Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol 1 No. 5, August 1, 2019 

Maj Gen Kelly McKeague, USAF (Ret) on Bringing Home Fallen Military Heroes at JAVA’s Summer Quarterly Luncheon

JAVA President Al Goshi and Maj Gen Kelly McKeague.  Photo by Noriko Sanefuji.

JAVA’s Summer Quarterly Luncheon on Saturday, July 13 was an especially full afternoon. Not only were JAVA Memorial Scholarship recipients celebrated but guests also heard a poignant presentation by Maj Gen Kelly McKeague, USAF (Ret) on the work he oversees as the Director of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). 

This year’s scholarship ceremony was particularly celebratory with family members of scholarship honorees - 442nd Veteran Terry Shima and daughter Eileen Roulier; Don and Margaret Kawamoto and Sherin Kawamoto Ferguson, and Michael Lewis (grandson of Bob Nakamoto) – in attendance as well as scholarship recipients Bryce Katahara and father CAPT Michael Katahara, USN (Ret); Fiona Koye and father CDR Frank Koye, USN (Ret); and Daniel Nakasone joining us.

Taking the podium, Scholarship Chair Mrs. Chris DeRosa paid tribute to the men and women for whom the scholarships are named. Guests could not help but notice that many of the honorees or their family members had been incarcerated yet they still chose to serve in the Army or MIS. Slide after slide, Mrs. DeRosa’s presentation highlighted lives spent behind barbed wire at Minidoka, Heart Mountain, Gila River, Tule and Topaz only to be followed by extraordinary military service. After each portrait of an honoree, Mrs. DeRosa described the remarkable academic and extracurricular achievements of the scholarship winners. There was no mistaking the passion of the JAVA awardees. From founding a National Security and Defense Club to creating an advocacy group for sexual assault victims to earning an Eagle Scout badge, the scholarship winners’ commitment to service set them apart. When the slideshow ended, President Al Goshi congratulated Daniel, Fiona, and Bryce and presented each with a scholarship certificate and JAVA coin.

Over lunch, Wade Ishimoto introduced the guest speaker Maj Gen Kelly McKeague, USAF (Ret). With his customary “Island Boy” banter, Wade noted that McKeague went to Damien High School before heading to Georgia Tech to earn both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering. On a more somber note, Wade added that McKeague grew up in Papakolea an area of Honolulu in the shadow of the Punchbowl, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific - perhaps a harbinger of his work at DPAA.

McKeague told JAVA members that when he accepted his first POW/MIA post at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in 2012, he “was shocked to learn that 82,000 service members were still unaccounted for, missing heroes.”  Although most of the missing fought more than fifty to seventy-five years ago, the wounds of grief for even second and third-generation family members can still feel fresh. “Time hasn’t healed….and the uncertainty attached to the loss exacerbates the grief of these Gold Star families” McKeague explained. He continued, noting that the DPAA fulfills the nation’s promise of never leaving behind a fallen service member. "Its mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting of our missing personnel to their families and the nation.” McKeague emphasized that any recovered and identified remains are given a burial with full military honors. Although much of the work involved in recovery is difficult to even contemplate, there is a bright spot: bringing a service member home. McKeague shared heartwarming stories of entire communities turning out for a returned soldier’s funeral. When Army Corporal Kirtley, who went missing in the Korean War, was recently laid to rest in Kaycee, Wyoming, a town with a population of 263, “more than 800 patriots found their way to Kaycee to pay their respects,” McKeague recounted. 

After showing a DPAA Agency video (https://www.dpaa.mil/) which highlighted their operations around the world, McKeague elaborated on the challenging process of locating and identifying MIA remains and stressed the urgency of his organization’s work. The circumstances surrounding each loss are studied in-depth. Interviews with fellow soldiers and local villagers are conducted, family members are consulted, historical photos combed, medical records reviewed, daily logs studied, and site records checked. All the information is analyzed, and if actionable, excavations are undertaken. Underwater missions are also performed. The process can take months to years. However, time is of the essence. Many family members and comrades of the fallen are aged or have passed away so it is critical to contact as many of those who still have recall of the possible whereabouts and also secure DNA for identification. Moreover, in Vietnam, the acidity of the soil makes it challenging to find remains, often very little evidence is left.

McKeague went on to tell members that DPAA’s work branches into diplomacy. Because the recovery process requires cooperation, it builds trust and demonstrates to former enemies that the US is no longer a threat. Further, the relationships DPAA develops signal that the host country is valued by the US. For instance, DPAA was at work in Vietnam seven years before formal diplomatic relations were restored in 1995. McKeague noted that Japan also makes a great effort to find their war dead. He remarked that when Prime Minister Abe visited the Senator Daniel K. Inouye DPAA building in Hawaii, he was the first head-of-state to do so. At present, McKeague is hopeful that further inroads will be made in North Korea. He told JAVA members that over 7,600 Korean War US military personnel are unaccounted-for, with approximately 5,300 believed to be in North Korea. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have agreed on war remains recovery being a commitment. While there is much work to be performed in the future, McKeague told members that the 55 boxes of remains which North Korea turned over last summer is a start (DPAA’s labs have so far identified seven Army soldiers from those remains).

Wrapping up his presentation, McKeague called upon President Calvin Coolidge’s words, “The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.” Without a doubt, the mission of the DPAA ensures the US will continue to make its mark on history.

FR: Al Goshi, Terry Shima, Daniel Naksone, Fiona Koye, Sherin Kawamoto Ferguson, Eileen Roulier, Bryce Katahara, Micheal Kataraha, BR: Don Kawamoto, Margaret Kawamoto.  Photo by Noriko Sanefuji.

Gerald Yamada Elected President at JAVA Biennial Election

Outgoing JAVA President Al Goshi administers the Oath of Office to newly elected JAVA President Gerald Yamada. Photo by JAVA Research Team.

Elections were held at the membership meeting that followed JAVA’s Annual Scholarship Awards Program on Saturday, July 13, 2019.  Ken Washington, Chair of the JAVA Nomination Committee, announced the results based on voting by the membership.

Gerald Yamada, a past JAVA President and former pro bono JAVA General Counsel, was elected President.

Howard High, a US Army veteran and a current civilian employee of the US Army CECOM at Aberdeen Proving Ground, was elected JAVA Vice President.

Ruby Ellis, an accountant with 25 years of experience and currently working toward a Master’s in Accounting at Purdue Global University, was elected Treasurer.  She is the spouse of Army veteran, Troy Ellis, LTC (Ret.).

Lt. Col. Linda Bethke-Cyr, USAF (Ret) was elected Secretary.  She served 20 years in the US Air Force and is currently a Contracting Officer with the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.

Addressing the members, Yamada thanked outgoing JAVA President Al Goshi and members of the JAVA Executive Committee for their dedicated service to JAVA.  Looking to the future, Yamada told members that he envisions a monumental shift in the direction of JAVA. Reflecting on the legacy of the WWII Nisei soldiers, Yamada reminded members that many JA veterans had been incarcerated after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, yet answered “Yes” to “Question 28,” the loyalty question, swearing their allegiance to the United States. Yamada emphasized that unlike those who protested the question, the contributions and sacrifices of Nisei who served created the legacy that benefits the Japanese Americans community today. Yamada cautioned that legacy is in jeopardy of being overshadowed by a rewrite of history. He reported that currently there are some are attempting to revise history by glorifying those who demonstrated against Question 28.  Concluding his remarks, Yamada stated that one of his priorities is for “JAVA to sponsor initiatives to preserve the legacy of the contributions and sacrifices made by the Nisei soldiers who put country first to defend America during World War II.”

Retirements and Promotions

Lieutenant General Michael K. Nagata Retires After 37 Years

LTG Nagata presenting his retirement remarks to family, officials and friends. Photo from Nagata.

Wade Ishimoto

Arlington, VA.  In a highly unusual ceremony befitting of his distinguished Army career, Lieutenant General Michael Nagata was honorably retired on June 21, 2019, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, VA. Rather than having his retirement hosted by a high ranking General or Flag Officer or Senior Defense Official, Mike Nagata chose to have his retirement ceremony conducted by Command Sergeant Major Patrick McCauley, the Senior Enlisted Advisor at the United States Special Operations Command.

General Nagata and CSM McCauley served together in special operations assignments and have the utmost respect for each other. As General Nagata remarked during his farewell speech, “I know of no one with more close combat time that Pat McCauley.” During his tribute to General Nagata, CSM McCauley told some humorous stories while highlighting how Nagata began his career as an enlisted soldier, went to Officer Candidate School and then spent the majority of his career in Special Forces, special operations, and clandestine intelligence operations. In Mike’s last two assignments, he was the Commander of all special operations forces operating in the US Central Command’s area of responsibility followed by his assignment as the Director of Strategic Operational Planning at the National Counterterrorism Center. McCauley presented Nagata with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and also presented awards to Mike’s wife, Barbara.

Mike’s parents, Colonel, USA (Ret) William and Frances Nagata, were unable to attend the ceremony from their home in Atlanta, GA, but the ceremony was videotaped for presentation to them. Colonel Nagata is a Life member of JAVA. Typical of his humble and insightful nature, General Nagata’s farewell speech was filled with thanks and tributes to the many great people that helped him during his career. These ranged from his parents, his wife and her family, their five children, and his cohorts in the military. He concluded his remarks by talking about how we need to work with each other in a collaborative way to make the world better. He and Barbara stood and greeted well-wishers for two hours at a reception following the retirement ceremony.

LTG Nagata after a parachute jump while he was the Commander of Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) from 2013 to 2015, and heavily involved in operations across the Middle East and the Government’s early efforts against the Islamic State. Photo from Nagata.

Tad Tsuneyoshi Promoted to Lt Col

L to R: Col Joshe Raetz, Lt Col Ryan Armstrong, Annabelle and Tad Tsuneyoshi, Mr. and Mrs. Rand Tsuneyoshi.

Wade Ishimoto

Fort Belvoir, VA.   JAVA member Tad Tsuneyoshi was promoted to Lt Col on July 2, 2019, at Fort Belvoir, VA. Tad is a Special Forces officer, a graduate of West Point, and was selected “below the zone” for promotion. Below the zone means he was chosen ahead of his peers in recognition of his outstanding service. He is being reassigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, where he will be the Executive Officer for the 1st Special Forces Group before assuming command of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) next year.

Lt Col Tsuneyoshi will join JAVA member Col Leroy Barker who is being assigned as the Deputy Commander of the 1 st Special Forces Group. Tad’s last two commanders (Col Joshe Raetz and Lt Col Ryan Armstrong) attended the ceremony joining Tad’s sister who traveled from California and his parents from Mililani, HI.

BGen Mark Hashimoto Retires Col Reese Rogers

Brigadier General Mark Hashimoto and COL Wade Ishimoto, USA, (Ret)

Brigadier General Mark Hashimoto presided at the retirement ceremony of his Deputy Commander of the Marine Force Headquarters Group, Colonel Reese Rogers, on July 20, 2019. The ceremony was held at the Leatherneck Gallery of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA.   Colonel Rogers is also a close friend of General Hashimoto and has been mentored by JAVA member Wade Ishimoto who attended the ceremony. 

The Force Headquarters Group is a Marine Corps Reserve organization headquartered in New Orleans, LA.  General Hashimoto traveled from Hawaii, where he lives and has a civilian leadership position with Marine Forces Pacific at Camp H.M. Smith, HI. 

Colonel Rogers and his wife, Joan, will start his second career in Princeton, NJ.  He had a distinguished career in Marine Force Reconnaissance and Marine Special Operations.

Colonel Reese Rogers and COL Wade Ishimoto, USA, (Ret)

Call for Volunteers

National Museum of the United States Army


The Army Historical Foundation

Arlington, Va.—The National Museum of the United States Army, under construction at Fort Belvoir, Va., is now accepting applications for its volunteer program. The first volunteers will be selected this summer in preparation for the Museum’s opening in 2020. Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to apply immediately.

Volunteers will play a critical role in supporting the Museum, which is expected to attract more than 750,000 visitors each year. No previous military service is required. All volunteers must be at least 18 years old.

Applicants will share their skills and interests during the application process, so they can be matched to a relevant volunteer position. Volunteer roles include visitor services, special events, tours, education, gardening and administration. Applicants can also choose their preferred volunteer shifts. The Museum will be open seven days a week, 364 days a year.

“We want our volunteers to reflect the diversity of the Army and our expected visitors,” said Tammy Call, Director of the National Museum of the United States Army. “Our volunteer opportunities will complement our daily operations and there is a spot for you as a volunteer.”

To learn more about volunteering at the Museum, or to apply, visit armyhistory.org/museum-volunteers, or call 1-800-506-2672.

The Army Historical Foundation establishes, assists, and promotes programs and projects which preserve the history of the American Soldier and promote public understanding of and appreciation for the contributions by all components of the U.S. Army and its members. The Foundation serves as the Army’s official fundraising entity for the Capital Campaign for the National Museum of the United States Army. The Museum is currently being constructed at Fort Belvoir, Va., and will honor the service and sacrifice of all American Soldiers who have served since the Army’s inception in 1775. For more information about the Foundation, the National Museum of the United States Army, and the Registry of the American Soldier, visit www.armyhistory.org.

Alert: Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pins

The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration recently discovered that the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pins are being sold through several online retailers. Vietnam veterans please know that the lapel pin is yours for free on behalf of a grateful Nation and you should not be purchasing it. If you know of someone selling VVLPs in large quantities, contact us at whs.vnwar50th@mail.mil or 877-387-9951.

Questions or Suggestions: Please contact Neet Ford, JAVA e-Advocate Editor, at javapotomac@gmail.com.

Japanese American Veterans Association: (202) 494-1978, Address: P.O. Box 341998, Bethesda, MD 20827 https://java.wildapricot.org 

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