May 3, 2012

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month 2012:

A look at Asian-Pacific American Veterans


Warren Michio Tsuneishi

Warren Michio Tsuneishi

Branch: Army 

Rank: Technical Sergeant

Wars served: World War, 1939-1945; 

Unit:  306th Headquarters Intelligence Detachment, XXIV Corps

Born on the Fourth of July in California, Warren Tsuneishi was the son of Japanese immigrants. After Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered World War II, his family was evacuated to Heart Mountain, a Japanese internment facility in Wyoming. But Tsuneishi craved freedom and the chance to serve his country, in spite of his family’s confinement. He volunteered for the Military Intelligence Service Language School and served in the Pacific, translating captured documents that gave U.S. forces a big advantage in securing the Philippines and Okinawa.


Carolyn Hisako Tanaka

Carolyn Hisako Tanaka

Branch: Army Nurse Corps 

Rank: Captain

Wars served: Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Unit: 24th Evacuation Hospital

 Nicknamed Road Runner for her unflagging energy and enthusiasm, Carolyn Hisako Tanaka served in Vietnam in spite of a scarring childhood memory. At the age of six, she saw her family evicted from their California home in the wake of Pearl Harbor and relocated to an internment camp in Poston, Arizona. When the family returned to California after the war, they found their home burned to the ground. In 1966, as an emergency room nurse, she decided to enlist in the Army, telling skeptical friends, “I have a skill that is needed in Vietnam, and I’m going there to do my duty for my country.” Ironically, she returned from that war to a “welcome” that brought back bitter memories.



Jimmie Kanaya

Jimmie Kanaya

Branch: Army 

Rank: Colonel

Wars served:  World War, 1939-1945;  Korean War, 1950-1953; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Unit: 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team

 As a youth, Jimmie Kanaya became fascinated with the military, and at 20 he jumped at the chance to enlist in 1941—months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. After helping his parents relocate from their Oregon home to an Idaho internment camp, Kanaya took his skills as a medic to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He aggressively looked out for his men, even negotiating a halt to fighting to bring in casualties from the battlefield. Captured by German troops, he escaped three times and at war’s end was the only non-Caucasian in his POW camp. Kanaya continued to serve his country during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

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