- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dear Sgt Shaft:

I would like more information on EchoTaps Worldwide. Specifically, will Richmond or the commonwealth of Virginia participate?

Semper fidelis,

Jake

Richmond

Dear Jake:

I understand that people have been talking about another EchoTaps ever since the 2005 event in New York, which honored American veterans by playing taps. Les Hampton and Col. Gerry McDonald of the first EchoTaps have been working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs Richard A. Wannemacher asked to make EchoTaps Nationwide a joint operation with the VA.

The VA will provide publicity and will advise all national veterans cemeteries, Veterans Health Administration facilities and veterans cemeteries that are administered by federal and state governments to work with Bugles Across America, which will be coordinating this project at each site. The scheduled date will be Armed Forces Day, on May 19. The goal is to create awareness about the many great VA programs including the burial detail and live taps.

For additional information on EchoTaps Worldwide, including participation information, go to Bugles Across America (www.buglesacrossamerica.org) or EchoTaps Worldwide (home.att.net/~militarysalute4/index.html).

Also, you can contact the Richmond National Cemetery and ask them about participating at 804/795-2031.

Shaft notes

Aloha and thanks to Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat and chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, for introducing the Blinded Veterans Paired Organ Act of 2007. This bill would update eligibility requirements for certain benefits provided to veterans with a service-connected disability because of blindness. Current law excludes many veterans with severe vision impairment from benefits that could significantly improve the quality of their lives.

The bill would change eligibility requirements for two separate benefits available to blinded veterans. Both of these benefits currently are restricted to a narrow group of veterans who have the most serious degree of vision impairment. The Blinded Veterans Paired Organ Act would extend these benefits to all veterans who meet the standard definition of legal blindness used by the Social Security Administration to determine disability for the past 40 years.

In addition to introducing this important legislation assisting our nation’s blinded veterans, Mr. Akaka’s busy schedule also included efforts to promote interest in a new book concerning the valiant service of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

“Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII,” written by James C. McNaughton, offers a 514-page history of the Japanese in America, the events leading to World War II, the creation of the intelligence service and the Nisei involvement in the war.

The U.S. Army established a Japanese language school a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. They recruited second-generation Americans of Japanese ancestry, or Nisei, who would become interpreters and translators in the Military Intelligence Service.

The Nisei translated captured enemy documents, interrogated Japanese prisoners of war, intercepted communications, persuaded Japanese militia to surrender, deployed behind enemy lines to collect information and sabotage enemy operations, and conducted psychological warfare activities.

“Their ability to infiltrate the psyche of our enemy through their knowledge of Japanese culture and language is credited with bringing the war in the Pacific to a quicker conclusion and later, helping turn bitter foes into strong allies,” Mr. Akaka said in a recent Senate floor speech.

This book came about because of the efforts of Mr. Akaka and fellow World War II veteran Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, who asked the secretary of the Army to publish an official history of the Military Intelligence Service.

“I am delighted this project is finally done,” Mr. Akaka said. “For decades after their service, a complete documentation of their exemplary deeds was sorely lacking. Now the heroic work of these translators, many of whom live in Hawaii, will forever be remembered and honored by future generations.”

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail [email protected]

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