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Army’s first 3-star Asian-American general buried at Punchbowl

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / Sept. 24, 2002 Retired Army Lt. General Allen Ono
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Retired Lt. Gen. Allen Kenji Ono, the Army’s first three-star Asian-American general, was buried with full military honors today at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Ono, 82, died Aug. 1.

Throughout his 35 years in the Army, Ono always noted that he was the beneficiary of the sacrifices and and courage of the nisei, Japanese American, soldiers of World War II.

In 1995, at Camp Shelby Army training camp reunion in southern Mississippi Ono pointed to the three stars on his shoulders and told the members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion, and their families that the nisei soldiers created the opportunities for others to follow.

Ono, who earned his Army commission in 1955 through the University of Hawaii ROTC program, in a 2005 speech said: “Every minute of my career, I was reminded of my obligation to bring honor to my parents, the Japanese American community and to the Japanese American soldiers of World War II who paved my way.

“In the 1980s I returned to Hawaii on leave after seven years away. My mother asked that I put on my green uniform, complete with ribbons and badges, to visit friends and relatives. We made numerous house visits. I was the object of curiosity and attention as my mother proudly showed me off as if to say that we can move from immigrant status to three star generals in one generation despite the color of our skin and shape of eyes.”

Ono in his listing in Who’s Who in America wrote: “I was completely and constantly aware that I am a Japanese American. It meant that I worked harder, moved quicker and, by habit, critiqued my actions repeatedly from every perspective. I had a focused and fierce drive to build a reputation of professional competence and high personal integrity with no blemish of shame on my family and heritage.”

His Army career included assignments at numerous mainland posts, Korea, Vietnam, Europe, and Panama, including commander of the Army Recruiting Command. His final Army position was as the deputy chief of staff for personnel, 1986-1990, responsible for human resources policy for the entire Army.

When he retired from the Army in 1990, he returned to Hawaii and served as executive vice president and a member of the board of directors at American Savings Bank.

The 25th Infantry Division public affairs office sent out a news release notifying residents that residents around Punchbowl may experience periodic increases in noise this morning between 9 a.m. and noon because of the military salute battery.

Ono was honored with a 21-canon salute at the Punchbowl ceremony provided by the 25th Infantry Division artillery.

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