Ben Kuroki, the only Japanese-American to have flown combat missions over Japan, has died at his Camarillo, California home. He was 98.
Kuroki, born on a Nebraska farm to Japanese-born parents, had a well-traveled war. A gunner on bombers, he flew dozens of missions in North Africa and Europe, including over the strategically important and fiercely defended Ploesti oil fields in Romania. Sergeant Kuroki later flew 28 missions on B-29s out of a base on Tinian Island in the Pacific. This last required a letter of approval from Secretary of War Henry Stimson, as Americans of Japanese heritage were not assigned to the Pacific Theater then.