Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 3, No. 44, February 1, 2022

Please Join Us!

JAVA Virtual Annual General Membership Meeting & Awards Ceremony

Februrary 5, 2022

4:00 pm EST / 1:00 pm PST / 11:00 am HST

JAVA will host a virtual General Membership Meeting on Microsoft Teams. At the meeting, JAVA General Counsel, Dawn Eilenberger, will announce election results, and the oath of office will be administered followed by an Awards Ceremony. Gerald Yamada will also discuss initiatives and the year ahead. We hope you can join us!



Presented to

Major General Garrett S. Yee, U.S. Army


Presented to

Jeffrey H. Morita


Presented to

Rosalyn Tonai

Executive Director, National Japanese American Historical Society,

San  Francisco, CA


Presented to

Daniel James Brown

If you would like to join the meeting please email JAVA Vice President Howard High at howard.high@java-us.org by Thursday, February 3, 2022, and he will send you a link to join the meeting. We recommend you log in to the meeting 15 minutes prior to the start to allow time to resolve unanticipated connectivity issues.

A Tribute to Col. George Ishikata

by Dr. Emily Murase

JAVA EC Member Colonel George K. Ishikata. Photo: https://cawgcadets.org/wp/?page_id=5535

This world—to what may we liken it?
To autumn fields lit dimly at dusk,
illuminated by lightning flashes.
—Minamoto no Shitago (911-983), translated by Michael R. Burch

Col. George Ishikata was one of these lightning flashes. Though decidedly not flashy himself, George was a shining beacon to our community and, especially, to his JROTC students. The tragedy of George's death at the very end of 2021 has cast a tangible pall on the new year, normally a time of optimism and renewal.

I first met George when I served on the San Francisco Board of Education. In 2010, I became the first Japanese American to be elected to the school board in its 160+ year history. As a candidate, I expressed unequivocal support for the San Francisco JROTC program which had come under attack as public education funding grew scarce. The school board had withdrawn central office funding that paid 50% of the JROTC instructor staffing cost, a requirement of the Army JROTC program to continue receiving support from the federal government. Instead, individual school sites had to make up the difference of roughly $100,000.

In addition, the school board withdrew physical education credit for students in the JROTC program unless and until JROTC instructors secured PE credentials, all at their own cost. This additional credentialling requirement created monumental staffing challenges. It became impossible for several high schools to fund, and staff, their JROTC program with two instructors as required by the federal government.

As a result of these policy changes, several high schools were forced to close down their JROTC programs and student enrollment plunged from a peak of over 1,000 down to a few hundred students. Despite these huge challenges, the dedicated leaders and instructors of the JROTC program, including George, persevered, slowing building back the program that serves ethnically and economically diverse students.

George was beloved by his students at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco. Not only did he serve as their JROTC instructor, he was their mentor, coach, and friend. His students have been devastated by this loss, many of them confronting mortality for the first time. There has been an outpouring of condolences from his colleagues at Lincoln High School and throughout the school district and the larger community.

To those who would like to support George's work with the JROTC, I have created, with the permission of his family, a San Francisco JROTC Sustainability Fund in partnership with George's colleague Colonel Doug Bullard, the director of JROTC programs in San Francisco. Funds will be directed to sustain all aspects of the JROTC program, from defraying classroom expenses, student and faculty program travel, and staffing, if necessary.

We accept donations of any size. Please visit to donate: https://www.gofundme.com/f/remember-george-ishikata.

Please feel free to share this link with those who were fortunate enough to have known George. Yes, we must go on, as he would have had us do. George's spirit inspires us to become, like him, a lightning flash illuminating the fields at dusk, our world.

George's obituary can be viewed here: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/name/george-ishikata-obituary?id=32266790.

Dr. Emily Murase served on the San Francisco Board of Education for two terms, including as President. She currently serves as Executive Director of the San Francisco Japantown Task Force, Inc. Her father, the late Dr. Kenji Murase, was incarcerated in Poston, AZ during the war, and served in the U.S. Army briefly before embarking on a long career as a professor of social work at San Francisco State University.

Basketball Pioneer, Wat Misaka's Jersey Was Retired by the University of Utah

Wat Misaka at Fort Snelling, December 1944. Photo: Courtesy of Nancy Umemura.

By Robert Horsting

As a member of the 1944 and 1947 University of Utah Runnin' Utes basketball team, Wat Misaka helped them win the NCAA and NIT Championships (respectively). These achievements were for him the high point of his basketball career, but it happens he is also the answer to what could make an excellent Jeopardy question: Who broke the color line in professional basketball? Yep, that would be Wat Misaka for the Knicks in 1947! Wat served in the US Army between the two championships.

This past Saturday, January 22, 2022, the University of Utah retired his #20 jersey in a halftime ceremony during the game against the #16 rated USC Trojans, with Wat's family in attendance.


Basketball & the

232nd Combat Engineer Company!

Italian Basketball Match Poster featuring the 232nd Combat Enginners. Photo: Filippo Ferretti.

Dear Japanese American veteran association,
My name is Filippo Ferretti and I’m an Italian guy, I’m contacting you because I’d like to share with all of your veteran this fantastic poster I have found in my grandma basement. It is about a basketball match played by 232nd combat engineers and an Italian team in Brescia, the 7th of June 1945. As you can see in Italian roster you can find my grandpa (F.Ferretti)."

Kind regards,

Filippo Ferretti

[EdNote: The Japanese American roster names have been identified by JRT as

W. Sakamoto - T/5 Wayne T. Sakamoto

B. Kikukawa -  PFC Bert Kikukawa

T. Mizukami - Pvt Takaharu Mizukami

M. Saiki -  T/5 Masuichi Saiki

B. Mizukami - 

M. Tsue - PFC Masami Tsue

S. Hirabayashi - T/4 Suemi J. Hirabayashi

C Kimura -  Pvt Charles N.Kimura

Coach or Allenatore - K. Imori - Sgt Kosuke


If you have information about this basketball match, we would love to hear from you at javapotomac@gmail.com

A Veteran's Memories of Occupied Japan

Edwin Nakasone (first from the left) in Japan, 1947. Photo courtesy of Edwin Nakasone. 

Reprinted with Permission

By Edwin Nakasone, August 16, 2021

Editor’s note: Edwin “Bud” Nakasone served in the U.S. Army as an interpreter during the occupation of Japan in 1947-1948. Born and raised in Wahiawä, Hawai‘i, he witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wheeler Army Airfield and Schofield Barracks on Dec. 7, 1941. He is a retired colonel of the U.S. Army and an historian who has authored books and produced videos on World War II.

Graduating from the University of Minnesota, Nakasone became a long-time member of the history faculty of Century College, White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Currently at age 93, he has documented memories still clear in his mind. Here, Nakasone shares his personal experience in Occupied Japan as one of a wave of Nisei interpreters for the U.S. Army.

* * * * *

As a recent Leilehua High School graduate of 18 years old, I was eager to be drafted and go to Fort Snelling, Minnesota’s Military Intelligence ServiceLanguage School. On Aug. 10, 1945, just days before the war’s end, over 300 eligible Niseis were drafted. Soon we were on our way to training via the Army Transport Service ship.

Though most of the five days aboard I was seasick, the beautiful sight of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge brought swift recovery. And post haste we were on our way to Fort McClellan, Alabama, for basic training. During that time, the Allied forces’ victory over Japan ended World War II on Aug. 14, 1945.

After completing an arduous 13 weeks at Fort McClellan, we then boarded a train headed to Fort Snelling for our language-school training, arriving on Dec. 25, 1945. Hallelujah! Icy cold; snow and ice everywhere. Yet Minnesotans in general were warm, kind, gracious, and accepting of us niseis.

We started Japanese-language classes in March 1946. Since the war was over, the school curriculum had been changed drastically — the emphasis now towards civil, historical, cultural and most important, conversational terminology.

In July 1946, the language school’s location transferred to the Presidio of Monterey, California, when Fort Snelling was disestablished and retired fully as an army post. Our class graduated in early December, returned home to Hawai‘i for a two-week furlough and immediately shipped to Yokohama, Japan, via army sea transport — where I got seasick again on this 11-day journey.

Occupied Japan

My memories of Occupied Japan are vivid. We docked at Yokohama and others began flipping their lighted cigarettes from the deck. The emaciated, poorly clothed dockhands were soon scrambling to recover the precious cigarettes, which presumably might be later sold to others at high prices. Soon after, we were trucked to Camp Zama, the entry camp for newly arrived Occupation soldiers.

The entire metropolitan area was devastated; completely blasted, black, dark, burned out, not a building or house standing, as though a giant super-tornado had swept through the area. I noted bridge railings, metal downspouts that were all ravaged, ripped down to aid Japan’s war efforts. Camp Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, was an old Japanese army camp taken over to house in-coming U.S. Army Occupation troops. I recall the many scantily clad Japanese youngsters hanging close to our mess-line garbage barrels and begging or sneaking a fistful of food from these garbage containers. It was a sad picture to see the once proud, courteous people struggling to eat in order to survive.

Tökyö Scene: My Assignment To 168th Language Detachment

A week later we were transferred to the Nippon Yusen Kaisha, a seven-story brick building close to the Tökyö Central Railway Station, the Imperial Palace and plaza. This was the headquarters of Allied Translator and Interpreter Section, Gen. Douglas MacArthur's language headquarters. Here, we were all tested on our language prowess. Those who did not score highly were assigned to lower-language units of the Occupation forces. I was assigned to be an interpreter for the 168th Language Detachment of HQ, 1st Cavalry Division, commanded by 1st Lt. Wallace Amioka, another Hawai‘i Nisei. I served as an interpreter within this 11-man unit.

We were located close to Tökyö in Asaka town, Saitama Prefecture. I often accompanied MP Jeep patrols to cordon poor unfortunate local girls and women to the U.S. Army Medical Department's prophylactic stations. I hated this type of language duty. Other duties included general interpreting for officers of the 1st Cavalry Division HQ. The more proficient Kibei (U.S.-born Japanese Americans who returned home to the U.S. after receiving their education in Japan) linguists of our unit did court interpreting in Class C trials of Japanese wartime soldiers.

Court trials against Class A and B offenders were generally held in Tökyö Army headquarters.

The Tamanegi Syndrome

The regular tamanegi (round onion) event that saddened me occurred almost every day at Tökyö Central Railway Station. Often, Tökyö dwellers would fold their nice kimono into their furoshiki (carrying bag made of a cloth wrapping), then travel by train into the countryside. They would barter the beautiful kimono for rice and vegetables.

Tearfully, they returned to Tökyö, where the metropolitan police had set up a net and forced them to turn over the excess rice and vegetables; town dwellers were limited to a certain amount of vegetables. Yes, as though they had cut or peeled a tamanegi, survivors shed tears — having bartered their nice kimono for food in order to survive, only to come back and have them taken away.

Travel in Occupied Japan

As Nisei linguists we developed close associations with the Japanese. They often remarked how wonderful it was that we were in Japan as U.S. Army soldiers. We spoke Japanese; we understood the customs, emotions, history, and culture of Japan. We developed close relations with several Japanese families and took specially emblazoned “FOR ALLIED PERSONNEL ONLY” coaches free of charge. Grateful, we shared some of our canned rations that featured hamburger and pork and beans — the Japanese were starved for such delicacies. They reciprocated by providing us excellent Japanese rice and all types of vegetable okazu. We came to know and appreciate the difficult travails of the Occupation-era Nihonjins.

Filial Visits and Going Home

One of the more moving experiences that many Nisei soldiers appreciated were filial visits to known relatives in Japan. My obasan (aunt) wanted me to head to Okinawa and begin the paperwork to have her daughter (my cousin) return to Hawai‘i. In mid-1947, I was able to hop a flight going there and figured out her location. Then, I found a jeep to take us to the military-government headquarters in Naha where I attested that she was born in Hawai‘i, that she was my cousin and that she was thus a U.S. citizen and a Kibei. All the paperwork was approved and she happily returned to Hawai‘i. I went back, too, honorably discharged in July 1948.

The Nakasone family: (from left) sons, John and Paul; wife, Mary; and Edwin. Photo courtesy of John Nakasone.

*This article was originally published in the Hawai‘i Herald on September 18, 2020.


© 2020 Edwin Nakasone

Born and raised in Wahiawa, Hawaii, Edwin Nakasone witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wheeler Army Airfield and Schofield Barracks on Dec. 7, 1941. He is a retired colonel of the U.S. Army and an historian who has authored books and produced videos on World War II. Graduating from the University of Minnesota, Nakasone became a long-time member of the history faculty of Century College, White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

Updated August 2021

[EdNote: JAVA wishes to thank member Rod Azama, a former member of the JAVA EC, for sharing this article with us which he found on the Discover Nikkei website at http://www.discovernikkei.org/es/journal/2021/8/16/veterans-memories/. JAVA also wishes to thank Yoko Nishimura at Discover Nikkei, Jodie Ching at the Hawai'i Herald, and the Nakasone Family for granting permission to reprint.]

JAVA Member and Speaker LTG Thomas P. Bostick, USA (Ret), was named to SAVOY's 2021 Most Influential Black Corporate Directors

Congratulations LTG Bostick! 

LTG Thomas Bostick, USA, (Ret). Photo: U.S. Army Corps Engineers.

Dear Hero!

Thank you note from Timberlake High School Sophmore in Spirit Lake, Idaho.

JAVA recently received a packet of thank you notes from a sophomore English class at Timberlake High School sophomore in Spirit Lake, Idaho (which is 45 minutes north of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and two hours south of Canada). The students had read Farewell to Manzanar, a memoir by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, and with Veteran's Day coming up, their teacher "thought this might be a good way to wrap up the unit and show our appreciation to those who have served us."

Addressed "Dear Hero" and "Dear Veteran" students thoughtfully expressed their heartfelt gratitude for Japanese American soldiers. One particularly earnest one wrote: "...To me, a veteran is someone who is willing to risk their life to save our country. A veteran is someone who leaves their friends, family, and belongings behind. I want to say thank you so much for serving our country and being brave. Thank you for giving our country your time, effort, and love. You are an honorable person, and I really appreciate everything you've done." Another sincere student wrote: "..I would like to thank you for your time and I hope this letter reaches you in high spirits. The sacrifice of your mind, body, and spirit is one that most can't attest to and is one of the most inspiring and motivational legacies one can leave behind...To me, you embody something that not many people understand anymore: sacrificing one's self for the defense of others. I hope this truth is something you take pride in. Thank you for your ultimate gift."

Thank you Timberlake High School!

20JAVA Member LTC Iven Sugai, USA, Retires

LTC Iven Sugai, USA (Ret). Photo: army.mil.

JAVA member LTC Iven Sugai, USA, retired after 28 years of service in a ceremony held on the historic USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor on December 23, 2021. His last assignment was the Director for Combatant Command Integration at the Missile Defense Agency. Iven was selected for a competitive opportunity as a Corporate Fellow at Google. Congratulations Iven!

MOH Spotlight: Kazuo Otani 

Kazuo Otani. Photo: defenselink.mil.

Staff Sergeant Kazuo Otani distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 15 July 1944, near Pieve Di S. Luce, Italy. Advancing to attack a hill objective, Staff Sergeant Otani's platoon became pinned down in a wheat field by concentrated fire from enemy machine gun and sniper positions. Realizing the danger confronting his platoon, Staff Sergeant Otani left his cover and shot and killed a sniper who was firing with deadly effect upon the platoon. Followed by a steady stream of machine gun bullets, Staff Sergeant Otani then dashed across the open wheat field toward the foot of a cliff, and directed his men to crawl to the cover of the cliff. When the movement of the platoon drew heavy enemy fire, he dashed along the cliff toward the left flank, exposing himself to enemy fire. By attracting the attention of the enemy, he enabled the men closest to the cliff to reach cover. Organizing these men to guard against possible enemy counterattack, Staff Sergeant Otani again made his way across the open field, shouting instructions to the stranded men while continuing to draw enemy fire. Reaching the rear of the platoon position, he took partial cover in a shallow ditch and directed covering fire for the men who had begun to move forward. At this point, one of his men became seriously wounded. Ordering his men to remain under cover, Staff Sergeant Otani crawled to the wounded soldier who was lying on open ground in full view of the enemy. Dragging the wounded soldier to a shallow ditch, Staff Sergeant Otani proceeded to render first aid treatment, but was mortally wounded by machine gun fire. Staff Sergeant Otani'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.


National Vietnam War Veterans Day

March 29

The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration asks all to thank a Vietnam Veteran on March 29.  The  website - vietnamwar50th.com - has descriptions of each individual in the 2022 poster (above) — their dates of service in Vietnam, positions, highlights, awards, and links to their Oral History Interviews.

2022 Freedom Walk

April 2

Save the Date!

Virtual Freedom Walk 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

3:00 pm EDT / 12:00 pm PDT / 9:00 am HST

Registration Information to Follow



Passing of Fusa Takahashi, the Visionary Advocate of the "Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers of WWII" Forever Stamp

Fusako Takahashi. Photo: Courtesy of Lynn Franklin.

Robert Horsting

Fusa Takahashi, the woman inspired to push for a stamp to commemorate the courage and patriotism of those Japanese Americans in military service during WWII, passed peacefully in her sleep on January 16, 2022, in the glow of having watched her 49ers football team beat the Cowboys!

The inspiration for a stamp came from visiting the Japanese American National Museum exhibit about the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team with her friend Aiko King, in 2005. Joined by Chiz Ohira and Wayne Osako, the core of the Stamp Our Story Committee went on to organize the support of many activists and elected officials to realize the successful culmination of Fusa's dream, the "Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers of WWII" Forever stamp, this past June 3rd, 2021.

It was an honor to have met and worked with her and to have been able to play a small role in sharing the story of her journey. Her legacy lives on with every "Go For Broke" stamp placed on a piece of mail heading to pay a bill, send a birthday card, or a greeting internationally! She has instilled pride and a history lesson to younger generations of the Japanese American and Asian American communities as they recognize the powerful symbolism of an Asian face on this Forever stamp.

Fusa must have been cheering on her team as the 49ers beat the Packers to move on in the NFL playoff!

Please join me in extending condolences to her family.


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.