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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)

   Kenje Ogata
Image of Kenje Ogata
Staff Sergeant Kenje Ogata receiving the Air Medal, 1945.
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps
Unit: Company B, 32nd Medical Training Battalion, Medical Corps; 726th Bomb Squadron, 451st Bomb Group, 49th Wing, 15th Air Force
Service Location: Camp Grant, Rockford, Illinois; Fort Sheridan, Illinois; Las Vegas, Nevada; Lincoln, Nebraska; Davis-Monthan Air Field, Tucson, Arizona; Topeka, Kansas; Foggia, Italy; European Theater
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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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 (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (72 min.)
»Interview with Kenje and Wilma Ogata 11/14/1994 (79 min.)
Interview (Audio)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (154 min.)
  Photos
»Photo Album  (28 photos)
 Memoirs
»View List (2 items)
 Official Documents
»View List (19 items)
 Personal Correspondence
»View List (121 items)
 Other Materials
»View List (7 items)
 Artifact Photocopies
»View List (6 items)
More like this
»“Please Write Often”: Wartime Correspondence
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
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 (04:16) Sent to Camp Grant, a medical training center; went through basic training as a medical corpsman; became obvious he was not going into Air Corps and that Japanese American soldiers were not advancing. (04:48) Arrival in Italy; supposed to have 30 days of training before flying; recruited to join crew to fly a mission days after he arrived; no one on crew would talk to him. (02:24)
Having premonition of death before mission but surviving; celebrating; flying mission the next morning and missing briefing; having to go on mission without knowing destination. (00:56) Hazards of bailing out of a B-24; learning techniques for staying alive; jumping out of plane; no sensation of falling; successfully landing on ground. (05:21) Finding himself alone; dense ground fog; hearing artillery; couldn’t see anything; not knowing what country he was in; hid parachute in haystack; crossing roads; walking and then resting; how he came to be the only one in enemy territory. (04:18)
Encountering a man who eventually guided him to a village; reuniting with other crew members; stayed with Hungarian family; figuring out plan to get home; crossing the Danube under fire; eventually getting to Romania. (07:22)  
  
 Memoirs (2 items)
Kenje's Story The Russian Army Was Our Host 
  
 Official Documents (19 items)
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 Army Air Forces Physical Fitness Teast and Record Card
Personal Affairs Check Sheet Army Air Forces Pilot and Crew Member Physical Record Card General Order Number 3400 September 14, 1944 Award of the Air Medal
Gerneral Order Number 4326 November 3, 1944 Award of Air Medal First Oak Leaf Cluster General Order Number 7 January 28, 1945 Award of the Purple Heart Authorization to wear ribbons, decorations and citations
Mission Log Indivudual Pre-embarkation Health Certificate April 13, 1945 Memorandum To: Returnees housed in Alamac and Essex Hotels. May 24, 1945
Casualty Information of Crew Members Instructions For Presentation of Claims November 15, 1945 Memorandum: Incoming Combat Crew Personnel Tucson, Arizona May 17, 1944
Special Order Number 121 May 1, 1945 Honorable Discharge and DD-214 Enlisted Record and Report of Separation June 7, 1945 To: Chief of the Air Corps April 23,1942
To: The President, Aviation Cadet Examining Board, Camp Grant Il. April 27, 1942  
  
 Personal Correspondence (121 items)
Undated: From U.R. DeVoe Dear Ed January 14, 1943 To: The President, Aviation Cadet Examining Board, Camp Grant Il Application for Aviation Cadet. October 14, 1943
To: The President, Aviation Cadet Examining Board, Camp Grant Il Application for Aviation Cadet. October 25, 1943 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 11, 1942 To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 3, 1943
To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 3, 1943 To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 5, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 11, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 31, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 2, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata Tuesday Midnite February 8, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 23, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata Western Union Telegraph Money Order February 25, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 25, 1944
Post Card To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 28, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 29, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 29, 1944
Anniversary Card To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 1, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 1, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 2, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 3, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 6, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 8, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 11, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 14, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 15, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 16, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 19, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 20, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 22, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 25, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 27, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 28, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 2, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 3, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 4, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 11, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 12, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 13, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 17, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 18, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 19, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 21, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 23, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 27, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata May 1, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata May 2, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata May 6, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata May 10, 1944 To Wife: Wilma Ogata May 11, 1944
To Wife: Wilma Ogata May 15, 1944 Western Union Telegram To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 22, 1944 V-MAIL To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 21,1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 22, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 24, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 26, 1945
V-MAIL To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 27, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 28, 1945 7PM To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 25, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 27, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 29, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata January 30, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 4, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 3, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 8, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 9, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 10, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 11, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata Febraury 12, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 13, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 10, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 15, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 14, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 17, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 16, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 18, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 20, 1945
V-MAIL To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 7, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 21, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 22, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 23, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 24, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 25, 1945 6:30 PM
To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 26, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 27, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata February 28, 1945 9:45PM
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 2, 1945 2PM V-MAIL To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 2, 1945 8PM To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 3, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 4, 1945 V-MAIL To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 5, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 6, 1945 7PM
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 7, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 8, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata Marhc 10, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 10, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 12, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 13, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 14, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 15, 1945 9PM To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 16, 1945 8:30PM
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 17, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 18, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 19-20, 1945
V-MAIL To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 21, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 24, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 25, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 23, 1945 11:30 PM To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 26, 1945 10PM To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 30, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 27, 1945 10:30PM To Wife: Wilma Ogata March 28-29, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 1, 1945
To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 3, 1945 To Wife: Wilma Ogata April 4, 1945 Western Union Telegram To: Mrs. Wilma R. Ogata January 12 1945
Adjutant General's Office To: Mrs. Wilma R. Ogata January 14, 1945 Fifth Air Force Office of the Commanding General To: Mrs, Wilma Ogata January 25, 1945 Western Union Telegram To: Mrs. Wilma R. Ogata February 3, 1945
Headquarters, Army Air Forces Washington DC To: Mrs. Wilma R. Ogata February 17, 1945  
  
 Other Materials (7 items)
Supplement to Biographical Data Crew and next of kin addresses Press Release: Public Relations Offic Davis-Monthan field Tucson, Arizona.
Restricted: Publicity in Connection with Escaped, Liberated, or Repatriated Prisoners of War March 29, 1945 Sheet music "Furlough in Paradise" Dedicated to all restcamps of the U.S. Army Air Forces. Last Will and Testament of Kenje Ogata
Chrismas Bonus from the National Manufacturing Co. January 3, 1943  
  
 Artifact Photocopies (6 items)
1936 Hungarian 10 pengo note. 1944 Hungarian 50 pengo note. 1938 Soviet 1 Ruble note.
1942 Surbian 500 Dinars note. 1941 Romanian 1000 Lei note. Silk map of Europe carried by veteran when he was shot down over Hungary on December 26, 1944.
  
 

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