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WWII Vet Dies Days After Casting Last Vote

By Martin Gould   |  

The 93-year-old veteran who melted hearts when a picture of him voting from his hospice bed has died, less than a week after the shot became an Internet sensation.

Frank Tanabe insisted he use his right to an early vote despite learning he had an inoperable tumor in his liver.

His daughter Barbara read out the list of candidates on Wednesday of last week and Tanabe either nodded or shook his head to show which one he preferred. Barbara said she followed his wishes “even when he didn’t pick the people she wanted.”

"There were some that were OK, but there were others where I said, 'Dad, are you sure?' “ she said. “But he knew what he was doing. He's kept up on the issues, reading newspapers regularly until only recently."

His family would not say which candidates he selected.

Tanabe, who lived in Hawaii, died at Barbara’s home in Honolulu on Tuesday morning, six days after casting his ballot.

His patriotic act was typical of his life. Tanabe was interned because of his Japanese ancestry in the early days of World War II. But he nevertheless volunteered for the Army and went on to serve in military intelligence, interrogating prisoners of war in India and China. His unit was awarded a belated Congressional Gold Medal last year.

"I wanted to do my part to prove that I was not an enemy alien, or that none of us were — that we were true Americans,” he said in a documentary about the internment process. “If we ever got the chance, we would do our best to serve our country. And we did."

The picture of Tanabe voting went viral with more than 600,000 hits after his grandson Noah posted it on the social media site Reddit.

However the effort could all be in vain. His vote will not be counted if his death certificate is received by Election Day and his ballot can be singled out.


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The 93-year-old veteran who melted hearts when a picture of him voting from his hospice bed has died, less than a week after the shot became an Internet sensation. Frank Tanabe insisted he use his right to an early vote despite learning he had an inoperable tumor in his...
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