Mitoko Story

Mitoko by Paul Bergeron -  May 2009

 

 

August 1945, a bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Mitoko is in Sasebo.  Mother was killed immediately. Father lingered on for three months, dies from Radiation poisoning.  Father suffering, driving force for her to become a nurse to help afflicted.  The door was opened when the Walke came into dry dock for repairs in June of 1951.She was in Jr. high school, just above the dry dock.  She lived with foster parents at the time. Very poor, worked in the fields before school.

The crew of the Walke who utilized the play grounds to play ball and some helped in the class room to help teach English to the students were taken by the little girl who was not going to continue school due to hardships. They learned her name; Mitoko Egashira. The principal, Tsugio Maeda said she would wind up working in fields.

The crew wanted to know what it would take to keep her in school.  Captain Thompson was approached by a few members of the crew, a plan was put into motion for a collection to buy her cloths and set up an account for her at the Sanwa bank. Money to be used as needed. The school principal, Mr. Tsugio Maeda is in charge of her account. After finishing high school, she went to nursing school. After seeing her father, die such a horrible death, it was her desire to help those in need.

She eventually became the head nurse at the Imperial Hotel in Toyko, where she reminded until she retired. Her story and association with the Walkes is worthy of being a movie.

THE Yamachi’s came to America several times since 1993. They came for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the disaster of the Walke mining incident in the Sea of Japan, June 12, 1951.  They also flew in for the funeral of Captain Thompson. Prior to that, she came in 1993 for a mini reunion to renew old friendship with Captain Thompson and old crew members of the Walke.  Television and news reporters attended the meeting at Captain Kidd Club. It was a very warm gathering.

She was also interviewed by a member of All Hands magazine.

The 1993 visit was my first meeting with them. I presented her with framed picture of the Walke.  They again came for our 1995 reunion at the Hanalei in San Diego.  They returned once again in 1997 to Washington DC for our reunion, where Mitoko placed a wreath on the lone Sailor, attended by a Japanese Navy Admiral.

In 2001 she and Kazusumi come to attend the service honoring the men who lost their lives on the sea of Japan, when the Walke hit a mine. Mitoko once again dropped a wreath on the waters of San Diego bay near the open sea.  We had the  pleasure of having the two of them as our house guest for a couple of days. They were and are the most gracious people. We are proud to have them as our friends.

As you know the book she wrote is required reading for the Japanese Navy. She has become popular. She and Kazusumi are invited to many functions to do with the Japanese Navy and defense Network.

 

This story was hand written to me in May 2009

Typed by Richard Williamson - Secretary  for the USS Walke Association history.

 

 

 

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