September 28, 2012

Nisei Veterans Honored

 (L-R): Jiro Okikawa (MIS) of Colusa, Yutaka Nakatani (MIS) of Yuba City, 
Rep. Wally Herger (R-Chico), George Inouye (MIS) of Yuba City, 
Ken Tanabe (442nd) of Gridley.

MARYSVILLE — Before a standing-room-only crowd at the Marysville Buddhist Church Annex on Sept. 15, four surviving veterans and 15 deceased veterans were awarded replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal for serving in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service during World War II.
     House and Senate leaders of both parties awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the three Army units in Washington, D.C. last November. Since then, regional ceremonies have been held across the country for Nisei veterans who were unable to attend the main ceremony. Other California ceremonies have included San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego.
     In the search for eligible veterans, the Marysville JACL sent out a newsletter with an application form to the Japanese American community six months prior to the celebration. The organization regrets that no one way is perfect and there may have been eligible persons who fell through the cracks.
     Opening remarks were given by Marysville JACLer Roy Hatamiya, whose first cousin Frank was among the honorees. The Beale Air Force Base Honor Guard presented the colors.
     Rep. Wally Herger (R-Chico) addressed the crowd and presented the medals to the veterans and surviving family members as Hatamiya gave a brief profile of each honoree. Among them were three pairs of brothers: Frank and Shig Komatsubara, Shiro and Tim Tokuno, and Akiji  and Toshiro Yoshimura.
     “Even when our nation committed an injustice against you, you remained fiercely loyal to the country you loved,” Herger said, referring to the internment of Japanese Americans. “You risked everything you had to protect your homeland. I salute each of you here today and all who served with you. You embodied the courage to petition leaders who were against you, the integrity to do what was right in the midst of unspeakable adversity, and the grace to never give up on America.”
     Dr. Isao Fujimoto, professor emeritus of ethnic studies at UC Davis, gave the keynote speech on the accomplishments of the three units.
     Accepting the medals in person were George H. Inouye (MIS), Yutaka Nakatani (MIS), Jiro Okikawa (MIS) and Kenneth T. Tanabe (442nd).
     Those recognized posthumously were: Harry Fukumitsu (442nd), Frank Ichiro Hatamiya (MIS), Koe Hinoki (MIS), Richard Kinoshita (442nd), Frank Komatsubara (100th), Shig Komatsubara (MIS), Robert Matsumura (100th), Joe Nakamura (442nd), John Satoru Oki (100th), Jack Shigeo Tanimoto (MIS), Shiro Tokuno (MIS), Tim Tokuno (442nd), Mitsuma Yokohari (442nd), Akiji Yoshimura (MIS) and Toshiro Yoshimura (MIS).
     The Placer JACL plans to hold a Bronze Star and Congressional Gold Medal ceremony on Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 10 AM at the Rocklin Community Center, 5480 5th St., Rocklin, CA.   

For more information, contact Gary Hongo at 


September 27, 2012

How to Request WW II Veteran Discharge Papers

WW II Veterans Who Made It Home After the War

If the veteran brought home his discharge papers, it will give you a lot of valuable information.

 If you do not have the discharge papers, contact: 
National Personnel Records Center

You make a request, you must submit: STANDARD FORM 180

To obtain a copy of  STANDARD FORM 180, you will need to call** and leave your name and address. (The form will be mailed to you.)

National Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records)
1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138
**PHONE  314-801-0800

The National Personnel Records Center might not have any information about your veteran due to a severe FIRE in 1973 that destroyed many records. 

If this is the case, you may try calling the Department of Veteran Affairs
They have addresses and information on veterans who applied for benefits.

If the Department of Veteran Affairs does not have any information, try contacting the Veteran Affairs Insurance Center.
Phone: 800-669-8477


National World War II Museum in New Orleans

100th, 442nd and MIS to be featured at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans

     The National World War II Museum (formerly the D-Day Museum) in New Orleans announced its plans with the National Veterans Network to incorporate the stories of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service into their upcoming exhibits. 
     Scheduled to open on January 12, 2013, the new U.S. Freedom Pavilion: Boeing Center will showcase Senator Daniel Inouye, Samuel Hayakawa, Sparky Matsunaga in a interactive exhibit of WWII veterans who later served in United States Congress. 
     All  21 Japanese Americans who received the Medal of Honor will be part of an interactive exhibit that honors all World War II Medal of Honor receipients.  
     Additionally, oral histories of Masaji Inoshita, Yukio Kawamoto and Jimmy Kanaya will be featured as one of many who contributed to victory in World War II. 
      NVN was most pleased to learn that a special exhibit on the Japanese American Experience in World War II, featuring the war time service of the 100th, 442nd, MIS, 1399, WAC, is being planned for 2014. 
     The National Veterans Network will work closely with the National WWII Museum to offer support and resources for this special exhibit. 
     For more information about the National WWII Museum, visit their web site at

September 25, 2012

George Takei builds on legacy with 'Allegiance' at the Old Globe

 By Karen Wada   September 16, 2012
  The ensemble of "Allegiance" rehearses at the Old Globe Theater rehearsal hall in San Diego. Together in the middle are the three lead actors: Telly Leung, left, Lea Salonga and George Takei. (Don Bartletti, Los Angeles Times / August 23, 2012)
SAN DIEGO — When he was 5, George Takei, his parents and his little brother and sister were rousted from their home in Los Angeles, housed in a stable and then shipped to a World War II internment camp in Arkansas.
     Seventy years later, the actor best known as "Star Trek's" Sulu has not forgotten his family's ordeal. Which is why his latest role is so close to his heart: He is starring in a musical about the internment of Japanese Americans, part of what he calls "my life's mission to bring this story to a wider audience."
     In "Allegiance — A New American Musical" at the Old Globe, Takei portrays Sam Kimura, an elderly U.S. Army vet who looks back at the internment and how it changed his life and those of his father, grandfather and sister, Kei.
      The show, which also stars Tony winner Lea Salonga and Telly Leung, follows the Kimuras as they leave their Salinas farm for the barracks and barbed wire of Heart Mountain in Wyoming. Young Sammy (Leung) fights in Europe with the celebrated Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Kei (Salonga) falls in love and sides with internees who resist being drafted. When Sammy returns home and finds out about his sister, he feels he must choose between his devotion to his family and to his country. "This gets to a central question 'Allegiance' asks," says Jay Kuo, who wrote the score for the musical, which opens its world premiere run Wednesday. "What are the things that matter most?"
     "Allegiance's" characters struggle to find answers and to survive in a harsh new world. Through them, director Stafford Arima and co-book writers Kuo, Marc Acito and Lorenzo Thione try to tell the big story — the federal government's removal of about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast — in human terms. Real people were affected, they say. The community was fractured.
     The musical incorporates several issues that divided the community. "Some of it is controversial," says Takei, "because passions are strong and because of the perspective we've taken."
     "Allegiance" is not based on Takei's life, but its creators were inspired by his experiences. Kuo and Thione first learned about those experiences four years ago. Kuo, a self-described "melodic composer" whose works mainly have appeared in the Bay Area, went to New York with his friend, Thione, an entrepreneur who had just sold the search engine he co-founded to Microsoft. They met Takei and his husband, Brad Takei, themselves visiting from L.A., at a play and sat near them the next night at the Broadway musical "In the Heights."
A father's poignant song about his desire to help his daughter made Takei cry. "They asked why I was weeping," he says. "I told them about the internment, my father and his anguish over the loyalty questionnaire."
     In 1943, the government required internees to complete a questionnaire intended as a test of loyalty. Its wording and that it asked if people would swear allegiance to the country that forced them into camps prompted anger and confusion.
     While many answered "yes," Takei's parents were among those who answered "no" on principle to two key questions. "My father later said, 'They took my business, our home, our freedom. I'm not giving them my dignity,'" Takei recalls. His family was sent from Rohwer, Ark., to the Tule Lake, Calif., segregation center for those deemed to be disloyal.
     Internment's impact extended beyond the war years. In camp, Takei says, he was too young to fully understand what was going on. As a teenager in L.A. he learned more about the injustices involved and wondered why his parents' generation hadn't done more to protest.
     "One night, I said, 'Daddy, you led us like sheep to slaughter when we went into the camp.' He was silent. Then he said, 'Maybe you're right' and went into his bedroom and closed the door. I realized I hurt him. I felt like I should apologize, but it felt awkward and I didn't. It's one of those regrets I'll always have."
     Intrigued by such stories, Kuo and Thione persuaded Takei to join them in developing "Allegiance." Besides playing Sam, he portrays the Kimuras' grandfather and is helping to promote the musical, aided by his broad fan base and social media stardom (his Facebook page has more than 2.6 million fans).
     Thione says the Globe is producing the world premiere, but he and Kuo own a production company that would be the producer of any commercial production. They are hoping an aggressive Internet-based awareness campaign, along with the popularity of Takei, Salonga and Leung ("Godspell," "Glee"), will attract attention the show might not get otherwise because of its subject and relatively unknown creative team.
     "Allegiance" features a cast mainly comprising Asian-ancestry actors, some of whom have personal connections to the internment. Salonga, who won a 1991 Tony for "Miss Saigon," signed on for the first reading in 2009. "I felt a need to be a part of this," the Philippine singer-actress says, "since my husband is half Japanese American and one of his relatives served with the 442nd."
     Arima, a 2004 Olivier Award nominee for "Ragtime," says "Allegiance" interested him both because his father was among thousands of Japanese Canadian internees and because he likes tackling challenging works.
     Creating an internment camp musical has presented many challenges, so the show has undergone many changes. (Acito, a novelist-journalist-playwright, arrived this year to help strengthen the script.)
     "The first draft I read was too History Channel-ish," Arima says, "but now, the characters and not the events are fueling the story." As the characters have emerged so have themes of family and forgiveness that he thinks will resonate with a broader audience.
     "Allegiance's" first reading was at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Videotapes of later incarnations were screened for potential investors, including former internees. "People had tears in their eyes," says Takei, chairman emeritus of the museum's board of trustees. "This is something that happened 70 years ago, and yet the feelings are still intense."
     Some who viewed earlier versions were upset with certain aspects, including the depiction of Mike Masaoka, wartime national secretary of the Japanese American Citizens League.
     "I've told people this is a fictional story, seen through one character's eyes," says Takei. "And it's a work in progress."
     "'Allegiance' delves into some historical controversies and internal conflicts within the community," says Greg Kimura, the museum's president, who has seen several versions of the show. "This at a time when everyone is revisiting the history of the camps."
     Masaoka, who died in 1991, is a controversial figure, says Kimura. "He is seen as a savior of the community and also as having cooperated too much with the government.
"Also woven into the play are the people who signed up for the 442nd and the 'no-no boys' and others who resisted the draft because they thought their country was being unjust. Some families sent kids to fight for America and suffered tremendous losses.       
     Other families resisted and were ostracized or went to jail. There has always been huge pride about the Nisei vets. We're coming to understand the courage of people who said no."
     After its San Diego engagement ends Oct. 21, "Allegiance" will be aiming for Broadway. "We know the challenges," says Kuo. "We also know how important it would be" to see a musical about the internment on the nation's most prominent stage.
     "This is my legacy project," says Takei. "I'm known now for 'Star Trek,' but I also hope to be known for spreading the word about this dark chapter in American history."


Medals for Japanese American heroes of World War II

By Ashley Gebb/ADagebb   9/15/2012
Louise Fukumitsu, 88, looks at a Congressional Gold Medal 
awarded to Koe Hinoki, a childhood friend from Colusa. 
Hinoki was among 18 recipients of the medal at the
 Marysville Buddhist Church on September 15, 2012.

     When Frank Komatsubara told his parents, Japanese Americans interned at the Amache relocation center during World War II, he was volunteering to serve in the military, his father said he would disown him.
     Yet the young Yuba City man decided to pursue the service anyway, believing that as someone born in the United States, he had an obligation to serve his country. A few years after signing up, he finally was discharged, but not after facing combat and amassing several medals.
     His father later said he was proud of Komatsubara. On Saturday, he was honored with 17 other Japanese-American Congressional Gold Medal recipients for service in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service.
     Fighting both the enemy abroad and prejudice at home, they were responsible for great victories for their country, said US Rep. Wally Herger, who presented the medals. "Members of these units are some of the greatest patriots in our nation's history," he said. "These courageous men truly did wager everything to protect our nation's freedoms."
     As Japanese Americans were interned in camps, classified as unsuitable for military duty and cast out as enemies even if they were born in the U.S., many young men still stood up to volunteer to for military service. Many of them served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the first US Army combat unit comprised entirely of Japanese Americans; the 442nd RCT team, an all-volunteer Japanese American combat unit; and the Military Intelligence Unit, where they performed secret intelligence work against the Japanese military.
     Lorraine Komatsubara, accepting the award posthumously on her husband's behalf, said the medal was quite an honor. Until his death in 1993, Frank Komatsubara was immensely proud of his service.
     "He just felt like he had to prove he was an American," she said. About 200 people gathered at the Marysville Buddhist Church for the ceremony and gave raucous applause for each man who received a medal. Only 4 of the 18 medal recipients are alive: George Inouye, Yutaka Nakatani, Jiro Okikawa and Kenneth Tanabe.
     Nakatani, 88, said his only wish would have been that the others so deserving of the honor were still alive and able to accept their medals themselves.
     The ceremony was a follow-up to one held in November in Washington, DC, where about 400 able-bodied Nisei veterans gathered to receive their gold medals.
The Marysville chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League wanted to host a local ceremony for all the men who were not able to attend the first honoring. It acknowledged that more area residents may also have been deserving of the medal but did not respond to the call for applications the league sent out earlier this year.
     Only a teen when his family was sent to Amache, an internment camp in Colorado, the injustice was not a deterrent to Tanabe when he was drafted in 1944. His father told him the decision on whether he would follow through was up to him, and nearly 70 years after serving with the 442nd RCT, he is proud of his service and his new Congressional Gold Medal. "It's a great honor for all of us," he said. "It was a group effort."
     Lucille Tokuno's two brothers-in-law were recipients, and she helped accept their medals posthumously. Shiro Tokuno served in the Military Intelligence Service and Tim Tokuno was part of the 442nd RCT.  "It was very emotional for me," she said. "I've always admired them for what they did. They really sacrificed their lives and fought for their country."


Photo returned to family

 September 13, 2012
By MELISSA TANJI - Staff Writer
The Maui News
     A photo of a late 442nd Regimental Combat Team member and his buddies has been returned to the veteran's family after the photo was stolen during a chaotic estate sale Saturday.
     "It really means a lot that they brought it back," said Faith Minyard, the daughter of the late Russell Shigeru Takashima, whose photo of himself and his buddies in Company K had been taken from his Kahului home.
     Minyard said on Wednesday that her daughter, Delisha, saw a trash bag on her late father's yard Wednesday morning.

 This photo of Russell Shigeru Takashima and his 442nd RCT is safely back in the family home in Kahului. The photo was taken from an estate sale Saturday and was returned to the family.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
     Minyard said she went to pick up the bag that was near the mailbox. When Minyard opened up the bag, she remembers saying, "Oh my gosh, it's the picture, it's the picture."
     She said the back of the photo was a little torn, as the photo, which was in a frame, got wet from Wednesday's showers in Kahului. She said there was no note attached to the bag.
     The family had an estate sale Saturday at Takashima's home. The family said the sale was chaotic, with 40 to 50 people rushing into the home and rummaging through rooms they were not supposed to be in, including the one that had the photograph on the wall.
     After Saturday's sale, the photo was missing. The family searched for the photo but couldn't find it. A witness reported seeing a man take the photo off the wall but did not see what he did with it. Because of the incident, the family canceled Sunday's planned sale and will donate the items.
     Minyard said the photo is of her father and Company K while they were at Camp Shelby in Mississippi before leaving for Europe. She said the photo is also signed by about 50 of the men in the photo.
     "A lot of his good friends had died in the war. This picture is like their last picture all together. It really means a lot they brought it back," Minyard said.
     Takashima last year was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal of Freedom along with his fellow nisei warriors of the 100th Battalion/442nd RCT and the MIS. He also received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star Medal. He died August 17, 2012. He was 90.