History – SJC & Korean War

This is an excerpt from e-mails between Franz Metzger (’58) and Kikuchi brothers on memories of the 1950 SJC graduation ceremony.

Franz, see what you started with UME no Hana and Negishi Race Track!
Kunio Kikuchi ’60.

Fudozaka in mid Meiji era facing toward Makado and Honmoku Motomachi

Fudozaka in mid Meiji era facing toward Makado and Honmoku Motomachi

Pictures of Ume no Hana, plum blossoms, at Negishi Shinrin Park, former Negishi Race Track was emailed to former SJC schoolmates. Feedbacks were received with memories going back to 1950s from SJC graduation ceremony, General Walker etc. Most interesting and historical information from Yasuio Kikuchi to his younger brother Kunio:

“My oldest brother Yasuo (Class of ’56) gave me comments on that day when the Korean War started.” Kunio wrote to Franz Metzger

Present Fudozaka

Present Fudozaka

“Please note that the Korean War started on 25 June, 1950. And on that day, graduation ceremony was taking place at SJC, and in the course of his speech, Mr. Sebold, a senior official from the State Department (or GHQ, I am not sure), who was the guest of honour at the occasion, announced that the ,North Korans have crossed the 38th parallel’. This announcement was carried on the NHK news later that day which said that ,Mr. Sebald made the announcement at the graduation ceremony of St. Joseph College at Yokohama’.

This photo of Mr. Sebald was published in the 1951 Forward as one of the distinguished visitors to Saint Joseph.

This photo of Mr. Sebald was published in the 1951 Forward as one of the distinguished visitors to Saint Joseph.

“I was not at the High School graduation ceremony at SJC on Sunday, 25 June, 1950.
I heard it on the radio news that day. It struck me and impressed me so powerfully at that time so that I cannot forget about it even almost 57 years later to this day!
It’s not so much about the start of the war itself, but the FACT THAT SUCH AN ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE AT OUR ALMA MATER’S GRADUATION CEREMONY and THAT SUCH AN IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE CAPACITY OF a “KYOKUCHO” of the U.S STATE DEPARTMENT.
I can still well remember both mom and dad saying “sugoi hitoga omeatachino gakko de sugoi happyo wo shitane” .

I remember many things about the Korean War, which you may be able to verify with any American history text books, all major events occurred during the first 6 months of the War. -h at Inchon in September 1950 which turned the tide for a while for the US-UN forces who recaptured Seoul, crossed the 38th parallel into the North, capturing Pyongyang, and reaching the Yalu River, the border with what was once Manchuria. Then, the Chinese Communists “volunteers” almost a million of them participated in the War, again pushing back the U.S.-UN to the south of the 38th parallel, etc.

Lt. General Walton Walker, the Commander of the US Eighth Army – both you and I and others, used to see him (usually in the evenings) when he drove back from work to his residence somewhere near the old Negishi Keibajo, usually in an open Jeep. In those days, U.S. occupation forces were almighty in Japan – minimum security, so I remember his short stout stature and the bull-dog like face, in uniform and GI hat. I remember the time of his death (December 23, 1950), killed in action, his familiar figure in the newspaper photograph. (Officailly, his jeep hit a Korean military truck – others said his jeep was crushed by one of his own tanks during a hasty retreat – I believe the former is correct.”

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