Isle Guard leader built youth program


POSTED: Friday, April 30, 2010

Myles Nakatsu, retired Ilima Intermediate School principal and former Hawaii Army National Guard brigadier general, died April 21.

Nakatsu, 71, retired from the National Guard in 1994 after serving for 33 years. He enlisted in 1961 and was commissioned three years later.

From 1969-1971, when Nakatsu was the senior tactical officer for the Hawaii Military Academy, the school was designated as an “;outstanding officer candidate school.”; He also established the state Department of Defense's Mobilization Plan and developed the Hawaii Army National Guard's Youth Challenge Program, which helps at-risk youths gain a high school diploma.

Established in 1994, the Youth Challenge Academy takes in 16- to 18-year-olds headed toward dropping out of high school. It puts them through a five-month course that will allow them to earn a high school diploma or the equivalent. The Guard already has one campus in Hawaii, at Kalaeloa on Oahu, and another is planned for the Big Island.

Fellow Hawaii Army National Guard officers praised Nakatsu's success and service to the citizen-soldier organization.


When Nakatsu retired in 1994, he was serving full time as deputy state adjutant general.

Retired Col. Walter Kinoshita said Nakatsu “;had great people skills and could work with people from all levels and backgrounds. He had a knack for diffusing situations, motivating, bonding, developing people into an effective team that accomplishes any mission well.

“;People felt good about working with him and for him. While focused on the importance of a mission, he added humor to situations. Whenever he was around, there was always laughter, and yet the work was effectively accomplished. He often stated that he needed to turn lemons into lemonade.”;

Retired Col. Myron Brumaghin, who served with Nakatsu on the adjutant general's staff and helped to develop the highly successful Youth Challenge Program, said Nakatsu “;believed through collaboration and teamwork we could create a program that will meet the educational and social needs of these students, that would produce kids that would be positive contributors to our society. His ability to look at making learning visible and applicable to the real world is clearly seen in the program today.”;

Nakatsu's first teaching assignment was at Waianae High and Intermediate School, after graduating from the University of Hawaii in 1961. He later taught at James Campbell High and Intermediate School and coached track and cross-country.

In 1969 Nakatsu became the vice principal of Ilima Intermediate School and was promoted to principal in 1971, where he served for eight years.

Former colleagues from Ilima said Nakatsu started the team concept in 1972, creating time for the team teachers to counsel their own students, including handling discipline.

“;The team concept really worked well as the core teachers of English, math, science and social studies sat down and planned the joint curriculum, integrating all four subjects into the lessons,”; said retired teacher Norman Pang, whom Nakatsu hired in 1971. “;Students came out very successful and understood the integration of curriculum as in life. Today it is called the Middle School Wheel concept.

“;Myles was probably one of the leaders in walk-throughs. He would pop in and out of classes unannounced at least twice a week. All of us felt very supported. Probably the best evidence of the bond he had with us was at the faculty dinner aloha dinner for him when he left. Teachers performed, and I have never seen so much crying. It really showed how much the teachers cared.”;

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. next Friday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. Private burial services are planned.

Survivors include wife Nancy, daughter Shenann Goya, son Lance and two granddaughters.