: The Service of Japanese Americans During World War II.

For more information see: https://jamo.org/event/moving-forward-from-community-secrets/.


2023 Freedom Walk Saturday, April 1st!

Commemorating and Continuing

Our Fight for Civil Rights

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Check-In 9:00 am

Opening Ceremony: 10:00 am

National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During WWII

(located at Louisiana, New Jersey, and D Street, NW)

Event Speakers

Mr. Wade Henderson

Former President and CEO of LCCHR

Ms. Shirley Ann Higuchi

Chair, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation

Sponsors

National Japanese American Memorial Foundation

Japanese American Veterans Association

DC Chapter of Japanese American Citizens League

Ekoji Buddhist Temple


Veterans Can Now Access Their Disability Benefit Decisions Online

WASHINGTON — Veterans can now access their disability benefit claim decision notice letters electronically on VA.gov, empowering them to quickly and easily see their disability decisions.

Before this option was available, Veterans had to wait for a paper copy of their decision notice to be mailed to them. While previous iterations of VA.gov allowed Veterans to access benefits summary letters, they could not access the full copy of these decision notification letters from their electronic claims folders.

This service became available to Veterans on VA.gov on Jan. 17. Since launching, nearly 280,000 decision notice letters have been downloaded.

“Veterans now have access to their benefits decisions anytime, anyplace – right at their fingertips,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “VA disability benefits can also open the door to other federal and state benefits, so quick and easy access to a decision means quicker access to the additional benefits Veterans deserve.”

The new electronic option is also expected to reduce calls to the National Call Centers, freeing up call center respondents to answer other questions and requests from Veterans and their families.

To access their decision letters, Veterans can log in to VA.gov and check the status of their claim. For more details, visit VA News.

[EdNote: This press release was made available by Kimberly M. Mitchell, Senior Advisor, VSO Liaison, Office of the Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs


National Vietnam War Veterans Day March 29 Reach Out and Thank a Vietnam Vet!

The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration asks all to thank a Vietnam Veteran on March 29.  Also click on the website  http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/about/national_vietnam_war_veterans_day/ to view a message of thanks from Gary Sinise and the Department of Defense, The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration.

2023 JAVA Memorial Scholarship Program will Open in Mid-March!14 Scholarships to be Awarded!  “Celebrating the Legacy of World War II Nisei Military Service”
The U.S. 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 will be awarded to a student who has completed at least one year of college and is pursuing a career in public service or military service.JAVA Founder’s Scholarship ($3,000), awarded in memory of JAVA’s founder, Colonel Sunao Phil Ishio, U.S. Army,  his wife Constance and their son Douglas Ishio will be awarded to a student who has completed at least two years of college.
Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin Legacy Scholarship ($2,000), a tribute to Ms. Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin, a longtime supporter of JAVA will be awarded to a student who has completed at least one year of college as of June 2023. Memorial Scholarships ($1,500), honor Nisei veterans, JAVA members, and/or their family members. JAVA Memorial Scholarships are awarded to 2023 graduating high school seniors who are planning to continue at an accredited two or four-year college or university. 2023 JAVA Memorial Scholarships are: Dr. Americo Bugliani Scholarship in honor of his liberator, Paul Sakamoto, 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd RCT veteran.Tak Furumoto Scholarship, sponsored by JAVA member and Vietnam veteran, Tak Furumoto.Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship in honor of Ranger Grant Jiro Hirabayashi, MIS. Dr. Takumi Izuno Family Scholarship, in honor of JAVA EC member, Cynthia Macri’s father and family members.Colonel Jimmie Kanaya Scholarship in honor of Colonel Jimmie Kanaya, U.S. Army, 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 his wife Teru.Colonel Virgil R. Miller Scholarship in honor of Colonel Virgil R. Miller, 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.Shirey Scholarship, in honor of Major Orville Shirey, 442nd veteran and wife, Maud Shirey.
Be on the lookout for an email announcement!

JAVA Events!

Saturday, April 1 – Freedom Walk, National Japanese American Memorial

Sunday, May 28 – Memorial Day Ceremony, Arlington National Cemetery                    

Saturday, July 15 – Day of Affirmation, National World War II Memorial

Sunday, July 16 – Day of Affirmation Luncheon, The Army Navy Club, with keynote speaker Landon Grove, Ritchie History Museum Director & Curator

Saturday, July 22 – Virtual JAVA Scholarship Awards Ceremony

Thursday, September 21 –  Opening Eric Saul’s WWII Nisei Soldiers Photo Exhibit, Japanese Information & Culture Center

Wednesday, November 8 – Exhibit Talk on Eric Saul’s WWII Nisei Soldiers Photo Exhibit, Japanese Information & Culture Center

Saturday, November 11– Veterans Day Program, National Japanese  American Memorial