JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION
(1749 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, VA 22102 (Bob Nakamoto, President)
December 2, 2010
CONTACT: Dr. Norman Ikari 301-216-5437; email@example.com
Terry Shima 301-987-6746;
PHOTO: Photo accompanies this press release.
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MERRILL’S MARAUDER VETERAN PASSES. SPECIAL FORCES BRIGADE MARCHED 700 MILES IN BURMA DURING WW II TO CAPTURE KEY TOWN
Norman Ikari, PhD. JAVA
Silver Spring, MD. Ranger Grant Hirabayashi (91) passed away peacefully on November 24, 2010 at his home. Hirabayashi, a Life Member of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), was born in Kent, Washington on Nov. 9, 1919. In 1932, he went to Japan to continue his education. Upon graduation, from high school in Japan, he returned to the U.S. and graduated from Kent High School in 1941. He enlisted in the Army prior to Pearl Harbor, requesting assignment into the Army Air Corps, which was denied..
As the war in the Pacific against Japan escalated after Pearl Harbor, the need for Japanese language - linguists, became a pressing need for the U.S. and its Allies. In Oct. 1942, Hirabayashi volunteered and entered the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) Language School at Camp Savage, Minnesota. Following graduation, Hirabayashi volunteered for hazardous duty with the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), commonly known as Merrill's Marauders, whose mission was to capture the town of Myitkina and open the Burma Road - the pathway of supplies from India/Burma to the Chinese Nationalist Forces. To accomplish their mission the Marauders walked 700 miles and were engaged in 5 major combat situations with the enemy and 32 minor engagements. Marauders sustained the following casualties: 272 killed in action, 955 wounded in combat, 980 evacuated for illness and disease.
On July 8, 2004 Hirabayashi was inducted into the U.S. Army Rangers Hall of Fame in Fort Benning, Georgia for gallantry while serving as a linguist.
Ranger Grant Hirabayashi
wearing his medal that inducted
him in the Ranger Hall of Fame.
Hirabayashi's duties continued with several significant functions e.g., interpreter into several important Allied units - interpreter for the British Royal Air Force, interrogator in the China Theater, interpreter in the Japanese Surrender Ceremony in Nanking, China.
After his discharge from the Army at war's end, Hirabayashi continued as instructor with the MIS Language School, then as interpreter/interrogator at the War Crimes Trials in Yokohama, Japan. Later, he resumed his studies at the University of Southern California, receiving BA and MA degrees in international relations. There followed service with the Department of State, Library of Congress, and the National Security Agency.
He was invited to speak on his experiences to a wide variety of audiences locally and out of state. All have been entertained and educated by his life history, his incomparable duties, his patriotism and courage. His military decorations include the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, Presidential Unit Citation with oak leaf cluster.
Ranger Grant Hirabayashi enjoyed his assignment on the Speakers Bureau. He
particularly enjoyed his exchange with students. Here he is at Springbrook
High School, Silver Spring, Maryland on February 18, 2010. L-R: Student Renee
Atkins, Speaker Mary Murakami, Mr. Mark Pim, Head of the History Department, Grant
Hirabayashi, and Student Shannon Parker. When he could no longer present formal
remarks, he was still there for the Questions period.
Grant's wife, Ester Nakamura Hirabayashi, passed away in 1989. Two daughters, Lynn and Kei, and his grandson, Derek, remain to further explain and recognize his important exploits and duties.
There will be a memorial service at Ft. Myer Old Post Chapel on Friday, February 18, 2011 at 11:00 AM followed by committal service at the Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium (outdoors). A reception will follow at Ft. Myer Officer’s Club. Those who are unable to attend the committal service due to weather or other reasons are invited to go directly from the Chapel service to the Officers Club, relax and await the arrival of the Hirabayashi family.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship Fund. Please write your tax-exempt checks payable to JAVA, write Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship Fund on the memo line, and mail your check to Earl Takeguchi, 7201 White House Dr, Springfield, VA 22153.