FFNV’S MEMORIAL SERVICE 480 640 omcadmin


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.

FFNV Hosts A Membership Meeting 150 150 omcadmin

FFNV Hosts A Membership Meeting

Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans (FFNV) kicked off the year with its traditional membership meeting on Feb. 8 at Morgan Hill Buddhist Community Center.   The authentically restored WW II era jeep (by Tim and Ben Edes of Morgan Hill) configured with weapons used by soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442 RCT) greeted the attendees at the entrance.

As always, veterans of all wars were appropriately recognized.  Sadly, Lawson Sakai and Sam Sakamoto were the only 442 RCT veterans present.  All Military Intelligence Service veterans who had attended the meeting in the past had passed on.  Neither Odette Lependu (French Resistance Fighter) nor Al Tortolano (Lost Battalion veteran) could attend.  However, as always, their family members, friends and supporters turned the meeting into a fun and memorable event.  Pot luck lunch was enjoyed by all.

The featured presentation focused on an overview and highlights of the  100th/442nd RCT 75th anniversary travel tours in July and October last year organized by our travel master, Brian Yamamoto. The video was presented by Mike Izumi, professional videographer who recorded the tours.  The video was so exciting and captivating that it was almost as if we were all part of the tour.  Thank you, Brian and Mike.

The meeting concluded by viewing a video of the Nisei Veterans’ Exhibit aboard the USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier Museum, Pier 3, Alameda, CA. The exhibit shows Japanese American history with a focus on internment, tells the stories of our Nisei soldiers and preserves their proud legacy.

FFNV’s next event will be the annual memorial service on Saturday, May 16 at 12 noon at Roberts Park, Oakland Hills where the veterans of the E Company, 442nd RCT, planted a redwood tree in 1992 in memory of all 442 RCT vets who gave their lives.  Questions? Please contact Brian Shiroyama at [email protected] or text at (408) 896-1021.

Nisei Veterans’ Exhibit Visited by Consul General Uyama and Deputy Consul General Lafitte 800 600 omcadmin

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

Memorial Service Sponsored by Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans (FFNV) 1024 768 omcadmin

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.

National GFBNEC Exhibition Unveils Little-Known Chapter of Monterey History 150 150 omcadmin

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.

Annual Nisei Veterans’ Reunion California Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada Oct. 14-18, 2018 150 150 omcadmin

Annual Nisei Veterans’ Reunion California Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada Oct. 14-18, 2018

A $10 registration fee is required for any reunion activity or the Hospitality Room where there will be food and drinks available. Pick up your name tag on arrival at the Hospitality suite which you should wear to all activities.
The location of the FFNV Hospitality Room will be posted on a bulletin board next to the elevators for each of the two buildings.
REUNION REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Please complete and mail your registration so it arrives by September 15, 2018.

See Newsletter link for more information.

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Annual Nisei Veterans Memorial Service

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Roberts Park (above Oakland), in the East Bay Regional Park District

Memorial Service starts at 12 noon followed by a potluck lunch in the Bay Vista Picnic Area.

At the gate, advise that you are attending the veterans’ memorial service to waive entrance fee.

Go through first parking lot to lower level. Please bring a favorite dish or drinks to share.

For more information, contact, Lawson Sakai, [email protected], (408) 782-2054 or Brian Shiroyama, [email protected], (408) 896-1021



Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans (FFNV) met at Morgan Hill Buddhist Community Center on February 10, 2018.  As always, faithful members from northern California, Central Valley, and the Monterey Peninsula gathered in the spirit of fun camaraderie.

Consul General Jun Yamada expressed his deep gratitude to early Japanese American generations for making significant contributions to America despite difficult periods during WW II and post-war resettlement.  Audience appreciated his presence despite his imminent departure from San Francisco.

The featured speaker was James Taylor, a Medal of Honor recipient, who served in Vietnam.  The video highlighted his heroism in battle and his speech captivated the audience with the theme of teamwork that was necessary to achieve victories in Vietnam.

Alexander Irwin, a filmmaker at San Francisco State, screened his documentary on Lawson Sakai, a veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Celeste Brasuell talked about the Veterans’ History Project at the Library of Congress.

Carl Williams explained his role in fundraising to restore the monument in Bruyeres, France, erected on nearby Hill 555 in 1947 to commemorate the liberation of the town by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in November 1944 and to honor Nisei veterans.

The meeting concluded by showing of the inspiring video of the Nisei Veterans’ Exhibit aboard the retired USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier in Alameda.

FFNV’s next gathering will be the memorial service at noon on May 19, 2018 in Oakland Hills.   Questions?  Contact Brian Shiroyama at [email protected] or (408) 896-1021.

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