Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 3, No. 42, December 1, 2021

2021 Veterans Day Ceremony 

JAVA Vice President Howard High served as emcee at the 2021 Veterans Day Ceremony. Photo: Nicole Yamada.

Due to ongoing public health concerns, the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), along with the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF), kept to a virtual format for their annual Veterans Day Ceremony on Thursday, November 11th, at the National Japanese American Memorial in Washington, DC. 

With a backdrop of the granite Memorial wall and cherry trees beginning to show their autumn colors, JAVA Vice President and U.S. Army Veteran, Howard High, welcomed viewers and noted that the JAVA/NJAMF Veterans Day Program was selected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a regional observance site. High then introduced JAVA President Gerald Yamada, who in his remarks (printed below) emphasized the immense debt of gratitude owed to veterans by all Americans. He also called to mind the immense debt of gratitude owed to the Nisei veterans who endured prejudice but fought with courage and loyalty. Before Yamada's remarks concluded, he reminded listeners of their obligation: "...the Nisei soldiers created a legacy, from which we have benefited and will continue to benefit. We have a duty to remember and preserve that legacy. Their service made a difference and will continue to do so for our community and for all Americans."

Gerald Yamada, JAVA President, Veterans Day Ceremony, November 11, 2021. National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in WWII, Washington, DC. Photo: John Tobe.

Next, Doug Ichiuji, NJAMF Board Member spoke. After thanking veterans for their service, he reflected on his family wartime experience and his parents' tireless dedication to making the Memorial a reality. Ichiuji recounted that his father's family, like other west coast Japanese American families, were interned during World War II. His father volunteered for the 442nd from the Poston War Relocation Center, proving his unwavering loyalty to the United States, while [his family] sat behind barbed wire and armed guards." Ichiuji continued that the Memorial took the efforts of many, " both my parents, along with their contemporaries, spent countless hours supporting efforts to gain approval and build this Memorial." In commemorating Veterans Day, Ichiuji stressed the Memorial, "stands here to remind us and help us learn from our mistakes so they are never repeated again...that these stories and lessons are passed down through generations to come, as those who sacrificed their lives to pay the way for our freedom was not in vain and are never forgotten."

Doug Ichiuji, NJAMF Board Member. Veterans Day Ceremony, November 11, 2021. National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in WWII, Washington, DC. Photo: John Tobe.

The day's keynote speaker, Colonel Danielle Ngo, Chief of Staff of the Army Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies then took to the podium. COL Ngo highlighted the shared values among Asian cultures of "[f]amily, honor, knowledge, respect, and a strong work and study ethic," and how those values not only create community among Asian military members but also help them become leaders.

Ngo went on to consider the sacrifice of Japanese American service members. In highlighting, Specialist Paul T. Nakamura, the first Japanese American to be killed during the Iraq War, she remarked, "What stood out to me was that his parents had reservations about him joining, much like my mother did for me, but he told them, 'Mom, Dad, I’m so proud I was born in the United States.' That says it all. Selfless service and sacrifice. That is what we honor today." Next Ngo, considered the service of Vietnam War hero, Superior Court Judge Vincent Okamoto. For Ngo the admiration is personal, "I was born in Vietnam, and I owe my existence here to those like him who fought in one of our toughest wars. In Vietnam, he was wounded three times and received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, three Bronze Stars for Valor, and the Vietnam Cross for Gallantry. He is my hero." In concluding her talk, Ngo addressed the next generation, urging them to "answer the call to duty and pick up where our ancestors left off."

Colonel Danielle Ngo, Chief of Staff of the Army Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies. Veterans Day Ceremony, November 11, 2021. National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in WWII, Washington, DC. Photo: John Tobe.

Following the speeches, JAVA President Gerald Yamada presented COL Ngo with a framed image of the USPS Go For Broke Stamp and JAVA Commemorative Coin. Then JAVA Executive Council Member LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret), and COL Ngo placed a wreath before the names of Japanese Americans killed in action during World War II. Before the end of the program, Howard High thanked the speakers and JAVA co-sponsor NJAMF for helping us to honor all Veterans. 

[Ed Note: To watch a slide show of the 2021 Veterans Day Ceremony visit 

https://vimeo.com/648209625 or to watch the program in full, visit

JAVA Facebook https://fb.watch/9p96VwPcHc/ .]

JAVA Executive Council Member LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret), and COL Danielle Ngo, USA, present the wreath in front of the list of Japanese Americans KIA during WWII. Veterans Day Ceremony, November 11, 2021. National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in WWII, Washington, DC. Photo: Nicole Yamada. 

JAVA President Gerald Yamada presents COL Ngo with a framed image of the USPS Go For Broke Stamp. Veterans Day Ceremony, November 11, 2021. National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in WWII, Washington, DC. Photo: Nicole Yamada.

Veterans Day Program Remarks

(as prepared)

November 11, 2021

Colonel Danielle Ngo, U.S. Army

Chief of Staff of the Army Senior Fellow

Center for Strategic and International Studies

Good afternoon and Happy Veteran’s Day!

I want to give special thanks to the Japanese American Veterans Association for inviting me. When I told my family that I was invited and privileged to attend, my sister said, “Do they know you’re not Japanese?” I laughed and said I hope so because I had the fortune to have worked with them in the recent past and wouldn’t think they would forget so soon. My mother said, “They will think we’re all the same anyway.” I told her that I think people are much more sophisticated today to be able to discern differences in cultures, but if not, it wouldn’t bother me because many Asian cultures have commonalities that we can all be proud of. In the military, we gravitate towards each other because there are so few of us and support each other through a different type of community.

I am standing at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism during WWII. It commemorates a dark time in our country of war hysteria and unimaginable prejudice against Japanese Americans, but also commemorates those Japanese Americans who rose above it for love of country and duty, and fought for America during WWII.  It is one of several memorials across the country that honors over 1200 Japanese Americans who died in service during America’s wars. A reminder of those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Today we celebrate a day which originally began as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I.  Since 1954, Armistice Day became known as Veterans Day to honor American veterans of all wars.

On this Veteran’s Day, I want to talk about Japanese American service, past, present, and future. Although I am not of Japanese descent, I have been honored to serve with some of our nation’s Japanese American sons and daughters. I have traveled to Japan in my military capacity and have seen the rich customs and traditions in that beautiful country. There are many cultural values that are the same, that we hold true and dear. Family, honor, knowledge, respect, and a strong work and study ethic. These are the values that I see when I meet Japanese Americans in the service today.

I know that this is a day that we honor our veterans and Memorial Day is a day that we honor our fallen heroes. But for me, you cannot talk about veterans without talking about our fallen veterans too. When I looked at Japanese American military history and saw the names and numbers that served and died during the Spanish American War, WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Grenada, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it doesn’t feel like a small community at all. The weight of sacrifice is enormous. The weight of contribution is overwhelming. Their families will forever cherish the memories and feel pride for their defense of America, no matter how many generations have lived here.

In Asian culture, we respect our past and our ancestors. Our ancestors hold a special place of honor in my family, where usually we have a photo with incense and a special offering of tea, flowers, and fruit in remembrance and gratitude. That’s how we honor the past. Today I want to honor the past of a special service member. Specialist Paul T. Nakamura. He was an Army Reserve combat medic and the first Japanese American to be killed during the Iraq War. A war that I served in but was lucky enough to come home from. SPC Nakamura was not. He died on a highway 20 miles south of Baghdad transporting an injured Soldier when his military ambulance was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. He was an All-American boy, a Boy Scout, a Junior Olympian, a lifeguard, and more. He was described as compassionate, thoughtful, gregarious, and courageous. He was a brother and a son. What stood out to me was that his parents had reservations about him joining, much like my mother did for me, but he told them, “Mom, Dad, I’m so proud I was born in the United States.” That says it all. Selfless service and sacrifice. That is what we honor today.

That was the past but never forgotten. I want to move now to the present where recently we lost a Vietnam War hero, Superior Court Judge Vincent Okamoto. I know JAVA honored him already because he was a JAVA member who recently died. I wanted to mention him because he served in Vietnam. I was born in Vietnam, and I owe my existence here to those like him who fought in one of our toughest wars. In Vietnam he was wounded three times and received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, three Bronze Stars for Valor, and the Vietnam Cross for Gallantry. He is my hero. Every time I meet a Vietnam War Vet, I ask first their wife (to get permission), and then them, if I can give them a hug to thank them and tell them that their sacrifice was not for nothing. They brought families like me to America so we can continue to pay it forward.

During a speech to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, he told the next generation to, quote, “remember and honor those who fought, bled, and died for you. Remember that the blessings and unlimited opportunities we Japanese Americans enjoy today are ours in large measure because we stand on the shoulders of giants; men small in stature, but titans in courage.” Words from a great man and hero.

With those words to the next generation, I will move to the final part of my speech for the future. To those who will hopefully answer the call to duty and pick up where our ancestors left off. Today, there is some anxiety about serving in the military. I hear, and at times feel myself, that this is a different Army. I hear questions like, Is it getting too political? Where is this country going? What about diversity, equity, and inclusion? All good questions but fundamentally, why do we serve? It should be about something greater than ourselves. It becomes what you make of it. It’s the friendships, camaraderie, and experience that you build. It’s the pride of serving and honor that you hold dear.

I hear the debate about the Afghanistan withdrawal and people ask me if it was worth it, because I served there too. A lot of veterans are struggling with that question. What I say to them is, “Feel proud that you answered your nation’s call to duty. Only less than 1% of our nation joins the military, either active or reserves, and veterans make up less than 10% of the adult population. To the Veterans of Afghanistan, you made a difference to your nation by making it a more secure homeland during that time. Be proud of that because I am proud of you.”

To all veteran, thank you for your service, and thank you for those who support our veterans. God bless you and God bless America.

Veterans Day Program Remarks

(as prepared)

November 11, 2021

Gerald Yamada, JAVA President

On behalf of the Japanese American Veterans Association, welcome to our annual Veterans Day Program. 

Today marks the Nation’s 68th Veterans Day Observance. We honor all who have served in the U.S. Uniformed Services. 

I am proud to announce that this year’s JAVA Veterans Day Program has again been selected by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Day National Committee as a Veterans Day observance that “represents a fitting tribute to America’s heroes.” Our program is one of 36 that was selected.

JAVA has sponsored this annual event every year since November 2000, which is the year this Memorial opened to the public. 

Today and every day, we must remember the huge debt of gratitude that we owe to all who have served. For our community, we must never stop honoring the Nisei soldiers who served during World War II. They served mainly in the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe and in the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific. 

They answered the call to serve in spite of the prejudice, war hysteria, and distrust that confronted them. They kept their faith in America. With their personal courage, they proved their loyalty on the battlefields. 

We want to especially honor the 800 Nisei soldiers whose names are inscribed on the granite panels of this Memorial behind me. They died defending America’s freedoms during World War II. 

With their valor, the Nisei soldiers created a legacy, from which we have benefited and will continue to benefit. We have a duty to remember and preserve that legacy. Their service made a difference and will continue to do so for our community and for all Americans. The Nisei soldiers truly are America’s heroes.

On this Veterans Day 2021, we thank all veterans, and all who are serving, for their service in defending our freedoms and in keeping us safe.

Thank you.

Hometown Hero: EC member CAPT (DR) Cynthia Macri, MC, USN (Ret)

CAPT (DR) Cynthia Izuno Macri, MC, USN, (Ret) interviewed on November 11, 2021 by U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin, (MD-08). Photo: Screenshot.

On Veterans Day, JAVA Executive Council Member CAPT (DR) Cynthia Izuno Macri, MC, USN (Ret), was interviewed as a HOMETOWN HERO by U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin, (MD-08). Dr. Macri, who retired from the Navy after 35 years of service, is not slowing down. In the interview, she discusses local initiatives she helps to spearhead tackling veteran mental health, homelessness, and overall wellness. Watch the interview: https://www.facebook.com/RepRaskin/videos/998870764006938.

 PBS Series on Veterans Features CPT Wade Ishimoto, USA (Ret)

CPT Wade Ishimoto, USA (Ret), reflects on maps saved from Operation Eagle Claw, November 4, 1978. Photo: Screenshot. 

PBS, in a 10-part video series produced by Blue Chalk called American Veterans Keep It Close, asks veterans "What did you carry with you in your service and bring back home, and why did that matter? What do those objects mean to you today?" Wade Ishimoto answers those questions in Episode 6: Operation Eagle Claw, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/american-veteran/digital-series/ and https://www.pbs.org/video/in-iran-they-left-hostages-behind-one-veteran-kept-the-maps-7pfcrm/ .

Happy Birthday, Secretary Mineta!

Washington, DC. JAVA national members convey their warmest 90th birthday greetings to Secretary Norman Mineta, JAVA Honorary Chair since its inception in 1992. Mineta’s contributions to the success of America’s multiracial development has no equal. 

He is loved by all for his aspirations, integrity, vision, and accomplishments.  

Born on November 12, 1931, Mineta’s life started like many ethnic Japanese Americans on the Pacific coast: bilingual upbringing with Dad owning a business; four years involuntary confinement at Heart Mountain, WY for the duration of WW II; returned to their home and Dad’s business in San Jose, CA; graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, a business major; mandatory military service in which Mineta served in the Military Intelligence Service with assignments to Japan and Korea; after his discharge in 1956, Mineta began his career job in his family’s insurance business, The Mineta Insurance Agency of San Jose.

Eleven years later, 1967, Mineta accepted the Mayor’s offer to fill a vacant seat on the San Jose City Council. Mineta enjoyed the political life interacting with voters, business leaders who were expanding Silicon Valley industries, modernizing the transportation system, including high speed expressways. Mineta found a fit in politics and politics in Mineta. Four years later, in 1971, the voters of San Jose elected him as their Mayor, the first Nisei to hold a major elected position on the mainland. Three years later, Mineta was elected to the US Congress defeating the eleven-term incumbent from the opposition party. He sponsored or co-sponsored a number of landmark bills, including infrastructure improvements. He organized the formation of the now 80-member Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) which has given congressional members of Asian Pacific ethnicities a more forceful voice in the “people’s house.” Supported by legislative colleagues Bob Matsui and Barney Frank, and U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga, Mineta’s legislative achievements culminated in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which resulted in a national apology for the internment and the payment of reparations to living internees.

Mineta resigned from the US Congress in 1995 after 20 years of continued service. Lockheed Martin Corporation engaged him as a vice president. 

In 1997, Mineta was appointed Chairman of the National Civil Aviation Review Commission. It issued a report on how to reduce air traffic congestion and to minimize the risk of aircraft accidents. He was appointed to the boards of other corporations.  

Mineta is the first Asian American to serve in a US president’s cabinet. In June 2000, President Bill Clinton appointed Mineta as his Secretary of Commerce. Subsequently, in 2001, Republican President George W. Bush appointed Democrat Mineta to serve as Secretary of Transportation. When foreign terrorists attacked the US on September 11, 2001, Mineta was summoned to the White House bunker from where he ordered 4,546 planes be grounded. When the groundswell began to build to retaliate against Arab Americans, Mineta reminded political leaders about the Nisei World War II experience.

On July 10, 2006, Hill and Knowlton announced Mineta would join them. To enhance the effectiveness and ensure the permanence of Japanese American organizations, Mineta also served pro bono on the governing boards of selected Japanese American organizations. From 1996 to 2015, he served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) and since 2015 as its Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He also served as Vice Chair of the Board of Councilors of the US-Japan Council to build strong friendships between the government and people of Japan and the Japanese diaspora population in America. He also served as honorary chair of JAVA since its inception in 1992.

At the US-Japan Council 2018 Annual Conference, Mineta was asked what he would like to advise young men and women who wish to advance their leadership skills. Mineta said young folks have their names and integrity. These assets, plus successful networking, are the key ingredients for success, Mineta said.

Mineta received a number of major awards from governments, professional groups, public and private organizations for advancing their causes. Some of these awards include:

  • In 1995, Mineta received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Medal from George Washington University for contributions in the civil rights movement.
  • In 2003, Mineta was awarded the Panetta Institute for Public Policy’s Jefferson-Lincoln Award for his bipartisan leadership.
  • In December 2006, Mineta received from President Barack Obama the Medal of Freedom, the highest medal awarded by the White House.
  • In 2007, the Government of Japan conferred upon Mineta the Grand Cordon, Order of the Rising Sun.  
  • In November 2001, The City of San Jose named its airport The Norman Y. Mineta International Airport in San Jose.

On January 27, 2018, Mineta received JAVA’s Courage, Honor, Patriotism Award at his residence from then JAVA President Al Goshi and Executive Committee member Rod Azama.

We wish to close this tribute to Secretary Mineta with President Clinton’s remarks cited by Dianne Fukami and Debra Nakatomi at the close of their film entitled Norman Mineta and his Legacy: An American Story. Clinton said “Norm Mineta spent his life both proving by his own achievements that America was working for more and more people but also by trying to give that chance to everybody else. That’s a worthy life. It should be honored, but more importantly, it should be emulated.” 

 Nisei Recognized by American Veterans Center at Honors Gala

Washington, DC. The 24th Annual Veterans Conference Honors Gala, sponsored by the American Veterans Center (AVC) of Arlington, VA, on November 6, 2021, presented the Audie Murphy Award to Yoshio ‘Yosh’ Nakamura of Rosemead, CA, and Jimmy Doi of Atlanta, GA. The program was livestreamed on the AVC's YouTube page. The Gala highlighted a three-day conference, attended by cadets from America’s service academies and high school students, to discuss details of Allied operations during WW II.

Doi, 96, born in Oxnard, CA, was 16 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Jimmy and his family were interned at the Gila River, AZ Internment Camp. During his captivity at the Gila River Camp, Jimmy volunteered but was rejected for service in the Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Army. When the call for volunteers for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was received at his camp, Jimmy volunteered and was accepted as a rifleman. He later served as a Radio Telephone Operator for the G Company commander. Following basic training, he traveled from New York to Holland on the Queen Mary then marched south in France. Jimmy witnessed the terrible destruction and enemy bombing. He also witnessed massive casualties among his comrades. Jimmy was discharged on March 8, 1946. He reenlisted because he was told he would be assigned to the location of his request. Jimmy wanted to locate his parents who were living near Hiroshima, Japan. Jimmy found his parents, who were elated to see him. He then served in Japan until March 2, 1949. He later met his wife, Alice and they settled in Decatur, GA, where they live today.

Yoshio ‘Yosh’ Nakamura was born in Rosemead, CA, in 1925. In the months following Pearl Harbor, Nakamura and his family were confined to the internment camp in Gila River, AZ. In 1943, Yosh volunteered to join the US Army to serve his country and prove the loyalty of his family. He would serve in Italy and France with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He would be awarded the Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Presidential Unit Citation with 1 Gold Leaf Cluster, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Ribbon with 3 Battle Stars.

American Valor: A Salute to Our Heroes highlights the 442nd RCT. In the program, Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, 442nd RCT, MOH, Tokuji “Toke” Yoshihashi, 442nd RCT, and Charles Toyoji Ijima, 442nd RCT, reflect on their experiences. The 442nd segment of the program begins at minute 2:30, https://vimeo.com/644070428/b37ea951ff.  

MOH Spotlight: Private First Class Joe M. Nishimoto

United States Army Private First Class Joe M. Nishimoto was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. Nishimoto volunteered for the 442nd from the Internment Camp in Jerome, Arkansas. Photo Credit: U.S. DoD Public Affairs, "Army Secretary Lionizes 22 World War II Heroes."

Private First Class Joe M. Nishimoto distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 7 November 1944, near La Houssiere, France. After three days of unsuccessful attempts by his company to dislodge the enemy from a strongly defended ridge, Private First Class Nishimoto, as acting squad leader, boldly crawled forward through a heavily mined and booby-trapped area. Spotting a machine gun nest, he hurled a grenade and destroyed the emplacement. Then, circling to the rear of another machine gun position, he fired his submachine gun at point-blank range, killing one gunner and wounding another. Pursuing two enemy riflemen, Private First Class Nishimoto killed one, while the other hastily retreated. Continuing his determined assault, he drove another machine gun crew from its position. The enemy, with their key strong points taken, were forced to withdraw from this sector. Private First Class Nishimoto's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.


JAVA 2022 Election Timeline

In accordance with JAVA’s By-laws, the Nominations Committee will be holding an election for each of the four elected Offices: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary. EC officer candidates and voting instructions will be emailed on January 2, 2022. 

Election Timeline:

  • Slate of Candidates will be presented to the membership on January 2, 2022.
  • Email voting will take place from January 2 to 28, 2022.
  • Proxy email voting will take place from January 2 to 26, 2022.
  • Election results will be announced at the General Membership Meeting on February 5, 2020.

Questions: Please email Nominations Chair Dawn Eilenberger at dawn.eilenberger@java-us.org.


CDR Michael Omatsu, USCG (Ret.),

JAVA Treasurer

CDR Michael Omatsu, USCG (Ret.)
December 13, 1951 – November 4, 2021

With heavy hearts and deepest sympathies, we share the sad news that JAVA Treasurer and Retired Coast Guard Commander Michael Omatsu passed away on November 4, 2021. Michael's keen grasp of issues added much to Executive Committee discussions and decisions. His aloha spirit along with his tenaciousness provided levity while working on complex issues. We will miss Michael and send heartfelt condolences to his friends and family.

Michael Omatsu retired Coast Guard Commander (CDR) with 22 years of active duty service.

CDR Omatsu was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. He attended Kalani High School and earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawai‘i, where he claimed he majored in Surfing and minored in Zoology.

Omatsu spent one semester as a graduate student at Arizona State University, then joined the Coast Guard from Phoenix, Arizona. Upon successfully completing Coast Guard Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned an Ensign and embarked on a career that took him to places he never dreamed about while growing up in Hawai‘i.

While in the Coast Guard, CDR Omatsu’s assignments included service on two cutters and a wide variety of shore units. He earned his master’s degree while assigned to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

In retirement, CDR Omatsu served JAVA as Treasurer and enjoyed spending time with his family. Other interests included archery, Kendo, and playing ukulele. He also completed five Honolulu Marathons.

A celebration of Michael's life was held on Wednesday, November 17, at the American Legion in Olathe, KS, where area JAVA member SGT Miles Samuels, USA (Ret), represented members and friends, (https://www.penwellgabelkc.com/Obituary/206495). The graveside service was held on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, MO, where LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret) represented Executive Committee members, (https://www.herrfuneral.com/obits).


Dr. Takumi Izuno

Izuno family en route to Cairo, Egypt from Hilo, HI, 1965. Back: Mume Izuno, Doris Izuno, Takumi Izuno, Tokio Izuno.  Front: 5 children – Dr. Cynthia Macri (CAPT MC USN-Ret.), Laurel Fagenson (BSN, MBA, MEd), Nancy Izuno (BA, MPhil), Dr. Forrest Izuno, BS, MS, PhD, Christine Izuno-Zwick, BS, MSx2. Photo: Courtesy of Izuno Family.

Executive Committee member CAPT (DR) Cynthia Macri, MC USN (Ret), shared the news that her father, Dr. Takumi Izuno, passed away in early October at the age of 91. The Izuno Family will offer a JAVA Memorial Scholarship in his honor in 2022. An official announcement will follow in the new year. 

Dr. Takumi Izuno was born February 4th, 1930 in Pahoa, Hawaii, the 5th of six children born to Tokio and Mume Izuno who immigrated to Hawaii from Kumamoto, Japan in the early 1900s. Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, his father, an educator, was arrested and scheduled for deportation. Ultimately, however, he was sent to the U.S. Prisoner of War Camp within Camp Livingston, Louisiana, where he was housed with other Japanese, German and Italian prisoners of war. Meanwhile, Takumi, his sister Kigiku (Carolyn), and his mother were incarcerated at Camp Jerome, Arkansas, where 66% of the inmates were U.S. born American citizens of Japanese descent. Takumi completed almost his entire high school education at the camp high school, where he also became an avid baseball player. In 1944, his father was “paroled” and reunited with his family at Camp Jerome and the family was sent to Tule Lake to await deportation to Japan. In the meantime, however, Takumi’s older brother, Tamon enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in South America, allowing them to return to Hawaii. Takumi went on to attend the University of Hawaii, Manoa, where he earned a B.S. degree in Agricultural Education and met his wife, Doris Mieko Sanbei, of Wahiawa. He was drafted in 1951 and served in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Service in Korea, attaining the rank of Corporal, as an interpreter/interrogator.

Originally planning to teach, he was encouraged to pursue a doctoral degree. In 1956, he received a small community foundation scholarship and was accepted to the University of Minnesota where he earned a National Science Foundation Scholarship and completed a Ph.D. in Plant Genetics in 1960. Upon graduating, he joined the faculty of the University of Hawaii’s Hilo campus. Inspired by his mentors including Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Norman Borlaug, he took a sabbatical with the Ford Foundation in 1965 to study the effects on crops, irrigation, and agriculture in the Nile River basin after the completion of the Aswan Dam and remained overseas with his family as an international agricultural consultant to governments and researchers in Egypt, Pakistan, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South, and Central America. Of note, a variety of corn that he developed and named Akbar, rose to become the principal export crop of the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan. He was awarded the University of Minnesota Outstanding Achievement Award in 2010 for his outstanding lifetime of service to increase food production through research in improving plant breeding, adaptation, selection, and introduction among developing countries. He retired in McAllen, Texas after over 50 years of service to humanity. Dr. Izuno is survived by his wife of 68 years, an elementary educator, who served as a substitute teacher and librarian at each of the international or State Department schools that their children attended. He is also survived by his five children, nine grandchildren, and an ever growing number of great-grandchildren. Not surprisingly, the children and grandchildren continue in the tradition as educators, scientists, and engineers. 

Note: The January 2022 e-Advocate will be published on January 15. Happy Holidays! 

Questions or Suggestions: Please contact Neet Ford at javapotomac@gmail.com.

Japanese American Veterans Association:  Address: P.O. Box 341198, Bethesda, MD 20827 I www.java-us.org.