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June 2020, Volume 70, Issue 6

James “Turk” Suzuki

James “Turk’ Suzuki was born in Seattle on October 17, 1923, and died on June 10, 2020 in Pleasanton, California.  Turk grew up in Seattle, Washington, before being incarcerated in the Puyallup Assembly Center, Washington, and the Minidoka concentration camp at Hunt, Idaho. Turk volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat team out of camp with his friend Pete Fujino, serving in Co. "L" of the 442nd RCT, and fought in Italy and France, where he earned a Purple Heart and 2 Bronze Stars. Turk returned to Seattle following the war and was a former commander of NVC. He and Yuri moved to California to be closer to family. Turk is survived by his wife of 67 years, Yuri, his son and daughter, and several grandchildren.

Kenji James Yaguchi

On April 28, 2020, Kenji James Yaguchi passed away at the age of 97. He died peacefully in his sleep and of natural causes at the Good Samaritan Society in Fairfield Glade, TN, where he and Kazuye, his wife of 71 years, resided the past 4 years. Kenji was born December 27, 1922 in Tacoma, WA, one of 6 children of Tsugio and Shigeru Yaguchi. Sadly, Shigeru died when Kenji was just 2 years old. His father Tsugio was remarried to Tamayo Fujioki, and in their blended family, Kenji was the fifth of 9 siblings. Kenji grew up on their family farm in Fife, WA. As a high school senior in 1941, Kenji was President of the Future Farmers of America, Student Body Vice President, and class Valedictorian. That was also the year Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the U.S. into World War II. Kenji and his family were incarcerated at “Camp Harmony” detention center in Puyallup, WA then moved to the Minidoka “Relocation” Camp in Hunt, Idaho.

In February 1943, the U.S. Government offered military service to the young imprisoned Japanese men and Kenji immediately volunteered. A few months after Kenji enlisted, 3 of his brothers were drafted, and all four served in the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team. He fought in 6 major European battles, was wounded in action twice, and was honorably discharged in December 1945. In addition to two Purple Hearts and numerous other medals and citations given to the 442nd, Kenji was awarded in 2010 the Congressional Gold Medal, our nation's highest civilian award. After the war, Kenji returned home and met Kazuye Komatsu at a USO dance in Seattle, WA. They were married in September 1948, and shortly thereafter, moved to Ontario, OR, where Kenji opened the Yaguchi Clinic and practiced Chiropractic Orthopedics for 37 years. In retirement, he and Kazuye moved to the Portland area.

Kenji is survived by his loving wife Kazuye; their children, Lynda Ward, Portland, OR, Tom Yaguchi, Ocean Shores, WA, and Marlene Hill, Fairfield Glade, TN; his sister, Sue Mitani, Jerome, ID; his grandchildren, Leslie Ward, Portland, OR, Kevin Yaguchi, Mendocino, CA, Lizz Wiker, Boston, MA, Shannon Ward, Chicago, Il, Colin Hill, Cookeville, TN, and Brian Yaguchi, Seattle, WA; his great-grandchildren Hudson Hill (6), Paige Hill (3), and Bennie Yaguchi (2); and by many other loving relatives. Kenji will be interred at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, OR, next to his late son Terry L. Yaguchi. A memorial service will be determined at a later date. Cards of condolence may be sent to Kazuye Yaguchi, 141 Pineridge Loop, Crossville, TN 38558.