• Allen Nakamoto (right), Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee commander, gives a tour to Maj. Gen. Takeyoshi Omori, deputy commander, 4th Division, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Sept. 22. The Seattle NVC Foundation hosted the social event which allowed soldiers of the JGSDF and 7th Infantry Division to interact with Nisei veterans and take a break from Operation Rising Thunder 2013.

    Rising Thunder participants invited to Nisei Veterans Committee

    Allen Nakamoto (right), Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee commander, gives a tour to Maj. Gen. Takeyoshi Omori, deputy commander, 4th Division, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Sept. 22. The Seattle NVC Foundation hosted the social event which allowed...

  • Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander, 7th Infantry Division (left) examines a World War II-era uniform with a 7th Infantry Division patch, part of a collection curated by Rian Ebesugawa (center) of the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee Foundation. The 7th Infantry Division soldiers were guests at the event which brought them and the Seattle NVC Foundation together with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers for a social event near the end of Operation Rising Thunder exercises Sept. 22.

    Rising Thunder participants invited to Nisei Veterans Committee

    Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander, 7th Infantry Division (left) examines a World War II-era uniform with a 7th Infantry Division patch, part of a collection curated by Rian Ebesugawa (center) of the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee Foundation. The 7th...

  • Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander, 7th Infantry Division (center), and Command Sgt. Maj. Delbert Byers speak with World War II veteran Sam Mitsui of the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee. Soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division were guests at an event that brought them and the Seattle NVC Foundation together with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers for a social event near the end of Operation Rising Thunder exercises Sept. 22.

    Rising Thunder participants invited to Nisei Veterans Committee

    Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander, 7th Infantry Division (center), and Command Sgt. Maj. Delbert Byers speak with World War II veteran Sam Mitsui of the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee. Soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division were guests at an event...

  • Inochi Taiko, a Japanese drumming group, performs during a social event that brought Japanese-American veterans and 7th Infantry Division soldiers together with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers Sept. 22. The event was hosted by the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee near the completion of the annual Operation Rising Thunder exercise that partners the JGSDF with units from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

    Rising Thunder participants invited to Nisei Veterans Committee

    Inochi Taiko, a Japanese drumming group, performs during a social event that brought Japanese-American veterans and 7th Infantry Division soldiers together with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers Sept. 22. The event was hosted by the Seattle...

  • A social event brought Japanese-American veterans and 7th Infantry Division soldiers together with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers Sept. 22. The event was hosted by the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee near the completion of the annual Operation Rising Thunder exercise that partners the JGSDF with units from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

    Rising Thunder participants invited to Nisei Veterans Committee

    A social event brought Japanese-American veterans and 7th Infantry Division soldiers together with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers Sept. 22. The event was hosted by the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee near the completion of the annual...

SEATTLE - Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force conducted a social event with the Nisei Veterans Committee Sept. 22 at the Seattle NVC Foundation.

The soldiers traveled from Yakima Training Center to Seattle for the event, one of the last for Operation Rising Thunder 2013.

The NVC hosted the event and several VIPs, to include 7th Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, state representatives, and Maj. Gen. Takeyoshi Omori, deputy commander of 4th Division, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, attended.

"We wanted to bring soldiers together, both past and present, U.S. and Japanese, giving them the opportunity to build professional relationships," said Allen Nakamoto, NVC commander, and the event organizer.

"The NVC is committed to sharing the story of the Japanese-American soldier. Our credo is 'Honor the past, educate the future,'" Nakamoto said.

A memorial wall built outside the NVC Foundation building includes the names of Nisei veterans both living and those killed in action from past wars.

As soldiers from both Japan and the U.S. arrived at the NVC Hall, they were shown into rooms where they could meet with Nisei veterans and share stories or look at artifacts from past wars in which Japanese-Americans served.

"It's great to build these bonds, and in doing so it helps solidify the partnership we have with our Japanese allies," Lanza said in opening remarks.

Omori, on behalf of the JGSDF soldiers here for Rising Thunder, expressed his thanks for the invitation to the event.

"Through this exercise our ties to the U.S. have strengthened, so it's been my pleasure to be invited by the NVC and to get insight to the experience of the Nisei in the U.S.," Omori said.

The guest speaker for the event was Sam Mitsui, a World War II veteran.

Mitsui fought in Europe as a soldier in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit composed of Japanese-American "Nisei" (second generation) enlisted men that became one of the most highly-decorated regiments in the history of the U.S. armed forces.

The motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was "Go for Broke," which was derived from a phrase used by craps shooters risking all their money in one roll of the dice.

The 4,000 men who initially formed the 442nd RCT in April 1943 had to be replaced nearly 3.5 times through the course of World War II. In total, approximately 14,000 men served in the 442nd RCT, and its predecessor the 100th Infantry Battalion from Hawaii.

Mitsui told stories of overcoming prejudice in the military, and of the little-known group of Nisei who served in the military intelligence service during World War II for the Pacific War.

Several of those Nisei served in SEATIC, the Southeast Asia Translation and Interrogation Center under Gen. Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, a previous commander of 7th Infantry Division.

"I always thought I was an American until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor ... so many people we called friends and neighbors turned away from us," Mitsui said. "We were determined to prove our loyalty by serving."

Mitsui received a standing ovation following his speech.

Inochi Taiko, a Japanese drumming group, provided entertainment with a performance that filled the auditorium with percussive sound. Guests enjoyed food samplings of both American and Japanese cuisine.

The afternoon closed out with gift presentations to Nakamoto, who accepted them on behalf of the Seattle NVC Foundation. Gifts included unit patches and a plaque from the JGSDF and a 7th Infantry Division bayonet with an emblem carrying case from the 7th Infantry Division.

Page last updated Mon September 30th, 2013 at 00:00