John Shimoda - RIP

CIDAA Forum: Deaths (Public): John Shimoda - RIP
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James Coker (Unregistered Guest) on Tuesday, June 02, 2020 - 04:05 pm:  Edit

May God comfort Carol.I know her Dad was very special to her.Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Jim Coker
Chaplain CIDAA

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ernest D. Hamm (Ernie) on Tuesday, June 02, 2020 - 08:13 am:  Edit

I was fortunate to have first met John in 1966 at the Presidio of San Francisco. He was retiring from the CID laboratory in Japan and settling in California, so the Presidio was his out-processing station. He made contact with the Presidio CID office for any assistance he needed while in the area. I had quarters on Presidio, so I was able to provide assistance. We spent some leisure time at the Ft Scott O-club just talking about ‘things’ (topics long forgotten), but I was impressed and enthralled by John as he was a legend in CID by that time. After I had transitioned to the laboratory, I joined the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and would run into John at several AAFS conferences over the years. We were in different sections of AAFS, but would occasionally see each other at joint conference social events. If I was to see his name on the attendance roster, I would make a special effort to meet with John.

Very sorry to see his name on the growing list of agents of long ago.

RIP John Shimoda

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ed German (Member) on Monday, June 01, 2020 - 04:57 pm:  Edit

Satoru "John" Shimoda
September 13, 1919 ~ May 26, 2020

CIDAA member Cory Dudley submitted the following on 31 May 2020:
John was in the Army from WW II, Korea and Vietnam. John lost a leg in Korea and successfully resisted being medically retired. John was a CID Special Agent for nearly all his Army Career. I believe he retired as a CW3 from the Army Crime Lab.

I am a retired reserve CID Agent. I was a Postal Inspector for 20 years. John Shimoda was the Director of our Western Region Crime Laboratory. We made many cases through his lab. His people were consummate professionals. They made many positive identifications and backed them up with compelling court testimony. John himself worked in the lab as the Director. Many agencies and the US Attorneys Offices asked to avail themselves of John’s Lab.

John was a nice unassuming man who enjoyed his cigars. He died at age 100, smoking a cigar.

The following obituary is from the Stars and Strips online:
John Shimoda, renowned forensics expert who served in WWII and Korea, dies at 100

A 100-year-old Sebastopol man who died from injuries he suffered in a fire Monday at his family’s rural home was a World War II and Korean war veteran who learned criminal investigation in the Army and rose to director of the U.S. Army Crime Laboratories, then of a regional U.S. Postal Service crime lab.

Satoru C. “John” Shimoda was an internationally recognized expert in the field of questioned document examination. The forensics specialty involves lab testing to determine if a letter or other document is forged or contains, in the penmanship, ink, typewriter key strikes, fingerprints or other elements, any evidence that a crime was committed or that could be helpful to a criminal investigation.

In one of his most infamous cases, the handwriting expert examined letters ostensibly written by the Zodiac serial killer who terrorized the Bay Area and other parts of the state in the 1960s and ‘70s.

When the diligent, unassuming combat veteran retired from the postal service’s western region crime lab in San Bruno in 1999 — at age 80 — he was reported to be the oldest and longest-tenured employee of the U.S. Postal Service.

He and his wife of 68 years, Hiroko “Betty” Shimoda, lived in Corte Madera for 46 years before moving to Sebastopol in 2013 to share the home of one of their two daughters and her family. Betty Shimoda died in March of 2017 at age 89.

Sonoma County authorities say that on Monday afternoon John Shimoda, who lost a leg to combat in Korea, was sitting in the garage of his family’s home on Mill Station Road. Somehow flames were ignited and he sustained critical burns.

Shimoda died early Tuesday morning at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

The fire call was especially heartbreaking for members of the Graton Fire Department. Its firefighters were friends of Shimoda and his family, and just last August had him to the firehouse on Gravenstein Highway North for birthday dinner, with cake.

“We’d been to his house, he’d been to the fire station,” said Graton chief Bill Bullard. “He was a pretty amazing individual.”

Noting that the fire that took Shimoda’s life happened on Memorial Day, Bullard said he finds comfort in believing that his new friend is now with brothers at arms who died in war or as veterans.

A Nisei, or second-generation Japanese-American, Shimoda was born in Oregon on Sept. 13, 1919. He went into the U.S. Army during World War II and served with the highly decorated 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team, made up almost entirely of Nisei. In 2010, the unit was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Shimoda made a career of the Army and became an officer. In the early 1950s, he learned document investigations techniques while serving in the Counter-Intelligence and Criminal Investigation Branch. He served also in Korea, later telling Graton volunteer firefighters that a combat injury there cost him one of his legs.

In 1960, he was appointed chief of the U.S. Army Crime Laboratories. Six years later, he retired from the military and took a position in San Bruno as assistant director of the western region crime labs of U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

He and his wife settled into a home in Marin County.

Betty Shimoda was the original proprietor of the Ocha-ya snack bar at San Francisco’s Japantown.

A tribute by the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners observed that John Shimoda was frequently called to testify in court both in the U.S. and abroad on questions regarding the authenticity or authorship of documents entered as evidence.

“His unassuming demeanor has been the consternation of many a defense attorney,” read a 2007 tribute that accompanied the presentation to Shimoda of an ASQDE award of excellence.

In May 1978, San Francisco police detectives working to identify and arrest the Zodiac killer took Shimoda a letter that had been sent to the San Francisco Chronicle that appeared to be from the suspect.

Shimoda in time concluded, “I am of the opinion that the letter of April 24 was an attempt to duplicate Zodiac letters and is not authentic.”

The killer was never caught.

In addition to his decades of work with the Army and the Postal Service, Shimoda served as one of the first Diplomates of the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners and he was a life member of the California division of the International Association for Identification.

Just last year, his family attended a pancake breakfast at the Graton firehouse, located about three miles from home, and won a hosted dinner there at the station. The family chose to go the firehouse for his 100th birthday dinner.

“One of our firefighters prepared a meal of chicken parmesan, and we sat around the table together for hours talking and laughing, telling stories and enjoying his company,” reads a post on the volunteer fire company’s Facebook page. “It was a truly wonderful evening.”

The post then says of Shimoda, “While we only knew him briefly, he was one of the most colorful and enjoyable guests we ever had at Graton Fire Department. He will be missed by many.”

Shimoda is survived by his daughters, Carol Hebel of Sebastopol and Susan Tamai of San Francisco, four grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

The following obituary was published online at the Postal Inspectors equivalent of CIDAA, the NARPI:
Satoru "John" Shimoda

Satoru C. "John" Shimoda was the 15th president of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners.

During World War II, Mr. Shimoda served in the all-Japanese 442nd Infantry Regiment. After the war, he worked in Army counter-intelligence and later as a criminal investigator. Mr. Shimoda began his questioned document examination career in the U.S. Army Crime Laboratory in the 1950's. He also trained with Albert D. Osborn and Frank Murphy. Upon retirement from the Army, he became the Assistant Director of the United States Postal Inspection Service Western Region Crime Laboratory and was later appointed as Director of the laboratory. Among his many major cases was the famous San Francisco "Zodiac" case. He retired in 1999 after 32 years with the postal laboratory.

Mr. Shimoda is a Life Member of the ASQDE. He was one of the first diplomates of the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners. He is a Retired Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is a Life Member of the California Division of the International Association for Identification. In 2007, John Shimoda received the Albert S. Osborn Award of Excellence in recognition of his distinguished career and the many contributions he made to both the ASQDE and the profession as a whole.

Derived from "Satoru C. 'John' Shimoda: The 2007 Albert S. Osborn Award Recipient," by Robert J. Muehlberger and Frank E. Franck, published in The Society News, November 2007, and
"Crimelab Sleuth Turns in His Badge After 55 Years of Service," by Sharon Green Patton, published in the March/April 2000 issue of Postal Life magazine.

I was notified by John’s daughter Carol that he passed away today at age 100 years and eight months. John went peacefully enjoying his favorite cigar.

Satoru “John” Shimoda was the long time Director of the Western Region Crime Laboratory.

Condolences can be sent to:
Carol Shimoda
8220 Mill Station Road
Sebastopol CA 95472

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