Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 10, 2008


Page 3


Judge-Turned-Author to Sign Books at Japanese American Cultural Center


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A Los Angeles Superior Court judge who has written a novel drawing on his experiences during the Vietnam War is scheduled to sign copies of the book at an event tomorrow in Little Tokyo.

Judge Vincent H. Okamoto will sign “Wolfhound Samurai” at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro Street, from 7 to 9 p.m., the publisher, Nikkei Writers Guild, said in a release.

Okamoto, a decorated Vietnam veteran who was born in a World War II internment camp in Arizona, was appointed to the bench in 2002 by then-Gov. Gray Davis following a career as a deputy district attorney, private litigator, county commissioner, and Gardena city council member.

Davis described him at the time as “the highest decorated Japanese American to survive the war.” He was featured in “Looking Like the Enemy,” a documentary about the military service of Asian Americans in Korea and Vietnam.

A publicity release for the book, copies of which may be purchased at the signing, describes the story as follows:

Wolfhound Samurai is the story of one Japanese American soldier’s experience during his tour of duty in Vietnam. Christopher Nagata, the main character, is raised American with American ideals and learns the harsh reality of serving in the American military while looking like the enemy. The journey in earning the respect of his men, cradling his humanity and later being heralded a hero comes at an unimaginable cost. Wolfhound Samurai entrenches your nerves and connects you with the very soul of its characters all while hoping for the best, knowing the historical outcome and crying for the pain of all veterans.”

Okamoto, now 64, spent the first five years of his legal career in the District Attorney’s Office prosecuting misdemeanor and felony cases, including 11 murder trials in adult or juvenile court. While a deputy district attorney, he ran for and was elected to the Gardena City Council, serving one term.

He then spent eight years practicing business and corporate law, family law, personal injury and criminal law until 1986, when he became the founding chairman and chief executive officer of Pacific Heritage Bank.

The bank, which he left in 1995, became one of the largest minority-controlled financial institutions in the United States. He later practiced with the law firm of Okamoto, Wasserman & Torii.

His first public office was a seat on the county Vietnam Veterans Commission, to which he was appointed by then-Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, since deceased. Okamoto, who is the father-in-law of MetNews staff writer Sherri M. Okamoto, has also served as president of the Japanese American Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee and on the board of the Japanese American Bar Association.


Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company