(FOX 11) - 100-year-old Jack Kunitomi is a die hard Dodgers' fan. He tells me he's been to the Dodger Stadium many times before today, but this time he's on the field, getting ready for his moment in the spotlight.
"It's really a wonderful honor, but really a little overdue." said Kerry Cababa, his daughter.
74 years ago, more than 110 thousand people of Japanese descent, most of them American citizens were moved from the west coast into internment camps across the country. Jack and his wife were relocated to the Heart Mountain internment camp in Cody, Wyoming. He was drafted to serve with the Military Intelligence Service. He agreed to serve along with other internees, but not without some controversy.
Some balked at serving a government that had rounded up and imprisoned people, just because of their race. Jack's eldest son was an infant in Heart Mountain when his father left for the Philippines. "He was in favor of it, and I think it shows that there were those who supported the government despite what the government had done to them."
Jack rose to the rank of Army Staff Sergeant. His son says, his father gets credit for helping the MIS translate documents and interrogations and was instrumental in helping Japan's peaceful transition from a military government to a civilian government after the war was over.
But Jack's service didn't stop when he left the Army. He and wife returned to Hollywood. They both became school teachers. Jack taught for 35 years with the Los Angeles Unified School district. His son, Dale said, as a rookie teacher, he was one of very few teachers of color.
Jack has five children; Dale, Kerry, Colleen, Darrel and Donald. They along with a granddaughter encircled Jack for photos. More photos and handshakes when former Dodger Oral Hershiser took a knee next to Kunitomi and gave his thanks for his service. "The Dodgers are so good, they honor the military, one every game. This is one of the most special we've ever had; somebody his age and everything he's done. It's fantastic for our country."
Dale wheeled his father out to a spot just behind home plate for the National Anthem. He mouthed the words, then lit up when Manager Dave Roberts jogged out to him to shake his hand.
But the big honor came after the second inning, he was introduced formally to the fans. His son stood him up out of his wheelchair and supported his dad as the announcer detailed his military accomplishments. His smiling face was projected on the big screen. The fans responded with cheers and a standing ovation.
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