Motonaga, Ray Yoshio


Ray Yoshio Motonaga was born on January 5, 1921, in Hilo, Hawaii, where his parents, Masutaro and Fusayo, worked on the island’s sugar plantations. He was the second son and had two younger sisters. The Motonaga family left Hawaii in 1937 for Los Angeles, where Masutaro Motonaga opened a fruit stand. Motonaga’s parents separated in 1940, forcing him to leave school where he was training to be a journalist and take over the family stand. His older brother, Mac, joined the Army. During the forced removal, Motonaga, his mother, and two younger sisters went first to the Pomona Assembly Center on May 10, 1942, and were on the first train to Heart Mountain that arrived on August 12, 1942. They lived in apartment 6-12-A. While in Pomona, Motonaga worked as a driver and weightlifting instructor. He received a leave clearance in 1943 to work on the Northern Pacific Railroad in Montana. He answered No to Question 27 on the loyalty questionnaire, because he had a mother and two younger sisters to support and a brother in the Army. He answered Yes to Question 28. He was arrested April 7, 1944. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced in June 1944 and sent to the federal prison in McNeil Island, Washington. Motonaga was released in 1946 and pardoned by President Harry Truman on December 24, 1947. He returned to Southern California after the war, where he married Janet Okada in 1948. They later divorced, and he remarried Erna Lauk in 1965. Ray Yoshio Motonaga died on June 17, 2015, in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

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