Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 3, No. 36, July 1, 2021

President's Message 

Gerald Yamada, JAVA President

July will be a busy month for JAVA. There are two important JAVA events in July that I ask the JAVA membership to support. The first event is the second annual Day of Affirmation to be held on July 15 at the World War II Memorial in Washington DC. This date will mark the 75th anniversary of President Harry S. Truman’s review of the returning 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) on the White House Ellipse on July 15, 1946. 

This event is called the “Day of Affirmation” by JAVA because President Truman’s salute to the Japanese American soldiers that "You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice – and you have won…” affirms that all the Japanese American soldiers, men and women, who served during World War II are America’s heroes and removes any doubt that they are loyal citizens of the United States of America. 

The JAVA ceremony will include the presentation of a wreath at the Price of Freedom Wall.  The military escort for this year’s event is LT Caitlin Takahashi-Pipkin, MC, USNR, granddaughter of Kazuo and Fusa Takahashi. Kazuo Takahashi served in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II and passed away in 1977. 

There will be two wreath bearers. One is Tyler Franklin, grandson of Kazuo and Fusa Takahashi. Fusa Takahashi is one of the original co-founders of the Stamp Our Story Campaign that successfully obtained the U.S. Postmaster General’s approval of the Go For Broke Japanese American Soldiers World War II Commemorative Stamp, that was first issued on June 3, 2021.

Ms. Michelle Amano is the other wreath bearer.  Ms. Amano is the granddaughter of Mike Masaoka, whose advocacy work with the government to allow Japanese Americans to serve again in the U.S. military resulted in the creation of the 442nd RCT. He was one of the first to volunteer to serve in the 442nd RCT together with his four brothers, one of whom was killed in action

The Day of Affirmation will be livestreamed via Facebook on July 15, 2021, at 12 noon (EST).  To watch, please visit the JAVA website at www.java-us.org

The second event is JAVA’s first luncheon meeting for 2021 to be held on Saturday, July 24, 2021 at the Peking Duck Gourmet Inn Restaurant, 6029 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041, starting at 11:30 am.  The cost is $30 per person.

The guest speaker for our luncheon is Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Ray L. Oden, U.S. Army Special Forces, who is currently President of the Special Forces Association Chapter XI (SFA Chapter XI), “The National Capitol Chapter.”

At the July 24th meeting, we will also make several JAVA award presentations and announce the 2021 JAVA scholarship winners. After the luncheon, we will convene the annual General Membership Meeting and ask the general membership to approve by-law amendments that have been approved by the Executive Council. The proposed by-law amendments would:

  • Authorize a virtual general membership meeting if a health or safety crisis prevents holding an in-person general meeting;
  • Change the JAVA election of officers procedures to have the votes cast in advance of the general membership meeting instead at the meeting;
  • Authorize the JAVA President to hire an Executive Director in addition to the current authority to appoint an Executive Director;
  • Change the title of Regional Directors to Regional Representatives; and
  • Require Executive Council members and committee members to submit an annual conflict of interest statement.

If you can attend the July 24th luncheon meeting, please make your reservation with Neet Ford at javapotomac@gmail.com

Hope to see you at both events. 


20 Years after September 11, 2001

Captain Wade Ishimoto, U.S. Army (Ret)

By Wade Ishimoto

As we near the 20th anniversary of the horrendous al-Qaeda attack on our homeland, there are those that wonder if terrorism continues to be a threat to our American national security. On September 11, 2001, 2,977 lost their lives to a well-planned and executed attack by 19 terrorists. Since that fateful day, the number of terrorist attacks by foreign terrorists inside the U.S. has been minimal. On the other hand, there have been significant attacks classified as terrorism that were perpetrated by U.S. citizens or legal immigrants.

An example of a foreign terrorist attack is the 2019 Pensacola Air Station attack by a Saudi Arabian Air Force student that killed three and wounded 5. Examples of the latter category include Major Nidal Hassan, who killed 13 at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009; a bombing of the Boston Marathon by two immigrant brothers that killed three but injured hundreds in 2013; and the Las Vegas shooting that killed 59 people. There have also been numerous other mass killings that might be considered terrorism although they may not have had a political motivation.

Terrorism has not disappeared inside America. However, the extent of foreign based terrorist events has greatly diminished thanks to the efforts of our military, intelligence, law enforcement, and security organizations. Our diplomatic initiatives with other countries have also contributed to the diminished threat. Domestically, the judicious application of the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act have played a key role in being able to identify terrorist threats and to act on them before they are perpetrated. JAVA members GEN Paul Nakasone and LTG Michael Nagata (USA Ret) have been at the forefront in preventing acts of terrorism. GEN Nakasone continues to lead the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command providing electronic intelligence, while LTG Nagata retired as the Deputy of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Other JAVA members like MSG Jae Kuen Lee are deployed overseas to stem the tide of terrorism from reaching our shores and to assist our allies in their fights against terrorism. D.C. Air National Guard and JAVA members Renee Lee and Jason Yee were activated to provide security at the U.S. Capitol due to the attempt to disrupt Congress on January 6, 2021. Members of Hawaii’s 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, were also activated to respond to that event.

Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have not gone away, but our counter-terrorism efforts overseas have also significantly reduced the threat to our homeland. However, those two organizations and others continue to pose a threat to other countries. In addition, it is important to remember that there are other non-Islamic extremist groups like the Naxalites in India that also pose insurgent and terrorist threats around the world.

Domestically, we continue to see acts of terrorism and mass killings perpetrated by U.S. citizens that are racially biased, religiously motivated, or have anti-government sentiments on both the left and right, along with deranged lone actors. It is well nigh impossible to stop all acts of terrorism. However, through proper vigilance and reporting of suspicious activity to law enforcement, security, and intelligence organizations, we can reduce the number of incidents and loss of life. We cannot and should not live our lives in fear. As President Franklin Roosevelt once said, “There is nothing to feat but fear itself.” We have proven that we can deal with terrorists and not allow them to rule our lives.

On June 15, 2021, the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism was published. My views on that strategy will be provided in a future edition of the e-Advocate.

The Courage of Ben Frank Masaoka

Remarks by Michelle Amano at the Japanese American Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery (as prepared) on May 31, 2021

Four of the five Masaoka brothers who served in the U.S. Army.  L-R: Ben, killed in action; Mike; Tad, wounded in combat; Ike, totally disabled. Hank volunteered for the 442nd but was transferred to the paratroops. Photo: Courtsey of Michelle Amano.

 By Michelle Amano 

I am honored today to share the story of my Great uncle, Private Ben Frank Masaoka, who is interred here at Arlington National Cemetery, in Section 13- 1. For as long as I can remember my family and I would come here to pay honor to him. He was killed in the Vosges forests after the Lost Battalion rescue. Uncle Ben’s story begins by me telling you about the Masaoka brothers during WW II.When the government issued the call for volunteers for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, five of the six Masaoka boys, without prior coordination between or amongst themselves, all volunteered. 

The eldest, Joe Grant; who was 34, was encouraged not to volunteer so he could remain home to care for his mother. This was also a precaution by the government to ensure that just like in the movie, “Saving Private Ryan”, the government did not want to take the chance of all six Masaoka boys getting killed or wounded. As to the fate of the remaining five:  

  • Ben Frank was killed in action. He volunteered from Idaho, where he had worked as a field hand. 
  • Ike came home 100% disabled from combat wounds. He was drafted into the Army before the War began.
  • My grandfather Mike was slightly wounded. He volunteered while serving as Executive Secretary of the JACL.
  • Henry, the second youngest, served in the paratroops. He lived in Nebraska from where he volunteered for the 442nd. In the 442nd, he served in the Anti-Tank company.
  • Tad, the youngest volunteered from the Manzanar Internment Camp.He was wounded in battle, and was left with a permanent limp.

My great grandmother Masaoka had to endure having one son killed in action,and three others who were wounded in combat. All four received the Purple Heart Medal.

Grandpa Mike has the distinction of being the first Nisei to volunteer. When he volunteered, War department officers chided Grandpa, for they expected Mike to request to be commissioned. Grandpa Mike said, “No. To the contrary, if he were offered a commission he would not accept it.”

Grandpa enlisted as a Private, was promoted to Private First Class a rank he held to nearly the end of the war when he was promoted to Technician 4 th  Grade or Sergeant. His predecessor at Camp Shelby had the rank of Major. Grandpa Mike told a colleague after the war that acceptance of a commission would have carried the wrong message in the Japanese American community.

Uncle Ben served in Company B, 100th Battalion and was subsequently transferred to Company E, 2nd  Battalion. Following ten days of intense fighting to liberate Bruyeres, Belmont, Biffontaine, and other towns, the 442nd  was pulled back to a safe zone for rest, hot showers and hot meals. But this did not happen. Instead, they were ordered the next morning to return to the Vosges forests to rescue a Texas battalion trapped by the Germans. Hitler had personally ordered those trapped to be killed. After five days of bitter combat under conditions of rain, sleet and snow, out of an original 276, 211 Texans were rescued.

This later became known as the “Rescue of the Lost Battalion.” While 211 Texans were saved, the 442nd endured a very high casualty and mortality rate. After the rescue operation, instead of giving the Nisei time to rest in a safe zone, the Division commander once again ordered the 442nd to pursue the retreating Germans. Frontline company and battalion commanders watched their men closely and alternated their assignments between safer areas and high risk assignments. After extended service in the hazardous area, Uncle Ben was assigned to a less hazardous assignment.

One day, Uncle Ben visited Grandpa Mike at his Public Relations office in Service Company, located in a relatively safe area. Uncle Ben told Grandpa he was planning to return to the front line. Uncle Ben told Grandpa, “Ï just wanted to let you know.” Grandpa Mike asked why take the risk, why not stay where you are. Uncle Ben said “Yeah, the Colonel said the same thing. The Colonel said I did not have to go but he would not stop me if I really wanted to go. Uncle Ben said, “The boys on the front line were getting hit hard taking lot of casualties and he felt he ought to be there.” Uncle Ben had made up his mind, and he just wanted to tell Grandpa Mike what he was going to do. Before Uncle Ben left he turned to Grandpa and said, “Here Mike, this is something I made for you.” It was a ring.  In his spare time Ben had carved a hole in the center of a 25 cent piece and had painstakingly beaten it into a plain silver ring with whatever crude tools that were available to him.

Later that evening, after dark, uncle Ben had gone out on a patrol.  The patrol ran into a German ambush. Uncle Ben was apparently shot and his body was not recovered. Grandpa obtained approval to visit the forest area where uncle Ben fought and together with the men of B Company, they searched for Uncle Ben.

Grandpa had hopes that uncle Ben was taken prisoner by the Germans. But when Uncle Ben’s dog tags were found, Grandpa Mike feared that Ben was killed, and not taken prisoner. A couple years after that, Grandpa and the family received an Army report that Ben’s grave was found in the Vosges forests.

The sense of comradeship, Uncle Ben’s sense of obligation to be with his buddies in time of danger was one of the silent hallmarks of the 442nd  Regimental combat teams great combat record. Grandpa Mike almost instinctively knew that this exchange of brotherly love, was Ben’s way of saying goodbye.  While few words were exchanged, this encounter and the memory of it stayed with my Grandpa for his entire life.

Grandpa Mike said he wore that ring as a combination wedding ring and keepsake memory of his brother. After my grandfather’s passing, I too wore the ring for many years as a remembrance of both my uncle Ben and Grandpa Mike. And even in death, Ben and the Masaoka family continued to support our country. Uncle Ben’s death benefits were used by my great grandmother Masaoka to fund an annual memorial scholarship each year over a 25-year period. One of the recipients of scholarship was Cherry Tsutsumida, who later became the first executive director of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation during the planning, construction and grand opening phases of the Memorial in 2001.

I like so many other descendants of the Nisei veterans take great pride in their shining example of bravery, heroism, and sacrifice. Even as our families were unjustly incarcerated by the country of their heart these men still chose to fight and some giving the ultimate sacrifice to their country.

Vietnam Veteran and JAVA Member Tak Furumoto Wants New Yorkers to Know About the Contributions of Americans of Japanese Ancestry

Digital Museum of Japanese History in New York Brochure

Vietnam veteran and JAVA member Takeshi Furumoto is on a mission to bring to life the contributions, both past and present, of Japanese American veterans in the New York area. Furumoto fervently believes in preserving and promoting the stories of individuals of Japanese ancestry who have given back to their American community. For Furumoto, history inspires and reminds us to work hard and do better. A resident and business leader in Fort Lee, New Jersey, a suburb of New York City, Furumoto linked up with others who shared his interest in history and became one of the founding members of the newly formed Japan History Council of New York. The Japan History Council is focused on people of Japanese ancestry who are somehow tied to the New York region and have achieved in academics, politics, sports, music, business, and the military. Furumoto recognizes that much of Japanese American history, especially military history, is centered on the West Coast and Hawaii. However, he is confident that there are threads of the Japanese American experience that can be pulled and tied to New York. Indeed, he believes that New Yorkers and East Coasters, in general, are often ignorant of the Japanese American experience in World War II, and he hopes by weaving the various threads together through the Japan History Council and their Digital Museum of History of Japanese in New York, awareness of the Nisei story will be heightened. Currently, the Digital Museum only features Dr. Sabro Emy, an anesthesiologist and veteran of World War I who also served in the American Red Cross during World War II. Still, the Japan History Council is eager to add the stories of more veterans from the New York area to the museum.

To learn more about the Japan History Council of New York, please visit https://www.jaany.org/, and to learn more about the  Digital Museum of History of Japanese in NY, please visit https://www.historyofjapaneseinny.org/.  If you have a story of a New York Japanese American veteran to share, please contact Tak Furumoto at takfurum@aol.com.

Digital Museum of Japanese History in New York Brochure

Dr. Brian Hayashi, "The OSS & its Asian American Agents during WWII"

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

12:00 pm ET / 9:00 am PT /6:00 am HT

NASIH hosts monthly "Brown Bag Lunches" for members and non-members to learn about current scholarship in the field.

About this event

NASIH presents: Brian Masaru Hayashi, “Race Matters but not in the Way You Might Think: The OSS and its Asian American Agents during World War II”

The topic: Does race matter? Bradley Smith, author of The Shadow Warriors: O.S.S. and the Origins of the C.I.A. (Basic Books, 1983) apparently thought so, highlighting the example of racial discrimination against an American-born Japanese named Hatsumi Yamada who worked for the Research and Analysis section of the OSS in a racially segregated workplace inside the Library of Congress and was excluded from admission to the OSS Headquarters because he wore the wrong racial uniform.

Admittedly, Yamada was an example of racial discrimination but his was the exception, not the rule. Far from a tale of racial discrimination, Asian American Spies shows race mattered to the OSS in ways beyond Smith’s understanding. Asian Americans were specifically recruited into sections such as Secret Intelligence precisely because possession of the correct racial uniform was a minimum requirement to slip behind enemy lines to gather intelligence or to conduct Special Operations’ guerrilla warfare. Race further counted positively in qualifying Chinese American and Japanese American for war crimes investigations on co-ethnics accused of collaborating with the Imperial Japanese forces. For the OSS, loyalty more than race played the determinative factor in their service during World War II.

The event is free. Please register on Eventbrite, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dr-brian-hayashi-the-oss-its-asian-american-agents-during-wwii-registration-157682383253 or click here.

Brian Masaru Hayashi is a Professor at the History Department, Kent State University, in northeast Ohio from 2016 to the present. He was formerly a Professor at Kyoto University in the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies from 1999 to 2016. Before then, he was Assistant Professor at Yale University from 1995 to 1999 with a tenure-track appointment in American Studies, History, and East Asian Studies (courtesy) as well as the co-founder and director of its Ethnicity, Race, and Migration Program. His research work on Japanese Americans resulted in For the Sake of Our Japanese Brethren (Stanford University Press, 1995), winner of the Kenneth Scott Latourette Award; Democratizing the Enemy (Princeton University Press, 2004), winner of the Robert Athearn Award; and his co-edited volume with Yasuko Takezawa, New Waves (Kyoto University, 2004). His new book, Asian Americans Spies is coming out of Oxford University Press in May 2021. As a Stanford University Visiting Researcher, his current research is on the rise and decline of the racialist ideology, the Yellow Peril, 1894 to 1952.

The North American Society for Intelligence History (NASIH) was formed in the summer of 2016 by Sarah-Jane Corke and Mark Stout. Their goal was to encourage and support the study of intelligence history in Canada and the United States and to highlight the accomplishment of those in our field.

Membership is currently open to anyone interested in the historical study of intelligence anywhere in the world but is subject to review. There are currently no costs to join. Click here for more information and to apply for membership.

[EdNote: the above image, text and photo are taken from the Eventbrite posting.]

Military Intelligence In History

Battle for the Aleutian Islands Castner's Cutthroats 1st Alaskan Combat Intelligence Platoon 

Castner's Cutthroats

Article and Photos are Reprinted with Permission from Defense Intelligence Agency Alumni Association Newsletter

The campaign in the Aleutian Islands included the only land battle on North American soil during World War II. Initially, the Aleutians, a remote chain of volcanic islands off the Alaskan peninsula, were of dubious strategic significance for American operations. However, the US considered the possibility that Japan might raid Alaska or even the US mainland. The American public was also concerned once the Japanese had invaded US soil, however remote their location was to the mainland. If the Japanese succeeded in the Aleutians and at Midway, its forces would create a defensive perimeter in the North and Central Pacific.

On May 12, 1942, five Nisei graduates of the first language class at the Presidio arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, to work with the Alaska Defense Command. Led by Sergeant Yoshio Hotta, the team traveled to the Aleutians and then on to other bases in the state. Seven months later, another five would arrive, with a Caucasian language officer.

On June 3, 1942, the day before the decisive naval Battle of Midway, the Japanese attacked Dutch Harbor, a small naval facility in the Aleutian Islands. Over a period of two days, 43 Americans were killed, including 33 soldiers, and another 64 wounded. The Japanese took over the Aleutians’ westernmost island, Attu, and the island of Kiska, which was 180 miles away.

On May 11, 1943, the Americans landed on Attu Island. Meeting little resistance on the beach, the soldiers anticipated a relatively easy mission. However, they were badly mistaken. As they moved further inland, they met fierce resistance from the Japanese, who held the high ground. The frigid weather and the icy mud created harsh combat conditions.

The Military Intelligence Service (MIS) contributed to the Aleutian Islands campaign in several ways. About 16 Nisei linguists served on Attu during the battle there. They translated captured documents, monitored radio transmissions, and made leaflets to drop from airplanes. The work was intense and dangerous. Some soldiers crawled into caves where Japanese soldiers were hiding to persuade them to surrender. After Attu was retaken, MIS linguists interrogated the 28 captured Japanese POWs and translated documents on the spot.

This group of 16 included Private Satsuki Fred Tanakatsubo, a Nisei from Sacramento, CA, who graduated from the Military Intelligence Service Language School in June 1942. Tanakatsubo had been assigned to kitchen and garbage duty at Fort Lewis when he was first interviewed as a potential MIS recruit.

Another small team of MIS linguists participated in the recapture of Kiska that took place on August 15 and 16, 1943, while a separate group worked the Alaska Defense Command headquarters at Dutch Harbor. Thankfully, the recapture of Kiska was farPage 12 less difficult than that of Attu. The Japanese had in fact abandoned the island more than two weeks before the American invasion, and the troops arrived to find the island deserted. Nevertheless, the men confronted other dangers in the form of booby traps left behind by the Japanese.

After about two weeks of intense fighting, on May 29, the Americans finally recaptured Attu from the Japanese. But it was at great cost for both sides. More than 2,300 Japanese soldiers died in the battle. The Americans counted 549 dead, more than 1,100 wounded, and another 2,000 men suffering from disease and noncombat-related injuries, primarily trench foot. Only 28 Japanese were taken prisoner, as over 500 chose suicide rather than be captured.

Castner’s Cutthroats Castner’s Cutthroats was the unofficial name for the 1st Alaskan Combat Intelligence Platoon (Provisional), also known as Alaskan Scouts. Castner’s Cutthroats fought during World War II and were instrumental in defeating the Japanese during the Aleutian Islands Campaign. The unit was composed of just sixty-five men selected to perform reconnaissance missions in the Aleutian Islands during the war.

Colonel Lawrence Varsi Castner

The brainchild of Colonel Lawrence Varsi Castner (1902–49), an Army intelligence officer serving in General Simon Bolivar Buckner’s Alaskan Defense Command, the band was organized to create a unit that was fully functional with only minimal outfitting. Castner chose men skilled at flourishing in the tough conditions of the Alaskan wilderness including the native Aleuts and Eskimos, sourdough prospectors, hunters, trappers, and fishermen. Their background in survival and hunting made them ideal scouts. Hard and dangerous men, they often had names in keeping with their unit’s nickname, such as Bad Whiskey Red, Aleut Pete and Waterbucket Ben. Appreciating their unique talents, Col. Castner did not enforce standard military procedures on his unit. They were given a great deal of freedom in order to get the job done. The name “Castner’s Cutthroats” was given by the military press during the war, but the name preferred by the men was Alaska Scouts.

The commanding officer chosen to lead Castner’s Cutthroats was Captain Robert H. Thompson, a Montana State University football star from Moccasin, Montana.

Captain Robert H. Thompson

Thompson was hugely popular with his men and developed a deep love of Alaska. After leaving the Castner’s Cutthroats, he stayed in Alaska as a guide, hunter, and bush pilot until his accidental death in 1955.

Lt. Earl C. Acuff

He was joined in early 1942 by Lt. Earl C. Acuff, a University of Idaho graduate and rival football player. Acuff had been stationed on a remote Aleutian island to spy on Japanese planes. After several months went by without hearing from him, the army charged Castner’s Cutthroats with recovery of his body. When they found him alive and well, he was quickly transferred to the Alaskan Scouts.

I was living like a king. I was diving for king crab and eating fresh seafood and fowl – wild ptarmigan, ducks, and geese – for dinner. They told me not to break radio sound unless I saw a Japanese plane, so I didn’t. When the Alaskan Scouts came to ‘rescue’ me, they started thinking that maybe they’d like to stay with me.

Castner’s Cutthroats was selected to head reconnaissance missions and helped plan landing zones for amphibious assaults on the Japaneseheld occupied islands. During the American counterattack, Castner’s Cutthroats main mission was to serve as guides and messengers for the Army. However, when battle preparations were being made to invade Attu and Kiska, they warned the Army that wheeled vehicles would not function on the permafrost and the soldiers would need to be outfitted with warm gear and plenty of food, a warning that was largely ignored. Consequently, many soldiers owed their lives to Castner’s Cutthroats for protecting them from the weather and providing them with food.

Adak Island landing strip

One of the major successes of Castner’s Cutthroats was the building of an airfield on Adak Island. The Army Air Forces had lost several planes, not to the Japanese, but to Alaskan weather. In order to shorten the distance between the Japanese and American air bases, an airfield on Adak Island was proposed and Castner’s Cutthroats were sent in to scout for a suitable location. Due to the mountainous terrain of the area, no acceptable site was available. Instead, Castner’s Cutthroats dammed a lagoon and drained it to use the sandy bottom floor as a temporary landing strip. Engineers later came in and improved the area.


Castner retired from the military towards the end of World War II and remained in Alaska. After spending a year as a vice-president of the fledgling Alaska Airlines, he founded a cold storage and wholesaling business in Anchorage and was regarded as an up-and-coming leader of the local business community. This would prove to be shortlived, as Castner died in December 1949.

Earl C. Acuff was the last surviving member of the Cutthroats. He died on 13 February 2013, at the age of 94 in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Pictured from left to right - Ed Walker of Palmer, Alaska; retired Brig. Gen. Earl Acuff of Blacksburg, Virginia; and William “Billy” Buck of Glenallen, Alaska.

[Ed Note: We wish to thank Rod Azama for sharing this story with the e-Advocate.]  

Gerald Yamada's Remarks

(as prepared) at the

Go For Broke Stamp: Japanese American Soldiers of World War II Commemorative Stamp First City of Issue, Los Angeles, California

Image of PFC Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto of Ninole, HI on Go For Broke Forever Stamp to be release on June 3, 2021. 

Hello.  My name is Gerald Yamada. I am president of the Japanese American Veterans Association.

I appreciate the opportunity to join the celebration of the release of the “Go For Broke” stamp that honors the Japanese American, men and women, who served during World War II. 

On behalf of JAVA, let me express our gratitude to the organizers of the “Stamp Our Story Campaign” who had the vision to start this initiative in 2005.  The stamp campaign faced an uphill battle against tremendous odds. The organizers persevered over these many years and finally achieved victory with the U.S. Postal Service’s approval in 2020. JAVA and I are proud to have been a part of this campaign.

The reason why this stamp is important is that this is the first time that all Japanese American, men and women, who served in World War II have been honored for their service. The stamp is our Nation’s way of saying “Thank you for your service.” The stamp honors them as America’s heroes.

The stamp also draws attention to the spirit of the Japanese Americans who served. Faced with the government’s discriminatory actions taken against them and the denial of their constitutional rights, based solely on their ethnicity, the Japanese American men and women, who answered the call to serve, showed their loyalty to America. Their faith in America was not eroded by the distrust or overt prejudice that they faced. They served with honor and valor, in Europe with the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and in the Pacific with the Military Intelligence Service, in the Women’s Army Corp and Nurses’ Corp, and in rebuilding Pearl Harbor. They all embraced the “Go for Broke” spirit that is an integral part of their Japanese heritage. Their spirit is the guiding light for all Americans to follow.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this celebration. 

Nisei Veteran George Oide also Typeset Landmark Hawaiian Dictionary

George Oide pictured in his 90s. Photo: Courtesy of Ralf Oide.

George Oide pictured in his early 20s. Photo: Courtesy of Ralf Oide.

Reprinted with Permission from the Honolulu Star Advertiser

June 13, 2021

By Kacie Yamamoto 

George Kenichi Oide, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and one of the first in Hawaii to use a monotype composing machine for commercial printing, died in Kapahulu on Jan. 27. He was 97.

Born Feb. 22, 1923, in Nuuanu to immigrants from Hiroshima, Japan, Oide was the youngest of nine children. After graduating from McKinley High School in 1941, he enlisted in the Army and was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion-Headquarters Company, serving throughout Europe.

“(My grandfather) looked like this tiny little man, under 100 pounds, but his job was to hold the radio as the forward observer, so he was always right in harm’s way,” said Oide’s grandson, Hailama Farden. “He never complained. Even when he was wounded by shrapnel, he never filed for a Purple Heart. It wasn’t important to him; his dedication and service was most important.”

While in Europe, he met his future wife, Erika Karbe, a German Luftwaffe courier who defected to marry the Nisei soldier. She died in 1999 at age 77.

After the war, Oide enrolled in a typographical apprenticeship program through the Honolulu Advertiser and sponsored by the International Typographical Union, Local 37. He earned an apprentice diploma in 1952 and went on to work for the Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

In 1956, for the first time in Hawaii, the Advertiser’s production department began using monotype equipment, a system for printing by hot-metal typesetting from a keyboard. Oide also typeset the first unabridged Hawaiian language dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Elbert in 1957.

Oide later moved on to Typographers Inc., a typographic and print agency where he would become president and owner in 1983. He retired in 1992.

In 2007, Oide was selected as a Living Treasure of Hawaii by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission but declined the honor. According to Farden, in explaining his decision, Oide often said he “already got paid” for his work and that he didn’t know why he should be honored for doing his duty.

“He’s a great example of someone who had a lot of ethics, good morals,” said Oide’s son, Ralf Oide. “(He was) very patient and very tolerant.”

In June 2019, the French Government bestowed Oide and five other Hawaii Nisei veterans with its highest military and civilian award, La Legion D’Honneur Medal, for their participation in the 1945 liberation of France.

In 2020, he was selected as a Kalani Ali‘i awardee by the Hawaiian Royal Societies for his contributions to both the U.S. military and to the Hawaiian language dictionary. The award will be conferred posthumously to Oide later this year.

Outside of his work, Oide’s passions included writing haiku in English and Japanese, crossword puzzles and sudoku, and fishing. “We grew up eating a lot of fish, and I have really fond memories of doing that,” Ralf Oide said. “I’ve been a fisherman all my life, I was a diver at one time. My kids love to fish. My grandson loves to fish … We’re all into it, and it started with my pop.”

Oide is additionally survived by his son Glenn T. H. (Kathy ) Oide, two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

The article can be accessed online at: https://www.staradvertiser.com/2021/06/13/hawaii-news/nisei-veteran-george-oide-also-typeset-landmark-hawaiian-dictionary/

[EdNote: We wish to thank Wade Ishimoto for sharing this story with the e-Advocate.]  

Revered Hawaii Bishop and Nisei Veteran Yoshiaki Fujitani Dies at 97

When Yoshiake Fujitani served in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II, he visited his dad, who was interned in New Mexico. Photo: Courtesy of Pat Holmes.

Retired buddhist Bishop Yoshiake Fujitani at the office of Buddhist Information Society and Numata Foundation in Honolulu. Photo: Courtesy of Honolulu Star Advertiser/2004

Reprinted with Permission from the Honolulu Star Advertiser and Report for America

June 27, 2021

By Jayna Omaye

Rev. Yoshiaki Fujitani dedicated his life and career to serving the islands’ diverse communities.

As bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii for 12 years, he advocated for inclusivity — passionately working to expand services, while collaborating with a diverse group of religious leaders.

Fujitani died on May 17 at Kuakini Medical Center. He was 97.

Known by many as a visionary and trail blazer, Fujitani cofounded a handful of community nonprofits, including Project Dana, which offers support and care services to seniors; the Interfaith Alliance Hawaii, which represents a wide range of religions in seeking social justice and equality; and the Samaritan Counseling Center Hawaii, which provides faith-based counseling services regardless of religious affiliation.

“He was really accepting,” said longtime family friend Donna Higashi. “He made people feel special. He helped them realize that there’s not one way to do things.”

Born on Maui, Fujitani moved to Oahu and graduated from McKinley High School. As a sophomore at the University of Hawaii during the Pearl Harbor bombing, he joined fellow ROTC members in what would become the Varsity Victory Volunteers. Although his father, a Buddhist priest, was interned in New Mexico, Fujitani wanted to serve his country. Known as the Triple-V, the group was made up of UH students of Japanese ancestry who were initially classified by the government as “enemy aliens,” preventing them from serving in the military. They volunteered to build barracks, smash rocks and do other tasks until the U.S. Army formed all-Japanese units to serve during World War II — the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service.

Fujitani served in the MIS and was sent to Tokyo to translate government and military documents. After returning home from the war, he enrolled at the University of Chicago through the GI Bill and then at Kyoto University to study religion and Buddhism. He was ordained a priest and was appointed as Honpa’s bishop in 1975.

While at Honpa, he created the Living Treasures program in 1976, which recognizes community leaders from all walks of life. Past honorees include musician and kumu hula Robert Cazimero, former UH President Fujio Matsuda and Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui.

“He was a breath of fresh air,” said Alan Goto, an advisor on Honpa’s board who considered Fujitani a mentor. “He just had the personality that people loved him. He was quietly forceful and made his points.”

After retirement, Fujitani remained active in the community, serving as director of the Buddhist Study Center near UH Manoa. He also volunteered with Project Dana and was recognized as a Living Treasure honoree in 1994.

A beloved dad and jiichan (grandpa in Japanese), Fujitani loved spending time with his family. He met his wife, Tomi, in Chicago while attending MIS training school. Her family had been released from an Arkansas internment camp and moved to the Windy City.

Daughter Pat Holmes still loves to tell the story of how her parents met — it was not love at first sight. The pair went their separate ways after the war but reconnected when Fujitani attended the University of Chicago. They wed in 1949 and had three children and six grandchildren. They were married for 70 years before Tomi died last year.

Although work kept Fujitani busy, he always found time to go on outings with his kids and attend his grandchildren’s school plays and dance recitals. Holmes remembers as a teenager taking a family trip to Waianae during the summer. They stayed there for one week and went fishing, which her dad enjoyed.

Holmes also loved her dad’s witty, self-deprecating humor. One of his favorite jokes poked fun at his and other seniors’ hearing woes. When he was on the set of the filming of the local “Go For Broke” movie, he was asked to give a blessing and began it by making fun of his age. 

He enjoyed golfing, bowling, playing tennis and photographing “just about everything,” from family events to Tomi’s ikebana. As he got older, one of his favorite pastimes was sitting on the lanai of his Manoa home feeding the birds, sometimes going through a 20-pound bag of birdseed in a week.

“There was so much that he did, and folks could see how much of an impact he had in their lives. There was that sense of awe,” Holmes said. “We’re really proud of him.”

Fujitani is survived by daughters Pat Holmes and Maya Togashi; son Stephen Fujitani; and grandchildren Gen, Keala and Kiyomi Fujitani, and Akemi, Satsu and Akira Holmes. Visitation will be open to the public at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 15 at Honpa Hongwanji. A private service will follow at 4 p.m. but will be livestreamed on Honpa’s website. It would’ve been Fujitani’s 98th birthday.

Jayna Omaye covers ethnic and cultural affairs and is a corps member with Report for America, a national service organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

The article can be accessed online at: Revered Hawaii bishop and nisei veteran Yoshiaki Fujitani dies at 97 | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

[EdNote: We wish to thank Jeff Morita for sharing this story with the e-Advocate.]  

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