442nd soldier in Italy leads POWs.

Alumnus Filmmaker’s Work on the 442nd to be Screened at History Symposium

442nd soldier in Italy leads POWs.

442nd soldier in Italy leads POWs, courtesy of "Value With Honor."

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Though their families were interned, thousands of Japanese Americans served in World War II, and their stories echo throughout Santa Clara Valley, home to many of their descendants.

So it is fitting that the Burdick Military History Project at San Jose State University presents The 2011 Burdick Military History Symposium, “Japanese American Soldiers in World War II” 1 p.m. April 30 in ENG 189.

Highlights include a screening of “Valor With Honor,” a documentary by SJSU alumnus Burt Takeuchi on the Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

The independent film was based on over 35 interviews with Japanese American veterans. This small, segregated group of 3,500 men was the most decorated American unit for its size and length of service.

“Burt graduated in 1995 from San Jose State University with a degree in biology, not the standard filmmaker credential,” writes Discover Nikkei contributor Esther Newman. “He had, however, taken courses in oral history at Cal State Long Beach. In addition, he had worked as an extra and an actor in several films.

“‘One advantage of working on a Hollywood set,’ shared Burt, ‘is that you can learn from the best (actors, technicians, directors, etc.) The editing and camera were self taught.’ Burt certainly applied those skills effectively.”

Other speakers include Stephen M. Payne, command historian of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, and Lawson Sakai, a 442nd combat veteran.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will also feature a display assembled by friends and family of nisei (second-generation Japanese American) veterans.