Kermit Stewart

Kermit Gladstone Stewart was the second child of Dr. Stewart, and the most cosmopolitan.  After graduation from college, he toured Russia, the became a music teacher at Asbury Park, NJ high school.  We stayed in his apartment for a few days ini 1939 beffort sailing for Panama.

When WWII brok ut, he joined  the officer corps of the US Army.  Assigned to an artillery unit, he served with distinction in New Guuinee and the Phillipines.  When the war ended, he was sent to Japan in a History unit, assembling battle reports to write history of te war.

He wrote a paper on the Russian treatment of Japanese prisoners of war.  He returned to the US, and then back to Japan, where in 195 he wrote ab article in Asia Survey (Vol 22, No. 9) an analysis of theJapanese election.

These may not be unrelated papers – the Russians kept the Japanese prisoners for an unusually long time.  When they werefinally  released many returned to Japanbrainwashed and promoting Communism.  The election results wer loosely watched to  see if Communism was taking hold.

Even before arriving in Japan in 1945, he began studying Japanese language.  He quickly made friends with Jaanese citizens – especially musicians.  He gave many recitals, and was Is believed to be the first American to conduct the Tokyo Symphony Orchestraa after the war, with an all Gershwin concert.

A soloist in that concert was Haruko Asakura, an opera singer.  The two did many performances together, and even made some recordings.  [these were thick 78 rpm records, some with the RCA Japan label.]    I believe they were engaged at one pointment, but never married.

Before the war, Kermit was married to Muriel;  they were divorced early in the war.  After a tour in Japan, lKermit was back in the states working in the Pentagon for a few years before returning to Japan.  During his second tour, he married Grace by telephone and she then went to Japan, where their son Steven was born.

He wrote: I sometimes reflect with amazement on my role in this war. I used to be a music teacher. I was a pacifist. I talked about the infinite value of the human personality and how barbaric it was to kill a man because he was in another color uniform.

He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.  I was privileged to attend.

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