Local Hero Tosh Asano Remembered

Tosh Asano - Courtesy photo / Terry Miller
Tosh Asano – Courtesy photo / Terry Miller

On October 6th, Tosh Asano died.  He was a hero in several ways.  His family had deep roots in Monrovia.  His grandparents owned a grocery store on Myrtle Avenue.  He was a lifelong Monrovian and was even born at the Monrovia Hospital.

Tosh was a football star at Monrovia High School as a halfback.  He even played basketball against Jackie Robinson while at MHS.  He graduated from the high school in June 1941.

Tosh went on to Citrus College, where in his freshman year, he led the nation in Junior College scoring with 103 points.  He was named to the All Southern California Junior College second team that year. Then came December 7th and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

In February of 1942 President Roosevelt signed executive order #9066 that authorized “relocation” of all Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast.  The Asano family first went to temporary holding facility at Pomona Fairgrounds where Tosh first saw the woman he would ultimately marry, Terry.

From there the family was sent to Hart Mountain, one of several internment camps.  Like many other Japanese-Americans, Tosh enlisted in the military.  He served in the Army’s Military Intelligence Service (MIS) as an interpreter in the Phillipines and in Japan.  Even in the service Tosh’s athleticism was noticed.  He was a pitcher for his camp’s softball team in the Army’s Pacific Olympics.

When the war ended, Tosh and his family returned to their home in Monrovia, the same house in which he continued to live.  He married Terry in 1949 and raised their family there.

On October 5th, 2010 Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nds Combat Team and the Militarty Intelligence Service (in which Tosh served).  This was in recognition of their service in WWII.  These units consisted of men who enlisted directly from the internment camps.  Tosh received his medal in a 2012 ceremony in Los Angeles.

The Citrus College Board of Trustees conferred an Honorary Associate of Arts on Tosh in October of 2014.  Patricia Rasmussen, then president of the Board and fellow Trustee and Monrovia resident, Joanne Montgomery conferred the degree.

Tosh was laid to rest last week.  A memorial service is being planned and will be held next month.


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