Berardino: Heroes Hall Veterans Museum Honors More Heroes

Heroes Hall - Through the Eyes of Veterans at the OC Fair & Event Center

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This Memorial Day a new tribute to the brave men and women who have served our great nation is open to the public … Heroes Hall Museum at the Orange County Fair and Event Center.

On Thursday, May 25th the Board of Directors at the Fairgrounds inducted two new members to the beautiful Walk of Honor at the museum, Kazuo Masuda and Vincent Okamoto.

Map showing location of where U.S. Air Force C-135 aircraft crashed after leaving El Toro Marine Corps Air Station killing all 84 on board. This graphic was published in the June 26, 1965 Los Angeles Times.

In addition to these brave heroes a plaque will be erected to honor the eighty four men who were killed when the plane transporting them to Viet Nam crashed into Loma Ridge after take off from El Toro Marine Air Station on June 25, 1965.

Staff Sergeant Kazuo “Kaz” Masuda Courtesy of the United States Department of Defense

Kazuo Masuda was an Orange County resident who received posthumously the Distinguished Service Cross in 1945. Masuda was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and died while defending his men during an escape while fighting the enemy alone. His family was taken from Orange County and placed in a Japanese Interment Camp during the war. But this horrible injustice did not deter him from fighting for his country so heroically.

Judge Vincent Okamoto courtesy of American Veterans Center

Judge Vincent Okamoto is the most highly decorated Japanese American from the Viet Nam war. Judge Okamoto’s parents were taken from Costa Mesa during World War II and interned in Poston, Arizona where he was born. On August 24, 1968 under heavy enemy fire he boarded a partially destroyed armored personnel carrier and manned the machine gun. After the weapon malfunctioned he jumped on a second and then third to provide suppressive fire. He then crawled under heavy small arms fire to a position within 10 meters of the enemy and destroyed them. Although wounded in the attack, he refused medical treatment and kept fighting. For his heroism he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He also received for additional heroic actions a Bronze Star, Silver Star, three Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

The story of Judge Vincent Okamoto is captured on this video.

I hope this Memorial Day, you take a moment from the cook out or beach trip or any other fun activity and look to the sky and say thank you. Your words will thunder in the ears of those in heaven who have sacrificed so much for all of us.

Also come to Heroes Hall, which will be open from 11:00 to 5:00 and enjoy the museum; parking and entrance is free!!

Related article: Voice of OC to Publish Series on Veterans Memorial Plaques

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Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org