JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION

The Japanese American Veterans' Association, Inc. (JAVA), is a fraternal and educational organization with many purposes: Preserving and strengthening comradeship among its members;  Perpetuating the memory and history of our departed comrades;  Educating the American public on the Japanese American experience during WWII; and Striving to obtain for veterans the full benefit of their entitlements as veterans.
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President's New Year Message 


Thank you for your support in re-electing me as JAVA President for another two-year term.  I congratulate Howard High, Kay Izumihara, and Michael Katahara on their election as JAVA Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. I am pleased that Mark Nakagawa, Cynthia Macri, Jason Kuroiwa, Marty Herbert, Dawn Ellenberger, and Lynn Mariano have agreed to continue carrying out their assigned responsibilities on the Executive Council. 

I am also announcing four new appointments that have been approved by the Executive Council.  We have two new members of the Executive Council. COL Danielle Ngo, USA, and LTC Robert Vokac, USA (Ret), have accepted appointments to serve on the Executive Council. They are great additions to our already well-oiled governing team. 

EC Member Marty Herbert has agreed to serve as Chair of the JAVA Awards Committee. He replaces George Ishikata, who sadly passed away last year. 

The Executive Council has approved the appointment of Neet Ford as JAVA Executive Director in recognition of her invaluable service to JAVA. Over the past four years, Neet has greatly helped to organize our programs and administrative matters in her capacity as JAVA Administrator. We look forward to continue working with her.

JAVA is adding two special programs for its members this year.  On June 9, JAVA will be co-sponsoring a photo exhibit with the Japan Information and Culture Center and the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance. The photo exhibit will be held at the JICC, June 9 thru July 22. The photo exhibit will feature photos taken by photographer Shane Sato over a 20 year period of Japanese American soldiers who served during World War II. Admission is free.

Exhibit Poster, The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits from 1999-2022. Photo of Terry Shima, 442nd RCT by Shane Sato. Poster by Kenny Yamada.

On July 16, JAVA will host an evening program and dinner at the US Army National Museum. Guests who attend the dinner will have free access to tour the museum during the day before the evening dinner. There will be a cost for the dinner. As we work out the details of this event, we will share them with you.

The July 16th dinner will be held the day after our Day of Affirmation ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. 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 starting 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. 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. This year’s program will again be virtual and will be held on July 15 at 12 noon.

JAVA will continue to sponsor its annual events – Freedom Walk, Memorial Day Service, Scholarship Presentation, and Veterans Day Program.

Lastly, I want to sincerely thank all of you who answered our call to donate to our annual fundraising campaign. I am pleased that we exceeded our goal, and your generous donations allow us to continue offering JAVA membership to war veteran members with no dues.

With your continued support, the Executive Council and I look to having another great year for JAVA.


Gerald Yamada

JAVA President

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NARA Archivist locates Documentation for “Most Highly Decorated"


July 13, 1946 Press Release, "Secretary of War Patterson Praises 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team." Credit: National Archives and Records Administration.

JAVA Research Team (JRT)

Washington, DC. When speaking about the 100th Infantry Battalion, initially comprised of 1,400 Nisei draftees from Hawaii, and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprised of 4,000 volunteers from Hawaii and the Mainland, speakers, writers, officials, press, and the public have referred to them as the most highly or one of the most highly decorated units in the United States Army. By its use, almost everyone, even the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, accepted this statement as fact. No one is known to have questioned its authenticity. JAVA speakers and writers have refrained, up to now, to make this statement because they did not want to face a questioner for documentation.

For the past ten years, JRT has searched for the official origin of this “most highly decorated” statement at National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Army Public Relations Offices, U.S. Army Center for Military History, Library of Congress, Pacific Citizen, historians, and others with an absence of results.

While not completely solved, the issue was virtually solved on August 16, 2021. Dr. Eric S. Van Slander, an archivist of NARA, College Park, MD, located a War Department Public Relations Division press release dated July 2, 1946, which said: “. . . 469 (442nd returnees for the Presidential review) have seen combat duty in an outfit that is one of the most highly decorated in the US Army”. While this citation is in a press release pertaining to preparations for the July 15, 1946, Presidential review of the 442nd, the statement confirms that it is owned by the War Department. JRT continues its search for a stand-alone statement and requests readers to advise the JAVA editor if such a document is located.

With relation to this find, JRT wishes to present remarks made by then-MG Alfred M. Gruenther, U.S. Army, and share a letter from the U.S. Secretary of War to the 442nd commander, both of which support the most highly decorated statement. MG Alfred M. Gruenther, Commandant of the National War College and previously Chief of Staff of the U.S. Fifth Army, serving as the official representative of Secretary Patterson at the official welcome home ceremony at Camp Kilmer, NJ on June 11, 1946, told the returning 442nd men, including the 100th, "It was a great honor for me to be able to salute such a distinguished outfit. ...the 442nd's outstanding record of major decorations was unsurpassed by any other unit of comparable size." He enumerated the decorations and awards the unit had won and said that they are "the best evidence of your superb fighting qualities." The other is a letter from Secretary Patterson to LTC Alfred A. Purcell, 442nd Commander, dated July 11, 1946.

Scans of the two press releases and other related documents can be read here.

[EdNote: JAVA appreciates Dr. Van Slander, and the National Archives and Records Administration, for their continuing and exhaustive research.]



July 2, 1946 Press Release, "442nd Regimental Combat Team to Parade on White House Grounds" notes in the last paragraph "one of the most highly decorated in the Army." Credit: National Archives and Records Administration

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Nisei Role as America’s “Eyes and Ears” Against Japan During War II and as a “Bridge” Between the Two Nations During the Occupation

Visit JAVA Research Archive to read New Article on Role of MIS in WWII by Clicking Here.

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 JAVA Member and 442nd Veteran, Terry Shima Speaks about the Japanese American Experience During World War II

Recently the Keese School Lecture Series featured former JAVA Executive Director and JAVA Terry Shima as a speaker at their continuing education series. By way of introduction it was noted that Terry was born and raised in Hawaii. He was drafted in to Army in 1944 and served in the 442nd RCT. After the war, Terry attended and graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and enjoyed a 30-year career in the Foreign Service with postings in the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. In 2012, President Obama awarded Terry the Presidential Citizens Medal.  After leaving his official post as Executive Director of JAVA, he has continued to support the research and publication of the Advocate and e-Advocate. In the video Terry explains the origins of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and MIS and highlights examples of Japanese American soldiers bravery and valor in an effort to prove their loyalty to the U.S.  Click here to watch or watch below.

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