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George Shibata (November 14, 1926 in Garland, Utah – May 20, 1987 in Huntington Beach, California) was an American actor and the first Asian American graduate of the United States Military Academy, Class of 1951.

BiographyEdit

He enlisted in the US Army in 1945 and volunteered to be a paratrooper, but the war ended before he could be sent to active service. He served with the army of occupation in Germany for 18 months.[1]

Shibata became the first Nisei appointed to West Point through the sponsorship of Sen. Elbert D. Thomas. He was commissioned in the United States Air Force in 1951.[2] During the Korean War he flew an F-86 Sabre out of Taegu Air Force Base.

He resigned his First Lieutenant's commission in 1955 to attend the University of California, Los Angeles earning a Bachelor of Laws.[3]

He made his film debut in Pork Chop Hill (1959) a Korean War film about his classmate Joseph G. Clemons, who was also a 1951 West Point graduate. This came about when Clemons accidentally bumped into his old friend Shibata at a drugstore when Clemons was in California acting as a technical adviser for the forthcoming film. He convinced Shibata to try out for the role of the Hawaii born Japanese-American Executive Officer, Lt. Tsugio Ohashi when Hollywood was having a problem casting the role.[4] During the production Clemons decided to play a joke on his Air Force pilot classmate whose accommodations during the war were more comfortable than Clemons' by ensuring that Shibata wore the only actual flak jacket in the film; the other cast members wearing foam rubber reproductions.

Shibata's film career was short as he preferred being a lawyer in California to acting.

Partial filmographyEdit

NotesEdit

  1. p.30 Crompton, Bob IOC Visits Father's Homeland as a Soldier; He's Just as Confused as Anyone The Ogden Standard-Examiner 19 June 1955
  2. http://historytogo.utah.gov/people/ethnic_cultures/the_peoples_of_utah/japaneselifeinutah.html
  3. http://defender.west-point.org/service/display.mhtml?u=18313&i=3808
  4. pp. 77-78 Rubin, Steven Jay Combat Films: American Realism, 1945-2010, 2nd edition McFarland, 1 Jan 1981

External linksEdit

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