Tamotsu Shingaki was born on March 16, 1939, in Wailuku on the island of Maui, Hawaii. He enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard on March 27, 1956, and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on June 19, 1957. A2C Shingaki served as an Airborne Communication and Warning Radar Specialist before entering the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Air Force for Navigator training on May 20, 1960. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the Air Force and awarded his navigator wings at Harlingen AFB, Texas, on April 5, 1961, and then served as a C-124 Globemaster II and C-141 Starlifter navigator with the 75th Military Airlift Squadron at Travis AFB, California, from April 1961 to March 1971. Maj Shingaki next served as a C-141 navigator with the 7th Military Airlift Squadron at Travis AFB from March to October 1971, followed by F-4 Phantom II Combat Crew Training from October 1971 to May 1972. His next assignment was as an RF-4C Weapons System Operator with the 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from June 1972 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on August 19, 1972. After spending 223 days in captivity, Maj Shingaki was released during Operation Homecoming on March 29, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Travis AFB, and then received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to California State University in Sacramento, California, from September 1973 to December 1976. His final assignment was to Norton AFB, California, from December 1976 until his retirement from the Air Force on September 1, 1983. Tamotsu Shingaki died on February 25, 2009.
His Distinguished Flying Cross w/Valor Citation reads:
Major Tamotsu Shingaki distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as an RF-4C Weapons System Operator near Kep Airfield, North Vietnam, on 19 August 1972. On that date, Major Shingaki flew as wingman in a flight assigned to obtain weather reconnaissance of two heavily defended targets. In a determined effort to accurately assess weather conditions in the target areas, Major Shingaki overflew concentrated enemy defenses until his aircraft sustained severe damage and was downed by a Surface-to-Air Missile. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Major Shingaki reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.