“Bacon” Harumi Sakatani, known as “Mr. Heart Mountain,” who leads all Heart Mountain reunions and activities and is a resident of West Covina, was elected as the new president of the Japanese American Korean War Veterans (JAKWV) for 2014.
He succeeds Min Tonai, whose term ends in 2013.
Sakatani, who is currently is a JAKWV vice president, official photographer, and editor of the JAKWV newsletter, will lead the JAKWV in its 19th year. During his Army tour of duty, he served for nine months in Korea, starting in the spring of 1951, with the combat engineers.
The JAKWV has accomplished much since its inception in1995. The group initially built a black granite Memorial Monument to honor by name the 247 Japanese Americans who were killed in action (KIA) during the Korean War. It is located by the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center at the National Japanese American War Memorial Court, alongside the other KIA memorial monuments for World War II, the Vietnam War, and other conflicts (combined memorial for the Spanish American War, Grenada invasion, Gulf War, Iraq War, and Afghanistan War).
In addition, another Japanese American Korean War Memorial Monument was erected by the JAKWV in Imjin Gak Memorial Park in Paju City, Republic of Korea, near the border with North Korea. This black granite memorial, with the 247 names engraved, was dedicated in 2001, with 112 members and families from the U.S. in attendance at the dedication ceremony. On hand were representatives of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, the South Korean national government, their veterans groups, local dignitaries and the public.
In 2008, four additional KIA names were added to both memorials and 102 persons traveled to Korea to attend the dedication ceremony for the additional names. Since then, four more names have been added to the Memorial Monument in the Memorial Court for a total of 255 KIA names.
Each year, JAKWV honors all of the KIAs at the Memorial Court on the Saturday before Memorial Day, with the KIA families, veterans and the public in attendance.
Sakatani is a very active member of the JAKWV. He can be seen at all of its events, including the officers’ installation and New Year’s celebration, memorials services, Nisei Week activities, and other veteran and community events.
Last New Year’s Day, he was a photographer at the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade, taking photos of Medal of Honor recipient and JAKWV member Hershey Miyamura and JAKWV President Tonai. They were two of the six representatives of American Korean War veterans on the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Float, sponsored by the Department of Defense.
Sakatani will be installed as president on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at the Sea Empress Seafood Restaurant, 1636 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. in Gardena. Reception at 11:30 a.m., lunch at 12:30 p.m. Dress: casual. Local Japanese American veterans organizations, JACCC members, the Nisei Week Court, JAKWV travel group members, representatives of the Republic of Korea Consulate, all veterans, and the community are all invited to participate in this event.
Cost: $25 per person. Make checks payable to JAKWV and send names of participants to: Sam Shimoguchi, 12557 Allin St., Los Angeles, CA 90066. For more information, contact Shimoguchi at (310) 822-6688 or [email protected]; Tonai at (818) 591-1269 or [email protected]; or Victor Muraoka at (818) 590-6724 or [email protected]