_____JULY – SEPTEMBER, 2002_____ VOLUME X * NUMBER_3__________
I am pleased and very honored to serve as JAVA’s president for the 2002-2004 biennial. As Phil Ishio, and Hank Wakabayashi before him, as well as Cal Ninomiya have stated, JAVA needs to look to the future and decide what our place will be among veterans associations. Thanks to the great work of my predecessors and others who have so generously given of their time and energy, JAVA has accomplished much. Additionally, we have the advantages of a location in the national capital region as well as a good name, both literally and figuratively.
On the other hand, as August Comte, the 19th century French philosopher, has recognized, "demography is destiny." And for JAVA, the demographics are not favorable. First, most of our members are veterans of World War II, which had 12 million Americans under arms. Today’s military has been down-sized to about a tenth of that. Second, due to the success of the Nisei generation, the Sansei’s (of which I am one) have benefited by being able to gain an education and professionally rewarding careers, without serving in uniform. We definitely stand on the shoulders of giants in this regard. And third, younger generations have a lower propensity to join organizations.
While we assess the present, it is always good to do an accounting of JAVA’s successes and its future. While we should continue to honor the sacrifices of the past, with the unprecedented Medal of Honor ceremony to members of the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Presidential Unit Citation award to the Military Intelligence Service, we must also recognize that it just "won’t get any better than that" for Japanese American veterans. And hopefully it will never have to for any generation of veterans. Now we must look to the future to see what role we can play in the national security affairs of the nation as well as continue the professional and personal camaraderie of our members.
As part of a review of where JAVA should go, I will sit down with past JAVA officers for an introspective look at what we want to be as an organization. We must also take an external look at other, similar-minded organizations, to see if we can combine forces for common goals. And we must always be mindful of our unique opportunity, both through our location in Washington, DC and our American birthright, to positively impact the future through legislative and administrative processes. As fewer and fewer Americans serve, those who have must have a more prominent role in national security affairs.
One thing will stay constant, and that is communication with our members. To this end, this newsletter will continue as one of our primary means of communicating. Aki has given as much as anyone in keeping this important effort going, and I thank him on behalf of the membership. Additionally, David Buto’s services in getting JAVA on the leading edge (to him, perhaps bleeding edge) of information technology has been invaluable in getting our important message out to the public at large.
Thank you again for the honor of serving as your president. I recognize the significance of the JAVA torch being passed from Nisei to Sansei generations, and the flame will continue to burn brightly. I look forward to working with you all in the coming years.
NATIONAL CONSTITUTIONAL GROUP TO HONOR NISEI WWII VETERANS NOVEMBER 11
The National Constitution Center, established by the U.S. Congress, will honor Japanese American veterans of WWII with its "2002 We the People Award," JAVA’s Fred Murakami has been informed.
"The National Constitution Center is honored to confirm that it will be bestowing in 2002 We the People Award to the Japanese American World War II veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service," Joseph M. Torsella, President and CEO of the center said in his letter announcing the news.
The letter was sent to Col. Young Oak Kim, Chairman of the Go For Broke Educational Foundation, who in turn sent it to Fred, former JAVA president and currently chairman of the National Council of AJA Veterans.
"With this year marking the 60th anniversary of Presidential Executive Order 9066 and our National Constitution Week theme being citizens rights and responsibilities, we can think of no group more worthy of this award than the extraordinary men of the 100th/442nd/MIS who so courageously defended our country," Torsella said.
Torsella is encouraging as many veterans of the Nisei units as possible to attend the awarding of the honors in Philadelphia next Veterans’ Day, November 11, along with representatives of each of the services receiving the award. He will work with Colonel Kim and his Foundation staff on selecting these representatives.
The Constitutional Center was established by Congress as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization "devoted to engaging all Americans in the U.S. Constitution, its history, and its relevance to our daily lives," Torsella explained.
The Center plans to open a new museum July 4, 2003 on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall dedicated to honoring and explaining the U.S. Constitution through multi-media exhibits, artifacts and films, and will include stories of some "Go for Broke" veterans.
"The We the People Award was created in 1996 to honor individuals or organizations who best exemplify the qualities of active citizenship by our Nation’s Founders and who have made a noteworthy contribution to constitutional principles," Torsella added.
Previous winners of the award are Senators Robert C. Byrd and Mark O. Hatfield, publisher Benjamin C. Bradlee, Ambassador Walter Annenberg, and Representative John R. Lewis.
JAVA members wishing to attend should contact Fred Murakami at:
2511 Babcock Rd. Vienna, VA 22181
Tel: 703-938-8185; FAX 703-938-6229, E-mail email@example.com.
NEW CALL ISSUED FOR NAMES "TO PERPETUATE" LIST IN NATIONAL WEBSITE ON WWII & OCCUPATION MIS’ers by Grant Ishikawa
A new call has been issued for the names of any Nisei who served in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II and the Allied Occupation of Japan. The call comes from former veterans compiling the information for a national website.
James T. Tanabe, one of the projects "Hawaii connection", asked that all "PLEASE KOKUA with this worthy project to perpetuate the MIS legacy…"
Tanabe reports that though work on the national website is progressing, it is a tedious job authenticating all the MIS names since the school and the Army lists give only first initials.
"Just think for a minute the task we face when we see 12 Nakamuras with the initial ‘T.’ We have to individualize each T. Nakamura and give him his individual and rightful place.
"This is why we need all you MIS’ers to kokua and call or write your full name, Army Serial Number, Language School month, year and call, or other schools you attended, or state that you did not attend any Army language school and where you served."
Of more than 6,160 names from the Army and Archives, he said, they had found some duplication and the they currently were working on a list of 5,750 (the "Aiso List") and have confirmed about 4,200, "which is a big score, but that took about five or more years of work so far, checking names one by one."
He said the website eventually will be available on CD-ROM and also include historical chronologies and chronicles for researchers to access.
The Web Master for the site is Jimmy Yamashita of the 442nd group in California, while others involved are Seiki Oshiro in Minnesota, JAVA’s Grant Ichikawa with additional help coming from Paul Tani, Ted Tsukiyama, Ken Nakagawa, Yoshinobu Oshiro and Quentin Belles of Kuai.
Tanabe said anyone with information should call him at (808) 677-4785 or write to him at
94-1017 Waiolina St, Waipahu, HI 96797-4308.
THE 120,000 TASSEL TAPESTRY AND 1800TH PHOTOGRAPHIC DISPLAY HIGH-LIGHT WORKSHOP ON J-A WWII EXPERIENCE by Cedrick Shimo
The 120,000-tassel tapestry honoring Japanese-American veterans of World War II and the 1800th Battalion’s photographic display high-lighted a recent workshop for schoolteachers on the Japanese American experience during World War II.
The workshop, held at the Japanese American National Museum, was sponsored by the Go For Broke Educational Foundation and coincided with the opening August 9 of the 62nd annual Nisei Week Festival in Los Angeles. Also featured were video, slides and speakers, to give the teachers first-hand facts to pass on to their students.
The Foundation thus far has sponsored over 25 workshops throughout the state. Not generally known is that the State of California adopted a content standard that requires students to learn about the Nisei wartime experience in the 11th grade U.S. history classes – and the Foundation is helping to fulfill this need.
The 19’x41’ tapestry was the work of more than 500 students of the Tecumseh and Sunnyside eighth grade middle school classes of Lafayette, Indiana, who were inspired by their teacher, Leila Meyerratken. The students first constructed a Japanese Zen garden, went on to make the quilt tapestry, then got advice from the War Memorial Museum of Indianapolis to come up with their professionally-looking display.
(Editor’s note: Cedrick Shimo also should receive major credit for the photo display. During the during the rededication of the Memorial to Japanese American Patriotism in Washington D.C., JAVA’s Jack Herzig asked Meyerratken and MIS veteran Seiki Oshiro, who helped with the project, why the 1800th Engineer General Services Battalion was not included in the display. Neither had heard of the 1800th. Herzig then referred them to Shimo who had a collection of some 300 time-worn snapshots and documents taken between 1942 and 1946 – scenes of basic training at Camp Grant, intelligence training at Camp savage and subsequent ouster to Fort Leavenworth, Fort Leonard Wood, and finally to the 1800th. Included also were photos taken at Manzanar and even of the Enemy Alien detention camps at Lordsburg and Santa Fe. All were forwarded to the students and 106 were clear enough to enlarge.)
The students also raised $7,000 from 1800th veterans and friends for various expenses. Working after classes, often far into the night and over weekends, the students finally completed the display and, on a make-shift display board, was able to show it in Hawaii. The completed display then was sent to the Museum in time for the teachers’ workshop. During the festival the students marched in the Nisei festival parade carrying a huge placard about the tapestry, which remained on exhibit over the weekend for general viewing, plus two formal presentations by Leila and her students. Approximately 150 people were in attendance at each session.
Both the 120,000-tassel tapestry and the 1800th photographic display are being housed at the Go For Broke Educational Foundation. No doubt they will be exhibited at future workshops.
(The 1800th story appears on JAVA’s website www.JAVADC.ORG as the feature article for March 02.)
ASTRONAUT TANI CREDITS NISEI GENERATION FOR HIS OWN CHANCES AT SUCCESS
(Editor’s note: Astronaut Dan Tani, who was the flight engineer aboard the NASA shuttle Endeavour which flew into space nine months ago, recently was named the "Nikkei of the Biennium for Science and Technology" by the JACL. Dan, also on the back-up crew for another space mission at the end of next year, was featured at two recent meetings, the JACL Convention in Las Vegas last June and 2002 Topaz Reunion in San Francisco at the end of August. His busy schedule prevented him from attending either gathering but he sent his message to the JACL via a video while his second message was read by his uncle, JAVA’s Paul Tani. The text of his two messages follow:
(Las Vegas, June 29, 2002)
Good evening, I’m Dan Tani, and I’m videotaping this today at the Johnson Space Center here in Houston, Texas, because as you watch this tonight, I am actually in Russia, right outside of Moscow at a place called Star City where the cosmonauts and astronauts train to be International Space Station crewmembers. And, I’m a backup crewmember for a flight that will go to the space station at the end of next year.
I’m terribly sorry that I can’t be with you in person tonight to receive the Japanese American of the Biennium Award. I am honored and thrilled to be considered for such a prestigious award. I am happy though that my mother, Rose Tani, and my father’s brother, Paul Tani, can be with you tonight, in person, to accept this award in my absence.
As a third generation Japanese American I always like to say that my story is very special in that sixty years ago, my government felt it necessary to remove my parents and my brother along with all the other Japanese Americans on the West Coast and relocate them during World War II. What I think is amazing is that one generation later, that same government gives me the opportunity to represent not only the country but the world by traveling and living in space.
It makes me so proud both of my government to see the error of their ways sixty years ago and also my family to endure such hardship and sacrifice by giving up everything they had in their lives to do what they thought was the patriotic thing by being relocated during the war.
I’d also like to recognize someone else who came before me; and that is, Ellison Onizuka, he was the first Japanese American ever selected by NASA as an astronaut; in fact, he was the first Asian American. He flew once in the 1980’s and then died tragically aboard the Challenger in 1986. Because of Ellison, I am the second Japanese American astronaut, and there are several Chinese American astronauts in the corps; and I think we all owe it to Ellison to be the one to blaze the trail for us to be given such incredible opportunities.
So, I’m so happy that my mother, Rose, and my uncle, Paul, can be there tonight to accept this award for me. Ironically, if I was there, I would be accepting this award for them. It is because of them and all the Japanese Americans of their generation that sacrificed and endured so much discrimination that has given the opportunity for me and all people of my generation the incredible opportunity to do whatever we would like, to attend whatever schools we would like, to accept any jobs that we are eligible for, to live any place in the country that we would like.
Again, thank you so much for this award. And, I certainly hope to honor it, as much as it honors me.
Thank you, and have a good evening. I love you, Mom.
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(Topaz Reunion, San Francisco, August 31, read by his uncle, Paul Tani)
To all of you gathered for the 2002 Topaz Reunion:
Even though I have never been to Topaz, I feel that it is part of me. I have heard the stories of "life in the camp" from my mother since I can remember. I also know that my father played an important role at Topaz High School, and I am proud that he and my mother were able to make so much out of their lives when they lived there almost 60 years ago. I cannot imagine how my parents not only survived the discrimination and humiliation of the camps, but flourished within those barbed wire fences.
I am proud to be a product of such strong and resilient people. Every accomplishment that I achieve in my life I achieve in honor of my parents and other Japanese Americans that sacrificed to allow me every privilege that I enjoy.
When my mother talks of the camps, her stories are of a difficult, uncomfortable life. But her stories also include times of joy, laughter, and camaraderie. What are missing from her stories are bitterness, anger and resentment. I view their forced relocation to the camps as a violation of their basic rights as United States citizens – yet I get the sense that they felt that they were doing what was asked of them – to probe their loyalty. In the end, I think the Japanese Americans not only proved their loyalty but also their resourcefulness and their ability to rebuild their lives to become a vital component of the post-war society.
My story as an astronaut is an amazing one. Just 60 years ago, the United States Government felt that my parents were a high enough security threat that they were locked away for over two years. Now, one generation later, the same government gives me – a child of those same detainees – the opportunity to represent our nation in space. It’s a story of amazing growth – for both the government and the Japanese American community. It makes me proud to be a Japanese American – and equally proud to be part of both groups – the Japanese and Americans. Our country is a great one, and our community is a great one.
For those of you who once lived in that remote place in Utah, remembering horrible times and wonderful times, please know that there are those of us out there that thank you for your courage, your strength and your loyalty. The society that I grew up in was greatly influenced from your actions and attitudes in and out of the camps. My fellow Sansei and Yonsei will never know what life in the camps was really like, but we owe it to those of you that were there to never forget that we owe our comfortable, privileged lives to your sacrifice.
Thank you for your time and attention. I wish all of you the best.
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(Paul Tani adds: Dan Tani is the fifth child of Henry and Rose Tani. He earned Bachelor and Master Degrees in Mechanical Engineering from M I T. His industrial experience was primarily at Orbital Sciences Corporation where he managed the launching of their space vehicles. He applied to become an astronaut and was accepted in 1996.
Nine months ago, he was the flight engineer of the NASA Endeavour Shuttle, which was launched into space with a crew of four astronauts and three space explorers. Those three would replace the three at the International Space Station. While at the space station, Dan and another mission specialist walked in space for four hours.
Dan was just four years old when his Dad died. Dan knows that his success was due to the love, devotion and efforts of his Mom, Rose.)
AN EX-MARAUDER SPEAKS: JAVA’S GRANT HIRABAYSHI RECALLS WWII EXPERIENCE
(Editor’s Note: Following is from an address by Grant Hirabayashi during a recent gathering at the Smithsonian Institution announcing the publication of the book, Into the Rising Sun: Veterans of WWII Remember, by Patrick O’Donnell (see JAVA News of January/March, 2002). Interviews with two other JAVA members, Jack Herzig and Roy Matsumoto are also included in the book and JAVA News wills include excerpts from these interviews in coming issues)
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Up on graduation from the Military Intelligence School in June of l943 and while waiting overseas assignment, I applied for a leave to see my parents and siblings who were no longer at home. They were uprooted along with l20,000, mostly American citizens, and placed in 10 separate concentration camps throughout the United States.
When I arrived at the camp I was taken aback to see rows and rows of tarpaper barracks behind bared wire. When I looked up, I saw a sentry in a watchtower with a machine gun facing inward. We exchanged greeting with a smile, but inside we were crying.
My visit was a brief one and it was one of my most unpleasant experience of my life. As I boarded the train for my return trip, I was emotionally devastated and utterly confused. I was confused to find myself an American soldier who took the oath to uphold the Constitution and fight for liberty and justice and agonizing over the situation where my siblings were placed behind barbed wires. Their crime is that they look like the enemy and were of Japanese decent. This experience in the camp made me fully realize the great challenge that lay ahead of me.
When I heard the call for volunteers for a secret, dangerous and hazardous mission, I along with over two hundred graduates stepped forward to answer the call. Among the fourteen selected, there were four who volunteered from behind barbed wire to serve with the Merrill’s Marauders. I might add that two were later inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame in Fort Benning, Georgia.
As we sailed across the Pacific Ocean to Bombay, India, the most frequently asked question of us was, "What do you think the Japanese will do to you if they capture you?" We had a stock answer that we didn’t know what they had planned for us, but they would have to run like hell to catch us!
More seriously, when I left the staging area, I had four hand grenades. I was down to one. The one I kept for myself. It was at the battle of Walabum that brought the war close to home. I picked up a discarded paper bag that contained soybean paste manufactured in the prefecture where my parents came from and where I had studied. It reinforced my prayer asking that I be spared from confronting my cousins and class- mates. My prayer was answered. A cousin and a class- mate also fought in Burma, but on a separate front.
During the battle of Shadazup, the White Column crossed the river to place a road block behind enemy line. The following morning I received an order to assist the White Column in tapping the enemy telephone line. When an interpreter is on a mission, he is provided with an escort. On this river crossing, I had two escorts, one in front and one in back. The river was shoulder deep and when we reached mid-stream, I heard three rifle shots and bullets piercing the water around me. All I could recall was that the three of us crossed the river safely.
I later heard that when the sniper opened up, the troops providing cover for our river crossing opened up with the automatic weapons and the fire power was so great that it cut the tree and found the sniper tied to the tree. When I reported to the officer in charge, I was told that the telephone line was dead.
My river crossing was not in vain. When the White Column caught the enemy by surprise, they retreated leaving their breakfast behind. I had a feast that consisted of rice and a can of sardines.
The longest five minutes of my life took place after the battle of Shadazup during our forced march to Nhypung-ga to rescue the the 2nd Battalion that was under siege. The medical officer who saw me struggling suffering from amoebic dysentery, authorized me to place my back pack on the horse. When the horse suffered shrapnel wounds, it had to be destroyed. The mule that carried the pack suffered from a sore when the load shifted while climbing a steep incline and it too had to be destroyed.
The second mule that carried the pack went down on its knees during a ten-minute break. The mule-skinner, tried as he did, could not get the mule to respond. When the ten–minute break was up and when I saw the last man disappear around the bend, my hear sank because I knew it would almost impossible for me to carry the pack, double time to catch up with the column. The mule-skinner from Montana pulled and pulled. And finally in disgust, he rattled all the curse words at his command and while making a desperate pull, shouted, "Dam it, you volunteered to!" and with that the mule got up!
Speaking of horses and mules, they were our only ground transportation. All our supplies were by means of air drop by C-47 cargo planes. The cargo consisted of five day K-ration for per man, grains for the mule, ammunition and medical supplies. I can recall we had clear several acres of jungles to establish a drop area and going without food for days in order to escape enemy detection while made raids behind enemy line.
The Marauders’ long and exhausting march in rain and tropical heat, lack of inadequate nourishment, resulted in high percentage of casualties from disease such as malaria, typhus and dysentery. Along with sick and wounded soldiers, I too followed closely behind the mule so that when the going got tough, I wold hang on the mule’s tail. I can visualize the mule that would look back from time to time as though to say, " Hey! Give me a break!" But I hung on for my dear life.
Because of the nature of the mission, no prisoner was taken prior to the capture of Mytikyina airfield. Then you may ask where did we fit into the plan. Let me briefly give you several examples of interpreters in action.
The Japanese soldiers spoke loudly in the mistaken knowledge that Americans could not understand their language. The interpreter assigned to the I&R, intelligence and reconnaissance platoon interpreted an enemy oral command, pinpointing the area of attack making it possible for the platoon to anticipate and shift the fire power to meet the onslaught. He was pinned down so often by enemy and friendly fire that earned a nickname horizontal Hank!
During the same battle, four interpreters listened into enemy telephone line and learned the sergeant guarding the ammunition dump was asking for aid and advice. By pinpointing the position of the Marauders, he compromised his position. And soon a diver bomber was dispatched to destroy a major ammunition dump.
During the battle of Nhypun Ga the 2nd Battalion was under siege for l5 days. The interpreters went beyond their perimeter every night to secure information. One night an interpreter crawled way beyond his perimeter into no-mans-land and overheard that the enemy was planning an attack the following morning. With that information, the platoon officer withdrew his men from the ridge and established a new position in the direction of the attack.
They waited. At dawn the struck led by an officer brandishing a sword. The platoon leader withheld fire until they were within 15 yards and opened up with all the automatic weapons at his command with devastating results. The second wave saw what took place hit the ground. The interpreter thinking that they may withdraw to fight another day, rose from his fox hole and gave command Japanese, Charge, Charge, and charge they did to face the same fate as the first wave.
When the battle was over, they counted 54 bodies, including 2 officers. The day was Sunday, Easter Sunday.
The Marauders had fought through five major battle and thirty minor engagement, marched over seven hundred miles through almost impossible terrain and cleared the northern Burma and enabled the Ledo Road to be linked-up with the Old Burma Road to reestablish only ground supply line from India to China.
In closing, let us not forget the brave men and women who made the supreme sacrifices so that we may live in peace and freedom. Thank You.
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(Editor’s Note: Much of what appears in this newsletter may be stale news for those on the internet. The items are included, however, for those unfortunate (or should we say "fortunate") souls who do not deal with a computer -- and the accompanying frustrations.)