59th MISSION     [ Page 1  |  Page 2 ]

Despite the prohibition against allowing Japanese Americans to serve in the Air Corps In the Pacific, more than 6,000 Japanese Americans served in military intelligence, saving countless lives and shortening the war by two years, according to the intelligence chief for U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur.

Kuroki's 59th mission was not just an emotional reaction to the Pearl Harbor bombing by the Japanese. He also felt deeply about the ideology involved.

In an address on Oct. 29, 1946 at the New York Herald Tribune Forum on Current Affairs held at the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Kuroki stated:

Not only did I go to war to fight the fascist ideas of Germany and Japan but also to fight against a few Americans who fail to understand the principles of freedom and equality upon which this country was founded.

This speech attracted enough attention that it was later reprinted in the January 1946 issue of Reader's Digest.

The long road to reparations & recognition

By early 1945 the War Relocation Authority began to release internees from the centers. Three years later President Harry S. Truman signed the Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act, intended to help compensate those who had suffered economic losses. About $28 million was eventually paid through provisions of this Act.

Before 1952 the laws written by Congress only allowed white persons to become naturalized citizens. But in 1952 the law prohibiting Japanese aliens from becoming naturalized citizens was changed by the Immigration and Naturalization Act, and Kuroki's father was finally allowed to became a U.S. citizen at the age of 80. Kuroki said his father did so because "it added to his dream, the American dream."

In 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed HR 442, a reparations act providing for a payment of $20,000 to every surviving Japanese Americans who was evacuated, relocated, or interned during World War II. Perhaps as importantly, there was also a signed apology from the President. More than $1.6 billion was paid out before the reparations deadline passed in 1998.

On Dec. 7, 1991 -- 50 years after Pearl Harbor -- a New York Times editorial titled "Hidden Heroes" claimed a special tribute is due to the mostly unremembered Japanese Americans who exhibited uncommon courage and sacrifice during World War II. The article specifically sited the achievements of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprised entirely of Japanese Americans, and Kuroki, who they called "an authentic hero."

In 2005, while receiving the Distinguished Service Medal at a ceremony in Lincoln, Nebraska, Kuroki said: "I had to fight like hell for the right to fight for my own country. And I now feel full vindication."

When to Watch

Most Honorable Son premieres
Sept. 17, 2007

Check your local listings.

Buy the Program

Most Honorable Son DVD

Learn about ...

• The Nisei
• The Speech
• The Internment