Building dedicated to Harry K. Fukuhara

| November 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Fukuhara as a young officer in 1948.

Staff Sgt. Thomas G. Collins
500th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs


SCHOFIELD BARRACKS—“We were on a patrol. We had to sort of sneak in during the night and we would usually use two boats that go together. My job at the time was to go in the first boat, the landing craft, and call out in Japanese to attract attention. It was pitch black in the Jungle, and we were trying to find out exactly where the Japanese where. Once we located where they were, then the other boat would open up and fire at them,” said Col. (Ret.) Harry K. Fukuhara, in an interview conducted for a documentary film about Japanese-American (Nisei) Soldiers in WWII.

Fukuhara was born Jan. 1, 1920, in Seattle, after his parents immigrated into the U.S. after moving from Japan. After a brief time in Japan during his teenage years, he returned to the U.S. and attended college.

After the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Fukuhara and more than 120,000 other Japanese-Americans were placed in internment camps.

It was in the Gila River, Ariz. internment camp where Fukuhara voluntarily enlisted in the Army. He trained as an interpreter and was assigned to the Allied Translator and Interpreter Service.

He served as an interpreter, translator, and interrogator in the pacific during WWII, supporting allied intelligence teams made up of Australian, Dutch, and American military personnel. Fukuhara was recognized for significant contributions to the allied intelligence effort in the southwest pacific region.

Fukuhara was awarded the bronze star medal with two oak leaf clusters and promoted through the ranks to Master Sgt. In August 1945, Master Sgt. Fukuhara received a battlefield commission and was promoted to 2nd Lt.

MI Soldier Harry K. Fukuhara interrogates a Japanese POW on  Aitape, New Guinea, in April 1944.

MI Soldier Harry K. Fukuhara interrogates a Japanese POW on
Aitape, New Guinea, in April 1944.

Following WWII, Fukuhara participated in the disarmament and deactivation of the Japanese Armed Forces as a member of the U.S. occupation forces serving in a number of counterintelligence positions with the U.S. Army in both Japan and the United States, conducting bilateral liaison with Japan on behalf of the United States.

He was extremely successful in several sensitive operations, providing critical intelligence in support of U.S. troops during the early Cold War period, the Korean War, and the U.S. buildup in Vietnam.

Following the reactivation of the 500th Military Intelligence Brigade in 1961, Fukuhara quickly became a key figure in 500th MI Brigade operations.

In 1970, then Col. Fukuhara was appointed military governor of the Yaeyama island group of the Ryukyu chain and was instrumental in rebuilding the island’s infrastructure and improving the quality of life and morale of his constituents.

The capstone of Fukuhara’s career was his 18-year assignment as Chief of 500th MI Bde. Foreign Liaison Detachment. The remarkable record of his detachment in carrying out both routine and extraordinary requirements over many years is widely known and admired throughout the U.S. Intelligence Community.

The FLD that Fukuhara was so instrumental in developing is currently known as the Pacific Liaison Detachment and continues to play a critical role in facilitating the relationship of the U.S. and Japanese military and security establishments.

Fukuhara’s military and civilian awards include the Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, Department of Army decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service presented in 1987 by the Secretary of the Army, and the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service presented in 1990 personally signed by President George H. W. Bush.

The Emperor of Japan authorized the award of the “Order of the Rising Sun” third class to Fukuhara, which was signed by the Prime Minister and presented by the Chief of Staff, Japan Ground Self Defense Force.

After a lifetime of service and sacrifice for his country, Harry K. Fukuhara died on April 8, 2015, at the age of 95.


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Category: Leadership, News

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