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"The smell of death … is something that stays with you for a lifetime." (Video Interview,

   James Mitsuo Furukawa
Collection image
James Mitsuo Furukawa at the Shuri Museum, Naha, Okinawa, Ryukyu Island [1946]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Division Headquarters, Language Detachment, 441st Intelligence Corps
Service Location: Hawaii; Okinawa Island (Ryukyu Islands); Baltimore, Maryland; Pentagon; Korea; Japan
Rank: Major
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Even though he was a civilian, James Mitsuo Furukawa had an eyewitness view of the war’s mayhem from the beginning. The Hawaiian-born son of Japanese parents, he was 16 years old and working in construction at the time of the attack. Seeing planes flying overhead on December 7th, he assumed, like many, that the military was conducting routine drills or maneuvers. After the smoke had cleared, he worked with construction crews to restore damaged buildings. Drafted into the Army in 1944, he served mainly as an interpreter, but was no stranger to bloodshed. During the invasion of Okinawa, he helped to set up a MASH hospital; he received a Bronze Star for his heroic efforts in rescuing patients after the hospital was bombed.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (2 clips)
»Part 1 | Part 2 
Download: video(1) | 
Download: video(2) (70 min.)
»Photo Album  (16 photos)
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»The War
»Pearl Harbor
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (2 items)
Bombing of hospital at Kadena Air Base; encountering a little boy whose mother had been killed in the bombing; interactions with Okinawan civilians. (10:55) Working as a construction contractor in December 1941; had fallen off of a scaffold the day before the attack, and his injury required stitches; the morning of the attack, was going back to the hospital to have stitches checked; saw planes flying overhead; heard bombs and saw smoke; decided to go to local hospital; when he arrived, nurses assumed he was a Pearl Harbor casualty. (01:29) 

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  October 26, 2011
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