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Shigeo Kondo holding Reunion jacket

Shigeo "Shig" Kondo '43 holds a blue Class of 1943 Reunion jacket while accepting the William "Bill" Vanneman '31 Outstanding Class Leader Award at CALC in Boston Jan. 18. Watch a video about Kondo talking about Cornell and his experiences during World War II. Photo: Robert Barker/University Photography.

Former 'enemy alien' Shigeo Kondo honored for service and friendship

Shigeo "Shig" Kondo '43 was just a toddler when he and his family immigrated to the United States from Japan. After graduating from high school in Lyndhurst, N.J., he entered Cornell in 1939 as a freshman pursuing pre-medical studies.

Kondo loved Cornell -- the campus, his classes, his professors and his many friends. He ran track and cross-country and was president, in his junior year, of the Cosmopolitan Club. He was once selected to attend a breakfast at which the guest of honor was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

But after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, he received a telegram from the U.S. Department of State informing him that he and his family had been classified "enemy aliens" subject to deportation to Japan. In June 1942, after his father had quickly sold off the family's belongings, Kondo and his family boarded the Gripsholm and set sail on a two-month journey to Japan, where Kondo was conscripted into the Japanese Army.

In this CornellCast video, watch Kondo describe his incredible wartime experience and his eventual journey back home to the United States and back into the sphere of his alma mater, Cornell University.

This past month, Kondo, a retired physician, husband and father of four, was honored at the Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference (CALC) in Boston with the William "Bill" Vanneman '31 Outstanding Class Leader Award for his more than 50 years of service as an officer (treasurer and now vice president) of the Class of 1943. He is the oldest alumnus ever to be given the Vanneman Award.

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