Armed Forces Day 2021 150 150 omcadmin

Armed Forces Day 2021

As always, Roberts Park in Oakland Hills was familiarly moist from water drops from majestic redwood trees on Armed Forces Day, 2021.  The forest remained quiet without the band playing patriotic music.  There were no military honors by boy-scout troops.   No speeches.  Due to pandemic concerns, our traditional memorial service again did not take place.

As last year, however, we were determined not to skip this service especially since we want to appropriately celebrate the 30th anniversary of the planting of the redwood tree by E Company veterans next year.  With that commitment, three FFNV members  (John Garvey, Martin Snapp and I) braved the cold temperatures and participated in a small but meaningful service.  We were capably assisted by Mary Wakatsuki, chairperson of the senior group in Morgan Hill to which Mr and Mrs Lawson Sakai belonged.  Of course, we couldn’t have done this without the outstanding help from the Roberts Park staff of East Bay Regional Park District.  Many thanks for their wonderful and enthusiastic support.

As we offered our prayers, the bright and warm sun began to peek and greet us.  I swear I heard our own redwood tree whisper “good job” and “what’s with this Warriors’ logo?”

We look forward to seeing all of you on May 14, 2022 at the 30th anniversary memorial service.

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The memorial service for Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans (FFNV) began in 1992 when Northern California E Company veterans of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team planted a redwood tree in Oakland Hills in honor and memory of their buddies who never came home. The service this year on May 16 would have marked the 28th year of continuous event always held on Armed Forces Day. It evolved into honoring veterans of all wars and their spouses. Unfortunately, due to coronavirus concerns, the memorial service 2020 and the picnic following the service had to be canceled. Roberts Park where that planted redwood tree continues to mature was closed.

As the memorial service day approached, however, the FFNV leadership felt that it didn’t seem right to just skip it. After all, those veterans to whom we wanted to pay tribute never withdrew or retreated on battlefields. We, therefore, decided to propose an idea to the Roberts Park staff to allow FFNV to hold a small, private service. They enthusiastically supported our proposal by offering to allow special entry into the park just for us and to even help us set up for the service. And they did so splendidly allowing our modified memorial service to take place. This year, however, there was no patriotic music coming from the band, no scouts to perform military honors, no minister to offer prayers, or not even inspiring speakers to motivate attendees. Instead, we had just one representative to offer incense and to express words of appreciation on behalf of all those who could not attend. But it was meaningful. It was satisfying to know that FFNV’s tradition to continuously honor veterans and their spouses was preserved. It was almost as if all grown and majestic redwood trees surrounding the service site with the 442 memorial redwood tree at the center were cheering for this unique one-person memorial event. We think they were.
If you wish more information about the memorial service or FFNV, please contact Brian Shiroyama at [email protected] or visit www.ffnv.org.



A final decision on the annual reunion planned for October 18-22 has not been made but we will keep you informed. As much as we would like to honor our veterans and see you, the safety of everyone is our primary goal. Please check our Facebook page or ffnv.org for updates.

Questions? Please contact Brian Shiroyama at [email protected] or 408-896-1021.

FFNV Memorial Service Cancelled 150 150 omcadmin

FFNV Memorial Service Cancelled

Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans has announced that its annual memorial service at Roberts Park, Oakland Hills, scheduled for May 16 this year, has been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.  Questions? Please contact Brian Shiroyama at [email protected] or 408-896-1021.

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Nisei Veterans’ Exhibit Visited by Consul General Uyama and Deputy Consul General Lafitte

On July 25, 2019, Consul General Tomochika Uyama  (Japan) and Deputy Consul General Sophie Lafitte (France) visited the Nisei Veterans’ Exhibit aboard the USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier Museum, Pier 3, 707 W. Hornet Avenue, Alameda, California.

They were introduced to Japanese-American history and to exhibits of the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442 RCT) in Europe and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) in the Pacific.  Both dignitaries were impressed by Nisei soldiers’ unique contributions – serving to prove their loyalty to this country. The MIS exhibit enabled Consul General Uyama to understand the secret and critical role played by MIS Nisei soldiers, men and women, to help General MacArthur defeat Japan and rebuild Japan after the war. The 442 RCT exhibit allowed Deputy Consul General Lafitte to gain a better picture of how Nisei soldiers fought and helped to liberate France during World War II.

In addition, the dignitaries were given a quick overview of the history of the Hornet itself, from its major war effort to defeat the Imperial Japanese Navy and to the historic recovery of the Apollo 11 crew returning from the moon.

Admission to Nisei Veterans ‘ Exhibit is free.  It is located at the rear of the ship on Hangar Deck 3.  However, admission fees apply to board the Hornet.  For more information, please Google USS Hornet Museum.

The permanent  Nisei Veterans’ Exhibit was created by Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans in 2006.  If you desire more information, please contact Brian Shiroyama via email at [email protected].

Caption, from left: Shiroyama, Consul Kamono, Consul General Uyama, Lawson Sakai, Deputy Consul General Lafitte, Ms Delfino, Hornet Executive Director McCarron. Photo credit: Dennis Miyahira

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Memorial Service Sponsored by Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans (FFNV)

It was delightful to see the sunshine pierce through majestic redwood trees at Roberts Park, Oakland Hills, on May 25, 2019 particularly since the rain a week earlier caused the memorial service to be postponed. Despite the absence of many of our regular attendees probably due to their already scheduled activities for the Memorial Day weekend, we still hosted enough interested and supportive “outsiders” to fill the service area. It was great to see several WW II and Korean War veterans in attendance.

Unfortunately, the uplifting sound of The Band of the West was absent this year due to their already committed performance elsewhere on this postponed day. However, the use electronic systems to compensate for the lack of live music saved the day as speakers hidden among the redwood branches surprised the audience with a selection of a medley of armed forces songs at the start and America the Beautiful for the final tribute to veterans who gave their lives to preserve America. We were fortunate to have our dedicated members of Berkeley Boy Scout 24 to perform military honors with posting and retiring of the colors. And, instead of the National Anthem being played by the band, Karen Bowen, our FFNV member, sang it beautifully.

Martin Snapp memorialized the 442nd Regimental Combat Teams (442nd RCT) and Franz Steidl spoke of the 75th anniversary of the Rescue of the Lost Battalion and liberation of Bruyeres, France, by the 442nd RCT. As always, Lawson Sakai, a veteran of the 442nd RCT, delivered an inspiring speech based on his experiences 75 years ago.

The weather continued to remain perfect for the picnic that followed.


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FFNV Celebrates the Rescue of the Lost Battalion

The threat of rainstorm did not deter faithful members from attending our kick-off membership meeting in Morgan Hill on February 9, 2019.

Consul General Uyama from the San Francisco Consulate extended his greetings and delivered an inspiring speech. He remarked: “The values the Nisei veterans fought so hard to defend, often making the ultimate sacrifice, are truly universal ones which are shared by all of humankind.” He then stated that it was his deep honor and privilege to present Lawson Sakai the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, from His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, in recognition of his contributions to improve the status of Japanese Americans in the US. In addition, he credited Lawson for his outstanding effort to preserve Japanese American veterans history. In conclusion, Consul General Uyama noted upcoming Day of Remembrance events in various communities and offered his gratitude to Nisei veterans for making our Asian ancestry respectable and honorable.

The program focused on the epic battle fought…and won…by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442nd RCT), a segregated unit mostly composed of Japanese American soldiers, many of whom volunteering from internment camps. In late October 1944 in France, a battalion of the “Texas Regiment” became trapped by German forces. It became known as the Lost Battalion. Units from the Regiment attempted to rescue but retreated against formidable and determined German forces. Faced with the certain loss of 275 men, the 442nd RCT was ordered into action. After five days of intense combat and taking heavy casualties, the 442nd RCT rescued the remaining 211 soldiers of the Lost Battalion. This year marks the 75th anniversary of this historic battle.

Franz Steidl, author of “Lost Battalions,” eloquently spoke of the military environment from both sides surrounding the Lost Battalion. Lawson Sakai, a 442nd RCT veteran, passionately spoke of the battle he faced – the hardship, bravery and victory. Mike McKague, the son of a Lost Battalion veteran. presented an interesting story of his dad’s changed views of Japanese Americans after coming home. Al Tortolano, a Lost Battalion veteran, was unable to attend due to his advanced age and illness. However, as he has done in the past, he would have thanked the 442nd RCT for giving him life he thought he would have lost in October 1944. Tom Graves, author of “Twice Heroes,” skillfully moderated the program while offering his admiration for the 442nd RCT for the rescue.

We wished Lawson Sakai well who will attend the 75th anniversary ceremony and celebration in Bruyeres in July this year, the town the 442nd RCT liberated just before rescuing the Lost Battalion.

Top photo: Panelist (left to right): Tom Graves, Mike McKague, Lawson Sakai, Franz Steidl.

Above: Lawson Sakai with Japanese Consul General Uyama.

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2019 Reunion Info

Reunion/Hawaii Packages dates:
Sunday, September 29 through Thursday, October 3
Welcome Banquet:
Monday evening, September 30
Farewell Banquet (Luncheon)
Wednesday, October 2
I realize this may impact many of you, but we didn’t have a choice if we wanted to keep the banquet schedule.  I am hoping for the best and that we’ll still have a chance to see each and every one of you.
If you have any concerns feel free to contact me.
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National GFBNEC Exhibition Unveils Little-Known Chapter of Monterey History

The Japanese American Citizens League of the Monterey Peninsula (JACL) will host “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American World War II Experience” at the historic Casa Gutierrez at 590 Calle Principal in Monterey from September 22 to October 27, 2018. The national exhibit, sponsored by Go For Broke National Education Center in Los Angeles, reveals little-known stories of bravery and conscience among local Monterey residents during and after the turbulent days of World War II.

Funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service, “Courage and Compassion” covers events from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the fateful decision to incarcerate Japanese Americans in wartime camps to the postwar fight for redress. Visitors will learn about the Nisei (second-generation Japanese American) WWII experience and its legacy, engage with questions about what courage looks like during a time of crisis and consider the relevance to today’s society.

Before WWII, Monterey was a thriving community with large numbers of Sicilian and Japanese American fishermen and farmers who worked side by side as neighbors and friends. Young Japanese residents learned Sicilian and Sicilians learned Japanese, often while playing baseball together at the diamond located across the street from the local JACL hall. When Japanese American families were forced to leave in 1942 during the mass incarceration of approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, some locals reached out to their friends, helping to protect their homes, businesses or belongings for the duration of the war.

After the incarceration, many California communities vehemently rejected the Japanese American families and fought the return of their former Issei and Nisei neighbors to their towns. In that atmosphere of hatred and bigotry, more than 440 Monterey residents signed a public petition urging kindness and civility towards returning Japanese Americans. Among the signers of that petition were some remarkable names—Nobel laureate John Steinbeck, famed photographer Edward Weston, biologist Ed Ricketts. This extraordinary petition was rediscovered recently by local historian Tim Thomas; the history of this unusual act of conscience has been largely forgotten in Monterey.

The exhibit will be shown at Casa Gutierrez, an historic 1842 adobe located in Monterey State Historical Park, 590 Calle Principal, Monterey, Calif. and open Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.jaclmonterey.org.

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