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George T. Aihara


1918 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
George T. Aihara Obituary
George T. Aihara
Nov. 1, 1918 - May 31, 2016
Santa Cruz
Mr. George T. Aihara, died peacefully at home with his family in attendance, at 12:10 am on the traditional date of Memorial Day, May 31, 2016. He was 97 years old.
George was born in Sunnyvale, California on November 1st, 1918. He was the first son of Teikichi Aihara who had immigrated from Gunma prefecture Japan to the United States of America in 1903. His mother was Torano Aihara, also from Gunma-ken. George graduated from Fremont High School in Sunnyvale in 1938, and San Jose State in 1948. As a teenager George was fascinated with flying and even helped with the tethering of the giant airship dirigible the USS Macom at Moffett Field in the 1930s.
Right out of high school he entered San Jose State College and joined the newly formed college flying club. George was one of the first Japanese Americans to hold a commercial flying license and in 1940 holds the distinction of becoming the first American of Japanese ancestry to qualify and hold a flight instructor rating and become an active flight instructor.
In January of 1942 right after the United Stated entered World War II, George enlisted in and joined the Army Air Corp, the predecessor to the Air Force. Because of the political climate of the times he was honorably discharged from the Air Corp, grounded from flying, and sent to the Poston Relocation Center in the Arizona desert where he reluctantly joined the rest of the Aihara family who had been sent for internment due to executive order 9066.
At "the Camp" George became the vice-principal of the Poston 2 high school, overseeing the continued education of students during the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. As was his duty as an US citizen he volunteered out of the camp to be drafted into United States military service. Because of certain provisions and qualifications George was assigned to an elite military unit known as the CIC, Counter Intelligence Corp, which post-war became known as the CIA. From 1945 to 1947 Mr. Aihara served in Occupied Japan under General MacArthur as a Master Sergeant in the Counter Intelligence Corp.
Post war, George returned to the Bay Area and completed college at San Jose State. From the late 1940s through the late 1960s he worked in aviation as an engineer. First with Hiller Helicopters in Palo Alto, then with Filper Helicopters in San Ramon. In the late 1960s he worked for Lockheed on the development of the AH-56 Cheyenne helicopter, the predecessor to the AH-64 Apache.
In 1969 George took a job at Sylvania Electronics in Santa Cruz and moved the family into a house in Santa Cruz Gardens in Soquel where he lived for the next 47 years. In 1974 George began working at the Physical Plant at UCSC, and eventually became the head supervisor of Grounds Maintenance for the University. A position he held until his retirement in 1987.
George was active with the Capitola Lion's Club and its youth exchange program, and also the UCSC Retirees Association (Silver Slugs). He had a great passion for woodworking and created cupboards, dressers, desks, and cabinets, furnishing his own home with fine wood furniture. In his retirement he traveled the Americas with his wife and visited over 20 states.
George is survived by his wife of 61 years, Yoko and his two sons, Dean and Byron, and many nieces and nephews. At George's request the family will honor his wishes that there be no memorial service. The Aihara family wants to extend a heartfelt thanks to the sincere supportive care of Hospice of Santa Cruz County and the kind and attentive care given by their nurse Jana Thomsen. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in George's memory to the Hospice of Santa Cruz County, 940 Disc Dr., Scotts Valley, CA 95066. If you would like to send your condolences to George's family, or share your memories, please send an email to [email protected]


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Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on June 18, 2016
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