FORT BELVOIR, Va. – Invited by the National Veterans Network to view the recently unveiled “Nisei Soldier Experience” exhibit at the National Museum of the US Army in Fort Belvoir, Va., Col. (ret’d) Charles Moriyama of the Nisei Veterans of the World War II, 96, from Honolulu, and Ralph Matsumoto, 100, from Paramount, Calif., Traveled across the United States to visit the museum and historical exhibit on September 3.
Although they never met, they shared their service in the United States as linguists in the United States Army’s Military Intelligence Service during World War II.
The “Nisei Soldier Experience” exhibit is the National Museum of the United States military’s first special exhibit that features an unprecedented collection of Japanese-American artifacts that capture the rarely told story of Soldier Nisei during World War II. The exhibit highlights their struggles both at home and abroad, their courageous actions on the battlefield and their long-awaited recognition culminating with the Congressional Gold Medal awarded in 2011.
The importance of their service and the importance of the veterans’ visit to the museum was underscored by multiple visits with high-level officials of the US government.
General Erik K. Shinseki (retired), former Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Chief of Staff of the 34th US Army, introduced General Paul M. Nakasone, Commander of US Cyber Command, Director of the National Security Agency and as head of the Central Security Service, for opening speeches. Nakasone spoke of his father’s service in the military.
Colonel Edwin “Bud” Nakasone was born on April 29, 1927 near Wahiawa, Oahu, one of 10 children born to Issei parents. He was 14 when Pearl Harbor was attacked and remembers seeing Japanese planes flying overhead towards Wheeler Field, a US Army airfield. Enlisted in 1945, Nakasone continued to serve in the military intelligence service. He was posted as part of the United States Army Military Forces during the Occupation of Japan and the 168th Linguistic Detachment, 1st Cavalry Division, where he assigned people to translation projects in the felony trials of war and daily translations from HQ.
Demobilized in 1948, Nakasone taught history at White Bear Lake High School and Century College in Minnesota until his retirement in 2000. He remained active in the Army Reserve and retired as a colonel. in April 1987 after nearly 42 years of service.
“The contributions of Nisei soldiers during World War II amplified the value and strength that inclusion and diversity, coupled with a strong sense of service can bring to our nation,” said Paul Nakasone. “They paved the way for future generations of Japanese Americans, including me.”
Erika Moritsugu, Assistant Assistant to President Joe Biden, shared her personal connection to the Nisei Soldiers, having two uncles who served in World War II and received Medals of Honor.
“The new exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Army and the long-standing work of the National Veterans Network underscore how essential it is to honor and remember the Nisei soldiers during World War II for their distinguished service in service. of our country, ”Moritsugu said. “We will never forget their allegiance and their bravery. It’s part of our heritage and our inspiration and an essential part of our American history. “
Just the day before, the 40th Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. James C. McConville, joined a social reception at the museum to meet with the two World War II veterans and the Medal families of Honor.
McConville told them, “Today our soldiers stand on your shoulders and strive every day to live up to the legacy you have left us.
Moriyama and Matsumoto were greeted by Shinseki and Christine Sato-Yamazaki, Executive Director of the National Veterans Network, and joined by three families of Medal of Honor recipients: Pfc. Kaoru Moto, 100th Infantry Battalion; Pfc. Sadao Munemori, 100th Infantry Battalion; and Pfc. George Sakato, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, along with other families of WWII veterans at events at the museum.
Moriyama said, “My wife Helen and I made the decision in 2019 to visit the museum when it opened. Nothing could have stopped us from coming for this historic event. I wish more of my fellow Nisei veterans were still here to see this exhibit which honors the sacrifice, service and honor of our units during WWII. I thank everyone who worked so hard for this exhibit, especially the National Veterans Network.
“I never thought that a day or an exhibition like this would happen in my lifetime. I am very grateful to everyone who made this exhibition a reality, ”said Matsumoto. “I am grateful to the National Veterans Network for their commitment to telling our story. “
More than 26 war objects from the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Combat Team Regiment and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) are on display, along with nine life stories and interactive maps that allow visitors to learn on the campaigns and battles waged by the 100th / 442nd in the European Campaign and the MIS Campaign in the Pacific.
From 2017 to 2020, the National Veterans Network worked with the museum to collect artifacts and develop historical content for the “Nisei Soldier Experience” exhibit.
“For US-Japanese WWII veterans and the families of the 100th, 442nd and MIS, this is an important and meaningful recognition from the United States military,” Sato said. Yamazaki. “Despite discrimination based on their race, these young men and women overcame fear and prejudice during World War II to demonstrate their loyalty to the United States. We hope that many will come to learn at the museum to learn this American history. “
About the National Veterans Network
NVN’s mission is to educate present and future generations on the extraordinary legacy of American soldiers of WWII of Japanese descent in order to promote equality and justice. The organization launched the campaign to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the first Asian American recipients in the 100th, 442nd and MIS units, and worked with the US Mint to design the medal.
In 2012, the organization partnered with the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service on a seven-city tour to promote recognition of the Japanese-American experience.
In 2016, along with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, NVN launched an online digital exhibit to share the history of Japanese American soldiers in World War II (cgm.smithsonianapa.org).
Beginning in 2017, NVN worked with the National Museum of the United States Army to collect artifacts of Japanese-American WWII soldiers and their families, resulting in a special exhibit dedicated to these soldiers during of the museum opening in 2020, as well as artifacts and information located throughout. the museum.
In 2020, the NVN, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, developed an elementary and middle school curriculum.
The NVN continues to honor American soldiers of WWII of Japanese descent by promoting, protecting and preserving their legacy of extraordinary valor and selfless service for future generations.
For more information, visit www.nationalveteransnetwork.com and follow the NVN on Facebook (NationalVeteransNetwork), Twitter (@NtlVetNetwork) or Instagram (nationalveteransnetwork).