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Japanese-American WWII war hero Ben Kuroki dies

Article about: Sep 6, 2:13 AM (ET) CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) Ben Kuroki, who overcame the American military's discriminatory policies to become the only Japanese American to fly over Japan during World War

  1. #1

    Default Japanese-American WWII war hero Ben Kuroki dies

    Sep 6, 2:13 AM (ET)

    CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) Ben Kuroki, who overcame the American military's discriminatory policies to become the only Japanese American to fly over Japan during World War II, has died. He was 98.

    Kuroki died Tuesday at his Camarillo, California, home, where he was under hospice care, his daughter Julie Kuroki told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday.

    The son of Japanese immigrants who was raised on a Hershey, Nebraska, farm, Kuroki and his brother, Fred, volunteered for service after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.

    They were initially rejected by recruiters who questioned the loyalty of the children of Japanese immigrants. Undeterred, the brothers drove 150 miles to another recruiter, who allowed them to sign up.

    At the time, the Army Air Forces banned soldiers of Japanese ancestry from flying, but Kuroki earned his way onto a bomber crew and flew 58 bomber missions over Europe, North Africa and Japan during the war. He took part in the August 1943 raid over Nazi oil fields in Ploesti, Romania, that killed 310 fliers in his group. He was captured after his plane ran out of fuel over Morocco, but he managed to escape with crewmates to England.

    Because of his Japanese ancestry, he was initially rejected when he asked to serve on a B-29 bomber that was to be used in the Pacific. But after repeated requests and a review of his stellar service record, Secretary of War Harry Stimson granted an exception.

    Crew members nicknamed him "Most Honorable Son," and the War Department gave him a Distinguished Flying Cross. He was saluted by Time magazine in 1944 under the headline "HEROES: Ben Kuroki, American."

    He was hailed a hero and a patriot at a time when tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were confined at internment camps amid fears of a Japanese invasion of the West Coast.

    After the war, Kuroki enrolled at the University of Nebraska, where he obtained a journalism degree. He published a weekly newspaper in Nebraska for a short time before moving to Michigan and finally to California, where he retired as the news editor of Ventura Star-Free Press in 1984.

    In 2005, he received the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal, one of the nation's highest military honors.

    "I had to fight like hell for the right to fight for my own country," Kuroki said at the award ceremony in Lincoln, Nebraska. "And I now feel vindication."

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  2. #2
    MAP is offline


    Thanks William.

    Great but sad story. Always makes me said how our fellow citizens were (are) treated.

    "Please", Thank You" and proper manners appreciated

    My greatest fear is that one day I will die and my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them

    "Don't tell me these are investments if you never intend to sell anything" (Quote: Wife)

  3. #3


    Great subject!!! I know from my work on the 8th AF 384th Bomb Group website. That I came across German, Chinese,Native American and even a member of African decent who served with the USAAF. And Knew about the Japanese that severed honorable etc. 100th Infantry Battalion. 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion. But never came across a Japanese name. Very sad indeed. We were all from a different country at one time in our ancestry. We are all immigrants to this great nation and those that were of Japanese decent were the ones that paid the price.

    I pay tribute to this man who was a part of the Greatest Generation this country has known.
    Sir you have my respect and always will!
    RIP Ben Kuroki!
    Semper Fi

  4. #4


    I think to honor this great man, We should all look into his eyes and acknowledge his awesome deeds.

    Japanese-American WWII war hero Ben Kuroki dies


  5. #5


    I think what was impressive to me, was that he and his brother tried to enlist Right after Pearl Harbor and were turned Away, but immediately drove 150 miles to Another recruiter and joined! Now there is some patriotism!

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  6. #6


    RIP Ben!.....
    It's a wasted trip baby. Nobody said nothing about locking horns with no Tigers.

    I'm Spartacus, not really i'm Paul!...

  7. #7


    RIP you earned it.

  8. #8


    Thank you for posting the story of this great American hero. I was never aware that any Nisei flew combat missions during the war. The Japanese Americans lost EVERYTHING during the war. They were treated with great disdain by their government. After the war, they picked up the pieces and put their lives back together and moved on without government assistance. The small compensation they eventually received so many years after the injustice was too little, too late. RIP a great American.


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