Some of the Discipline Barrack Boys gathered in 1982 with Charles Edmund Zane and Paul Minerich, back row, third and fourth from left. (Photo courtesy of Kenjiro Hayakawa)
Go For Broke National Education Center will present “A Different Kind of Courage: The Disciplinary Barrack Boys of World War II” on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum’s National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, 100 N. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo.
The lecture is moderated by Linda Tamura, Sansei author of “Nisei Soldiers Break Their Silence: Coming Home to Hood River,” and will feature Paul Minerich, the attorney who worked on the case at the Pentagon, and Gary Itano, son of a Henry Itano, one of the 21 Disciplinary Barrack Boys.
During World War II, 21 Nisei soldiers at Fort McClellan in Alabama were charged with insubordination and dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army. Some had been ordered, by officers with machine guns, into an airport hangar during President Franklin Roosevelt’s visit to their base at Fort Riley in Kansas.
These “disciplinary barrack boys,” who chose to speak out against the discrimination they faced, were imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas for some two years. Not until after a Pentagon hearing 39 years later did the Army Board finally deem their confinement “an injustice.”
In 1948, attorney Charles Edmund Zane, friend of DB Boy Masao Kataoka, began a six-year effort to have the DB Boys’ Army separation changed to an honorable discharge. He was unsuccessful. Twenty-eight years later, Minerich, then a 27-year-old newly minted attorney and son-in-law of DB Boy Tim Nomiyama, once again took up the cause. His efforts won them honorable discharges and restoration of back pay.
“A Different Kind of Courage” is presented by GFBNEC in partnership with JANM and its Tateuchi Public Program Series. The program is free for JANM members, and included with JANM admission for non-members. To learn more or to register to attend, visit www.goforbroke.org or www.janm.org.