Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 3, No. 45, March 1, 2022

JAVA Hosts Virtual General Membership Meeting and Awards Presentation

Screenshot of MG Garrett Yee (top left) with JAVA newly elected officers: President - Gerald Yamada; Secretary - Kay Izumihara; Vice President - Howard High; Treasurer - Michael Katahara (clockwise from top right). Photo: Howard High.

For the first time, the JAVA Executive Committee along with JAVA members and friends gathered virtually for the Annual General Membership Meeting and Awards Presentation on February 5, 2022. The afternoon program was both solemn and spirited. The format allowed those as far away as Hawaii and Ontario, Canada to reaffirm the values JAVA holds dear as all recited the Pledge of Allegiance led by CPT Wade Ishimoto, USA (Ret). Participants were treated to slideshows highlighting JAVA events from the past two years and also heard JAVA General Council and Nominations Chair Dawn Eilenberger share the results of the election: JAVA President - Gerald Yamada; Vice President - Howard High; Treasurer - Michael Katahara; and Secretary - Kay Izumihara. After offering his congratulations to the four, MG Garrett S. Yee, USA, spoke about the importance of the ritual swearing-in ceremony and the weighty responsibility and trust placed in officers to lead the organization into the future. Then as a group, the new officers raised their right hand, and MG Yee administered the Oath of Office.

President Gerald Yamada then took the spotlight to discuss past accomplishments and new initiatives. Perhaps the biggest news he announced is JAVA’s sponsorship of an exhibit featuring photographer Shane Sato’s images of Japanese American veterans who served during World War II. The exhibit titled Go For Broke Spirit: Legacy in Portraits will be held at the Japan Information and Cultural Center (JICC) in downtown Washington, D.C., and will open on June 9 and close on July 22. The event will be free and is co-sponsored by the JICC, the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance, and Mr. Shane Sato. 

Yamada also told meeting attendees that JAVA will hold a dinner reception at the National US Army Museum on Saturday, July 16, 2022. JAVA guests will have access to tour the Museum for the entire day and starting at 5:00 pm, there will be a program and seated dinner. He added that the Dinner Reception coincides with the third annual Day of Affirmation which will take place at the National World War II Memorial, in Washington, DC on July 15, 2022. 

Screenshot of Gerald Yamada presenting MG Garrett Yee with JAVA's Honor, Courage, Patriotism Award. Photo: Howard High.

Attention then turned to the JAVA Awards Presentation to recognize service, leadership, and achievement. Yamada presented MG Garrett S. Yee, U.S. Army, with The Honor, Courage, Patriotism Award. MG Garrett Yee was recognized for his leadership during his deployments to support Operation Iraqi Freedom (2006), Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan (2011-2012), and Operation Inherent Resolve in Kuwait (2014-2015), which epitomizes the legacy of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service. JAVA is grateful for MG Yee’s ardent support over many years. During his assignments to the war zone in the Middle East, General Yee sent situation updates and photos regularly for inclusion in the JAVA newsletter. His reports allowed JAVA members to gain a unique understanding of the war zone situation. While stationed in D.C., he has actively taken part in JAVA events such as the Veterans Day program at the National Japanese American WW II Memorial to Patriotism and the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Arlington Cemetery and has served as a keynote speaker. Yee expressed thanks and appreciation for the honor. He remarked the award is particularly meaningful because his great-uncle served in the 442nd RCT and was an inspiration in his youth and military career. 

Screenshot of Gerald Yamada's presentation of JAVA's Terry Shima Leadership Award to Jeffrey H. Morita. Photo: Howard High.

Although he could not attend the Awards Program, Gerald Yamada presented Jeffrey H. Morita with with the Terry Shima Leadership Award. Mr. Jeffrey Morita, a resident of Honolulu, was recognized for performing 22 years of military service before retiring, then continuing to serve our nation in the Civil Service for an additional 20 years. Morita's dedication and leadership, especially his pro bono work researching and submitting applications for Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur from the Government of France on behalf of Nisei veterans, epitomizes the legacy of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service. As a member of the JAVA Research Team, Morita has conducted research to resolve complicated issues, such as attempting to identify the true names of Japanese nationals who served in the US Civil War under Anglicized aliases.

Although he could not attend the Awards Program, Gerald Yamada presented Jeffrey H. Morita with with the Terry Shima Leadership Award. Mr. Jeffrey Morita, a resident of Honolulu, was recognized for performing 22 years of military service before retiring, then continuing to serve our nation in the Civil Service for an additional 20 years. Morita's dedication and leadership, especially his pro bono work researching and submitting applications for Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur from the Government of France on behalf of Nisei veterans, epitomizes the legacy of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service. As a member of the JAVA Research Team, Morita has conducted research to resolve complicated issues, such as attempting to identify the true names of Japanese nationals who served in the US Civil War under Anglicized aliases.

Screenshot of Gerald Yamada presenting Rosalyn Tonai with JAVA's Veterans Advocate Award. Photo: Howard High.

Next, Ms. Rosalyn Tonai was presented with the Veterans Advocate Award. Ms. Tonai, Executive Director of the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS), was recognized for her efforts to preserve and share World War II Nisei history. Under her leadership, NJAHS has become an international source of information for the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team and the MIS. Her team has provided workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area, traveled to other states to teach educators about the Nikkei experience, and showcased the many contributions of WWII Japanese American veterans. Ms. Tonai helped to establish and operate the Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center and Museum in Building 640 at the Presidio of San Francisco. Building 640, the original site of the language school for the MIS during WWII, now provides visitors with the untold story of the Japanese American Soldiers who secretly trained for the war against Japan. Ms. Tonai thanked JAVA and emphasized how personally important it was for her to ensure that the story of what the Japanese American veterans did to prove their loyalty while their families were incarcerated was told. 

Screenshot of Gerald Yamada presenting Daniel James Brown with the JAVA Legacy Award, a bronze replica of the Nisei Soldiers of World War II Congressional Gold Medal. Photo: Howard High.

Last, Mr. Daniel James Brown was presented with the JAVA Legacy Award. Mr. Daniel James Brown, the author of Facing the Mountain, A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II, was recognized for his contribution in publicizing the heroism and loyalty of the Nisei of the 100th and 442nd. Mr. Brown expressed his thanks and said he felt fortunate and honored to have the opportunity to tell the Nisei story. He stated it was a transforming event in his life and felt honored to be entrusted to tell this story by many family members of Japanese American veterans from Seattle, Honolulu, and Northern California. 

JAVA General Membership Meeting and Awards Presentation, February 5, 2022 Group Screenshot. Photo: Howard High.

At the end of the presentation, Yamada extended a hearty congratulations to the award recipients as well as the new officers. Adding to the celebratory mood, Mrs. Chris DeRosa reminded the group about the launch of the JAVA Memorial Scholarship program in March and LTC Marty Herbert, USA (Ret) encouraged all to tune in to the upcoming virtual Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk on April 2. As the meeting came to a close, the participants "gathered" for a group screenshot, and bid farewells with the hope of meeting again soon. 

JAVA Honor Roll

JAVA's Honor Roll prepared by Metta Tanikawa.

2022 JAVA Memorial Scholarship Program will Open in Mid-March!

16 Scholarships to be Awarded!

By JAVA Research Team

The U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Scholarship ($3,000), honoring the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye’s iconic career of military and civilian public service will be awarded to a student who has completed at least one year of college and is pursuing a career in public service or military service.

JAVA Founder’s Scholarship ($3,000), awarded in memory of JAVA’s founder, Colonel Sunao Phil Ishio, U.S. Army,  his wife Constance and their son Douglas Ishio will be awarded to a student who has completed at least two years of college.

Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin Legacy Scholarship ($2,000), a tribute to Ms. Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin, a longtime supporter of JAVA will be awarded to a student who has completed at least one year of college as of June 2022. 

Memorial Scholarships ($1,500), honor Nisei veterans, JAVA members, and/or their family members. JAVA Memorial Scholarships are awarded to 2022 graduating high school seniors who are planning to continue at an accredited two or four-year college or university. 2022 JAVA Memorial Scholarships are: 

Mum Arii, 442nd RCT Scholarship in honor of the grandfather of Dr. Matthew Mah, a former Inouye Scholarship recipient. 

Dr. Americo Bugliani Scholarship in honor of his liberator, Paul Sakamoto, 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd RCT veteran.

Carolyn Namie Furumoto Scholarship, honors the wife of JAVA member and Vietnam veteran, Tak Furumoto.

Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship in honor of Ranger Grant Jiro Hirabayashi, MIS. 

Dr. Takumi Izuno Family Scholarship, in honor of JAVA EC member, Cynthia Macri’s father and family members.

Colonel Jimmie Kanaya Scholarship in honor of Colonel Jimmie Kanaya, U.S. Army, a three-war veteran – WW II, Korean and Vietnam.

Mitsugi Kasai Scholarship in honor of CWO 4 Mitsugi Murakami Kasai, MIS veteran.

Ben Kuroki Scholarship in honor of Sergeant Ben Kuroki, a gunner in the US Army Air Corps, 505th Bombardment Group. 

Matsui Scholarship in honor of Victor Matsui, MIS veteran, and his wife Teru.

Colonel Virgil R. Miller Scholarship in honor of Colonel Virgil R. Miller Scholarship, Commander of the 442nd, who led the Nisei soldiers in their rescue of the Texas "Lost Battalion" in the Vosges Mountains of France during WWII.

Robert Nakamoto Scholarship, in honor of past JAVA President and Korean War veteran, Bob Nakamoto.

Betty Shima Scholarship, in honor of Betty Fujita Shima, lifelong partner of 442nd veteran, Terry Shima. 

Shirey Scholarship, in honor of Major Orville Shirey, 442nd veteran and wife, Maud Shirey.

Be on the lookout for an email announcement and update on the website!

Farewell to a Leader, Mentor, and Friend

Memorial Service for COL George Koji Ishikata, USAR (Ret). Photo: Jason Kuroiwa. 

By LTC Jason I. Kuroiwa, USA (Ret)

JAVA Executive Committee

On January 29, 2022, our community celebrated the life of COL George Koji Ishikata at the California Army National Guard Armory, the same location he served as the Battalion Commander for the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion (Linguist). His memorial service represented a snapshot of a truly diverse and best of San Francisco – community leaders, educators, law enforcement, military, friends, family, and students. The Armory accommodated over 200 guests from the San Francisco Bay Area and across our Nation. Friends remembered George as committed to serving others, had an “infectious” smile, and loved food (even fugu).

George was raised in San Francisco, California, and a graduate of Lowell High School, San Francisco State University, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Commissioned as a Military Police officer in the California Army National Guard, he served in many roles in the National Guard including assignments in Washington DC. In Washington DC, George served JAVA as Treasurer and most recently, Executive Council and Chair of our Awards Committee. He was passionate about our future, serving as a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) instructor at Abraham Lincoln High School and Director of Army Instruction for the San Francisco JROTC Brigade. His other passion to grow our future was the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) where he started as a Cadet and continued serving to become the CAP Pacific Region Commander.

Former Executive Council member, LTC Rod Azama, USA (Ret), remembers “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.”

George’s network and relationships were widespread. I serve with LTC Steve Dolgin, USA (Ret), on the Northern California Coast Guard Retiree Council and did not know he also knew George. Like many, Steve was “very shocked to hear of the loss of this outstanding soldier, leader, very dedicated to our youth as a full-time National Guard Intelligence officer, JROTC instructor, and Civil Air Patrol Region Commander. I have known George since 1978 when I first met him visiting my alma mater Lowell High School. I have worked with him for many years since in CAP, National Guard, and supporting JROTC events.”

The link to view George Ishikata’s Memorial Service is http://cawgcadets.org/givingtree

Our next generation is in great hands because of his compassion, mentorship, and leadership by example. We should all learn from George Ishikata.

JAVA expresses our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Lena, and the rest of the Ishikata Family.

George’s Favorite Chair where he would sit and read, Memorial Service for COL George Ishikata, USAR (Ret). Photo: Jason Kuroiwa.

JAVA Hawaii Regional Representative

Major Lynn Mariano, USA (Ret)

to run for

Governor of Hawaii 

MAJ Lynn Mariano, USA, (Ret). Photo: Courtesy Lynn Mariano.


Friends of the National World War II Memorial 2022 Brigadier General Charles E. McGee UNITY Award Program. Photo: Screenshot from video presentation.

Friends of the National World War II Memorial is proud to present the 2022 Brigadier General Charles E. McGee UNITY Award to former Secretary of Commerce and Transportation The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta for Mineta’s lifelong public service as a military veteran, Congressman, Cabinet member, and advocate for noble causes in the pursuit of educating our youth about democracy and what it means to be an American citizen.

Named for a true gentleman, retired Air Force Brigadier General Charles E. McGee, who just recently passed away but who embodied and lived by the highest American ideals during his 102-years, this annual award is a significant recognition of individuals actively working for the betterment of their community and living up to the moral integrity espoused by General McGee and his fellow members of the “Greatest Generation.”

Norman Mineta and Charles McGee are two men who overcame great adversity with grace, grit, and courage. In turbulent times, we will look to the example set by these two, so that we will be inspired by the power of unity and be reminded of the meaning of sacrifice.


2022 Brigadier General Charles E. McGee UNITY Award Recipient

The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta


[EdNote: Reprinted with permission from the Friends of the National World War II Memorial.]

Remarks (as prepared) by JAVA President Gerald Yamada

on the occasion of the 

2022 Brigadier General Charles E. McGee UNITY Award Program

Norman Y. Mineta

JAVA President Gerald Yamada and the Honorable Norman Y. Mineta. Photo: Screen Shot of Friends of WWII Memorial's 2022 Brigadier General Charles E. McGee UNITY

Awards Ceremony.

Hello.  My name is Gerald Yamada.  I am president of the Japanese American Veterans Association.  On behalf of JAVA and its member, we congratulate JAVA’s Honorary Chair, the Honorable Norman Y. Mineta, as the 2022 and 2nd recipient of the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee UNITY Award. 

Norm Mineta has dedicated his life to public service and giving back to the community.  He is one of the strongest advocates in educating the American public about the injustices and discrimination that were imposed on persons of Japanese ancestry living in America after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  He has used his personal knowledge of those hardships to inspire others and his public service skills to right those wrongs. 

His vigorous commitment to ensuring that those wrongs are never repeated against any disadvantaged group demonstrates his unwavering patriotism and faith in America.  He is a role model, showing that through perseverance, strength, and integrity, all Americans, as well as future generations, can use shared experiences to find common ground to unite to fight against prejudice and injustice and to preserve the continued success of our democracy. 

Again, congratulations Norm.  Thank you for your lifetime of service and personal commitment, and a job well done. 

[Ednote: To watch the 2022 Brigadier General Charles E. McGee UNITY Award Ceremony click this link WATCH NOW! ] 

DISA's Assistant to the Director to Retire in April

MG Garrett S. Yee speaks at a May 2019 event at Ft. Belvior. Photo: USAR Photo Sgt Stephanie Ramirez. Note:The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Reprinted with Permission from FCW

By Lauren C. Williams

January, 28,2022

Garrett Yee, the Defense Information Systems Agency's assistant to the director, is retiring this spring, FCW has learned. 

As DISA's assistant to the director, Yee is responsible for leading the agency's civilian and military personnel in planning, developing, delivering, and operating joint command and control capabilities and global enterprise infrastructure that support the president, secretary of defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, combatant commanders, and DOD components. 

Yee was previously the military deputy and senior information security officer for the Army CIO/G-6 before taking on the assistant to the director role and that of DISA's senior procurement executive in 2019.

The general also receive a Fed 100 award in 2015 for his work as the commanding general for the 335th Signal Command and C4I director for the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, where he was instrumental in reviving communications infrastructure, including satellite communications terminals and other portable tools, in Iraq that facilitated U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State in 2014. 

His retirement ceremony and exit date is April 28, according to a DISA spokesperson. A successor has not yet been named. 

Click here to read the story online: DISA's assistant to the director to retire in April - FCW.

Neet Ford Appointed as JAVA  Executive Director

Neet Ford, JAVA Executive Director. Photo: Courtesy of N. Ford.

Over the past 3 years, Ms. Anita (“Neet”) Ford has proven to be a valuable leader as our JAVA Administrator and as editor of the e-Advocate since its inception in 2019. She has served with much-appreciated dedication and openness within JAVA and our greater community. Neet's association with JAVA has allowed her to expand her passion for all things Japanese that she developed while attending a month-long student conference in Japan during graduate school.

Several people suggested offering her the position when I was elected in 2019. Over my first term, Neet has been an exceptional team member.  She is always ready to help, and I greatly value her advice.  Late last year, Terry Shima called and asked if JAVA could do something to recognize Neet for her work. I told him that I planned to offer her the Executive Director position if I were re-elected. He said that she would be a great choice.

On February 18, 2022, I notified Neet that JAVA’s Executive Council, in recognition of her service, unanimously approved her engagement as the new Executive Director of JAVA, effective immediately.

I am truly appreciative of Neet’s dedication to JAVA members, families, and friends. We look forward to many more accomplishments through her leadership.


Gerald Yamada, President

NJAMF, JAVA, JACL DC, and NPS Commemorate E.O. 9066 with Wreath Laying

Left to Right: NJAMF Board Member Al Goshi, NPS Ranger John Wells, NPS Ranger Bob Healy, JACL DC Chapter Co-President Kim Hirose, JAVA President Gerald Yamada, NJAMF Board Member Mark Nakagawa, NJAMF Chair John Tobe. Photo: Courtesy of John Tobe.

On February 19, 2022, JAVA was invited by John Tobe, Chair of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF), to participate with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Washington, DC Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) in a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Japanese American Memorial in Washington, DC. The ceremony commemorated the 80th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s disgraceful signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the US Army to forcibly remove persons of Japanese ancestry from the western part of the United States. EO 9066 is an admitted “wrong” by America and was ruled to be a “morally repugnant order” by the US Supreme Court in 2018. Two wreaths, one provided by NPS and the other by NJAMF, were laid by the representatives of the participating organizations at the base of the Memorial’s centerpiece--two cranes bound together by barbed wire symbolizing freedom and equality confined by prejudice. 

Veterans Memorial Court Alliance 2022 Korean War Floral Tribute 

VMCA 2022 Korean War Floral Tribute, Japanese American Memorial Court, Los Angeles, CA. Photo: Courtesy of Robert Horsting. 

By Robert Horsting

The Japanese American Veterans Memorial Court Alliance (VMCA) each year reserves a special time to Honor, Remember and Pay Tribute to those Japanese Americans who gave their lives in each of the Wars and Conflicts engaged by the United States since 1898.

This year on January 31, 2022, VMCA will post the video on their website at memorialcourtalliance.org commemorating the termination of the Conflict Period of the Korean War. The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, and the end of the Conflict was officially signed on July 31, 1955.

The Korean War has been considered one of the most important, but it is the least remembered. The VMCA goal is to make sure the 256 Japanese Americans who gave their lives in that war are not a part of those “Forgotten War” statistics. Also noting an estimated 5,000 Japanese Americans not only served predominantly in Korea but also served in branches of the military all over the world during the Korean War.

The VMCA welcomes the public to visit the Japanese American Veterans Memorial Court at 250 S. San Pedro Street in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, and the public is invited to view the Commemoration Tribute video honoring those who sacrificed and could Give No More Than Their Lives for their Country.
Please click here to watch the video

Book Review:  Inclusion by Tom Coffman

Inclusion by Tom Coffman

By Dr. Greg Robinson, Professor, University of Quebec

Quebec, Canada.  Tom Coffman is a prolific scholar, journalist, and filmmaker whose books Nation Within and The Island Edge of America have shaped scholarly discourse about Hawaii’s recent history. His new book Inclusion is a fascinating study of the Council for Interracial Unity, a now largely-forgotten race relations group located in the then-Territory of Hawaii in the years surrounding World War II, and especially two of its outstanding members, the Chinese-American social worker Hung Wai Ching and the Japanese American school principal Shigeo Yoshida. Ching and Yoshida, working in collaboration with various officials, promoted interracial cooperation in Hawaii before World War II. After Pearl Harbor, they promoted the mass wartime mobilization of Hawaii’s people, and in the process helped avert mass wartime internment of Japanese Americans.

The structure of Coffman’s work is binary. The first chapters detail the early life histories of Yoshida and Ching. Ching, a star athlete, was inspired to study theology on the mainland before returning to Hawaii at the end of the 1920s and taking a job with the YMCA. Yoshida, a champion debater, became a schoolteacher and later school principal. He gradually emerged as a community spokesperson, gaining widespread attention in 1937 by his testimony before a congressional committee about Japanese American loyalty. The two men’s attachment to the democratic principle, along with their connections to liberal white Christians such as community leader Charles Hemenway, led them to form interracial committees to promote the inclusion of Asians in Hawaii society.

The book’s second half deals with the coming of war between Japan and the United States, and the efforts of military leaders and intelligence agents in Hawaii such as Cecil Coggins of Naval Intelligence and Robert Shivers of the FBI to determine the loyalties of Japanese community members in Hawaii. Due to their network of contacts within the community, Shivers and local police chief John A. Burns were able to recruit trustworthy Japanese Americans as agents. After Pearl Harbor, they vouched for numerous individuals and protected them from arbitrary imprisonment. With their support, Ching and Yoshida were named to a Morale Committee by the leaders of Hawaii’s military government, from which they were able to influence military governor Delos Emmons and Colonel Thomas Green, the executive officer of martial law, to endorse the loyalty of Japanese Americans and not institute mass confinement.

Coffman is a dedicated researcher and skilled narrator who mixes biography and larger analysis gracefully. Coffman posits Hawaiian society, with the Aloha spirit of tolerance and welcome for all people handed down from native Hawaiians, as a model for race relations elsewhere in America. At the same time, the text offers insight into a larger question: how did Hawaii manage to avoid the tragic experience of mass incarceration that befell West Coast Japanese Americans? Despite Hawaii’s importance to American life, its history remains little covered in the scholarly literature. The book has a real contribution to make to our knowledge of (Japanese) American history and the special set of forces in Hawaii that preserved its Interracial harmony through the depths of war.

[EdNote:  *Approval to reprint obtained from Nichi Bei Times and Dr. Robinson, Professor of History at the University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada. "Inclusion" was published by the University of Hawaii Press. JAVA would also like to thank the Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, HI who Dr. Robinson's research and work and also generously provided JAVA with a copy of "Inclusion." ]

MOH Spotlight: Mikio Hasemoto 

Mikio Hasemoto. Photo: U.S. Government.

U.S. Army Public Affairs

Private Mikio Hasemoto distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 29 November 1943, in the vicinity of Cerasuolo, Italy. A force of approximately 40 enemy soldiers, armed with machine guns, machine pistols, rifles, and grenades, attacked the left flank of his platoon. Two enemy soldiers with machine guns advanced forward, firing their weapons. Private Hasemoto, an automatic rifleman, challenged these two machine gunners. After firing four magazines at the approaching enemy, his weapon was shot and damaged. Unhesitatingly, he ran 10 yards to the rear, secured another automatic rifle, and continued to fire until his weapon jammed. At this point, Private Hasemoto and his squad leader had killed approximately 20 enemy soldiers. Again, Private Hasemoto ran through a barrage of enemy machine gun fire to pick up an M-1 rifle. Continuing their fire, Private Hasemoto and his squad leader killed 10 more enemy soldiers. With only three enemy soldiers left, he and his squad leader charged courageously forward, killing one, wounding one, and capturing another. The following day, Private Hasemoto continued to repel enemy attacks until he was killed by enemy fire. Private Hasemoto 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.

Source: https://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/citations21.html#H 

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

National Vietnam War Veterans Day

March 29

Reach Out and Thank a Vietnam Vet!

The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration asks all to thank a Vietnam Veteran on March 29.  Also click on the website https://www.vietnamwar50th.com/ on March 29 to find a link to a Livestream of the national wreath-laying ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. You can also find 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


Virtual Freedom Walk 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

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

Registration Information to Follow

Please join us for the 24th Annual and 2nd Virtual Freedom Walk on Saturday, April 2, 2022 at 3:00 pm (EDT).  Our theme this year is “Dissenting Voice to EO 9066: Eleanor Roosevelt.”  We are pleased to announce that David B. Wollner, Resident Historian and former Executive Director of the Roosevelt Institute will be our keynote speaker.  Following his remarks, he will answer questions from participants. Participation is free but registration will be required. Registration information forthcoming.


Virgil Westdale 

Virgil Westdale. Photo: Courtesy Robert Horsting.

Robert Horsting

Grand Rapids, Michigan.  With great sorrow, the family of Virgil William Nishimura Westdale shares this notice of his passing on February 8th, 2022.

Among his long list of accomplishments, Virgil earned his private pilot license. Advised he might have difficulty securing his license with a Japanese surname, it was decided among the family that Virgil and his brother would change their names from Nishimura (Nishi, meaning West, and mura, meaning village) to Westdale. In October of 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps, serving in the Enlisted Reserve Corps as a civilian while continuing advanced training in acrobatics, instrument, cross-country flying, and commercial. Impressing his instructors, they asked him to stay on to train cadets as an Instrument Flight Instructor. Being of half Japanese heritage Virgil was transferred to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), a segregated Japanese American infantry unit.

Initially serving in F Co, Virgil then transferred to the 442nd’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion (FAB), Headquarters Battery. While the 100th Bn/442nd RCT quickly distinguished themselves on the battlefields of Italy and France (noted as one of the most decorated units in U.S. military history, for its size and length of service), the 522nd FAB also stood out among other artillery units recognized for their speed and accuracy. When the 7th Army made their push into Germany, the 522nd was requested reassignment to support their Divisions. The advance into Germany provided Virgil a glimpse into one of the world's darkest moments as he was among the men approaching one of the outer camps of the Dachau complex. He and his comrades liberated some of the Jewish victims of Hitler’s holocaust.

When Virgil returned home after the war, he told his grandmother he was planning to become a commercial pilot.  Grandmother told Virgil not to fool around, go to college and get a real job.  He earned two degrees from Western Michigan College (now University). First working for Burroughs Corp and ending his career at A M International, he advanced from a Paper Analyst to a Principal Scientist. By the time Virgil retired in 1987, he had 25 patents awarded (or pending) in his name, advancing the field of image duplication on paper, among others.

Not one to sit idle, Virgil took a turn at real estate development, and then worked in security with the TSA, retiring at age 91 as its oldest employee. He even took up tap and ballroom dancing at age 75 and hung up those shoes at age 91. Still not letting any moss gather, Virgil co-authored his story in the book Blue Skies and Thunder: Farm Boy, Pilot, Inventor, TSA Officer, and WW II Soldier of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, published in December of 2009. He went on to promote his book, educating younger generations about his experiences as a Japanese-American during WWII.

Having more than lived a full life at 104, Virgil has left his family and friends with many wonderful memories of shared moments in time. We will miss him, but take some comfort to know he is once again taking flight.

Those wishing to honor Virgil’s memory are asked to donate to the Go For Broke National Education Center (Goforbroke.org).  Condolences can be sent to The Westdale Family: 6483 Tumble Creek Drive; Colorado Springs, CO 80924. 

[EdNote.  Virgil, a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan was an active member of the JAVA Speakers Bureau.  He spoke at schools, professional and community groups, and others about the Japanese American experience during WW2.  JAVA offers condolences to Virgil's 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.