Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 3, No. 46, April 1, 2022

President's Message 

JAVA President Gerald Yamada

Thank you for your support in re-electing me as JAVA President for another two-year term.  I congratulate Howard High, Kay Izumihara, and Michael Katahara on their election as JAVA Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. I am pleased that Mark Nakagawa, Cynthia Macri, Jason Kuroiwa, Marty Herbert, Dawn Ellenberger, and Lynn Mariano have agreed to continue carrying out their assigned responsibilities on the Executive Council. 

I am also announcing four new appointments that have been approved by the Executive Council.  We have two new members of the Executive Council. COL Danielle Ngo, USA, and LTC Robert Vokac, USA (Ret), have accepted appointments to serve on the Executive Council. They are great additions to our already well-oiled governing team. 

EC Member Marty Herbert has agreed to serve as Chair of the JAVA Awards Committee. He replaces George Ishikata, who sadly passed away last year. 

The Executive Council has approved the appointment of Neet Ford as JAVA Executive Director in recognition of her invaluable service to JAVA. Over the past four years, Neet has greatly helped to organize our programs and administrative matters in her capacity as JAVA Administrator. We look forward to continue working with her.

JAVA is adding two special programs for its members this year.  On June 9, JAVA will be co-sponsoring a photo exhibit with the Japan Information and Culture Center and the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance. The photo exhibit will be held at the JICC, June 9 thru July 22. The photo exhibit will feature photos taken by photographer Shane Sato over a 20 year period of Japanese American soldiers who served during World War II. Admission is free.

Exhibit Poster, The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits from 1999-2022. Photo of Terry Shima, 442nd RCT by Shane Sato. Poster by Kenny Yamada.

On July 16, JAVA will host an evening program and dinner at the US Army National Museum. Guests who attend the dinner will have free access to tour the museum during the day before the evening dinner. There will be a cost for the dinner. As we work out the details of this event, we will share them with you.

The July 16th dinner will be held the day after our Day of Affirmation ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. For this year’s ceremony, LTC Robert Vokac (USA Ret) will serve as the wreath escort. He is a grandson of COL Virgil Miller, who was the commanding officer of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team starting with the battle to save the Texas Lost Battalion. One of the two wreath bearers will be Sandra Tanamachi, whose uncle, Saburo Tanamachi, was killed in action while serving with the 442nd RCT in its efforts to save the Texas Lost Battalion and is the first Japanese American to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The other wreath bearer will be Missy Higgins Abrunzo, whose father, Marty Higgins, was the commanding officer of the Texas Lost Battalion at the time the 442nd RCT rescued it. This year’s program will again be virtual and will be held on July 15 at 12 noon.

JAVA will continue to sponsor its annual events – Freedom Walk, Memorial Day Service, Scholarship Presentation, and Veterans Day Program.

Lastly, I want to sincerely thank all of you who answered our call to donate to our annual fundraising campaign. I am pleased that we exceeded our goal, and your generous donations allow us to continue offering JAVA membership to war veteran members with no dues.

With your continued support, the Executive Council and I look to having another great year for JAVA.

The Go For Broke Spirit

JAVA to Co-Sponsor Shane Sato Photography Exhibit of Nisei WWII Veterans 

June 9 -July 22, 2022

George Morihiro, I Company, 442nd RCT. Photo: Shane Sato 

The Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) will host a photo exhibit, The Go For Broke Spirit, featuring images of Japanese American veterans who served during World War II by Shane Sato, a photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. The exhibit will be shown at the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC), located at 1150 18th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, starting on June 9, 2022. The event will be co-sponsored by JAVA, JICC, the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance through a grant from the Japanese American Community Foundation, and Mr. Shane Sato.

Mr. Sato has 
spent the last twenty-plus years using his shutter to capture evocative portraits of Japanese American World War II veterans, soldiers who fought and served America in the segregated unit of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and as members of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) while their families and friends were imprisoned in internment camps back home. His larger-than-life images of these ageless veterans in the military dress have been published in two books entitled “Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage” and "Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Legacy."  From these works, Mr. Sato has created the photo exhibit that will be shown at the JICC.

The exhibit is the first time Sato’s works will be shown on the East Coast.  Exhibit visitors can glimpse the indomitable essence of these men, who despite experiencing intense racism and discrimination following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, armed themselves with the gambler’s motto of “Go For Broke,” a phrase uttered in dice games to signal an all-out effort, and volunteered to fight. And “Go For Broke” they did: Their heroism and sacrifice on the battlefield earned them the moniker “Purple Heart Battalion” because of the many causalities suffered in combat. Those based in the Pacific were assigned to the MIS, a clandestine intelligence gathering unit, and aided the war effort by translating documents and interrogating prisoners. The MISers also helped rebuild post-war Japan. In other images, hints of the soldiers’ unique Japanese American ethos, exemplified by the word “Gaman,” or enduring the unbearable with dignity, are evident. By portraying the veterans in uniform, Sato ensures the patriotism that propelled his subjects to volunteer is powerful and creates an unforgettable history lesson for viewers.  Ultimately, Sato’s exhibit is a quintessential tale of American adversity and triumph, and in the words of Sato, “their success story helped shape the world that we live in today.”

The photo exhibit will be open to the public. Exhibit hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Admission is free, and the exhibit will close on July 22, 2022. 

The JICC will have special gallery hours from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Saturday, June 11, 2022, and invite the public to hear Shane Sato speak at 1:00 pm about his work and the specific portraits on view. The program will be free, but a ticket to enter the program will be required. Because of limited seating, reservations will be required. Information about how to reserve tickets for the June 11th program will be made available as we get closer to June. 

From June 9 to June 11, Mr. Sato will be at the JICC to sign his books.  If interested, you will have to pre-purchase the books on his website https://www.thegoforbrokespirit.com/store  and pick them up at the book signing.

For more information about Shane Sato’s work, please visit: https://www.thegoforbrokespirit.com/ or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/goforbrokespirit/.

For more information, please visit our sponsors’ websites:

Japanese American Veterans Association at https://www.java-us.org/. JAVA’s point of contact is Neet Ford, Executive Director, at javapotomac@gmail.com.  

Veterans Memorial Court Alliance website is https://www.memorialcourtalliance.org/.

Japan Information & Culture Center, Embassy of Japan website is https://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/index.html.

Shane Sato: Artist Statement

I have been photographing Japanese American Nisei veterans for the past 20 years.  They were the 100th /442nd the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in U.S. Army history. This portrait series explores my heritage and the remarkable stories that few have ever heard about. I started this project because I wanted to photograph these men in an artistic way and share the stories that needed to be remembered for the next generation.  The Nisei almost universally never talked about their war experiences, so I felt it was necessary to share what they could not. I want to be able to capture their “Go For Broke Spirit”, and photograph the emotions and create a voice that they could not express themselves.  I wanted these portraits to show courage, patriotism, and strength —not the way Asian men are often portrayed in America. I print the images dark and contrasty for a feeling of mystery and bravery, but I also desaturated the colors for a more somber mood.  The overall feeling of the images represent the resilience of the Nisei, whether they were fighting on the battlefield or imprisoned in the camps, the inner fortitude or “Gaman” they showed was remarkable.  My goal is for people to feel inspired by the triumphs of the Nisei, and also show the complex range of emotions these men must have felt fighting for this country . . . a country that did not fight for them.

JAVA to Hold Dinner at National Museum of the U.S. Army

July 16, 2022

National Museum of the U.S. Army, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Photo: Howard High. 

Plans are underway for a dinner gathering at the National Museum of the U.S. Army on Saturday, July 16, 2022. LTC Robert Vokac will speak on memories by COL Miller of commanding the 442nd RCT as told to his grandson. LTC Vokac was recently appointed to JAVA’s Executive Council and is a grandson of Colonel Virgil R. Miller, who was the Commanding Officer of the 442nd RTC, taking over command of the Nisei soldiers during their rescue of the Texas "Lost Battalion" in the Vosges Mountains of France. The evening dinner program will begin at 4:45 pm in Veterans Hall. Attendees will be allowed to visit and tour the museum at any time that day at no charge. More details about the event will follow in the May e-Advocate 

Colonel Danielle Ngo Joins JAVA Executive Council 
Colonel Danielle Ngo, U.S. Army. Photo: Courtesy COL Ngo.

Washington, DC. JAVA is pleased to announce the appointment of COL Danielle Ngo, USA to the JAVA Executive Council.  Many will recall, COL Ngo was the keynote speaker at JAVA's 2021 Veterans Day event. Her Veterans Day speech was included in the December 2021 e-Advocate and is in a link below. Also below is a link to a reprint of a story, Once a war refugee, Soldier rises through Army's ranks about COL Ngo that we shared in the May 2021 e-Advocate.

Colonel Danielle Ngo is an active-duty Army officer with over 30 years of service. She was born in Vietnam and was evacuated by the United States at the end of the Vietnam War with her mother and sister. She is currently attending the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C. as a Chief of Staff of the Army Senior Military Fellow. Previously, she served as the Executive Officer for the U.S. Army Inspector General and Executive Officer for the U.S. Army Pacific Commander in Hawaii. She commanded an operational engineer brigade in the Pacific and served in leadership assignments throughout the United States and overseas, including deployments to Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. During her commands, her units assisted with two of the largest and most destructive wildfires in Colorado history, the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Wildfires, and provided humanitarian assistance and military construction throughout the Pacific from Hawaii to the Republic of Korea. She also participated in the US-China Disaster Management Exchange in Kunming while in command. When not serving operationally, she has held positions as a Joint Chiefs of Staff Intern, the Chief of Engineer Maneuver Support Organizations, and the Military Assistant to the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

Colonel Ngo holds a distinguished graduate master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College (USAWC), a master’s in Theater Studies from the Army Command and General Staff College, and a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University. She is also certified as a Project Management Professional.

e-Advocate stories featuring COL Ngo:

COL Ngo's Veterans Day speech in December 2021 e-Advocate: https://java-us.org/resources/EmailTemplates/e-Advocate%20No%2042%20Dec%201%202021/index_preview.html.

Reprint of a story, Once a war refugee, Soldier rises through Army's ranks about COL Ngo in the May 2021 e-Advocate: https://java-us.org/resources/EmailTemplates/e-Advocate%20No%2033%205.1.21/index_preview.html.

Robert Vokac Joins JAVA Executive Council 

LTC Robert Vokac, USA (Ret). Photo: Courtesy R. Vokac. 

Robert “Bob” Vokac is a third-generation veteran of the U.S. Army. His grandfather, Colonel Virgil R. Miller, was the first Executive Officer of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the second Commanding Officer. His father was also a World War II Veteran. Following commissioning as a field artillery officer, Bob served more than 25 years in various staff and command positions throughout the world including the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of Korea, and Canada. He attended the Advanced Military Studies Program at Fort Leavenworth and was Joint Staff qualified. His final military posting was at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Bob retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Following his retirement in 2003 from the U.S. Army, Bob established Wolverine Consulting, a small business dedicated to professional military education and exercise design, development, and delivery. He has had the good fortune of supporting numerous projects for a variety of organizations in Canada, the United States, Eastern Europe, Central America, South America, Asia, and Africa. Bob has remained associated with the Canadian Forces College since 1999, serving as a small group instructor and curriculum developer. He was a frequent television/radio commentator on defense and security issues while representing the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies.

Bob is a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officers Association of America, Association of the United States Army, and the Marine Corps Association. Socially, he is a proud member of the Armour Heights Officers’ Mess in Toronto, Ontario, and the Army and Navy Club of Washington, D.C. He volunteers with and is a Board Director of the South Simcoe Railway, a steam heritage railway located in Tottenham, Ontario.

Bob graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He holds a Master of Science in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Military Arts and Science in Theatre Operations from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Bob and his partner May currently reside in Alliston, Ontario, Canada.

JAVA Executive Council member CAPT Cynthia Macri, MC, USN (Ret), Appointed to VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans

CAPT (Dr.) Cynthia Macri, MC, USN (Ret). Photo: Courtesy of Macri.

Congratulations to JAVA Executive Council member CAPT (Dr.) Cynthia Macri, MC, USN (Ret), was appointed by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis R McDonough to the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.  Dr. Macri's platform includes:  1) Equal pay and compensation; 2) Self Care and Healing using evidence-based programs; 3) Re-empowerment and self-advocacy using evidence-based programs; and Access to quality mental health and gender-specific health care services.

Oregon Nisei Veterans to Have Highway Named to Honor Their Service

New Oregon Route 35 Highway Sign. Image: Courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation.

March 1, 2022

Mike Allegre

SALEM - Oregon lawmakers have honored the state’s Japanese American military veterans who fought valiantly in World War II by adding a new name to State Route 35 in the Hood River valley.  On Feb. 28, both the Oregon Senate and House signed off on legislation that will designate the 41-mile Route 35 from the Columbia River south to Highway 26 as the Oregon Nisei Veterans World War II Memorial Highway.

Slated for dedication in mid-August, it will be the first state highway to honor Oregon’s Japanese American veterans, who faced discrimination, battled prejudice, and fought for freedom both at home and abroad.

State Sen. Chuck Thomsen of Hood River introduced Senate Bill 1509 early in the short legislative session. Sen. James Manning, Jr. and Rep. Anna Williams also signed on as chief sponsors.  Gov. Kate Brown signed SB 1509A on March 7.

More than 130 Oregon Nisei — U.S. citizens who were born to Japanese immigrants — served in Europe and the South Pacific during the war. An estimated 60 of them came from Hood River County. Many Nisei veterans had been imprisoned in American concentration camps with their families under presidential Executive Order 9066 in 1942 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some were already serving in the military before the attack.

Linda Tamura of Tualatin is a Hood River native, author, and former Willamette University professor. She spearheaded this legislation with Eric Ballinger and retired Army Lt. Col. Dick Tobiason. Tamura’s father and uncle served in the U.S. Army during the war.  She wrote in her legislative testimony that the honor would remind future generations of the nation’s commitment to its veterans, no matter who they were. 

“Honoring these heroes who stood above discrimination can symbolize hope and resilience for our next generations,” Tamura wrote. “They paved the way. Highway 35 can become a highway of gratitude and remembrance.”

Most of these veterans served in the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe or as linguists in the Military Intelligence Service in the South Pacific and in post-war Japan.

The 442nd RCT is one of the most decorated units in U.S. military history and was once dubbed the Purple Heart Battalion because of the thousands of casualties it sustained. Many occurred when the regiment helped rescue hundreds of soldiers from a Texas National Guard unit surrounded by German forces on a hill in southern France in 1944. They also liberated a slave labor camp at the Dachau concentration camps northwest of Munich, Germany in 1945.

“The lessons of sacrifice and love of country embodied by these heroes are timeless reminders that even under terrible circumstances there is courage and hope,” said Mark Takiguchi, Interim Deputy Director of the Japanese American Museum of Oregon. He told the committee that Nisei soldiers “embody what is best about us.”

Hood River Valley High School student Melanie Glatter testified, “I think this honorific name is a small step in respecting Americans of color who have fought and died to protect the freedoms of all American citizens.”

Tamura and project supporters all agree that this story will help educate future generations and leaders to promote equality and justice and could not come at a more critical time and that naming Highway 35 as the Oregon Nisei Veterans World War II Memorial Highway “is a powerful and permanent action to help achieve this."

After gaining approval and guidance from the Oregon Department of Transportation, Tamura estimates that the first signs will be placed and dedicated near Hood River in August. The dedication program and reception will be held Sat., August 13 in Hood River. The signs will be privately funded at no cost to the State. Donations for the signs are being accepted by American Legion Post 22 in Hood River. 

At least eight other highways in Oregon have been renamed during the past two decades to honor U.S. military veterans.

As we watch television and see the brave Ukraine soldiers fighting outnumbered and with the courage and commitment to stop the tyranny of today, it reminds us of the same character and virtues of the Nisei Soldiers of World War II. Whether they be the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), or the unsung other Nisei soldiers in various units who were so vital to saving the American ideals of Freedom and Liberty while their own families were in concentration camps.  We’re ecstatic to see that memory of the Nisei Soldiers being recognized with the naming of a highway in their honor.

MAJ Setsy Sadamoto Larouche U.S. Army (Ret)

LTC Claude “Chip” Larouche, U.S. Army (Ret)

JAVA Members in Portland, Oregon

Gerald Yamada's Testimony in Support of Oregon Nisei Veterans World War II Memorial Highway

Testimony in Support of Oregon Senate Bill 1509

Before Oregon House Committee on Veterans and Emergency Management

Submitted by

Gerald Yamada, President

Japanese American Veterans Association

February 17, 2022

Dear Chair Grayber and Committee Members:

My name is Gerald Yamada. I am president of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA). JAVA is a national veteran organization that promotes the legacy of the Japanese American soldiers who served during World War II. 

I appreciate this opportunity to join in supporting passage of SB 1509. The reason why enactment of SB 1509 is important is that this would be the first time that all Japanese American, men and women, who served in defending America during World War II will be honored by Oregon for their service. As travelers enjoy scenic Oregon along Highway 35, from the Columbia River to Mt. Hood, they will see the permanent roadside markers on the Oregon Nisei Veterans WWII Memorial Highway. This would enable travelers’ to say “Thank you for your service” and for Oregon to honor the Japanese American WWII soldiers as America’s heroes.

Faced with the government’s discriminatory actions taken against Japanese Americans and the denial of their constitutional rights, based solely on their ethnicity, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese American men and women, who answered the call to serve, showed their loyalty to America. Their faith in America was not eroded by the distrust or overt prejudice that they faced. They served with honor and valor, in Europe with the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and in the Pacific with the Military Intelligence Service, in the Women’s Army Corp and Nurses’ Corp, and in rebuilding Pearl Harbor. Their spirit is the guiding light for all Americans to follow.

I hope that the House Committee on Veterans and Emergency Management embraces this spirit and passes SB 1509. Thank you for the opportunity to express my views in support of this important bill. 

Information about JAVA can be found on JAVA’s website at JAVA-US.org. 

The JAVA Memorial Scholarship Program is Open!

Applications Due: Saturday, April 30, 2022

The Japanese American Veterans Association announces its annual Memorial Scholarship Program for 2022.The scholarships will benefit a range of graduating high school seniors, undergraduate students, and post-graduate and professional education students. 

The scholarships include The Senator Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Scholarship ($3,000) honoring the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye’s iconic career of military and civilian public service; the Ishio Founder’s Scholarship ($3,000), which is awarded in memory of JAVA’s founder, Colonel Sunao Phil Ishio, USAR,  his wife Constance, and their son Douglas Ishio; the Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin Legacy Scholarship ($2,000),  a tribute to Ms. Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin, a longtime supporter of JAVA; and JAVA Memorial Scholarships ($1,500), honoring Nisei veterans, JAVA  members and/or their family members. The 2022 JAVA Memorial Scholarships are:

  • Staff Sgt. Mum Arii Scholarship, in honor of Mamoru “Mum” Arii who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  

  • Dr. Americo Bugliani Scholarship, in honor of his liberator, Paul Sakamoto, 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd RCT veteran.

  • Carolyn Namie Furumoto Scholarship, in honor of the wife and partner of JAVA member and Vietnam veteran, Tak Furumoto.

  • Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship, in honor of Ranger Grant Jiro Hirabayashi, MIS veteran.

  • Izuno Family Scholarship, in honor of JAVA member and Korean War veteran, Dr. Takumi Izuno, who served in the U.S. Army 511th MIS.    

  • Colonel Jimmie Kanaya Scholarship, in honor of Colonel Jimmie Kanaya, a three-war veteran – WW II, Korean, and Vietnam.

  • Mitsugi Kasai Scholarship, in honor of CWO 4 Mitsugi Murakami Kasai, MIS veteran.

  • Ben Kuroki Scholarship in honor of Sergeant Ben Kuroki, a gunner in the U.S. Army Air Corps, 505th Bombardment Group.

  • Matsui Scholarship in honor of Victor Matsui, MIS veteran, and wife Teru.

  • Colonel Virgil R. Miller Scholarship in honor of Colonel Virgil R. Miller, Commander of the 442nd.

  • Robert Nakamoto Scholarship, in honor of past JAVA President and Korean War veteran, Bob Nakamoto.

  • Betty Shima Scholarship, in honor of Betty Fujita Shima, lifelong partner of 442nd veteran, Terry Shima.

  • Shirey Scholarship, in honor of Major Orville Shirey, 442nd veteran, and wife Maud Shirey.


  • Descendants of those who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service, the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, and the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion; and descendants of Japanese American soldiers who served during World War II in other United States military units to include the Women’s Army Corps or Army Nurses Corps are eligible to apply for a JAVA Scholarship.
  • Current members of JAVA whose membership began prior to April 1, 2020, are eligible to apply. Children of current JAVA members are also eligible to apply if the applicant’s parent or guardian was a member of JAVA prior to April 1, 2020.
  • In addition, past or present members of the Army’s 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment are eligible and encouraged to apply for the Senator Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Scholarship. Also eligible are individuals enrolled in a college or university ROTC or U.S. Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Course.  Applicants should demonstrate their lifelong commitment to uniformed service and public leadership for the nation.


Applicants should first review published rules and forms.  Applications and supporting documents must be electronically submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, 2022, to javascholarship222@gmail.com  with either “2022 Inouye Memorial Scholarship,” “2022 Ishio Founder's Memorial Scholarship,”  "2022 Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin Legacy Scholarship," or “2022 JAVA Memorial Scholarship” and the applicant’s name in the subject line.  Applications not received by that date or that fail to meet the submission requirements will NOT be considered. Applicants will be notified of a decision by early June 2022.  Awards will be presented at a JAVA scholarship awards ceremony on Saturday,  July 23,  2022. 

2022 JAVA Memorial Scholarship Program Overview here.

2022 U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Scholarship here.

2022 Ishio Founder's Scholarship here.

2022 Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin Legacy Scholarship here.

2022 JAVA Memorial Scholarships here.

Scholarship information can also be found on the JAVA website: 


A Debt of Gratitude

Dr. Ann Bugliani and Dr. Americo Bugliani with Paul Sakamoto, 100th Bn /442nd RCT in Hilo, HI. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Ann Bugliani.

Guido Bascherini, Architect and WWII Historian (Condensed by JRT)

Pietrasanta, Italy.  Americo Bugliani was born in 1932 in the village of Strinato, about 5 KM north of Pietrasanta city center.  In 1909 Americo’s father emigrated to America, where he became a US citizen, served in the U.S. Army during WWI, and returned to Strinato often because his family was there.  Americo’s family consisted of his mother, three sisters, and an older brother, who was captured by the Germans and taken away. The family endured untold hardships during the war.  When the 100th Battalion bivouacked in Pietrasanta to penetrate the formidable Gothic Line in April 1945, Americo (age 12) and other children visited the Nisei soldiers. A 100th soldier gave Americo food, personal items, chocolates, a woolen cap, and a snapshot of himself and said his name was Paul Sakamoto. Paul, who liked children, talked to Americo caringly.  Americo was so impressed with this genuine offer of friendship that he never forgot the encounter and always kept the snapshot in his wallet.

In 1954, at the age of twenty-two,  Americo left Italy for the United States where he joined and was inducted into the U.S. Army. After his discharge, Americo entered the job market at a menial level but he rapidly advanced to executive-level positions in the travel industry.  In 1961 Americo and Ann were married, both had full-time jobs, and went to night school and  obtained their PhDs in 1973.  While his career in business was assured, Americo decided to quit his job to become a college professor.  He taught and counseled students at the University of Illinois. In 1980 he decided to form his own business as a wholesale jeweler.  Americo described his remarkable employment experience as “This is America!” He had been introduced to Ed Kelly, a veteran of the 34th Division to which the 100th was attached. Kelly invited Americo to a meeting of the Chicago American Legion Nisei Post 1183 of which Kelly was a member.  Americo was invited to become a member.  Eventually, Americo was elected to serve as Commander of the Post.  He viewed this as a great honor to be made Commander by his liberators. Being in command of his time, he could earnestly search for Paul, whose photo, always in his wallet, was among Americo’s most precious possessions. He pursued every available lead and when each came up empty he feared Paul was killed in the Gothic Line campaign.  In his attempt to locate Paul, since the men of the 100th were made up of Nisei from Hawaii, Americo telephoned the 100th Veterans Club, Hawaii, and spoke to Akiko Nosaka.  Americo remembered this discussion:

“Akiko Nosaka said “a Paul Sakamoto was a veteran member of their club and lived on the Big Island. Nosaka, a lady of extraordinary kindness, gave him the phone number of Club 100th President in Hilo named Motoyoshi Tanaka.  Americo talked to Tanaka!  Amèricò confided his story to him. Tanaka listened carefully to his story then replied: I know Paul Sakamoto, we are friends; Tanaka gave him the home address and phone number.  With great emotion, Americo dialed that number.  On the other side of the phone someone answered: "sorry but there is no Sakamoto here."  Amèrico was discouraged, but did not give up.  He contacted the President of the club again who told him: maybe the number is wrong but I will go in person to contact him. He lives not far from my house.  Tanaka passed the number to Americo.  Americo dialed that number and this time it was right.  Now after 50 years he heard a voice that told him: I am Paul Sakamoto and I fought in the mountains of the Gothic Line but I do not remember you.  Americo was very happy nonetheless, even if Paul did not remember.  They telephoned and wrote to each other but Amèrico was not satisfied.  He was now obsessed with the desire to meet Paul in person.”

Dr. Ann Bugliani and Dr. Americo Bugliani with Paul Sakamoto, 100th Bn /442nd RCT in Hilo, HI. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Ann Bugliani.

In 1995 Americo and his wife Ann visited Hilo.  Americo said the reunion was very emotional especially when he showed the photo from his wallet.  Americo said Paul gave us many things, all kinds of Hawaiian delicacies and many fruits from his garden. “Jane gave my wife Ann two beautiful necklaces from the islands” Americo said.  He and Ann gave Jane a gold necklace designed by Americo. Americo asked Paul why he parted with his Army cap and Paul replied “I felt I didn’t need anything anymore, I thought I would be killed that day.” Paul also confided another truth: “I had great compassion for the children.”  After the war, Paul became a nurseryman at the Foster Gardens in Honolulu and after his retirement settled in his native Hilo.

Statue of Sadao Munemori, Medal of Honor, Pietrasanta, Italy. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Ann Bugliani.

In 2001 Americo and Ann moved to Rome where Ann, who had taught at Loyala University, Chicago, was appointed to serve as director of Loyola ‘s Rome center for two years.  In 2003 they established residence at Pietrasanta.  Americo’s final goal was to memorialize Paul, the Nisei and other American soldiers who liberated Italy.  Americo consulted his good friend Paolo Tommasi, whose brother Marcello was a prominent painter and sculptor.  He prepared the plan that was officially approved. Tommasi, working pro bono, produced the statue of Sadao S. Munemori, medal of honor recipient who was killed in the Gothic Line offensive.  Munemori’s family were confined in Manzanar Internment camp.  Americo died in Pietrasanta in 2019, his life’s goals achieved.

[EdNote. The above is a condensed version of Guido Bascherini’s 3,865 word article, which is presented in an accompanying link. We thank him and Americo for this valuable contribution to preserve the Nisei legacy.  3)  a statue of Sadao Munemori in Pietrasanta,  We also thank Ann Bugliani and Chris DeRosa for making this e-Advocate presentation possible.] 

To access Bascherini’s original article click here.

To watch video of ABC7 TV anchor David Ono’s interview with Americo and Ann in Pietrasanta click the following link: https://youtu.be/mg9Rwe69hao?t=543.

Student Project Seeks to Perpetuate 100th Infantry Battalion’s Legacy

Gary Uchida served in the 100th Infantry Battalion’s Headquarters Company. His daughter, Jan Sakoda, is helping plan events to commemorate the unit’s 80th anniversary this year. Photo: Courtesy of 100th Infantry Battalion Education Center. 

Reprinted with Permission

By Jayna Omaye, March 19, 2022

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Gary Uchida served in the 100th Infantry Battalion’s Headquarters Company. His daughter, Jan Sakoda, is helping plan events to commemorate the unit’s 80th anniversary this year. are inspired. We tried to do our best, just like they did,” said Ikuma, whose dad, Edward Ikuma, served in the 100th Battalion’s Headquarters Company. “To this day I still have in my head what my parents told me as I was growing up. It stuck with me all these years.”

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the 100th Infantry Battalion’s formation. To commemorate the milestone, Ikuma and other community leaders want to inspire and educate the next generations about the unit’s legacy. By doing this, Ikuma said he hopes young people get the opportunities to learn about these nisei veterans, just like he did from his father, who is 103.

The youth project, organized by Ikuma and other volunteers who are descendants of 100th Battalion veterans, asks youth to identify an important issue facing Hawaii and to use the nisei soldiers’ values to create an innovative solution to it. It’s open to all Hawaii middle and high school students, and the deadline to sign up is March 29. Participants will be given prizes, and their projects will be displayed online.

Other upcoming events are planned for the 80th anniversary.

Jan Sakoda, a member of the planning committee, said it’s important to remember and perpetuate the 100th Battalion’s legacy because they helped to shape Hawaii in many ways. They were trailblazers, she said, and their success opened the door for more nisei to enlist in the Army during World War II.

Sakoda’s father, Gary Uchida, who served in the 100th Battalion’s Headquarters Company, worked at the Halekulani Hotel for more than four dec­ades, first as the owner’s secretary in high school, making his way up to vice president before retiring. Sakoda said her dad was a good storyteller who shared his wartime experiences and made time for his kids, even though he worked a lot to provide for them. Uchida died in 2009.

“They had to overcome a lot of obstacles like prejudice. They had to prove their loyalty. They had a lot to prove,” she said. “It’s important to tell the story as like an underdog (one) so people today can see that even though the men faced discrimination and prejudice … they were able to band together and ultimately show that they were trustworthy and could make a difference in the lives of themselves, their families, the state and the nation.”

The 100th Infantry Battalion formed on June 12, 1942, as a unit made up of mostly nisei from Hawaii. The soldiers, about 1,400 from Hawaii, underwent extensive basic training in Wisconsin, Mississippi and Louisiana for more than a year. The battalion’s success and performance during training helped pave the way for the government to form the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all- volunteer unit of nisei men from Hawaii and the mainland.

Because of the 100th Battalion’s high number of casualties, the unit became known as the “Purple Heart Battalion.” Many also commended the 100th Battalion and the nisei soldiers for their combat skills, particularly because many of them were, on average, at least 3 inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than most infantry soldiers.

The 100th and the 442nd RCT are recognized as the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in U.S. military history. In 2011 the 100th Battalion, 442nd RCT and the Military Intelligence Service, Japanese American soldiers who translated and intercepted government documents, were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress.

According to Sakoda, there are just eight known living 100th Battalion veterans in Hawaii.

Kathi Hayashi credits her father, Tokuichi Hayashi, who served in the 100th Battalion’s A Company, and his fellow soldiers for opening doors for people of color, including herself — she retired as a senior vice president at Verizon. Many of the nisei veterans returned home, graduated from college and became politicians and community leaders. Her dad, who died in 2015, worked for many years as an electronic mechanic at Pearl Harbor.

She also traveled to Bruyeres, France, in 2019 for the 75th anniversary of the town’s liberation from German occupation by the Nisei soldiers.

“It’s just amazing. The towns that we were in, they had parades and commemorative certificates. They were so thankful for the liberation of their town by the 100th and 442. For us to forget when they are remembering, that would be really sad,” she said. “It’s a different generation, so I think sometimes we need to go back to the basics. I feel we owe a lot to these men.”

Jayna Omaye covers ethnic and cultural affairs and is a member of Report for America, a national serv­ice organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under­covered issues and communities.

[Ed Note: JAVA wishes to thank Wade Ishimoto for recommending this article as well as Jayna Omaye and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser for granting reprint permission. To read the article online click https://www.staradvertiser.com/2022/03/19/hawaii-news/student-project-seeks-to-perpetuate-100th-infantry-battalions-legacy/]

MOH Spotlight: Private Barney F. Hajiro

United States Army Private Barney F. Hajiro. Photo: U.S. Government. Note: The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

U.S. Army Public Affairs

Private Barney F. Hajiro distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 19, 22, and 29 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, eastern France. Private Hajiro, while acting as a sentry on top of an embankment on 19 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres, France, rendered assistance to allied troops attacking a house 200 yards away by exposing himself to enemy fire and directing fire at an enemy strong point. He assisted the unit on his right by firing his automatic rifle and killing or wounding two enemy snipers. On 22 October 1944, he and one comrade took up an outpost security position about 50 yards to the right front of their platoon, concealed themselves, and ambushed an 18-man, heavily armed, enemy patrol, killing two, wounding one, and taking the remainder as prisoners. On 29 October 1944, in a wooded area in the vicinity of Biffontaine, France, Private Hajiro initiated an attack up the slope of a hill referred to as "Suicide Hill" by running forward approximately 100 yards under fire. He then advanced ahead of his comrades about 10 yards, drawing fire and spotting camouflaged machine gun nests. He fearlessly met fire with fire and single-handedly destroyed two machine gun nests and killed two enemy snipers. As a result of Private Hajiro s heroic actions, the attack was successful. Private Hajiro s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit, and the United States Army.



Free Virtual Freedom Walk

Saturday, April 2, 2022

 24th Annual Freedom Walk

Dissenting Voices to E.O. 9066: Eleanor Roosevelt 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Login Opens: 2:45 pm EDT / 11:45 am PDT / 8:45 am HST

Program Begins: 3:00 pm EDT / 12:00 pm PDT / 9:00 am HST

Keynote Speaker: David B. Woolner, Resident Historian, Senior Fellow and former Executive Director of the Roosevelt Institute

Sponsored By: National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, Japanese American Veterans Association Japanese American Citizens League - DC Chapter, and Ekoji Buddhist Temple

Register for Virtual Freedom Walk

April 5 is National "Go For Broke" Day

Painting of the 100th Bn / 442nd RCT rescue of the trapped Texas Battalion in the Vosges Forests, France, by Charles McBarron.  

April 5 is National "Go For Broke" Day. Celebrating the100th Battalion / 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the day was selected because  Pfc. Sadao Munemori, the 442nd RCT’s first Medal of Honor recipient was killed on April 5, 1945, near Seravezza, Italy. The 100th Bn/442nd RCT, embraced the motto "Go For Broke," a gambling term that means to bet everything on a single roll, went on to become one of the most decorated units of its size in U.S. military history. 

Save the Date

Upcoming JAVA Events

Freedom Walk: Saturday, April 2

Memorial Day Program: Sunday, May 29

Nisei WWII Veterans Photo Exhibit, The Go For Broke Spirit: Thursday, June 9 to Friday, July 22

Day of Affirmation: Friday, July 15 

Dinner at National Museum of U.S. Army: Saturday, July 16

JAVA Scholarship Awards Presentation: Saturday, July 23

Asian American and Pacific Islander Veteran Suicide Prevention Projects

The Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention is conducting a project to understand how to prevent suicide among Asian American and Pacific Islander Veterans. To ensure that the perspectives and experiences of Asian American and Pacific Islander Veterans’ perspectives are integrated into this research, we are forming two Veteran Engagement Groups (VEGs): one VEG for Asian American Veterans and another VEG for Pacific Islander Veterans. VEG members will be asked to meet monthly with our research team to share their perspectives about suicide prevention projects for Asian American and Pacific Islander Veterans.  

Interested applicants can contact Christe’An Iglesias at christean.iglesias@va.gov or at (720) 723-6556.  

New Members  

JAVA sends a warm Aloha to our new Veterans as well as new Friends of JAVA.

War Veterans

Dr. Peter Baggetta, USN

Michael Enomoto, USA

Rickey Hamada, USAF

Dr. Marian Hyatt, USA

Yuki Minami, USMC

SGM John Miyata, USAR

LCDR Duane Ogawa, USN

Dr. Stephen Semran, USN

SGT Elmer Shatto, USAF

Eric Teraoka, USA (Ret)

Peter Tsumura, USA

LTC Robert Vokac, USA (Ret)

Timothy Yamasaki, USAF

Boyd Zumwalt, USMC

General Members

Matthew Sakai

Jennifer Tompkins

Dr. Brian Yamamoto, USA

Shirley Yamauchi

Friend of JAVA 

L. Stuart Hirai

Phuoc (Van) Le


JAVA offers a heartfelt thanks to our generous members and friends for their gifts, memorials, and tributes given in support of our mission, events, and scholarships. We are truly grateful.

Lynn Bettencourt, Ranger Grant Jiro Hirabayashi Scholarship

Lynn Bettencourt, In Honor of Terry Shima's 99th Birthday

Dr. Ann Bugliani, Dr. Americo Bugliani Scholarship

Kei Hirabayashi, Ranger Grant Jiro Hirabayashi Scholarship

Kei Hirabayashi, In Honor of Terry Shima's 99th Birthday

Julie Kuroki, Sgt. Ben Kuroki Scholarship

CAPT (Dr) Cynthia Macri MC USN (Ret), Dr. Takumi Izuno Family Scholarship

CAPT (Dr) Cynthia Macri MC USN (Ret), In Honor of Terry Shima's 99th Birthday

Dr. James McIlwain, In Honor of Terry Shima's 99th Birthday

Michael & Grace Shirey, Major Orville and Maud Shirey Scholarship

Dr. Thomas Yoshikawa, Nisei Veterans Photo Exhibit, The Go For Broke Spirit

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.