FALLS CHURCH, Va. — The Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) Quarterly Lunch, held July 12 at the Harvest Moon Restaurant at Falls Church, Va., featured the annual scholarship awards ceremony, the presentation of a Service Pin for exceptional service to Dr. Sue Okubo, and remarks by the honored guests and JAVA President Gerald Yamada.
Okubo was honored for her roles in the Scholarship Committee and the Oral History Project.
Wade Ishimoto, chair of the Scholarship Committee, announced the names of the scholarships and the winners as follows:
• U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye Scholarship: Matthew Mah of San Francisco, California School of Podiatric Medicine
• JAVA Founder’s Scholarship (Phil and Douglas Ishio): Kellie Iwasaki of Hilo, Hawaii. University of Hawaii, Manoa
• Ranger Grant Hirabayashi Scholarship: Liesl Jaeger of Broadlands, Va., Brown University
• Joseph Ichiuji Scholarship: Reyna Fa-Kaji of Berkeley, Tulane University
• Mitsugi Kasai Scholarship: Hayley Watanabe of Fountain Valley, Biola University
• Teru and Victor Matsui Scholarship: Melissa Ikeda of Vienna, Va., UCLA
• Betty Shima Scholarship: Rebecca Grace of Captain Cook, Hawaii, University of Wyoming
• Orville Shirey Scholarship: William Nakamoto of Burns, Tenn., Tennessee Tech University
• Kiyoko Taubkin Scholarship: Rose Yasukochi of Seattle, Occidental College.
Ishimoto narrated a slide show prepared by Lt. Col. Michael Yaguchi, U.S. Air Force (retired), featuring the nine winners along with short excerpts from their respective essays.
Yamada congratulated the scholarship winners and thanked the scholarship sponsors and scholarship committee. He introduced new members of the JAVA Executive Committee: Capt. (Dr.) Cynthia Macri, U.S. Navy (ret), Lt. Col. Brett Egusa, U.S. Army Reserve, and Lt. Col. Rodney Azama, U.S. Army (ret); Bill Houston, Esq., as acting general counsel; Tom Phan and Dr. Jill Czarnecki as co-editors of the quarterly Advocate; and Terry Shima as chair of the Awards Committee.
Yamada said the Army is building a new national museum to preserve its history but needs help with raising funds. In appreciation of the Army’s recognition of the loyalty of Japanese American soldiers during World War II, Yamada presented a JAVA check in the amount of $20,000 to Abrams for the museum building fund.
“This donation is given by JAVA in honor of the Nisei soldiers who served during World War II in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service,” Yamada said. “Last year, JAVA donated $5,000 for the same purpose. These two donations are expected to have JAVA, the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service placed on the museum’s donor wall when it is completed.”
Yamada invited the 100th, 442nd and MIS members and families to donate artifacts to be displayed in the museum’s permanent exhibit. “Display space at the museum will be very competitive. This is a short window of opportunity to secure a permanent exhibit for the Nisei soldiers,” he said. A helmet or helmet liner with the Red Bull painted on its side is reportedly an item in high demand. Donors are asked to contact Yamada directly by at email@example.com or (703) 938-3074.
Yamada commended Dr. Ray Murakami, immediate past chair of the Scholarship Committee, for establishing the Sen. Daniel Inouye Memorial Scholarship and thanked Inouye for her efforts in launching this award.
Yamada noted that Inouye was the first president and executive director of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. She nurtured the museum from a mere idea to the building of the modern structure that is the centerpiece of Little Tokyo. As president of the U.S.-Japan Council, with which JAVA is a partner, she is focused on strengthening relationships between the two countries.
Her late husband was honorary chair of JAVA since its inception in 1993. Inouye, in her response, congratulated the scholarship winners, thanked all JAVA members and families across America for this recognition, and discussed the challenges and potential rewards that lie ahead in U.S.-Japan relations. She then mingled with JAVA members and guests, much to their delight.