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Each day, the VA honors a special military veteran for their dedicated service on their blog, VAntage Point. Today’s featured military member is a veteran who was a translator during World War II and for President John F. Kennedy.

Yukio Kawamoto was born in California to two Hiroshima-native parents. He attended the University of California before being called to service in the Army in 1942. 

Kawamoto completed basic training at Camp Robinson with other Japanese Americans while his parents went to the Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah with many other San Francisco Bay Area Japanese American families. Kawamoto was able to visit his parents twice before being shipped overseas. 

Kawamoto worked as a translator in the 37th Infantry Division and served at Bougainville near Papua New Guinea in the Pacific. After 20 months of service, Kawamoto was given an emergency furlough to aid his parents in readjusting to civilian life following their time in the Topaz War Relocation Center. He was discharged from the Army in 1945. 

Kawamoto spent a brief time helping Japanese Americans reassimilate into regular life following their time in camps, but went to Japan to work with the defense division in 1946, during which time he met his wife, Sayoko. 

He returned to the United States in September 1948 and went to work for the US Department of State in Washington D.C. at the Division of Language Services. There, he was the only expert in the Japanese language and translated for President John F. Kennedy, as well as represented the United States at conferences and events. 

More information on Kawamoto’s life and service can be found by visiting this link.


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