KCET to Broadcast Documentary on 442nd Vet

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Kicking off its Veterans Day programming line-up, KCET, the nation’s largest independent public television station serving Southern and Central California, invites everyone to view the feature-length documentary “Honor Bound: A Personal Journey” on Monday, Nov. 5, at 9 p.m.

Howard Hanamura was honored at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in San Jose last February.

Wendy Hanamura, a Bay Area news reporter, chronicles the history of her father, Sgt. Howard “Howe” Hanamura, and his military unit: Company L, First Platoon, of the Army’s highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team. These Japanese American soldiers fought with legendary courage during World War II, while their families were detained in internment camps at home.

This award-winning documentary follows father and daughter throughout Europe, where they retrace the steps of the 442nd along their barnstorming tour. Hanamura and his fellow soldiers detail their battles, the hardships of wartime travel, as well as life as a Japanese American during the war. Their stories flesh out a harrowing time for Japanese Americans, when prejudice against them was at an all-time high.

Veterans also recount the 442nd’s rescue of the “Lost Battalion” of Texas, an operation the Army calls one of the top ten battles in U.S. military history.

Hanamura passed away on Aug. 19 at the age of 93. As an infantryman and squad leader with the 442nd, he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He took part in some of the most storied battles of the war, including the liberation of Bruyeres, France, and the battle of the Gothic Line in Italy, where he was wounded. He lived long enough to be honored with other Nisei veterans at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony this past February in San Jose.

Born on April 10, 1919 in Alameda, he attended Alameda High School, competing in basketball, football and discus. Within the Japanese American community, he attended Buena Vista United Methodist Church and played for the Mudhens football and Acorns basketball teams. He read voraciously, recited poetry by heart and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from UC Berkeley in 1940.

Returning to the Bay Area at the war’s end, Hanamura married Mary Tsuchiya in 1949 and they went on to raise three children in Oakland. He worked on the earliest computers at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory as a programmer and systems analyst during a 35-year career. Throughout his life, he was also an avid golfer with the Hi-Fli and Swinging Samurai Golf Clubs.

Wendy Hanamura

Upon retiring, he loved caring for his grandsons with his wife, taking them to the African Hall in Golden Gate Park, the train at Tilden, or the Oakland Zoo. For more than a decade, Mary and Howe would gather the family for dinner every Sunday, where they’d play cribbage, hearts and Scrabble.

Even after losing a leg to diabetes in 2000, Hanamura never lost his zest for life — always looking forward to the next meal, the next game, or the next excursion with his wife of 62 years. Thanks to her loving care, he beat the odds and lived to see his four grandsons grow into fine young men.

Survivors include his wife; his son, Steven; his daughters, Julie and Wendy; sons-in-law, Wes Fukumori and Michael Okagaki; his grandsons, Ryan and Derek Fukumori and Jonathan and Kenny Okagaki; and a brother, John Hanamura. A memorial service was held Sept. 15 at Buena Vista United Methodist Church.

Wendy Hanamura is vice president and general manager of San Francisco-based Link TV. She has worked for Time Magazine, NHK and World Monitor Television in Japan, and KQED and KPIX in San Francisco.

KCET also announced its programming for Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov.11:

“Defending the Homeland: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces,” airing from 1:30 to 2 p.m. This documentary tells the stories of Native Americans who have participated in the U.S. military, from the American Revolution to present-day Iraq. It will showcase their emotional battles both overseas as warriors and at home as veterans.

“California at War” (2 to 3 p.m.). Discover how World War II impacted California more than any other state. This documentary connects California’s past to its present and will reveal that many of the opportunities and challenges of today are rooted from World War II.

“Tragedy of Bataan” (3 to 3:30 p.m.). Narrated by Alec Baldwin, this program chronicles the fall of the Philippines and the Bataan Death March in the early months of World War II. It contains first-account interviews with over 20 survivors, several unpublished diaries, rare photos and drawings, and never-before-seen Japanese propaganda film footage.

“Angle of Attack” (3:30 to 5:30 p.m.). Uncover the 100-year history of naval aviation. The two-hour documentary deftly interweaves archival footage, interviews with historical and military experts, contemporary footage of cutting-edge aircraft and insights from today’s “top gun” fighter pilots in the Marine Corps and Navy.

“442nd: Live with Honor, Die with Dignity” (10:30 p.m. to 12 a.m.). This film shares the unsung heroism of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, formed in 1942 from Nisei in internment camps and officers discharged from the U.S. Army subsequent to Pearl Harbor. Sen. Daniel Inouye and actor/activist George Takei appear.

On the Web: www.kqed.org

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  1. Recently, I watched “The War,” a seven-episode program by Ken Burns on DVD. (It originally aired a decade ago on PBS.) I also visited the National WWII Museum in New Orleans yesterday, 11/04/2012, and spent six hours at the Pacific Theater. The contributions made by Japanese Americans, as well as those by African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and native Americans were duly noted. The undeniable Japanese atrocities made me sick to my stomach. I was born and raised in post-WWII Japan. During the war, for the victor to show mercy to the vanquished was a foreign concept to the Japanese military. Consequently, when Japan surrendered unconditionally, all surviving Japanese feared the worst. This, however, did not happen. Instead, American soldiers brought food and treated the general public with compassion. This was a turning point in the Japanese perception of the so-called “enemy.” They became witness to an amazing grace beyond the realm of their comprehension. This is the reason people of my parents’ generation hold America to the highest pedestal – as I still do today as a naturalized U.S. citizen. My 2-minute video message of gratitude on YouTube at http://www.ThankYouVeterans.net was created for WWII veterans. I regret that this video comes too late for Mr. Hanamura. I would appreciate it very much if you would please watch and share the video with all the veterans and their families that you know. Thank you.

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