Retirees recognize valorous World War II regiment
Japanese-American WWII vets honored at luncheon
By Michelle Read Journal Correspondent
(L-R): Shig Yokote, Norman Kamada, Frank Kageta and Mack Tsujimoto.
Photo by Michelle Read.
On Thursday afternoon Branch 37 of the Sons in Retirement (SIR) recognized four Japanese-American World War II veterans for their service in the 442nd Infantry Regiment.
Decorated veterans Frank Kageta, Norman Kamada (Poston camp 3) and Shig Yokote were the honored guests at the SIR’s monthly luncheon meeting at the Elks Lodge in Auburn.
Each of these men has received a variety of honors and awards, including the Good Conduct Medal. The Sons in Retirement also welcomed Mack Tsujimoto, who served as a medical technician in the United States Army Air Forces in the Pacific. He continued this work in Japan for a year immediately following the end of the war.
Granite Bay native, Jerry Lewelling, who orchestrated the event, introduced the four men. He then showed the 2005 documentary “Going for Broke.” The film outlined the role of Japanese Americans in World War II from their forced evacuation into internment camps to their service in the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Infantry Regiment. After the film, Kageta spoke of his experiences in the 442nd.
Admiration swelled in the SIRs members as they reflected on the character and accomplishments of these men. Former president, or “Big SIR,” Moe Griffiths remarked on the event’s value as an “opportunity to hear from these folks (the veterans) themselves as opposed to what’s said about them. They’ve spoken many times in the community and everyone who hears them says ‘Wow, that was inspirational.’”
Kageta, Kamata, Yokote, and Tsujimoto received standing ovations from the SIR members, many of whom are veterans themselves.
Frank Kageta welcomed the recognition he and his colleagues received as a refreshing change of pace. “Generally speaking, the wrong guys are getting the credit,” he said. However, he noted as an honored guest of the SIRs he felt “humbled.”
Kageta noted that during his service he was never particularly concerned about being part of a segregated unit. Instead, he was focused on following orders, a mentality that he remarks has served him well and continues to be a central value in the military today. “If you’re told to do it and you’re disciplined, then I don’t think we have to worry about this country,” he said.
Norman Kamada, who along with Kageta recently received a Congressional Gold Medal, was elated.“The presentation was very good,” Kamada said. “I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”
The SIRs presented certificates and commemorative medals to each of the veterans.