From left: Sadao Munemori Post 321 Adjutant Carl Miyagishima, Kimberly Valdez, Post 321 First Vice Commander Keith Kawamoto.

The American Legion Sadao Munemori Post 321 presented its 17th annual scholarship in the name and memory of Sadao Munemori to graduating senior Kimberly Valdez on May 1 at the Abraham Lincoln High School Junior ROTC awards ceremony.

Cadet Sgt. First Class Valdez excelled in JROTC and academics and plans to study criminal justice at CSU Northridge. Maj. William Kroeger, senior Army instructor, conducted the awards program.

The JROTC color guards have held annual memorial ceremonies on April 5 for 1940 graduate Munemori at his Evergreen Cemetery gravesite in Los Angeles. On that day in 1945, while serving with A Company, 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, in Seravezza, Italy, Munemori dove on a grenade and saved two of his comrades. For his actions, he became the first Japanese American Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.

Like other veterans organizations, the Sadao Munemori Post is having more difficulty finding veterans from the community who served after the Vietnam War. To ensure the post’s scholarship fund accumulated throughout the years from 1998 will continue at Lincoln High, the fund is currently in the process of being transferred to an entity that can continue the awards well into the future.

The ongoing scholarship association with the JROTC program provides a means of having the student cadets learn of valor and self-sacrifice.

Lincoln High School is located in the Lincoln Heights District of Los Angeles, surrounded by El Sereno, Chinatown, Boyle Heights and Cypress Park. It is one of the first public high schools established in California.

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