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World War II veteran's final act of patriotism: He voted

October 24, 2012|By Joseph Serna
  • Barbara Tanabe reads the November ballot choices to her dying father, Frank Tanabe, 93.
Barbara Tanabe reads the November ballot choices to her dying father, Frank… (Tanabe family )

A World War II veteran, whose photo of casting an absentee ballot from his hospice bed touched the nation, died Wednesday, his family told the Los Angeles Times.

Frank Tanabe, 93, a Japanese American who was interned at the beginning of the war, only to volunteer and work in military intelligence, died with his family by his side in Honolulu about 6:45 a.m.

Tanabe had voted in every election since he became a citizen in 1943, relatives said. This year was no different, with his family reading him the names on his ballot last week as he nodded yes or no for his votes, which his family has kept private.

He read the newspaper every day, worked as a journalist in Tokyo and raised two daughters with his wife, Setsuko. Last year, Tanabe received a Congressional Gold Medal as part of the Military Intelligence Service, which was collectively recognized.

A picture of an ailing Tanabe voting absentee from his daughter’s home – where he had been in hospice care since September – was posted online on Reddit.com last week. The image now has more than 600,000 views, and media across the globe have republished the photo and written about his final act for his country.

“We are so grateful that he was honored with the thoughts of so many people as a true American,” his daughter, Barbara Tanabe, told The Times in an email.

Before Tanabe died, his daughter said, he requested to be buried alongside his war buddies at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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