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Hood River Letter

    Hood River Letter

    Hood River Letter
    1945
    Written by Johnny Wakamatsu to the American Legion Post, Hood River
    Paper and ink
    Gift of American Legion Hood River Post 22
    2022.24.1

    In November 1944, the American Legion Hood River Post 22 removed the names of 16 Japanese American soldiers from the town’s public honor roll. This billboard honored the 1600 locals who served in World War II and had been installed just 14 months earlier. The removal was covered in national news outlets and led to a large public reaction, both for and against the racist act.

    People from all over the country wrote to Post 22 in response. These letters were filed away and eventually donated to the Japanese American Museum of Oregon in 2022 as part of a larger reconciliation effort. More of the letters and details about the incident will be available on jamo.org in late spring 2024.

    This specific letter was written by Johnny Y Wakamatsu, who was from Hood River and one of the names removed from the roll. He served in the 232nd Engineer Combat Company, 34th Infantry Division, 442nd Regimental Combat from 1941 to 1945. This is a transcription of his letter:

    France
    6 Jan 45

    Sirs:

    Yes, I believe my name as well as my brothers & friends have been removed from the so called wall of honor.

    Remember, we did not volunteer unless we thought that as Americans it was our duty. Many have died believing in Liberty, equality, & the pursuit of Happiness. Many more are crippled in various hospitals here in France, England and back there in the states.

    Your actions and policies are not American, they do not give us the treatment of loyal American Soldiers.

    Really it is too bad that the Hood River Legion Post must follow such UnAmerican Ideals. I regret that I was reared & educated in such an unjust community with such narrow-minded so called Americans.

    Disgustedly Yours,
    1st Sgt Johnny Y Wakamatsu
    2320 Eng Combat Co

    The Hood River Letters Project, which will be available on jamo.org starting late spring 2024, is funded in part by the Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department; Oregon Nisei Veterans; and Portland JACL.