Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 3, No. 47, May 1, 2022

Defending Our Freedoms in Adversity

JAVA, NJAMF, JACL DC Chapter, and JACL National to hold 74th Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery

Memorial Day salute, ANC Columbarium, May 30, 2021. L-R: JAVA President Gerald Yamada, LTG Michael Nagata, USA (Ret), LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret), CAPT (Dr.) Macri, MC, USN (Ret), JAVA Vice President Howard High, Turner Kobayashi. Photo: N. Ford. 

On Sunday, May 29, 2022, the Japanese American Veterans Association, the Japanese American Memorial Foundation, the Japanese American Citizens League, DC Chapter, and JACL National will honor our nation’s fallen heroes in the 74th Annual Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery in the Columbarium Ceremonial Courtyard. The service will be followed by the laying of flowers at the nearly 100 gravesites of those who the sponsoring organizations remember at Arlington. 

The theme of the service will be Defending Our Freedoms in Adversity and will feature keynote speaker Dr. James McNaughton who served in the U.S. Army and as the command historian for the U.S. European Command, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, and the U.S. Army Pacific. Dr. McNaughton is the author of “Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II. A student representative from Spark Matsunaga Elementary School will also speak, and a special tribute will be made to Colonel Jimmie Kanaya, U.S. Army, a decorated three-war veteran who served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

This Memorial Day observation is the longest, continuous annual event held at ANC. Key Kobayashi, MIS veteran and one of the founders of JAVA along with the JACL DC Chapter began the Memorial Day gravesite decoration program in 1948.  When Key passed away in 1992 his family continued the tradition, with son Turner Kobayashi currently serving as coordinator.

All are invited to attend the program at Arlington. Attendees should plan on arriving by 9:30 am to clear security. 

The program will also be live-streamed on JAVA's Facebook feed on Sunday, May 29, 2022, at 10:00 am EDT, 7:00 am PDT, and 4:00 am HST. Please view on the JAVA website https://java-us.org/ or visit https://www.facebook.com/Japanese-American-Veterans-Association-201704733192222.

The Go For Broke Spirit

JAVA to Co-Sponsor Shane Sato Photography Exhibit of Nisei WWII Veterans 

June 9 -July 22, 2022

Exhibit Poster, The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits from 1999-2022. Portrait of Terry Shima, 442nd RCT by Shane Sato. Poster by Kenny Yamada.

The Japanese American Veterans Association is co-sponsoring a photo exhibit, The Go For Broke Spirit, featuring images of Japanese American veterans who served during World War II by Shane Sato, a photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. The exhibit will be shown at the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC), located at 1150 18th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., and will run from June 9 to July 22, 2022. The event is co-sponsored by JAVA through donations from Glen S. Fukushima and Dr. Thomas T. Yoshikawa, JICC, the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance through a grant from the Japanese American Community Foundation, and Mr. Shane Sato.

Shane Sato. Photo: Courtesy of S. Sato.

Mr. Sato has spent the last twenty-plus years using his shutter to capture evocative portraits of Japanese American World War II veterans, soldiers who fought and served America in the segregated unit of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and as members of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) while their families and friends were imprisoned in internment camps back home. His larger-than-life images of these ageless veterans in the military dress have been published in two books entitled “Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage” and "Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Legacy."  From these works, Mr. Sato has created the photo exhibit that will be shown at the JICC.

The exhibit is the first time Sato’s works will be shown on the East Coast.  Exhibit visitors can glimpse the indomitable essence of these men, who despite experiencing intense racism and discrimination following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, armed themselves with the gambler’s motto of “Go For Broke,” a phrase uttered in dice games to signal an all-out effort, and volunteered to fight. And “Go For Broke” they did: Their heroism and sacrifice on the battlefield earned them the moniker “Purple Heart Battalion” because of the many causalities suffered in combat. Those based in the Pacific were assigned to the MIS, a clandestine intelligence gathering unit, and aided the war effort by translating documents and interrogating prisoners. The MISers also helped rebuild post-war Japan. In other images, hints of the soldiers’ unique Japanese American ethos, exemplified by the word “Gaman,” or enduring the unbearable with dignity, are evident. By portraying the veterans in uniform, Sato ensures the patriotism that propelled his subjects to volunteer is powerful and creates an unforgettable history lesson for viewers. Ultimately, Sato’s exhibit is a quintessential tale of American adversity and triumph, and in the words of Sato, “their success story helped shape the world that we live in today.”

Shane Sato’s books, “Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage” and "Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Legacy." Photo: Courtesy of S. Sato.

The photo exhibit will be open to the public. Exhibit hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Admission is free. 

The JICC will have special gallery hours from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Saturday, June 11, 2022, and invite the public to hear Shane Sato speak at 1:00 pm about his work and the specific portraits on view. The program will be free, but a ticket from Eventbrite will be required to enter the program. JICC will release Eventbrite tickets in mid-May  - seating is limited so be sure to sign up early, https://www.eventbrite.com/d/dc--washington/events/. 

From June 9 to June 11, Mr. Sato will be at the JICC to sign his books.  If interested, you will have to pre-purchase the books on his website https://www.thegoforbrokespirit.com/store  and pick them up at the book signing.

For more information about Shane Sato’s work, please visit: https://www.thegoforbrokespirit.com/ or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/goforbrokespirit/.

For more information, please visit our sponsors’ websites:

Japanese American Veterans Association at https://www.java-us.org/. JAVA’s point of contact is Neet Ford, Executive Director, at javapotomac@gmail.com.  

Veterans Memorial Court Alliance website is https://www.memorialcourtalliance.org/.

Japan Information & Culture Center, Embassy of Japan website is https://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/index.html.

JAVA to Hold Dinner at National Museum of the U.S. Army

July 16, 2022

National Museum of the U.S. Army, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Photo: Howard High. 

The Japanese American Veterans Association

Invites You to Celebrate

Day of Affirmation Dinner 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

4:30 pm to 8:30 pm

National Museum of the U.S. Army

 Fort Belvoir, VA 

Cocktails: 5:00 pm

Dinner: 6:00 pm

Presentation: 7:00 pm

 LTC Robert Vokac, USA (Ret), will Share Memories from his Grandfather, U.S. Army Colonel Virgil R. Miller, of Commanding the 442nd Regimental Combat Team

RSVP by June 30, 2022

Business Attire   I   $150 Per Ticket

*Attendees are asked to arrive by 4:30 pm to clear security before the museum stops admitting at 4:45 pm. All guests will be allowed to visit and tour the museum at any time on Saturday, July 16th at no extra charge.


Day of Affirmation Activities

Day of Affirmation Ceremony - Friday, July 15 at 12:00 o'clock, noon, at the National WWII Memorial on the Mall. JAVA will commemorate the 1946 triumphant return of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team from the battlefields in Europe to Washington, DC where they were received by President Harry Truman and presented the seventh presidential unit citation. 

For this year’s ceremony, LTC Robert Vokac, USA (Ret), will serve as the wreath escort. He is a grandson of COL Virgil Miller, who was the commanding officer of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team beginning with the battle to save the Texas Lost Battalion. One of the two wreath bearers will be Sandra Tanamachi, whose uncle, Saburo Tanamachi, was killed in action while serving with the 442nd RCT in its efforts to save the Texas Lost Battalion and is the first Japanese American to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. COL Miller was one of the pallbearers at Saburo Tanamachi's service at Arlington. The other wreath bearer will be Missy Higgins Abrunzo, whose father, Marty Higgins, was the commanding officer of the Texas Lost Battalion at the time the 442nd RCT rescued it. Later, Higgins helped to lobby Congress for passage of the Immigration Act of 1952 which granted citizenship to the Issei or Japan-born parents of the Japanese Americans.

All are welcome to attend this year’s program in person; the program will also be livestreamed.

The Go For Broke Spirit Photo Exhibit - Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC), 1150 18th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Exhibit features images of Japanese American veterans who served during World War II by Shane Sato, a photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. The exhibit runs from June 9-July 22, Monday-Friday, with Saturday hours on June 11.

National Museum of U.S. Army - Saturday, May 16 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, all dinner attendees will be on a guest list for admission on Saturday, May 16. For more information about the museum collection or for tickets to visit on a different day see the website www.thenmusa.org

Nearby Hotels

Hotel Near National Museum of U.S. Army

Embassy Suites by Hilton, Springfield, VA

8100 Loisdale Road, Springfield VA, 22150


Hotel Near Japan Information & Cultural Center

Club Quarters, Washington DC - White House

839 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20006 


JAVA Congratulates Major General Garrett S. Yee, U.S. Army on his Retirement! 

 L-R: Neet Ford, Wade Ishimoto, Maria Yee, MG Garrett Yee, Gerald Yamada, and Howard High. Photo: Courtesy of Howard High.

LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret)

Arlington, VA.   Major General Garrett S. Yee, assistant to the Director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), retired from the U.S. Army in a ceremony attended by his mother Michiko and over 500 colleagues, family, and friends as well as witnessed by many virtually. The ceremony was held at the Army Navy Country Club, Arlington, VA.   Lt Gen Robert Skinner, Director of DISA officiated. 

GEN Eric Shinseki, 34th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, provided remarks, and GEN Paul M. Nakasone, Commander U.S. Cyber Command and Director of National Security Agency, presented the NSA Public Service Medallion for significant contributions to MG Yee.  

In his remarks, MG Yee recognized his mentors and thanked his NCOs for their discipline, wisdom, and strength. He also thanked his family, especially his wife Maria, for their support and sacrifices.

JAVA offers congratulations for a career well-executed and appreciation for his contributions to JAVA’s programs. 

If you would like to watch a recording of the ceremony click here or visit this link https://www.facebook.com/events/4814379518610457. 

GEN Paul M. Nakasone presenting award to MG Garrett S. Yee on his retirement from the U.S. Army after 35 years of service, April 28, 2022. Photo: Howard High.  

Maj General Garrett Yee, USA (Ret)

Major General Garrett Yee is the assistant to the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency.  In this role, he helps lead nearly 19,000 service members, civilians and contractors who plan, develop, deliver and operate joint, interoperable command and control capabilities and defend an enterprise infrastructure in more than 42 countries.  This mission directly supports the President, Secretary of Defense, Joint Chief of Staff, combatant commanders, U.S. Department of Defense components, and other mission partners across the spectrum of competition, combat and combat support operations.

Prior to this assignment, Yee served as the military deputy to the Army CIO/G-6 and senior information security officer in the Office of Chief Information Officer/G-6, Headquarters, Department of the Army in the Pentagon.

Yee, a native of Fremont, California, received his commission in the Army upon graduation from Santa Clara University.  He later earned a Master of Business Administration from Golden Gate University and Master of Science in Strategic Studies from the Army War College.

Yee's command operation assignments include commander, 335th Signal Command (Theater) (Provisional) in Kuwait, where he concurrently served as the G-6 for U.S. Army Central Command and the Director of Cyber Information Systems for the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation INHERENT Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois; deputy commander, 335th Signal Command (Theater) (Provisional) during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan; commander 505th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade in Las Vegas, Nevada; commander 650th Regional Support Group in Las Vegas, Nevada; theater observation detachment officer with the Center for Army Lessons Learned in Iraq during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, where he authored a handbook on provincial reconstruction teams; and commander, 3/356th Logistics Support Battalion at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Yee's awards and decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal, Parachutist Badge and German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency.  He is also a recipient of the National Infantry Association Order of Saint Maurice and the Signal Corps Bronze Order of Mercury.


APRIL 29, 2022

Govan Yee with 100th Infantry Battalion Veteran, James Ogawa, Nisei Week in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA, 2015. Photo: Courtesy of Govan Yee. 

By Govan Yee

As the 77th Anniversary of the liberation of Dachau approaches, there will be countless internet postings and news sources stating that the Dachau Concentration Camp was liberated by the 552nd Field Artillery Battalion, which was a part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Unfortunately, to this day, there is no documentary evidence that has been located by the U.S. Army Center of History, the 522nd Historical Album Committee, or any other organization that indicates that this occurred. As a member of an amateur historian group doing research on the role of the 522nd in liberating any of the concentration or labor camps, it has been difficult to pinpoint the actual locations where members of the 522nd exactly were and where the camps they encountered were located.

Those writing about the 522nd in the past, could only surmise which camps the 522nd had encountered. The reason for this was simple. During the invasion of Germany, the assignment of the 522nd was to provide supporting artillery as the front lines advanced. Scouts were sent out ahead of the main unit of the 522nd to look for locations where the batteries could be placed, and Liaisons were assigned to accompany various units of the Army to provide artillery support. These Scouts and Liaisons would venture miles ahead of either the 522nd or the units they supported. As a result, the Scouts and Liaisons would have encountered some of the 120 subcamps which were in the Dachau Camp System. On many occasions, these subcamps would be found together with the units they were assigned to.

It is possible that the 522nd encountered six subcamps of the Dachau Camp System by matching up the locations of where the Command Posts were established. By doing so, through research using a copy of The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945,” we found that two of the camps (Ellwagen and Heidheim) had been closed for approximately two years, one had been constructed but never put into operation (Turkenfeld), and that the German SS had moved the inmates from Horgau and the Kaufering IV subcamps prior to the arrival of the 522nd.

One thing is certain, the batteries of the 522nd had to move quickly, as the front lines changed constantly with the retreat of the German Army. The 522nd would perform what they called “displacements” where they would routinely leave one battery behind and move to another location and set up a temporary firing position, sometimes several times a day. As they moved, there was no written recording of the locations where the camps that were encountered. The Headquarters Company only recorded the general locations of their movements. It was not the job of the scouts or liaisons, to record what they saw or encountered at these subcamps. They provided only information that was necessary to provide artillery support to the 522 HQ. The Scouts and Liaisons had to quickly move on and do their assigned duties to chase after the retreating German Army.

As the Allies advanced through Germany, the German high command had ordered the evacuation of all the concentration camps to hide evidence of their atrocities in the camps. Thousands of the inmates were forced to move to various locations by train, truck, ship, rail and by foot. Movements by foot became known as Death Marches. Those who were too weak to complete the journey were shot and left where they fell. Many were killed as they reached the end of their destination.

Many of the towns/villages mentioned in the 522’s unit history book, “Fire for Effect” no longer exist. After the war, Germany found it necessary to have small towns and villages merge for governmental

reasons and renamed some of them, causing problems for researchers well after the war. Resources of information is limited, for instance, in searching the archives of the Japanese American Veterans Association which contain scanned documents from the National Archives related to the 100/442/MIS, the records for the month of April 1945 for the 522nd are missing. Those missing records would have given our research group a better understanding of the 522nd’s movements. It is probable that the 522nd History Committee Members who compiled the information for the book “Fire for Effect” may had copies of these documents. These documents are now in the archives of the University of Hawaii, where many of Ted T. Tsukiyama’s documents were donated (Ted T. Tsukiyama was a Co-Chair of the of the 522nd Field Artillery Historical Committee). These documents are not available to view except in-person.

We know for certain, that the U.S. Army Center of History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have officially recognized three Army Divisions as liberators of the main Dachau Concentration Camp. They are the 42nd Infantry Division, the 45th Infantry Division, and the 20th Armored Division. Due to the numerous Army Units involved in the liberations of the hundreds of concentration and labor camps, only the Division which the individual units were attached to, are officially recognized. As a result, because the 522 was part of the 4th Infantry Division when some of the subcamps were liberated during April 28-29, 1945, it was included in the recognition as a liberator. However, no recognition is given to the 522nd as a liberator of the main Dachau Camp, as documentary evidence could not be found, stating that members of the 522nd were at the Dachau Concentration Camp on April 29th, 1945 when it was liberated.

In the 522’s unit history book which was published in 1998, a disclaimer on page 69 states “To date no documentation nor any witness has been found to establish the presence of any 522nd personnel at the main gate of the Dachau camp around noon of April 29, 1945, who witnessed or participated in opening the gate, exchanging fire with SS guards or in the incidents attributed to 42nd and 45th Division personnel. Yet from time to time, public statements, and publication of such a claim have appeared. But it should be emphatically made clear that no 522nd organization nor anyone affiliated therewith has ever stated or claimed that 522nd personnel opened the gate of Dachau Camp and liberated any inmates therein nor has ever authorized or sanctioned the making of such a claim.” It was not the intention of the 522 History Committee nor that of the research group to discredit the many accomplishments of the unit, but it was to ensure that the honorable history of the unit is correct for generations to come.

What was well documented, was the 522’s encounter with thousands of inmates from the Kaufering and Dachau Camps who were on a Death March between Bad Tolz and Waarkirchen on May 2, 1945. The Germans soldiers who had been escorting the inmates to Tegernsee had abandoned them upon the advance of the allies. The 522 stayed with the inmates and provided what care they could until proper medical units arrived to take over. Lt. Susumu Ito, who had a camera with him, took several photographs of this encounter. These photos would later be published in many books and displayed in several exhibitions about the role of the 522 in liberating the survivors of the concentration camps on a Death March. Information about the Army Divisions which are recognized as liberators can be found at https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/us-army-units

[EdNote: JAVA wishes to thank Govan Yee for his research and article. Mr. Yee has served in the past on the Board of Directors with the Go For Broke National Education Center, served on the Task Force in developing its current exhibit "Defining Courage," volunteered as a team member of the GFBNEC Hanashi Oral History Program, was an associate member of the H Company 442nd Veterans Club in Los Angeles, and continues to serve as a Treasurer of the 100th/442nd Veterans Association (Los Angeles). He also volunteered to help the National Veterans Network, Honor Flight, and Terry Shima during the Southern California registration process for the Nisei Soldier Congressional Gold Medal Event. He is an active contributor to the Facebook pages of both the Go For Broke National Education Center and the Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans Groups.]

A Rare Confluence of 3 Major Religious Holidays

L-R: Clarence Matsumura (left) and Solly Ganor in Israel in May 1992 where a holocaust survivors reunion was held.  Matsumura, a member of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd RCT, was among the first 522nd personnel to release the Jewish inmates, such as Ganor, from the extermination camp at Waakiachen, a subcamp of Dachau. Photo: Courtesy Eric Saul.

By Eric Saul, Historian and Museum Director, April 24, 2022

E-Advocate readers may be interested to know that occurring just about now, once every 30 years or so, is a  “rare confluence of religious celebrations of the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions.  They are Passover, Easter, and Ramadan. Rarely are these observed at the same time.”

April 23, 2022, was the last day of Passover (Pesach), the sixth day of Easter week in the Latin calendar (Good Friday in the Eastern Orthodox calendar), and the midpoint of Ramadan. In addition, Friday, April 22, was Earth Day.

Hopefully, this confluence will be an inspiration for people of goodwill all over our precious Earth to work together to make this a better world.  In this time of strife, we seek peace. We hope and pray for the restoration of peace in the Ukraine. We hope that the inspiring stories of Visas for Life and diplomatic rescue will contribute to this healing of our world.

There are many new projects and initiatives that are being launched this year by our Institute for the Study of Rescue and Altruism in the Holocaust and the Visas for Life: The Righteous and Honorable Diplomats Project. Among them are:

  • Adding many new names of individuals and organizations to our rescuer database; among these are Catholic clergy rescuers and organizations;
  • Researching and documenting the rescue work of the Nimes Committee, in Marseilles, France; among these newly researched heroes are Vratislav Stula, Slavomir Brzak, Donald Lowrie, of Czech Aide (in cooperation with Peter and Paul Wolff);
  • The United States Congressional Gold Medal for American rescuers and rescue organizations (in cooperation with the American Jewish Committee and the American Foreign Service Association);
  • An initiative to honor and recognize the rescue activities of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (St. John XXIII) in Turkey (in cooperation with the Laurence Steinhardt family and the Pave the Way Foundation);
  • An exhibit and a new website documenting and honoring the Lados rescue group in Switzerland (in cooperation with the Pilecki Institute);
  • The republication of Solly Ganor's Holocaust memoir, Light One Candle (in cooperation with the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation);
  • The publication of Mark Cotta Vaz's history, Angels of War (also in cooperation with the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation);
  • Work toward publishing a major reference book on rescue in the Holocaust (in cooperation with Dr. Paul Finkelman, Chancellor of Gratz College, Philadelphia, PA);
  • Supporting efforts to initiate a national Garden of the Righteous in Washington, DC (in cooperation with Dr. Mordecai Paldiel and Dr. Nathan Stoltzfus).

The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America

By Brad Pearson

Book Cover The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America by Brad Person. Image Courtesy of  Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America is an impeccably researched, deeply moving, never-before-told tale about a World War II incarceration camp in Wyoming and its extraordinary high school football team.

The following is an excerpt from the book.

BY THE AFTERNOON of December 8, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had detained 736 Japanese nationals on the United States mainland and in Hawai’i. Within four days that number grew to 1,370, and, eventually, to 2,192. The FBI’s authority came via presidential warrant, signed by U.S. attorney general Francis Biddle. It authorized the arrest of enemy aliens considered “dangerous to the public peace and safety of the United States.” The

issei—shopkeepers, gardeners, farmers, dry cleaners, all charged with nothing—were loaded into police cars as their American sons and daughters looked on. In a statement two days later, Biddle halfheartedly attempted to assuage the American public—or, more specifically, the Japanese American public.

So long as aliens in this country conduct themselves in accordance with law, they need fear no interference by the Department of Justice or by any other agency of the Federal Government. They may be assured, indeed that every effort will be made to protect them from any discrimination or abuse. Inevitably, there are some among our alien population who are disloyal. The Federal Government is fully aware of the dangers presented not only by such persons but also by disloyal citizens. The government has control of the activities of these elements.

Biddle was the great-great-grandson of the first attorney general of the United States under President George Washington, and a distant relative of James Madison. His family traced its heritage in the United States to more than one hundred years prior to the country’s founding. Born in Paris and raised partly in Switzerland, the Groton and Harvard Law graduate later abandoned his family’s Republican roots and became a fervent Democrat, serving as head of the National Labor Relations Board under President Roosevelt. Soon came stints as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals (1939), as solicitor general (1940), and finally, like his great-great-grandfather 152 years earlier, attorney general. He was in office only three months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.


The seeds of the arrests Biddle oversaw had been planted years earlier. Under the shield of the Alien Enemies Act of 1798, the federal government had arrested 6,400 mostly German nationals residing in the United States during World War I. Nearly 2,400 were interned for some or all of the war. In the decades that followed, the Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval

Intelligence, the War Department’s Military Intelligence Division, the FBI, and the State Department continued counterintelligence measures aimed at thwarting potential acts of espionage. In the 1920s and 1930s, this meant monitoring Japan’s growing naval influence in the Pacific. On August 10, 1936, Roosevelt expressed his concern in a letter to his chief of naval operations.

“Every Japanese citizen or non-citizen on the Island of Oahu who meets these Japanese ships [arriving in Hawai’i] or has any connection with their officers or men should be secretly but definitely identified and his or her name be placed on a special list of those who would be the first to be placed in a concentration camp in the event of trouble,” he wrote.

This surveillance was far from limited to Japanese nationals. A confidential State Department memo from late 1934 highlights some of the earliest signs of the federal government’s surveillance (and hysteria) of its own Japanese American citizens. 

“The Imperial Japanese Government has agents in every large city in this country and on the West Coast,” the communiqué reads. “These people, who pass as civilians and laborers, are being drilled in military maneuvers. When war breaks out, the entire Japanese population on the West Coast will rise and commit sabotage. They will endeavor by every means to neutralize the

West Coast and render her defenseless.”


By June 1940 there were so many different arms of the federal government monitoring the Japanese American community that Roosevelt had to designate the duties to avoid overlap; memos were sent to the secretaries of state, war, treasury, navy, and commerce, and to the attorney general. The Army’s Military Intelligence Division handled the investigation of cases that originated in the military, including civilians employed by it. The Office of Naval Intelligence

investigated cases within the Navy and its civilian employees. The FBI was responsible for all investigations of espionage, counterespionage, and sabotage involving civilians in the United States and its territories, and its duties included one other critical obligation: the discovery of fifth column activity, defined by Military Intelligence as “previous, secret, and intelligent planning coordinated in time and space with those of the uniformed forces of the enemy.”

Their marching orders presented, the agencies ratcheted up their efforts. As the war in Europe churned, the American defense industry readied itself. Munitions, aircraft, and warship production skyrocketed as an essential hedge in case of U.S. involvement; the FBI secured more than eleven thousand informants in the plants by the end of 1940. Convinced that, due to

their racial distinctions, Japanese spies would not be able to infiltrate those factories, counterintelligence concocted a convoluted fantasy: Japan was recruiting African American workers as spies. In a justification that would crop up again and again both before and after Pearl Harbor, intelligence officers posited that the lack of Japanese American faces in the factories proved that the spies were, in fact, very good. In early 1941, Military Intelligence

warned of this possibility, saying “the Japanese plan to utilize American Negroes for subversion and espionage. The Japanese figure that as long as the Negro is dependent upon the whites for livelihood, the political strength can be used to their advantage.”

The hypothesis couldn’t have been further from the truth, for one reason in particular: black Americans mostly didn’t work in the defense industry. Whites sucked up the majority of these jobs, backed by the United States Employment Service, which happily filled “whites only” requests from defense contractors. State Department investigators went so far as to speculate that Japanese Americans had infiltrated A. Philip Randolph’s March on Washington movement, which sought the desegregation of the armed forces and fair working practices for African Americans. In May 1941, in an effort to head off the march, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, which prohibited discrimination in federal job programs and for defense companies contracting with the government; the armed forces, however, were not desegregated until 1948, three years after the war.


No corner of Japanese American life was safe from prying eyes. 

Driven by special travel rates and promises of reduced hotel costs upon arrival, more than one hundred cruises had left the United States for Japan between 1938 and 1941. Intelligence officers pored over the itineraries; most involved little more than visits to parents’ graves or ceremonies at Buddhist and Shinto shrines. Buddhist priests and organizations like the Young Buddhist Association were added to Naval Intelligence’s list of subversive groups. The priests were disparaged for their lengthy training in Japan and for “developing Japanese spirit and for holding before their adherents Japanese ideas.”

Monitoring wasn’t limited to the FBI’s rank-and-file. J. Edgar Hoover, then already head of the bureau for more than a decade and a half, wrote in a November 15, 1940, memo that the majority of issei would be loyal to the United States in the event of war, but that a tiny minority of “Buddhist and Shintoist priests, the Japanese-language schoolteachers, the consular agents,

and a small percentage of prominent Japanese alien businessmen” may not have been inclined to do so. Two months before Pearl Harbor, in October 1941, he sent a plea to his field agents.

Japanese espionage activities . . . have been and are being conducted regarding various subjects whose activities have caused them to be looked upon with suspicion. Nevertheless, the practical results have been very meager. It is believed that a specific reason for this undesirable situation is the dearth of confidential informants among members of the Japanese race. Accordingly, you are instructed to take immediate steps to secure and develop confidential informants of the Japanese race.

Hoover’s instructions had a very specific effect: they splintered the Japanese community along generational lines. The FBI believed Japan was using only issei as saboteurs, not their American children, so the FBI began recruiting informants from the younger generation. The most prominent of these came from the Japanese American Citizens League, a predominantly nisei and sansei organization. While the results were limited—it’s impossible to inform on a spy when no spying is actually occurring—they were something. “With the help of the J.A.C.L., which got to be very much on our side, we were able to pinpoint practically every agent that had any potential for mischief,” reads one Naval Intelligence report. The boasts, however, were just that. Most FBI agents found loyal employees and, even more so, loyal Americans. In a note sent to Hoover from the FBI’s San Francisco office, agents surmised that although Japanese Americans were “asked to furnish information of espionage activities, they all vehemently state that they have no information to give because the Japanese are not engaged in such activity. ”It is my opinion that these individuals say one thing and think another, and would not cooperate if

they knew of such activities.” Nowhere was this misconception more evident than the docks of San Pedro Bay.

Excerpted from The Eagles of Heart Mountain published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Copyright © 2021 by Bradford Pearson.

Bradford Pearson is an award-winning journalist whose work examines everything from magicians to Japanese American incarceration to his own kidnapping. He’s written for The New York Times, and Esquire, Time, Men’s Health, and Philadelphia magazines, among many other publications. He is the former features editor for Southwest: The Magazine, and is currently a contributing editor for Philadelphia and a contributing writer for the New York Times’ Special Sections team.

[EdNote: JAVA wishes to thank member LTC Rod Azama, USA (Ret), for bringing Mr. Pearson's book to our attention. JAVA also thanks Brad Pearson for his research, writing and for his permission to reprint the excerpt from "The Eagles of Heart Mountain."]

Nisei Impact: Honolulu Star-Advertiser Youth Storytelling Project Honors Hawaii’s Japanese American World War II Veterans

Nisei Impact youth journalism program presented by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Report for America and Nisei Veterans Legacy. Pictured at the ceremony honoring high school students and subjects who participated in the project. Pictured in the front row: World War II veterans Edward Ikuma, 100th Infantry Battalion and Kenji Ego, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Back row from left to right: Honolulu Star-Advertiser ethnic and cultural affairs reporter Jayna Omaye, Punahou School student L. Kensington Ono, Honolulu Star-Advertiser managing editor Marsha McFadden, Moanalua High School student Daria Stapolsky, Kalani High School student Stephanie Yeung, Nisei Veterans Legacy president Lynn Heirakuji. Not present are Kalani High School student Marisa Fujimoto and McKinley High School student Shane Kaneshiro. Photo: Cindy Ellen Russell at /crussell@staradvertiser.com. 

Reprinted with Permission

By Jayna Omaye, April 10, 2022

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

This story was first published by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser for the Nisei Impact youth journalism series in partnership with Nisei Veterans Legacy.

Hideo Nimori served in the revered 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

To the rest of the world, he was a decorated second-­generation Japanese American, or nisei, soldier, who enlisted because he hoped his experiences during World War II would yield more opportunities when he returned home.

But to me and my cousins, he was also Grandpa.

Jayna Omaye with her grandpa, Hideo Nimori, who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Photo: Courtesy Nimori Family. 

He was the grandpa who was always smiling and ready to crack a joke, often at his own expense or to make light of my grandma’s yelling. He was the grandpa who would always lose at board games so that we would win, even if that meant getting scoldings from my mom and aunty afterward. He was the grandpa who drove us around during summer breaks in his clunky brown van, while laughing off my grandma’s brutal backseat driving comments. He was the grandpa who was always there for every birthday, anniversary, graduation and family gathering. And he was the grandpa who filled my childhood with so much love.

It’s been 10 years since he died, but my family and I still laugh and reminisce about all of the happy memories we had with him.

Hideo and Dorothy Nimori (middle) with their grandchildren and great grandchildren. From left to right: Gwen, Brent, Dallas, Kaiya and Jayna. Photo: Courtesy of Nimori Family.

Our story resonates with many in the islands, where nisei veterans are part of many families. After the war ended, many of them attended college through the GI Bill, worked to better their communities and helped to change Hawaii’s landscape to make it more inclusive of those who faced prejudice. Their serv­ice extended far beyond the battlefield.

The Nisei Impact youth storytelling project was launched in December to help share the stories of Hawaii’s nisei veterans, and as part of my service with Report for America, a national organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under­covered issues and communities.

The Honolulu Star- Advertiser is partnering with the nonprofit Nisei Veterans Legacy, which works to “preserve, perpetuate and share” the legacy of Americans of Japanese Ancestry who served in the U.S. armed forces in World War II.

Five high school students were chosen for the inaugural program, meeting over three months to report on the veterans they chose to write about. At weekly meetings the students learned about journalism, writing, reporting, interviewing and more. Most had no journalism experience, but all of the students were passionate about storytelling and learning more about their nisei veteran.

Nisei Impact youth journalism program presented by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Report for America and Nisei Veterans Legacy. Pictured at the ceremony honoring high school students who participated in the project is from left to right: Honolulu Star-Advertiser ethnic and cultural affairs reporter Jayna Omaye, Moanalua High School student Daria Stapolsky, Punahou School student L. Kensington Ono, Kalani High School student Stephanie Yeung, and Nisei Veterans Legacy president Lynn Heirakuji on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Not present are Kalani High School student Marisa Fujimoto and McKinley High School student Shane Kaneshiro. Photo: Cindy Ellen Russell / April 5.

The project became a reality with support from Honolulu Star-Advertiser President and Publisher Dennis Francis, editors, co-workers and the hard- working volunteers at the Nisei Veterans Legacy, particularly president Lynn Heirakuji.

The 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team are recognized as among the most highly decorated for size and length of service in U.S. military history. In 2011, they, along with Japanese American soldiers in the Military Intelligence Service, who translated and intercepted government documents, were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal — the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress.

The “Go for Broke” motto is stitched onto the hat of World War II veteran Kenji Ego who served with the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Photo: Cindy Ellen Russell / April 5.

At the end of March, each student finished writing a profile about a nisei veteran who served. Two of the students even had an opportunity to write about a nisei veteran in their own family, learning more about their own history and heritage.

Their stories of life, hardship, bravery and resilience will be published daily beginning Monday.

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

[Ed Note: JAVA wishes to thank the many JAVA members who recommended this series. JAVA also thanks Jayna Omaye and Marsha McFadden at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Lynn Heirakuji at the Nisei Veterans Legacy for granting reprint permission. To read the article online click

https://www.staradvertiser.com/2022/04/10/hawaii-news/nisei-impact-honolulu-star-advertiser-youth-storytelling-project-honors-hawaiis-japanese-american-world-war-ii-veterans/?utm_source=newsletter. ]

MOH Spotlight: Private Joe Hayashi

United States Army Private Joe Hayashi. Photo: U.S. Government. Note: The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

U.S. Army Public Affairs

Private Joe Hayashi distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 20 and 22 April 1945, near Tendola, Italy. On 20 April 1945, ordered to attack a strongly defended hill that commanded all approaches to the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi skillfully led his men to a point within 75 yards of enemy positions before they were detected and fired upon. After dragging his wounded comrades to safety, he returned alone and exposed himself to small arms fire in order to direct and adjust mortar fire against hostile emplacements. Boldly attacking the hill with the remaining men of his squad, he attained his objective and discovered that the mortars had neutralized three machine guns, killed 27 men, and wounded many others. On 22 April 1945, attacking the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi maneuvered his squad up a steep, terraced hill to within 100 yards of the enemy. Crawling under intense fire to a hostile machine gun position, he threw a grenade, killing one enemy soldier and forcing the other members of the gun crew to surrender. Seeing four enemy machine guns delivering deadly fire upon other elements of his platoon, he threw another grenade, destroying a machine gun nest. He then crawled to the right flank of another machine gun position where he killed four enemy soldiers and forced the others to flee. Attempting to pursue the enemy, he was mortally wounded by a burst of machine pistol fire. The dauntless courage and exemplary leadership of Private Hayashi enabled his company to attain its objective. Private Hayashi'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.


Save the Date

Upcoming JAVA Events

  • Memorial Day Program, Arlington National Cemetery, Columbarium at 10 am. Sunday, May 29 at 10 am (EDT), 7:00 am (PDT), and 4:00 am (HST).
  • Nisei WWII Veterans Photo Exhibit, The Go For Broke Spirit at JICC, Thursday. June 9 to Friday, July 22, from 9 am to 5 pm (EDT), Monday-Friday with special hours on Saturday, June 11 from 12 pm to 5 pm (EDT) at JICC.
  • Day of Affirmation Ceremony, National WII Memorial, Washington, DC. Friday, July 15 at 12:00 noon (EDT).
  • Day of Affirmation Dinner at National Museum of U.S. Army. Saturday, July 16 from 4:30 to 9:00 pm (EDT).
  • JAVA Scholarship Awards Presentation, Livestream on Facebook. Saturday, July 23 at 3:00 (EDT).

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.