Almost 70 Years Later, WWII Vet Gets Posthumous Bronze Star

Pfc. Minoru Miyasaki volunteered to fight in World War II while he was in an internment camp.

War veterans often don't come home bragging of their exploits abroad, and in that tradition  didn't talk much about his time in World War II until decades later.

"[When I was] growing up, he talked very little about the service," Kevin Miyasaki, his son, said last week. "During his later years he started opening up about it."

Minoru Miyasaki, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an Army unit made entirely of Japanese-Americans, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal at a ceremony Thursday at the near Rosemont. He died from cancer in March 2011.

"I wish he would have been alive to receive it himself," Kevin Miyasaki said.

Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, adjutant general of the California National Guard, praised the service of Minoru Miyasaki, who enlisted while being held in an internment camp.

"And though our country had deprived him and his family of his civil liberties, he chose to still raise his right hand and go and fight for the country that he believed in and that ultimately would provide his family with a good life," Baldwin told the crowd of family and California National Guard members Thursday.

Minoru Miyasaki volunteered for military service in 1944, and by the following May was fighting in France. He also participated in the Po Valley Campaign in Italy, according to a California National Guard press release.

Kevin Miyasaki said although his father rarely talked about his military service and "never expressed bitterness" about being interned, the war clearly affected him.

"It made him who he was: very stoic, proud, very quiet," Kevin Miyasaki said.

He recalled a story from his father about coming home on leave and trying to visit his family, which was still being interned at the Tule Lake internment camp.

Lilly Miyasaki, Minoru Miyasaki's wife of nearly 60 years, remembers that story well.

"When he went to the camp, the guard said, 'You can't go in there,' " Lilly Miyasaki said.

She said her husband was in uniform, and wasn't allowed to enter the camp. A fellow soldier snuck him into the camp and encouraged him to keep a low profile by wearing civilian clothes during his visit.

She said when Minoru Miyasaki boarded a bus to leave the camp, everyone aboard clapped when they saw him in uniform.

"He's told that story to me many times," said Lilly Miyasaki said.

Last week's Bronze Star award was a year too late for Minoru Miyasaki, but many other 442nd Regimental Combat Team veterans have recently received similar honors.

Members of that unit, which is the most highly decorated in U.S. history, received the Bronze Star and the Congressional Gold Medal in ceremonies last November in Washington, D.C. The Miyasaki family received a Congressional Gold Medal last week, a few days prior to the Bronze Star ceremony.

The Miyasaki family currently lives in Clovis, and was honored by the California National Guard because its Sacramento headquarters is the nearest Army facility, officials said. At the time of WWII, Minoru Miyasaki was living in Warm Springs, near Fremont.


Update: Minoru Miyasaki has been chosen as a Huffington Post Greatest Person of the Day. See his story on the Huffington Post here.

Tina Wong May 02, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Sad and deep, we need to honor those that serve and learn from history.
george miyasaki May 07, 2012 at 02:32 PM
It is about time. We had 4 boys in the military. 2 in the 442 and 2 in korea, how is that after all we had to endure??
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