Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol 1 No. 3, July 7, 2019 

Washington Post Reporter Ellen Nakashima "Talked Story" at the Spring Quarterly Luncheon

JAVA President Al Goshi and Washington Post Reporter Ellen Nakashima.  Photo by Mark Nakagawa.

JAVA Vice President Wade Ishimoto served as Master of Ceremony to introduce guest speaker Ellen Nakashima, a Washington Post reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, at the Spring Quarterly Luncheon and General Members Meeting on March 16, 2019.  After acknowledging Ms. Nakashima’s father’s service in the MIS and her uncles’ service in the 100th Infantry Battalion / 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Mr. Ishimoto praised her ability to accurately report detailed accounts of security issues while never compromising government secrets. Ms. Nakashima then took center stage and “talked story” - a term, she explained, from her childhood years in Hawaii when family and friends gathered, reminisced and shared life experiences.

Ms. Nakashima, an exceptional and engaging speaker, told the JAVA luncheon attendees she “never dreamed of becoming a reporter!” Nakashima further explained she always had an intense curiosity about the world and her parents, both social workers, instilled the importance of public service. “I guess reporting scratched two itches,” said Ms. Nakashima.

After graduating the University of California, Berkeley, Ms. Nakashima worked at the campus paper, The Daily Californian. She then moved to Bologna, Italy where she learned Italian working as an au pair and taught English. Several years later, Nakashima, settled in London and completed a Master of Arts in International Journalism at City University.

Back in the states, Nakashima spent five years covering local beats, first for the Quincy Patriot Ledger in Boston, Mass. and then for The Hartford Courant. While at the Ledger, Nakashima interviewed her father to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ms. Nakashima remarked, “the war experience was not something talked about while growing up.” Leaving the past in the past was the prevailing sentiment. That interview provided Nakashima’s father the opportunity to explore his war experiences with his daughter.

In 1995, Ms. Nakashima was hired by The Washington Post to cover Arlington, VA for the Metro Desk. She covered everything from education to county politics before being promoted to cover the Virginia state house in 1996 and then national politics in 1998. From 1999 to 2000, Nakashima worked with Washington Post editor and writer David Maraniss on a book about Al Gore titled, The Prince of Tennessee. Nakashima told us fascinating stories about her interview with Al Gore’s mother, Miss Pauline, and traveling country roads in Carthage, TN with his high school friend Steve Armistead.

Ms. Nakashima’s reflections then turned to the 2001 Pentagon attack. She recounted the surreal experience of reporting amid smoke and rubble at the Pentagon and her “amazement of the scores of volunteers sublimating their shock by helping the wounded.”

 A few months later, the U.S. celebrated the 60th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Ms. Nakashima said her father “couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the anti-Muslim rhetoric and the treatment of the Nisei after Pearl Harbor.” Ms. Nakashima recounted a story around her father’s MIS service and the challenges of having the “face of the enemy.’’ A comparison that for Nakashima’s father brought to light the discrimination Japanese Americans faced during WWII and Muslim Americans faced after 9/11.

Ms. Nakashima and her husband Alan Sipress, also a journalist moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, as Southeast Asia correspondents in 2002. She told our group she and her husband covered the terrorist bombings in Bali, the Muslim insurgencies, SARS, the Avian Bird Influenza and the 2004 Tsunami. Ms. Nakashima also shared an incredible story she experienced in the Philippines. “I received a call in my hotel room that US intelligence had picked-up a group who had taken locals hostage and were planning to kidnap a western journalist. I was told to stay put” and she spoke of how the military attaché in Manila hustled down to Mindanao to move her to a safe house. According to Ms. Nakashima, the incident illustrated how though there is legitimate public debate over the proper bounds of government surveillance, when done properly and lawfully it is just and it has saved lives.

Nakashima concluded her speech by briefly highlighting her recent reporting on Russia’s interference with the 2016 election. Ms. Nakashima offered, that while some have criticized the reporting The Post and other news organizations do as “fake news,” we “strive to report truthfully and accurately.”

Keeping with tradition, the luncheon came to a close with Al Goshi thanking Ellen Nakashima for sharing her story and Wade Ishimoto leading the group in with “God Bless America” in honor of the almost 40th anniversary of Operation Eagle Claw, the failed mission to rescue the American hostages in Iran.


Frank Nekoba, Ellen Nakashima and Ambassador John Dinger.  Photo by JAVA Research Team.

Six 100th and 442nd Veterans Honored with France’s Decoration

L-R:  (front) Royce Higa, Hidenobu Hiyane, George Oide, Clinton Shiraishi, Koichi Tokushige, Paul Watanabe.  (Standing) Catherine Delfino, Guillaume Maman, Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, Governor Ige and Mrs. Ige.   Photo by Morita.

Jeff Morita, Historian

Honolulu, Hawai'i.  On June 1, 2019 a prestigious ceremony at the Hawai'i Convention Center conferred to six 100th and 442nd World War II Veterans the Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest order of merit. Hawai’i Governor David Y. Ige, wife Dawn Amano-Ige, members of the Consular Corps of Hawaii and 150 family and friends of the veterans witnessed the historic knighthood.  Consul General of France in San Francisco, Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, presented individual medals to:

 - Royce Eiko Higa; A “Able” Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion/442nd RCT

 - Hidenobu Hiyane; Headquarters Company, 100th Infantry Battalion

 - George Kenichi Oide; Headquarters Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 442nd RCT

 - Clinton Ikuzo Shiraishi; Headquarters Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 442nd RCT

 - Koichi Harry Tokushige; A “Able” Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion/442nd RCT

 - Paul Sanji Watanabe; 232nd Engineer Company/442nd RCT

Kevin Morita, Choir Director at Kapolei Middle School and the son of Jeff Morita, played soothing ukulele prelude music. The 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Infantry Color Guard presented and retired the colors. Sandy Tsukiyama provided beautiful acapella renditions of Le Marseillaise, The Star Spangle Banner, and Hawai’i Pono'i. Members of the US Army Pacific (USARPAC) provided military escorts for the Honorees. Honorary Consul of France in Hawai’i Guillaume Maman provided the welcome address;  Governor Ige and Consul General Lebrun-Damiens commended the honorees. Theresa Tilley Maman, wife of Honorary Consul Maman, served as emcee. Joint Planning Committee Members included Lynn Heirakuji (Chairperson), Mae Isonaga, Grace Tsubata Fujii, Theresa Tilley Maman, Jeff Morita and community volunteers.

Since 2014, Morita, a retired US Army Sergeant First Class and GG-13, Department of the Army Civilian (40-years total service), has completed and submitted 43 application forms for 100th/442nd Veterans to receive the Légion d'honneur. To date, the Government of France has awarded this prestigious decoration to 23 veterans Morita has assisted. Morita (jeff_kine_57@icloud.com) welcomes any request for assistance.   


Jeff Morita (L) and Awardee Clinton Shiraishi.  Photo by Morita.

A Perspective on Filipino Contributions to the US Army

MG Tony Taguba, USA (Ret)

In 1919, the United States formed the Philippine Scouts under US Army control consisting of ten regiments: seven Infantry, one cavalry, two field artillery with supporting units and the Philippine Commonwealth Army commanded by GEN Douglas MacArthur prior to and during WWII. It was estimated that some 260,000 Filipinos served in the U.S. Army and the Philippine Army including recognized guerrilla units from 1941 to 1946.  

The Filipinos were granted US nationality status (not citizenship since they were territorial citizens) under the US Nationality Act of 1940. After the Japanese surrender in September 1945, several hundred Filipinos assigned to Philippine Scouts units were granted US citizenship.  My father, a Phil Scout, Bataan Death March survivor, and recognized guerrilla was granted US citizenship. Thousands of Filipino soldiers waived that offer.

In February 1946, the 79th Congress passed the Rescission Acts that revoked the Act and the soldiers US nationality status. The law also revoked their active duty status granted under President Franklin Roosevelt’s military order of July 26, 1941 which prevented them from receiving backpay owed during the war. My father received $60.00 after he was repatriated in 1945, but the Army took back $35.40 for “resettlement cost.” Not sure what that meant. His total pay for almost four years of war service was $24.60. His pay was documented in his military record which I have a copy from NPRC. From the time he was granted US citizenship in September 1945, my father remained on active duty until he retired in June 1962.

The Immigration Act of 1990 offered US citizenship to Filipino WWII veterans in which some 28,000 were approved. In 1992, a moratorium was imposed on this law, which also prevented their families from applying for US citizenship. In 2015, President Obama issued an Executive Order to allow families to apply for US citizenship under a parole program. The Executive Order was offered to only 5,000 applicants. I don’t have a current data on the number of applications approved, but I would assume less than 5,000 were received. There was a fee of about $500 for each application.

In sum, the plight and experience of the Filipino soldiers fight under the US flag was rife of injustice and discrimination since the colonial era.  It didn’t just start in WWII, but it is still ongoing to this day. We have some 4,000 veterans appealing for their backpay. Most of them are in their 90s and still hopeful and loyal to the US. [EDNote. We asked MG Taguba to provide his perspective concerning the history of Filipino contributions to the US Army. Filipinos have also contributed to the US Navy and other branches. MG Taguba and Debbie’s son, Major Sean T. Taguba, US Army and an Armor Officer, is currently serving on the Division staff, lst Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. He, his wife and daughter reside in El Paso, TX. He served as tank platoon leader and infantry company executive officer in Iraq. He also commanded an Infantry company in Afghanistan, and Cavalry troop at Ft Bliss, Texas. He graduated as a distinguished military graduate and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army from the University of Hawaii in June 2007.]

Nikkei Serve their Nation in all Wars since the Spanish American War; Filipinos and Chinese Preceded Japanese

Seaman First Class Nisei Nobuteru Harry Sumida, Manzanar hospital. Besidehis cot is a stand on which there were five post card size photos of Johanna.Photo by Ansel Adams

JAVA Research Team

Washington, DC.   Nobuteru Harry Sumida, a Nisei, and eight Japanese nationals who enlisted in the US Navy as seamen were the first Nikkei to serve in the US armed forces. The men all served in the Spanish American War of 1898, when the US declared war on Spain, resulting in US acquisition of Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico, and removal of Spain as a Caribbean power. They were followed by Kenji Inomata, a Japanese national who joined the US Navy in 1906 and eventually received US citizenship. Remarkably, Inomata was the only known ethnic Japanese resident of Los Angeles exempt from the mass internment of those with Japanese ancestry during WWII. Throughout the internment period, Inomata was allowed to continue to reside at his home in Los Angeles.

The Nikkei, however, were not the first Asia Pacific Americans to serve in America’s wars. Filipinos served in the War of 1812 and Filipino, Chinese, and nationals of various southeast and south Asia nations served in the Union and Confederate armies in the Civil War.

From their settlement in the Mississippi delta region of southeast Louisiana, Filipinos served in the army of Jean Baptiste Lafitte and MG Andrew Jackson to defeat the British in Louisiana in 1815. These Filipinos, who had served on the crews of Spanish galleons transporting goods from Manila and Acapulco, jumped ship at New Orleans beginning in 1763. And in 1587, twenty years before Jamestown, Virginia, was settled and 189 years before the US was founded, Filipinos had arrived in Morro Bay, California, located midway between San Jose and Los Angeles.

The first Chinese arrived in the US in 1815 to work on the transcontinental railroad and by the time of the Civil War there were about two hundred living in the eastern US, some working in the cotton fields. About sixty Chinese men served in the Union and Confederate forces in the Civil War and three held corporal ranks commanding white troops. 

Documented Nisei military service in the US began with Nobuteru Harry Sumida who was born in New York City on December 25, 1871. Ansel Adams’s book, Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese Americans, as well as other sources, reports that Sumida was raised by Caucasian foster parents soon after he was born and never knew his birth parents. Educated at New York City public schools, Sumida graduated from a Manhattan high school. He learned Japanese through self-study; he ordered books from Japan and gained proficiency in Japanese literature. He also worked on a sailing ship, which visited Kobe, Japan, but he did not go ashore.   

In 1891 Sumida enlisted in the US Navy and was assigned as a gunner on the USS Indiana. During the 1898 Spanish American War battle in Santiago Bay, Cuba, he received shrapnel wounds in his leg that disabled him permanently and for which he received a monthly government compensation. At the time of his discharge in 1899, his rank was Seaman First Class. In 1904, at age 32, Sumida married Johanna Schmidt in NY.  Ansel Adams’s book noted Johanna died in 1941 and that they had no children. When WW II began, Sumida lived in Temple Sanitarium in Los Angeles. In the 1942 mass evacuation, Sumida was placed in the Manzanar Internment Camp Hospital because of rheumatism in his leg caused by the war wound. In time he was transferred to the Manzanar senior center. 

In addition to Seaman First Class Sumida, eight Japanese nationals served as US Navy seaman in the Spanish American War of 1898. The eight Japanese nationals were among the two hundred sixty seamen who perished when the USS Maine sank in the Havana, Cuba, harbor as the result of an explosion. Some seamen’s bodies and remains were eventually recovered with ten declared missing. The names of the dead USS Maine seamen including the eight Japanese nationals are inscribed on the USS Maine Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. The Japanese nationals who sank with the USS Maine are also listed on the Japanese American War Memorial Court in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, the only location where ethnic Japanese killed in combat in all wars are memorialized.

Also during the Spanish American War of 1898, Japanese nationals Kenji Inomata and his friend, speaking very little English, arrived in New York City as stowaways – jumping overboard and swimming ashore as their ship approached New York harbor. According to the book Pure Winds Bright Moon by Kenji’s grandson, Kinji Inomata, as well as other sources, in 1906 Inomata enlisted in the US Navy as a Third Class Mess Attendant. He traveled the world with the Navy, earning promotions and eventually serving as Steward to captains and commanders who commended him for trust and integrity. After 30 years of service, Inomata retired as Petty Officer First Class and lived in Los Angeles, CA. He also became a naturalized US citizen. However, the date of naturalization is not available. In 1918, he married Genevieve Beckham, who was of Caucasian and African heritage. Following his military service, in 1937, Inomata worked for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. When WW II broke out, Kenji Inomata was exempted from the mass internment and allowed to live a normal life in the home he bought in Los Angeles, although it is not known if he held his job at the LA Department of Water and Power during the war. The Inomata family military service continued as Kenji and Genevieve’s son, Takeo, served in the 442nd RCT.

When the US entered WW I on April 5, 1917 an announcement in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean urged “nationals of Allied countries” to enlist in the Hawaii National Guard as “this would help you obtain US citizenship.” However, the examiner for US Naturalization Service amended the statement; instead, he said “oriental veterans” were not eligible for naturalization, only the “white race” or “African race” were eligible. Nevertheless, a large number of Japanese nationals applied to the Hawaii National Guard. Due to the large number, the Japanese nationals were placed in a separate unit, Company D, with a Japanese national as commander. All written and oral communication were in Japanese. After the war, on November 14, 1919, US Judge Horace Vaughn allowed 400 Japanese national soldiers to be naturalized. Yet when Judge Vaughn’s term ended six years later the territorial government voided his decision. 

Thelong and arduous road for ethnic Japanese and other Asian immigrants to gain naturalizedUS citizenship came to an end in 1952 with the passage of the Immigration and NationalityAct which allowed Asian immigrants to become US citizens.  [JRT thanks AARP (Ron Mori and Ryan Letada); NPSManzanar Historic Site (Alisa Lynch); Pacific Citizen (Susan Yokoyama); Libraryof Congress (William Elsbury); Densho (Tom Okino); and MG Taguba, USA (Ret) fortheir support.]    


Petty Officer First Class Kenji Inomata, naturalized US Citizen

The 838 men in Company D, referred to as “Japanese company”, of the Hawaii National Guard were immigrant Japanese aspiring to become US citizens.  Communications, written and oral, were in the Japanese language.  Photo from Library of Congress.



Ted Tsukiyama, Father of NARA Project

JAVA Research Team

Ted Tsukiyama, 98, died on February 13, 2019 in Honolulu.Tsukiyana was an authoritative historian for the 100th Battalion, 442ndRegimental Combat Team (RCT) and Military Intelligence Service (MIS). This tributediscusses JAVA’s relationship with Tsukiyama, a JAVA member, pertaining to thedigitization of National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) documentson the 100th, 442nd, MIS and a small part of the internment.

When Japan attacked Honolulu on December 7, 1941, Universityof Hawaii ROTC cadets were issued weapons to defend key locations. Twenty-sixdays later, the ROTC cadets were discharged because the government viewed themas enemy aliens. Determined to prove their loyalty, 169 Nisei cadets obtainedthe military governor’s approval to serve as civilian construction laborers tobuild roads and buildings and crush rocks. Calling themselves the VarsityVictory Volunteers (VVV), their espirit de corps and patriotism must haveimpressed Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, who from a distance observedthe VVV at labor. Soon after McCloy’s return to Washington, DC the call wentout in January 1943 for volunteers to form the 442nd RCT. Members of the VVVvolunteered immediately and en bloc. While in basic training at Camp Shelby, MS,Tsukiyama and his colleagues with Japanese language proficiency weretransferred to the MIS for intensive Japanese language training. Following training,Tsukiyama was assigned tothe China-Burma-India theater where his duties included monitoring enemycommunications.  

On one of Tsukiyama’s visits to Washington, DC in early 1990,he engaged Dr. Susumu (Sus) Yamamoto and wife Fumie to visit NARA to make copies of official documents pertaining to the 100th and the 442nd RCT. TheYamamoto’s and Maggie Ikeda, widow of Lt Chick Ikeda, made weekly visits toNARA pro bono for ten years (until health issues prevented Dr. Yamamoto fromcontinuing the work). In all, they sent 25 linear feet of photocopied documentsto the 442nd Veterans, Hawaii. The tremendous value of the copied documents wasrealized for the first time in 1998 when a review produced names and citationsof Distinguished Service Cross awardees who met the criteria for upgrades toMedal of Honor.

In 2002, Tsukiyama proposed to JAVA an arrangementwhereby JAVA would collect the documents at NARA and Tsukiyama would arrangefunding from the 442nd,100th and MIS veterans in Honolulu. LTC Dave Buto, USA(Ret), a West Point graduate and JAVA Secretary, suggested a digitalcollection, which was approved. A team of JAVA researchers and scanners visitedNARA pro bono for eight years, until 2010, to digitize the Nisei military andinternment documents as they related to the 100th, 442nd and MIS. To accessthe NARA database go to  http://www.javadc.org/search.php. Or,go to  https://java.wildapricot.org/Research-Archiveand look for the “Click here" to locate archived documents.

These NARA documents are now accessible to any researcherelectronically from anywhere in the world. Researchers can call for theinformation using key words and dates, a feature not available at NARA. Thisdatabase contributes substantively to achieving the goal of perpetuating thestory of Nisei military experience during WW II. The person with the vision to accomplishthis goal was Ted Tsukiyama, known among JAVA members as the Father of the NARA Project.

Tsukiyama in NARA’s reading room.  Photo by Chosei Kuge.

Maj Richard Noboru Hamasaki, US Army

July 5, 1919 - November 24, 2018

San Francisco, CA. Maj Richard Noboru Hamasaki, 99, died peacefully at his home on November24, 2018. Born in Paauilo, Hawaii, Hamasaki attended McKinley High School, wentto Japan with his parents and returned to Hawaii before the start of WW II. Draftedin March 1941, he was assigned to the 298th Infantry Regiment at SchofieldBarracks, and subsequently the 100th Infantry Battalion. Like other 100th soldiers,he trained at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, and Camp Shelby, Mississippi. The 100thwas then deployed to Salerno, Italy where they joined the 34th Infantry “RedBull” Division.

Hamasaki served in all of 100th campaigns up to the invasion of Bruyeres, France in the Vosges campaign, where he was wounded, thus ending his service in Europe. By this point Hamasaki had received the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, four Purple Heart medals, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for valor and the Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation.  In addition, Hamasaki received a battlefield commission to 2nd Lieutenant. The commission influenced his decision to make the US Army his career choice. He also married Setsuko Nao, a student at the University of Minnesota.  Hamasaki’s next assignment was at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and soon after moved to the counterintelligence corps in Yokohama, Japan.  

When the Korean War broke out Hamasaki was assigned to the 5th Regimental Combat Team in Korea, where he was awarded his second Silver Star. Apparently, in an arrangement with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) he was transferred to CIA while still on active duty status and worked in Tokyo.  In 1965 the CIA assigned Hamasaki to South Vietnam in an intelligence role.

In 1975, having served 20 years in the US Army and 14 years in civil service, with combat duty in WW II and the Korean War and intelligence duty in Vietnam, Hamasaki decided to retire with his wife in the San Francisco Bay Area. He pursued his hobbies of gardening and golf, the latter of which Hamasaki honed to a single digit handicap. He also worked part time as a salesman for noted golf professional, Bob McCaffery. His three children are in the education profession.

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

Japanese American Veterans Association: (202) 494-1978, Address: P.O. Box 341998, Bethesda, MD 20827 https://java.wildapricot.org 

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