Sgt. Frank Hachiya of Hood River, Ore., was awarded the Silver Star posthumously.
He was dropped by parachute behind the lines in the Philippines in World War II and returned with maps of enemy defenses. According to the Los Angeles Times, he is credited with saving the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, of American troops.
Hachiya was wounded during the Battle of Leyte on Dec. 30, 1944, and later died. Who shot him has never been proven: 1) a sniper 2) an American thinking he was the enemy, according to the Oregonian, "but that was discounted by persons close to Hachiya before his death." 3) a 12 man enemy unit in a wooded gorge.
Hachiya Hall at the Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center, Presidio of Monterey, is named after Frank Hachiya.
The Morita connection:
Frank Hachiya is the older brother Paul Morita never had. And he says he had the tough task of informing Mr. Hachiya of Frank's death.
Claude Morita says Frank Hachiya is a relative, probably a second cousin, on the Sakakiyama side of the family. "Frank's mother was my mother's cousin or thereabouts," Claude Morita says. Click here from family tree "In reality, however, they were much closer like an uncle, aunt and cousins who came to be like brothers. We have been close since Hood River and probably in pre-war Japan as well."
Paul Morita says Frank Hachiya and Rodney Morita were similarly sized. "I knew Frank wore 13 size shoes. I inherited his skis and bicycle when he left for Japan in'35 or '36.He graduated from high school in my class of' '41. In fact, we played on the same high school baseball team. He played shortstop and I played first base," Paul Morita says.
Frank Hachiya had some modern ideas. "He advocated living with someone before commiting to marriage," Paul Morita says. "I'm sure he would have been someone we could have admired!"
Paul Morita found out about Frank's death in the Twin Falls (Idaho) newspaper, the paper in the town right outside the Minidoka internment camp, before Mr. Hachiya was notified from the War Department. "It seems they did not have Mr. Hachiya's address because of the evacuation," Paul Morita says.
He says he doesn't recall if he or his father informed Mr. Hachiya of Frank's death. "He took it like any other stoic Japanese. I think he said (it can't be helped) or shikata ga nai. That phrase covers anything in the Japanese."
When Paul Morita graduated from Odell HIigh School in '41, "I didn't have anything to wear, so Mr. Hachiya bought my first suit. I still remember that!!" he says.
"Before'35, he (Mr. Hachiya) was a farmer. I don't know when he arrived in the U.S. The whole family returned to Japan in '35 when Grandma returned to Japan. I know he and Frank returned to the U.S. before the war. I think Mr. Hachiya returned before Frank returned. When he returned pre-war he was a fruit tramp following the fruit harvest in California and Oregon. The issei usually stayed with relatives or close friends when their wives were not present. A lot of them couldn't speak too well so they gravitated to friends or relatives. He had difficulty with the English language!
"He worked at Leganger with Dad. It was a furniture factory on Chicago Avenue just west of the Montgomery Ward complex. After returning from Japan prewar, he worked as a fruit tramp. He followed the harvest of fruit in California and Oregon."
Claude Morita's visit in August 2000 to the Hood River, Ore., graveyard
During Dina's and my visit to the cemetery (catching up with the rest of the family's thoughtfulness a day late), one of the caretakers said, "The Japanese are in two sections of this cemetery. Three carloads of people were out here yesterday."
When we were at Frank's grave stone, we talked a little about war time deaths. Again, he said, "Recently, an older guy came from Texas and asked for a Japanese grave. He was in the Army. He said he promised that he would come to Hood River to meet the Nisei soldier after everything was over. He said that he never lost anyone who was with him in the war - except this young man. He was so young."
The caretaker added, "I left him alone at the grave site. He just cried and cried and cried."
And I had a few moments alone with Frank and Koe.
Mr. Hachiya's letter, dated October 2, 1948, to Kenneth Kirby, Farm Labor Office, Hood River, says (in part):
"Yes, a reunion between my son and me after an absence of 4 years has finally taken place in the Valley of his rearing and also the reunion with our many friends. Although the reunion may have a different aspect than is generally termed, the thought that prevailed was one of pride and very befitting occasion.
"I was very glad to see you and to continue the personal friendship that had existed till the time of my forced leave from the Valley; (sic) and to see the familiar countryside and to feel the warm hospitality extended me is one that words will ever fail to express. The homecoming was a memorable one and will long remain in my thoughts as one of the most friendliest (sic) of gestures that can be extended an individual. The services conducted under the auspices of the JACL, the veterans organizations, prominent businessmen and the combined efforts of the Hood River Valley, reflects the very warm attitude of the majority of the residents in the publicized community of the war and post war years.
"Thus this letter is written you to convey my gracious appreciation accorded me (sic) during the final services of my late son, Frank; and as long as my existence is spared, my thoughts will ever be of Hood River, my son Frank, and of you, he people who make up the wonderful community."