Island History for Friday, July 22, 2011

 Following his graduation from Kaua‘i High School, Lihu‘e born and raised Jiro Yukimura attended the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and was in Honolulu on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when he witnessed black smoke and enemy aircraft in the sky during Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

 After college in 1943, he enlisted in the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team, was assigned to the Military Intelligence Service and sent to Camp Savage, Minnesota for Japanese language training.

 Yukimura later translated captured Japanese documents in Brisbane, Australia, was commissioned a 2nd Lt., and was assigned to the Army press corps in Manila.

 While in Manila following the initial announcement of Japan’s surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, Yukimura was ordered to cover the formal surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay, Japan aboard the battleship “USS Missouri” on Sept. 2, 1945.

 Prior to the surrender, Yukimura met General Douglas MacArthur at Atsugi Airfield upon the general’s arrival in Japan on Aug. 30, and on Sept. 2, he was among the 150 reporters, photographers, motion-picture cameramen and radio broadcasters who boarded the “Missouri” from the destroyer “USS Taylor” to report the proceedings.

 Yukimura was positioned behind a railing about 50 feet above the surrender table where MacArthur sat, while allied officers lined the decks.

 “Of course, MacArthur made sure he had good coverage. He took care of the news people, and fortunately, I was attached to them. We were right up there on the deck. It was a solemn affair. The ceremony wasn’t very long. It was held at a simple table. General MacArthur was in his usual attire with his corncob pipe,” Yukimura recalled.

 After the war, Yukimura completed graduate studies at UH, married Jennie Yoshioka and returned to Kaua‘i to work and raise five children. He now lives in Hanama‘ulu.

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