OBITUARY: Col. Joseph Yoshito Kurata, USA (ret)

Col. Joseph Yoshito Kurata, USA (ret)

Oct. 26, 1921 – Aug. 23, 2020

KURATA, JOSEPH YOSHITO passed away on August 23, 2020, at the age of 98. Joe, as he was known to friends and family, was born in Acampo, CA, to Kenji and Kotoyo Kurata, immigrants from Japan, on October 26, 1921.
In fall 1942, Joe’s family, with the exception of his older brother James who was serving in the US Army, were moved to a Relocation Camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, under Executive Order 9066. Upon being drafted, Joe was inducted into the US Army in September 1944. He met his future wife Utako Suzuki when he was serving in the first Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) with the US Occupation Forces in Yokohama, Japan.

After serving two years with a CIC unit in Los Angeles as an investigator, Joe served in Chiba Prefecture and Tokyo as a CIC officer with liaison duties and responsibility for informant handling operations. Included was a tour of duty as liaison officer with a CIC unit during the Korean War in 1951. After a year at the Army Language School, Presidio, Monterey, studying Mandarin Chinese, he served for a year with an Army intelligence unit in Seoul, Korea, as assistant operations officer. He subsequently attended the Senior Officer Course, Army Intelligence School, 1959-60; the Army Command and General Staff School; and the National Senior Intelligence Course, Defense Intelligence School.

Joe’s subsequent assignments included serving as a counterintelligence analysis officer with ACSI, Department of Army; operations officer with a CIC unit in Okinawa; chief, Material R&D Branch, Intelligence Agency, Army Combat Development Command; CIC staff officer with Headquarters, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam; director; Intelligence and Security, Defense Nuclear Agency; and chief of Intelligence and Security, Headquarters Sixth US Army.
After serving a total of 32 years in the military, during which he rose from private to colonel, Joe retired in December 1976 from his last assignment at the Presidio, San Francisco, and made that city his home.

During his retirement, he was active with the Army Counterintelligence Corps Veterans and involved in transactions involving MIS projects in the San Francisco Bay region as a member of MIS NORCAL. He served on the Board of Directors of the Fort Point & Presidio Historical Association and supported the preservation of the Crissy Field hanger where the first MISLS class met in 1941. A recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal for his WWII MIS service, he was invited twice to the White House as a representative of the Japanese-American veterans who served in WWII. His home hobbies included tinkering with electronics and raising orchids.

Joe is survived by his children Carole Kurata Coleman, Marilyn Jane Kurata (Robert Newton Bradley), and Joseph Milton Kurata (Lillian Tsui Kurata); grandsons Robert Kurata Bradley (Liza Jordan Ray), Major Ian Yoshito Coleman (USAF) (Mira Bella Coleman), and Joseph Kurata Bradley (Lucy Mengqi Li) ; and great grandchild Anne Ray Bradley. He is predeceased by his wife of 64 years Shirley (Utako Suzuki), brothers James Kurata and Fred Kurata, and sisters Mary (Kurata) Ishige and Hattie (Kurata) Kobata.

Due to Covid-19, there will be no memorial service in San Francisco. A graveside service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery, VA, at a yet to be scheduled date. In lieu of koden or flowers, the family requests donations be made to the National Japanese American Historical Society, 1684 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115 ( or to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109 (

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