The Last Zero Fighter Author Dan King a Hit, WWII Vets To Share Stories This Saturday

Posted 2/21/13 – Following a standing room only presentation by author Dan King two weekends ago (see video below the photo gallery for the entire presentation), the Library continues its One Book, One City celebration of Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken”  this weekend with a panel of WWII veterans sharing their stories at the Library, located at 440 W. Sierra Madre Blvd..  On Saturday, February 23 at 10:00 a.m. veterans who were part of the 442nd Go For Broke regiment, including local resident, Mitsuo Kunihiro, , will be speaking. The 442nd was a fighting unit composed almost entirely of American soldiers of Japanese descent who volunteered to fight in World War II even though their families were subject to internment. The 442nd fought primarily in Europe and is considered to be the most decorated infantry regiment in the history of the United States Army. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team motto was, “Go for Broke”.  For more information on this event, call (626) 355-7186.

This following the SRO appearance by Mr. King, author of “The Last Zero Fighter” on Saturday the ninth at the Library.  The Last Zero Fighter tells some of the story of WWII from the perspective of Japanese pilots, a perspective often overlooked when Americans look back at the second War to End All Wars.  Over six years, Mr. King, who has worked on or appeared in more than thirty documentaries for the History Channel and Discovery Channel. traveled back and forth to Japan interviewing pilots, and this book is the culmination of those interviews.  While this book recounts the story of five of the pilots, Mr. King has interviewed nearly one hundred Japanese WWII veterans.  The five pilots who’s stories are told in this book include Kaname Harada, the last surviving member of the air group that bombed the USS Panay outside of Nanking in December 1937, who also flew at the battles of Wake Island and Midway.  He also trained kamikaze pilots.

Haruo Yoshino, another of the pilots interviewed, after torpedo bombing the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor, was in one of the seven infamous search planes that failed to locate the Americans at the Battle of Midway, and fought at Guadalcanal.   Toshimitsu Imaizumi was a kamikaze escort pilot, and ultimately became a kamikaze pilot in defense of Okinawa.  Tomokazu Kasai  flew with the squadron of aces, the 301st Fighter Squadron under Minoru Genda, the planner of the Pearl Harbor attack.  And the fifth pilot in the book was Isamu Miyazaki, who was in the sky over Yokosuka as Lt. Colonel Jimmy Dolittle and “Dolittle’s Raiders” made the first air attack on the Japanese home islands, which has been credited with boosting American morale and causing doubt among the Japanese.

Mr. King started by debunking several myths about the Japanese pilots, among them, that they didn’t carry parachutes, and that kamikazes were welded into their planes.  He then gave a presentation telling stories from the books, and followed up by answering several questions from the audience.  To view the video of the entire presentation, see below the photo gallery.