Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 1, No. 20, May 2, 2020

Roger Eaton Compiles List of MISers who Served Overseas During WW II

Roger Eaton

JAVA Research Team (JRT)

La Palma, CA. In a remarkable undertaking, Roger L. Eaton compiled a list of slightly over 3,000 names of Japanese Americans who served overseas during WW II in such locations as CBI (China, Burma, India), CPA (Central Pacific Area), and SWPA (Southwest Pacific Area). Eaton created the list for Bruce Henderson, New York Times bestselling author of Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the US Army to Fight Hitler. Henderson is now writing a book on the MIS entitled Bridge to the Sun. While Eaton believes the list is 98% accurate, he views the list as a work in progress.

After receiving the list from Eaton, Henderson said "while researching my new book, Bridge to the Sun, about the MIS Nisei who served in the Pacific in WWII, I discovered it was anyone's guess as to how many of the 7,000 Japanese-American graduates of MISLS went overseas, a number I felt was important to know in the context of telling the bigger story. Roger Eaton, a researcher at AJAWARVETS in Los Angeles, took up Henderson's challenge. After more than a year of hard work, he formulated the first-ever list of 3,342 Japanese American soldiers who served overseas in the Pacific. Eaton's list identifies the soldiers' full name, rank, serial number, hometown, MISLS graduation date, location of assignments, dates of service, and name of unit. Typical of Roger's astuteness, he said he believed the list was "98% accurate." Henderson was more than satisfied with the accuracy of Eaton's list stating, "That was good enough for me. In fact, it was an extraordinary accomplishment, and one that will forever add to the history and narrative of those brave, young Japanese American soldiers who helped win the war in the Pacific."

Eaton reported his sources of information included: Jim Yamashita and Eaton's Echoes of Silence, a list of over 20,000 names of Japanese Americans who served in the US military during WW II; Grant Ichikawa, Seiki Oshiro and Paul Tani's record of 7,000 Japanese Americans who graduated from MIS Language School; Eaton's database of obituaries; Dr. James McIlwain's Soldiers and the Camps, a list of camp internees who served in the military; Seiki Oshiro's continuing independent research of MISers during WW II as well as other documents. Dr. James McNaughton, retired senior historian of the US Army Center of Military History and author of Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WW II, commented," this database is an essential resource for descendants and historical researchers. It reveals in panoramic detail how thousands of Nisei soldiers helped win the war against Imperial Japan, fighting from the South Pacific to Burma, from New Guinea and the Philippines to Iwo Jima and Okinawa." Rosalyn Tonai, Executive Director, National Japanese American Historical Society, and MIS Historic Learning Center, located in San Francisco, CA, also heaped praise, "Roger has compiled a masterful list of over 3,342 Japanese Americans in the MIS, who served overseas during WW II. For the MIS families and descendants, this compilation is a touchstone of family history . . . . For the public, this is the watershed of truth, revealing the extent of their involvement in WWII Allied operations. "

Eaton began research on Japanese Americans in 2003 when he joined Jim Yamashita, a 442nd veteran who headed the Americans of Japanese Ancestry WW II Memorial Alliance project called Echoes of Silence, which eventually grew to a compilation of over 20,000 names of Japanese Americans who served in the US military during WW II. Eaton's first assignment was to compile the roster of soldiers in units attached to the 442nd such as the Cannon Company, Anti Tank Company and Service Company. Soon he was given a wider portfolio to include the MIS, WACs, Nurses Corps, and others. Eaton was instructed to record a maximum of detail about each soldier. 

Eaton said finding birth dates on most soldiers was easy, but "nearly 1.5 million names were missing and it appeared they included men who were in the internment camps." Another challenge was to locate information on Caucasian officers who served with the Nisei. When Yamashita's nephew, Tom Ezaki of San Jose, CA, was assigned to assist Eaton, they began reviewing some 50 newspapers to produce a weekly list of Nisei veterans and spouses who died. Eaton rewrote the obituaries and sent them to Grant Ichikawa and his successor Brett Egusa for publication in JAVA fortnightly newsletter, Round Robin

Mark Matsunaga, MIS historian in Honolulu, shared with JRT Eaton's personal profile that he wrote a few years ago for the Americans of Japanese Ancestry World War II Memorial Alliance entitled I Love My!  (Updating Data on AJA WW II Soldiers). To read Eaton's profile click here. In paraphrasing a former MIS veterans Hawaii commander, Matsunaga said, "we owe a debt of gratitude to Eaton and his family that we can never repay. In this year, when the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of WW II, we wish Eaton a hearty mahalo nui loa." 

Soldiers and the Camps - A Database

Soldiers and the Camps 

James T. McIlwain

In the decade between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the beginning of the Korean War more than 30,000 men and women of Japanese ancestry served in uniform in the American armed forces.  Most were in the Army, including the WACs and the Army Nurse Corps, but a small number served in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.  Of these 30,000 individuals, almost a third, over 9,000, had been confined for a time in a War Relocation Authority (WRA) internment camp that housed people of Japanese descent who had been forced from their homes on the West Coast.  These figures are based on a project begun some 20 years ago entitled “Soldiers and the Camps” (S&C for short).  Its objective was to identify those men and women who had entered the uniformed services after being confined in a WRA camp. 

The first step in creating this database was to develop a list of men and women of Japanese ancestry who served in uniform during the period in question.  The second was to match their names to those of people interned in the WRA camps.  The results of this effort can be seen at www.soldiersandthecamps.com, which also includes a description of the methods used, the primary sources consulted and many of the books, websites and other documents that provided significant information.  Also acknowledged are people who made vital contributions to the project.

Because of its specific focus on the internment history of the servicemen and servicewomen, S&C supplements other projects aimed primarily at identifying the military units in which Japanese Americans served.  Of primary importance are Jim Yamashita’s Echoes of Silence project, which surveys all uniformed services, and the MISLS Registry and Supplement of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA).  The latter, compiled by Paul Tani, Grant Ichikawa and Seiki Oshiro, is concerned with those who served in the Military Intelligence Service.  Japanese Americans who had been interned also served in the Merchant Marine but remained civilians.  Important compilations can also be found at the websites of JAVA, the Go For Broke National Education Center, Discover Nikkei (of the Japanese American National Museum), and The Japanese American Historical Society among others. 

As the war progressed, each camp’s newspaper reported the names of those who volunteered or were drafted from that camp.  Also published were the names and photographs of men wounded or killed in recent battles who had been residents or had family in the camp.  In S&C the names of those who lost their lives are in boldface.  

Individuals from Hawaii and several thousand mainlanders escaped internment but many of the latter had relatives in camp.  Although an effort was made to document these, their number is doubtless larger than reflected in S&C.  Some mainlanders spent only a few weeks in camp, others months or years.  Every camp saw some of its residents enter military service, the numbers varying over time and with the size of the camp’s population.  Some men and women passed through more than one camp, especially after Tule Lake became a segregation center for so-called “disloyals” and 8,000 of its residents were transferred en masse to other camps.  Nevertheless, by war’s end over 1,000 former residents of Tule Lake were in uniform.

S&C remains a work in progress.  The official service records are incomplete, largely because a fire in 1973 destroyed many of them.  Some names in the NARA enlistment database are indecipherable due to faulty digitization of the microfilm images of the original records.  Gaps are filled and errors corrected as new information emerges.  Sadly, these days it is often an obituary that adds a name to the database. 

[EdNote. Dr. James T. McIlwain, Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience, Brown University, resides in Rehoboth, MA and is a JAVA lifetime member.  In addition to his numerous portfolios, Jim provides invaluable support to JAVA Research Team.] 

 Dr. James T. McIlwain

Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony Postponed

Memorial Day Parade, Springfield, IL, 1943. MG Bill Chen's father was a pilot in the Army Air Forces, assigned to the 14th Air Force, commanded by Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault.

MG Bill Chen, U.S. Army Retired

The Chinese American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act, P.L. 115-337, was enacted on December 20, 2018.  The long-awaited announcement of April 29, 2020 for the Speaker of the House’s official award ceremony was received with enthusiasm and excitement.  However, this ceremony has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Chinese American World War II Veterans served in every theater of war and in every branch of the services.  In contrast with other minority groups, Chinese Americans in World War II were predominately integrated into the U.S. armed services.  The only all-Chinese American units were the 14th Air Service Group and the 987th Signal Company assigned to the China Burma India theater.

The U.S. Mint completed its design of the Congressional Gold Medal for Chinese American World War II Veterans. The obverse side of the medal has images of service members in all branches of the services, including a female nurse image to represent Chinese American women in the armed services.  The obverse side also has the inscription “Proudly Served as Americans.”  The reverse side shows how Chinese Americans served in World War II -- on land, sea, and air with images of a Sherman tank, battleship USS Missouri, and the P-40 fighter of “Flying Tigers” fame.  A 48-star American flag serves as a backdrop. 

On May 10, 2019 at Promontory Summit, Utah the recognition and honoring of Chinese railroad workers at the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad completed the story arc of Chinese railroad workers. Similar to Chinese railroad workers, progress in the recognition of Chinese American World War II Veterans has been slow.  Many veterans have passed away or are aging.  September 2, 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the surrender of Imperial Japan and the end of World War II.  Hopefully, by then we can say that the award of the Congressional Gold Medal finally gives recognition and honor to these veterans -- and completes the story arc for Chinese American World War II Veterans.

Many thanks to JAVA for their support in the request to Congress for the award and also to MG Tony Taguba, U.S. Army (Ret) for his help, advice, and advocacy efforts.

Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill, center, makes plans with interpreters.(Credit: National Archives)

Jungle Fighters

How U.S. Soldiers Beat the Odds on Dangerous Secret Mission

This article originally appeared in ARMY magazine, Volume 70, No. 4, April 2020. Copyright 2020 by the Association of the United States Army, all rights reserved. Reproduced by permission.

By Jennifer Benitz, ARMY Magazine Staff Writer

Far from the battlefields of Europe and Africa, another war was brewing in 1943 in the thick, remote jungles of the China-Burma-India Theater.

As enemy forces expanded their reach in the region, President Franklin Roosevelt issued a call for volunteers to take part in a top-secret and highly dangerous mission.

Nearly 3,000 soldiers answered. They didn’t know where they were going or what their mission would entail. The volunteers were considered “expendable,” as the casualty rate was expected to be high.

They were needed to destroy supply lines and communications behind enemy lines and capture the Myitkyina airfield in Japanese-held Burma.

The operation took less than a year. In just five months, the unit—now famously known as Merrill’s Marauders after its commander, Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill—marched 1,000 miles over dangerous terrain, fought in five major battles and engaged the Japanese 30 times.

Despite being severely outnumbered by Japan’s elite 18th Division, the Marauders secured victory for the U.S.

Now, they’re fighting to receive recognition for their efforts more than seven decades after beating the odds to accomplish their mission.

Some of Merrill’s Marauders take a break on a trail in Burma, now called Myanmar. (Credit: U.S. Army)

A machine-gunner fires on Japanese troops during the fight for Myitkyina, (Credit: DoD)

Planning and Preparation

Two years before the Marauders arrived in Burma, the country that’s now known as Myanmar had been almost overtaken by Japanese forces. According to the U.S. Army, their dominance in the China-Burma-India Theater threatened communications between the U.S. and Australasia.

In 1943, the Allies went on the offensive as British Brig. Gen. Orde Wingate, British Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten and U.S. Lt. Gen. Joseph Stilwell executed major, long-range offensive operations in the theater.

Merrill’s Marauders, formally known as the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), were to support Stilwell’s offensive to conquer northern Burma.

The unit, code named “Galahad,” was created after Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met at the Quebec Conference in August 1943.

After Roosevelt’s call for “jungle fighters,” hundreds of soldiers from the Army’s ground forces made their way to Camp Stoneman in California—a major staging area and jumping-off point for more than 1 million soldiers heading to the Pacific Theater during World War II.

“Through these portals pass the best damn soldiers in the world,” read a sign inscribed on the camp’s entrance.

Soldiers came from stateside units, as well as units with experience in Panama and Trinidad, where they served in the campaigns of Guadalcanal, New Guinea and New Georgia.

The unit consisted of 14 Nisei, or second-generation Japanese Americans, from Hawaii and the continental U.S who served as interpreters and translators. All of them volunteered for the Military Intelligence Service—some from internment camps—and, again, all later volunteered for Roosevelt’s top-secret mission.

After initial training at Camp Stoneman, the soldiers boarded the ocean liner Lurline, a former luxury cruise ship that had been turned into a troop transport, and shipped out on Sept. 21, 1943.

A Merrill’s Marauders mortar crew shells enemy positions at Myitkyina, Burma. (Credit: DoD)

‘Country, Duty, Honor’

Gilbert Howland joined the Army shortly after his 18th birthday. He served in the Panama region, where  he trained with heavy weapons, before moving with his unit to Trinidad after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

While on his way home with other soldiers for a 15-day leave, Howland learned about the president’s request during a stop in Puerto Rico.

“A colonel came down from Washington, D.C., and said that President Roosevelt had come out for a request for 3,000 jungle fighters,” said Howland, now 96. “When the colonel said you’d be going on a mission, he didn’t say where, he didn’t say if it was dangerous or anything.”

Howland was among 124 men who immediately volunteered.

“Country, Duty, Honor,” Howland said. “That’s my motto.”

In October 1943, Robert Passanisi lined up alongside his fellow soldiers of the 76th Signal Company to listen to the call for volunteers.

Signalmen volunteers, preferably radio repairmen, were needed for “a dangerous mission of three months and three months of training, with an expected casualty rate of more than 85%,” said Passanisi, now 95 and the Merrill’s Marauders Association’s historian.

“I was in the Army like 18 months, and I had two brothers that had less time in the Army than I did and were already in Europe,” he said. “I may have felt guilty for I didn’t feel I was doing my part.”

Passanisi stepped forward to volunteer. He was the only soldier out of 250 men in his company to do so.

“I could hear the whispers in back of me [saying], ‘What, are you crazy?’ ” Passanisi said.

Natives guide American troops along a Burmese trail. (Credit: U.S. Army)

1,000-Mile Journey

The Lurline headed to New Caledonia, where it picked up several hundred battle-tested soldiers from South Pacific Command and continued south and around Australia. The ship reached its final stop, Bombay, on Oct. 31, 1943.

After disembarking in Bombay, now known as Mumbai, the unit began secretly training in the jungles of Central India alongside Air Corps and Signal Corps personnel, mules and mule drivers.

The 5307th was made up of six combat teams color-coded Red, White, Blue, Green, Orange and Khaki. Each of the unit’s three battalions consisted of two combat teams.

Between November 1943 and February 1944, the soldiers underwent intense training that included small-unit attacks, navigation, river crossing, scouting, patrolling and weapons.

In February, the Marauders began their 1,000-mile trek to Myitkyina.

“Merrill said there will be no riding, we’re going to walk it,” Howland said. “It was 110 miles of Ledo Road that was being built at that time to connect onto the Burma Road so they could get supplies into China by trucks.”

The walk took about 10 days, Howland said, and when they arrived, Stilwell was waiting.

“He gave us a good talk,” he said.

The unit continued its journey through the Himalayan Mountains, bush, water and thick jungle. The soldiers only had equipment and supplies—including mortars, ammunition, heavy long- and short-range radios, and bazookas—that they could carry on their backs or on mules.

“It was all very high ground,” Howland said. “The mules would fall off the cliffs, and they’d have to go down and get the ammunition and what was down there and the mules and get them back up on the trails.”

The Marauders fought against enemy forces, tropical diseases, hunger, exhaustion and treacherous terrain along the way.

The unit’s five major battles against the Imperial Japanese Army included Walawbum, Shaduzup, Inkangahtwang, Nhpum Ga and Myitkyina, where the only all-weather airstrip in Burma was located.

“We knew what we were doing because we were well trained,” Howland said.

The Nisei were instrumental in helping the American troops stay a step ahead of the Japanese forces in the area. They would sneak up on the Japanese and listen to their conversations, Howland said, then share what they heard with the rest of the unit.

“They tapped in on the phone line and found out all the good information,” Howland said. “The Japanese were crying for reinforcements because we were hitting pretty hard on their tails.”

The Burmese natives turned against the Japanese, he said, and came over to the Allies.

“Believe me, that helped us a lot,” Howland said. “Knowing what trails to take, where the Japanese were, what they were doing, and they even fought themselves.”

Because of the thick, and almost impenetrable, jungle terrain, the soldiers had to make clearings for resupply air drops and evacuations. Wounded Marauders were carried on a makeshift stretcher until an evacuation was possible—usually in a small village where Marauders would hack out a landing strip for a small plane—and flown out one at a time.

By August 1944, the unit accomplished its mission, not only disrupting enemy supply and communication lines but also taking the town of Myitkyina and the airstrip. By freeing Burma’s airspace, the successful mission enabled supplies to be flown in and created a critical Allied land route into China.

Just over 100 Marauders were left in fighting shape—and only two uninjured or not ill—by the time the unit disbanded in 1944, according to The Associated Press. The unit had lost more than 1,000 soldiers to injuries and disease.

“Enduring the humanly unendurable is really possible when the price is right,” Passanisi said.

Howland and Passanisi, along with hundreds of others, came down with malaria or other tropical diseases. Howland, who went on to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, was also wounded by shrapnel during the fight in Nhpum Ga.

The unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, and every Marauder received the Bronze Star.

Merrill’s Marauders Gilbert Howland, left, and Robert Passanisi, both in their 90s, (Credit: Bob Howland)

Legacy Continues

While the Marauders’ mission concluded in a few months, their legacy has continued almost 76 years later. Today, fewer than 10 of them are still living.

“It is important to remember the many sacrifices that were made and the lives that were cut short so that our future generations would be able to enjoy their God-given freedom, and to remember that their freedom was won at a high price,” Passanisi said.

While some Marauders received additional honors for their wartime efforts, the Association of the U.S. Army is working with lawmakers, surviving Marauders and their descendants to gain support for recognition under the Congressional Gold Medal Act—legislation that aims to bestow the honor on the entire unit.

“You have an honor to your men, to your troops,” said Howland, who received three Combat Infantryman Badges during his almost 30-year Army career.

Passanisi No and Howland, both Ranger Hall of Fame inductees, members of Congress and AUSA representatives met on Capitol Hill earlier this year to garner support for the legislation. The event concluded with a reception in the veterans’ honor.

“I feel like it’s going to happen. I just hope it happens sooner rather than later,” said Jonnie Clasen, daughter of the late Merrill’s Marauder Master Sgt. Vincent Melillo. “They deserve this. They were one of the most unrewarded units.”

No other combat force during World War II, except for the 1st Marine Division, faced as much uninterrupted jungle fighting as Merrill’s Marauders.

“I’ll tell you, the boys I had, they fought like tigers when they had to,” Howland said. “No backing down.”

Maj. Gen. Frank Merrill was the commander of the unit that became known as Merrill's Marauders. (Credit: DoD)

Legacy of Proud Service

When the U.S. entered World War II, it needed an understanding of Japanese language and culture for American intelligence efforts to succeed.

The War Department turned to second-generation Japanese Americans, or Nisei, who used their language skills to help win the war against Japan.

About 5,000 Nisei had been drafted or volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army after the Selective Service and Training Act of 1940 was enacted, the first peacetime draft in U.S. history initially targeted at 18- to 35-year-old males. According to the Army, draft notices were sent to the homes of 284,000 Japanese immigrants and their families on the West Coast and in the Territory of Hawaii—and the communities “responded with pride.”

After the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, many Japanese who had entered the military were discharged or reassigned, and those not yet drafted were reclassified as aliens not acceptable for military service. Many Japanese Americans were accused, without evidence, of spying for Japan and, despite their willingness to serve, their loyalty was questioned. Over 300 members of the month-old Hawaii Territorial Guard, made up of ROTC cadets and volunteers, were discharged as a result of this order.

On Feb. 12, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order that put more than 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps for the remainder of the war, but in the spring of 1943 the Army started looking for Japanese American volunteers to be part of combat units. Army teams were sent into internment camps to screen draft-age men for possible service.

The result was the formation of Nisei-only units and the acceptance of 14 Nisei into the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)—now known as Merrill’s Marauders—to serve a crucial role as interpreters.

Led by 1st Lt. William Laffin, Japanese-born and raised, and by Sgt. Edward Mitsukado, a court reporter from Hawaii, the Marauder’s Nisei were assigned two-each to combat teams and two to headquarters. All 14 survived and received Combat Infantryman Badges.

Of the estimated 33,000 Japanese Americans who served during World War II, roughly 6,000 served in the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific and China-Burma-India Theaters. —Jennifer Benitz

A Note About 14 Nisei who Served in the Merrill's Marauders

In mid August 1943 the Military Intelligence Service Language School (MISLS) received a request for volunteers to serve on a highly dangerous and hazardous mission that will result in 85% casualty.  Seven hundred Nisei linguists volunteered.  Fourteen Nisei graduates, in addition to 1st Lt William A. Laffin, officer in charge who was born in Japan and attended Japanese schools, were selected as follows:  

Staff Sgt Edward Mitsukado, Honolulu. HI

Akiji Yoshimura, Colusa, CA

Howard H. Furumoto, Hilo, HI

Thomas K. Tsubota, Honolulu, HI

Herbert Y. Miyasaki, Paauilo, HI

Robert Y. Honda, Wahiawa, HI

Roy K. Nakada, Honolulu, HI

Russell  K. Kono, Hilo, HI

Roy H. Matsumoto, Los Angeles, CA

Ben S. Sugeta, Los Angeles, CA

Grant Hirabayashi, Kent, WA

Jimmy Yamaguchi, Los Angeles, CA

Henry Gosho, Seattle, WA

Calvin Kobata, Sacramento, CA

Seven Nisei from Hawaii and 7 from the mainland were selected and they were distributed among the 3 battalions.  In addition to their special forces equipment, such as rifle and ammunition, they carried linguistic needs.  Assuming US military could not read or understand Japanese, Japanese soldiers did not exercise security discipline. They spoke freely and loiudly. Where the jungle was thick with vegetation Nisei could hear the Japanese talking on the other side.  Nisei converted these information into intelligence reports and passed them real time to Caucasian commanders.  Commanders used this tactical intelligence to prepare battle plans.  When Japanese left their camps hastily they left behind battle papers, logistics information, and personal diaries, which were scanned by Nisei linguists for tactical information.

Roy Matsumoto, a member of the 2nd Battalion, who attended school in Japan, spotted telephone wires strung among the trees, climbed it, tapped the line, reported to his superiors the location of the Japanese ammo dump.  As the result of this intelligence, the ammo depot was subsequently bombed and destroyed by the US Army Air Corps.  Matsumoto received the Legion of Merit.

By the time the 2nd Battalion reached Nhpun Ga on April 2, 1944, the men were exhausted and the battalion was under strength and low on ammunition.  That night Matsumoto could hear the enemy talking but could not comprehend what they were saying.  With the battalion commander’s approval Matsumoto stuffed two hand grenades in his pocket for use in the event he was captured and crawled to the enemy bivouac area where he eavesdropped on the enemy’s discussion.  He reported to the commander the Japanese plan to attack the battalion at daybreak.  The commander decided to set a trap. 

At daybreak the Japanese struck screaming as they jumped into fox holes which were booby trapped.  When the Japanese advanced to a designated point the commander gave the order to open fire.  The second wave appeared confused and hesitated when Matsumoto stood from his fox hole and shouted in Japanese the order to advance. The Japanese did to their peril.  The third wave retreated.  The Americans counted 54 Japanese dead.

 Matsumoto received no recognition for saving his battalion from possible annihilation, however, he has taken comfort in being inducted to the Ranger Hall of Fame in 1993 and the MIS Hall of Fame in 1997.  

JAVA EC Member, Capt. (Dr.) Cynthia Macri, MC,USN (Ret) featured in "Year of the Woman in Maryland"

Capt. (Dr.) Cynthia Macri, MC,USN (Ret)

Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs 

Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed 2020 to be the Year of the Woman in Maryland.

MDVA will be highlighting the dedicated women in Maryland who volunteer to serve on state commissions which support Maryland Veterans in this and future editions of the e-newsletter.

To continue this series, Commissioner Cynthia Macri who serves on the Maryland Veterans Commission is featured. Cynthia provided the following information:

Dr. Macri grew up as an American expatriate in Egypt, Pakistan and Mexico before returning to the US for college. Inspired by the US Embassy Marine Security Guard detachment in Islamabad, she was commissioned in 1979 and attended Temple University School of Medicine on a Navy Scholarship and graduated with an M.D. degree in 1983. After completing training as a gynecologic oncologist, she served in a variety of academic and executive leadership roles at the National Naval Medical Center, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Naval Medical Education and Training Command, and the Uniformed Services University. She held the position of Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations for Diversity from April 2009 until her retirement in June 2013. On July 1, 2013 she was recalled to active duty as the Chief Strategist for the 21 Century Sailor Office under the Chief of Naval Personnel.

Dr. Macri devoted her entire military career to education at the precollege, undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels. She is a nationally recognized speaker on health, gender and educational disparities in college and career preparation, cultural intelligence, leveraging cultural differences, professional development, health literacy, race and economic prosperity, and technology in the context of cultural preservation. She is the author or co-author of over 20 scientific papers, 3 book chapters, and over 200 invited presentations. In addition, she has received numerous community service awards for her innovative youth outreach programs to inspire middle and high school students from educationally, economically, and experientially diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in science, medicine, and technology. Dr. Macri is now the Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer for EagleForce Health, a big data analytics company in northern Virginia.

In addition, she serves as the District 8 Representative to the Maryland State Veterans Commission, a veteran member of the Montgomery County Veterans Commission, and as the Asian American Community representative on the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention. Dr. Macri also volunteers as a primary care physician in Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties, and is a competitive adult soccer player in Howard, Montgomery, Arlington, and Fairfax Counties in the Washington, DC area.

U.S. Army Museum Opening Delayed

Fort Belvoir, VA. Wade Ishimoto, JAVA's liaison with the U.S. Army National Museum, received the "Latest Museum News," dated April 23, 2020, in which LTG Robert Shultz, USA (Ret), President of Army Historical Foundation," announced that the Museum would delay its public opening in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

"Originally scheduled to open to the public on June 4, the project has been impacted by the suspension of some of the exhibit gallery finishing work. Please know that our goal is to open the Museum to the public as soon as overall conditions guarantee the health and safety of Museum visitors, volunteers, and staff, and the Museum is ready to begin daily operations.

Shultz said," Japanese American Veterans Association's generous support to date has helped make the National Museum of the U.S. Army a reality. Please share this email with the members of your organization. We want to ensure that all our supporters are kept informed about the changes occurring at the Museum. " 

"Virtual" National Vietnam Veterans Day Held on March 29 

Communities across the Nation in observed a “virtual” National Vietnam War Veterans Day on March 29, 2020 in order to safeguard Vietnam veterans and their families, as well as every American, from the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019. 

Commemorative events throughout America are postponed until a time when, once again, it is safe for communities to gather together and honor everyone who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975.  

Each person who served during this period, regardless of where they served, earned and rightly deserves our profound thanks.

For more information: 



Color Guard at WWII Memorial. Photo: Holly Rotondi, Executive Director, National WW II Memorial.

JAVA's Day of Affirmation Event waiting for NPS Approval

JAVA plans to host its first Day of Affirmation event on July 15, 2020, at noon at the National World War II Memorial on the Mall to commemorate the return of the Nisei from WWII on the anniversary they were invited to the White House by President Truman in recognition of their courage and sacrifice. JAVA is waiting for approval from the National Park Service for the event. Details to follow.

2019 JAVA Scholarship Luncheon, Harvest Moon Restaurant

Save the Date! JAVA Scholarship Luncheon

Saturday, July 18, 2020

JAVA plans to host its annual Scholarship luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 18, at the Harvest Moon Restaurant in Falls Church, VA. A announcement notice will be sent in June.

Memorial Day 2019 Kiyoshi Murakami, ANC

JACL/JAVA Memorial Day Ceremony Rescheduled for November 15, 2020

The annual Memorial Day Ceremony originally scheduled for Sunday, May 24, 2020 has been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The 72nd JACL/JAVA Memorial Day Ceremony is now scheduled for Sunday, November 15, 2020 at Arlington National Cemetery's Columbarium Ceremonial Courtyard.


JAVA has recently switched to a new domain name for our website - www.java-us.org. While our old web address www.java.wildapricot.org will still function and land you in the exact same spot, we wanted to better focus attention on the acronym for the Japanese American Veterans Association and add emphasis with US.

Go For Broke National Education Center announces its GFBNEC Student Essay and Poetry Contest open now through Sunday, June 28, 2020. This contest is open to high school (grades 9-12) and college (undergraduate and graduate) students. 

Cash prizes will be awarded to a total of twelve winners. The first-place student in each category will receive $1,000 in addition to two complimentary tickets to attend GFBNEC’s 19th Annual Evening of Aloha Gala Dinner and Auction on November 14, 2020, at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in downtown Los Angeles where the winners will be able to meet the Japanese American WWII veterans whose stories they researched. Additional cash prizes will be awarded to second and third place in each category.

Should you have further questions regarding this contest, please contact Andie Kimura, Education Manager at andie@goforbroke.org.


Irene Hirano Inouye (Photo: USJC)

Irene Hirano Inouye

Reprint approved by Pacific Citizen April 7, 2020

Honolulu, Los Angeles, Washington, DC. Irene Hirano Inouye passed away on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Ms. Inouye, the former president and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum and widow of the late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye had announced in February plans to retire from the U.S.-Japan Council, which launched in 2008 and of which she was also the founding president.

JACL National Executive Director David Inoue said, “Irene was a great leader in our Japanese American community serving as the founding president and CEO for the Japanese American National Museum and again for the U.S.-Japan Council.”

A graduate of USC, where she also earned her master’s degree, Inouye Hirano served as executive director at the T.H.E. Center for Women for 13 years before becoming the president and CEO of JANM, where she served for 20 years and was president of USJC since its 2008 inception.

In 2008, she married Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and resigned from her positions at JANM. Senator Inouye died in 2012.

Hirano Inouye also administered the TOMODACHI Initiative, a public-private partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the government of Japan that invests in young Japanese and Americans through educational and cultural exchanges and leadership programs.

In addition to administering the TOMODACHI Initiative,. the US Japan Council announcement said Irene’s professional and community activities included serving as Chair and Trustee, Ford Foundation; Chair and Trustee, Kresge Foundation; Chair, Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Center;  Chair of the Advisory Board, Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, University of California at Los Angeles; Trustee, Washington Center; Trustee, Independent Sector, and member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences; member of the Advisory Board, Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy, Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California; Chair, Board of Directors of the American Association of Museums; Board Member, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Member, National Board Smithsonian Institution; member, Toyota Corporation’s Diversity Advisory Board; member, Business Advisory Board of Sodexho Corporation; President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities by Presidential appointment; and Chair, California Commission on the Status of Women.”  

Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) and an Honorary Chair of JAVA, said in a JANM announcement  ”I was very saddened by the passing of Irene—she was a caring, passionate person with unquestioned integrity.  Irene was a giant and an outstanding bridge between and among all communities. Irene’s visionary leadership will be terribly missed, not only in the Asian Pacific Islander communities, but in American society as a whole. “

Gerald Yamada, JAVA President, said “I was aware that Irene was having health issues, but was very surprised to learn that she had passed.  I met her on her first visit to DC in 1988 as the newly appointed president of JANM and had worked with her over the years while I was a member of JANM’s Board of Governors.  Irene always made a positive difference.  We will miss her innovative leadership, untiring energy, and endless devotion to our community.”      

The Pacific Citizen noted ”Hirano Inouye is survived by many family members, including her daughter, Jennifer Hirano; stepson, Ken Inouye; two sisters, a brother and their families.”

[EdNote.  The obituary in the Pacific Citizen served as the basis of this report.]

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 www.java-us.org

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