______JULY / AUGUST_________________VOLUME VIII_*_NUMBER 4____
It is encouraging for me that such capable people, whom you have elected, as Dr. Ernest Takafuji, Calvin Ninomiya and David Buto, have agreed to serve as officers of JAVA for the coming term. Dave is one of a number who have given a new burst of life to the organization, especially with the establishment of our web site and the very educational briefing he gave to the members of JAVA.
Under the leadership of Hank Wakabayashi, Joe Ichiuji, Max Yano and Dave Buto, JAVA has developed into a highly respected organization in the Nikkei veterans community. We hope to continue in the same direction, with particular emphasis on appealing to the younger generation to participate in our activities.
We hope to hold meetings of our staff and the executive council in the near future to work out our agenda for consideration by the general membership.
The task that faces us in the immediate future is our participation in the planning for the National Japanese American Memorial dedication in November. Whatever part the
veterans are assigned to play will require a great deal of coordination with the veterans organizations involved.
JAVA will be the "host" association, so to speak, in the activities planned for all concerned such as the Veterans Breakfast on November 11, and in any activity which individual groups may plan on their own, such as the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery, for which we have already made the necessary reservations for the morning of November 10.
Following the Veterans Breakfast on November 11, a second wreath-laying ceremony will be held in front of the engraved names on the Memorial of the veterans who died in service. This ceremony is to be established as an annual event.
PRESIDENT CLINTON LAUDS ASIAN AMERICAN MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS
Editor's Note: President Clinton's remarks July 15 at the South Lawn Pavilion of the White House during the ceremony honoring 22 Asian American recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor probably best expressed the nation's gratitude to the nine men still living and the relatives of those who have died. The citations, given out before a crowd including Senate and House leaders, cabinet members, and other distinguished guests, come more than a half century after the recipients' acts of heroism in World War II. An abbreviated text of the President's remarks follow.)
Chaplain Hicks; distinguished members of the Senate and the House who are here in large numbers; Secretary and Mrs. Cohen; Secretary and Mrs. West; Secretary Shalala; other members of the administration… I thank all of you for being here on this profoundly important day.
In early 1945, a young Japanese American of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team lay dead on a hill in southern France -- the casualty of fierce fighting with the Germans. A chaplain went up to pray over him, to bless him, to bring him back down.
As the Chaplain later said, "I found a letter in his pocket. The soldier had just learned that some vandals in California had burned down his father's home and barn in the name of patriotism. And yet this young man had volunteered for every patrol he could go on."
In a few moments I will ask the military aides to read individual citations detailing the extraordinary bravery to 22 Asian American soldiers -- some still with us, some to be represented by family members. We recognize them today with our Nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. They risked their lives above and beyond the call of duty. And in so doing, they did more than defend America; in the face of painful prejudice they helped define America at its best.
We have many distinguished Americans here today -- members of the Senate and House, including at least one Medal of Honor winner, Senator Kerrey. We have former senators and House members here. But there is one person I would like to introduce and ask to stand because, in a profound and fundamental way, he stands on the shoulders of those whom we honor today, and all those who have worked for 50 years to set the record straight. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to recognize the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, General Eric Shinseki.
Immediately following Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans in the United States military were forced to surrender their weapons. National Guardsmen were dismissed; volunteers were rejected; draft-age youth were classified as -- quote -- "enemy aliens." Executive Order 9066 authorized the military commanders to force more than 100,000 Japanese Americans from their homes and farms and businesses onto trains and buses into camps, where they were placed behind barbed wire in tar-paper barracks, in places like Manzanar, Heart Mountain, Topaz. I am sad to say that one of the most compelling marks of my youth is that one (sic) of those was in my home state.
One resident of the camps remembers his 85-year-old grandmother standing in line for food, with her tin cup and plate. Another remembers only watch towers, guards, guilt and fear. Another has spent years telling her children, "No, Grandfather was not a spy."
The astonishing fact is that young men of Japanese descent, both in Hawaii and on the mainland, were still willing, even eager, to take up arms to defend America.
In 1942, a committee of the Army recommended against forming a combat unit of Japanese Americans, citing -- and I quote -- "the universal distrust in which they are held." Yet, Americans of Japanese ancestry, joined by others of good faith, pressed the issue, and a few months later President Roosevelt authorized a combat team of Japanese American volunteers.
In approving the unit FDR said, "Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart. American is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry." That statement from President Roosevelt, so different from the executive order of just a year before, showed a nation pulled between its highest ideals and its darkest fears. We were not only fighting for freedom and equality abroad, we were also in a struggle here at home…
When young Japanese American men volunteered enthusiastically, some Americans were puzzled. But those who volunteered knew why. Their own country had dared to question their patriotism and they would not rest until they had proved their loyalty.
As sons set off to war, so many mothers and fathers told them, live if you can; die if you must; but fight always with honor, never, ever bring shame on your family or your country.
Rarely has a nation been so well-served by a people it has so ill-treated. For their members and length of service, the Japanese Americans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, including the 100th Infantry Battalion, became the most decorated unit in American military history. By the end of the war, America's military leaders in Europe all wanted these men under their command. Their motto was "Go for Broke." They risked it all to win it all…wounded soldiers left their hospital beds against doctor's orders to return to battle…They fought in Italy…in France and liberated towns that still remember them with memorials. They took 800 casualties…to rescue the lost battalion of Texas…
News of their patriotism beat back prejudice in America. But prejudice is a stubborn foe. Captain Daniel Inouye, back from the war, is full uniform, decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star, Purple Heart with Cluster, and 12 other medals and citations, tried to get a haircut and was told, "We don't cut Jap hair."…
People across the country had learned of his heroism and that of his colleagues…. A group of Army veterans who knew firsthand the heroism of the Japanese American soldiers, attacked prejudice in a letter to the Des Moines Register. It said, "When you have seen these boys blown to bits, going through shellfire that others refused to go through, that is the time to voice your opinion, not before."
In Los Angeles, a Japanese American soldier boarded a bus in full uniform, as a passenger hurled a racial slur. The driver heard the remark, stopped the bus, and said, "Lady, apologize to this American soldier or get off my bus." This defense of ideals here at home was inspired by the Japanese Americans in battle.
"Senator Inouye, you wrote that your father told you as you left at age 18 to join the Army and fight a war that the Inouyes owe an unrepayable debt to America…sir, more than half a century later, America owes an unrepayable debt to you and your colleagues.
Fifty-four summers ago…President Truman greeted the returning members of the 442nd and told them, "You fought not only he enemy, but you fought prejudice, and you have won."
Let us not also forget that Americans of Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Filipino descent, along with Alaskan natives, all faced the same blind prejudice. That is why we are proud to honor here today the service of 2nd Lt. Rudolph B. Davila, an American of Filipino and Spanish descent …and Captain Francis Wai, an American of Chinese descent…Americans of Asian descent did much more than prove they were Americans; they made our nation more American…
So today America awards 22 of them the Medal of Honor. They risked their lives, on their own initiative, sometimes even against orders, to take out machine guns, give aid to wounded soldiers, draw fire, pinpoint the enemy, protect their own. People who can agree on nothing else fall silent before that kind of courage.
But it is long past time to break the silence about their courage, to put faces and names with the courage, and to honor it by name: Davila, Hajiro, Hayashi, Inouye, Kobashigawa, Okutsu, Sakato, Hasemoto, Hayashi, Kuroda, Moto, Muranaga, Nakae, Nakamine, Nakamura, Nishimoto, Ohata, Okubo, Ono, Otani, Tanouye, Wai.
These American soldiers, with names we at long last recognize as American names, made an impact that soars beyond the force of any battle. They left a lasting imprint on the meaning of America. They didn't give up their country, even when too many of their countrymen and women had given up on them. They deserve, at the least, the most we can give them -- the Medal of Honor…
PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS (With President Cliton's MOH address)
(Editor's Note: Several functions in which JAVA members participated occurred to mark the award of the Congressional Medals to their fellow WWII veterans. We print several of their observations.)
Gala Setting at White House for MOH Presentation -- by Fumie Yamamoto
When President Clinton presented 22 Asian Americans with the Congressional Medal of Honor on June 21st to 22 Asian Americans, helpful and friendly aides, many in colorful and impressive uniforms, were everywhere to make sure all the guests's needs were attended to. Huge bouquets of flowers graced the White House, and food and drinks were generously served by efficient personnel. The Social Committee did indeed do an outstanding job, as always, on this occasion.
Approximately 600 people were present at this reception. Among the guests we personally recognized: Strom Thurmond, Robert McNamarra, Ambassador Mansfield, Senator Akaka, General Shinseki, Secretary Cohen, Senator Kerrey, Hung Wai Ching, and, of course, the honorees. Since we were free to mingle at the White House, I am sure there were many others we did not recognize.
The awarding of the medal took place at the covered pavilion, just south of the White House on the South Lawn. The pavilion is an air-conditioned rectangular structure whose interior surface, from ceiling to floor, was completely draped with what seemed to be white silk. Huge chandeliers glistened from the ceiling. The set-up is like an auditorium with a large stage and two sets of rows of chairs for the guests.
President Clinton gave a memorable speech from the podium. Aides read each recipient's citation before the President bestowed the medal to the honorees present. Family members received framed awards for the other honorees.
He said, " Rarely has a nation been so well served by a people I has so ill treated. By the end of the war, America's military leaders in Europe all wanted these men under their command." The motto of the 100/442nd Regimental Combat Team was "Go for Broke" and "They risked it all to win it all."
MOH RECIPIENTS INDUCTED INTO THE "HALL OF HEROES" by Warren Tsuneishi
In moving ceremonies conducted by General Eric Shinseki, Army Chief of Staff, and Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, 22 Medal of Honor recipients were inducted on June 22 into the Department of Defense Hall of Heroes in the Pentagon.
In his remarks, General Shinseki observed that the individual citations read at the White House on the previous day, when President Clinton awarded the medal, had been a humbling experience for him as a soldier. He said he had been struck by the uncommon courage exhibited by each recipient, and concluded that they personified the profound mutual trust that binds together soldiers on the battlefield.
In his remarks, Secretary Caldera said he was honored to be involved in "setting the record straight about the magnitude of the courage" demonstrated by the men. He said "We owe the seven soldiers living today and the 15 men who are no longer with us our deepest gratitude."
In inducting the 22 men into the Hall of Heroes -- the largest number ever installed in a single ceremony -- Secretary Caldera called the surviving soldiers or family members representing them to the podium area one by one where each were given wartime photographs of the individual soldiers.
A reception followed in the Hall of Heroes, where the names of all recipients of Medal of Honor since its establishment in 1863 are inscribed on plaques.
Grant Ichikawa writes: The Army pulled out all stops to honor the 22 Asian Americans who received the nation's top military award, the Medal of Honor, to follow up on the elaborate ceremonies just the day before at the White House.
At noon on June 22, 2000, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera and a bevy of ranking Pentagon officers -- for instance a two-star general sat with us in the unreserved section -- attended a special ceremony in the Pentagon courtyard to pay homage to the recipients and their families.
Each medal of honor winner or family representatives for those deceased then unveiled a framed photograph to be hung in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.
The comment from speakers at the reception that followed in the Hall was the fact that never in the history of the pentagon had so many been honored with the Medal at one time.
S. Phil Ishio writes:
General Shinseki made some remarks during the installation of the 22 recipients of the Medal of Honor in the courtyard of the Pentagon which, I thought, contained some very significant thoughts surrounding this momentous event which touched me very deeply.
"This experience has reminded me just how much all of us -- and I do mean all of us -- owe these remarkable Americans," the general said.
"In this country, a surprise attack had bred serious mistrust amongst a diverse population, a mistrust that was overturned only by acts of such supreme sacrifice to prove a loyalty that needed proving. But because of those demonstrations of loyalty, you have Americans of Asian-Pacific Islander heritage today serving at the highest levels in the nation.
"It has indeed been very humbling and gratifying to have these men as our role models. They gave us examples of honor and sacrifice we could only hope to emulate.
"Unfortunately, even as we induct the brave Americans into this hallowed place -- this hall of heroes -- many people in this country are no aware of them, of the many other true heroes who have sacrificed so much to give us our freedom, our privilege, our life of comfort. This is a shame. We have a responsibility to raise their awareness so that our children and our children's children never take the heroism of men like these for granted.
"We prevail as a nation…because they (the young people) understand that previous generations made sacrifices for them -- sacrifices that earned them the opportunity to compete to enjoy the fruits of freedom and equality.
"Moreover, it will be because they understand that when it came to defend our freedoms, those same ancestors answered the call of duty, many making the supreme sacrifice to secure those freedoms for future generations."
MIS VETS AWARDED PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION by S. Phil Ishio
Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki presented Nikkei veterans of the Military Intelligence Service World War II with the coveted Presidential Unit Citation during an impressive ceremony June 30 at the "Tribute to Veterans" dinner the National JACL convention in Monterey.
Northern California MIS Association president Marvin Uratsu accepted the award on behalf of all MIS association. It covers those who served with the MIS from May 1, 1942 to Sept. 2, 1945.
"The Presidential Unit Citation is the best way we can honor the thousands of MIS members who served with rare skill and courage in World War II, but whose wartime contributions have never received appropriate credit because their services were cloaked in secrecy," Army Secretary Louis Caldera said when he approved the award in April.
"I hope that with this award, the MIS will at last begin to receive the recognition that they deserve, and that more of our citizens will appreciate the valuable service they rendered in the war against tyranny."
The MIS citation, equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross awarded for accomplishing a mission under extremely hazardous conditions, is unprecedented in that such citations go to members of combat units, and only rarely to units larger than a battalion, and though the Nisei were attached to them, they were not integrated as members and thus were ineligible for the citation until now.
The exception for the MIS citation resulted from efforts of Harry Fukuhara and other members of the MIS associations in northern and southern California to seek special legislation to make MIS personnel eligible while Senator Daniel K. Akaka pushed the special bill through Congress.
JAVA members who served between May 1, 1942 and Sept. 2. 1945 while attached to a unit that received a Presidential Unit Citation can apply for the medal by sending a copy of a letter dated May 9, 2000 from the Chief of the Military Awards Branch authorizing the National Personnel Records Center (9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO. 63132-5200) to request DD Form 215a along with a copy of their individual service records.
JAVA MEMBERS DRAW, CAPTIVATE CROWDS AT READING, PA. COMMEMORATIVE WEEKEND, a personal report by Norman Ikari
JAVA members Phil Ishio, Grant Hirabayashi, Joe Ichiuji and I were again invited to speak and bring our WWII displays to the 10th Annual three-day WWII Commemorative Weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pa.
On three successive days, June 2-5, we described our WWII experiences before audiences of more than 75 visitors to the briefing tent each day and then moved to our MIS and 100th/442 posters and picture displays, fielding numerous questions, exchanging nostalgic gossip with WWII vets of both the Pacific and European Theatres.
This was Grant's first invitation to this event. As a Ranger with the famed Merrill's Marauders of the CBI theater, his description of his experiences captivated the audience. Together with Phil's extensive war experiences in the Pacific, the contributions of the Nisei GI's in the MIS elicited many follow-up questions.
Phil emphasized the critical importance of the Nisei GI's intelligence work to the successful pursuit of the Pacific War. The role of 6,000 AJA'sin the MIS was reported to have shortened the war against Japan by two years and to have saved countless lives.
The outstanding performance of the 100/442nd in Europe in WWII was quite commonly recognized by an appreciable number of visitors. Joe and I touched upon our personal histories in the period following Pearl Harbor -- his sudden discharge from the Army at about the same time I was being inducted. As we have on many previous occasions, we discussed our experiences in Europe -- Joe with the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion/442, his involvement in the liberation of a Dachau sub-camp, and my duty with Easy Company, 442nd, in the Rome-Arno campaign in Italy.
As I reported after our first invitation to this event in June, 1998, huge crowds are attracted to this annual event. We were invited in 1999 as well but chose instead to go to Los Angeles for the 100/442/MIS Monument unveiling. Our Air Museum coordinator told me that close to 20,000 visitors were in attendance in 1998 and this year's attendance, the 10th year's crowd was even larger. We had a full Briefing tent for our talks each day.
The airfield was filled with more than 50 vintage WWII aircraft including German Messerschmitts and Japanese Zeros. In the air P-47 and P-51 fighters, B-17 and B-25 bombers, and vintage trainers went through their maneuvers. Mocked battle scenes were staged …a mock Japanese air attack. Veteran WWII airmen, the navigator of the B-29 Enola Gay on its Hiroshima mission and pilots from the famed Tuskegee squadron spoke.
On the first day Joe and I were interviewed on Reading Radio Station WRAW; then later we were all interviewed by the Reading Eagle. News items about us also appeared in some Philadelphia and Baltimore press.
Our thanks to the program coordinators for inviting us again and to their solicitous attention to our comfort and needs. And also, once again, to Connie Ishio who kept an eagle-eye on our display material for countless hours during those three days.
ANOTHER PERSONAL NOTE
JAVA member Stan and Lynn Falk are celebrating the birth of their first grandson, Alexander David Leal, born to their daughter Lisa in Miami. Alexander is their second grandchild.