Japanese American Veterans Association


Vol. 4, No. 59, April 1, 2023

Gerald Yamada, JAVA President. Photo: Shane Sato.

President's Message

In February, JAVA’s Executive Council (EC) had its first quarterly meeting for 2023.  As a part of its program agenda for this year, the EC approved its support for JAVA’s reoccurring annual events –Freedom Walk (April 1), Memorial Day Service (May 28), Day of Affirmation (July 15), and Veterans Day (November 11).

I am pleased to announce that the EC approved two special events for this year.   On Sunday, July 16th, JAVA will sponsor a Day of Affirmation luncheon at the historic Army and Navy Club at Farragut Square in DC.  The luncheon speaker will be Landon Grove, who is the Director and Curator of the Ritchie Museum in MD.  The soldiers trained at Camp Ritchie during WWII were taught German, French, or Italian and were sent to Europe as the counterpart to do what the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) did in the Pacific. 

One class of the MIS was also trained at Camp Ritchie and a large group of the MIS was stationed there to interpret Japanese captured documents.  While there, one of the Nisei soldiers created a large mural of Japanese Americans on a building wall.  The mural was recently discovered in one of the buildings dedicated to the Ritchie Museum and is being restored.  Mr. Grove will speak about the mural as well as the contributions of the Ritchie Boys to the war effort.

The second special JAVA event will be an exhibit of photographs of Nisei soldiers taken during World War II.  On September 21, JAVA will open a three and half month photo exhibit at the Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), 1150 18th Street NW, Washington, DC.  The exhibit is part of Eric Saul’s 400-plus photo collection of Nisei soldiers serving in World War II. There will be a public program at the JICC about the exhibit tentatively scheduled for the afternoon of November 8th.  Touring the exhibit and attending the public program is open to the public at no cost.  Reservations for the public program are required and will be announced by the JICC through Eventbrite.  The exhibit will close on December 15.

Mark your calendars for all these events.  We look forward to your continued support and participation in our programs.

Jewish Soldiers who Fought Hitler will Soon have Their Story Told in a Museum at Former Camp Ritchie.

Museum Will also Contain Nisei PACMIRS/MIS Display

Mural by Nobuo Kitagaki in Building 305, Camp Ritchie, MD.  Photo: Courtesy of Landon Grove.

JAVA Research Team (JRT)

Camp Ritchie, MD.  Landon Grove, Director and Curator of The Ritchie History Museum (TRHM), located in Cascade, Washington County, Western Maryland said the Ritchie Museum is planning to hold a grand opening of TRHM in early May this year.  The Museum will tell the story of the Ritchie Boys, a group of predominantly Jewish soldiers who fled Germany and Austria at the start of WW II, settled in the USA, joined the U.S. Army, and returned to Germany to fight Hitler.  Building 305, located next to TRHM, which already contains a mural depicting 4 Japanese Americans creating and painting pottery ware and which will also include Japanese American WWII memorabilia is planned to open in late 2023.  Building 305 Japanese American exhibit is an integral part of TRHM.

The mural was painted on the Building 305 wall in 1945 by Nisei MIS Sgt Nobuo Kitagaki.  The identity of the painter could not be found on the mural.  Grove and his scholar colleagues researched Kitagaki’s paintings over an extended period of time and concluded the painter was Sgt Kitagaki, a linguist assigned to Camp Ritchie.  The size of the mural is approximately 4 ft x 12 ft.  Grove said “the mural, now around 80 years old, has cracking paint which needs to be corrected. The wall on which the mural is painted has been subjected to a fair amount of dirt which needs to be cleaned, and graffiti needs to be removed.  A proper cover of plexi or non-reflective glass to keep the mural properly saved is believed to be necessary to survive the next 100 years.” 

During WWII, Building 305 also housed the Pacific Military Intelligence Research Section (PACMIRS),  which was manned by some 160 Japanese American, British, and other allied translators to support the Allied war effort. Translations of captured Japanese documents played a major role in winning the Pacific War.   One captured Japanese document provided the exact locations in Japan of the country’s total munitions producers and storage. This information was used as bombing targets by Super Fortresses. 

The vital role played by Ritchie Boys to help hasten Germany’s surrender was explained in depth in Bruce Henderson’s Sons and Soldiers, a New York Times best seller. More recently, Henderson wrote Bridge to the Sun, The Secret Role of the Japanese Americans who Fought in the Pacific in World War II (Knopf, 2022).  Both books will be displayed at the museum.

In addition to PACMIRS translation duties, several hundred Nisei MISers were trained in counterintelligence at Camp Ritchie for assignment to occupied Japan to work with Japanese security officials to counter Japanese communists’ efforts, supported by the Soviet Union, to bring down the Government of Japan and defeat the Occupation. In addition to the mural and Japanese American display, Grove plans to use Building 305 as an arts and crafts center.  Grove said “as part of the Museum historical walking tours, building 305, the mural and the Nisei WW II activities will be on full display. “

The US Army officially closed Camp Ritchie in June 1946.  Since that time, it was leased off and on to the National Guard and other US government entities until 1998 when it was permanently closed. Two years ago, the Maryland Washington County Board of County Commissioners sold the Camp Ritchie property to John Krumpotich and his wife Joyce Johnson, both Marylanders.  Krumpotich, enthusiastic supporters of historical education for the young and old, provided several buildings for a museum and to serve as a research, education center, and museum space. Grove said “decades of vacancy, neglect, and non-maintenance of the buildings have caused the structure, electricity, and plumbing to deteriorate badly. Owner Krumpotich received a $225,000 grant to restore Building 305 including the mural, however, the estimated cost to rehabilitate the building and mural amounts to $282,000.”

JRT member Jeff Morita produced the following curriculum vitae on Nobuo Kitagaki.  Kitagaki was born on February 10, 1918, in Oakland, CA and grew up in San Francisco.  He married Juki and they have one daughter and three sons.  Pending the construction of the permanent internment site in Topaz, Utah, the family was interned at the War Relocation Center at Tanforan, a racetrack in San Bruno, CA.  Ethnic Japanese were given a 6-day notice to close their businesses and homes and report to the staging area to transport them to Tanforan.  Horses were removed and two families occupied one horse’s stall. They were later moved to the more permanent internment camp at Topaz, UT, one of 10 such camps built on America’s wastelands. At both locations, internees were guarded on the ground and from guard towers by sentries with machine guns.  Kitagaki enlisted for MIS duty on May 8, 1944.  He was discharged on May 6, 1946. He graduated from Princeton University and pursued his professional career as an artist. Kitagaki died on September 22, 1984, and is buried in San Bruno, California.   

Pete Sarmiento Commemorates 2023 Day of Remembrance for the Honorable Norman Mineta and Dr. Franklin Odo

Image of original creation by Pete Sarmiento. 

We marvel once again at JAVA member and philatelist Pete Sarmiento and his homage to the Smithsonian's 2023 Day of Remembrance at which Nobuko Miyamoto performed. Pete masterfully and creativly transforms the most ordinary of objects, a simple 6 1/2 inch commercial envelope, in to a work of art memorializing the Honorable Norman Mineta and Dr. Franklin Odo. Note the Washington, DC postmark of February 19, 2023, and the many symbols and images of patriotism.

A Tribute to Those Who Served Afar: Korean War Veterans Receive Honors from Republic of Korea

Republic of Korea Consul General Youngwan Kim expresses his government’s and his personal gratitude for the service of the Japanese American Korean War veterans. Photo: Tim Yuge. 

By ROBERT M. HORSTING, Special to The Rafu Shimpo

January 31, 2023

Reprinted with Permission

Seven Korean War veterans and family representing 13 others were on hand to receive the Ambassador for Peace Medal on Dec. 3 in Irvine.

The event was the 2022 Korean War Veterans Tribute and Speaker Forum. The award acknowledged their military service in Korea. The text projected on the screen for this ceremony stated, “On behalf of a grateful nation, the Honorable Kim Youngwan, consul general of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in Los Angeles, will present the Ambassador for Peace Medal to the following veterans or family representatives for military service in the Republic of Korea.” The ceremony included the presentation of 20 medals.

The tribute and forum were presented by the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance in conjunction with Kazuo Masuda Memorial VFW Post 3670, Gardena Nisei Memorial VFW Post 1961, Tanaka Farms, and OCO Club. Four Japanese American Korean War veterans participated on the speaker panel to share their experiences during the conflict on foreign soil. Complementing this event was a photo display of 256 Japanese Americans killed in action (KIA) during that conflict.

The event was originally scheduled to take place on Sept. 10 on a hilltop setting at Tanaka Farms in Irvine. As conceived, the highlight of the program was to be the speaker panel of four veterans, Robert M. Wada, Minoru Tonai, Harumi “Bacon” Sakatani, and George Iseri.

Kenji Hashimoto, A Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Regimental Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, U.S. Army. Photo: Courtesy of Sadako Hashimoto.

An invitation extended to Consul General Kim resulted in his offer to present the Ambassador for Peace Medal to any qualifying veteran (serving in Korea between June 25, 1950, and July 27, 1953) or posthumously to a representing family member. The list of awardees grew from four to 11. Due to rain and lightning storms, the program was postponed and rescheduled to December 3.

Nature, having a sense of humor, again threatened weather conditions of rain and high winds. Again, the organizing committee faced a decision to postpone the event out of concern for the health and safety of the veterans and everyone else attending. They were able to secure an Irvine venue, the Orange County Plaza Conference Center, only days before the event.

The indoor setting was smaller than the outdoor venue, presenting some logistical challenges for the organizers and attendees. Patience from the audience and logistical imagination provided the necessary workarounds to recognize and honor these veterans in front of a grateful community. Remember nature’s sense of humor? It was a bright and sunny day!

James Nakamura, commander of Kazuo Masuda Memorial VFW Post 3670, opened the program with a solemn statement: “The Korean War has been known to Americans as the ‘Forgotten War,’ but the men and women who served, sacrificed, and in many cases gave up their lives in the war should not be forgotten.”

Paul Sunao Tarumoto, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army. Photo: Courtesy of Paul Tarumoto.

Torrance City Councilmember Jon Kaji served as the master of ceremonies, deftly improvising as the inevitable technical glitches of a live event occurred.

The extent of community involvement was evident. Boy Scout Troop 242 provided the color guard, Miko Shudo sang the national anthem and “God Bless America,” and Pastor Fred Tanizaki gave the invocation and concluding benediction.

Veterans Memorial Court Alliance Board President Ken Hayashi furnished a moment of mixed emotions. He informed the audience of the passing of his friend, Korean War Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, only four days earlier. He then introduced the “Welcome” video Hershey and his daughter Kelly recorded for this event.

Miyamura commented on his wartime experience and addressed the issue many veterans face in dealing with the aftermath of war, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He acknowledged having dealt with PTSD and encouraged veterans and current military service members to speak about their experiences to begin the process of inner healing.

Providing an overview of the Korean War, Robert M. Horsting stated that the United Nations designated the conflict as a “police action,” and the casualties of war ensued. It was the first armed conflict of the Cold War between ideological adversaries — communism promoted by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union), backing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), and democracy through its proponent in the United States of America, backing the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Fourteen other nations would lend aid or troops on behalf of the U.N. in support of the ROK.

Euphemism aside, the war casualty totals were devastating. South Koreans suffered over 1 million civilians killed. ROK military casualties were 217,000 KIA and 429,000 wounded in action (WIA). U.S. losses included 36,568 KIA, 103,284 WIA, 7,140 prisoners of war (POW), 8,177 missing in action (MIA). “Unaccounted for” numbered 389. The casualties for U.N. troops listed 3,063 KIA and 11,817 WIA. Among the KIA total for the U.S., there were 256 Japanese Americans.

Consul General Kim presents the Ambassador for Peace Medal to Korean War veteran George Joji Toya. Photo: Tim Yuge.

Accompanied by her grandmother, Lynnie Tabata, Maile Yanguas (Miss Tomodachi of the 2022 Nisei Week Court) spoke of her grandfather, George Kiyoshi Tabata, as a leader with the Japanese American Korean War Veterans, and her choice of the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance as her platform.

She stated, “The main reason why I wanted to choose this platform was to honor my grandpa’s legacy, to have him here on my journey with me, even though he’s no longer here in this world.” Giving further insight into her role model, Maile said that “he never ever talked about the war.” She added, “Thanks to the Japanese American Korean War weteran group, he had a trusted and safe place to express those emotions and most importantly, to find lifelong friends.”

The introduction of Consul General Kim included an impressive biography of diplomatic service with the ROK Foreign Ministry since 1993.

Addressing the veterans, Kim said, “On behalf of the Korean people and the Korean government, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to you courageous heroes.” He continued, “We are also very grateful for your endless endeavor in the postwar, such as establishing the Korean War Memorial at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in 1997 and in Imjingak, Korea in 2001, which I believe has fostered better understanding between the people of Korea and (the) Japanese American community here in the United States.”

George Iseri (left) and Harumi “Bacon” Sakatani share their wartime experiences in Korea. Photo: Tim Yuge.

In addition to the presentation of the Ambassador for Peace Medal, each veteran or family representative received the gift of a Korean jewelry box. Those veterans acknowledged in this ceremony by the Korean government were: Paul Sunao Tarumoto, Hiroaki Yamamoto, Franklin Shigeo Hayakawa, George Joji Toya, Harumi “Bacon” Sakatani, Kenzo Mayeda, Robert Sueyoshi, Walter Takeo Taira*, James Zentoku Ige*, Masaichi Sugamura*, Masami Tsurudome*, Jenkuro Zen Mukai*, George Yutaka Mizushima*, Kenji Hashimoto*, Herbert Hiroshi Hayakawa*, George Sakashi Higa*, Tetsuro Suzuki*, Mack Toraichi Yamada*, James Yoshio Matsuura*, and Walter Yoshio Sorakubo*. (* Posthumous awardees represented by a family member)

Representing Congresswoman Michelle Steel, Veteran Liaison Joseph Dyer presented a Congressional Certificate of Recognition to Harumi Sakatani on behalf of the four speaker panel veterans.

The proposed panel of four veterans was reduced to two when Robert M. Wada and Minoru Tonai had to withdraw due to health concerns. Bacon Sakatani and George Iseri shared some of their experiences in Korea.

From left: Gulf War veteran David Uyematsu, George Iseri, Harumi “Bacon” Sakatani, Lisa Kaji and her husband, Torrance City Councilmember Jon Kaji, who served as master of ceremonies for the event. Photo: Tim Yuge.

Bacon served with the Headquarters Co., 19th Engineers Combat Group, 7th Armored Division, as a draftsman who was required to learn all aspects of bridge construction. He drew construction plans for bridges and other structures needed to allow the strategic movement of his regiment’s advance over rivers, ravines, or mountainous terrain.

George learned to operate the LSTs (landing ship, tank), naval vessels specially designed to transport and deploy troops, vehicles, and supplies to the shore. He served in the 532nd Engineer Boat Shore Regiment-2nd Engineers Special Brigade. When he first arrived in Korea, George was strongly impacted by seeing the trainloads of wounded civilians and soldiers.

George gave a nod to his brother Richard Iseri, a radioman who also served in Korea. Reading from a wartime letter, George said that Richard was tasked with setting up communication lines in the tallest trees to establish radio contact with Gen. Douglas McArthur’s headquarters. Richard noticed leaves were sprinkling down on him and wondered why, only to realize that a sniper had been shooting at him.

Of the two panelists unable to attend, Min Tonai served with the Medical Company of the 224th Regimental Combat Team. Sgt. Tonai worked at the Collecting Platoon in charge of the Ward Tent and served as an aidman as needed. During combat, the Regimental Aid Station was the forward station where the med evac helicopters landed for transporting the seriously wounded back to MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital).

Bob Wada was a tank crew member with the 1st Tank Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps. One of his saddest memories was the combat death of Robert “Bat” Banuelos Madrid, his friend from childhood whom Bob had asked to come and join up with him.

Attendees look over a photo display featuring men who served in the Korean War, during a gathering in Irvine to honor the former soldiers and their families. Photo: Tim Yuge.

As the panel discussion wrapped up, Bacon asked for a moment to address Consul General Kim directly. He said, “I want to thank the Korean consul general for doing this for us.” Recognizing the “many years of animosity” between Korea and Japan, Sakatani said that “we are very grateful (for) what you are doing for us today, and we appreciate very much for honoring us.”

As the event wound down, emcee Kaji shed some light on the mission of the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance to maintain the Japanese American National War Memorial Court. It is the only site listing the names of everyone of Japanese heritage who died in U.S. military service since the Spanish-American War (1898). In an effort to educate the public and preserve the legacy for future generations, VMCA has partnered with public and private organizations to provide events such as this tribute.

VMCA hosts their annual Memorial Day program on the Saturday preceding the Monday national observance in May, at 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.

Paul Tarumoto. 

Les Higa, the event committee co-chair (along with Kristyn Hayashi), member of Gardena Nisei Memorial VFW Post 1961, and VMCA board member, provided the closing comments.

Thanking the audience for attending this event to honor these veterans, he said, “They’ll say they’re not heroes, but they really are.” Acknowledging veterans of all eras who have served our nation, Les said that “there have always been a few who have protected the many. These are the men and women who swore an oath to defend our way of life and our freedom, putting their life on the line if necessary.”

He then asked them to stand and be recognized. A grateful round of applause greeted them.

Korean War Veterans Tribute Committee: Ken Hayashi, Kristyn Hayashi, Les Higa, Robert M. Horsting, Ellyn Iwata, Lily Kozai, James Nakamura, David Uyematsu, and Tim Yuge.

The committee also wanted to express their gratitude to Glenn Tanaka for his generous donation of time, transport, and use of the Tanaka Farms facilities (per the original plan), to Jesse James and the OCO Club BBQ crew for their generous gesture of providing free lunches (also per the original plan), Daryl Sadakane for designing the event flyer and program, Jay and David Hosoda of Print N Copy Center for the donation of the printed programs, Teresa Takahashi, Cory Shiozaki, and George Wada for video recording, volunteers from Girl Scout Troop 4345, Scouts BSA Troop 310G, Boy Scout Troop 719, VFW Youth Group, and So-Phis, and ABC7 News for their coverage of this event.

A Korean War infantryman, Paul Sunao Tarumoto, said, “I was very impressed on the ceremony … it’s the first time I received a medal.”

Les Hashimoto received the Ambassador for Peace Medal on behalf of his late father, Kenji Hashimoto.

“My dad said a fellow soldier saved his life during the Korean War, and they became lifelong friends.” Les said, adding, “Dad and his friend Don would have been thrilled to be together to receive the Ambassador for Peace Medal.”

Les’ mother, Sadako, spoke of her husband: “Even though it was hard and scary serving in the Korean War, he was proud to serve.”

Korean War veteran Norio Uyematsu, a former commander of Kazuo Masuda Memorial VFW Post 3670, was on hand to witness his fellow veterans or family members receive the Ambassador for Peace Medal, which he was also previously awarded. Having recently been presented with a Congressional Record to document his military service to our country, he was likely happy to see these veterans publicly honored for their service and have their moment in the sun too.

As it turned out, it was a bright and warm day for all.

For information or to donate to the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance: http://memorialcourtalliance.org.

The article may also be accessed with this link: https://rafu.com/2023/01/atribute-to-those-who-served-afar-korean-war-veterans-receive-honors-from-the-republic-of-korea/.

[EdNote: Many thanks to JAVA member Robert Horsting and to Rafu Shimpo for permission to reprint.]

Kikuko Nakao Tanamachi

A Terminal Islander in Texas

Kikuko Nakao Tanamachi as a young woman and today. Photos: Courtesy of Tanamachi Family.

By Sandra Tanamachi

Originally appeared in TERMINAL ISLANDERS newsletter.

Kikuko was born on September 30, 1920, in San Pedro, California, and lived with her parents Teizo and Chika Nakao, and three younger siblings, Taira, Sadao, and Ikuko. They lived on Albacore Street on Terminal Island with about 3,000 other Japanese Issei and Japanese American Nisei. Kikuko started working at the Van Camp Seafood Company/Chicken of the Sea Cannery at only 14 years of age to help her family out. She was able to help purchase her family a Roper stove, material to make clothes, and whatever else was needed. Her father passed away in 1940, so she became the head of her family.

Sadly, after the passage of Executive Order 9066 in 1942, the residents of Terminal Island were one of the first to be given only 48 hours to evacuate. They were initially sent to Santa Anita Race Track where the family of 5 now lived in one horse stall for the next six months. Kikuko worked in the mess hall to continue helping her family. They were then placed on a train and not told where they were going. Kikuko remembers traveling East and stopping in Texas. After 3 days of traveling in a window-covered train, Kikuko’s family reached their final destination at Rohwer, Arkansas where Kikuko worked in the mess hall once again.

Jiro (Jerry) Tanamachi traveled from Texas to Rohwer to visit his relatives who were also incarcerated there. While there, he was introduced to Kikuko. They were married in McGehee, Arkansas on June 14, 1943. Kikuko moved to live in Texas with Jiro and has remained there where she and Jiro raised 5 children (Diana Parr, Sandra Tanamachi Nakata, Jerry James, Deborah Galvan, and Laura Corkill) who all love her delicious Japanese dishes and want to pass them on. Jiro passed away on November 15, 1988. Their son, Jerry James, passed away on August 17, 2022.

Kikuko continues to live in Texas, now with her daughter, Deborah Tanamachi Galvan (Peter). She has previously lived with daughter Laura Tanamachi Corkill (Raymond) and with daughter Diana Tanamachi Parr (Norvin, M.D.) Kikuko will be 103 this coming September 30, 2023. She has 9 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, and 3 great great grandchildren. She enjoys watching the Dallas Cowboys, Shohei Ohtani of the LA Angels, tennis, and golf.

Kikuko Tanamachi seated with her 5 children. Standing L to R: Laura, Deborah, Jerry James, Sandra, Diana. Photo: Courtesy of Tanamachi Family.

Kikuko last attended a Terminal Islander event in 2018 at the 15th Anniversary

of the Memorial Monument. Photo: Courtesy of Tanamachi Family. 

Private Torao Migita, U.S. Army

Photo of image on display at Schofield Barracks, 25th Infantry Division Museum. Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Morita

A photograph of Private Torao Migita, the "First Solider From Hawaii Killed In WWII" caught the attention of JAVA member and historian Jeff Morita during a recent visit to the Schofield Barracks, 25th Infantry Division Museum in Hawaii. Ever the investigator, Jeff found the following information on Private Torao Migita in a quick internet search.

  • Name:  MIGITA, Torao
  • Mother:  MIGITA, Setsu
  • Date | Place of Birth:  October 15, 1914 | Kalikiwai, Kauai, T.H. (Territory of Hawaii)
  • Residence (1935)  612 I. Weaver Lane, Honolulu, Honolulu County, T.H.
  •  Employer:  612-I Weaver Lane, Honolulu (1935) | Painter  
  • World War II Draft Registration Date | Place:  October 26, 1940 | Local Board No. 5, 212 Tax Office Bldg, Honolulu, T.H.
  • Enlistment Date:  June 30, 1941
  • Military Branch:  Army; Division: Infantry
  • Army Serial Number (ASN):  30101619
  • Rank:  Private
  •  Military Unit:  298th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division
  • Date (Age) | Place of Death | Type:  December 7, 1941 (27) | Wheeler Field | Killed in Action
  • Burial Location:  Section Q, Site 1226, National Memorial Cemetery Of The Pacific, 2177 Puowaina Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
  • Interment Date:  September 20, 1949
  • Known U.S. military awards and decorations: Purple Heart Medal; American Defense Service Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign/Service Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II.

[EdNote: Thank you Jeff Morita!]

75th Annual Memorial Day Service

Sunday, May 28, 2023

75th Annual Memorial Day Service

Sunday, May 28, 2023

10:00 AM EDT

Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium

Keynote Speaker

Major Kay Izumihara, USAR

JAVA Executive Council Secretary


Japanese American Citizens League

(National and Washington DC Chapter)

Japanese American Veterans Association

National Japanese American Memorial Foundation

Please contact jaclwdc@gmail.com for questions or additional information

New VA Mission Statement Recognizes Sacred Commitment to All Veterans, their Families, Caregivers, and Survivors

Department of Veterans Affairs Press Release

March 16, 2023

WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced an updated version of its 1959 mission statement. The new mission statement is: To fulfill President Lincoln's promise to care for those who have served in our nation’s military and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”

The new mission statement is inclusive of all those who have served in our nation’s military – including women Veterans – as well as Veteran families, caregivers, and survivors. VA currently serves more than 600,000 women Veterans, the fastest growing cohort of Veterans. VA also serves more than 50,000 Veteran caregivers, more than 600,000 Veteran survivors, and millions of Veterans who did not serve in combat.

In crafting the new mission statement, VA surveyed roughly 30,000 Veterans. Among Veterans surveyed, the new version of VA’s mission statement was chosen over the current version by every age group; by men and by women; and by white, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, and American Indian/Alaska Native Veterans.

“Whenever any Veteran, family member, caregiver, or survivor walks by a VA facility, we want them to see themselves in the mission statement on the outside of the building,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “We are here to serve all Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors – and now, our mission statement reflects exactly that.”

In addition to two rounds of surveys, VA conducted dozens of small-group engagements with Veterans to understand what was most important to them in a VA mission statement, then incorporated that feedback into quantitative research.

The previous mission statement was: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan’ by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.” The previous mission statement is posted in roughly 50% of VA’s facilities. Over the coming months, VA’s new mission statement will replace the previous version.


A Nation Honors our Vietnam Veterans and their Families 

May 11-13, 2023
The National Mall, Washington, D.C.

For more information about the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Event on May 11-13, 2023 visit: https://www.vietnamwar50th.com/welcomehome/.

2023 JAVA Memorial Scholarship Program Now Open

14 Scholarships to be Awarded!

  "Celebrating the Legacy of World War II Nisei Military Service"

The U.S. 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 will be awarded to a student who has completed at least one year of college and is pursuing a career in public service or military service.

JAVA Founder’s Scholarship ($3,000), awarded in memory of JAVA’s founder, Colonel Sunao Phil Ishio, U.S. Army,  his wife Constance and their son Douglas Ishio will be awarded to a student who has completed at least two years of college.

Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin Legacy Scholarship ($2,000), a tribute to Ms. Kiyoko Tsuboi Taubkin, a longtime supporter of JAVA will be awarded to a student who has completed at least one year of college as of June 2023. 

Memorial Scholarships ($1,500), honor Nisei veterans, JAVA members, and/or their family members. JAVA Memorial Scholarships are awarded to 2023 graduating high school seniors who are planning to continue at an accredited two or four-year college or university. 2023 JAVA Memorial Scholarships are: 

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

Tak Furumoto Scholarship, sponsored by JAVA member and Vietnam veteran, Tak Furumoto.

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

Dr. Takumi Izuno Family Scholarship, in honor of JAVA EC member, Cynthia Macri’s father and family members.

Colonel Jimmie Kanaya Scholarship in honor of Colonel Jimmie Kanaya, U.S. Army, 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 US Army Air Corps, 505th Bombardment Group. 

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

Colonel Virgil R. Miller Scholarship in honor of Colonel Virgil R. Miller, Commander of the 442nd, who led the Nisei soldiers in their rescue of the Texas "Lost Battalion" in the Vosges Mountains of France during WWII.

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

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

For application instructions and information visit: https://java-us.org/JAVA-Memorial-Scholarship-Program.

JAVA Events!

Sunday, May 28 – Memorial Day Ceremony, Arlington National Cemetery          

Saturday, July 8  – Virtual JAVA Scholarship Awards Ceremony          

Saturday, July 15 – Day of Affirmation, National World War II Memorial

Sunday, July 16 – Day of Affirmation Luncheon, The Army Navy Club, with keynote speaker Landon Grove, Ritchie History Museum Director & Curator

Thursday, September 21 –  Opening Eric Saul’s WWII Nisei Soldiers Photo Exhibit, Japanese Information & Culture Center

Wednesday, November 8 - Exhibit Talk on Eric Saul's WWII Nisei Soldiers Photo Exhibit, Japanese Information & Culture Center

Saturday, November 11– Veterans Day Program, National Japanese  American Memorial

New Members

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

War Veteran

Lt Col Joseph Bealkowski, USAF (Ret)

CPL Charles Goto, USA

Keith Hopkins, USA and USAF

Michelle Kennedy, Navy 

Russell Kontos, USMC

Robert Landon, USN

CAPT (Dr.) Monica Lutgendorf, USN 

Tsgt Anson Maglasang, USAFR (Ret) 

Kelsey Segawa, USAF

Col. Michael Sumida, USAF (Ret)

Friend of JAVA

Jani Iwamoto  

Lena Newlin           


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.

S. Pam Vokac Bennett, COL Virgil R Miller Scholarship

Lynn Bettencourt, Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship

Lynn Bettencourt, In Honor ofTerry Shima's 100th Birthday

Dr. Ann Bugliani, Americo Bugliani

Tak and Carolyn Furumoto, Tak Furumoto Scholarship

Kei Hirabayashi, Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship

Kei Hirabayashi, In Honor of Terry Shima's 100th Birthday

Walter Jackson, JAVA Donation

Lynn Kanaya, COL Jimmie Kanaya Scholarship

Julie Kuroki, Ben Kuroki Scholarship

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

Dorothy Miller, COL Virgil R. Miller Scholarship

Kathryn Miller, COL Virgil R. Miller Scholarship

Randy Miller, COL Virgil R. Miller Scholarship

Mae Nakamoto, Robert Nakamoto Scholarship

Michael Nakamoto, Robert Nakamoto Scholarship

Amy and Anthony Nakamoto-Brown, Robert Nakamoto Scholarship

LTC Robert Nakamura, USA (Ret), JAVA donation

Diana Tanamachi Parr, In Honor of Terry Shima 100th Birthday

Rex Takahashi, In Honor of CDR Michael Omatsu, USCG (Ret)

Violette Takahashi, JAVA Donation

Sandra Tanamachi, In Honor of Terry Shima 100th Birthday

Julie Ishio Tsuchiya, Ishio Founder's Scholarship

Betsy Vokac, COL Virgil R. Miller Scholarship

LTC Robert Vokac, USA (Ret), COL Virgil R. Miller Scholarship


Brig. Gen. (Ret) Theodore “Ted” Shigeru Kanamine

Magnificent Journey

Brig. Gen. (Ret) Theodore “Ted” Shigeru Kanamine – who was among more than 125,000 U.S. citizens imprisoned in American internment camps during World War II and later became the first Japanese-American active duty general in the US Army – passed away on March 2, 2023 at home.

From the Great Depression and WWII through the next wars in Korea and Vietnam, to watching the moon landing and initiation of the mission to Mars, he marveled throughout his 93 years at all the rapid advancements over his lifetime (computers, the internet and iPhone).

His amazing journey began in North Hollywood, Calif. in 1929, where Ted was born and spent his first 12 years with parents Thomas and Lucille and younger sister Joyce. “My childhood was a happy one, and I never wanted for anything. In fact, I can’t ever remember wanting anything, which is kind of strange,” he recalled in a family book compiled for his 80th birthday. He rode his bike, played ball, learned to play the violin.

“There was one thing that was really great for the kids in the neighborhood. Walt Disney Studios original studio was at the bottom of our hill on Monon Street. Mr. Disney used to get all the kids in the neighborhood and invite us down on Saturday mornings. We’d gather into the viewing room and sit on the floor. All the executives and artists and cartoonists were sitting behind us. They would show these unfinished cartoons that hadn’t been colored in yet… We would go there and watch cartoons from Mr. Disney’s production studio. That was really neat.”

Showing the character of the man he became, was this comment: “I look back on it as a good time to grow up. My kid-hood was happy. Sometimes I feel poorly for some of the youngsters who are growing up in these complicated times, because when I grew up it was a lot easier.”

Then came the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 and Executive Order 9066 in early 1942. The Kanamines, along with thousands of Japanese-American citizens, scrambled to sell their possessions in preparation for pending imprisonment. They were bused to the Santa Anita Racetrack “Assembly Center” to live in the stables for a few months, before boarding a train – with just two bags apiece – to the Jerome, Ark. internment camp (one of 10 in the country), with 8,497 others.

“The place was like an Army camp with tar paper temporary buildings.” Ted was 12. “It was not fun.” Their one-bedroom barrack came furnished only with metal cots, each with a mattress and blanket. Tom made bunk beds for the kids and built a table and chairs. Ted and his sister attended school in the camp, taught by fellow internees. “There was always an anxiety to get out of there. We were behind barbed wire and there were guard towers, so it wasn’t just a matter of walking out.”

In 1944, through the War Relocation Authority, prominent Omaha, Neb., lawyer, Henry Monsky, took the Kanamine family into his home. (Monsky was a consultant for the American delegation that ultimately established the League of Nations, which became the United Nations.)

Thomas did the gardening and serving food, Lucille housework and cooking. “It was a hell of a lot better than a barracks in Arkansas!” Ted said. “We didn’t have a car, didn’t have anything. We had come directly from camp with nothing more than our clothes – two or three footlockers, three or four suitcases, and whatever my sister and I could carry.” Omaha gave the family “something of a normal life again.”

At Omaha Tech High School, Ted competed on the swimming team and advanced to first violinist in the school orchestra. He graduated in 1947.

Despite swimming scholarships to Michigan State and Iowa, he chose the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, an hour from his parent’s home, paying $75 per semester and working multiple jobs. He swam on Nebraska’s varsity swim team and switched his major from pharmacy to criminal psychology because “it appeared to be a little easier with my swimming schedule.” He remained a lifelong ‘Huskers fan.bTed met Mary Stuben during summer break while working at the Omaha Field Club pool. He went on to law school at the University of Nebraska and while there was baptized into the Catholic Church. By 1953, he and Mary were dating regularly even though her parents “were not in favor of the interracial thing. We had to sneak out every now and then” with buddies picking her up and dropping her off. And “finally, we were engaged.”

Three weeks after graduating law school, Ted married Mary on June 26, 1954 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, because Nebraska miscegenation statutes barred interracial marriage. Realizing he had no interest in practicing law, but had advanced in the university’s Navy ROTC program, “in 1955, into the Army (not
Navy) we went, and that was really my second life.”

As a new 2LT he reported to the Military Police Corps (MP) basic course at Fort Gordon, Ga. Mary was pregnant with their first child, Teddy, who was born in June 1955 in Omaha while Ted headed to Garmisch, Germany for his first assignment.

The family reunited in September in Germany and later that year added their first of several pets, Hagan, a year-old boxer dog (originally registered as Assor Von Kuchenbuchel from the Munich Boxer Society).

A year later, they transferred to Munich, and second son Michael was born in November 1956. The next assignment came in 1958 – they sailed back to the states on the SS Constitution and then drove from New York to Omaha, where the family stayed while Ted went to jump school and infantry officer basic course at Fort Benning, Ga., before being stationed at Fort Riley, Kan.

Mary was pregnant with their third child David and stayed in Omaha until his birth in October 1958, then joined Ted in Kansas. Daughter Laura came two years later in June 1960. Shortly after, the family moved back to Fort Gordon, Ga. where Ted taught at the MP school, before leaving for Korea for 16 months (the family stayed in Georgia).

After Korea, he returned to Fort Gordon and taught military law. In August 1963 daughter Linda was born there, and the family was complete.

In 1965, after a short tour to Saskatchewan to attend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police College, Ted was assigned to Fort Leavenworth, Kan. for Command and General Staff College.

The following year in July 1966, everyone (except Hagan) headed to Bangkok, Thailand for a new adventure. Ted worked as the MP Advisor to the Royal Thai Army, Assistant Provost Marshall of Military Assistance Command Thailand, and Command Protocol Officer (making arrangements for visiting delegations and USO shows with Bob Hope, Raquel Welch, Ann Margaret and other movie stars).

He did a tour in Vietnam working 8 months as aide to 4-star Gen. Creighton Abrams before taking command of the large 716th MP Battalion providing security to Saigon. “That was the highlight of my career, commanding soldiers in war,” he said. “The thing I remember about the Vietnam War, especially where I was assigned in a big city, was that during the daytime it was happy and busy… At nighttime, it was quiet and dark and spooky.”

The family returned to the states in July 1969 – in time to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon – and drove cross-county to Washington, DC. where Ted began his job at Army CID downtown and becoming lead investigator on the infamous My Lai Massacre case.

That year pets Suki (black cat) and Yaki (beagle) joined the family home in Falls Church, Va. In August 1970, the family packed up and moved to Carlisle, Penn. for a year when LTC Ted Kanamine was selected to attend the Army War College.

After returning to Falls Church, Ted worked for the Department of Defense’s Vietnam Task Force (focused on Agent Orange) for about a year at the Pentagon, before Gen. Abrams, who was confirmed as Chief of Staff of the Army in 1972 requested Ted join his staff.

Gen. Abrams pinned Ted to full Colonel in 1974, before his next assignment as Provost Marshal and commander of the 89th Military Police Group took the family cross-country to Fort Lewis, Wash. They lived there for 2 years before Ted was assigned to Fort McPherson, Ga., as Provost Marshal. He drove to Atlanta alone in 1976 while the kids finished school in Washington, but before the family joined him, he was promoted to Brigadier General.

Ted had become the first Japanese-American general on active duty.

With the 3 boys in college, it was Ted, Mary, Laura and Linda off to Mannheim, Germany for a three-year Cold War stint. Ted was Mannheim community commander and Provost Marsal of Europe – aka “Top Cop.” [Among other duties, he tapped the bier keg to start Fasching seasons each November, hosted the US Basketball team featuring high schooler Magic Johnson, and invented “DDAD” as an early adopter of
trending acronyms.]

His final tour of duty began in 1979 as Chief of Staff of First Army in Fort Meade, Md., where new puppy Duke joined the household and (finally) the last of the kids, Linda, left home for college. BG Kanamine retired May 31, 1981 – after 28 years on active duty and 21 moves. Among his military decorations were the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. He also was awarded the Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachute Badge, Army Staff Identification Badge, the Department of Defense Service Badge, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.

In 2012 he was inducted into the Military Police Corps Hall of Fame at Fort Leonardwood, Mo., and in an interview with Discover Nikkei reflected on what he learned from his military service: “Life is not always peaches and cream. Tough times and big problems arise but a close family and good friends can solve almost anything. Home and country must be protected. Have the personal discipline to know what is right and develop the skills necessary to do whatever the task is in the best way you know how. This reflects my development in the military and the way I live my life today. I believe in the philosophy of Duty - Honor - Country. I think my family and friends know this.”

Ted and Mary settled home in Port St. Lucie, Fla. After dabbling as a condo manager for three years until all the kids were out of college, he “really” retired. He immersed in volunteer work in the community – joining the city code enforcement board and committees, American Red Cross, attained The Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree, and devoted himself to their Holy Family Catholic Church.

They joined the bowling league and hung around with his friends “The Geezers.” He threw out the first pitch at a Colorado Rockies game in Denver and bowled a perfect game at age 58.

He and Mary continued traveling, but for pleasure, across the county, Central America, back to Europe and to Israel.

When COVID-19 hit in 2020, they decided to downsize, sold their home and moved across the state to Naples, Fla. to live with Laura and her husband Howard Rutizer.

Ted passed peacefully at home on Thursday morning March 2 following a brief battle with cancer – and only after much of his family had a chance to visit and laugh with him, and say final goodbyes to their beloved “Papa”.

He leaves a large and loving legacy in his family including his wife, Mary; their five children Teddy and his wife Sara; Mike; David; Laura and her husband Howard Rutizer; and Linda; a nephew Gregg Tamai and his wife Suzie; a niece Katie Takahama; 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, all of whom miss him dearly every day.

After a funeral mass at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Naples, Fla., Ted was buried with military honors at Sarasota Veterans National Cemetery.

[EdNote: JAVA sends its deepest condolences to the Kanamine Family. We thank the Retired Military Police Officers Association for securing and granting JAVA permission to reprint BG Kanamine's obituary. The obituary may also be viewed on the RMPO's website at https://www.rmpo.org/obituary-bg-kanamine.] 

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.