Japanese American veteran volunteered for Korea after spending years in California WWII intern camp

California camps began after Pearl Harbor raid

RITTMAN, Ohio - An Ohio veteran who once was housed in World War II intern camps in California following the raid on Pearl Harbor later volunteered to serve his country in Korea.

Tsutomu Takahata was born in California and was among 110,000 of Japanese American decent who spent WWII living with his family as a young teen in intern camps all along the west coast.

"Their whole possessions they could either take on their backs or store somewhere that was safe," remembers Ray Spannhauer, Takahata's son-in-law.

Takahata's family stored everything they owned in a church that later burned to the ground. It's not known if the fire was deliberately set.

Even so, five years later Takahata volunteered to serve the country that once took away his freedom. In Korea, he helped build bridges used by infantry and artillery units.

Takahata was among 5,000 other Japanese Americans who served in Korea where 231 lost their lives.

"He overlooked the prejudice and bitterness of the period when his family spent years in the intern camps," Spannhauer said of his father-in-law. "He had a great passion for this country and what it represented."

The United State Congress issued a formal apology to Japanese Americans in 1988. Last September, Takahata died at age 84. He was buried with full military honors in Rittman.

"I think what's paramount and everyone should remember on days like this that there are lots of folks, men and women, who have a passion and love for their country and that's why he's at this place."

Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman is the second national cemetery built in Ohio.

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