More than 70 years after missing his high school graduation because he was forced into an internment camp, Don Miyada was inducted Thursday into his high school’s hall of fame and walked with this year’s graduating class.
Miyada, a Japanese American, was a student at Newport Harbor High School when the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 prompted U.S. involvement in World War II.
Miyada and his family were relocated to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona in 1942, just months before he was set to graduate.
Although he was never able to walk with his classmates at the school’s graduation ceremony, Miyada did receive his diploma in the mail while at the internment camp.
“I had faith in the faculty that they would give me my diploma. They were good people,” Miyada said.
After his release from the internment camp, Miyada enlisted in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, in 1944.
“We always considered ourselves American, we considered ourselves citizens,” Miyada said.
Following the war, Miyada received an undergraduate degree from UCLA and went on to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry from Michigan State University.
Miyada used his advanced degrees to become a professor at the University of California, Irvine.
KTLA’s Chip Yost contributed to this report.