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Author: TriSec    Date: 05/14/2024 00:18:24

Good Morning.

It seems to be a rather quiet week on the veteran's front.

Another one of those weeks that seems to fall into a certain sameness. I can only report on Israel, or Ukraine, or the latest foibles of the VA so many times.

But there is something of note. Last week was the 79th anniversary of V-E Day, and a similar anniversary of V-J day is approaching.

It's been nearly eight decades, but there are still untold stories from that great conflict. Uncle Sam often moves slowly in that regard, but those stories still are worth telling.

There was a military plane crash on the Island of Okinawa, just days before Japan surrendered. 31 men were killed. Only two families ever received a Purple Heart - and that is something the government has finally put to right.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — The families of five Hawaii men who served in a unit of Japanese-language linguists during World War II received posthumous Purple Heart medals on behalf of their loved ones on Friday, nearly eight decades after the soldiers died in a plane crash in the final days of the conflict.

“I don’t have words. I’m just overwhelmed,” Wilfred Ikemoto said as he choked up while speaking of the belated honor given to his older brother Haruyuki.

The older Ikemoto was among 31 men killed when their C-46 transport plane hit a cliff while attempting to land in Okinawa, Japan, on Aug. 13, 1945.

“I’m just happy that he got recognized,” Ikemoto said.

Army records indicate only two of the 31 ever received Purple Heart medals, which the military awards to those wounded or killed during action against an enemy.

Researchers in Hawaii and Minnesota recently discovered the omission, leading the Army to agree to issue medals to families of the 29 men who were never recognized. Researchers located families of the five from Hawaii, and now the Army is asking family members of the other 24 men to contact them so their loved ones can finally receive recognition.

The older Ikemoto was the fourth of 10 children and the first in his family to attend college when he enrolled at the University of Hawaii. He was a photographer and developed film in a makeshift darkroom in a bedroom at home.

“I remember him as probably the smartest and most talented in our family,” said Wilfred Ikemoto, who was 10 years old when his brother died.

On board the plane were 12 paratroopers with the 11th Airborne Division, five soldiers in a Counter-intelligence Detachment assigned to the paratroopers, 10 Japanese American linguists in the Military Intelligence Service and four crew members.

They had all flown up from the Philippines to spearhead the occupation of Japan after Tokyo’s surrender, said Daniel Matthews, who looked into the ill-fated flight while researching his father’s postwar service in the 11th Airborne.

Matthews attributed the Army’s failure to recognize all 31 soldiers with medals to administrative oversight in the waning hours of the war. The U.S. had been preparing to invade Japan’s main islands, but it formulated alternative plans after receiving indications Japan was getting ready to surrender. Complicating matters further, there were four different units on the plane.

Wilfred Motokane Jr. said he had mixed feelings after he accepted his father’s medal.

“I’m very happy that we’re finally recognizing some people,” he said. “I think it took a long time for it to happen. That’s the one part that I don’t feel that good about, if you will.”

That's about all I've got for now. Your Loyal TriSec's life is in total disarray at the moment - but AAV is not the forum for that.

7 comments (Latest Comment: 05/14/2024 17:05:34 by Raine)
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