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Sato School in Bethany

Sato Elementary School opened in September 2017. The Bethany community was asked to submit names for the new Beaverton school and the overwhelming choice was to recognize the Japanese American family who began farming in the area in 1926.

Sato School Memorial
Marleen Wallingford, Karen Sato and Ron Iwasaki at the Sato School dedication of the history of the Sato Family placed at the front of the school.

During World War II, the Sato Family was sent to Minidoka. Two sons, Shin and Roy, enlisted. Roy was wounded twice and received the Purple Heart. Shin was also a member of the Japanese American 442 Regimental Combat Team that took part in the heroic battle to save the Texas Battalion that was trapped in the treacherous Vosges Mountains. Nisei soldiers were able to overcome the German defenses. Shin posthumously received the Purple Heart as a result of that battle.

Karen Sato continues to remember her family. Her sister, Lois who passed away in 2013 was the last family member to live on the farm.

When Col. Mike Howard who lives in the area heard the story of the Sato Family, he wanted to make sure the community understood the historical significance of the heroism of Shin and the sacrifice the family suffered. He worked with the school’s principal, Annie Pleau to obtain Beaverton School District’s permission to place the plaque.

I was saddened when I first visited Sato School and there was no memorial. History is a fragile thing and I wanted the kids to know the truth … good and bad, so they can learn from it.

Col. Howard

It was a labor of love for Col. Howard. He grew up living next to the Shimotani Family in Ventura, California. This is where he first heard of the 442 and saw the film, “Go For Broke”. “I was saddened when I first visited Sato School and there was no memorial. History is a fragile thing and I wanted the kids to know the truth … good and bad, so they can learn from it.”

The bronze plaque was produced at a costof $6200. Skanska Construction donated the concrete base and backing at a value of$6200. Bethany Presbyterian Church had donated $3000 but funding still needs to be raised to cover the rest of the cost. The Portland JACL is helping with that effort.