Aiko Ogata King, co-founder of the Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers of WWII Forever stamp, died on May 26 at the age of 94. King and her cohorts Fusa Takahashi and Chiz Ohira were the driving force behind the postal stamp, which the United States Postal Service said “recognizes the contributions of Japanese American soldiers, some 33,000 altogether, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II.”
The three Nisei women, who were all interned with their families during World War II and two who are widows of a 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service veterans, were inspired to not only honor WWII soldiers’ legacies but also to bring awareness to their service and sacrifice.
King grew up in the Central Valley Japanese American farming community where she met Takahashi and became lifelong friends. After the war, King served as a civilian military nurse for the U.S. Army during the Korean War. She was a stamp collector as well as a community activist for the Ventura Japanese American Citizens League Chapter.
In 2005, King, Takahashi and Ohira created the Stamp Our Story Committee, which garnered bipartisan endorsements and nationwide and international support, including French citizens and officials of the towns and areas liberated by 100th/442nd RCT soldiers. The U.S. Postal Service denied their request for 15 years; but King and the SOSC persisted.
Finally, on June 3, 2021, the commemorative Forever stamp was issued, honoring the racially segregated 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd RCT. The stamp was designed by the Postal Service’s art director Antonio Alcala and is based on a photograph of Hawai‘i-born 442nd soldier, Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto, while he was at a railroad station in France in 1944. The stamp also features the Japanese American 442nd RCT’s battle cry “Go For Broke,” which is a Hawaiian Pidgin expression meaning “go all in” or “give it your all.”
King’s determination truly embodied the go-for-broke attitude of the Nisei soldiers and Japanese American community she fought to honor.