Japanese American Veterans Association
Vol. 2, No. 22, July 2, 2020
JAVA President Gerald Yamada
On July 15, 2020, at 12 noon, JAVA will commemorate the
return of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team from the bloody battlefields in
Europe to Washington, DC. Seventy-four
years earlier, on July 15, 1946, President Harry Truman received the military
unit at 12 noon at the Ellipse, the south lawn of the White House, following its
march down Constitution Avenue. The
President presented the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) with its seventh
Presidential Unit Citation.
The 442nd RCT was activated in 1943 as a segregated all
Japanese American combat unit with non-Japanese American officers. When
recruitment of Japanese Americans from the War Relocation Authority confinement
camps initially fell short, 10,000 Japanese Americans from Hawaii volunteered
to serve of which 2,600 were accepted for service in 442nd RCT. In June 1944, the 100th Infantry Battalion,
originally comprised of 1,400 Japanese Americans from Hawaii, which had been
fighting in Italy for the previous nine months was attached to the 442nd
RCT. The 100th was allowed to retain its
unit designation in recognition of its exemplary performance in combat. A unit
of the 442nd RCT not represented at the Review was the 522nd Field Artillery
Battalion which was assigned to the 7th Army for the invasion of Germany, where
it liberated a Jewish extermination sub-camp at Dachau, Germany.
During the ceremony, President Truman said:
"You fought not only the enemy, but you fought
prejudice – and you have won. Keep up
that fight, and we will continue to win – to make this great Republic stand for
just what the Constitution says it stands for: the welfare of all the people all
In 1943, Japanese Americans were asked by the federal
government to declare whether or not they were loyal to America. Those who answered yes showed that they were
willing to fulfill their civic responsibilities as American citizens by serving
in the US military and, more importantly, that they still believed in the
American dream that brought their Issei parents to this country. They made this decision under the most
adverse circumstances. Most were being
unjustly imprisoned in War Relocation Authority confinement camps, and all
faced widespread overt political and racial "prejudice at home"
against persons of Japanese ancestry that predated the war against Japan. For those who served in Europe, this decision
tested their courage on the battlefields. They responded with the valor that is
still unmatched in terms of their military accomplishments. The Nisei soldiers
who served in the Asia Pacific war zone provided linguistic support to American
and Allied forces, including real time intelligence to front line commanders
which won battles and saved American lives.
President Truman affirmed that the decision made by the
Nisei soldiers is the way to win the war against prejudice and to support the
Constitution and what it stands for. As stated
by 442nd RCT veteran Terry Shima, who at the time was Director of the 442nd RCT
Public Relations staff and who covered this event: “I believe that President
Truman by participating in this unprecedented review of the returning 442nd RCT
did three things: 1) he confirmed Japanese American loyalty, 2) he removed the
stigma of disloyalty that was the underlying reason for Executive Order 9066
being issued, and 3) he opened the door to put Japanese Americans on the road
to seek the opportunities afforded to American citizens.”
The war against prejudice still continues, as shown by
current events. But, the battle against
prejudice that the Nisei soldiers won by choosing to keep their faith in America was the critical turning point in our
history to defeat prejudice against persons of Japanese ancestry and the
foundation upon which Japanese Americans started to benefit and will continue
to benefit in the future.
At 12 noon (East Coast time) on July 15, 2020, JAVA will
have a wreath-laying at the Price of Freedom Wall, National World War II
Memorial, which is on Constitution Avenue, near the Ellipse, to show our
appreciation for the legacy created by the Nisei soldiers who served in World
War II. Turner Kobayashi, son of Key
Kobayashi, who served in the Military Intelligence Service, and Catherine
Luette, daughter of Major Orville Shirey, who served with the 442nd RCT, will
serve as the wreath bearers.
JAVA’s permit application has been approved for this
event. JAVA will livestream the
commemoration via JAVA's Facebook page. Closer to July 15th, details of how
interested persons may view the broadcast can be found on JAVA’s website: JAVA-US.org.
President Harry S. Truman (center) decorating the
colors of the Nisei (Japanese-American) 442nd
Regimental Combat Team. Photo: Abbie Rowe, National Park Service Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.
Rear Admiral Joe Vojvodich Retires from United States Coast Guard
Rear Admiral Joseph M. Vojvodich, USCG (Ret). Photo: USCG.
On June 26,
2020, a ceremony marking JAVA member and Rear Admiral Joe Vojvodich's
retirement from the United States Coast Guard was held. Due to ongoing public
health concerns, the ceremony was hosted online via Facebook Live, with
Commandant, Admiral Karl Schultz, presiding.
a communication noted that "The missions of Coast Guard looked attractive
in getting a young man 'in the door,' but Coast Guard men and women were certainly
principal in keeping me around. It has been my most privileged honor to
serve besides the most dedicated, humble servants of our Nation...[ and I want
to] convey a sincere gratitude to those who have shaped this great Service and
influenced me during my career."
AUSA Book Program Releases Free Graphic Novel on Daniel Inouye!
The Association of the United States Army Book Program has recently published a digital graphic novel about the late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye's remarkable acts of courage and service titled Medal of Honor: Daniel Inouye.
AUSA is a non-profit organization devoted to the U.S. Army and Its Soldiers, and the book is distributed free of charge as part of its educational mission.
To read Medal of Honor: Daniel Inouye online or download a free copy click on this link: www.ausa.org/inouye.
[Ed Note: Senator Inouye served as an Honorary Chair of JAVA.]
Old Issues of the Advocate?
We are missing back issues of JAVA Newsletter from July 1992 to May 2006. If you saved newsletters from that time, we would be interested in having copies made. Please contact Neet Ford at email@example.com. Thanks!
Japanese American Veterans Association
P.O. Box 341198
Bethesda, MD 20827
Ending Racism Will Take More Than Conversations
Floyd Mori. Photo: Mori.
June 9, 2020
OP-ED by Floyd Mori
In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic, the world has been in turmoil. Racism is on the minds of nearly everyone. It is hoped that something good will come of the attention being brought to important issues of racism. Conversations must be held, but ending racism will take much more than just talking. Action will be required.
Since my name is Floyd and my birthday is May 30, this year was a memorable birthday as my name was being repeated all day and night on the television. The news was reporting on protests being held throughout the country against the unjust treatment of George Floyd. As an American of Japanese heritage, I have experienced my share of racism but not to the extent that many African Americans face on a regular basis.
George Floyd is being remembered as one whose life was lost through the brutality of the police against black men. He was not a hero in the normal sense of the word, but people will remember his name for a long time. Unfortunately, there have been many others who have experienced a similar fate.
Colin Kaepernick was born to a white mother and a black father. He was adopted by a white family. As a quarterback in the NFL, he tried to bring attention to the issue of police brutality and racial inequality against black men. He would kneel during the National Anthem at his pro football games to draw attention to the plight of black people and to protest against racism. Some other players joined him as he used his platform with the public watching to protest the unjust treatment that black men regularly received at the hands of the police. It was done for the sake of others.
Instead of the movement gaining traction, Kaepernick was criticized and accused of disrespecting the American flag and the military although that was not the case. Vocal and harsh criticism came from the top leaders of this nation and was effective in causing Kaepernick to lose his job. It took a lot of courage to do what he did, and he paid for it. Perhaps if people had listened to Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and meaningful reform against racism and police brutality of black men had been enacted, a lot of hardship and killings could have been avoided.
Hatred is the major part of racism. At the start of World War II, Japanese Americans and immigrants from Japan were immediately seen as the enemy. Because of hatred, the government removed 120,000 people of Japanese heritage on the west coast from their homes and incarcerated them in camps. This was a result of racism against people who looked different than the mainstream population. No one came to their aid except Quakers and a few others who tried to support them to no avail. After the war ended and largely due to the patriotism and sacrifices of the young Japanese Americans who served in the U.S. military, mostly in the segregated 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Battalion, Japanese Americans were eventually able to gain respect as American citizens. Racism had caused much pain and suffering to them.
African Americans have endured racism and discrimination for far too long. Some black families have experienced racism for generations and have not been able to overcome it. Many African Americans have been able to rise above racism, hardship, poverty, and discrimination to become top leaders in government, law, medicine, education, sports, acting, music, commerce, and all fields of endeavor. Yet racism still continues to hold many back, especially if they are treated unfairly by the police and others in places of authority.
It is safe to assume that there may always be hateful, ignorant, and intolerant people in the world. There are those who feel they are superior to others. It will be difficult to eradicate hate and racism, but it should be possible to make the world better if enough good people are willing to do their part to improve race relations. It is gratifying to see so many white people, other ethnicities, and especially young people joining black people in the peaceful protests to fight against racism.
Vandalism, violence, looting, destruction of property, and harm to people should never be part of the equation. Those actions hurt too many innocent people. Conversations, negotiations, and peaceful protests can help to bring about change.
Meaningful conversations at all levels of government and with the general public along with individual families are necessary, but talking alone will not end racism. Leaders should be more willing to make changes needed to improve race relations. Parents and educators need to teach children that racism is not acceptable. There has to be a change of attitude and love expressed in the fight against racism. Tolerance needs to be a bigger part of life.
Fighting racism will take understanding, acceptance, kindness, caring, consideration, compassion, empathy, and more love. People have to be willing to help each other. People who are bullied or called names with racial slurs hurled at them should be defended by others, whether friends or passers-by. Those who have “made it” can give back. People who profess NOT to be racists must not act like racists. Ending racism will take positive action by the masses.
The state of race relations in the United States is at a critical juncture. There is much divisiveness and hate. Conditions can and must improve. We can all do our part and make a difference whether it is by speaking out, peaceful protesting, meeting with people, donating to worthy causes, educating others, voting for good leaders, or simply being more kind and accepting of everyone. Helping one person is a start.
Racism is a dangerous disease which must be curbed and contained.
[Floyd Mori worked in Washington, D.C. as the National Executive Director/CEO of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), a civil rights organization. He was born and raised in Utah and currently lives in Salt Lake City. He has published a book of speeches and articles about the Japanese American experience and history, racism, and civil rights - www.thejapaneseamericanstory.com. Floyd is a JAVA Life Member.]
Three World War II Nisei Veterans Awarded the Republic of France’s Highest Honor
Kankichi Albert Nakama in Uniform. Photo: Courtesy Nakama Family.
Jeff MoritaTechnical Sergeant (T/Sgt) Nakama was an Assault Rifle Noncommissioned Officer and assigned to L "Love" Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He planned and executed combat patrols, set up defensive positions, and oversaw the never ending digging of foxholes for personal cover. T/Sgt Nakama vividly recalled, "the Vosges Mountains was really cold — you know, like the Pali (Highway) coming from Honolulu... a lot of wooded areas — that's the kind of place the Vosges Mountains was — freezing, close fighting in the mountains — hard because of trees and treacherous terrain but good that you could hide — many times we were cold, sleepy, tired and hungry — we only had our C rations — sitting and waiting in foxholes, when told to go, YOU GO..!" Nakama served courageously and gallantly in the Rome-Arno; Northern Apennines; (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps, and Po Valley Allied Offensive Campaigns. He personally contributed to the liberation of Northeastern France to include the villages of Bruyères, Belmont-Biffontaine, and the epic rescue of the lost ‘Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains. For his honorable service, T/Sgt Nakama received the US Congressional Gold Medal; Bronze Star Medal with Bronze Valor "V" Device for heroic achievement in action near Pisa, Italy and two Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (signifying a third award); Purple Heart Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four (4) Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars; Distinguished Unit Badge (now known as the Presidential Unit Citation [PUC]) with one (1) Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd award); World War II Victory Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB); Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II; and Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar. On June 18, 2020,Mr. Nakama and his Family received the French Chevalier (Knight) Medal. Mr. Nakama (97) resides in Kailua, (Oahu) Hawaii.
HONOLULU, Hawaii -- In January 2020, three Nisei veterans, Kankichi Nakama, Harold Nakasone, and Hideo Nakayama, were inducted into the French National Order of the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Légion d'Honneur), the highest order for military and civil merits established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte. The three Nisei Veterans received the Chevalier (Knight) medal for their participation in the liberation of France during World War II. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Chevalier Medal and Republic of France congratulatory correspondence were posted to the surviving Nisei veteran, Nakayama, and the immediate family of the Nisei veterans Nakasone and Nakayama, who both passed away in 2019 and are laying in rest in Hawaii.
Harold Seisuke Nakasone in Uniform. Photo: Courtesy Nakasone Family.
Private First Class (PFC) Nakasone was a crew member for an M3 105mm short-barrel Light Howitzer and assigned to Cannon Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The M3 used the same barrel as the M2 105mm howitzer used by the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, however, in a shortened version. The M3 was used against specific targets up to 3,000 yards. In essence, PFC Nakasone provided close-range direct and indirect artillery support for the assault infantry rifleman on the front-lines. Nakasone served courageously and gallantly in the Rome-Arno; Northern Apennines; (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps; and Po Valley Allied Offensive Campaigns. He personally contributed to the liberation of Northeastern France to include the villages of Bruyères, Belmont-Biffontaine, and the epic rescue of the lost ‘Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains. For his honorable service, PFC Nakasone received the US Congressional Gold Medal; Bronze Star Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four (4) Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars; Distinguished Unit Badge (PUC); World War II Victory Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB); and Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. Mr. Harold Seisuke Nakasone (99) passed away on November 24, 2019. On June 18, 2020, the Nakasone family received the French Chevalier (Knight) Medal. Mr. Nakasone rests eternally at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Honolulu.
Hideo Nakayama in uniform. Photo: Courtesy Nakayama Family.
Private First Class (PFC) Nakayama was an Infantry Rifleman and Company Mess Cook assigned to L “Love” Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He ensured the daily and essential supply of basic sustenance was available to his Nisei brothers-in-arms. Without this basic requirement, the assault infantry could not have braved and successfully accomplished their primary combat mission to identify, fix, close, and destroy enemy material and personnel. PFC Nakayama served courageously and gallantly in the Rome-Arno; Northern Apennines; (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps; and Po Valley Allied Offensive Campaigns. He personally contributed to the liberation of Northeastern France to include the villages of Bruyères, Belmont-Biffontaine, and the epic rescue of the lost ‘Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains. For his honorable service, PFC Nakayama received the US Congressional Gold Medal; Bronze Star Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four (4) Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars; Distinguished Unit Badge (PUC) with one (1) Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (signifying a second award); World War II Victory Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB); Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II; and Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar. Mr. Nakayama (97) passed away on December 20, 2019. On June 19, 2020, the Nakayama family received the French Chevalier (Knight) Medal. Mr. Nakayama rests eternally at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe.
[Ed Note. Since 2014, Morita, a retired US Army and Department of the Army Civilian (40-years total service) has meticulously researched and submitted 45 comprehensive French Légion d’honneur nomination packets for 100th/442nd Veterans. To date, the Government of France has inducted 30 of the 45 veterans Morita has assisted into the National Order of the Legion of Honour. Morita (firstname.lastname@example.org) welcomes any request for pro bono assistance.]
Brothers in Arms
Chinese American Soldiers Fought Heroically in WWII
Pvt. Lui Gain Thyn, standing third from left, served during World War II with a squad of the 20th Armored Infantry Battalion. (Credit: Courtesy Photo)
By Russell Low and Ricky Leo
Some 20,000 Chinese Americans served their country in World War II and were connected to the history of the Chinese in America in ways they might not have fully understood.
These young men and women were products of decades of struggles by their parents and grandparents to become American. Anti-Chinese sentiments in the U.S. were a constant reminder that Americans saw them as different and excluded them. Some enlisted, and some died, before the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was finally repealed in December 1943.
But none of that mattered to these patriotic young men and women. When they saw the Stars and Stripes, they were filled with pride. They viewed it as a symbol of hope and a beacon of freedom to preserve and protect. Maybe they had something to prove: that they were more American than their peers, who took their nationality for granted. Being American was the core of their identity. It showed in their actions and in their numbers. The 20,000 Chinese Americans who served in World War II represented about 25% of the Chinese population in America. That was the highest percentage of service for any American ethnic community in World War II, according to the website ChineseAmericanHeroes.org.
Two young men who served the U.S. in World War II—one Chinese, one Chinese American—came from strikingly different, yet similar, backgrounds. Both were grandsons of transcontinental railroad workers, and both came from families that suffered in the 1880s from the effects of pervasive anti-Chinese attitudes and legislation.
In spite of this, both men performed heroically in different theaters in World War II, on opposite sides of the world. Both men were destined to receive Silver Star medals for gallantry in action within 10 months of each other.
After the war, the job of getting on with their lives, as well as their natural humility, pushed the Silver Stars into the background. One man never spoke a word of the medal, and the other never revealed the truth of his heroic actions. Yet both left clues that 80 years later led their sons to uncover the story of these brothers in arms.
Sgt. Loren Low in Saipan in 1944 wearing his Silver Star. (Credit: Courtesy Photo)
Loren Low: ‘Smothered Death’
Loren Low was a third-generation Chinese American born in Salem, Oregon, in 1917. His parents were Low Sun Fook and Hong Kay. Loren Low was intimately connected to his family’s past in America. His grandfather Hung Lai Wah went to work on the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. His grandmother was a rescued child slave, or mui-tsai, in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
The tremendous gender imbalance of Chinese men to women in the 1800s was, in part, caused by anti-Chinese legislation like the Page Act of 1875, which effectively prohibited Chinese women from entering the United States. Subsequent human trafficking of young Chinese women and girls gave rise to a generation of Chinese women rescued from lives of slavery, including Low’s grandmother Tom Ah Ying.
Low’s patriotism was defining. In his own words, he “got his flag a-waving and couldn’t wait to get into the fight.” He enlisted in January 1941, a full 11 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and was assigned to the 804th Engineer Aviation Battalion, 7th Army Air Force, based in Honolulu. The engineers’ mission was to accompany invading forces and build airfields throughout the South Pacific. Low took part in the invasion of Baker Island in the Central Pacific, arriving in September 1943, and of Makin Island in the Gilbert Islands, which was invaded in November 1943.
On June 15, 1944, U.S. forces invaded the island of Saipan in the South Pacific. The invasion was preceded by the largest mobilization of U.S. forces in history, with an armada of 535 ships carrying 127,570 military personnel converging on the tiny island located 4,600 miles from Pearl Harbor.
A key objective was to capture Aslito Airfield on the south end of Saipan, putting the Allies with their B-29 Superfortress bombers within reach of Japan. The Japanese were dug in, and over 30,000 Americans, Japanese and civilians died during the invasion.
On the night of June 27, as a platoon of American engineers was working on the Japanese aviation fuel system at the captured airfield, a Japanese bomber attacked what had been their own aviation fuel dump. The mission was to destroy Aslito Airfield. The bombs ignited barrels of aviation fuel and started a huge fire near a 500,000-gallon tank of aviation fuel. The men in Low’s platoon were pinned down by the raging fire and exposed to the enemy overhead.
From his bulldozer, Low sized up the situation and acted. With blade raised, he charged his bulldozer into the conflagration, risking his life to save the men in his platoon and preserve the vital airfield. Walking his “cat” directly into the inferno, Low scooped up earth and coral with the bulldozer blade and smothered the fire as the Japanese bomber circled overhead.
While Low’s assessment of his actions was “no big doings,” the Army Air Forces disagreed and awarded him a Silver Star. Low’s other wartime awards were the Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
Sgt. Low served his country for four years and nine months. He was honorably discharged on Oct. 16, 1945.
In the following years, Low’s recollections of the events on Saipan were of a soldier doing his job. However, he left a tattered article from a 7th Air Force magazine dated Oct. 7, 1944, and headlined “Smothered Death with Bulldozer Treads.” His heroic actions were described in detail. He never showed the article to anyone, but left it as a clue for his family to find after his death on July 25, 2008.
On a photograph accompanying the article, he wrote “Loren Low” with an arrow pointing to the young Chinese American who walked his “cat” into the inferno.
Lui Gain Thyn, also known as Sonny Leo, in his World War II uniform. (Credit: Courtesy Photo)
Sonny Leo: Gallant Achievement
Lui Gain Thyn, also known as Sonny Leo, was born in Taishan in Guangdong Province, China, on Nov. 4, 1925. His parents were Fong Leo and Nagan Tan Lew. Leo’s father and grandfather had traveled to America; the latter worked on the railroads. Leo left China and arrived in San Francisco on July 18, 1938, and later moved to Rock Springs, Wyoming.
Sonny Leo and the entire Leo family were intimately connected to the town of Rock Springs and the anti-Chinese atrocities buried in its past. On Sept. 2, 1885, 28 Chinese miners were murdered by white miners there. Twenty-eight Chinese homes were burned to the ground, resulting in $150,000 worth of property damage, the equivalent of about $4 million today. Most of the Chinese miners at Rock Springs were from the Leo family. Thirteen of the 28 murdered Chinese were Leos, and ultimately, 158 miners from the Leo family claimed losses from the Rock Springs Massacre.
Over a half-century later, Sonny Leo attended Rock Springs Junior High School, completing the seventh grade. He started working at the New Grand Cafe, helping cook Chinese and American dishes during the day and attending a private school for two hours each night for two years.
On Feb. 24, 1944, Leo was drafted into the Army and entered military service at Fort Douglas, Utah. He was assigned to the 20th Armored Infantry Battalion and was involved in battles and campaigns in the Ardennes, the Rhineland and Central Europe.
As a rifleman and assistant squad leader, he supervised 12 soldiers. Leo was familiar with hand grenades, rifles, bayonets and trench knives. His knowledge of camouflage helped conceal his unit from the enemy. He arrived in the European Theater on Jan. 8, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge. The 20th Armored Infantry Battalion was placed under Combat Command B (CCB) of the 10th Armored Division.
Loren Low in his official military photo. (Credit: Courtesy Photo)
Between December 1944 and early May 1945, CCB traveled 900 kilometers from Bastogne, Belgium, through France, entered Bavaria in southern Germany, and eventually reached the Tyrol region of western Austria. On April 30, the convoy of Sherman tanks, tank-killers, half-tracks and infantry troops was headed south from Moosburg, Germany, toward Lermoos, Austria. Its goal was to cut off the mountain passes through the Alps near Innsbruck, closing the escape route for fleeing Nazis.
On April 30, 1945, at Lermoos, Pvt. Lui Thyn, assistant squad leader, braving intense enemy machine-gun and mortar fire, carried a wounded comrade over 500 yards of exposed terrain to safety. Because of his gallant achievement, he was awarded the Silver Star medal.
Also for wartime achievements, Leo received the Victory Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Service Ribbon with three battle stars, Good Conduct Medal and Combat Infantryman Badge. He was honorably discharged from the Army on April 3, 1946.
Leo became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1959. He never mentioned the Silver Star to his family. However, for decades he kept a miniaturized copy of the Silver Star citation in his wallet, which, after his death on Dec. 25, 2006, allowed his son Ricky to uncover the truth of his father’s actions.
Loren Low and Sonny Leo never met, but they were cut from the same heroic cloth that had been woven from the decades of struggles of the Chinese in America. In spite of, or perhaps because of, these struggles, these men appreciated the gift of freedom. They were men of honor who, in a time of crisis, instinctively acted selflessly to save their comrades. They were among the best this country had to offer.
They should be remembered not only for their actions in a time of war, but also for the way they lived their lives and raised their families to be American once they returned home from war.
Russell Low is a physician, researcher and author of the historical novel Three Coins: A Young Girl’s Story of Kidnapping, Slavery, and Romance in 19th Century America. He lives in La Jolla, California. Loren Low was his father.
Ricky Leo is an electrical engineer for Teledyne Controls, the aerospace and defense electronics arm of Teledyne Technologies, El Segundo, California. Sonny Leo was his father.
[From ARMY magazine, May 2020, Vol. 70, No. 5. Copyright 2020 by the Association of the U.S. Army, all rights reserved. Reproduced by permission.]
New JAVA Members
JAVA sends a warm Aloha to our new Veterans as well as new Friends of JAVA.
Jimmy Doi - 442nd RCT, U.S. Army
Kathleen Fralish - U.S. Army
Ronald Katahara - U.S. Navy
Stanley Kawamoto - U.S. Air Force
Michael Oshiro - U.S. Air Force
Michael Sakimura - U.S. Navy
Captain Raymond Sonoda - U.S. Air Force
Michael Sutorus - U.S. Navy
Colonel David Uyematsu - U.S. Army (Ret)
Friends of JAVA
Dr. Christomper Gullen
JAVA offers a heartfelt thanks to our generous members and friends for their gifts, memorials and tributes given in support of our mission, events and scholarships. We are truly grateful.
Sheldon Henderson - Operations
Mark Nakagawa- Ranger Grant Hyrabayashi Scholarship
Mark Nakagawa - Dr. Americo Bugliani Scholarship
Sheri and Robert Nakamoto - Bob Nakamoto Scholarship
Linda Ujifusa - Operations
RADM Joseph M. Vojvodich - Operations
442nd Hero Lawson Iichiro Sakai Passes
Lawson Iichiro Sakai. Photo: Courtesy of Sakai Family.
Lawson Iichiro Sakai, born October 27, 1923, resident of Morgan Hill, California, passed away peacefully on June 16, 2020. Lawson was born and raised in Montebello, California, moved to Colorado for a short time during WWII before enlisting in the army. He served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit for Japanese Americans. He earned a Bronze Star,a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantryman Badge for his service during the campaigns in Italy and France. Lawson married Mineko Hirasaki of Gilroy, California on April 8, 1946.
Lawson and Mineko opened their own travel business which they ran until retiring in 1990. Lawson founded the Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the legacy of Japanese American veterans. He was active as a leader of the organization, participating in many reunions and tours to Italy and France as recently as 2019.
He is survived by his children Kenneth (Lynda) Sakai, Joanne Sakai (Dallas Foster), Janet (Noriaki) Ito, and Dennis Sakai (Linda Durrin), grandchildren, Kelly (Francesca) Sakai, Nicholas Sakai, Mika Ito (Byron Yamada), Gaku Ito (Aya Ino), Kisa Ito (Erik Fujinami), Stephen Sakai, Kimberlee Sakai (Morad Alvarez), great-granddaughter Mie Yamada, and many other relatives. He is predeceased by his wife Mineko Hirasaki Sakai and by sisters Misako (Perry) Sumida and Mieko Sakai.
Private funeral services were held on June 27, 2020 at Gavilan Hills Memorial Park in Gilroy, California. Pending COVID19 restrictions, a memorial service will be scheduled later this year.
Lawson and wife Mineko Hirasaki Sakai when they were awarded the Kunsho from the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco. Photo: Courtesy of Sakai Family.
JAVA Life Member, Major General Arthur Umeo Ishimoto, USAF (Ret), Passes
Tetsuhei Ishimoto (Father), Arthur Ishimoto, Yone (Akimoto) Ishimoto (Mother) on Arthur's departure for Fort Snelling and language school. Photo: Courtesy of the Ishimoto Family.
Major Geneneral Arthur Ishimoto, USAF (Ret). Photo: Courtsey of Ishimoto Family
Major General Arthur U. Ishimoto, USAF (Ret) passed away peacefully in May 2020. He was 97 years old, a Life Member of the Japanese American Veterans Association, and a member of the Military Intelligence Association. He was the sixth of seven children whose parents, Tetsuhei Ishimoto and Yone (Akimoto) migrated to Hawai’i from Yanai City, Yamaguchi Ken, Japan. Arthur enlisted in the US Army in 1943, attended language school at Camp Savage, Minnesota, in early 1944, and graduated from the school at Fort Snelling after it was moved. As a member of the Military Intelligence Service, he served in the Philippines and the occupation of Japan. He joined the Army Reserves after his discharge from active duty and commanded A Company, 100th Infantry Battalion. He transferred to the Hawaii Air National Guard and worked as a full-time technician. He rose through the ranks as a communications and radar expert. He is credited with designing the Hawaii Air Defense system which was the first primary air defense system operated by the Air National Guard. He commanded the Hawaii Air National Guard and then was appointed as the Adjutant General for the State of Hawaii in 1982 and retired in 1983. He was the first American of Japanese ancestry to achieve the rank of Major General.
General Ishimoto’s wife, Myrtle, preceded him in death, and he often talked about how he would be reunited with her in Heaven. He is survived by his two sisters, Fumiko Okamoto of Kuliouou Valley, and Marilyn Peterson of Waimea, Hawaii; his daughters Linda (Tom) Inlay of Napa, California and Elizabeth Yamamoto of Honolulu; two grandchildren; and three great grandchildren. He requested a private ceremony for his burial.
Major General Arthur
Ishimoto, Lt. General Joseph Peterson (nephew of Arthur), Herbert Yanamura. Ishimoto and Yanamura were both MIS Veterans. Photo: Courtsey of Ishimoto Family.
Terry Santos, Los Baños Raid Recon Scout, Dies at 99
Terry Santos in the Philippines during WWII. Photo: Courtesy Rescue at Los Baños.
By Bruce Henderson
The lead scout for the 11th Airborne’s Reconnaissance Platoon, Sgt. Terry Santos, a Filipino American born in Hawaii who led his men through the jungle the night before the famed 1945 Los Baños rescue raid and coordinated the opening attack with Filipino guerrillas, died of pneumonia on April 3, 2020, in San Francisco, California.
Terry passed away six months shy of his 100th birthday, a milestone he fully intended to celebrate. But he was the first to acknowledge that his last 75 years were made possible, in part, thanks to a brash lieutenant who pulled rank on him.
After the Philippines campaign ended, Terry boarded a C-47 transport carrying other Army personnel headed to Okinawa, where the last major ground campaign of the war was still being fought. Recon Platoon Lt. George Skau arrived late and found there were no empty seats. He ordered Santos to give up his seat. The plane took off, and upon approaching Okinawa, which was obscured by smoke, it crashed into a mountainside, killing Lt. Skau and everyone else aboard.
Recalling the incident years later, Terry shrugged, "I was in no hurry to get to Okinawa anyway."
Terry was awarded the Silver Star, the nation's third highest military decoration, for his role in the Feb. 19, 1945 rescue of 2,147 American and Allied men, women and children held for more than three years by the Japanese under deteriorating conditions at the civilian internment camp forty miles south of Manila. Among those liberated that day was businessman Frank Buckles, who when he died in 2011 at age 110 was the last surviving U.S. military veteran of World War I.
"There were many heroes in the Los Baños camp raid but none more worthy of praise than Sergeant Santos," said Henry Muller, Jr., a retired brigadier general, from his home in Santa Barbara, California. Now 103 years old, then Lt. Col. Muller was G-2 Intelligence for the 11th Airborne and a key planner of the rescue operation that took place deep behind enemy lines. "Terry performed his mission perfectly, and unquestionably helped avoid a firefight in the camp in which many of the defenseless internees would have been the victims. The Japanese guards who weren't quickly killed abandoned the camp and fled into the jungle."
When Terry returned home after the war, he attended San Francisco State University on the G.I. Bill and became a hydraulic engineer. He retired in 1986.
During the war, Terry always seemed to be close to the action. That trait didn't altogether disappear in his later years. In 2006, when he was 85 years old, he was leaving a restaurant in broad daylight when he was jumped by a mugger. As the Army had taught him more than 60 years earlier, Santos reacted swiftly to neutralize the threat. He brought up his cane hard between the legs of the mugger, who yelped in pain and went down. Terry then "went to work on him" with the curved end of his wooden cane to make sure he wouldn't get back up, while carefully avoiding the mugger's head because he "didn't want to kill the poor guy."
When the police and paramedics arrived, the only one who required a ride to the hospital was the much younger mugger, who had cracked kneecaps and multiple broken ribs.
"You did that?" a police officer asked the short, elderly man in a baseball cap with the familiar slogan on the front: "World War II Vet: I Served with Pride."
"No," Terry said, "my cane did."
Asked if he wanted to file a complaint against the man being wheeled away on a stretcher, the old Recon sergeant declined. "He's suffered enough."
Terry Santos was the last surviving member of the 11th Airborne Division's Reconnaissance Platoon that helped liberate Los Baños 75 years ago. He is survived by his daughter, Terry Ann Santos.
[Ed Note: Bruce Henderson is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Rescue at Los Baños: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II.]