The Journey Of A Japanese Military Medal Of Honor From One Family To Another

Japanese Military Medals (Photo Credit: Cecelia Harrison (2022))

This is the story the finding of a Japanese military medal of honor.


Born on Fort Bragg in North Carolina, U.S.A. and raised in multiple countries, Dale Harrison is a military B.R.A.T. with many stories to tell from her life. One of her favorite places to reminisce about is her childhood years in Japan.

Her mother Dorthy was a Marine who helped with humanitarian aid and reconstruction in Nagasaki immediately after the United States began its occupation of Japan in 1945. Dale would spend years there, where her parents would eventually marry and where her younger sister would be born.


While living in occupied Japan, Dale recollects that her first cultural shock realization came when her little sister Tora ran out into a crowded street. Not thinking of anything but their child’s safety, her parents ran after her little sister yelling her name “Tora! Tora!”

Tiger (Image via Pixabay)
Image by G.C. from Pixabay

After all is said and done, with her little sister safely in her parents’ arms, Dale noticed something. Everyone on the street has either run some distance away or stood frozen with shocked looks on their faces. It wasn’t until she watched her parents apologize to those standing nearby for the miscommunication that Dale realized what had happened.

“Tora” in Japanese means “tiger.” So, when her parents were shouting for their young daughter, others thought there was an actual tiger in the crowded street.


Shortly after this tiger incident, Dale’s mother Dorthy was walking through an area particularly devastated by the Nagasaki atomic bomb. In these worse-off areas, it was normal to see Japanese families selling their material things for food and money.

Dorthy had come across a young boy in the street selling his family’s old military medals and decided to trade. After procuring these medals for just a few cans of food and some cash, her mother gifted them to Dale.

Japanese military medal of honor (front)

Photo Credit: Cecelia Harrison
Japanese military medal of honor (front)
Japanese military medal of honor

Photo Credit: Cecelia Harrison
Japanese military medal of honor (back)

For many years after leaving Japan, she never knew the significance behind these military medals. However, later research done by a friend told her that she possessed military metals from The Order of Sacred Treasure or “Zaihosho.” This military medal of honor has inscriptions on the back that roughly translate to “we award you this medal in honor of your great accomplishments in the war.”

Eventually, Dale passed these medals down to her daughter; it’s a tangible reminder of all the stories she has raised her children on. This military medal has now been in the family for over 70 years.

One day, hopefully this medal will be returned to its rightful family. Meaning, that a trip to Japan in the future is imminent and fueled by a desire to conclude this story.

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