Col.Helmantoler’s 1st Legion of Merit

San Antonio Express and News | San Antonio, Texas | Sunday, August 09, 1959

An Information Chief Named Col. Willis L. Helmantoler, chief U.S. information officer in Japan
for the past two years, is the new information chief for the Air Training Command at San Antonio.
He leaves Tokyo Sunday for his new assignment. Helmantoler, a decorated I.J.S. combat pilot in (he war against Japan, has won the Legion of Merit for a successful new campaign to make friends with the Japanese people.

Lt. Gen. Robert W. Burns, top U.S. commander in Japan, has announced Helmantoler got one of America’s highest peacetime decorations for “outstanding service to the United States” as Chief U.S. Information officer in Japan the past 2’/4 years.

A personal friend of scores of Japanese newspapermen, Helmantoler was one of the first Americans in Japan to shift emphasis in military public relations along the lines of President Eisenhower’s people-to-people program. He first became acquainted, with the Japanese press by taking a planeload of-editors on a, tour of the United States in 1956, and was one of the few high Americans to visit Japanese newsmen in their offices and homes.

Japanese friends nicknamed him “Hachiman Taro,” after an llth century Japanese model warrior whose name resembles the Japanese pronunciation of Helmantoler. One of the Illinois Cclonel’s little known but ‘most influential roles was as the officer responsible for the Far East network, the U.S. operated English language radio network for Americans in Japan.