Fullerton Arboretum to Showcase Sus Ito’s WWII Images

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Sus Ito’s photographs show what everyday life was like for the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion.

FULLERTON — Starting Sunday, Sept. 10, the Fullerton Arboretum will host a new exhibit featuring Sus Ito’s World War II images.

This exhibit will be located at the Orange County Agricultural & Nikkei Heritage Museum through Oct. 29.

On Sunday, Sept. 17, from 1 to 3 p.m., Dr. Lily Anne Y. Welty Tamai will give a keynote talk for the opening reception of this exhibit. Tamai was privileged to have interviewed Dr. Ito and published an article about him and this exhibit (which she co-curated for the Japanese American National Museum) in the **Southern California Quarterly,** a Historical Society of Southern California journal.

The museum will be open Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 12 to 4 p.m.

Susumu “Sus” Ito’s World War II photographs document his tour of duty through Europe as a member of the celebrated all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion. While Ito participated in such dramatic events as the rescue of the Lost Battalion in France and the liberation of a sub-camp of Dachau, these rare and breathtaking images, taken with a prohibited camera, capture the humble daily lives of young Japanese American soldiers serving in a segregated unit. They are seen posing next to their jeeps, walking in the snow, swimming in a river, playing chess, and even visiting tourist destinations while on leave.

Sus Ito gives a tour of his exhibition “Before They Were Heroes” at the Japanese American National Museum in 2015. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

Ito went to great lengths to preserve the negatives, carrying his photos nearly 5,000 miles across Europe and having his film developed at villages along the way. Unseen for decades, these images provide a fresh look into the soldiers’ lives typically not found in history books.

Ito passed away at the age of 96 in 2015. He was the James Stillman Professor of Comparative Anatomy emeritus at Harvard Medical School.

The Fullerton Arboretum is located at 1900 Associated Rd. in Fullerton. No tickets or reservations are needed for the presentation but seating is limited. Free parking is available in the arboretum’s parking lot. On weekends only, Parking Lot G adjacent to the arboretum is also free.

The Fullerton Arboretum is on the northeast corner of the CSU Fullerton campus, just west of the 57 Freeway and off of the Yorba Linda Boulevard exit at the intersection of Yorba Linda and Associated.

For more information, call (657) 278-4010 or visit: http://fullertonarboretum.org/museum_nikkei_current.php

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