Masaji Inoshita on Veteran's Day 2008 at site of former Japanese Relocation Center
On January 29th, 2009 one of our long time post members, Masaji Inoshita, was honored as the recipient of the 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Servant Leadership Award at the 24th Annual Arizona State University Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration ceremony.
Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow presenting award to Masaji Inoshita
The following is from the event brochure:
Masaji Inoshita was 22 and farming with his father in California when FBI agents knocked on the door and handcuffed his father to take him to an internment camp. Pearl Harbor had just been bombed, and the government was afraid Japanese-Americans would collaborate with the enemy.
Inoshita and his parents and eight siblings spent four years at the Gila River Relocation Camp south of Phoenix. But instead of being bitter, he has spent his adult life as a historian and civil rights advocate, teaching about the need for diversity of races and religions in the workplace, schools and society.
His family had to give up their 55-acre farm and all their animals and equipment. Neighbors couldn’t speak to them. But Inoshita enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Army Intelligence as a translator in Burma, India and China.
After World War II ended, he returned to Arizona to farm, getting married and raising three children. He became active in the Japanese American Citizens League and the Arizona Buddhist Temple Board, and eventually he began speaking at local schools, churches, and civic groups about his experiences in the internment camp.
Since then Inoshita has spoken before many national groups and is a frequent guest lecturer for the Arizona Historical Society and the universities. He has won awards for workshops on race relations. His audiences are fascinated by his stories, but his main lesson is one of love and respect for fellow man.
Now 89, Inoshita has won many awards, including the U.S. Army Presidential Merit Citation and the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame. On the local level, he was named outstanding Washington School District volunteer for serving as a full-time volunteer librarian for six years. ASU is proud to honor him as the 2009 MLK Servant-Leadership Award winner.
Besides being a long time member of our post, “Mas”, as he is known to friends strives to insure the care of the veteran’s memorial on the former Japanese relocation center within the Gila River Indian Community. Over the years, the memorial monument has been damaged and vandalized with graffiti and Mas along with local community members and school volunteers performs yearly cleanups and painting at the site.
Masaji Inoshita at 2009 Iwo Jima Event
You will see Mas at many of our veteran's events in the community and we hope that you will all say hello to him and thank him for his lifetime of service.
It is with a heavy heart, that we inform you of Mr. Masaji Inoshita's Passing in July 2015.