Terry Shima, a native of Laupahoehoe and resident of Gaithersburg, Md., will speak about the Japanese American experience during World War II at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Room 108 of the University of Hawaii at Hilo Science and Technology Building.
The public is invited.
Shima is director of education and outreach for the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), a nationwide veterans’ organization that serves the interests of Asian Pacific American veterans.
Shima, a former employee of the Laupahoehoe Sugar Co., was drafted in October 1944, trained at Camp Blanding, Fla., as a replacement for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and arrived in Naples, Italy on May 7, 1944, the day Germany surrendered.
He joined the Regimental Public Relations Office, succeeded the director in fall 1944 and returned with the regiment in June 1946 to handle public relations in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Honolulu.
The 442nd marched down Constitution Avenue and was reviewed by President Harry Truman at the Ellipse, the outer south lawn of the White House. After awarding the 7th Distinguished Unit Citation to the 442nd, Truman told the men, “you fought the enemy and you fought prejudice and you won.”
This statement, an affirmation of Nisei loyalty, and the highest-level attempt to defeat prejudice and racism, resonated across the land, supported by strong editorials.
Shima was discharged from the Army in August 1946, married the former Betty Fujita and returned to Washington, D.C., where he attended Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and also its graduate school. He graduated cum laude at the School of Foreign Service and received the W. Coleman Nevils Gold Medal for the highest achievement in the field of U.S. foreign relations.
He served in the diplomatic service, with assignments in various Asian nations and Washington, D.C.
Shima was appointed executive director of JAVA in 2001 and helped build JAVA to become a premier nationally recognized veterans’ organization with the mission of publicizing the Japanese American story during WWII and its legacy.
In February 2013, President Barack Obama presented Shima with the Presidential Citizens Medal in a dignified White House ceremony.
A few months later, the Japanese ambassador awarded Shima the Imperial Order of the Rising Sun with Gold Rays and Rosette in a special reception at his official residence.
Shima’s talk this week in Hilo is part of the UH-Hilo Department of History’s “Living History Symposium” lecture series.
“Terry Shima has lectured all across the U.S., and we are very excited and honored to have him share with us his knowledge and experiences in WWII,” said UH-Hilo assistant Professor of History Jeffrey Allen Smith, who helped arrange Shima’s speaking engagement. “I am sure this will be a presentation both students and community members will enjoy.”