SAN JOSE — A Congressional Gold Medal celebration was held Feb. 23 at San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin for the benefit of local Nisei veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service who were unable to attend the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. last year.
A total of 65 veterans, 44 widows and 50 family representatives received bronze replicas of the medal with special stands designed by Japanese American Museum of San Jose co-founder Jimi Yamaichi.
Serving as emcees were Wendy Hanamura, vice president and general manager of Link TV, and Mike Inouye, traffic anchor for NBC Bay Area.
The invocation was given by Rev. Keith Inouye, senior pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church. The colors were presented by Boy Scout Troop 611, and the national anthem was sung by Shannon Haley from Archbishop Mitty High School.
Joe Yasutake, chair of the San Jose CGM Ceremony Committee, welcomed the crowd. Videos of congratulatory messages from President Obama and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki were shown.
The medals were presented by Reps. Mike Honda (D-Campbell), Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto). Among the posthumous recipients was Honda’s father, Giichi Byron Honda, who served
with the MIS as a Japanese language instructor for the Navy Intelligence Service at the University of Colorado at Boulder while his family was interned at the Amache camp in Colorado. The congressman’s mother, Fusako, accepted the medal.
Alyce Morita of San Jose represented two husbands, Noboru Tashiro of the 442nd, who passed away five years after the war, and Shoichi Morita of the MIS, whom she married 29 years later. He passed away six years ago.
“I’m getting two medals today. It might be a record,” she told the San Jose Mercury News.
“Taps” was played by Ted Hasegawa of Wesley United Methodist Church, Rev. Inouye gave the closing prayer and Troop 611 retired the colors. Bentos were served to the guests as they mingled and reminisced.