A Most Unlikely Hero

A PBS Hawaii Documentary

Bruce Yamashita just wanted to serve his country; because of his race and ethnicity, the U.S. Marine Corps denied him the chance. Instead of giving in to discrimination, he took a stand for fairness and justice, uncovering evidence that rocked the Corps. A Most Unlikely Hero, a one hour documentary, tells Bruce’s story, a model of courage and commitment in contemporary America.

Background of Film Producer Steve Okino / A Most Unlikely Hero

The Film Producer, Steve Okino, originally from Dayton (OH), graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. After working for CBS News for 14 years as a producer, he left and began working at a large PR firm in Honolulu. As fate would have it, he was also a new member of the board of the Honolulu Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). When the JACL became the lead supporter of the case against the Marine Corps, Steve was involved with media and community relations: press releases, articles, press conferences, events, etc. After the case was won, Steve began the difficult task of writing, directing and producing the film. The making of the film mirrored the case itself: community outreach, fundraising, calls for volunteers and delays. In the end, it was a labor of love, and took eight years to complete. But this intimate connection with the struggle, and the arduous journey to complete the film, is reflected in the power and passion of A Most Unlikely Hero.

What People Are Saying

“One APA hero who has not been as widely known outside Hawaii and Washington, D.C., until now, is Capt. Bruce I Yamashita. That will all change…when a wonderful, new, one-hour film about him will be shown here in Washington at the Smithsonian Institution.”
-Phil Tajitsu Nash, Asian Week

“One person with the courage to stand up can, in effect, change one of the most powerful institutions in the United States.”
-Hawaii Herald

“A new documentary will premier on PBS about one man’s lonely battle against discrimination in the U.S. Marine Corps in the early 90s. His efforts paved the way for a whole new crop of officers.”
-Cynthia Gouw, KQED-FM

“Okino (who wrote, directed and produced the piece) walks his audience through a shocking but all-too-common injustice, and later a historic fight for remediation, with much of the skill and clarity the officer candidate turned civil rights icon demonstrated in his five-year fight against the Marine Corps.”
-Honolulu Advertiser

“Although they were said nearly a dozen years ago, the words still had the same effect. The audience laughed ruefully at the premise as it reverberated from the video screen, but the words also struck a chord, reminding everyone in attendance that discrimination and racism are not artifacts of the past.”
-Asian American Journalists Association

“It would have been easier for Bruce Yamashita to remain silent and quietly move on, but that would have been a grave mistake for Bruce and for the entire United States Military.”
-Norman Mineta, Former Secretary of Transportation and Member of Congress

About the Soundtrack

The soothing flute music from Zig Noda’s CD, In This Moment, are part of the soundtrack of “A Most Unlikely Hero.” To listen to more of Zig’s music go to http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/znbte

Music CD cover for In This Moment

This website is dedicated to the hundreds if not thousands of good Americans who joined the struggle for justice.

I did not do this alone. They are the true heroes.

It is hoped that the lessons learned and sacrifices made will not be forgotten, and will inspire the next generation to continue the hard work to create a more perfect union.

— Bruce Yamashita