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RISING THROUGH THE RANKS: Army JAG Officer Wakatake Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel

Col. David Diner presents the Lieutenant Colonel Promotion Appointment Certificate to Lt. Col. Kay Wakatake. (Pentagon photo)

WASHINGTON — Kay Wakatake was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps on May 1.

Assigned to the Pentagon, Wakatake is currently the budget officer for the Army JAG Corps. She recently graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, and served in Iraq as the brigade judge advocate for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

Wakatake serves on the Executive Committee of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) and is the editor of its quarterly newsletter, The Advocate.

The promotion ceremony was held in the Pentagon’s 9/11 Memorial Chapel, located in the restored portion of the building, which commemorates those who perished there on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed it into the Pentagon.

Col. David Diner, dean of the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, conducted the eremony.

Army JAG Corps senior leadership in attendance were Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman, judge advocate general; Maj. Gen. Butch Tate, deputy judge advocate general; Brig. Gen. John Miller, assistant judge advocate general of military law and operations; and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Scott Higdon.

Also in attendance were representatives from JAVA: Gerald Yamada, Esq., president; Lt. Col. Alan Ueoka, U.S. Army, secretary; Lt. Col. Mark Nakagawa, U.S. Army (retired), treasurer; Calvin Ninomiya, Esq., legal counsel; Bill Houston, Executive Committee; and Terry Shima, executive director.

Special friends included Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, U.S. Army (retired); Brig. Gen. Malinda Dunn, U.S. Army (retired); Ronald Bechtold, chief information officer, Office of the Secretary of Defense; and Lt. Col. Michael Yaguchi, U.S. Air Force (retired).

After welcoming the guests, Col. Diner congratulated the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service for being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the honors the nation can bestow, last November at the U.S. Capitol. The entire room rose to give the Nisei units a standing ovation.

Diner had high praise for Wakatake’s dedication to military service and the Army JAG Corps. He told the audience he spotted her talent when she was the chief of legal assistance at Fort Lewis in Washington state while he was the staff judge advocate.

He said that while she was stationed in Germany, she requested her next job to be a brigade judge advocate at the toughest brigade, no matter where it was located. As the former chief of the assignments office, Diner acknowledged that such a request is extremely rare. He added that Wakatake then deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division and excelled as the brigade judge advocate on the brigade staff.

After the ceremony, Yamada said, “I don’t know how she did it.  Despite her demanding 16-hour-per-day professional work schedule, she squeezed the time to put out The Advocate, which could well be the only veterans newsletter produced in a war zone.”

After the adjutant read the promotion orders, Wakatake’s twin sons removed her old major shoulder straps, and her husband, attorney David Radovich, placed the new lieutenant colonel rank shoulder straps on her uniform. Diner then administered the oath.

After thanking everyone for attending, Wakatake gave special thanks to the Nisei veterans who sacrificed and proved their loyalty to the United States. “They created a better life for their families and other Japanese Americans, including my family members who were also interned in relocation camps during World War II. Because of the Nisei veterans, future generations could freely advance on their own merits.”

Wakatake also thanked Brig. Gen. Dunn, the JAG Corps’ first female general on active duty, for paving the way for females, and especially thanked her husband for his own sacrifices and unwavering support for her career, and her sons for making her feel like the luckiest mother in the world.

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