History of Japanese Americans in Texas: James Shiro Kishi

James Shiro Kishi

Jimmy Kishi
Jimmy Kishi

The fifth child of Hachitaro and Moto Kishi, James “Jimmy” Shiro Kishi would go on to study aerospace and mechanical engineer, serve in World War II and the Korean War, and work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before passing away in 1992. Below is a tribute to James Kishi and his contributions written by the FAA shortly after his death.

US Department of Transportation

Federal Aviation Administration
April 15, 1992

Central Region is saddened by the loss of a gentle giant in the FAA. James Shiro Kishi, 67, passed away March 28, 1992, at St. Joseph Health Center in Kansas City, MO. Until his unexpected death, "Jim" had been a test pilot and aerospace engineer in the Aircraft Certification Division since 1982. Most recently, he worked in the Division's Project Support Section-Domestic.

Prior to joining the FAA, Jim was Director of Research and Development for the U.S. Army Aviation Test Board at Fort Rucker, AL, for ten years.

He earned his master's degree in aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering from the University of Texas, where he also played tackle on the school's football team and represented them in the “Cotton Bowl” for two consecutive years.

Born in Orange, TX, Jim was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II and the Korean War.

The son of Japanese immigrants, Jim grew up in a settlement organized by his uncle, where they grew rice. It was there that he had his first experience with aviation. Jim's stories made a lasting impression on his friends in Aircraft Certification, one of whom is Larry Malir, manager of the Domestic Project Support Section. In a recent interview with the writer of this memoriam, Larry recounted Jim's story about meeting Wiley Post after he landed in one of the rice patties. As Jim recalled, it was through that experience that the seed for his future in aviation took root. Larry recalls that when Jim came to the FAA he brought with him a wealth of experience and skill. He had over 17,380 hours of flight time and ratings in 100 fixed-wing and 60 helicopter aircraft, and achieved the status of "Master Aviator" in the FAA Accident Prevention Wings programs. Jim also held an A&P mechanic license. He was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association Number 1814.

During his eulogy, family and friends shared other stories about his accomplishments. While recovering from open heart surgery at St. Joseph Hospital over a year ago, he held nurses captive with story after story about his life. Also a published cartoonist, Jim's doodles have been shared with FAA friends and are scribbled on napkins pasted to walls in numerous restaurants throughout the South where he has traveled, signaling that "Jim was here."

As a gourmet cook his secret in­gredient was "Tabasco" sauce which he even used for ice cream topping.

With his six-feet tall frame, softspoken manner, and heart of gold, he was much like a quiet giant around the regional office. Those of us who knew him will never forget that "Jim was here."