Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 1, No. 14, December 13, 2019

Honoring the Nisei Legacy: 2019 Veterans Day Ceremony 

Veterans Day Panel: BG Roy J. Macaraeg, ARNG, Minister Kenichiro Mukai, Embassy of Japan, GEN Nakasone, USA, Commander, US Cyber Command, Director National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Services  Shirley Higuchi NJAMF & Heart Mountain Board Member, CDR Kenta Washington, USN. Photo: Ray Locker. 

Attendees at the 2019 Annual Veterans Day Ceremony were treated not only to a spectacular fall day but also to a spectacular line up of speakers which included General Paul M. Nakasone, United States Army, Commander, United States Cyber Command, Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service; Minister Kenichiro Mukai, Embassy of Japan; Shirley Higuchi, NJAMF Board Member and BG Roy Macaraeg, ARNG. JAVA member LTC Brett Egusa, JAGC, USAR, coordinated the event and ensured everything ran smoothly while JAVA Executive Committee Member CDR Kenta Washington, USN, served as emcee.

Each speaker stressed the importance of the day’s official theme of “service” in their tributes, and also emphasized the values of duty, sacrifice, and honor that characterize the Japanese American Nisei soldiers. Minister Kenichiro Mukai of the Embassy of Japan spoke of his efforts to get to know the Japanese American community not only in Washington, DC but also throughout the United States. A frequent guest at JAVA luncheons, Minister Mukai shared that he appreciated learning about the experiences of current Japanese American military members. At the same time, he noted, he has been moved by the personal stories of 442nd Veteran Terry Shima and Topaz internee Mary Murakami, both JAVA members. Minister Mukai also spoke about his visits to the Heart Mountain camp and the Go For Broke Education Center. The tenacious spirit of the Japanese Americans to “endure the worst and do their best,” he believes created the foundation for the community’s success in America as well as laid the groundwork for the strong relationship between the United States and Japan today.

Next Shirley Ann Higuchi, a Board Member of the ceremony’s co-sponsor, the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, and also Chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation addressed the audience. With parents who were incarcerated at Heart Mountain as children, Ms. Higuchi spoke eloquently on the notion of sacrifice. She cited men like Stanley Hayami who was incarcerated at Heart Mountain, volunteered to serve in the 442nd and was killed in action. Hayami sacrificed his life out of duty to a country that discriminated against him. Higuchi pointed out, the sacrifice was not limited to the fathers and sons that fought -- mothers, daughters, sisters, and all those who stayed behind, also sacrificed. According to Higuchi, the Japanese word “gaman” which means forbearance in the most difficult circumstances, sums up the character of Japanese American veterans and their families. Their “gaman” allowed them to look past the racism they experienced and demonstrate their loyalty. Although property, livelihoods, and lives were lost by Japanese American families in WWII, Higuchi believes, in the end, the sacrifice was worth it. After emphasizing that we must remain mindful that we rest on the contributions of the earlier generations, Higuchi closed by telling attendees that she is “incredibly proud of our Japanese American Veterans” and is honored to be celebrating them at the Memorial on Veterans Day.

BG Roy J. Macaraeg opened by reminding the audience that “less than one percent of US population serves in the military to help secure the blessings of liberty and the warm blanket of freedom everyone enjoys.” The Brigadier General then reflected on a gathering he recently attended at the Punchbowl, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific to honor the Nisei Veterans who served in WWII in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service, and the 1399 Engineer Construction Battalion where he heard Veterans reminisce and share their battlefield stories. Macaraeg told the audience that it was this group of valiant men “who created the legacy that paved the path for so many for the future generations.” He underscored that the qualities and character of the Nisei WWII veterans – “dedicated, faithful, selfless service and demonstrated complete unconditional patriotism” represented “the values and essence of our country.” Macaraeg concluded noting that because of the Nisei Soldier’s advancing age, “we are losing our national treasure, and the group is quickly dwindling” and urged all to continue to share the group’s story to perpetuate their legacy and “to never forget their service, their sacrifice, and their unconditional patriotism.”

LTC Brett Egusa and GEN Nakasone Salute. Photo: Ray Locker.

LTC Brett Egusa and GEN Nakasone Salute. Photo: Ray Locker.

After a moment of silence for the fallen and solemn laying of the wreath, GEN Nakasone greeted the audience and shared some observations on the significance of the space and the day. He remarked that the Memorial is very much a “sacred place to remember the Nisei Veterans who came before us and made high sacrifices.” Moreover, beyond the sacrifices, “these Veterans shaped who we are today” by their words, actions, and service. GEN Nakasone underscored that “the story of the 100th, 442nd, MIS is an American story,” of the struggle and the spirit that makes up the “backbone of progress.” He told the attendees that the MIS, a group whose language skills “proved pivotal to winning the war,” influenced him. Moreover, GEN Nakasone continued, MIS linguists aided in the demilitarization efforts in Japan following the war, doing much, “for peace and democracy” to take hold. He recounted the stories of his father, who was a Nisei linguist in the post-war effort. In that same tradition, GEN Nakasone considers it a uniquely American story that the son of Nisei linguist has the privilege of leading the U.S. Cyber Command and NSA/CSS. There is an underlying thread of commitment and honorable service in the stories of Nisei soldiers, veterans, and active duty service members today.

CDR Kenta Washington, USN, reiterated appreciation for the Japanese American Veterans who remain role models of sacrifice and service. He also thanked the speakers and JAVA’s co-sponsors NJAMF and PPALM for such a memorable tribute to Veterans.

 L-R:CDR Kenta Washington, LTC Brett Egusa, John Tobe. Photo: Mark Nakagawa

 Terry Shima Presented with Shane Sato and Robert Horsting's Book, "The Go For Broke Spirit" at Surprise Gathering

Seated:  Mary Murakami and Terry Shima. Standing  L-R: Ellen Nakashima;  Metta Tanikawa;  Eliot Frankeberger, Michelle Amano, Howard High; Alan Sipress; CAPT (Dr.) Cynthia Macri, MC, USN (Ret); Dr. Jim McNaughton; and Noriko Sanefuji. Photo: Noriko Sanefuji.  

Shane Sato and Robert Horsting authors of Go For Broke Spirit; Portrait of Legacy, asked Howard High, JAVA Vice President, who attended the book discussion in Los Angeles, to hand carry a copy to Washington, DC.   Howard contacted Terry’s friends for a surprise luncheon on November 16, 2019 for the book presentation.  

L-R: Robert Horsting, Howard High, and Shane Sato. The book is opened to the pages showing JAVA Member and 442nd Veteran Terry Shima.

A Veterans Day Salute

to PFC Harry Fumio Madokoro, 442nd RCT

PFC Harry Fumio Madokoro, 442nd RCT. Copied from C. Douglas Sterner, Heroes of the 100/442 “Go For Broke Regiment”, p.70.

Mrs. Madokoro wearing the DSC and holding a Bible.  Photo: from Mas Hashimoto.

Watsonville, CA.  In honor of  Veterans Day 2019 JAVA e-Advocate wishes to highlight the life of PFC Harry Fumio Madokoro, a rifleman of the 2nd Platoon, K Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who helped to defeat fascism abroad and at the same time combat prejudice, discrimination and racism on the home front. His father and sister died before WW II.  Madokoro was an only child living with his mother in Watsonville, located 90 miles south of San Francisco. Mrs. Madokoro used their living room as a store to sell candies and sweets, and Madokoro worked on farms in the Pajaro area driving farm equipment. His greatest joy was to get on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to explore the area. 

After WW II broke out, Madokoro, an only child, and his mother were sent to an incarceration camp in Poston, Arizona, known as Poston II. When the call for volunteers for the 442 RCT was announced in June 1943, Madokoro raised his hand to go As the only child in the family, US Army regulations allowed him to be exempt from serving if he chose to do so. However, he was eager to prove his loyalty and persuaded others at Poston II to volunteer as well. After the war, not having any close relative in America, Mrs Madokoro, a gold star mother, returned to Japan.

The 442nd trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, minus the 1st Battalion which was deployed to Italy in May 1944. The 442nd arrived in Civitavecchia, where the 100th Infantry Battalion was located and had been in combat for the previous nine monthsOn June 11, 1944, the 100th Battalion merged with the 442nd RCT to become its 1st Battalion, however, it was allowed to continue using the 100th designation in recognition of their superior combat record. Madokoro received the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) two months after the 442nd began combat for the assault on an enemy held hill on July 7, 1944 near Molino A. Ventoabbto, and on 16 and 17 July 1944 in Luciana, Italy. The citation read:

“… Madokoro advanced ahead of his squad to a strategic position from which he could deliver effective automatic rifle fire. Partly exposed to enemy fire, he scanned his sector of the slope for targets. He leveled his automatic rifle on a nest of snipers, forcing them to disperse. Throughout the bitter fight he held his position, neutralizing another enemy nest and pinning down the enemy to enable his platoon to take the hill. Again, at Luciano, Madokoro occupied an advanced position and proceeded to fire on the enemy entrenched on the outskirts of the town. With heavy fire directed at him, he stubbornly held his position and provided covering fire when his squad was forced to withdraw because of a concentrated artillery and mortar barrage. The following day, when his squad became separated from the remainder of the company within the town, Madokoro provided flank protection against determined enemy attacks.”

A letter from Madokoro that was found on the internet (excerpt below), reveals insights about him - his humanitarian spirit, love of country, sense of duty and love of life. Mas Hashimoto, a good friend and neighbor of Madokoro in Watsonville said the letter was one that Madokoro had sent to a pen pal. 

“ … being a heathen, an atheist, and not knowing how to pray, I had to depend on the family to do a lot of praying that all this strife would end soon so that we may all go home and enjoy the simple things in life. Believe me, War is Hell. It’s not a pretty picture to see young kids who have not seen or begun to live life all shot up or torn up by shrapnel laying there never to speak or laugh again. I only wish I could get those bigots, those hate mongers, those super patriots here to see them.

“Here, in the front, we’re respected as fellow Americans fighting for the same cause. We’re proud as hell to be here pitching, doing our share of the work. What I miss the most whilst in the military are dancing, movies, my motor cycle, popular music, home cooking (i.e. waffles and biscuits).”

In August 1944, the K company commander called for volunteers to serve on a mission to cross the Arno River to collect information on the enemy. Madokoro and a few others volunteered, the team was formed and launched on August 25, 1944.  The team accomplished its mission and started its return. Sadly, before reaching the safety zone, one team member stepped on a land mine that killed Madokoro. 

By holding up the example of PFC Harry Fumio Madokoro, 442nd RCT on Veterans Day, we not only pay homage to his spirit and sacrifice but also remind ourselves of the legacy we are tasked with continuing. 

[EdNote. This article used points from articles written by Mas Hashimoto.]

An artist rendition of Madokoro crawling to the lip of the draw to toss a grenade of his own.  Copied from William Shirey’s  Americans:  The Story of the 442nd Combat Team.

Spark Matusnaga Elementary School Honors Veterans

Spark Matsunaga Students at 2019 Veterans Day Concert. Photo: Mark Nakagawa

LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret)                                             

Germantown, Maryland.  On the evening of November 20, 2019, JAVA members, LTC Allen Goshi, USA (Ret) and LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret) were honored at the Spark Matsunaga Elementary School of Germantown, MD Veterans Day Concert, which is the highlight of the school year.  Fourth and fifth grade students sang patriotic songs that paid tribute to the services and sacrifices of soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, and coast guardsmen. The concert ended with Lee Greenwood’s song, God Bless the USA and the audience left the concert "proud to be an American."   

This concert was the first for Steven Sinni, the new lead music teacher.  Sinni succeeded Mrs. Terry Potterton who retired last year.   Principal Jimmy Sweeney  praised the outstanding musical programs produced by Potterton and Principal Judy Brubaker for veterans, their families and the community for many years. 

Following are excerpts from Sinni’s biographic profile obtained from Matsunaga Elementary School.  “Mr. Sinni began teaching in 1996, after a sixteen year professional music career on the road with his wife, traveling throughout 48 U.S. States, Canada, and England, performing in churches, schools, music festivals, and other venues. Sinni wrote and arranged many of the songs his wife performed, and also accompanied her on keyboard and piano.  

“Matsunaga students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures, and music is one of common bonds that draws us together as a unit.  One of Mr. Sinni’s goals is to foster a professional attitude among his students when they prepare for, and deliver a performance. This includes the development of an attitude of serving others through a music concert. All of this comes together in preparing for a concert such as the Veterans Day Concert. 

When asked if there is a “secret ingredient” in teaching children to sing, Sinni answered simply "that children sing better, more beautifully, and with more conviction when they know their teacher loves them and cares about them."  It is Sinni’s hope that "every student who enters the music room will feel valued, loved, and cared for by their music teacher."

JAVA members have been invited each year as a tribute to US Senator Spark Matsunaga, a veteran of the 100th Infantry Battalion. It is the only known public school east of the Rockies which is named to honor a Japanese American. 

Not Just for Kids! Reviews of Lauren R. Harris' The Plum Neighbor and Andrea Warren's Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II

Children rarely encounter books about the relocation and incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry in the US after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Fortunately, two titles have recently been published that tell the fraught story of the Japanese American community during WWII to young readers. In The Plum Neighbor, author Lauren R. Harris, tells a wonderful and touching tale of neighborly friendship and kinship between the Bateses and the Satos, two California farming families. In the picture book, which is based on a true story, the two families are brought together by a frost that threatens to ruin the Bates’ crop, only to be torn apart later by the War and the US Government’s call for individuals of Japanese heritage to be sent to internment camps. The Satos must leave behind their farm and friends. In what could have been (and often was) a sad ending, the Bates son and Sato son meet again in the Vosges mountains, when Henry Sato, now in the 442nd, helps rescue and reunites with his buddy Bobby Bates, part of the “Lost Battalion.” Throughout this remarkable story, Harris weaves old-fashioned aphorisms such as “good things come to those who wait” and “many friends make light work” which brilliantly capture the honorable values of both families and at the same time introduces time tested nuggets of wisdom to young people. A historical addendum includes a photo of and information about Bobby Bates, the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Go For Broke National Education Center. The Plum Neighbor can be purchased through the Go For Broke website shop http://www.goforbroke.com/. Please go to Lauren's website   www.LaurenRHarris.com for more information about the story, or to schedule an author visit.

Also released is the only biography of Norman Mineta. Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II by Andrea Warren. Intended for children, the biography follows the incredible arc of Mineta’s life from his baseball-card-loving childhood days to his bewildering and traumatic time at Heart Mountain incarceration camp in Wyoming, to his US Army service in Japan and Korea, to becoming the first Asian Mayor of San Jose, CA, to his election to the US House of Representatives, to his work as Secretary of Transportation in the George W, Bush Administration. Readers learn not only about the painfully cruel experience of relocation and camp life but also learn about a few of the bright spots including the chance meeting with Alan Simpson, a fellow Boy Scout whose Wyoming troop was visiting Heart Mountain camp on an outing. Discovering the friendship rekindles in the US Capitol where Mineta is serving as a California congressman and Simpson is serving as a Wyoming senator will delight youth as well as adult readers. Mineta’s unflagging dedication to a more equitable society is highlighted as Warren explains the Congressman’s work to pass legislation that apologized and made reparations to innocent Japanese immigrant and Japanese American families who during WWII were put behind barbed wire and treated with disdain because of their race. Amazingly, a full circle of history is contained in Mineta’s life and Warren’s carefully researched book. Enemy Child is truly an American story of overcoming discrimination and barriers, to not only rise but also work to correct society’s injustices. Enemy Child may be purchased through local booksellers or on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Child-Imprisoned-Japanese-Internment/dp/0823441512

[EdNote: JAVA Member Noriko Sanefuji contributed to the article. Ms. Sanefuji is a Museum Specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.]

On Tuesday, November 19th, the Smithsonian held a discussion and book signing at the National Museum of American History with the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director, Anthea M. Hartig; former Cabinet Secretary Norman Mineta; and Andrea Warren, author of Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War Il. The two pictures below are from the event.

L-R: Author Andrea Warren, The Honorable Norman Mineta and Museum Director, Anthea M. Hartig. Photo: Noriko Sanefuji.

Seated at far end of table Author Andrea Warren and The Honorable Norman Mineta at Enemy Child book signing held at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on November 19, 2019. Photo: Noriko Sanefuji.


Tetsuo (Ted) Arase Passes

Oakton, VA.  Dr. Tetsuo (Ted) Arase died peacefully on December 26, 2018 at the age of 91 in Oakton, Virginia.  He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery on December 27, 2019.  He was born January 2, 1927 in Seattle, Washington and was preceded in death by his parents Shohei and Misao Arase.  

During World War II, he was interned at the Camp Harmony, Washington and Minidoka War Relocation Center, Idaho.   He left Minidoka to serve in the U.S. Army.

He obtained a BS degree at University of Washington, a MS and a PhD in physics from New York University.   He considered New York City his home, where he raised his family and was a physics professor and engineer.

Dr. Arase and his wife, Elizabeth, also a physicist, conducted classified research in under water acoustics for the US Navy.  His son Martin explained that the research included “acoustic propagation and ambient sea noise.  The bulk of their work was about how sound was transmitted, objects are detected and tracked via sound."

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk Takeshi Fuchigami, Jr. 

Kabul, Afghanistan.  Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr of Keaau, Hawaii,  25, an Apache pilot, was killed when their AH-64 Apache attack helicopter crashed on November 20, 2019 in Logar province, Afghanistan. His co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, 33, from Tarrant, Texas was also killed.   Their helicopter crashed while providing security for troops on the ground. 

McKenzie Norman Fuchigami and Kirk were married in March 2019, only eight months ago. Mckenzie shared that her "heart and world are completely shattered.Kirk has been called back home. I will be posting a funeral date soon. . .“Fuchigami was and is a strong, courageous soldier and loyal husband,” she said. “Eight months of marriage with him was the best months of my life. He taught me so much about love and respect. I’m blessed to have been loved by him so fiercely.”

Fuchigami entered active duty in May 2017. Following training, Fuchigami was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. In October 2018 he became an Apache pilot and a year later they deployed to Afghanistan.

Fuchigami’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge and Army Aviator Badge.

While the Taliban claimed they shot down the helicopter, the U.S military said that was a false claim. The US Army has reported that the number of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan in 2019 is 19 and the total number of US deaths during the 18-year war is over 2,400.   

COL Bobby LumHo Laid to Rest at Arlington

LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret)

Arlington National Cemetery.  On a dreary afternoon, family, friends, and fellow Veterans gathered to pay tribute to Colonel Bobby LumHo, U.S. Army, (Retired), as he was interred at Arlington National Cemetery on November 22, 2019.   A graduate from Kamehameha School (Class of ’64) and the University of Hawaii, he was commissioned in the U.S. Army and served in the Republic of Vietnam in 1971-72 where he fought side by side with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).   

He served in a variety of leadership and staff positions throughout his career retiring from the U.S. Army in 1999 after 30 years of service. After retiring, he worked as a Program Manager on a variety of government contracts in the Washington, DC area.

A JAVA member, he was also a founding member of the Pan-Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM), an organization comprised of military and civilian professionals committed to mentoring and promoting professional development, retention and the advancement of Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders—Active, Reserve, National Guard, and DoD civilians.   

In honor of his service to the country, many senior officers attended the ceremony. Dignitaries included, GEN Eric Shinseki, USA (Ret);  MG Tony Taguba, USA (Ret); BG Fred Wong, USA (Ret); BG Earl Simms, USA (Ret); COL Pat Hiu, USA (Ret);  COL Tony Moreno, USA (Ret); Dr. Ernest Takafuji, LtCol Mike Yaguchi, USAF (Ret); and others.

As LumHo’s interment ceremony concluded, the sun became visible and warmed the group.

Following the burial at Arlington the LumHo family hosted lunch at Mark’s Duck Restaurant at Falls Church, VA.   Seated L-R:  COL Tony Moreno, USA (Ret);  COL Pat Hiu, USA (Ret);  BG Fred Wong, USA (Ret);  GEN Eric Shinseki, USA (Ret);  Keahi LumHo.  Standing L-R:  LtCol Mike Yaguchi, USAF (Ret); MG Tony Taguba, USA (Ret); BG Earl Simms, USA (Ret); LTC Eric Hiu, USA; COL Rebecca Samson, USA (Ret);  Keahi LumHo;  Kekoa LumHo;  LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret); 1LT Jesse King, USA; and CPT Joshua King, USA.  Photo: LTC Mark  Nakagawa.

Hiroki Takahashi, JAVA Member

September 27, 1915 – October 13, 2019

A 1988 photo of Takahashi (standing, center) and his friends. Seated l-R Frank Kubota, Shiro Sakaki, Jimmy Kai, Bob Sakai; standing L-R Saburo Nakamura, Masao Abe, Takahashi, Tomio Ishikawa, Kei Kitahara.  Photo: Janis Kaas.

Janis Kaas

San Mateo, CA.   After a full and eventful life spanning more than a century, US veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Hiroki Takahashi, passed away peacefully in California on October 13 at age 104. Born on Merritt Island, Yolo County, in 1915, Hiro was the eldest child of Japanese immigrant farmers. In 1920 his mother brought five-year-old Hiro and his two younger sisters to Japan. Only Hiro returned to live in the United States after secondary studies in Japan. He remembered the sight of the Golden Gate Bridge under construction as his ship sailed into San Francisco Bay in May 1934.

Urged by his father to join him in farming, Hiro worked first in the Sacramento River delta, where he met his future wife, Yoshiko Oto; then in 1938, seeking better opportunities, he moved to the farming areas of Sebastopol and Guadalupe. In 1940, while in Guadalupe, Hiro’s draft number was called. He was inducted into the US military in April 1941 and was stationed at Fort Ord, CA when Pearl Harbor was bombed in December. Hiro’s native language skills eventually led him to his selection for the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), and he was transferred to the MIS Language School at Camp Savage in Minnesota.  Yoshiko joined him in Minneapolis upon her release from Gila River Relocation Camp in Arizona, and they were married in April 1944, shortly before Hiro received his assignment overseas. He served in military campaigns with the 81st infantry “Wildcat” division in the Pacific, translating intelligence documents and interrogating Japanese POWs, then with US occupation forces in Japan until his honorable discharge in 1946. A reservist, Hiro was called up again to serve in Korea in 1950.

After lean years post war in Minnesota and Massachusetts, Hiro and Yoshiko returned to California in 1961 with their four children. Attending night classes in Horticulture at the College of San Mateo, Hiro, a farmer’s son, became a self-employed gardener.  An active member of the San Mateo Gardeners Association and the Peninsula Bonsai Club, he volunteered many hours to translating articles for their newsletters and helped build the Japanese garden in San Mateo’s Central Park. He filled his own yard with potted bonsai, a variety of cymbidium, and rejoiced in grafting experiments on his back yard trees.Until his last months, Hiro’s extraordinary health allowed him to enjoy life. A lover of golf, Hiro played 18 holes into his 90s, wryly describing his late performances on the back nine as “lousy.” He joked about the successful renewal of his drivers’ license at age 95 and gleefully climbed aboard BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) for the first time on his 100th birthday. He avidly followed the Giants and 49ers, international golf tournaments, read in English and Japanese, played Lotto and watched “Bonanza” episodes and John Wayne movies.

In 2010, veterans of the Military Intelligence Service, a WWII effort long kept secret, were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. The MIS was credited with shortening the Pacific war by two years and saving a million lives. For Hiro, the war years were the most grueling and the most satisfying of his life. They brought him strong friendships he would keep till the end – he was the last survivor of his cohort. At a spry 96, Hiro attended a 2012 award ceremony at San Francisco’s Presidio - an apt venue because the MISLS was founded there in 1941. Hiro had come full circle. Reflecting on his century on this earth, he recently exclaimed, “I’ve had a wonderful life!”

Hiro’s wife of 75 years, Elsie Yoshiko, passed away on November 20, 2019. He is survived by three of their four daughters, one son-in-law and three grandchildren.   One surviving sister, Kazu Okui of Shiga-ken, Japan, is 100.  

Questions or Suggestions: Please contact Neet Ford, JAVA e-Advocate Editor, at javapotomac@gmail.com.

Japanese American Veterans Association:  Address: P.O. Box 341198, Bethesda, MD 20827 I https://java.wildapricot.org 

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