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A Comparative Study of

Biographies: Ben Kuroki


and Edgar Wakayama, War
Veterans
BISTA Krishna
FENG Shu
Ben Kuroki: Shame, Honor, and
Duty
Ben Kuroki: Early Life

Born on May 16, 1917 in Nebraska, U.S. to


Japanese-American immigrants
Attended Hershey High School & became
Vice-President of his senior class
Graduated from high school in 1936 at the
age of 19
Father encouraged to enlist in the U.S.
Military in 1941
Ben Kuroki: Military Career

1940 Sept: 3,500


Nisei drafted to the
war
operation
1942 Jan: First
military training at
Sheppard Field,
Texas
1942 Aug: Assigned to
the 93rd
Bombardment Group
Historical Facts

1868 The 14th Amendment of citizenship in


the U.S. Constitution
1870 Asians or "aliens ineligible for
citizenship“ (Congress), discrimination
against the Nssei
1890 The first Japanese immigrants arrive in
the U.S.
1924 Immigration Act -"ineligible to
citizenship”
1930 Japanese American Citizens
League(JACL) Nisei can belong.
In the aftermath of Pearl
Harbor
1941 August JACL appoints
Mike Masaoka as its
national spokesman.
December 7 The Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor
Mike Masaoka is picked up
by the FBI in Nebraska.
The FBI arrests 1,300 Nssei
leaders identified as
dangerous enemy aliens.
Historical Facts: Contd…

1942 Jan 5 All Nisei draft reclassified or


made aliens ineligible . Assigned menial
duties.

Feb 19 : President Roosevelt signed


Executive Order (forced exclusion on the
basis of race)

March through August: On the West


Coast, more than110,000 Japanese
Americans are expelled from their homes
In 1942…

June 6 The Battle of Midway: the U.S. Navy


sinks four of the aircraft carriers that
attacked Pearl Harbor. (developed cold
relation)
Mid-summer Heart Mountain, Wyoming &
9 other American-style concentration
camps enclosed with barbed wire
December 6 Rioters at Manzanar seek
out JACL leaders. The camp police
station shoot into the crowd, killing two
and wounding nine.
The War- Same & Guilt
Kuroki was
• Assigned to the 93rd
Bombardment Group in
Florida .
• told that Japanese-
Americans would not
serve overseas.
• a clerk for the Eighth
Air Force at a base in
England in 1942.
• was sent to gunnery
school & became a tail
gunner on a B-24
When Ben was in mission…
B-24 crashed & landed in
Spanish Morocco and was
captured by Spanish
authorities
participated in Operation
Tidal Wave, Romania (Aug
1, 1943)
flew 30 combat missions in
the European theater
flew 5 more missions for his
brother Fred
Injured in the battle and
sent back to home in
Nebraska in 1944
Kuroki…
During rest & recovery,
visited Japanese American
internment camps in order
to encourage able-bodied
males to enlist in the U.S.
military

joined the crew of a B-29


Superfortress (Sad Saki
after Kuroki) 20th U.S. Army
Air Force, based on Tinian
Island

Kuroki participated in
another 28 bombing
missions over mainland
Japan
Historical Facts Contd…
1943 February 1 The War Department
changes the Nisei's 4-C draft classification
to 1-A
February 3 the civilian agency takes the
same Army questionnaire, and compels
every man and woman in camp to answer
it.
August 1 Sgt. Ben Kuroki flies on bombing
of
oil refineries at Ploesti, Rumania.
August 21 the first group of Nisei soldiers
to
Ben Kuroki…

1944 April 24 Sgt. Ben Kuroki starts week-long visit to


Heart
Mountain to boost recruitment and
discourage draft resistance.

June 26 The Nisei soldiers of the 442nd RCT and 100th


Battalion first engage the enemy in Italy.

December 17 President Roosevelt ends the exclusion of


Japanese Americans from the West Coast, allowing Japanese
America to go home.

December 18 U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Endo case


that
loyal citizens cannot be detained against their will.
Advocacy efforts by Ben
Kuroki

Encouraged fellow being to participate in the


war
Addressed tension between national security
& civil liberty
spoke about the need for racial equality and
against prejudice
engaged in a series of speaking tours
discussing these issues
Kuroki stated, "I had to fight like hell for the
right to fight for my own country".
Inequalities he witnessed

4000 Japanese descents were denied


academic admittance
Japanese American resided outside the states
of California, Oregon and Washington were not
subject to internment
They were victims of resentment, suspicion
and discrimination in the war time
While in the Army Air Corps barracks at Tinian, he
nearly lost his life in July 1945 when a drunken
squadron member shouted "Tojo and Kuroki...damned
Japs" and stabbed him with an Army-issue knife.
Master sergeant Russell Olsen of New York stepped
between the assailant and Kuroki, who was then
taken to the hospital for two dozen stitches to his
Historical Facts: Contd…

1945 August 11 Japan surrenders & World War II


formally ends.
1947 December 24 President Harry S. Truman
pardons all wartime draft resisters, including the Nisei
resisters from Heart Mountain and other camps.
1988 August 10 President Ronald Reagan signs into
law the Civil Liberties Act, which provides for a
formal apology by the government and redress of
$20,000 to each survivor of incarceration under
Executive Order 9066. By this time nearly half of
those who had been imprisoned had died.
In Japan, women were also given the right to vote for
the first time in its history after war.
Ben Kuroki: Voices
"Not only did I go to war to
fight the fascist ideas of
Germany and Japan but also to
fight against a few Americans
who fail to understand the
principles of freedom and
equality upon which this
country was
founded.“(October 29, 1946)
During a nationwide radio
broadcast of American Town
Meeting of the Air on
November 22nd 2005 , "I've
got one more mission to go.
There is still the fight against
prejudice and race hatred. I
call it my 59th mission, and I
have a hunch I won't be
Ben Kuroki: Post War Life
met his future wife Shige Tanabe in Idaho,
married August 9, 1946 at Pocatello.
attended the University of Nebraska,
attaining a Bachelor's degree in journalism
in 1950.
Started a journalistic venture in 1952 as a
reporter and editor, retired in 1984.
awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for
his impressive combat participation during
the war and for overcoming numerous
incidents of prejudice on August 12, 2005.
awarded an honorary Doctorate from the
University of Nebraska on August 13, 2005
Awards

Distinguished Flying
Cross–a total of three
times
completed 58 missions in
air combat & rank of
Technical Sergeant.
Air Medal with five oak
leaf clusters
A "best editorial" award
from the Michigan
Press Association
An honorary doctorate
degree (the University of
Nebraska)
Video Links

The Japanese American Internment


of World War II (
http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=Aqmx
)
Manzanar (
http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=vPBe1
)
Ed Wakayama
born in Manzanar on March
22,1943
Schooling in Japan:
Elementary to High School
Returned to the US in 1962 &
entered Northeastern
University in Boston, MA
Drafter in 1967 after
graduation and served
during the Vietnam War until
1970
His biggest fear -history
Baby Wakayama with his
repeating itself
parents
Manzanar: War Relocation
Center
Life in Manzanar:

uncomfortable, cramped,
dull.
internees lived in military-
style barracks,
“Privacy was a major
problem,”
Dust flew through the
cracks in the wooden
walls.
the camps had no schools
Manzanar National Historic
Site
"There were 10,000 people here;
there are 10,000 stories to be
told.

Ed Wakayama tells,
“The United States was also
at war with Germany and Italy;
why weren’t German
Americans and Italian
Americans imprisoned,
too?
The answer is simple . . .
money and prejudice.”
the Manzanar Cemetary
Now, Manzanar Pilgrimage
At Manzanar Relocation
Center
Ed Wakayama’s father

was jailed for translating camp


materials into Japanese
forced to sign away his U.S. citizenship
at the point of a gun
obliged to move back to Japan
lived in Hiroshima and all wiped out by
the atomic bomb
Now Wakayama is…
a decorated Army
colonel
reside in Richmond,
VA’ 65,
educated at
Northeastern
University
expert on Japanese
internment and civil
rights
a passionate
message for
America: Learn
the events of 9/11, 2001

was working in the Pentagon not far from


where American Airlines Flight 77 hit, at
9:38.
went back into the burning building twice,
leading and calling people out of the
smoky darkness to safety.
Wakayama stayed until 9 that night,
caring for those in shock.
spent hours more answering dozens of
phone messages from worried family and
friends.
Soldier's Medal from Tom
Christie
Col. J. Edgar Wakayama with
Army's highest for noncombatant heroism.
Career and Education
His Career:
Manager, Research for the Departments
Defense and Homeland Security
Professor at Medical College of Virginia
Richmond, VA
Clinical Laboratory Officer , A Biochemist and
A Nuclear Medical Science Officer
Colonel U.S. Army
Clinical Laboratory Officer U.S. Army

Education:
bachelor, biology and medical technology
master, clinical chemistryUniversity of Oregon
doctorate, biochemistry,University of Nevada *
Now Ed Wakayama

Conducts research
at Georgia Tech
Research Institute,
for the
departments of
Defense and
Homeland
Security.

visits schools to
talk about the
Japanese
internment.
Comparison: Keroki &
Wakayama
Born in the U.S. from American
Japanese parents
Both served in the U.S. military
Both faced the social discrimination and
injustices
Wakayama was a baby when Kuroki
was in aerial combatment
Both are the best examples of success
in life though they have high adversity
Bibliography
Feldscher, Karen, "The Patriot - Colonel Ed Wakayama's Long
Road from Manzanar", Northeastern University Magazine
(March 2004), 24-32.
Edds, Kimberly "New Museum Revives Painful Memories for
Internees", Washington Post, 26 April 2004, p. A03.
Hymon Steve "Finally, Sharing Manzanar's Bitter Tale", Los
Angeles Times, 25 April 2004, p. 1.
Manzanar National Historic Site web site, National Park
Service. http://www.nps.gov/manz/.
The War Relocation Camps of World War II: When Fear was
Stronger than Justice, a National Park Service Teaching
Lesson.
http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/89manzanar/8
9manzanar.htm.
The news source for the Manzanar Committee Online,
http://www.manzanarcommittee.org/.
Twenty-one Asian American World War II Vets to Get Medal of
Honor. Department of Defense, News Items, May 19, 2000,
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May2000/n05192000_20005
191.html.
Hebert, Bob, "Stories From the Inside", New York Times,
Contd…
Kral, E.A. (2006). "Profile: Ben Kuroki". Nebraska State
Education Association. Retrieved on 2007-08-06.
http://www.nsea.org/news/KurokiProfile.htm
Frank, Abe (2000). "Ben Kuroki". Conscience and the
Constitution. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved on
2007-08-06.
"Ben Kuroki, American". Time. Retrieved on 2007-08-06.
"Nebraska WWII Hero Ben Kuroki to be Honored at
Premiere of NET Television" (pdf). NET Nebraska (2007-06-
28). Retrieved on 2007-08-07.
"Proud to be Ben Kuroki's kind of people", Journal Star
(2007-08-02). Retrieved on 2007-08-06. 
Nelson, K. “Nebraskan hero Ben Kuroki meets with Bush”
http://www.nebraskalife.com/BenKuroki.asp
Especial thanks to

Dr. Davidson, our Guru


And our classmates
The guest

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