|Vietnam Veterans of America|
Jerry Yamamoto, a well-known and beloved veterans advocate, died July 19 after a long illness at age 77. Born in Rohwer, Arkansas, in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II, he joined the U.S. Army after graduating from UCLA in 1966
Yamamoto became president of VVA Chapter 53 in Redondo Beach, Calif., in 2000, and was elected to the National Board of Directors in 2005.
He had joined VVA in 1998, drawn by its founding principle, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” His concern for veterans was shaped by his experiences as a social worker with Vietnam veterans at Fort Gordon. Although in the early 1970s PTSD had not yet been formally recognized, Yamamoto saw the ravages of war and the lack of effective treatments.
Among his many efforts on behalf of veterans, he was the driving force behind the effort to rename a section of the Pacific Coast Highway in honor of Vietnam veterans. Yamamoto lobbied California State Assemblyman George Nakano to write the necessary legislation, which was approved in 2000, authorizing four large “Los Angeles County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway” signs along the heavily trafficked road from the Ventura County line to Long Beach. Vietnam veteran Vincent Okamoto, a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge, gave the keynote speech at the dedication ceremonies.
Jerry Yamamoto served many years as the Chair of the VVA Minority Affairs Committee. He leaves behind his daughter Jamie, who accompanied him at many VVA events and is also a veterans advocate.
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