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Jerry Jiro Katayama Papers

Identifier: 2009.019

Scope and Contents

The Jerry Katayama Papers contain correspondence between Jerry and his family and friends during his military service (ca. 1943-1947), items such as binoculars and a camera that he carried during his tour of duty, military scrip issued during the Allied occupation of Japan, a clock issued by the Schwinn Bicycle Company to celebrate Jerry’s 25 years of service (1977) and awards related to Jerry’s participation in the American Bowling Congress.


  • circa 1897-2007

Biographical / Historical

Jerry Jiro Katayama was born in Ogden, Utah in 1915 to Frank Ryotaro (1871-1950) and Hisa Sato Katayama (1889-1952). His parents, originally from Hiroshima and Akita respectively, were enterprising individuals and held a variety of professions throughout their careers. His father started out as a policeman in Japan. When he emigrated to North America, he found work as a fisherman for a time and then moved to San Francisco in 1904 and started a career as a tailor. Sometime thereafter, Frank became a newspaper correspondent and reporter whose territory included Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and part of Nebraska. He was responsible for collecting subscription fees and reporting local news about the Japanese American community for over twenty years. Jerry’s mother, Hisa Sato, was as equally industrious as his father. She became fluent in English and owned and operated a restaurant, a candy store and then a dry cleaning business all the while raising three children.

Jerry spent his formative years in Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah. After he completed high school, he applied to the University of Utah and where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1939. After Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, Jerry became heavily involved in the Salt Lake City chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League and, by 1943, he had enlisted in the United States military. He was inducted at Fort Douglas, completed his basic training in Camp Blanding, Florida and then was sent to Camp Savage in Minnesota to brush up on his Japanese language skills. After many months of rigorous language training at Camp Savage and at Fort Snelling, Jerry became an interrogator for the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). Before embarking on his first mission though, he was sent to Fort Lawton in Washington and then shipped out to the Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii for “jungle training” and additional practice in interrogation methods.

Jerry served in his capacity as an interrogator in Leyte, Philippines and then in Okinawa and, finally, in Korea. The war ended while Jerry was stationed in Okinawa and he was sent to Korea where he earned enough “points” to earn a discharge from the military. However, when he reached his quota, he chose to reenlist and was eventually sent to Japan for approximately a ten month period. His new role - which was associated with agricultural research arm of General MacArthur’s headquarters - was to investigate farms, hydroponics and animal husbandry and submit his reports to the U.S. government. He was honorably discharged from service in 1947.

After he left the Army, Jerry settled in Chicago, Illinois and managed a store that sold oriental and domestic merchandise. He eventually obtained a position as a metallurgist with the Schwinn Bicycle Company. He remained with the company for 32 years and was very involved with their golfing and bowling teams. Jerry passed away on May 5, 2009.

Jerry’s elder brother, Taro Katayama, was also a graduate of the University of Utah. After he received his degree, he moved to San Francisco to work as a journalist for a large newspaper. He maintained this job until World War II began. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized United States Executive Order 9066. This order led to the forced evacuations of individuals of Japanese descent from designated “military zones” located mostly along the West Coast. Taro was swept up in the forced evacuation and was sent to the Tanforan Assembly Center located in California. While incarcerated, Taro edited the Tanforan Totalizer newspaper for its entire run. He was eventually sent to Topaz Relocation Center in Utah and became the managing editor of the Topaz Times. While interned at Topaz, Taro married Yuki Shiozawa. He volunteered to serve in the U.S. military and was assigned to the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team. After he was honorably discharged, he and his wife lived in Cleveland, Ohio for many years before moving to California. Taro died in the 1980s.

Jerry’s younger sister, Michiko “Michi” Katayama married Isamu “Sam” Aoki, a military veteran and Certified Public Accountant (CPA), in the 1940s. The couple had four children Christopher, Joanne (who is deceased), Timothy and Mary Ann. Sam passed away in 2004 and Michiko still resides in Hayward, California.

Source: Katayama, Jerry Jiro


9 boxes

Language of Materials




Stacks 02 Column 7 Shelf E, Stacks 02 Column 7 Shelf F

Jerry Jiro Katayama Papers
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the JASC Legacy Center Repository

4427 N Clark St.
Chicago IL 60640 United States
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