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Staff Sergeant Kenje Ogata receiving the Air Medal, 1945.

Veterans History Project Service Summary:

  • War or Conflict: World War, 1939-1945
  • Branch of Service: Army Air Forces/Corps
  • Unit of Service: Company B, 32nd Medical Training Battalion, Medical Corps; 726th Bomb Squadron, 451st Bomb Group, 49th Wing, 15th Air Force
  • Location of Service:
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Collection Number: AFC/2001/001/76800

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"I know you were hoping that I wouldn't apply for a transfer but ... my conscience would never rest so long as I live, if I didn't assert myself and fight for what I believe to be right." (Letter to Wilma, 2/25/1944)

Enlisting the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Staff Sergeant Kenje Ogata assumed that, having gone through the Civilian Pilot Training Program, he would have no trouble securing a spot on a bomber. Instead, he was shunted into the Medical Corps. After two years of advocating for a transfer to the Army Air Corps, he was finally given a chance to fly-but as a turret gunner, and not a pilot. During the course of completing 35 missions out of Italy, he was shot down twice over enemy territory. His letters to his wife, Wilma, convey not only his dedication to her, but also to doing his patriotic duty, even as his country discriminated against him.

Interview / Recording

More Resources

Interview with Kenje and Wilma Ogata 11/14/1994

Kenje Ogata Collection
Interview / Recording

[ General Order Number 1860: March 29, 1945 Award of the Air Medal Third Oal Leaf Cluster ]
[ Class A Pass Fort Sheridan, Illinois Exp. Date June 30 1944 ]