In 2008, Sharon Tani sought to promote an annual community service award as a tribute and legacy to her father, the late Mamoru Tani (L Company, 442nd RCT). She approached a few organizations and ultimately chose Japanese American Living Legacy as the host of the award.
JA Living Legacy presents this award to community members who exhibit a tireless commitment to serving the Japanese American community by participating in work that promotes the community’s legacy. This year, the 442nd-I Company of Southern California nominated Jim Yamashita, the educational project manager of the popular “Echoes of Silence” CD ROM resource, for this award. The JA Living Legacy Awards and Scholarship Committee unanimously agreed.
Junwo “Jim” Yamashita spent his formative years in Moapa Valley, Nev. At the age of 19, he enlisted in the newly formed 442nd Regimental Combat Team and was sent to Europe with the 442nd’s I Company, 4th Platoon. He survived some of the worst battles in Europe, including the liberation of Bruyères and the rescue of the Texas Lost Battalion in Biffontaine. Yamashita returned to the U.S. and relocated to California to attend a radio and television repair school. Upon graduation, he opened up a successful business from which he retired in 1992.
Yamashita helped organize the Suburban Optimists, SEYO (Southeast Youth Organization), 442nd Club of Southern California, and Americans of Japanese Ancestry World War II Memorial Alliance, among many others. However, many recognize him for his leadership in a project that has encompassed the past 20 years of his life, “Echoes of Silence,” which contains the profiles of every killed-in-action (KIA) Nisei soldier along with their Caucasian officers. Yamashita continues to lead a team of volunteers who work to collect data and photographs to ensure that the public never forgets “freedom is not free.”
JA Living Legacy grants this award to outstanding individuals who demonstrate a deep commitment to the community through volunteering time and resources, providing leadership and educating the public about the community’s rich history. This award is given annually. Monetary donations are given as part of the award to various organizations in which the recipient has participated.
If you are interested in nominating a deserving individual, e-mail Natalia Yamashiro-Chogyoji.
“We thank the Tani family for their belief in our organization and allowing us the privilege of hosting this award,” JA Living Legacy said.