Asian American finally
honored for role in WWII

LINCOLN, Neb. » The only Japanese American believed to have flown over Japan during World War II is receiving the Distinguished Service Medal, the third highest of the U.S. Army's decorations.

A banquet in Ben Kuroki's honor was scheduled for today in Lincoln, and he is to receive an honorary doctorate tomorrow from the University of Nebraska.

The son of Japanese immigrants who was raised on a Nebraska farm, Kuroki became a gunner and flew on 58 bomber missions over Europe, North Africa and Japan.

Kuroki, 88, who now lives in Camarillo, Calif., said he feels humbled by the efforts of so many Nebraskans who have worked to see him awarded with the medal.

"I feel that it gives credence to the word 'democracy,' and it's Americanism at its very best," Kuroki said. "I feel that more so than any personal glory it gives to me."

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kuroki's father urged him and his brother to volunteer for service.

Because of his Japanese ancestry, he was initially rejected when he asked to serve on a B-29 bomber that was to be used in the Pacific. But after repeated requests and a review of Kuroki's stellar service record, Secretary of War Harry Stimson granted an exception.

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