A Japanese- American Patriot Remembers with Takeshi (Tak) Furumoto

Japanese-American Vietnam veteran and Bronze Star recipient Takeshi (Tak) Furumoto spoke at JHC on Saturday, November 11 as part of JHC’s ongoing partnership with the Japan Society of Greater Fairfield County (JSGFC). Also speaking was artist and curator Jaya Duvvuri on the topic “The Life and Art of Koho Yamamoto.” 

Furumoto was born in Tule Lake Incarceration Camp in 1944. After being released from the Camp he spent 10 years in Hiroshima where his grandparents were victims of Atomic Bombing. He and his family came back to the United States in 1956 and lived in Los Angeles. In 1968 he volunteered for the United States Army, serving in Vietnam. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in 1971, but suffered from PTSD and exposure to AGENT ORANGE.

Furumoto recounted his personal experience and also paid tribute to what are known as the Nisei soldiers, second-generation Japanese-Americans many of whom served bravely in the 100th/442nd Regiment. According to the National World War II Museum, “It became the most decorated unit of its size in U.S. military history earning more than 4,000 Purple Hearts, 4,000 Bronze Stars, 21 Medals of Honor and seven Presidential Unit Citations.”

Tak is a Board Member of NY Japanese American Association, Founder of NY Hiroshima-Kai, life Member of Japanese American Veteran’s Association, Founding member of Japan/New York Historical Council Digital Museum, AAPI Advisory Council under Gov. Murphy in NJ, and was instrumental in getting Fred Korematsu Day established as a state holiday in New Jersey.

Jaya Duvvuri, Koho Yamamoto’s long-time associate and former student spoke first. Yamamoto’s 1978 painting “Topaz Internment Camp” was recently acquired by the Topaz Museum in Delta, UT. It will be on loan to the Jay Heritage Center through next year before it is moved to Topaz Museum permanently.

Photos by Kim Crichlow