Stanley Hayami

Name Stanley Kunio Hayami
Born December 23 1925
Died 1945
Birth Location Los Angeles, CA
Generational Identifier


Young man incarcerated at age sixteen, whose collected letters, diary and drawings provide a rare firsthand look at camp life at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, as well as military life during his service in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy, where he was killed in 1945.


Stanley Kunio Hayami (1925–45), son of Naoichi and Asano Hayami, was born on December 23, 1925, in Los Angeles, California. He was the second youngest of four siblings, the others being Frank Hayami, Grace Sach Koide, and Walter Hayami. His family owned the Hayami Nursery in San Gabriel, California, before being forcibly excluded and sent to the Pomona Assembly Center followed by the concentration camp at Heart Mountain in 1942.

While there, he served as art editor for the 1944 Tempo yearbook before graduating in June of that year. After passing his army induction physical in June 1944, he left camp to work thinning beets in Hardin, Montana. Within a few weeks, he received his army induction notice, returned to Heart Mountain, and reported for basic training on August 22, 1944, which comprised his last day in camp and the final entry in his diary.

After undergoing basic training in Fort Blanding, Florida, Stanley left for overseas duty in France as part of 2nd Battalion, Company C. After contracting measles and ending up in the hospital briefly, he joined the Champagne Campaign in southern France. In March 1945 his unit left for Livorno, Italy, as part of a major assault across northern Italy, and on April 18, 1945, he wrote his last letter from "somewhere in Italy." He was killed at a battle in San Terenzo, Italy, while trying to aid a fellow soldier, for which he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Hayami Diary and Letters

Recovered by the Hayami family, the diary is important for its highly personal look at camp through the eyes of a teenage boy. Filled with his own pen-and-ink drawings, Hayami regularly reported his daily activities such as studying for tests, listening to games on the radio, or going to the movies. He also voiced his views on the incarceration and his account of the military draft, and spoke of the importance of serving his country. As a high school student, he longed to pursue a career as an artist and writer, though he felt he didn't have "enough brains" for it.

After he left camp, Stanley wrote regularly to his family, particularly to his sister Sach who was living in New York, and to his parents and Walt, who remained in camp. Although there were glimpses of the hardships of military life, for the most part he kept a cheerful outlook and tried to keep his family from worrying about him. He also included many cartoon drawings reminiscent of his diary entries. Hayami's diary and letters are now part of the permanent collection of the Japanese American National Museum. A book, Stanley Hayami, Nisei Son , and film, A Flicker in Eternity , have been produced based on his life.

Authored by Sharon Yamato

For More Information

Guide to the Stanley Hayami Diary, 1941–1944. Japanese American National Museum. . [Contains a link to the online diary.]

Oppenheim, Joanne. Stanley Hayami, Nisei Son . New York: Brick Tower Press, 2008.

Last updated Feb. 12, 2024, 10:17 p.m..