Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 3, No. 39, September 1, 2021

NARA Archivist locates Documentation for “Most Highly Decorated”

July 13, 1946 Press Release, "Secretary of War Patterson Praises 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team." Credit: National Archives and Records Administration.

JAVA Research Team (JRT)

Washington, DC. When speaking about the 100th Infantry Battalion, initially comprised of 1,400 Nisei draftees from Hawaii, and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprised of 4,000 volunteers from Hawaii and the Mainland, speakers, writers, officials, press, and the public have referred to them as the most highly or one of the most highly decorated units in the United States Army. By its use, almost everyone, even the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, accepted this statement as fact. No one is known to have questioned its authenticity. JAVA speakers and writers have refrained, up to now, to make this statement because they did not want to face a questioner for documentation.

For the past ten years, JRT has searched for the official origin of this “most highly decorated” statement at National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Army Public Relations Offices, U.S. Army Center for Military History, Library of Congress, Pacific Citizen, historians, and others with an absence of results.

While not completely solved, the issue was virtually solved on August 16, 2021. Dr. Eric S. Van Slander, an archivist of NARA, College Park, MD, located a War Department Public Relations Division press release dated July 2, 1946, which said: “. . . 469 (442nd returnees for the Presidential review) have seen combat duty in an outfit that is one of the most highly decorated in the US Army”. While this citation is in a press release pertaining to preparations for the July 15, 1946, Presidential review of the 442nd, the statement confirms that it is owned by the War Department. JRT continues its search for a stand-alone statement and requests readers to advise the JAVA editor if such a document is located.

With relation to this find, JRT wishes to present remarks made by then-MG Alfred M. Gruenther, U.S. Army, and share a letter from the U.S. Secretary of War to the 442nd commander, both of which support the most highly decorated statement. MG Alfred M. Gruenther, Commandant of the National War College and previously Chief of Staff of the U.S. Fifth Army, serving as the official representative of Secretary Patterson at the official welcome home ceremony at Camp Kilmer, NJ on June 11, 1946, told the returning 442nd men, including the 100th, "It was a great honor for me to be able to salute such a distinguished outfit. ...the 442nd's outstanding record of major decorations was unsurpassed by any other unit of comparable size." He enumerated the decorations and awards the unit had won and said that they are "the best evidence of your superb fighting qualities." The other is a letter from Secretary Patterson to LTC Alfred A. Purcell, 442nd Commander, dated July 11, 1946.

Scans of the two press releases and other related documents can be read here.

[EdNote: JAVA appreciates Dr. Van Slander, and the National Archives and Records Administration, for their continuing and exhaustive research.]

July 2, 1946 Press Release, "442nd Regimental Combat Team to Parade on White House Grounds" notes in the last paragraph "one of the most highly decorated in the Army." Credit: National Archives and Records Administration. 

You Are Not Alone

The events in Afghanistan and the 20th anniversary of 9/11 may have fellow Veterans cast doubt on the meaning of their service or was it worth the sacrifices made.

JAVA supports our Veterans and their Families. We would like to let you know that you have an abundance of resources, like the VA, and many more organizations available to help. Afghanistan: Let's Talk About It | VA Northern California Health Care | Veterans Affairs

You performed the job our country has asked of you, with honor, heroism, selfless sacrifice, and service. Your contributions made us all safer today. 

Chinese American Served on D-Day, Omaha Beach

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Randall Ching who fought with the 5th Ranger Battalion during World War II. Graphic Art Work: Kiki Kelley.

Veterans Administration Vantage Point, by Katherine Berman

In 1924, Randall Ching was born in San Francisco, California. He grew up in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood until the 1930s when Ching’s family returned to China to escape the Great Depression. Ching joined the Chinese army after war broke out with Japan.

At his parents’ urging to return to America, Ching left China amidst the Second Sino-Japanese War. The U.S. Army drafted him into service. At basic training, his expert marksmanship skills impressed a recruiting sergeant after he hit a bullseye seven out of eight times.

 As a member of the 5th Ranger Battalion, Ching served on the front lines during World War II. He was part of the Allied invasion force that landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

He earned a Bronze Star Medal during the war for his heroic actions on Sept. 2, 1944, when he used his knife fighting skills to defeat a German patrol in hand-to-hand combat. He also received a nomination for a French Legion of Honor.

After World War II, Ching worked as a stock clerk manager in a general store in Chinatown and attended night school to become a certified electronics technician. He then became a maintenance manager until his retirement in 1990. 

In December 2020, 76 years after the D-Day invasion, Ching received the Congressional Gold Medal in conjunction with his fellow Chinese American World War II Veterans. He is believed to be the only Ranger of Chinese descent to fight in World War II.

Today, Ching is 95 years old and continues to live in Chinatown. His son, a Navy captain, fought in the Vietnam War, and his grandson served with the Marines in Iraq. Ching was also interviewed and featured on the PBS film, “We Served With Pride: The Chinese American Experience in World War II,” which first aired in 2000.

According to the Marin Independent Journal, “Ching’s advice to others is to remember, today and in the future, those who lost their lives on those battlegrounds ‘to preserve the freedom they have now. Don’t take it for granted.’”

Thank you for your service! 

To access article online: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/92113/veteranoftheday-army-veteran-randall-ching/

[EdNote. This article was submitted by Rod Azama. It was on VA website as a #VeteranoftheDay series. There was no copyright restrictions and recommended the series be "shared with family and friends."  We commend VA for its high quality information service.]

Washington DC NIPPON TV Correspondent Interviews Terry Shima, 442nd RCT

Terry Shima, 442nd RCT. Image: Screenshot of interview with Friends of National WWII Memorial, 2020.

Sho Watanabe, the Correspondent for Nippon TV Washington, DC, News Bureau, interviewed former JAVA Executive Director and longtime JAVA member, Terry Shima, 442nd RCT.  Mr. Watanabe noted that "through the interview, I learned more about the history of the 442nd Regiment and the history of Japanese Americans." He also added that "we must continue our efforts for peace and equality. While I am in the United States, I would like to talk more with people who have the same roots in Japan and deepen mutual understanding."

The interview was covered in the following press:

Nippon TV NEWS24 website


Yahoo! news




Mr. Wantanabe also interviewed MIS veteran Shinye Gima of Hawaii.


Stamp Collector Creates Collage from Nisei USPS Stamp

Longtime JAVA member Pete Sarmiento is a philatelist and a collector. Inspired by the release of the USPS Go For Broke Forever Stamp, he created an impressive collage from the Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers of WWII First Day Cover (above). Sarmiento also created a collage to celebrate the CGM Ceremony to Honor Filipino Veterans in World War II (below).

Stamp Our Story Dedication for Hearing Impaired on YouTube!

Go For Broke Stamp. Image Credit: U.S. Postal Service.

Robert Horsting

Los Angeles, CA. The Stamp Our Story Committee (SOSC) presented the Los Angeles Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers of WWII commemorative stamp dedication program on June 4, 2021, at the Japanese American National Museum's (JANM) Center for Democracy. Representatives of the U.S. Postal Service were in attendance and participated in the unveiling of the new stamp first conceived by Fusa Takahashi on the steps of JANM after seeing an exhibit on the impressive contributions Japanese American veterans made to our nation's victorious efforts during WWII. The program was live-streamed and recorded, however in an effort to make this program accessible to the hearing impaired, SOSC is producing a subtitled version of the entire program.


The above link will bring the viewer to the Stamp Our Story YouTube Channel, which will display this video as the primary window. Visitors will also be able to view other related video content that might be of interest.

Call for Nominations for 2022 JAVA Awards

The JAVA Awards Committee is seeking nominations for 2022 JAVA Awards Ceremony. Please consider the Awards listed below and send recommendations to George Ishikata, JAVA Awards Committee Chair, at George.Ishikata@java-us.org by October 15, 2021. When nominating a candidate, please submit a justification for the award.  

The Courage, Honor, and Patriotism Award is JAVA’s highest award.  Started in 2005, this award honors a person (in either the public or private sector) who has performed outstanding work to benefit the nation – including Japanese Americans – over a sustained period of time.

Terry T. Shima Leadership Award.  Started in 2012, this award recognizes exemplary meritorious conduct in service and achievements in support of JAVA's goals and missions, for veterans, and for leadership portrayed.  The award also recognizes outstanding visionary leadership.

JAVA Veterans' Advocate Award.  Started in 2008, this award recognizes individuals who have supported JAVA’s perpetuation of the Japanese American World War II legacy.

JAVA Service Pin.  Presented to any awardee of a JAVA award who has served JAVA substantively over a considerable period of time.

Korean War Vet Min Tonai’s

Memorable Memoir

Korean War veteran Min Tonai is working on a memoir for his grown children. Photo: George Toshio Johnston.

Reprinted with Permission

Pacific Citizen, November 6, 2020

The L.A. native uses the quarantine to record experiences for posterity.

By George Toshio Johnston, Senior Editor, Digital and Social Media

Excluding outright, xenophobic and blatant race prejudice, perhaps one of the reasons Americans of Japanese descent had their rights abrogated during World War II was the fundamental ignorance of an aspect of Japanese culture overlooked by mainstream society: loyalty, in this case to one’s nation, as dictated by the tenets of the so-called samurai code, aka bushidō.

That ignorance was infamously elucidated by the Western Defense Command’s Gen. John Dewitt and his quote, “A Jap’s a Jap. It makes no difference whether the Jap is a citizen or not.”

Equally infamous was the Los Angeles Times column of W. H. Anderson, likening an American of Japanese heritage to a venomous snake, as in a “viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched” and that a Japanese American with “accidental citizenship” could never be an American “in his thoughts, in his ideas and in his ideals.”

For Min Tonai, who was born in San Pedro, Calif., and spent his early years on Terminal Island, that sort of vile thinking is completely repudiated by a boyhood memory.

Tonai remembers how his mother, Toyone Tonai, sent him to Compton Gakuin on Saturdays because, from her perspective as a former schoolteacher herself, she felt it was better than the Japanese language school on Terminal Island.

One Saturday, in the months before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Tonai remembers how Principal Endo read to the students a letter from the man who became Japan’s prime minister in October 1941 — and would, after Japan’s defeat in WWII, be executed after being tried for war crimes: Hideki Tojo.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Tonai recalled. “He said, ‘You Nisei are Americans. Be loyal to your country.’ I was shocked.” It was, Tonai, said, straight out of bushidō, the part about serving one’s lord, master or nation loyally.

That concept of Japanese American loyalty to country would prove itself over and over again, whether it was WWII and the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service and decades later in the Vietnam War or, in the case of Tonai, the United Nation’s “police action,” better known as the Korean War, which ran from 1950-53.

Years later, Tonai said he wondered whether he remembered Tojo’s admonition correctly or if, perhaps, the principal misspoke.

“He must have said, ‘Be loyal to Japan,’” Tonai recalled. But he had a childhood friend — Jiro Takahashi — who grew up to be a businessman in Little Tokyo. One day many years later while in Little Tokyo, Tonai dropped in to say hello to his pal. “I asked him about that,” and Takahashi corroborated his recollection.

Tonai’s anecdote not only illustrated something about the Japanese culture that was transmitted to him as a lad, it also provided some individual solace to Tojo’s heirs, too.

“Once I met his (Tojo’s) grandson at the consul general’s, and so I took the opportunity to talk about that, and he was surprised and really happy that I said that.

“Well, he went home to Japan and told his mother, the daughter of Tojo, and she was really thrilled that I remembered that, and that was what I said about her father,” Tonai recalled.

That and other stories will, hopefully, be included in the memoir Tonai, now a widower who turns 92 in February, has been writing during the forced isolation caused by the SARS-CoV-19 pandemic. It’s something he wants to pass on to his three adult children: Susan Reiko Tonai-Drews, John Ryo Tonai and Teresa Ayako Tonai.

Some of those recollections include how his father, Gengoro Tonai, met and later married Toyone Otsubo — 13 years his junior — in Japan and why they emigrated from Japan. (It involved an overbearing mother-in-law, naturally.)

An interesting sidenote was that because of Japan’s class system, his father felt he needed to marry a woman who also came from a samurai family. Perhaps unusually for a Japanese American, Tonai is of samurai lineage from both parents.

Gengoro Tonai would eventually develop a successful business running several produce stands across Los Angeles County. But it was halted with America’s entry into WWII.

Min Tonai recalled how on Dec. 7, his father refused to believe that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor, insisting initially that it had to have been the Germans instead, which made no sense to his son.

“At 8:30 that evening, the doorbell rings, and there’s two guys in black suits. They said they wanted to talk with Gengoro — my father,” Tonai said. “I said, ‘Just a moment please.’

“I knock on his bedroom door, and I said, ‘There’s two hakujin that want to talk to you.’

“My father comes out of his room wearing his three-piece suit, put on his overcoat, put on his hat and went out the door with them.

“They told me, ‘We just want to talk with him at the Los Angeles County Jail for one hour. But we never saw him until 1944.”

From when he was picked up to when he finally was able to rejoin his family, Gengoro Tonai would be shuttled to Terminal Island Penitentiary, Ft. Missoula, Mont., Livingston, La., and finally, Santa Fe, N.M.

“All federal prisons,” Tonai noted.

Tonai also remembered how he saw his future wife, Mary Endo, for the first time in 1949 at the first Nisei Week. It would take another year until he saw her again and begin to court her. She wasn’t too receptive, but Tonai managed to learn that she lived in the Silver Lake area. He used a phone book to find all the people in that area named Endo and struck paydirt with the first number.

Mary eventually warmed up to him, but another detour happened: the Korean War. Any thoughts of marriage would have to wait.

“I told her, ‘I may end up at war. I don’t know what the future will hold for me,’” Tonai recalled. “She said, ‘I’ll wait.’” It would take several years.

After getting drafted into the Army and going through the required basic training, Tonai was shipped to Japan: Camp Zama, then Camp McNair and finally Camp Haugen in Aomori Prefecture.

For Tonai, getting stationed in Japan was fortuitous, as he was able to connect with many of his relatives, who were happy to see him, but also grateful for the gifts he’d bring them from the different Army posts.

Then came the news: Tonai and his fellow soldiers were finally going to be sent to Korea, during the winter, no less. To make matters worse, the Army didn’t send them there with the necessary gear for the bitter cold of Korea. When they finally were given parkas and insulated books, Tonai realized it was all castoffs — but it was so cold, nobody cared.

Looking back, though, Tonai realizes how lucky he was to survive the conflict relatively unscathed, serving as a medic — and that happened because he fortuitously reconnected in Korea with a doctor named Orson B. Spencer from Utah, who he had met during basic training at Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg Air Force Base) in California, when a decision was made to give medic training to the draftees, who had been assigned to the California National Guard.

“Normally to be a medic, you’d go to medical training school in Fort Sam Houston, and then you’d get assigned to your company, wherever you were going to go,” Tonai explained. “They said, ‘We’re going to try something new. We’re going to train you in Camp Cooke.’”

It was actually a cost-saving measure, Tonai said. But, as it turned out, the National Guard members who taught Tonai and his cohort weren’t really well-trained themselves, just reading from the manuals.

“They would be mispronouncing the medical terms, and we’d be shouting at them how to pronounce it. Pretty bad,” he said.

Still, Tonai knew he had to do well.

“If I don’t pay attention or know what’s going on, then when I get to Korea and somebody dies because I don’t know what to do because I didn’t listen, then that will be on my conscience for the rest of my life, whereas the idiot that didn’t know what he was doing, who was training us — it wouldn’t be on his conscience.

“I thought I was back in school,” he continued. “I took copious notes and studied, studied, studied. At the end of the training, we took a test and the sergeant who was in charge took me aside and congratulated me. I was No. 1 in the company.”

Tonai was ordered to report to the dispensary the next morning. He would soon thereafter receive “training” in a two-man procedure, consultation, where someone comes in complaining of something and would get a recommendation for treatment, whether it was something as simple as prescribing aspirin or getting treatment for a sprained ankle.

After a couple days, his partner basically abandoned him, saying, “OK Tonai, you take over.”

“I was thinking, ‘Wow, I don’t know any of that stuff,” Tonai remembered. “I’m not even trained! I’m in trouble.”

Fortunately, Tonai was friendly with a National Guard sergeant who was a pharmacist and a UCLA grad.

“So, I went to him and said, ‘What am I going to do? I don’t know what’s going on.’ He said, ‘Go buy a ‘Merck Manual’ — most things will be in there.’”

As soon as he could, Tonai went on leave to Santa Maria, found a bookstore and bought a copy.

“I put the ‘Merck Manual’ in a different room, so every time something came up that I didn’t know, I would say, ‘Just a moment please,’ walked to the room and looked it up in the ‘Merck Manual,’” Tonai laughed.

Soon, a real doctor —Dr. Spencer, who had been drafted, arrived — and the two had a good relationship, with the doctor teaching Tonai what he needed to know. Spencer eventually arranged for Tonai, who’d get reassigned to manual labor duties so a National Guardsman could take his spot, to be formally assigned to the dispensary.

Fast-forwarding to when Tonai arrived in Korea, he caught a lucky break, reconnecting with Dr. Spencer.

“When I got to the line … he pulled me out and said, ‘I want you to be in charge of the ward tent.’”

Tonai said the ward tent was like a mini hospital for “anyone who got sick or wounded but could recover in seven to 10 days” — and it was well behind the front lines of combat. After six months in country, his time in Korea was done.

After his service was completed, Tonai returned stateside, rekindled his romance with Mary and got married, enrolled at UCLA and majored in accounting.

But once he completed his degree and began interviewing for jobs with national accounting firms like Arthur Andersen and Peat Marwick. But he found out they only wanted to speak with graduates whose grades were B+ or higher in their major.

“I had one B+ in all my accounting courses,” Tonai said, so that was not a problem. “I was more than qualified. But the companies would say, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’ That was a kiss off. I knew that.”

But, one company Tonai interviewed with was straightforward with him. Even though this company liked his grades, extracurricular activities and personality, the rep told him, “We can’t hire Orientals.”

“Then what shall I do?” Tonai asked him. “‘Well, just keep on interviewing,’ the rep answered. I said, ‘All the major companies are just like you. They don’t want to hire Orientals. What shall I do?’”

“He put his head down. He said, ‘I’m sorry. I don’t know.’ He really was embarrassed to tell me this.”

Through his UCLA professor, he wound up getting a bookkeeping job, which he didn’t much like but did for about a year before he quit. But Tonai was able to land a job as a cost accountant at a subsidiary of an aerospace firm.

Even though the pay wasn’t what he would have liked, it gave him an opportunity be able to say he had a background in cost accounting as well as general accounting.

“It was not hard. It was easy,” Tonai said. But it was a foot in the door and his postwar career in accounting, which would lead to titles like chief financial officer and vp of finance. Things were finally starting to look up, career-wise, for him.

Over time, in addition to his career, Tonai would be named Grand Marshal of the 59th Anniversary Nisei Week Japanese Festival in 1999 and would receive the Nikkei Pioneer Award at the 68th Anniversary Nisei Week Japanese Festival in 2008; a Lifetime Achievement Award from UCLA Asian American Studies in 1998; and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center’s Chairman’s Award in 2005. He also became involved with various community organizations: Japanese American National Museum (board member), Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (president), Japanese American Korean War Veterans (president and treasurer), the UCLA Foundation, UCLA’s Business Economic Council, the Amache Historical Society, Terminal Islanders — but not the JACL.

“I found out when my father got jailed, one of his employees, who was an active JACL member, had turned him in to the FBI,” Tonai said. “I could never join it (JACL) because I felt that would be disloyal to my father.” Nevertheless, he did say he is a nonmember subscriber to the Pacific Citizen.

At 91, Tonai can count his blessings: decent health, a still-sharp mind, having raised three children to adulthood. But he is also the last of his siblings, including a younger brother who predeceased him.

Once the pandemic clears up, the Japanese American Korean War Veterans will have a final dinner for its few remaining members and disband, then donate its remaining funds to the JACCC’s Japanese American National War Memorial Court to go toward maintaining it.

Like all things, Minoru Tonai knows his time will pass. But that memoir he is working on will remain as a testament to a life of service, honor and integrity that is as American as anyone could hope to be.

To access the article on line: Korean War Vet Min Tonai’s Memorable Memoir – Pacific Citizen

 [EdNote. This article was submitted by Rod Azama.]

Reflections - Sandra Tanamachi

Sandra Tanamachi (center) with family at the grave of Saburo Tanamachi, Arlington National Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

Reprinted with Permission, Stamp Our Story.

June 1, 2021

What a fitting tribute to our beloved Nisei Veterans to have a U.S. Forever Stamp which recognizes and honors them for their extraordinary heroism, bravery, and sacrifices during WWII. We each stand on their shoulders, and we and future generations to come have all benefitted from their acts of courage and sacrifices.  Sincere thanks to Fusa Takahashi, Aiko O. King, and the late Chiz Ohira for beginning and leading the campaign which began in 2005. Wayne Osako, another early leader in the campaign, deserves much appreciation and thanks for making the fruition of the Go For Broke Nisei Soldiers Stamp a reality.  It’s been an honor and privilege for me to a part of this campaign since February 2007. 

This is one way of personally thanking my four Tanamachi uncles who were part of the famed 442nd, and the two uncles on my mother, Kikuko Nakao Tanamachi’s Nakao side. One of my mother’s younger brothers, Taira Nakao, was part of the MIS and served in Tokyo during the Occupation of Japan. Nobumasa “Happy” Kitayama was part of the 442nd and was married to my mother’s younger sister, Ikuko Nakao Kitayama.

None of our uncles ever spoke about being in the 442 while we were growing up in Texas . However, my four siblings and I were introduced to Uncle Saburo by his picture which was hanging prominently in our grandparents living room. He was dressed in his Army uniform and cap with a superior marksmanship pin on his left side.  Included in the picture frame were his Silver Star Medal and Purple Heart.  He had written on the top of his picture, “To Mother and Dad, and all the rest,” then signed on the bottom, “Just a soldier, Saburo Tanamachi.”

Willie was the first of the Tanamachi brothers to enlist in the Army Air Corps when he was 19 years old. He was born on March 1, 1921 the day when our grandparents, Kumazo and Asao Hirayama Tanamachi, arrived in Beaumont, Texas with their five older children, Jack Ichiro, Jerry Jiro (my father), Fumiko Onishi, Saburo, and Goro. Our grandfather had come from Fukuoka, Japan and settled in Seal Beach, California. He married Asao Hirayama who also was from Fukuoka, and they began their family and started farming. Kumazo wasn’t able to purchase his own land in California, so he moved his family to Texas where land was available for him to purchase.

After December 1941, Willie was involuntarily reassigned from the Army Air Corps to other units of the Army. In the summer of 1944, as a sergeant with almost 4 years of military service, Willie was sent to Camp Shelby where he joined the 171st Infantry Battalion which trained replacements for the 442nd RCT.  In June 1945, he was sent to France on board the Queen Mary for his assignment in Germany. During the Korean War, Willie was stationed in Germany, subsequently completed two tours of duty in Vietnam, and retired in 1971 after serving for more than 30 years of military service.

Willie’s older brother, Saburo, was born on April 1, 1917 and was drafted in February 1944. When the 442nd RCT was activated, he joined it as a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion. He was killed in action on October 29, 1944, during the rescue of the trapped Texas Battalion on Hill 617 in the vicinity of Biffontaine, located in northeastern France. He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. Saburo, squad leader, died in the arms of this best friend, George T. “Joe” Sakato. Assuming the command of the squad, Sakato, armed with an enemy rifle and pistol, led the charge against the enemy to avenge the death of his buddy. His display of courage, over and beyond the call of duty, turned impending defeat into victory. Sakato was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Official photo of E Company marching into Bruyeres in October 1944. Saburo Tanamachi is shown looking at the camera on the far left of the image. Behind him is his best buddy, George T. “Joe” Sakato. Later in the same month as this image, Saburo would be shot by German troops, and die in the arms of Joe. Enraged by the death of his friend, Joe would lead a charge for which he would later be awarded the Medal of Honor. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

General Jacob L. Devers, Commanding Officer of the 100th/442nd RCT, presents the U.S. Flag to Saburo Tanamachi’s parents at Arlington National Cemetery, in June 1948. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Saburo was one of the first two Japanese Americans along with Fumitake Nagato to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.  Honorary pallbearers included the following individuals: General Jacob Devers, Commanding General of the Army Ground Forces who commanded the Sixth Army Group under which the 442nd fought in France; Major General John E. Dahlquist, Commanding Officer of the 36th Texas Division to which the 442nd was attached for the offensive in France; Colonel Charles W. Pence, Commander of the 442nd; Colonel Virgil R. Miller, Commander of the 442nd RCT after Colonel Pence was wounded in the Vosges; Colonel Charles H. Owens, wartime commander of the 141st Infantry Regiment, parent company unit of the Lost Battalion; Mike Masaoka, National Legislative Director of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and former 442nd member; Ira Shimasaki, President of the WDC JACL Chapter; and Jesse S. Shima, Head of the Japan -America Society of Washington, D.C. 

General Jacob L. Devers said, “There is one supreme and final test of loyalty to one’s native land. This test is readiness and willingness to fight for, and if need be, to die for one’s country. These Americans, and their fellow Nisei veterans, passed that test with colors flying. They proved their loyalty and devotion beyond all question. The United States Army salutes you, Pfc. Fumitake Nagato and Pfc. Saburo Tanamachi. You and your compatriots will live in our hearts and our history as Americans, first class.”

Goro Tanamachi, born on May 27, 1919, enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940, was sent to aviation technical school, and graduated as an airplane mechanic.  He was removed from duty  after December 7, 1941. When the 442nd RCT was formed in February 1943, Goro was sent to Camp Shelby initially as a member of the training cadre and then deployed to Italy and France with the 442nd. While in France, he was called to identify the body of his older brother Saburo on October 29, 1944. Goro earned four Bronze Star Medals and was honorably discharged on August 4, 1945. 

Walter Tanamachi was the youngest brother born on May 30, 1925.  He was assigned to the Port of Bremerhaven, Germany, around 1945.  He was selected for Officer Candidate School and received his commission as Second Lieutenant.  Following his discharge, he attended Texas A&M University on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1952. 

Born on August 18, 1923, Taira Nakao was incarcerated in Rohwer, Arkansas, along with his mother, 2 sisters, and younger brother. He was able to find work on his brother-in-law, Jerry Jiro Tanamachi’s farm after his older sister, Kikuko Nakao Tanamachi, married Jerry and moved to Texas. It was in Texas where he was drafted into the Army and was assigned to the MIS due to his abilities to speak, read, and write in Japanese. He served in Tokyo during the Occupation of Japan. 

Nobumasa “Happy” Kitayama born on February 2, 1925, graduated from Donna High School in 1943. He was drafted into the Army where he served his country as a sharpshooter and was promoted to sergeant after only 18 months.  He was honorably discharged in 1946 and returned to Donna, Texas, to take over the family farm.

The Go For Broke Nisei Soldier Stamp will honor each of these outstanding uncles, as well as each of our beloved Nisei veterans across the nation who served valiantly during WWII.  It is, indeed, a most fitting way to honor and remember our Heroes!

Sandra Tanamachi (Nakata), Lake Jackson, Texas 

Saburo Tanamachi, 442nd RCT (E Company), was killed in action on October 29, 1944, during the Rescue of the Lost Battalion. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

Goro Tanamachi, 442nd RCT (HQ, 2nd Bn), Tech 4th Grade. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

Willie Tanamachi, 442nd RCT, 171st Bn, Cadre. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

Walter Tanamachi, 442nd RCT, 2nd Lt. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

Taira Nakao, MIS. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

Nobumasa “Happy” Kitayama, 442nd RCT. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

“Happy” Kitayama (seated on the left), with his wife and Family. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

This image shows the children of Goro Tanamachi. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

The children and family of Willie Tanamachi. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

Walter Tanamachi’s twin daughters. Photo courtesy of Sandra Tanamachi.

To access Sandra Tanamachi's Relections online click this link, http://niseistamp.org/one-perspective-on-the-stamp-sandra-tanamachi/

[EdNote: JAVA thanks Sandra Tanamachi and Wayne Osako, Stamp Our Story Co-Chair, for permission to reprint.]


Clavelina “Lee” Quidangen Sarmiento

Clavelina “Lee” Quidangen Sarmiento, of Fort Washington, MD, passed away on August 3, 2021 after a brief illness.

Clavelina was born in San Marcelino, Zambales, Philippines on October 26, 1934. In 1946, she moved to Washington, DC with her parents Melchor and Felixberta Quidangen, as one of the early Filipino families who settled in the Washington area. She graduated from Anacostia High School in 1953 and George Washington University in 1958. Clavelina taught home economics for various Prince George’s County public schools for 30 years and was a longtime parishioner of St. Columba Catholic Church in Oxon Hill, MD. Clavelina loved to see new places and travel the world — from the Caribbean to Austria to Egypt to Israel to Hawaii, and everywhere in between.

Beloved wife for 61 years to Pedro “Pete” D. Sarmiento; she is cherished mother of Minda (Kurt Wehrs) Sarmiento of Austin, TX; and devoted grandmother of Brianna Wehrs of Boston, MA and Peter “Wyeth” Wehrs of Tucson, AZ. Clavelina is also survived by two brothers-in-law Tony (Janet Silva) Sarmiento and Mike (Ino) Sarmiento; two sisters-in-law Helen Bandong and Maria Sarmiento; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and colleagues. 

In lieu of flowers, contributions to honor her memory can be made to St. Columba School Education Fund (7800 Livingston Road, Oxon Hill, MD 20745). Clavelina will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. 

Questions or Suggestions: Please contact Neet Ford at javapotomac@gmail.com.

Japanese American Veterans Association:  Address: P.O. Box 341198, Bethesda, MD 20827 I www.java-us.org

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