William T. Hiraoka Papers

Table of Contents

  • Summary Information
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Scope and Contents note
  • Arrangement note
  • Administrative Information
  • Controlled Access Headings
  • Series Descriptions and Inventory
    • Clippings
    • Military
    • Personal
    • Photographs
    • Professional
    • Publications
    • Artifacts
    • Folio

Summary Information

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library
William T. Hiraoka Papers
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1943-1951
Date [inclusive]
1940s – 2000s
13.0 Linear feet : 6 8-inch document boxes, 3 Folio flat boxes, 14 flat artifact boxes, 1 artifact shoebox, 1 audiovisual materials box
General Physical Description note
Boxes 1 through 4 and boxes 15, 23 and 24 contain documents, correspondence, newspaper clippings and publications, generally in good condition. Some newsprint is brittle and yellowing, and some documents are stained by rust from metal paperclips and staples. The remaining boxes contain artifacts and memorabilia, including military insignia, which are mostly in good condition, aside from some discolored or frail items.
Repository Information

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of Item], William T. Hiraoka Papers, Japanese American Veterans Collection, University Archives & Manuscripts, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library.

Biographical/Historical note

William Tsugio Hiraoka (1917 – 2006) was born in Waikīkī, Oʻahu, on January 28, 1917 to Kumaichi Hiraoka and Shimuo Sakai. The second of three sons, he attended McKinley High School before entering the University of Hawaiʻi, from which he graduated in 1939 with a degree in Business and Economics. During his college years he was president of the Hakuba Kai, a small fraternity composed of men of Japanese ancestry, and vice-president of his senior class.

He was drafted into the United States Army on November 14, 1941 and went on active duty later that year. In April 1942 he was transferred to the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), working as an investigator on the internal security of Hawaiʻi. Later that year Hiraoka was sent as a Special Agent-In-Charge to Australia, where the military command needed men of foreign ancestry, including Japanese, to conduct operations. He performed internal security work with the U.S. Army in Sydney and was in contact with the Australian Intelligence internal security forces. From Australian Headquarters he was assigned to six different locations in connection with the New Guinea and the Southern Philippines campaigns.

In 1944, Hiraoka attended the USA Infantry Candidate School (OCS) in Queensland, Australia, before being sent to Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, and later to Leyte Island in the Philippines. While stationed there, he was promoted to Captain. In August 1945 he was sent to Japan as part of the occupation force after the empire’s surrender. He was the second ranking officer present at the arrest of General Hideki Tojo, Japan’s wartime prime minister. Tojo attempted suicide as US military arrived to take him into custody, and during this event Hiraoka acquired one of the General’s pistols, which he later donated to the CIC museum.

In November 1945 Hiraoka left the Army and returned to Hawaiʻi. He worked at the U.S. Veteran’s Administration, where he met and fell in love with Ruth Nakamoto. They were married in October 1946 and later adopted two children, John and Nancy. But with the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, Hiraoka was recalled to active duty by the War Department, and he served for 17 months as a civil administration officer with the U.S. Civil Administration on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa. Upon his return to Hawaiʻi he continued to serve in the Army Reserves until he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1962.

With his active military service at an end, Hiraoka started to build a professional career in the insurance business. He joined National Mortgage & Finance Co. in 1953, became one of the earliest Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) in the territory of Hawaiʻi, and served as president of the local CPCU chapter. In 1958 he received a degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Advanced Management program through the University of Hawaiʻi. Hiraoka became president of Island Insurance in 1968 and, ten years later, of National Mortgage Finance Company Ltd.

William T. Hiraoka died on October 27, 2006 at the age of 89.

Scope and Contents note

The William T. Hiraoka Papers have been organized into seven series, which contain multiple sub-series: Clippings, Military Papers, Personal Papers, Photographs, Professional Papers, Publications, and Artifacts. Also included is a Folio series for oversized items.

The majority of the collection consists of the records Hiraoka accumulated throughout his military career and personal correspondence during his enlistment in World War II. Other materials include a number of artifacts from his military years. They serve as a unique resource connecting the written record of his life to the physical objects with which he surrounded himself. Also, the presence of a variety of ephemera Hiraoka collected while stationed in Australia reflects his lifelong affection for that country.

Arrangement note

William Hiraoka maintained his personal papers in his home, frequently referring to them for personal use. In accordance with the suggestion of the manuscript archivist at the time of donation, artificial series were created and the materials were physically arranged to match these series. Photographs and artifacts were separated from textual materials for better preservation and organized by subject or theme.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library 2550 McCarthy Mall Honolulu, HI, 96822


Material with personal information may be redacted by the Archives staff. Some fragile items may need to be handled by the staff only. Use of audiovisual material may require the production of listening or viewing copies.

Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in this collection, their descendants, or the repository if copyright has been signed over, as stipulated by United States copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user to determine any copyright restrictions, obtain written permission, and pay any fees necessary for the reproduction or proposed use of the materials.

Literary Rights Notice

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University of Hawaiʻi Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must be obtained by the researcher.

Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Hiraoka, Nancy
  • Hiraoka, William T.


  • Korean War, 1950-1953
  • World War, 1939-1945

Series Descriptions and Inventory

Series 1: Clippings

Dates: 1943 – 2009

Size of Series: 0.1 linear feet

Description of Content: This series contains newspaper clippings collected by William Hiraoka throughout different periods in his life. Folder 1 includes articles from the 1940s, clipped from various sources in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific, which mostly deal with the war experience; it also holds clippings from the 1950s and 1960s concerning Hiraoka’s own budding career in the Hawaiʻi insurance business and service in the Army Reserves. Folder 2 contains clippings from the 1980s and 1990s that Hiraoka collected from Hawaiʻi newspapers. They primarily deal with the experiences of Japanese-American veterans and include a number of articles about the 442nd Battalion’s 50th anniversary in 1993. This folder also holds a few articles from several issues of the Hawaiʻi Herald in 2009, which Hiraoka’s daughter Nancy added to her father’s collection. Due to deterioration of the original newsprint, all clippings have been replaced by copies on acid-free paper. Materials are organized chronologically as far as possible, depending on dates for clippings being available.

  • Box 1   Folders 1-2   General

Series 2: Military

Dates: 1943 – 2011

Size of Series: 1 linear foot

Description of Content: This series contains records, memorabilia, and correspondence relating to William Hiraoka’s service in the U.S. Army. It is the largest series in the collection and extends over two document boxes, dating from 1942 to 2012. The majority of it is devoted to military records Hiraoka accumulated throughout his service in the Army and Army Reserves. This includes documents such as orders, awards, memoranda, reports, receipts, and correspondence, as well as teaching materials, handbooks, newsletters, and other military-related materials. A large portion of these records remains in the original order arranged by Hiraoka, who divided materials by subject (such as CIC Training, Retirement, etc.) or Army regulations, which organized documents by rank. Folder contents are organized chronologically. In addition, the Military series also includes a Collaborative Histories subseries which focuses on William Hiraoka’s (and his daughter Nancy’s) communications with various researchers interested in his war experiences, and a folder containing memorabilia such as old military passes, a field manual, and other Army-related ephemera.

  • Box 1   Folder 3          Collaborative Histories: General
  • Box 1   Folder 4          Collaborative Histories: “Kanji and Codes: Learning Japanese for World War II”
  • Box 1   Folder 5          Collaborative Histories: “Yankee Samurai”
  • Box 1   Folder 6          Memorabilia
  • Box 24 Folder 1          Medal of Honor Awardees
  • Box 1   Folder 7          Records: Records: Awards and Certificates
  • Box 1   Folders 8,9     Records: CIC Training
  • Box 1   Folder 10        Records: CIC Training – Personnel Security Investigations
  • Box 1   Folders 11,12 Records: General
  • Box 1   Folders 13,14 Records: Hiraoka, Wm. T., Capt. Infantry
  • Box 2   Folder 1          Records: Hiraoka, Wm. T., S/Sgt.
  • Box 2   Folder 2          Records: Reserve Status, 12/1945 – 12/1950
  • Box 2   Folder 3          Records: U.S. Army Financial Data Records
  • Box 2   Folders 4,5     Records: U.S. Army Personal File
  • Box 2   Folders 6,7,8  Records: U.S. Army Reserve, May 1952 to [1978]
  • Box 2   Folder 9          Records: U.S. Army Retirement
  • Box 2   Folder 10        Records: U.S. Army Retirement – Correspondence with RTH

Series 3: Personal

Dates: 1942 – 2013

Size of Series: 1.5 linear feet

Description of Content: The majority of this series consists of correspondence Hiraoka sent home to Hawaiʻi during his World War II deployment in Australia and the Pacific region between 1942 and 1945. It contains mainly letters to his father and brother, as well as some correspondence by third persons, such as greeting cards from Hiraoka’s wife Ruth dated post-war. Materials are organized chronologically and include both handwritten and typed letters, radiograms, and V-mail (Victory mail, a type of mail process used during World War II in which correspondence was microfilmed and delivered to the recipient on a very small sheet of paper in order to save shipping space for war materials).  (Index to Correspondence [pdf])

In addition to correspondence, this series also contains biographical materials such as an oral history recorded by Hiraoka’s daughter Nancy and a 10-page written biography based on it, newspaper clippings and correspondence regarding his role in general Tojo’s arrest, obituaries, and more; a folder of personal memorabilia, some of which Hiraoka collecting in Australia; a collection of eulogies and funeral programs of fellow veterans and friends; materials from Hiraoka’s involvement in various clubs such as the Honolulu Lions Club; and materials and correspondence regarding Hiraoka’s UH Lifetime Achievement Award.

  • Box 23           Folder 1      Awards and Certificates
  • Box 3             Folder 1      Biographical Materials
  • Box 19           Folder NA  Biographical Materials: Oral History
  • Box 24           Folder 2      Carps Club
  • Box 24           Folder 3      Community Service
  • Box 24           Folder 4      Correspondence: before 1942
  • Box 3             Folder 2      Correspondence: 1942
  • Box 3             Folder 3      Correspondence: 1943 Jan – May
  • Box 3             Folder 4      Correspondence: 1943 June – Dec
  • Box 3             Folder 5      Correspondence: 1944 Jan – May
  • Box 3             Folder 6      Correspondence: 1944 June – Oct
  • Box 3             Folder 7      Correspondence: 1944 Nov – Dec
  • Box 3             Folder 8      Correspondence: 1945 Jan – May
  • Box 3             Folder 9      Correspondence: 1945 June – Dec
  • Box 3             Folder 10    Correspondence: 1946 and after
  • Box 23           Folder 2      Correspondence: VIP Letters
  • Box 24           Folder 5      English-Japanese Dictionary
  • Box 23           Folder 3      Eulogies and Funeral Programs A-I
  • Box 23           Folder 4      Eulogies and Funeral Programs J-R
  • Box 23           Folder 5      Eulogies and Funeral Programs S-Z
  • Box 23           Folder 6      Eulogies Research Materials
  • Box 24           Folder 6      Judiciary Personnel Appeals Board
  • Box 24           Folder 7      Lions Club
  • Box 24           Folder 8      Lions Club Service Projects
  • Box 24           Folder 9      Lions Club Service Projects: Halloween
  • Box 24           Folder 10    Lions Club Service Projects: Kawaiahaʻo Church
  • Box 24           Folder 11    Lions Club Service Projects: Lutheran High School
  • Box 24           Folder 12    Lions Club Service Projects: Pacific Gateway Center
  • Box 24           Folder 13    Lions Club Service Projects: St. George’s Episcopal School
  • Box 3             Folder 11    Memorabilia
  • Box 24           Folder 14    Public Recognition
  • Box 24           Folder 15    Public Recognition: McKinley High School Hall of Fame
  • Box 23           Folder 7      UH Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Box 23           Folders 8,9 UH Lifetime Achievement Award – Correspondence

Series 4: Photographs

Dates: 1941 – 1963

Size of Series: 0.2 linear feet

Description of Content: The photographs in this series primarily relate to Hiraoka’s overseas military service, with some private images of family and friends also included. The majority of pictures, while not explicitly dated, can be associated with locations of Hiraoka’s tour of duties in World War II and the Korean War, as well as his work for the Army Reserves in Hawaiʻi. Many of the private photographs were originally included in letters Hiraoka received from his family during the war. The majority of photographs in the series are black-and-white images, ranging in size from very small to letter-size. Most are in good condition, but some show evidence of glue damage. Groups of images with the same theme (military, personal, and professional) that were originally stored together have been kept that way, and are separated from other batches by sheets of acid-free paper. Some photographs list a date and other descriptive information on the back.

  • Box 4    Folder 2      Military: Army Life
  • Box 4    Folder 3      Military: Ceremonies and Events
  • Box 23  Folder 10    Personal: Events
  • Box 24  Folder 16    Personal: Family and Friends
  • Box 4    Folder 1      Personal: UH Golden Scholars Reception
  • Box 20  Folder N/A Photo Album
  • Box 23  Folder 11    Professional

Series 5: Professional

Dates: 1958 – 1995

Size of Series: 0.1 linear feet

Description of Content: This series contains materials related to Hiraoka’s professional career in the insurance business. It includes professional correspondence, business records, and certificates, as well as materials related to the UH Advanced Management Program and his membership in the society of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (CPCU).

  • Box 23  Folder 12  Awards and Certificates
  • Box 24  Folder 17  Correspondence
  • Box 24  Folder 18  CPCU
  • Box 24  Folder 19  CPCU: All Industry Days
  • Box 4    Folder 4    Records
  • Box 24  Folder 20  UH Advanced Management Program

Series 6: Publications

Dates: 1941 – 1996

Size of Series: 0.3 linear feet

Description of Content: This series contains a number of brochures, books, and souvenir publications Hiraoka collected primarily during his overseas military service in the 1940s. The materials are divided into two subseries, each of which consists of two folders: “Travel”, which includes handbooks, pamphlets, picture books, and other published materials related to Australia, and “Military”, which contains booklets and other publications regarding World War II (such as campaigns, locations, life of soldiers, etc.). Items are generally in fair to good condition aside from some instances of worn edges, staining, and yellowing paper.

  • Box 4   Folders 5,6   Military
  • Box 4   Folders 7,8   Travel

Series 7: Artifacts

Dates: 1940s – 2000s

Size of Series: 6 linear feet

Description of Content: This series consists of physical artifacts William Hiraoka collected or retained during different stages of his life, with a particular focus on his years of service in the U.S. Army during the 1940s, but also containing items from his youth and later professional career in the 1950s and beyond. Artifacts include military and personal items as well as memorabilia, and have been arranged according to common themes or subjects, such as Boy Scouts awards, personal effects, and Army-issued items. Hiraoka also purchased or collected a number of items to send home to Hawaiʻi during his overseas enlistment in World War II. Some of these artifacts, which he mentions in his correspondence, are also preserved in this series. Artifacts are generally in good condition, aside from cases of rust, staining, or brittleness (cloth). Some handling restrictions may apply to fragile or valuable items.

  • Box 5            Artillery Shell
  • Box 6            Military Gear
  • Box 7            Bamboo Canoe
  • Box 8            Military Flag and Cap
  • Box 9            Boy Scouts Awards
  • Box 10          Samurai Sword Letter Openers
  • Box 11          Personal Memorabilia
  • Box 12          Military Memorabilia
  • Box 13          Military Pins
  • Box 14          Military Medals
  • Box 16          Lacquer Bowl
  • Box 17          Stuffed Turtle
  • Box 18          Artwork
  • Boxes 21,22 Plaques and Awards

Series 8: Folio

Dates: 1945 – 2011

Size of Series: 2 linear feet

Description of Content: The Folio Box contains materials that have been removed from their folders of origin due to being oversized. This includes documents, photographs, and published materials. All folders in the Folio series correspond to the removed materials’ series counterpart (e.g. items removed from any folder in the “Clippings” series can be found in the Folio’s “Clippings” folder). Folio materials are generally in good condition, although many have sustained some damage from being folded or bent.

  • Box 15   Folder 1   Clippings
  • Box 15   Folder 2   Military
  • Box 15   Folder 3   Personal
  • Box 24   Folder 1   Awards and Certificates
  • Box 15   Folder 4   Photographs
  • Box 24   Folder 2   Professional Awards and Certificates
  • Box 15   Folder 5   Publications

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