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Hutch Harnsberger tells the story of saving Taizo Sakai, one of the most important POWs in WWII, to a Rotary club on Nov. 6, 1995
Hutch told this story all his life, of saving the life of one POW on Iwo Jima. He called the Iwo Jima POW story "The Close Call". Hutch called his POW a lifelong friend although he knew him for only one day. "The prisoner told me he ran the code room for Japanese General Kuribayashi."
 
 
 
 
The "Close Call" was the first bedtime story Hutch ever told, of the worst battle in the Pacific, where he was trained as a Japanese linguistic and interpreter, searching for Japanese code materials on Iwo Jima with no military training. On March 17th he was given responsibility for a POW and ended up saving this one man's life, protecting him from being shot by other US soldiers. He told this story all of his life and before he died, he told me that he considered this act the greatest single accomplishment of his life.

After he died, he never knew we found out the truth"his POW" about , that indeed, he had saved the life of Taizo Sakai (real name Sakamoto). Taizo became the most important POW taken off of Iwo Jima and possibly the most important POW from Japan. Taizo was in fact the communications officer for General Kuribayashi. His story became famous in the 2008 Presidential election when US General Fred Haynes met with Obama, Clinton, and McCain to tell the tale about how one POW from Iwo Jima was captured and not tortured, and by feeding and clothing him, he became a key informant to the US Military. Haynes, the 22 year tactical commander on Iwo Jima, wrote the "Lions of Iwo Jima". He used this POW story to illustrate why he and a group of top Military Officials believed that torture was unneccessary and against the rules of military and the Geneva Convention.

Taizo had refused to kill himself like the others, and was sent off to do the act alone because he was not high ranking enough to stay with the general. He said that the war was a waste, and why should he die for an Emperor? 

Another family had been searching for Taizo for 65 years, Mr. Stephen Lopardo from San Diego. Steve's father, Sgt Lorenzo Lopardo, had met Taizo early in the morning of March 17th, 1945 when he surrendered. Taizo gave Lopardo senior two photographs of his family. He wrote on the back of each in french, "oh my sadness" and "be wise". These two photographs began that family's search which ended in Steve finding the Sakamoto family in Japan and unearthing the entire story that General Haynes told of my father's POW, Taizo Sakai.
 
 
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