March 10, 2015

The Legacy of Heart Mountain Film Screening Press Release

Posted in Heart Mountain, Japanese American Incarceration tagged , , , , at 5:21 pm by minidokapilgrimage

Contact: Debbie Kashino


Seattle NVC Foundation To Show Emmy Award Winning Documentary “The Legacy of Heart Mountain” with ABC7’s Los Angeles Eyewitness News Anchor David Ono at the Seattle NVC Hall on March 15, 2015

SEATTLE, WA – There have been many documentaries produced about the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII but none that truly captures the essence of internment in one complete package. In 1942, over 1,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were sent from the Yakima Valley in the State of Washington to the Portland Assembly Center and then onto their final destination of the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp in Wyoming.

This new hour long Emmy Award winning documentary “The Legacy of Heart Mountain” was co-produced by 19 time Emmy Award and 4 time Edward R. Murrow Award winner David Ono, co-anchor for ABC7’s Eyewitness News newscasts at 4 PM and 6 PM in Los Angeles in addition to co-anchoring the station’s new prime time newscast at 8 PM as a joint venture with KDOC-TV Channel 56, and Jeff MacIntyre, a 11 time Emmy Award winner and producer / owner of Content Media Group in Southern California.

At the heart of the film are striking photos taken between 1943-45 from inside the Heart Mountain camp by George and Frank C. Hirahara, who were from the Yakima Valley. The family, once a part of the vibrant Yakima Valley Japanese community with Japanese centers in Yakima and Wapato, a Buddhist and Methodist Church as well as a Japanese Language School, and farms spreading across the Yakima Valley, saw this area destroyed, due to internment, with only 10 percent of the population returning after WWII.

While incarcerated at Heart Mountain, George and his son Frank – both avid photographers – captured over 2,000 images of camp life and special family milestones such as engagement celebrations, weddings and family portraits of many of these Yakima families. The photo collection served as an inspiration for the duo to produce this documentary.

Ono and MacIntyre have combined their award winning talents in hosting, writing, editing, and camerawork to put together this fresh and new introduction on one of the 10 Japanese internment camps during WWII.

David Ono writes,

“Heart Mountain is a spectacular and beautiful backdrop to a story of triumph and tragedy. Over seventy years ago, an internment camp, filled with over 10,000 Japanese Americans, sat in the shadow of the mountain.

It was just a few miles outside Cody, Wyoming, where the land is rugged and the weather is brutal. It’s where American citizens were imprisoned, behind barbed wire and guard towers, for no other reason than their heritage.

Most importantly, the story of Heart Mountain still resonates today on how do we define Americans? The lessons from Heart Mountain are invaluable, as relevant today as the day they happened.
This documentary features the remarkable people of Heart Mountain. Some have gone on to gain international acclaim. Others have lived modest lives, yet have enormous wisdom for those willing to listen.”

Ono concludes, “This is the story of passion, despair, anger, and rebirth. A story that should never be forgotten.”

The documentary features interviews with former US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, Judge Lance Ito, Heart Mountain internees and their descendants, who discuss what life was like there as well as visiting the new Heart Mountain Wyoming Interpretive Center on the original site.

The film has won the Radio Television Digital News Association’s national “Unity” award for diversity programming and an Edward R. Murrow regional award, three Emmy Awards, and a national Asian American Journalist Association’s Pacific Islander Issues Television/Online Award with David Ono personally funding the documentary production.

Following the screening, attendees will have an opportunity to be part of a discussion with David Ono, who will be available for questions and answers.

The screening will be held on Sunday March 15 at 1:00 PM at the NVC Memorial Hall at 1212 S. King Street, Seattle, WA 98144. For more information, please check the NVC’s website at Or contact Debbie Kashino at

January 14, 2012

Northwest Nisei soldiers honored for WWII service

Posted in 442nd RCT, Congressional Gold Medal, Japanese American Incarceration tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:55 pm by minidokapilgrimage

Northwest Nisei soldiers honored for WWII service

On Saturday, in a ceremony with speeches, music and other tributes, 90 Nisei soldiers from the Pacific Northwest were given honors for their World War II service.

By Nancy Bartley

Seattle Times staff reporter

William Yasutake was a prisoner, along with his parents, when he decided to fight for the country that held them merely because they were Nisei — Japanese Americans.

Other Nisei were shot in battle, charged through minefields, translated documents and performed such wartime heroics as part of the U.S. Army 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service that they became legendary — a fighting force sought throughout the war.

On Saturday, in a ceremony with speeches, music and other tributes, 90 Nisei soldiers from the Pacific Northwest were given honors for their World War II service.

Eighteen were awarded the Bronze Star for valor and all 90 received the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award.

The awards came more than a year after President Obama signed legislation to collectively honor the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion, and Japanese Americans serving in the Military Intelligence Service.

Sporting burgundy caps with Nisei emblems, they sat solemnly on the stage at Meany Theater at the University of Washington, some clutching canes, all now in their 80s and 90s.

The auditorium was packed with family and friends who rose for a standing ovation as Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli introduced the group, and U.S. Reps. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, and Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, called them heroes who changed the course of history.

“Most of us can’t imagine the bigotry following the attack on Pearl Harbor,” Chiarelli said. The Nisei “were under a heavy cloud of suspicion, yet … they volunteered to serve not knowing if their country would accept them again.”

After the Dec. 7, 1941, attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, suddenly friends and neighbors — especially on the West Coast — considered those with Japanese ancestry as possible enemies. In the name of national security they were rounded up and imprisoned in camps. Yasutake and his family, from Seattle, were among them.

At first, Japanese Americans weren’t allowed to join the military. That later changed, and some Nisei — a Japanese word meaning “second generation” — were drafted from the internment camps, while others volunteered. Yasutake was one of the volunteers.

Now 89, and a Bothell resident, he speaks about the war days reluctantly. He was a medic who was wounded but still cared for others. He received two Bronze Stars for combat in Italy and France.

“You don’t think much of it at the time. It came naturally. You worry more about the others than you do yourself,” he said after the ceremony.

Some of the veterans had already been honored in a November ceremony in Washington, D.C., but the majority had not. So Seattle’s Nisei Veterans’ Committee sponsored the ceremony, not just for the veterans but so the local community could be made aware of their accomplishments, said Stanley Shikuma, a committee member.

For family members, the ceremony was a moving tribute.

“I’m just very proud,” said Steven Chihara, who saw his grandfather, Tosh Chihara, receive a gold medal. “I had heard about the things they had to go through back then. It’s hard to imagine it today.”

Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or On Twitter @BartleyNews.