JAVA dedicates this issue of the e-Advocate in memory of Executive Committee member, Awards Committee Chair, Finance Committee Member and former Treasurer, Colonel George Ishikata, U.S. Army (Ret), who unexpectedly passed away on December 30, 2021. We are so grateful for the years of George's thoughtful leadership, well-reasoned insights, and warm camaraderie and will miss him greatly. A tribute to George can be found under TAPS at the end of the e-Advocate.
President's New Year Message
JAVA President Gerald Yamada
As we leave 2021, we can look back with a sense of accomplishment in sponsoring programs to support all who have or are serving in the US armed forces, their families, and friends; to honor the legacy forged by the valor and patriotism of Japanese American men and women who served in the United States military during World War II; to advocate on behalf of all Asian American veterans. These JAVA programs are our way of thanking all veterans, and all who are serving, for their service in defending our freedoms and keeping us safe.
We start 2022 with great hope and anticipation that we can build on 2021 and continue to expand our membership and increase our programs. We can do this only with the support of JAVA members, volunteers, and donors.
Thank you for your continued support, with a special thanks to the members of JAVA’s Executive Council – Howard High, VP, Michael Omatsu (deceased), Treasurer, Kay Izumihara, Secretary, Dawn Ellenberger, Marty Herbert, George Ishikata (deceased), Jason Kuroiwa, Cynthia Macri, and Mark Nakagawa, -- and Lynn Mariano, Hawaii Regional Representative and Neet Ford, JAVA’s Administrator. I wish everyone the best in the New Year!!!
Yamada Attends Veterans Day White House Reception Hosted by President Biden
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and JAVA President Gerald Yamada, 2021 White House Veterans Day Reception, Washington, DC. Photo: White House.
As JAVA’s representative to the Veterans Day National Committee, which is a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), JAVA President Gerald Yamada was invited to the White House to meet with President Biden on November 11th.
As a condition of attending, guests had to report to Fort Myers, VA by 6:00 am for COVID testing and were required to wear masks during the entire event. The guests were then transported by police escort to the White House.
When President Biden joined the guests in the East Room, he apologized that the White House did not provide breakfast for the group because of COVID restrictions. He promised next year breakfast would be provided.
During the photo opportunity, the President told Yamada how much he respected “Danny” Inouye. President Biden said that when he was elected to the Senate, “Danny” took him under his wing. The President said that he learned a lot from Senator Inouye. Yamada said that he knew Senator Inouye as a great American and thanked the President for instituting the annual Veterans Day reception at the White House.
As the President shook Yamada’s hand, the President gave Yamada a presidential challenge coin.
After the cookie and coffee reception, the guests were taken by police escort to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, for the annual National Veterans Day ceremony held in the amphitheater. Public attendance was very limited due to COVID restrictions.
The event was hosted by VA Secretary Denis McDonough. President Biden was the main speaker, paying tribute to the nation's veterans and praising them as the "backbone" of America. The year 2021 also marked the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’s 100th anniversary.
In the afternoon, JAVA held its annual Veterans Day program at the National Japanese American Memorial, Washington, DC. The JAVA program can be viewed on JAVA’s website at java-us.org.
JAVA 2022 Election Timeline
In accordance with JAVA’s By-laws, during the month of January, the Nominations Committee is holding an election for each of the four elected Officers: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary. EC officer candidates and voting instructions was emailed to JAVA War Veteran and General Members on January 2, 2022.
1) Slate of Candidates was presented to JAVA War Veterans and General Members on January 2, 2022.
JAVA President - Gerald Yamada
JAVA Vice President - Howard High
JAVA Treasurer - Michael Katahara
JAVA Secretary - Kay Izumihara
2) Email voting takes place from January 2 to 28, 2022.
3) Mail-in voting takes place from January 2 to 26, 2022.
4) Election results will be announced at the General Membership Meeting on February 5, 2020.
Army Center of Military History 2022 Desk Planner Recognizes Nisei WWII Performance
Painting of the 442nd rescue of the trapped Texas Battalion in the Vosges Forests, France, by Charles McBarron.
Fort McNair, Washington, DC. The US Army Center of Military History (CMH) 2022 desk planner cover photo features renowned Army painter H. Charles McBarron’s watercolor of a 442nd battle scene to honor Asia Pacific Island American (APIA) soldiers during WWII. This painting confirms the indomitable fighting spirit of Nisei and other APIA soldiers to protect American Democracy and also confirms Nisei loyalty and patriotism, which were questioned by our government and the American people during WWII.
When WW2 began, Nisei were ostracized as spies and saboteurs for Imperial Japan. Nisei petitioned their government to allow them to serve in combat to prove their loyalty. The War Department agreed, sent over 10,000 Nisei to Europe and over 3,000 to the Pacific to fight sons of their parents’ homeland. When the war ended, no ethnic Japanese was found guilty of having collaborated with the Japanese and no Nisei was court martialed for desertion. Nisei was the only ethnic group that went into combat during WWII to prove their loyalty.
Charles R. Bowery, Jr., Executive Director of CMH, provided JAVA with desk planners for distribution to Japanese American community leaders. JAVA has enjoyed a long history of valued relationship with CMH, including the rollout to the public of Dr. James McNaughton’s book, Japanese Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII.
Description of the painting. In the mid-1970s, the Army commissioned McBarron to select and paint ten of the most fiercely fought battles in United States Army history. One battle scene he selected was the Nisei rescue of the trapped 1st Battalion, 141st Regiment, 36th Infantry (Texas) Division in France.
The Germans had built what they viewed as an impregnable fortress in the Vosges forest as the last defense line to prevent the U.S. 7th Army from invading the German homeland. The Germans built their defense line on high ground protected by formidable terrain, mines, concrete bunkers, machine guns, and artillery. Historians have assured the Germans that since the days of the Holy Roman Empire, no invading force could defeat the power which controlled the Vosges.
The Texas battalion was encircled by superior German forces in the Vosges forest and was doomed for annihilation. After failed rescue attempts by elements of the 36th Division, the 442nd RCT was ordered to attempt the rescue.
Interrogation of the captured German commander revealed Hitler had ordered to kill the trapped Americans, to take no prisoners.
Under conditions of rain, sleet, and snow, the 442nd commenced its attack on October 26, 1944. COL Virgil Miller, the 442nd commander, said the 442nd casualties were 2-3 times the 211 who were left to be saved. On the 5th day, October 30th, the enemy resistance broke, and they fled. This led to the US 7th Army takeover of the Vosges and begin the advance through St. Die to invade the German homeland.
The Nisei were engaged in a series of tough battles, including Monte Cassino in Italy, but the rescue of the Texas “Lost Battalion” stands out as one of the defining moments to confirm Nisei loyalty and patriotism.
Reflections on the GO FOR BROKE Stamp
We now have six months of the Go For Broke Soldiers Stamp in
our lives. The June 3rd, 2021 release and nationwide dedications that followed
got stamp sales going and let people know it is here. People have been buying
and using the stamp, and sharing stories about its significance, its impact,
and about how they are using the stamp.
What follows are two articles, one by Leslie Sakato
(daughter of Medal of Honor recipient, the late George Sakato), and the other
from the Stamp Our Story Committee, with perspectives from a number of people.
One million Go For Broke Stamp sheets were printed in a limited release (no
more will be printed). The USPS does not share sales figures on their stamps,
but anecdotally, it appears that the reception and sales of the stamp are good.
If you have your own stories to share about the stamp (its importance to you
and how you and others you know are using it), please let us know! Email us at email@example.com. We encourage
people to use the stamp and share the Nisei Soldiers Story with others.
In so doing, we honor the proud American legacy of our Nisei Elders.
Stamp Our Story
Remarks to the Stamp Our Story Committee On the Occasion of the Release of the Go For Broke Soldiers Stamp
George Sakato receiving a special postal honor during the release
of the Medal of Honor World War II stamps in 2013. Photo: Courtesy of the Denver Post.
By Leslie Sakato, daughter of the late George “Joe” Sakato 442nd RCT, E Co
I want to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to create the Go For Broke stamp as well as those who worked to get the Go For Broke Stamp issued. I know my father, in heaven, is especially proud and happy for this to be happening. I can visualize the joy on his face.
The attached photo, which is one of my all-time favorites, was taken at the Stockyards Branch of the Post Office at a gathering celebrating the issuance of the Medal of Honor WWII stamps. I believe a reporter from the Denver Post took this photo. Can you imagine the size of his smile if he were holding both the Medal of Honor and the Go For Broke stamps?
My father’s story is not unlike many young Japanese Americans at that time. When his family heard that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, his reaction was shock, disbelief and a need to join Military Service to defend the country he loves, and then followed by Executive Order 9066 deeming him an enemy alien. He was devastated. “Why? I am an American!”
He had extended family in Phoenix who agreed to take them in which made it possible to avoid being sent to an internment camp. So, when he was allowed to enlist, he had added incentive to prove that the Japanese Americans were loyal Americans, who loved their country as much or more than other young American men.
My father always said he enlisted in the Air Force. To his surprise, when they got off the bus for basic training, he asked his DI“Where are the Airplanes?” to which the DI replied“Son, you are in the Army now.” They, needless to say, were in the segregated unit RCT442. My dad was not a natural soldier. He said he couldn’t shoot well, and the rigor of going up and down the mountains in France was so hard that his buddies had to carry his pack for him. He was required to carry his own gun, just in case it was needed. (In his 70’s he learned from his cardiologist that he had a heart murmur which most likely was part of the problem for him back then.)
On Hill 617 when his best friend, Saburo Tanamachi, died in his arms, he started a one man charge up the hill with his Thompson submachine gun. When the Thompson ran out of ammunition, he continued his charge with a German rifle and pistol. He killed seven German soldiers and he and his platoon (who followed his lead up the hill) captured 34.
As his platoon was on en route to rescue the Lost Battalion he was wounded by a mortar shell which exploded behind him. His heavy winter coat tightly folded in his backpack slowed down the shell, which ended up becoming embedded so close to his heart that the doctors felt it was safer to leave it in his chest. Dad spent more time in the hospitals than his actual service time on the battle fields. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on the day of his discharge from the Army.
Once my dad got back from the war, he and his brother, Henry, decided to take a trip across the country before settling down. Henry knew a young man in his unit that lived in Denver. During that Denver stop, my father met Bess Saito who he later married.
Dad talked about how difficult it was to find a job post-war. The anger toward the Japanese was the main problem. He would often wear his uniform to job interview as a way to show his allegiance to our country. He took classes at the University of Denver during the day and worked at the post office at night. He found the Post Office a good place for him. He found another family working at the USPS.
In 2000 my dad’s DSC was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. When the General called to tell him of the upgrade to the MOH my father was speechless. The general wondered if dad had passed out because it took so long for him to respond. This honor allowed my parents to travel across our Nation to MOH events and meet wonderful people.
I think a benefit that few would realize is it gave my father a forum to tell the story of the 442nd. Most vets were amazed at his memory and willingness to share his stories. I loved going with him and watching the students faces as he would talk.
He would always end his talk saying“People say that I am a hero, but I am not. The real heroes are the ones who were not able to come home.” He was proud to be a part of the 442nd, and proud to keep their memory alive.
Remember the ceremony for the Medal of Honor Stamp? When the post office learned that dad was a WWII MOH recipient and a retired postal employee he was invited to the WWII Memorial for the unveiling. That was very special. We even met the Postmaster General.
The most recent blessing is that the Stockyards Station post office was renamed the “George Sakato Post Office” in 2019. It is not a fancy station, but it is the office from which he retired.
I am very grateful to the Postal Service for honoring the Nisei Veterans and for taking such good care of one of their employees.
George Sakato and daughter Leslie. Photo: Courtesy of Leslie Sakato.
HONORING JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS WITH THE GO FOR BROKE FOREVER STAMP
How Americans are Commemorating WWII Nisei Soldiers beyond Veterans Day this Year
Lyndy McGrody and her fiancé Daniel prepare their wedding invitation cards using a photo of the Go for Broke stamp to honor her Japanese American heritage. Photo: Lyndy McGrody.
Less than six months after the U.S. Postal Service ’s unveiling of the first-ever Forever stamp to feature an Asian American soldier, Americans are purchasing the Go for Broke: Japanese American Soldiers of World War II Forever stamp (currently valued at $0.58 per stamp) and sharing it with family and friends in ways that honor U.S. veterans beyond annual events like Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
For Lyndy McGrody, a native of California, the stamp holds a special place in her heart because it represents a part of her identity. As a third-generation Japanese American whose grandmother and extended family were all incarcerated at Heart Mountain, WY, during the war, Lyndy wants to share this unique piece of history with everyone she knows:
“When my fiancé, Daniel, and I went to the post office to buy stamps to send the save-the-date cards and invitations for our wedding next year, I was hoping our post office would have the Go for Broke stamp. I knew from my friend, Wayne Osako, that the stamp had finally been released a few months earlier, and I wanted to support the efforts for the stamp that he spoke with me about in the past, as well as support sharing the history that the stamp carries with others. While no one in my family served as part of the 442nd [Regimental Combat Team], they were still directly affected and brought to different types of battles as Japanese Americans during World War II — my grandfather ’s family was uprooted from their home in California and sent to live and work in Utah, and my grandmother ’s family was sent to Heart Mountain in Wyoming. As a young student, I remember getting to this period of time in U.S. History class and being shocked that the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II wasn ’t mentioned beyond a couple of brief paragraphs. I am hoping the Go for Broke stamp sparks conversations amongst others so more people can learn the history behind the stamp and all the other Japanese American stories it represents.”
For Mary “Missy” Higgins, the connection of the Go for Broke Forever stamp runs deep within her family. Missy is the daughter of U.S. Army Captain Marty Higgins, the commanding officer of the “Lost Battalion” that was rescued by the Nisei Soldiers in France, during the war.
In Missy ’s family, the story of her father is a reminder of the unsung heroes of the war, and a message about acknowledging and supporting the underrepresented members of our community who are facing adversity.
Missy recalls: "I was in a long line at the post office and wasn ’t sure if they had the Go for Broke stamp. I asked a postal employee who was straightening out boxes for sale if they had the stamp. He said yes. The man behind me asked what the stamp commemorated. As I told him the story, the entire line was all ears. Many questions followed and I was proud to share I had known many of these brave men and that they had rescued my father, Captain Marty Higgins, in the Lost Battalion. The stamp will be on all of my holiday cards.”
To Missy, if it weren ’t for the Japanese American soldiers, her father would not have returned home. This is a story of gratitude, from her family to the descendants of those soldiers.
Prior to the release of the Go for Broke forever stamp, veteran Don Miyada (96) of Laguna Beach, and a former member of the 100th Infantry Battalion (A Company) who was drafted while at the Poston internment camp, shared his story with AARP on the "Take on Today" podcast earlier this year.
For Miyada, Veterans Day is another opportunity to remember the bravery of the friends and comrades he had lost during wartimes.
“I think [about] all my friends and acquaintances who have given their lives to the service of their country during World War II,” said Miyada. “That extends from my days at Newport Harbor High School to the 442nd combat team. A lot of my friends at Newport Harbor High School died … and that ’s about 20 of them. Of course, I ’ve had friends and comrades who passed away in the 442nd.”
If it were not for the Stamp Our Story co-founders from California – Fusa Takahashi (93), Aiko O. King (93) and the late Chiz Ohira, who had been incarcerated along with 120,000 Japanese Americans – a Japanese American battalion would not have had a featured commemorative stamp. Thanks to the organization, more people now know the importance of having a stamp to honor the veterans’ legacy.
As the nation honors U.S. military men and women on November 11, Betty Katsura of California echoes the importance of supporting the stamp and tells of her efforts to spread the word.
“I have given the stamps to numerous people in four states. When I present the stamps, I talk about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and the campaign Aiko King and her friends began in 2005 to get the stamp issued. Several people said they would keep the stamps as a souvenir. I tell them to use the stamps, please, so that more people see them and, possibly, learn about the 442nd RCT. Let ’s spread the story for the Stamp Our Story Committee,” said Betty, a friend of Aiko O. King. Betty and Aiko became friends through their work with the Ventura County Japanese American Citizens League.
Betty also share that one local man in her neighborhood was brought to tears while buying the Go For Broke Stamp. “A young woman who works behind the counter told me that the previous day an elderly man went in and asked for the stamp,” she explained. “He could barely talk as he was overcome with emotion, but he told her that the stamp represents the finest and most courageous soldiers. He was so happy that they were finally given some recognition.”
Brought to life after the 15-year “Stamp Our Story” campaign, the Go for Broke: Japanese American Soldiers of World War II Forever stamp honors the 33,000 Japanese American soldiers who served in the U.S. army during World War II. The stamp will be sold on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) website until it is sold out.
Book Signing of the Second Edition of Hello Maggie!
Sandra Tanamachi and Shigeru Yabu at book singing of Hello Maggie!. Photo: Courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.
On Sunday, November 28, 2021, I attended the book signing of the second edition of Hello Maggie! written by Shigeru Yabu and illustrated by Willie Ito. We were all welcomed to the Aratani Room of the JANM by Program Director Joy Yamaguchi. The first edition was published in 2007, which I have a copy of. In August of last year, I saw ABC newscaster David Ono’s touching and emotional YouTube video of Shig Yabu telling David about being incarcerated in Heart Mountain with his parents as a young boy, and how Maggie came into his life. I shared the video with my four siblings and began looking for more books to purchase. At that time, the only copy I could locate was on Amazon and it cost close to $100. That is when I contacted one of my college friends, Sheila Sunada Newlin, who lives in Riverton, Wyoming and had relatives who were placed in Heart Mountain. To my surprise, Sheila knew Shig and gave me his email address. When I contacted Shig and let him know that I was looking for more books, he told me to contact the Heart Mountain Interpretative Learning Center. Shig was surprised when I told him that they were completely sold out! He then contacted Willie Ito to inform him. At that time, I learned that they were working on a cartoon based on Hello Maggie!
The 2021 edition of Hello Maggie! proudly includes six additional pages with information about the 100th Battalion, 442nd RCT, and MIS, as Shig’s uncle, Sam Horishige, served in the 442nd. So there was a special flag placed in their barrack’s window to signify that they had a family member in the military. It was a privilege and honor for me to be asked to read the six new pages during the reading to the audience. Three siblings, Darrell Kunitomi, Kerry Cababa, and Colleen Teeny Miyano, friends of Shig and Willie, read the additional pages.
In addition, I was asked to inform the audience about our four Tanamachi uncles, Saburo, Goro, Willie, and Walter, who served in the 442nd and about our two uncles on my mother, Kikuko Nakao Tanamachi’s side. One her younger brothers, Taira Nakao, served in the MIS due to his abilities to speak, read, and write in Japanese. Her younger sister, Ikuko’s husband, Nobumasa “Happy” Kitayama, served in the 442nd.
David Ono’s video with Shig in Heart Mountain was shown, and he and his daughter Kaia showed up at the event. It was enjoyable to finally meet Shig and his wife Irene in person after corresponding by email for over a year. The only sad and unfortunate part was that Willie Ito was unable to attend due to being ill and in the hospital. He informed me that he was kept in the hospital for six days. However, I was fortunate to meet Willie in person earlier on June 4th during the unveiling of the GFB Nisei Soldier Stamp in Los Angeles. Willie’s friend, Cinde Fortina, showed us a preview of the upcoming Hello Maggie! The Film.
My family and I sincerely hope that this second edition of Hello Maggie! will be a huge success. It can be purchased from the JANM store and from the Heart Mountain Interpretative Center. We look forward to the upcoming Hello Maggie!The Film which is inspired by the true story of Shigeru Yabu.
December 5, 2021
Hawai'i State Society of Washington, DC Holiday Performance
JAVA member (and former EC member) LTC Rod Azama, USA (Ret), shared a fun photo from the Hawai'i State Society of Washington, DC's holiday performance at the Maryland Veterans Home, where he is a Commissioner.
Anniversary of America’s Entry into World War II; Chinese Americans Awarded Congressional Gold Medal
Chinese American WWII
Veterans Congressional Gold Medal. Photo: US Mint.
By Major General Robert G.F. Lee, U.S. Army (Ret)
On December 7, 2021, America will pay solemn tribute to service members killed during the devastating attack by Japan 80 years ago at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This unprovoked attack drew the United States of America into World War II against Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan. For many countries, World War II was in progress due to aggression and invasion from Germany and Japan as early as 1937. America quickly mobilized to eventually field more than 16 million of her citizens in the Armed Forces to defend her and avoid extinction as a country.
Americans rushed to join the Armed Forces to fight for their country against Germany and Japan. However, for minorities residing in America, joining to fight and participating in the fight was not easy. Japanese Americans were declared “enemy aliens” and not permitted to serve in the military. Japanese Americans already serving in military units were dismissed.
However, America quickly realized that every able-bodied citizen was needed to defeat formidable enemies Germany and Japan. Segregated military units were formed to allow minority ethnic groups to fight for America. The famed 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hell Fighters of African American descent, distinguished themselves in ground combat during WWII. The Tuskegee Airmen comprised of African American fighter and bomber pilots distinguished themselves in the air battle over Europe.
Families of Japanese Americans were rounded up and sent to internment camps because their loyalty could not be trusted and they “looked like the enemy”. This discrimination was extended to other Asian minority groups. Japanese Americans were eventually allowed to fight for America to prove their loyalty while their families continued to be confined in internment camps. With the formation of the 100th Infantry Battalion and later the 442d Regimental Combat Team, this segregated unit of Japanese American soldiers was sent to the European Theater and fought with distinction in North Africa, Italy and France. By the end of WWII, the 442d Infantry Regiment became the most decorated Regiment in the United States Army.
For Chinese Americans, WWII also started before December 7, 1941. Japan invaded China in July 1937 and Chinese Americans came to China’s aid militarily with the American Volunteer Group of the Republic of China Air Force, known as the Flying Tigers. The Americans in the AVG eventually converted to the 14th Army Air Force later in the war. Elsewhere, Chinese Americans were allowed to serve in any branch of the Armed Forces because China was an ally of America during WWII. The majority of Chinese Americans served in the Army and Army Air Forces and integrated well within their units of assignments. Chinese Americans distinguished themselves fighting on land, sea, and air. Captain Francis Wai was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions rallying his soldiers and securing the beach head during the liberation of the Philippines. Rear Admiral Gordon Chung-Hoon was awarded the Navy Cross as commander of USS Sigsby during the battle of Okinawa. Chung-Hoon kept his ship fighting after being hit by a Kamikaze plane. Captain George Lee, Flying Tiger fighter pilot, was awarded the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross for his combat actions in shooting down three Japanese aircraft during WWII. For these contributions, Chinese Americans were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Chinese Americans serving in all branches of the Armed Forces in WWII proved that combat effectiveness was not degraded by their integration. Units remained more than capable of performing their missions. The service of Chinese Americans in WWII served as the vanguard for eventual full integration in the Armed Forces of the United States! In less than three years following WWII, President Truman abolished segregation in the US military in July 1948.
A Japanese American in Hawaii Fights Back Against Prejudice and the Axis Powers
Despite mass hysteria against Japanese Americans, Terry Shima fought for the U.S.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Terry Shima salutes as he is introduced with fellow recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal in the East Room at the White House in Washington
Terry Shima, 98, has never forgotten the day the dive-bombers attacked his homeland. “The island that was hit was Oahu,” he notes. “Our island, the Big Island of Hawaii, was OK. The news came to us by radio. We were all very angry with Japan. Some of the boys in Honolulu looked up and saw Japanese pilots heading for Pearl Harbor. They just couldn’t believe it. There were no reservations about going to the front line to fight Japan.”
Shima had been working as a bookkeeper for a sugar manufacturer. Suddenly, he was regarded by white Americans as the enemy. There was “mass hysteria against all persons of Japanese ancestry. We were viewed as collaborators and saboteurs.” Yet young nisei — second-generation Japanese Americans — like Shima, whose parents had arrived in Hawaii from Japan in 1915, remained intensely loyal. “While the government had given up on the Japanese Americans, we did not lose faith in America,” Shima says.
Many of his fellow Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps, where they had a “huge mental and intellectual shock. They were told this was for their protection.” But people quickly saw the camps were ringed with gun towers — pointing at them.
As government policy changed to allow Japanese Americans to serve in the military, Shima joined the “Go for Broke” 442nd Regimental Combat Team, composed of Japanese Americans. It became one of the most highly decorated U.S. fighting units.
Shima recalls with pride President Harry Truman’s words to the 442nd in Washington in July 1946: “You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice and you won.”
Shima went on to serve in the U.S. foreign service for 30 years. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Citizens Medal. Two facts give him immense pride: “By the time the war ended, no Japanese American had been convicted of helping the enemy. And not a single nisei soldier had been court-martialed for desertion. We came out clean — very clean.”
Alex Kershaw is a best-selling author of several books about World War II, including The Liberator, which became a Netflix miniseries in 2020.
November 8, 2021
French Chevalier Ceremony at Punchbowl
The Lady Columbia Statue overlooking the reflecting pool. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Photo: Kana Morita.
By Jeff Morita
November 8, 2021 (Honolulu) — A historic event took place on
a beautiful Hawai’i trade breeze and sunny morning, in front of the majestic Lady Columbia Statue overlooking the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
(Punchbowl). The Republic of France presented Chevalier medals to family
representatives of six World War II Nisei veterans of the 442nd Regimental
Combat Team. Each veteran played a direct role in the liberation of
France in World War II. Mr. Frederic Jung, Consul General of France in
San Francisco, Mr. Guillaume Maman, Honorary Consul of France in Hawai’i, and
staff members hosted the presentation. Senior members representing the
various Hawai’i Nisei organizations and a small number of invited guests
attended a COVID-19 scaled down celebration postponed for over one year.
The French Chevalier is the country’s highest order of merit, both
military and civil, and established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.
The following six French Chevaliers (Knights) (listed
alphabetically) were inducted into the “Chevalier dans l’Ordre national de la
French Chevalier Hajime Miyamoto. Photo: Courtesy of Miyamoto Family.
Mr. Hajime Miyamoto, a retired experimentalist for the former Hawaii Sugar Planters Association, was born on October 11, 1918 in Kawainui, Pepeekeo, (then) Territory of Hawai’i. On March 27, 1943 Miyamoto was inducted into the U.S. Army at Hilo, Hawai’i, ToH, and received training as a medical aid man and in infantry tactics at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Miyamoto was one of three medical aid men initially assigned to G "George" Company, 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He was later assigned to the Medical Detachment, Headquarters Company, 442nd RCT and at wars end attained the rank of Technician 5th Class. Throughout Miyamoto’s tenure in the European Theater of Operation, he unhesitatingly rendered life-saving medical aid to his brothers-in-arms. During the epic rescue of the lost ’Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains Miyamoto while under fire, rushed to treat a wounded comrade. When enemy machine-gun fire was directed at his position he shielded the wounded man with his own body, then dragged him to safety. Miyamoto was decorated with the Silver Star Medal. The epic rescue is historically listed in the top 10 ground battles of the U.S. Army. Miyamoto served in the Rome-Arno | Northern Apennines | Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps | and Po Valley Campaigns. For his honorable and unwavering military service Tec/5 Miyamoto was a recipient of the 2000 Congressional Gold Medal - Nisei Soldiers of World War II — Silver Star Medal — Bronze Star Medal — Purple Heart Medal — Army Good Conduct Medal — American Campaign Medal — Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal — European-African Middle East Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars — World War II Victory Medal — Distinguished Unit Badge/Citation (currently known as the Amy Presidential Unit Citation) — Combat Medical Badge — and Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. Mr. Hajime Miyamoto at the age of 100 passed away on June 12, 2019 and inurned at the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin, Hilo, Hawai'i.
Kankichi Albert Nakama. Photo: Courtesy of Nakama Family.
Mr. Kankichi Albert Nakama, a retired U.S. Customs Department employee, was born on December 20, 1922 in Honolulu, (then) Territory of Hawai’i. On March 25, 1943 Nakama was inducted into the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, ToH and received infantry tactics training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Nakama was assigned to L “Love” Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and at wars end attained the rank of Technical Sergeant. As a Rifle Noncommissioned Officer, Nakama supervised, trained, directed, and provided health and welfare to forty infantry assault riflemen. Nakama and “Love” Company were the first U.S. troops to enter and liberate Bruyères. Nakama vividly recalled “the Vosges Mountains as really cold — you know, like the Pali (Highway) coming from Honolulu… lots of wooded areas… freezing, close fighting in the mountains — hard because of trees and treacherous terrain but good that you could hide — sitting and waiting in foxholes, when told to go, you GO!” Nakama and ‘Love’ Company and F ‘Fox’ Company were formed into the O’Connor Task Force and engaged the German-line in a sweeping predawn assault. Vicious hand-to-hand combat was a common place and the TF was a resounding success routing the Germans. Nakama was next directly involved in the epic rescue of the lost ’Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains, historically listed in the top 10 ground battles of the U.S. Army. Nakama served in the Rome-Arno | Northern Apennines | Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps | and Po Valley Campaigns. For his honorable and unwavering military service he was a recipient of the 2000 Congressional Gold Medal - Nisei Soldiers of World War II — Bronze Star Medal — Purple Heart Medal — Army Good Conduct Medal — Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal — European-African Middle East Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars — World War II Victory Medal — Distinguished Unit Badge/Citation (currently known as the Amy Presidential Unit Citation) with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd award) — Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II — Combat Infantryman Badge — Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar — and Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. Mr. Kankichi Albert Nakama is 98 years old and resides in Kaneohe, Hawai’i.
Hideo Nakayama. Photo: Courtesy Nakayama Family.
Hideo Nakayama, the retired owner of Kunio Florist in Waikiki, was born on February 22, 1922 in Honolulu, (then) Territory of Hawai’i. On March 25, 1944 Mr. Nakayama was inducted into the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, ToH, and received infantry tactics training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Nakayama was assigned to L “Love” Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team as an infantry assault rifleman and mess cook, and at wars end attained the rank of Private First Class. PFC Nakayama’s indispensable and integral combat support ensure the daily and essential supply of basic sustenance was made available to his Nisei brothers-in-arms. Without this basic requirement, the assault infantry could not have braved the severe weather and successfully accomplish their primary mission too close with and destroy enemy material and personnel. PFC Nakayama and “Love” Company were the first U.S. troops to enter and liberate Bruyères from German occupation. Shortly later, Nakamaya and his ‘Love’ Company brothers-in-arms along with F ‘Fox’ Company were formed into the O’Connor Task Force, named after the commanding officer, and engaged the German-line in a sweeping predawn assault. Vicious hand-to-hand combat was a common place and the O’Connor TF was a resounding success routing the Germans. PFC Nakayama, L and F Companies were awarded the Distinguished Unit Badge/Citation for their “outstanding accomplishment in combat”. PFC Nakayama was next directly involved in the epic rescue of the lost ’Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains, historically listed in the top 10 ground battles of the U.S. Army. PFC Nakayama served in the Rome-Arno | Northern Apennines | Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps | and Po Valley Campaigns, and attained the rank of Private First Class . For his honorable and unwavering military service PFC Nakayama was a recipient of the 2000 Congressional Gold Medal - Nisei Soldiers of World War II — Bronze Star Medal for World War II service — Army Good Conduct Medal — American Campaign Medal — Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal — European-African Middle East Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars — World War II Victory Medal — Distinguished Unit Badge/Citation with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd award) — Combat Infantryman Badge — Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar — and Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. On December 20, 2019, Mr. Hideo Nakayama passed away at the age of 97, and rests eternally at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe, Hawai'i.
Seichi Jonathan Oshiro. Photo: Courtesy of Oshiro Family.
Seichi Jonathan Oshiro, a retired foreman of building maintenance at the Honolulu Post Office, was born on April 18, 1923, Honolulu (then) Territory of Hawai’i. On March 23, 1943 Mr. Oshiro was inducted into the U.S. Army in Maui County, Maui, ToH, and received infantry tactics training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Oshiro was assigned to L “Love” Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team as an infantry assault rifleman. At wars end he attained the rank of Sergeant. Oshiro and “Love” Company were the first U.S. troops to enter and liberate Bruyères from German occupation. Shortly later, Oshiro and his ‘Love’ Company brothers-in-arms along with F ‘Fox’ Company were formed into the O’Connor Task Force, named after the commanding officer, and engaged the German-line in a sweeping predawn assault. Vicious hand-to-hand combat was a common place and the O’Connor TF was a resounding success routing the Germans. L and F Companies were awarded the Distinguished Unit Badge/Citation for their “outstanding accomplishment in combat.” PFC Oshiro was next directly involved in the epic rescue of the lost ’Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains, historically listed in the top 10 ground battles of the U.S. Army. Oshiro was combat wounded twice, the second time on November 1, 1944 in the Vosges Mountains and awarded the coveted Purple Heart Medal with a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd award). PFC Nakayama served in the Rome-Arno | Northern Apennines | Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps | and Po Valley Campaigns, and attained the rank of Private First Class. For his honorable and unwavering military service PFC Oshiro was a recipient of the 2000 Congressional Gold Medal - Nisei Soldiers of World War II — Bronze Star Medal for World War II service — Army Good Conduct Medal — American Campaign Medal — Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal — European-African Middle East Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars — World War II Victory Medal — Distinguished Unit Badge/Citation with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd award) — Combat Infantryman Badge — Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar — and Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. Mr. Seichi Jonathan Oshiro is 98 years old and resides in Honolulu, Hawai’i.
Mr. Takashi “Bolo” Shirakata, a retired employee of City Bank, was born on April 21, 1921 in Honolulu, (then) Territory of Hawai’i. On March 25, 1943 Mr. Shirakata was inducted into the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks, ToH, and received infantry tactics training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Shirakata was initially assigned to Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team as an infantry assault rifleman and radio operator. Shirakata was subsequently assigned to the 206th Army Ground Forces Band as a snare drum musician and attained the rank of Technician Fifth Class by wars end. Although technically in a noncombat support role, the 206th AFGB service members were fully armed, conducted vital guard duties to ensure the security of the RCT's Headquarters, and held in reserve in the event additional combat power was necessary in the RCT's area of operation. Security in a war footing was paramount in order for the RCT's headquarters element to provide effective command and control over its' assigned three infantry battalions, field artillery battalion, combat engineers, medical and logistical staff. Tec/5 Shirakata helped liberate Bruyères and Belmont-Biffontaine. Shirakata was next directly involved in the epic rescue of the lost ’Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains, historically listed in the top 10 ground battles of the U.S. Army. Tec/5 Shirakata served in the Rome-Arno | Northern Apennines | Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps | and Po Valley Campaigns. For his honorable and unwavering military service Tec/5 Shirakata was a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal - Nisei Soldiers of World War II — Army Good Conduct Medal — American Campaign Medal — Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal — European-African Middle East Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars — World War II Victory Medal — Distinguished Unit Badge/Citation with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd award) — Expert Badge with Rifle and Pistol Bars — and Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. On December 4, 2020, Mr. Takashi Shirakata passed away at the age of 99, and rests eternally at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Hawai'i.
* Available records indicate Mr. Shirakata may be the first 206th AFGB/442nd RCT veteran inducted into the “Chevalier dans l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur.”
Minoru Tamashiro. Photo: Courtesy Airi Morita.
Minoru Tamashiro, a retired Professor of Entomology Emeritus, University of Hawaii at Manoa, was born on September 16, 1924 in Hilo, Hawai’i, (then) Territory of Hawai’i. On March 24, 1943 Mr. Tamashiro was inducted into the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, ToH, and received infantry tactics training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Tamashiro was also trained in jeep driving and as an 57-mm anti-tank crew-member. Tamashiro was assigned to Anti-Tank Platoon, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), and attained the rank of Private First Class (PFC) by wars end. PFC Tamashiro was directly involved in the liberation of Bruyères and Belmont-Biffontaine from years of German occupation. He was next involved in the epic rescue of the lost ’Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains, historically listed in the top ten ground battles of the U.S. Army. Tamashiro served in the Rome-Arno | Northern Apennines | (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps | and Po Valley Campaigns where he was combat wounded and awarded the coveted Purple Heart Medal. For his honorable and unwavering military service Tamashiro was a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal - Nisei Soldiers of World War II — Bronze Star Medal for World War II service — Purple Heart Medal — Army Good Conduct Medal — American Campaign Medal — Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal — European-African Middle East Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars — World War II Victory Medal — Distinguished Unit Badge/Citation with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd award) — Combat Infantryman Badge — Expert Badge with Carbine Bar — Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar — and Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. On October 24, 2021 Mr. Minoru Tamashiro passed away at the age of 97. He will be inurned at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Hawai'i.
Group commemorative photograph (left to right): Mr. Jules Caron, Public Affairs, Consulate General of France in San Francisco; Mr. Pascal Confavreux, Public Affairs, Embassy of France, Washington, D.C.; Mr. Frederic Jung, Consul General of France in San Francisco; Mr. Karl Okemura, President, 442nd Veterans Club; Mr. Jeff Morita; Ms. Sandy Tsukiyama, vocalist - the Republic of France La Marseillaise, the U.S. Star Spangle Banner, and Hawai’i Pono’i; Mr. Melvin Kaneshige, President, 442nd Legacy Center; Mr. Guillaume Maman, Honorary Consul of France in Hawai’i. Photo: Courtesy of Ann Kabasawa / Clyde Sugimoto.
A shout out and special mahalo nui loa to the ‘Planning Committee’ - Mae Isonaga (Chair) - Karl Okemura - Grace Fujii - Juanita Allen - Wayne Kuwata - Jeanne Omaye.
[Ed Note. Since 2014, Morita, a retired U.S. Army and Department of the Army Civilian (40-years total service) has meticulously researched and submitted 56 comprehensive French Légion d’honneur nomination packets for World War II 100th/442nd Veterans. To date, the Government of France has inducted 36 of the 56 veterans Morita has assisted into the National Order of the Legion of Honour. Morita < firstname.lastname@example.org > welcomes any request for pro bono, public service assistance.]
MOH Spotlight: Second Lieutenant Yeiki Kobashigawa
United States Army Technical Sergeant Yeiki Kobashigawa. Photo: U.S. Government.
Technical Sergeant Yeiki Kobashigawa distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 2 June 1944, in the vicinity of Lanuvio, Italy. During an attack, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa s platoon encountered strong enemy resistance from a series of machine guns providing supporting fire. Observing a machine gun nest 50 yards from his position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa crawled forward with one of his men, threw a grenade and then charged the enemy with his submachine gun while a fellow soldier provided covering fire. He killed one enemy soldier and captured two prisoners. Meanwhile, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa and his comrade were fired upon by another machine gun 50 yards ahead. Directing a squad to advance to his first position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa again moved forward with a fellow soldier to subdue the second machine gun nest. After throwing grenades into the position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa provided close supporting fire while a fellow soldier charged, capturing four prisoners. On the alert for other machine gun nests, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa discovered four more, and skillfully led a squad in neutralizing two of them. Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa 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.
Curriculum Workshop: What Does It Mean to Be An American?
We can't believe that we are almost near the end of the year! We hope that you are enjoying the holiday season. We're kicking off 2022 with a special presentation on our curriculum, What Does It Mean To Be An American? and inviting you to help spread the word among friends and family who are teachers or parents.
On January 22, 2022, we will host a free one-hour Zoom webinar to spotlight key features that even seasoned users may not know about for the What Does It Take To Be An American? curriculum. Please share this email with every educator you know so they can sign up and help get the curriculum into classrooms across the country!
JAVA sends a warm Aloha to our new Veterans as well as new Friends of JAVA.
Gavin Arita, USAF
Richard Egusa, USMC
John FitzGerald, USCG
John (Samurai) Gaboury, USN
Dennis Kim, USA
Roger Miyaji, USAF
COL Danielle Ngo, USA
James Yancey, USMC
Friend of JAVA
JAVA offers a heartfelt thanks to our generous members and friends for their gifts, memorials, and tributes given in support of our mission, events, and scholarships. We are truly grateful.
Anonymous, 2021 Appeal
Michelle Amano, 2021 Appeal
LTC Rod Azama USA (Ret), IMO Jerry S. Azama, Thomas S. Azama,George Matsumoto and Paul Kusunoki
Susan P.V. Bennett, Colonel Virgil R. Miller, 442nd RCT, Scholarship
Joyce Kitaoka Blake, 2021 Appeal
Ian Bloom, 2021 Appeal
Sharon Bodine, 2021 Appeal
Bradley, Arant, Boult & Cummings, IMO Fran Varner, daughter of Key Kiyokazu Kobayashi, MIS
Dawn Carey, IMO Michael Omatsu
Richard Egusa, Operations
Lt Col Toki Endo, USAF (Ret), 2021 Appeal
Eliot Frankeberger, 2021 Appeal
Tak and Carolyn Furumoto, Carolyn Namie Furumoto Scholarship
Tak and Carolyn Furumoto, In Appreciation of David Iwata
Gerihatrix Women's Soccer Team of Fairfax, VA, Dr. Takumi Izuno Family Scholarship
Randall Toshio Hiraki, 2021 Appeal
Rev. Michael Hiranuma, 2021 Appeal
Leona Hiraoka, 2021 Appeal
CAPT Wade lshimoto, USA (Ret), 2021 Appeal
CAPT Homer Yasui, USNR (Ret), 2021 Appeal
Lynn Kanaya, COL Jimmie Kanaya Scholarship
LTC Jason Kuroiwa, USA (Ret), 2021 Appeal
CDR David Lee, USN (Ret), 2021 Appeal
Catherine and Stephen Luette, Major Orville Shirey, 442nd, and Maud Shirey Scholarship
CAPT (Dr) Cynthia Macri, MC USN (Ret), Dr. Takumi Izuno Family Scholarship
Dr. Matthew Mah, Mum Mamoru Arii, 442nd RCT, Scholarship
Martin Matsui, 2021 Appeal - Annual Floral Arrangements for Memorial Day, Day of Affirmation, and Veterans Day
Vincent Matsui, 2021 Appeal
Mark Matsunaga, 2021 Appeal
James McNaughton, 2021 Appeal
Dorothy Miller, Colonel Virgil R. Miller, 442nd RCT, Scholarship
Kathryn Miller, Colonel Virgil R. Miller, 442nd RCT, Scholarship
Randy Miller, Colonel Virgil R. Miller, 442nd RCT, Scholarship
Neal Mitsuyoshi, 2021 Appeal
Peggy Mizumoto, 2021 Appeal
Peggy Mizumoto, IMO Robert Katsumi Mizumoto
Hollis Molden, 2021 Appeal
LTC Heather Moriyama, USA (Ret), 2021 Appeal
Mary Murakami, 2021 Appeal - Memorial Day
LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret), 2021 Appeal - Scholarship
Mae Nakamoto, Robert Nakamoto Scholarship
Michael Nakamoto, Robert Nakamoto Scholarship
Steve and Sherri Nakamoto, Robert Nakamoto Scholarship
LTC Robert Nakamura, USA (Ret), 2021 Appeal
Mike Namba, 2021 Appeal
Christopher Nguyen, 2021 Appeal
Rhia O’Rourke, 2021 Appeal
CDR Jason Osuga, USN, 2021 Appeal
COL Walter Michio Ozawa, USA (Ret), 2021 Appeal
Lester Sakamoto, IMO PFC Sueo Sakamoto, 442nd RCT
John Shimabukuro, 2021 Appeal
Col Dale Shirasago, USAF (Ret), 2021 Appeal
Earl Takeguchi, 2021 Appeal
Sandra Tanamachi, 2021 Appeal
Sandra Tanamachi, IMO Saburo, Goro, and Willie Tanamachi, 442nd RCT, and Walter Taira Nakao, MIS and Happy Kitayama, 442nd RCT
Metta Tanikawa, 2021 Appeal
Julie Tsuchiya, Ishio Founder’s Scholarship
COL Alan K. Ueoka, USA (Ret), 2021 Appeal
RADM Joe Vojvodich, USCG (Ret), 2021 Appeal
Elizabeth Vokac, Colonel Virgil R. Miller, 442nd RCT, Scholarship
Robert Vokac, Colonel Virgil R. Miller, 442nd RCT, Scholarship
Hiro Watanabe, 2021 Appeal - Day of Affirmation
Gerald Yamada, 2021 Appeal
Takashi Yamamoto, 2021 Appeal
CAPT Craig Yugawa, MD, USAF, 2021 Appeal
Colonel George Ishikata Will Be Greatly Missed
Colonel George Ishikata, U.S. Army (Ret). Photo: Civil Air Patrol / JROTC / SFSU.
By LTC Rodney Azama, USA (Ret)
San Francisco, CA. We at the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), will greatly miss our Executive Committee member, Awards Committee Chair, Finance Committee member, and former Treasurer, Colonel George Ishikata, U.S. Army (Ret). It was a great shock and ensuing sadness to learn of George’s sudden passing on December 30, 2021, at the age of 59. Our deep condolences go to his wife Lena, his brother Chikao, and nephew Kameron, their families, the many organizations that George served, and the numerous friends he left behind.
We especially remember George’s dedication, compassion, understanding, and humility. He worked tirelessly for the organizations and causes that he believed in. Colonel Ishikata understood that individuals were the products of their experiences, so he was active in veterans, military, education, and Asian-American groups. He was deeply involved in organizations such as the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), where he was its Pacific Region Commander. George had joined the CAP as a cadet back in 1977 before he started an Army career in 1985 and served in various capacities for over 40 years. At the time of his death, Colonel Ishikata was a Junior ROTC instructor at Abraham Lincoln High School in his hometown of San Francisco.
George was commissioned as an Army officer through ROTC at the University of San Francisco while a student at San Francisco State University. Upon retiring from the Army in 2015 after a career of almost 30 years, he was giving back and helping educate and train those interested in becoming future military officers. Colonel Ishikata was a Military Intelligence (MI) officer and commanded the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion in the Army National Guard. I met him while he was serving as the Chief of the Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) Division, in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Intelligence (OUSDI). He impressed me with his professionalism, knowledge, and experience. Those attributes are reflected in his military decorations – two Defense Superior Service Medals, the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and five Meritorious Service Medals. George served overseas in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
We both appreciated our Japanese-American heritage and became fast friends. In addition to JAVA, George was active in other Asian-American organizations, such as the Federal Asian Pacific American Council and the American Legion Cathay Post in San Francisco. He was caring, selfless, and accomplished, yet humble. Few people are aware of the scope of George’s involvement in numerous organizations and causes – a reflection of his humility and selflessness. Returning to his hometown, Colonel Ishikata was also active in local organizations and was a member of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commission. As a not-out-of-the-ordinary example, on December 18th, George spent the day as a Wreaths Across America volunteer at the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio and then made a presentation to the JAVA EC in a late afternoon virtual board meeting.
Our prayers are with Colonel Ishikata’s family and many friends – especially his beloved wife Lena. George has left us too soon but has left lasting and fond memories. Rest in Peace,George!
Warren Nori Minami
Warren Nori Minami. Photo: Courtesy of Minami Family.
Received from Kristine Minami
Warren Nori Minami, of Potomac, Maryland, passed away at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, on January 9, 2022, from complications resulting from Covid-19. He was 83 years old. Dr. Minami held a Ph.D. in business administration from American University and was a retired senior executive with the International Monetary Fund.
Born in San Francisco in 1938, as a child he was interned at the Gila River Relocation Center in Arizona during World War II. After being released from the camp in 1943, his family moved to Detroit and then settled in Washington, D.C., in 1945. Dr. Minami is an alumnus of Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C., and San Jose State College in California. He served as an Air Force officer from 1962 to 1965.
As a young man, he won numerous awards competing in judo, in which he held a third-degree black belt. He was a member of San Jose State’s storied judo team, competed for a spot on the U.S. Olympic judo team when the sport was introduced in 1964 and took first place in the 165-pound division of the Air Force Worldwide Judo Championship in 1965. He enjoyed playing cards and was an avid golfer, eventually serving as the president of the board of the Bretton Woods Recreation Center. Dr. Minami was also actively involved in the Asian American community. He served on the board of governors of the Japanese American National Museum, was the chair of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, was appointed to the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs under the Ehrlich administration, and was a long-term member of a number of other community organizations, including the Japanese American Citizens League and the Japanese American Veterans Association.
He is survived by his wife, Carol A. Henry-Minami; his children, Wayde R. Minami (Christie), Kristine M. Minami (John Conger), W. Douglas Minami, Peter C. Puleio II, Stephanie M. Puleio (Aaron Whittier), Susan A. Puleio (Larry Shea), and Carla M. Minami; brothers Wayne H. Minami (Arlene) and W.D. “Denny” Minami (Ida); granddaughters Peyton M. Elmendorf, Addison P. Puleio, and Emersyn A.G. Puleio; and grandsons Alexander R. Puleio, Gavin M. Puleio, and Conner J.F. Minami. He is remembered well by numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, his aunt, and many friends around the country and the world. He was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Henry K. Minami and Claire F. Minami.
In lieu of flowers or koden, donations may be made to renal transplant unit of New York-Presbyterian Hospital (https://www.nyp.org/giving, select “other” and designate “renal transplant unit”), the San Jose State judo program (https://giving.sjsu.edu/, select “choose a giving opportunity” and search for “judo” or designate “judo program” in the specific instructions), or a charity of the donor’s choice