CERRITOS (CBS) — A Cerritos woman spent 30 years researching her late Dad’s life.
Her father died about six months after Mary Sunada was born in 1948. The man who raised her, she assumed, was her biological father.
Around the age of 10, she found pictures of her father and her mother told her the truth. But her mother didn’t know much more than his name. “All my mom knew was that he was in the Army and that was about it,” says Sunada.
Finding information about him was easy as she couldn’t go directly to the source. She heard he maybe died of malaria. She had a copy of his passport, a Japanese dictionary. But not much else.
Life kept her busy. Including having children of her own.
It took almost 30 years, but she made several discoveries about the late Yoneto Nofeato Nakata.
Her father was drafted by the Army in 1941 while his family was in a Japanese internment camp in Arkansas. In an attempt to get his family released, he volunteered for an intelligence assignment.
With the help of Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, Sunada also discovered her father was owed military honors that were never given to him. “My dad was a very courageous and honorable person.”
Suzie Suh reports that Sunada began researching about her father when her oldest son began asking questions about his grandfather.
She found out that her father should have received some medals during his service but never did.
She got the medals — including the prestigious Bronze Star and a Congressional Gold Medal — with Sanchez’s help.
Sunada accepted them in honor of her father posthumously.
She told Suh, accepting the awards was “fulfilling. To see the medals, looking at them reminds me of what he went through.”
Beaming, Sunada says, “If he was alive today, he would be very pleased that a grateful nation hasn’t forgotten him.”