James Walker

In April this year, I posted an article here about the case of James Walker, formerly a US servicemen stationed in Japan, and his long-lost daughter, Kim Hashimoto.

Then in May, and in response to the post, I was contacted by Dean Chandler, the person helping organise the social media campaign designed to track down the daughter James last saw when deployed to Vietnam from Japan 46 years ago.  I added the link to James’ daughter’s Facebook page to this blog in response to that contact and, though ill-equipped as I felt to do so, offered what advice I could.

At the end of last week, I was again contacted by Dean with the astonishing news that James’ daughter, now known as Emi McGowan, and living not in Japan but the States, had been found.

Leaving aside what all this must mean to the people involved in this case, three thoughts stand out:

  • The shocking passage of time:  James must have begun to wonder whether he would ever see his daughter again.
  • The equally shocking disclosure that there had been a number of hoaxes.
  • The decisive role played by the internet in bringing about a resolution to the case.

I reproduce below, first, the Facebook news of daughter finding father and, below that, the Stars and Stripes write-up from 20 July 2015:



“Your search is over.. I am found.. i love you Dad heart emoticon” – – – Emi McGowan (Kim Hashimoto), daughter of James Walker, 18/07/2015

46 years later, daughter finds long lost veteran father on facebook

James Walker response, 19/07/2015

“Thank each of you for all the hard work in the search for my daughter, We did not give up and turned over every rock until she was found. 46 years is along time to search but in the end it was worth it all. Just look how many new friends that I have made along the way, The search may be over but our friendship remains forever. We are all over the world and what a team we make. Thanks again to each of you that took your time and joined in our search. I will never forget you. God Bless . ”

46 years later, daughter finds long lost veteran father on facebook

4 decades on, former sailor still searching for lost daughter in Japan – March 2015

Deepest and sincerest thanks for your help and support

Grace & Gratitude,

Dean A Chandler



Stars and Stripes Logo

40 years later, former sailor finds daughter he left behind in Japan

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The words that Navy veteran James Walker had longed to hear for almost 46 years appeared on his Facebook page Saturday.

“Your search is over .. I am found .. i love you Dad,” said the message from a woman claiming to be the daughter he left behind in Japan when he went off to fight in the Vietnam War.

Walker contacted the person who made the post, Emi McGowan of Sarasota, Fla., and then questioned her mother, Tomie Miller of Mesa, Ariz.

“I called her mother, and she told me things that only her mother would know,” he said, noting that he’s been contacted by numerous scam artists claiming to be his daughter since Stars and Stripes ran a story about his search in March.

“You never know if somebody is trying to pull something over on you,” he said.

Now, he’s convinced that his search is over.

Shortly after his daughter’s birth in 1968, Walker got orders to return to the U.S. from Japan. At the time, he was a petty officer third class at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, near Tokyo.

Walker wrote to the girl many times and made other unsuccessful efforts to track her down, including a trip back to their old neighborhood near Atsugi. He credited the Stars and Stripes article, which was translated into Japanese and widely shared on Facebook, with helping him make the breakthrough.

McGowan, who said she has been searching for her father since she was 18, reported that a friend saw the story and sent her the accompanying photo.

“I looked at the baby in the picture and I was looking at myself in the mirror. My face has really not changed,” she said.

The pair’s first phone conversation was emotional, with father and daughter in tears at times.

“She has been trying to find me,” Walker said. “She was doing everything she could but didn’t know how to go about it. The Lord stayed with us, and we kept working.”

They were quickly swapping photographs online. Walker got to see how his daughter had grown into a woman.

Walker was told that, after he left Japan, his girlfriend started dating another sailor and the pair got married. McGowan grew up in U.S. military communities in Japan, California and Hawaii, she said.

When her stepfather was sent to Yokosuka, Japan, she attended elementary school there. After stints in Pennsylvania and Hawaii, she ended up living with her mother in Oceanside, Calif., she said.

“I didn’t know that my first stepfather wasn’t my real dad until I was 9 years old,” McGowan said.

Her search for her father was complicated since she had known only his name, age and a little of what he looked like, she said.

“I never had a picture,” she said. “I knew he had blonde hair and blue eyes and a cleft chin. I have the same cleft chin.”

Walker’s search was likely complicated by her mother’s four marriages and multiple name changes, she said.

McGowan said her life hasn’t been easy. She ran a flower shop and worked other jobs in California but nowadays she’s homeless and living in front of a church in Sarasota.

She said she has three children of her own.

Walker said he and his wife are planning to visit his daughter in Florida this winter.

Source:  “40 years later, former sailor finds daughter he left behind in Japan”, Stars and Stripes, 20 July 2015


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