NVC Newsletter

Speaker Series: Takeuchi Family

by Wendi Coombs
August 2016, Volume 66, Issue 7

A vibrant crowd joined the Takeuchi family for the June Speaker Series on their Family History of Overseas Assignments.  Bridgette Takeuchi, eldest daughter of Bryan and Shirley Takeuchi, ended the June Speaker Series with this statement:

“We were raised to honor God first, country next and then family…and to have a commitment to serve.” Throughout the evening, Bryan and Shirley echoed this theme as they shared personal stories and connections with historical pieces of their lives.

Tracing the lineage of Shirley and Bryan, their roots are deeply embedded in service to their country. Shirley’s family immigrated from Scotland, Ireland, and England.  Her ancestors participated in the American Revolution, Civil War, and both World Wars.  Shirley's father is a veteran of the US Army, and her stepfather is a Navy veteran.

Bryan’s grandparents both emigrated from Japan in 1907 and settled in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area.  The maternal side of his family was incarcerated in Heart Mountain/Tule Lake while the Takeuchi side of the family was incarcerated in Minidoka.  Like many Nisei, Bryan’s father, Shigeo “Conc” Takeuchi, wanted to prove his allegiance to America.   With the support of a letter of recommendation from his high school football coach, Conc was admitted into the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) of the US army.  Three uncles also served their country as a part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

It is not surprising that Bryan and Shirley met while they were serving their country.  Shirley served in the US Navy as a 3rd Class Petty Officer from 1976-1979.  She was stationed at Adak Naval Air Station in Alaska where she worked as a Cryptologic Technician.  Bryan enlisted in the United States Marine Corps shortly after graduating from high school. He was trained as a Signal Intelligence Operator/Analyst and was stationed in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea and then Alaska, where he met Shirley.  In 1979, both left Adak for their next duty station, Misawa Air Base in Japan.  While in transit to Japan, Bryan and Shirley were married in New Jersey.  They joined a multi-service team, as a part of a joint 18 month assignment to the US Naval Security Group.  Their first child, Bridgette, was born in Misawa AFB Hospital.

Separated from active duty in 1980, Bryan began his 35-year employment at Boeing soon after arriving in the Seattle area.  The Takeuchi Family settled in Renton and their five children attended school in the Kent School District.  Continuing to find ways to serve, Bryan and Shirley involved themselves in the community by hosting students from Kesenumma, Japan.  They also became involved in the NVC, where Bryan served as the first Sansei commander from 2001-2002.  Through the NVC, the Takeuchi children grew up learning about the Japanese American experience and the Nisei veterans by surrounding themselves with many surrogate grandparents.

Vacations and work assignments were traveling adventures spent learning more about the history of our country and the history of their families.  In 2003, Bryan’s overseas assignment took the Takeuchi Family to England, where they would spend the next five years.  Following this assignment, the family moved to Italy for a year and then back to the states, living in Hood River.  These experiences broadened the Takeuchi family’s understanding of the United States’ global impact as well as how the US and our citizens are perceived by people in other parts of the world. 

Their vacations took shape from history; the family visited sites of many significant WWII campaigns, including some close to the rescue of the Lost Battalion as well as the liberation of the city of Bruyeres.  Visits to Dachau Concentration Camp, which was partially liberated by the 522nd Battalion of the 442nd, provided time for meaningful reflection about American service.  While in France, the family visited D-day sites in Normandy. They were welcomed warmly there, a dramatic difference from their encounters with the French in Paris.  

In 2009, while living in Italy, the Takeuchi's visited Monte Cassino, the site of many major 100th Battalion engagements where numerous casualties earned them the nickname “Purple Heart Battalion.”  On September 12th, 2010, the family had the honor of being part of the dedication of the “442nd Regimental Combat Team Park” in the community of Tendola.  A monument honoring the twenty-one Medal of Honor recipients was unveiled.  Beyond this park looms Mount Musatello, where Senator Inouye, despite being severely wounded, led the attack to break the Gothic Line.  For this act, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. 

Trips were also planned to inform the children about their family heritage.  In Ireland, a week excursion across the country connected the Takeuchis to the common immigration path for both the Irish as well as Japanese sides of their family.  In Scotland, they visited Shirley’s ancestral beginnings. 

In 2015, Bryan’s work took the family to Hood River, Oregon, an area once notorious for removing the names of Nisei servicemen from their “Roll of Honor”.   Bryan shared the efforts to restore recognition to these brave Japanese American soldiers. 

Their time in Hood River was short and soon the family found themselves back in the Seattle area, where they have resumed active involvement with the NVC.  At the end of the presentation, Bryan and Shirley reflected on the values they hope to instill in their children and grandchildren. Clearly they have left a lasting impression of the importance of family and duty to serve.  Through continued military commitment, other service professions, and volunteer work, the three generations of Takeuchis embody the spirit of public service.