Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

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Technical Sergeant Ben Kuroki Distinguished Service Medal Recipient

As the son of Japanese immigrants, Ben Kuroki had to fight for his right to enter the Armed Forces during World War II. At first, his enlistment was denied. Once accepted, he had to beg his way into combat duty. Kuroki was eventually made an aerial gunner and completed his required twenty-five bombing missions in Europe, plus an additional five at his request.  

After returning to the US, Kuroki requested a B-29 tour in the Pacific. This required an exception to policy which specifically prevented Japanese Americans from serving on B-29s. He served on twenty-eight bombing missions over the Pacific, including mainland Japan. By the end of his service, Kuroki earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses and an Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters over 58 combat missions. His self-proclaimed “59th mission” was the continued fight against prejudice and race hatred. He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 2005, recognizing his service above and beyond the call of duty.

Technical Sergeant Ben Kuroki’s honorable service and relentless drive in the face of racial discrimination demonstrated that such discrimination was unfounded.

“When you live with men under combat conditions for 15 months you begin to understand what brotherhood, equality, tolerance, and unselfishness really mean. They’re no longer just words. Under fire, a man’s ancestry, what he did before the war, or even his present rank, don’t matter at all.” –TSgt Ben Kuroki

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