Last fall, NVC Foundation member Shawn Brinsfield began writing Nisei Veteran short biographies for publication on the Internet. NVC Foundation had some questions for Shawn, to get an understanding of how it’s been going.
NVCF.: So, why did you start writing soldier bios for the Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team website (442sd.org)?
Shawn: There were hundreds of young Nisei soldiers who never made it back home. It all stopped for them; it went dark. I feel that it’s important to memorialize each one of them with basic details of their lives such as their nicknames, family names, where they went to school, where they lived, in what part of the service they served, etc. The S&D 442 are doing heartfelt work in this endeavor. There are only so many of them doing this valuable work. So, I thought I’d help them out.
NVCF.: What is the process in learning how to do the bios?
Shawn: Two of the more experienced writers go through the whole process with you in one or two Zoom sessions. They show how to use sources such as Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com or Orville Shirey’s book, Americans: The Story of the 442nd Combat Team. You are supplied with subscriptions, style guidelines and finished bios which serve as models. Your completed draft is reviewed by them, corrections are made – and then the final bio is installed onto the website. Some bios are a few paragraphs long while others are much longer with pictures included. They all look sharp and crisp and bring honor to the soldier.
I felt a little nervous at first, but once I learned the basics it was a fun and deepening experience. One goes back in time and gets to “know” the soldier, and one has a deeper feeling for what has happened. There is no pressure put on you throughout the process, only support. It is interesting to read an old newspaper clipping or piece together different parts of the soldier’s life through detective-like work. It’s all done from the comfort of one’s own home.
NVCF: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Shawn: I would hope that anyone reading this article would want to write a bio on their own family member, be it a father, grandfather, or uncle. Passing down the memory will contribute to the family legacy for the generations to come.
My first soldier bio happened to be on a Nisei who survived the war. The bio is longer than most because there was a book published on him, so I had more source material to draw upon. If you go to HTTPS://442SD.ORG/MINORU-MASUDA/ you can look at it.
To view more existing bios, go to the 442nd Unit Roster at HTTPS://442SD.ORG/CATEGORY/442ND-UNIT-ROSTER Soldiers with existing bios are identified by their last name in gold font — just click on it to read the bio. If the last name is in white font, a bio has not yet been written. If you are interested in telling the story of one of your family members or more, contact NVC member Bill Wright at: RAGNAARR442@GMAIL.COM