Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol 1 No. 13, November 17, 2019 

Dr. Masako Kusayanagi Goto Miura, a Medical Doctor’s Camp Experience

Dr Masako Miura (center) on her 100th birthday with daughter Denise Goto (left) and son Hans Goto (rigfht).  Photo: Mas Hashimoto.

Mas Hashimoto

In “camp,” Dr. Masako Kusayanagi Goto was known affectionately as “Dr. K.”  When the war broke out in 1941, Dr. K was in her first year of residency at Los Angeles County General Hospital (LACGH) as a dermatologist. 

Masako was born in Pasadena in 1914 as the third of seven children to Takejiro and Matsu Kusayanagi, owners of a dry goods store.  She obtained a BA in Chemistry from the University of Southern California in 1936 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi.  In USC’s medical school, she was one of five Japanese Americans, enjoyed the fair treatment afforded by her fellow medical students.  According to the World Who’s Who of Women, 1980 edition, she did her internship at St. Anthony’s Hospital, Terre Haunte, Indiana. 

With the war on, Japanese Americans of LACGH were called to a meeting in the auditorium to be dismissed not only for the duration of the war but for 90 days thereafter as well.

When she married Dr. James Goto in early 1942 the curfew had been imposed and travel restrictions were limited to a 5 mile radius.  A honeymoon was out of the question.   Instead, as part of a medical convoy, Dr. Kusayanagi Goto, accompanied by nurse Mary Akita, was ordered by the US Government to take the bachelors to Manzanar.  Manzanar was first established as an assembly center, under the authority of the Wartime Civil Control Administration.  This civilian agency was created by the Western Defense Command on March 11, 1942 to implement the evacuation orders and to establish the 15 assembly centers. 

Dr. K was one of only five doctors—Dr. T. Takahashi, Dr. Koichi Iwasa, Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki (a public health officer), and her husband--for the 10,000 internees.  Upon arrival they were shocked to discover their hospital supplies consisted of a hot plate, a wash basin, a few instruments, and gloves. Their training did not prepare them for this, but they knew they had to make the best of the situation.  They boiled everything in that basin. 

Her husband, Dr. Goto, had the responsibility of establishing a hospital with supplies so that they could appear to function as a hospital.  One camp official objected to the ordering of “perineal pads,” waving one in his hand.  Blushing nurses explained he was holding a “sanitary napkin” (Kotex). To avoid confusion with her doctor husband, Masako went by “Dr. K” for Kusayanagi.  She cannot forget her first “camp” dinner which consisted of beef stew with rice and canned peaches, together on the same plate.  The juices mixed with the stew.  After dinner the dishes were submerged in a garbage can for rinsing.  She cannot recall any soap or hot water in the can.

The pay scale under the WCCA for professionals was $16 a month, blue collar $12, and laborers $8.  The pay scale increased to $19, $16, and $12, respectively, when the War Relocation Authority took over.  The top pay could not exceed the pay ($21) of a buck private in the army.

When typhoid shots were given, one fellow, who had his shot, spotted a friend in line and began a conversation.  Oh, how he complained about getting a second shot!  Dr. K organized a medical clinic assistance team of young ladies who knew shorthand, typing and filing.  They, as medical stenographers, became so proficient they were able to secure good jobs when they relocated to the “outside.”

A tragic event took place when a young 18 year-old assumed the MP guard had given approval of a request to gather some scrap wood (with which to make a chair and table for his mother) outside the fence.  He was shot through the elbow (some eight internees were killed by guards and a score of others were shot in the various camps).  Fortunately, he fully recovered. The Gotos most frightening moment took place in early December when some Kibei became enraged with the JACL, blaming them as responsible for the internment.  The unruly mob stormed into the hospital looking for JACL leader, Fred Tayama.  To escape the possible wrath of the mob, the two Dr. Gotos donned their pea coats and hid among the crowd.  Tayama hid successfully under the mattress of an orthopedic bed.  The authorities transferred the trouble-makers to another camp.

After a year at Manzanar, the Gotos were transferred to Topaz.  Many of the young doctors had volunteered for the military or some other service, creating a shortage of medical personnel. Nevertheless, upon their arrival, they were welcomed with a “strike;” well, at least a demonstration. That surprised them. They, however, welcomed the change in cooks.  Topaz cooks could  work magic with pork and beans and Spam, but there’s only so much anyone can do with liver and kidneys.

They  couldn’t make house calls because of the overwhelming patient/doctor ratio.  Although, Dr. K’s specialty was dermatology, general family practice was the rule.  When Dr. K was eight months pregnant with Denise, her own health complications required the help of an “outside” doctor and facilities in Salt Lake City, Utah.  German refugee doctors, who spoke haltingly in English and no Japanese, had been recruited for Topaz.  The Gotos decided to stay until the closing of Topaz because the Issei and the young children required their help.

When the war was winding down, Dr. K wrote to the LA County Board of Supervisors, asking reinstatement for the completion of her residency. When they replied that this was not a “propitious” time, she threatened to use her lawyer.  She knew she could count on the Friends’ Society (Quakers) and ACLU.  She knew, too, that others would benefit from her lead.  Fortunately, they were able to return to their home.  Dr. K stayed with LACGH until 1949.  For three years they established a family practice in Little Tokyo in one of her father’s buildings. During this time, Dr. K gave birth to a son, Hans Goto, in 1950. Dr. K then went to work for the Los Angeles City School District from 1953-55. From 1955 until her retirement in 1981 she served as an civil service physician in the U. S. Army hospitals in Oakland and, later, at Fort Ord (Monterey) for soldiers, veterans, retirees, and their dependents.  Among those who enjoyed her service were Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, and other Asian wives and their children. After her divorce, she married Kiyoshi Miura, an agricultural supply specialist, of Watsonville in 1956.  Mr. Miura died in 1994.

When the redress hearings were held, Dr. Miura suggested to the National JACL that instead of a redress payment, health benefits would be more practical since most of the Issei and Nisei were getting old.  The JACL refused to consider it, so Dr. K refused the redress payment and asked only for a letter of apology.  She continues her studies in dermatology, keeping up with the requirements of her medical license.  She has contributed to professional journals as a dermatologist and as a syphilologist.  Dr. Miura maintains membership in professional organizations, USC Alumni Association, and Watsonville-Santa Cruz JACL and its Senior Center.

First Japanese American Reach Flag Rank in US Coast Guard

RDML Andrew M. Sugimoto, USCG

Washington, DC.  RDML Andrew M. Sugimoto, USCG assumed his duties as the USCG Assistant Commandant for Intelligence on June 3, 2019.  As the Coast Guard’s ranking officer for intelligence, he leads the efforts of more than 1,100 intelligence professionals who conduct the service’s intelligence programs, to include collection activities, analysis and production, geospatial intelligence, counterintelligence, cryptology and critical IT and security functions. 

Prior to his arrival to Coast Guard headquarters, RDML Sugimoto served as the Chief of Staff of the Eighth Coast Guard District, located at New Orleans, LA.  Overseeing U.S. Coast Guard operations spanning 26 states including the Gulf coastline from Florida to Mexico and the adjacent offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including the Outer Continental Shelf, as well as the inland waterways of the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee River systems.

His afloat assignments include: Commanding Officer of USCGC STRATTON homeported in Alameda, CA.   STRATTON conducted operations in support of OP ARCTIC SHIELD north of Alaska and counter narcotics patrols in the Eastern Pacific.   Other afloat assignments included serving as Commanding Officer, CGC ACUSHNET, Ketchikan, AK; and CGC TYBEE, San Diego, CA.   RDML Sugimoto served as Executive Officer on CGC CHASE, San Diego, CA, CGC MONOMOY, Woods Hole, MA as well as Deck Watch Officer on CGC SHERMAN, Alameda, CA. He has served more than 12 years at sea and is a proud Cutterman, meaning in Coast Guard-ese, a professional sea going officer.

Sugimoto described that his most hazardous duty was standing watch over the Bering Sea fishing fleet as the Bering Sea Search and Rescue guard.   “More than once we were pounded by storms considered hurricanes in other parts of the globe but was just another storm coming though.”

Additional staff and ashore assignments including serving as staff Judge Advocate for the Ninth Coast Guard District, Cleveland, OH; practicing Operational Law, Military Justice and Legal Assistance for the Maintenance and Logistics Command Pacific, Alameda, CA; and standing watch as Command Duty Officer for the Eleventh Coast Guard District in Long Beach CA and the PACAREA Command Center in Alameda CA.

RDML Sugimoto enrolled in the U.S. Coast Guard Academy immediately after graduating from high school and graduated in 1990 with a BS in Government.   In 2002 he received a JD from the University of San Diego School of Law.    He wears several decorations, which are all a direct result of the professionalism, loyalty, and excellence of the men and women with whom he served. 

Asked why he chose the USCG as his career choice, RDML Sugimoto said “the reason I chose the Coast Guard was that I identified with the mission very closely.  I knew that I wanted to serve my country and I wanted to make a difference each day.   Rescuing people in horrendous storm conditions, stopping the flow of illegal drugs, coordinating responses to natural or manmade disasters and mentoring/leading the next generation has fulfilled my dreams and more.   I am the luckiest person to have been able to serve this long with the amazing women and men of the U.S. Coast Guard and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.” 

PPALM Holds Annual Meeting

  Ambassador Harris Keynote Speaker

MG Taguba (right) presenting the Chairman’s Award to Ambassador Harris.  LCDR Lorna Devera, USN (Ret) (in green) was the MC. Photo: MG Taguba.

Wade Ishimoto

Washington, DC. JAVA was very well represented at the 12th Annual General Membership Meeting and Reception of the Pan Pacific American Leaders andMentors (PPALM).  The event was held at the Walter Washington Convention Center, Washington DC, on October 13, 2019.

Major General (USA Ret) Tony Taguba, the Chairman of PPALM, was the Master of Ceremonies before an estimated audience of 160 attendees, including cadets from the US Military Academy at West Point, midshipmen from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and ROTC cadets from University of Maryland and Lehigh University.

JAVA members attending the event included ADM Harry Harris, USN (Ret); LTG Joe Peterson, USA (Ret); Maj Gen Kelly McKeague, USAF (Ret); MG Garrett Yee, USA; RADM Joseph M. Vojvodich, USCG; LTC Mark Nakagawa, USA (Ret); Capt Mike Lewis, USMC (grandson of former JAVA President Bob Nakamoto); and CPT Wade Ishimoto, USA (Ret).  One of the Corporate Sponsors for PPALM is the Robert Nakamoto Foundation.  Mae, Mike, and Amy Nakamoto attended the event and presented an award from the Nakamoto Foundation.

ADM Harris was the keynote speaker and received PPALM highest award – the PPALM Chairman’s award for Distinguished Public Service.

ADM Harris became the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Korea in 2018 after retiring as the Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command in


           L-R: LTG Peterson, Ambassador Harris, and MG Yee. Photo: Wade Ishimoto.

Midshipmen speaking with MAJ Ben Westin, USA, Asst Professor of Military Science,Lehigh University, PA. Photo: MG Taguba.

The University of Santa Clara coalition. L-R: MG Ret) Eldon Regua, USA (Ret) (commissioned by Wade Ishimoto in 1977); LTG Peterson (cousin of Wade's) (Santa Clara 1972); MG Yee, Assistant to the Director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (Santa Clara 1987); and CPT Ishimoto, who was on the Santa Clara ROTC faculty in the mid-1970s. Photo: Wade Ishimoto.

Caucasian officers of the 442nd RCT with Two Missions: Story of CPT Thomas Crowley

CPT Thomas Crowley

JAVA Research Team (JRT)

CPT Thomas Crowley served as Commander of CO E, 2nd Battalion from its training at Camp Shelby, MS to 4 battle campaigns in Italy and France. He was wounded toward the end of the final Po Valley campaign that resulted in his evacuation, hospitalization and discharge.

After Crowley’s speech was featured in the e-Advocate, Crowley’s son, Patrick, provided photos and a copy of a five-page letter from Crowley to his uncle which Patrick offered for publication.  The letter provides a clue of the Company Commander’s responsibilities at age 28, facing death every day; worrying about how his wife is coping with her sick mother and small child; refurbishing and training replacements in preparation for the next campaign while at the same time helping the Nisei fight racism on the home front; participating in high command planning of the soon to come, a TOP SECRET offensive: to pierce the German Gothic Line in Italy that had resisted Allied attacks for the previous 6 months.

Crowley’s letter to his uncle was written from “somewhere in France” which 442nders know as the French side of the French-Italian border in the Maritime Alps. The date of the letter was 15 March 1945, only eight days before the 442nd was to secretly leave Marseille for Leghorn, Italy.   On the night of April 5, 1945, using the cover of darkness to their advantage,  part of the RCT scaled the front side of Mt. Folgorito, the lynchpin of the Gothic Line, while the other part of the RCT scaled the steep back side, rarely climbed by humans. The key element of the operation was surprise.   At H-Hour, 0600 the next morning, April 6, all elements of the 442nd were positioned at the crest of Mt Folgorito, the 442nd struck, piercing the Gothic Line in 32 minutes. This allowed the US 5th Army to pursue the retreating Germans into the Po Valley.  Germany would surrender in a few weeks.

Crowley was wounded in this final Po Valley campaign, hospitalized and eventually discharged.  Following his discharge, Crowley, at the request of the War Department, spoke at various locations on the Pacific coast on Nisei heroism and patriotism on the battlefield.  His message was intended to defeat racism and to convince the racial hot heads to put their hatred aside and accept the return of the ethnic Japanese population.  Crowley faced friendly and unfriendly audiences and in one engagement was manhandled by thugs while being in uniform with ribbons and badges fully displayed.   The combined efforts of Crowley and other Caucasian officers of the 442nd, the support of Caucasian soldiers in Europe and the Pacific who served with and came to know of Nisei courage and loyalty, favorable press reports,  and time,  combined to defeat racism and to welcome Japanese Americans in America’s mainstream.

The October 16, 2019 issue of e-Advocate printed the Crowley speech, and the speech can be found on the JAVA website - either on the home page or in the archived 10/16/19 e-Advocate.We apologize for the photo that was incorrectly labeled as Captain Crowley.


Lawson Sakai Recovering

Lawon Sakai

Morgan Hill, CA.  E-Advocate is pleased to report that Lawson Sakai, President of Friends and Veterans of Nisei Veterans (FFNV) and a member of JAVA, who was confined to a hospital was recently released and is recovering at home.   In addition to getting well, he is trying to regain the weight he has lost during his illness.  

Sakai was a twice wounded member of Company E, 442nd who fought in the 442nd’s four battle campaigns in Italy and France.  An article about his company commander,  CPT Thomas Crowley, who also survived four battle campaigns, appears above this article. 

Sakai plans to meet his near term commitments which include attending the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS)  November 9 Veterans Day program at Building 640 at the Presidio of San Francisco; speaking at the Cupertino Rotary veterans program on November 13; speaking at the FFNV WW II Nisei display on the USS Hornet, anchored at Oakland, on December 7; and participating in the National Veterans Network program at the opening of US Army Museum at Fort Belvoir, VA. 

Japanese American Veterans Association: (202) 494-1978, Address: P.O. Box 341198, Bethesda, MD 20827 I https://java.wildapricot.org 

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