Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Board


Current Board Members

Tim Stowe, President  (2010-present)

Daniel Tani, Vice President  (2010-present)

Dene Matsuzawa Treasurer (2021-present)

Kelsey Iino, Treasurer (2013-present)

Valerie Takata, Secretary (2021-present)

Doug Tennent, Legal Advisor (2012-present)

Amy Grant (2023-present)

Stephan Morikawa  (2006-present)

Calvin Motoda  (2007-present)

Allen Murakoshi  (1995-present)

Lorna Onizuka (2014-present)

Ted Teshima  (1986-present)



The purpose of the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Board is to celebrate the life and uphold the legacy of courage, dedication, determination and compassion of Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka as an inspiration to future generations of Asian Pacific Americans and the general public.

The Beginning

The Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Board was founded in 1986 subsequent to the Space Shuttle Challenger Flight 51-L mishap during launch on January 26, 1986. At 40,000 feet and 73 seconds after launch the external tanks erupted.

A memorial service  was conducted at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Houston, Texas on January 31, 1986 for the Challenger crew members. The service was televised nationally with President Ronald Reagan consoling the families of the Challenger crew.

On February  2, 1986, a memorial service was also conducted at the Hompa (Now known as Nishi) Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, 815 East First Street, Los Angeles, California with approximately 700 people in attendance. The service was to honor the members of the Challenger crew as well as to honor the first Japanese American Astronaut, Ellison Shoji Onizuka.

After the service a few of Ellison Onizuka’s  friends as well as those who held great respect for the astronaut met at the temple. Those in attendance felt a strong desire to help perpetuate the memory of Astronaut Onizuka. This meeting led to the formulation of the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Board.  The initial members who were the  foundation of the Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Board consisted of:

Charter Board Members  (1986)

Matt Matsuoka (President), Vice President, American Honda Motor Company, Inc.

Dr. Takashi Makinodan (Vice President), Director of Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Hospital of Los Angeles

Stan Yoshino (Vice President), Aerospace Engineer

Dr. Ryo Munekata (Secretary), DDS

Herb Omura (Treasurer), Vice President, Sumitomo Bank

Frank Omatsu, Sr. Vice President, Sumitomo Bank

Alcario Pelayo, Aerospace Engineer

A short time later the following individuals also joined the group:

Buddy Takata, Corporate Manager, Training and Development, Hughes Aircraft

Ted Teshima, Architect, State of California

Willie Tokishi, Vice President, American Honda Motor Company, Inc.

In 1986 the Board adopted a logo represented by a “ Hanging Wisteria Crest With The Shooting Star”. The hanging wisteria crest is the symbol used by the Hongwanji Buddhist Temple to which Astronaut Onizuka was a member. The Shooting Star is the NASA symbol used by the astronauts to signify their successful flight in space. The logo, utilizing both symbols, is shown below:

On December 11, 1987, a letter was submitted to the Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury, requesting that the Onizuka Memorial Board be treated as an organization under the Internal Revenue Code, Section 501(C)(3). On July 19,1991, approval was received from the District Director of the Internal Revenue establishing the organization as a non-profit entity. The Restated By-Laws of Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial, A California Nonprofit Corporation was prepared and adopted on October 20, 1997.

Former Board members

Takashi Makinodan  (1986-1994)

Stan Yoshino  (1986-1998)

Frank Omatsu  (1986-1996)

Alcario Pelayo  (1986-2003)

Willie Tokishi  (1986-2008)

Bruce Fitzpatrick  (1996-2009)

Ted Hino  (1996-2008)

Craig Omura  (1996-2003)

Daryl Teshima (1996-2003)

Kimiko Ego  (2006-2010)

Carlo Cayetano (2010-2013)

Tom Nakayama (2002-2014)

Dwight Ueda  (2003-2016)

Deen Matsuzawa  (1988-2019)

Herb Omura, (1986-2019)

Lawrence Moy  (2010-2021)

Jean Shankweiler (2008-2022)


Honorary Board members


Mrs. Lorna Onizuka, Widow

Claude Onizuka, Brother

Hon. Dan Akaka, Congressman, Hawaii

Hon. George Ariyoshi, Governor, Hawaii

Col. Jim Buchli, Astronaut

Bishop Yoshiaki Fujitani, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii

Hon. Morio Fukuto, Appellate Justice

Hon. Daniel Inouye, Senator, Hawaii

Joanne Ishimine, Television Journalist

Bruce Kaji, President, Japanese American National Museum

Ken Kashiwahara, Television Journalist

Kihachiro Kawashima, Chairman Emeritus, American Honda

Dr. Sammy Lee, Olympic Champion

Hon. Robert Matsui, Congressman, California

Hon. Spark Matsunaga, Senator, Hawaii

Hon. Norman Mineta, Congressman, California

Lt. Col. Gary Payton, Astronaut

Col. Loren Shriver, Astronaut

Togo Tanaka, Director, Federal Reserve Bank

Dr. Taylor Wang, Astronaut

Bishop Seigen Yamaoka, Buddhist Churches of America

Louis Zamperini, World War II Hero


Matt Matsuoka

Ryo Munekata

Buddy Takata

Former Board Presidents

Matt Matsuoka (1986-1999)

Bruce Fitzpatrick (1999-2008)

Allen Murakoshi (2008-2014)

Legal Advisors

Doug Tennent (2012-present)

Anthony Ellrod (2010-2012)

Kristen A. Ledgard (2010-2012)

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