________MAY/JUNE 2003_____________VOLUME XI * NUMBER 3___
Almost a year has gone by since I became JAVA president and I just wanted to review where we are.
First, we changed our charter and by-laws to support a forward-looking organization.
Second, we honored our past with ceremonies at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism on Veteran's Day and through our participation in the 60th reunion of the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Honolulu.
During the latter, we made major strides in realizing our new charter, i.e., to be the principal organization representing the interests of Japanese American veterans in the nation's capital. This, along with our premier website, puts us in a prominent, and perhaps leading, position among all AJA veterans organizations.
Third, we have revitalized our status as a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and receive invitations to most of the major functions related to the Department and their mission. (I also understand that I may be asked to serve on a DVA commission that advises the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on veterans issues that affect minorities.)
Many JAVA members, including Stan Falk, Norm Ikari, Grant Hirabayashi, Aki Konoshima and Warren Tsuneishi, have also been very active in education, including writing, printing and/or distributing "The Story of the 442d Regimental Combat Team," "Nisei Soldiers in the War Against Japan" and other parts of our great story. I appreciate their time and efforts, as well as that of many others, for putting brain and muscle on the bones of our charter.
Speaking of great stories, AJA veterans are still making them. Last week I was honored to attend the retirement ceremony for the outgoing Chief of Staff of the Army, General Eric Shinseki. As was to be expected, the ceremony and General Shinseki's speech was a class act. As the highest ranking general in the Army, Ric did much to make us proud, as well to be sure, to change the Army in ways that will serve the nation for years to come. He and Patty have been stalwart, selfless warriors throughout a 38-year career. For now, they are located in the area; we hope to see more of them now that they'll have some free time.
I also had the recent opportunity to visit Major General Joe Peterson and Brigadier General Tom Bostick, both AJAs (not every AJA can be blessed with a Japanese last name!), who are the Commanding General and Assistant Division Commander, respectively, of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. Even though the Army has lost Ric Shinseki to the retired ranks, rest assured that we are still disproportionately represented among the key uniformed leadership in the Army.
On a sad note, we lost some of our esteemed members in the recent past including Sus Yamamoto and Gordon Yamada. While they will be forever irreplaceable, we should all continue to look for new members to help carry on their legacy.
Down the road, JAVA is co-sponsoring a golf tournament with the NJAMF on July 14 and will have a JAVA luncheon on September 21, which will part of AJA festivities that includes Smithsonian exhibits and a gala dinner on September 23. My thanks go to Phil Ishio, Cal Ninomiya and Seiko Wakabayashi, as well as other members of the JAVA 10th Reunion Committee, for their efforts in preparing for these key events. Hope to see many of you there, and thanks for your support!
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GENERAL ERIC K. SHINSEKI RETIRESProfessing that "Soldiers represent what is best about our Army and our Nation," the 34th Army Chief of Staff General Eric K. Shinseki retired June 11 after 38 years of military service.
Soldiers are "noble by sacrifice, magnificent by performance, and respected by all. They make us better than we ever expected to be. And for 38 years now, soldiers never allowed me to have a bad day," he said addressing a gathering of the top Congressional and Administration officials as well as military leaders on the parade grounds of Fort Myer, across the Potomac River from the Nation’s capital.
During his 38 years of service, the Kauai-born sansei became the highest-ranking Asian American in U.S. military history and, among other honors, was awarded two Purple Hearts for life-threatening injuries in Vietnam, "one in which he lost so much of his foot that the Army wanted to discharge him," the New York Times reported.
As the Army chief of staff he "pushed his tradition-bound service on a difficult path toward transformation." His term, it said, "was marked by clashes with the Pentagon’s civilian leadership over weapons systems and troop strength" and noted that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who was traveling in Europe en route to a NATO meeting, was not present nor were any high-ranking civilians from his office sent. Rumsfeld was not mentioned in Shinseki’s farewell address.
"The mark General Shinseki most hopes to leave on the oldest and largest of the armed services is the transformation of the Army into one that can deploy more quickly in the battle zone," the New York Times said. "He directed the creation of the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams built around a new wheeled vehicle of the same name, and initiated the development of a Future Combat System of high-technology arms still on the drawing board," described by some as something that would be the most drastic reformation of Army forces since World War II.
Though Shinseki and Rumsfeld used the same language for reshaping the military, "the two never came to a meeting of the minds" with Shinseki differing publicly not only with Rumsfeld but with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz as well, the newspaper added.
News reports make it clear that the differences between the two remain. The Army Times, for example, under the headlines "Shinseki’s Idea on Iraq Force Levels Gaining Credibility," said "…it appeared as though the former Army Chief of Staff wasn’t far off when he said ‘hundreds of thousands’ of troops would be needed to patrol postwar Iraq.
"That prediction, made shortly before the 21-day war began, was criticized at the time as ‘outlandish’ and ‘wildly off the mark’ by Wolfowitz…But a top Pentagon official for postwar missions acknowledged that the ‘situation has been tougher and more complex’ than envisioned by planners before the war…"
The Times defense analyst said those who contradicted Shinseki "didn’t know what the hell they were talking about." Others said the relatively small U.S. force in Iraq seems to be stretched too thin leaving checkpoints vulnerable.
Shinseki’s predecessor as Army chief of staff said the last four years "have not been an easy road to travel" and that "For everything the Army has done, Shinseki should get a lot of credit. He has reshaped the Army to give the president and the secretary of defense – the national command authority – the force required to deal with things as different as Afghanistan and Iraq."
Those attended the farewell ceremony for Shinseki included members of key Senate and House armed services, defense, appropriations and other Congressional committees; secretaries and retired secretaries and heads of other government agencies such as Alexander Haig, Togo West, General Dick Myers as well as September 11 survivors, Shinseki’s aides, and veterans of Iraq and other wars.
Some 70 members of what Shinseki called "my beloved family" which included his wife Patty, their children and grandchildren, and other relatives "who journeyed great distances," attended.
Shinseki paid special tribute to Senator Daniel Inouye for his "friendship and mentoring." Inouye, along with Senator Akaka and Congressman Neil Abercrombie from Hawaii and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta also were among those present.- 0 - -
RUMSFELD PRAISES SHINSEKIDefense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used the celebrations of the Army’s 228th birthday June 13 to applaud newly retired army Chief of Staff General Eric Shilnseki, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"I want to make a brief salute to an Army man who began the transformation of the Army from the Cold War to a 21st Century fighting force," Rumsfeld told an Army birthday celebration in the center court of the Pentagon.
"One of Eric Shinseki’s predecessors, General John Wickam, wrote about his job as chief of staff. He said:’Make a difference. The time each of us is in charge is short.’ Well, with his energy and drive, General Shinseki has made a difference."
Shinseki was not in attendance. No one from Rumsfeld’s office attended the general’s retirement ceremony two days before, nor did Shinseki, in his farewell address, mention Rumsfeld.
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CLINTON PAYS HOMAGE TO NIKKEI SOLDIERS OF WWII; URGES LEARNING FROM ERRORS OF THE PAST by Grant IchikawaFormer President Bill Clinton said the service of Japanese Americans in World War II was a "testament to their strength and patriotism" and that America can learn from the mistakes of having incarcerated them in internment camps during that war.
The former president spelled out his feelings in response to a query from Julie Arvay, a 10th grader from New Kensington, PA, the winner of the statewide contest and a finalist in the nationwide contest sponsored by the private, non-profit National History Day (NHD) Foundation.
Julie’s exhibit was entitled "Fighting Two Enemies: The Saga of the Nisei Soldier."
"Six decades ago, as this nation fought for freedom throughout the world, more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were denied their freedom and forcibly relocated to internment camps simply because of their ethnic heritage," Clinton wrote.
"That reality represents a sad chapter in our Nation’s history and demonstrates how far from our ideals we can stray when we base our decisions on fear rather than reason and when we fail to realize that our own common humanity is more important than any differences that may divide us.
"The rights and responsibilities of Japanese Americans should have been the same as those of other Americans; it is a testament to their strength and patriotism that, even as they were unfairly stripped of their rights at home, thousands of Japanese American soldiers volunteered to risk their lives for the very freedom that too often eluded them.
"In retrospect, we understand that the nation’s actions were rooted deeply in racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a lack of political leadership. While we cannot change the past, we can learn from our mistakes by dedicating ourselves to the task of building One America, a society where we can embrace our diversity and values, respect our differences, and unite around our shared dreams and values…"
He said that each person should take personal responsibility for ending discrimination and promoting mutual understanding; speaking up in disapproval when one hears intolerant comments, and including people of all backgrounds in one’s activities and learning more of cultures different from one’s own.
This year’s NHD contest theme was on the "Rights and Responsibilities" of Americans. Nationwide, some 30 state first or second place winners in junior and senior high schools focused on the WWII experiences of Japanese Americans.
The NHD program has been in existence for more than a quarter century. It is not for just a day as the name may imply, but a year-long program culminating in the nationwide contest when national winners are chosen each June from the winners at the state level. The winners are judged in two categories, the 6th through 8th Grades, and the 9th through 12th Grades. The entries include individual papers, individual or group exhibits, dramatic presentations, or individual or group documentaries using slides, video or non-interactive computer programs.
For the current year contest, many of the winners contacted Nikkei veterans in their research of primary and secondary sources.
Though Julie Arvay, the 10th grader of New Kensington, PA, did not win in the nationwide competition, Julie told her mother that a visit by JAVA members Joe Ichiuji, Fred Murakami, Paul Tani and yours truly to see her exhibit meant more to her than winning one of the top three prizes. (Cecily Kaya of Moanulua High School in Hawaii won third place for her presentation on the 100th Infantry Battalion.)Julie’s three-sided exhibit, 5 feet 10 inches high, 38 inches wide and 28 inches deep, depicts the wartime hysteria and what the Japanese American had to go through at that time to prove their loyalty to the United States, even veterans.
The exhibit highlights the prejudice against the Nisei after Pearl Harbor; their loss of rights through internment and their volunteering for the military and what the Nisei did during the war, and then the government’s redress, the awarding of Medals of Honor to Nisei soldiers and finally the changes in social attitudes due to the actions of the Nisei soldier.
In her research, Julie contacted or wrote to 50 or so individuals and organizations including JAVA members Jack Herzig, Dave Buto, Norman Ikari, Peter Okada, and Judge William Muratani, and various ex-Presidents and Presidential libraries, among others.
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JAVA BIDS FOND FAREWELL TO MAGGIE IKEDA by Grant IchikawaJAVA, through its vice-president John C. Kiyonaga, bid a fond farewell as May ended to one of its stalwarts, Mildred M.Y. Ikeda, affectionately known as "Maggie."
"I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much we appreciate your stalwart support over the years and how sorry we are that you will shortly leave this area to take up residence in New Jersey," Kiyonaga wrote in a letter to Maggie.
"You have been more than simply helpful. You have been unfailingly good company and your presence will be very much missed.
"Of course, I would have expected no less from the widow of a man whose honored service in the 442nd and, later, with the CIA embodied virtues which justifiably make Japanese Americans this nation’s proudest community.
"Sansei like myself are the inheritors of the proud legacy left us by Chic (Maggie’s late husband) and others like him and perpetuated by people like you. We, and I, in particular, do not forget…."
Maggie, in response, said "I shall always cherish the wonderful friendships that I enjoyed with JAVA members and their families. It saddens me to think that I am leaving such a warm and congenial group of JAVAites for the unknown of New Jersey. At the same time, I look upon it (my move) as an adventure yet to be discovered and enjoyed.
"Again I thank you for your friendship and the many happy memories. May God bless you always, each and every one of you.
"With much aloha, Mildred ‘Maggie" Ikeda."
Maggie, originally from Hawaii, moved at the end of May to a seniors’ facility in New Jersey to be near her son, George Ikeda, a lawyer.
She and her husband Chic Ikeda bought her house in Cabin John, MD, in January 1960, moved into that house the next month, just a month and a half before Chic died in an airline crash while on duty with the CIA. Maggie lived in that house for 43 years and brought up their two sons.
Maggie, a regular at JAVA functions, among other things, spent ten years along with Richard and Fumi Yamamoto, researching the files of the National Archives for material on the 442nd RCT and the 100th Infantry Battalion to shed light on their legacy for future generations.
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JAVA LAUNCHES ORAL HISTORY PROJECT by Terry ShimaThe JAVA Oral History Project Committee (JOHPC) kicked off its program of recording for posterity the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Japanese Americans in the military with an interview June 5 of Korean War veteran and medal winner Gene J. Takahashi and his wife Violette of West Port, CN.
The interview of Takahashi, who was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor, was interviewed in Potomac, MD, en route to Charlottesville, VA, where he and his wife attended a granddaughter’s graduation.
Gene, a retired IBM official, was interned at the War Relocation Center in Poston, AZ, during WWII, enlisted just before VJ Day, and was commissioned a second lieutenant at the age of 19 and stationed in Korea before being discharged in 1948.
He was recalled for active duty with the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 and sent to Korea as a platoon leader. When his unit was overrun by the Chinese, he was taken prisoner but escaped while being taken under guard to the Chinese interrogation center by shedding his uniform for Korean peasant clothes and finding his way back to his unit (Love Co. 9th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Division). He then led his platoon again to fight the Chinese, was wounded and hospitalized at a "MASH" center.
"When I agreed to participate in the Oral History Project, little did I realize that it could be such a memorable experience," Takahashi said. "Writing the narrative, collecting articles and letters and photographs awakened deep memories.
"It made me aware that my life was somewhat unusual, perhaps even unique. It became important to me that my children, grandchildren, and future generations share these experiences and be cognizant of their cultural heritage and values."
He and his wife have four children and 10 grandchildren.He said his being interviewed was "a very satisfying one" and expressed his gratitude to JAVA "for having the foresight and initiative to co-sponsor this program." He was interviewed by Terry Shima (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) with Grant Hirabayashi (email@example.com) on the camera. Dr. Glenda Nogami (Glenda.Nogami@usdoj.gov) conducted a dry run for the interview.
Other members of the JAVA Oral History Project, part of the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, are Calvin Ninomiya (interviewer/coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Nekoba (researcher, email@example.com), Sue Okubo (interviewer, firstname.lastname@example.org), Paul Tani (interviewer, PaulYTani@aol.com) and Dr. Warren Tsuneishi (advisor, email@example.com).
In addition to videotapes of individual oral histories the project includes photos, diaries and other memorabilia which will be archived at the Library for use by current and future generations of researchers and historians as well as serve as a family record to pass on to future generations.
Some JAVA members have expressed a desire to help pay for expenses such as the cost of video supplies, VHS tapes, postage and copying. Contributions ($10 to $100) can be sent to Jack Tashiro, JAVA treasurer, indicating that the contributions are for the JAVA Oral History Project.
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MIS REGISTRIES IN THE BACKSTRETCH
Grant Ichikawa reports that work on the registries of MIS (Military Intelligence Service) personnel who served during and since WWII in the Pacific area has entered its final lap. His report to JAVA members and friends, with special thanks to key people who helped, said:We, Seiki Oshiro, Paul Tani and I are in the backstretch of a long one and a half years of hard, frustrating work to complete the registries of MIS personnel who served in WWII and subsequent wars in the Pacific area.
Our search took us to NARA (National Archives) many times. Many veterans helped us in our research by providing information. Our special thanks go to James Tanabe of Hawaii, who is in fact an extension of our team. Roy Matsumoto and Roy Inui of Washington State; Allen Meyer of Chicago, and Quentin Belles of Kauai, HI and others were very supportive, providing us with lots of information.
Our MISLS Registry now has 7,179 names (201 pages), most with serial numbers. We are still lacking information such as some serial numbers, present residence (city and state only), awards/decorations, and omissions we may have overlooked.
Our Supplementary MIS Registry, with 3,202 names (79 pages), lists those who did not attend MISLS as students, which includes MISLS staff and support, sensei’s, Navy and Marine officers and enlisted personnel, CIC personnel, etc. The Registry of DLI (Defense Language Institute) Graduates 1952-75 is a registry of students who studied Japanese and has 1,867 names (39 pages).
We are working closely with Jimmy Yamashita of the "Echoes of Silence" project of the AJA WWII Memorial Alliance, which plans to issue a consolidated listing on CD-Rom for educational purposes and with JAVA, which carries the MISLS Registry on its website: www.javadc.org.
We hope to end this research in November of this year.
The purpose of creating the present CD-ROM, containing all three Registries, is to send it out to MIS veterans or their sons and daughters to assists us in filling the blanks and making corrections where necessary; sending out printed pages was impractical due to costs and the time factor. This is the last and final step we wish to take before ending our research.
I will be happy to send you a CD-ROM. Please let me know if you wish to have one and include your mailing address (I have the addresses for JAVA members).
In assisting us fill in the blanks or correcting our errors o inserting omissions, please send your information to Grant Ichikawa, 114 James Dr. SW, Vienna, VA 22180 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or FAX (703) 938-5536.
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TOP AIR FORCE BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE COLONEL PAYS TRIBUTE TO NIKKEI VETERANSAir Force Colonel Dale T. Shirasago, a top official in America’s missile defense system, paid special tribute to the Nikkei veterans at Memorial Day ceremonies held by the Japanese American Citizens League at the Arlington National Cemetery.
"Today we honor the over 800 Japanese American service members from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam who have given their lives in the course of freedom," he told the gathering.
"Memorial Day is more than a holiday. It must be a day when our nation should express gratitude to the soldiers who gave real meaning to being an ‘American.’
"The Nisei, as part of the greatest generation, did more than save lives," he added. "They became the role models for the rest of the U.S., paved the way ahead, and opened the doors for Sansei like myself. For that opportunity, I am forever grateful.
"Sadly, the unprovoked terrorist attack on September 11, 2002, was a reminder that we must never take our bountiful blessings or freedom for granted."
He noted that today thousands of U.S. servicemen remain in Afghanistan, Iraq, Southwest Asia, Bosnia, and over 120 countries around the world, where the missions to stamp out terrorism and inhumane atrocities continue, supported by the resolve of the American people.
"Your support of our military today is one of the most powerful weapons in the war against terrorism…"
Shirasago, who was born in Los Angeles, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1980 and has been involved with missiles programs over the years. He was a Titan II missile combat crew commander, missile warning crew commander, and squadron commander. He has served in various posts in the United States and abroad, including among others Headquarters Strategic Air Command; military advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, and Chief Missile Inspector of the UN Special Commission on Iraq.
He is currently the Deputy for Programs in the System Executive Office at the Missile Defense Agency in Washington, D.C.
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TAPSBernard Perisweig, Officer, Cannon Company, 442nd RCT. Passed away last June 7. Kelly and Fumiko Kuwayama reported that:they had gone to Philly to visit him during Christmas and were leaving to attend his funeral on June 17 to attend memorial services in Broommall, PA. "Bunny" was active in the 442nd Club in New York City when Kelly, Tooru Kanazawa and Bill Kochiyama were instrumental in setting up the 442nd Club in New York City many years ago.
Bunny’s wife Doris attended the 442nd RCT’s 60th reunion in Honolulu with their granddaughter last April.
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SHORT BUT SIGNIFCANTDues overdue – JAVA Treasurer Jack Tashiro reports that 14 JAVA members have yet to send in their 2003 dues even after a reminder by mail to the individuals concerned. "If dues are not forthcoming soon, those individuals will be deleted from the JAVA mailing list for its Newsletter," Jack warns. "We hope all 14 individuals will continue to be JAVA members."
JAVA member Ted Yenari, now living in New Orleans and active with the National D-Day Museum there, informed JAVA the National D-Day Museum held special film showings on May 20 and May 22 in recognition of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.
The Asian Pacific American Society, in conjunction with the museum, presented three important documentaries – "A Tradition of Honor", the 92-minute documentary on Japanese American veterans of World War II; and "We Served with Pride," a 60-minute film on the Chinese American experience during the war.
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(Editor’s Note: See back for anniversary reservations.)
JAVA Luncheon & NJAMF/Smithsonian Banquet – Reservations
The JAVA 10th Anniversary Committee reminds members and friends to send in reservations for the JAVA LUNCHEON, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2003 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill , beginning at 11:30 AM. Seating is limited.
The luncheon is being held in conjunction with a special program September 21 through 23 of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution, "Honoring the Legacy, Preserving the Future."
The luncheon is being tied to the NJAMF/Smithonian program so that JAVA members from outside the Washington DC area, especially those who have yet to see the Memorial, will have added incentive to attend. The Hyatt Regency is just steps away from the Memorial and a visit to the Memorial to honor those who died during WWII and to reminisce over the wartime internment is on the program.
Please reserve the following:
( ) seats at the JAVA luncheon ....... ($ 50 each)..............__________
( ) VIP Reception and Banquet.........($200 each).........….__________
( ) Banquet only................................($150 each.)............__________
Total ............. __________
Payment by check: make payable to NJAMF
Payment by Credit Card -- Please charge my ( ) Master Card ( )Visa
Credit Card #__________________________
Expiration Date_______________ Amount Charged_______________
Please send form and remittance (if appropriate ) to:
1000 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 304
Washington DC 20036
Phone : 202-530-0015 Fax: 202-530-0016
JAVA 10th Anniversary Committee