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Friday, May 13, 2011

Research Summary on Hawaii Birth Certificate Number 151-1961-010641:


by Researcher

Editor's Note: Reprinted with permission of The Post & Email.

Photo from the City of Honolulu website

(May 13, 2011) — Editor’s Note: The following report was compiled by the person who traveled to Hawaii last July and reported her findings to The Post & Email shortly thereafter.

According to the COLB posted on for Mr. Obama, his birth certificate number is 151-1961-010641. The number was allegedly assigned when his birth certificate was allegedly filed with the State Registrar on August 8, 1961. The Nordyke twins, whose original long-form birth certificates were posted on the internet, are identified as file numbers 151-1961-010637 and 151-1961-010638 respectively, and were assigned and accepted by the State Registrar on August 11, 1961. I am in possession of an email dated February 3, 2010 in which Ms. Okubo stated that the certificate numbers were assigned by the State Registrar and only in the main DoH office located on Oahu (Honolulu).
Based on this information, it is not possible that 151-1961-010641 was assigned three days earlier than were 151-1961-010637 and 151-1961-010638. The file number 010641 was likely assigned on Friday, August 11, 1961 and no later than Monday, August 14, 1961.
A small group of researchers that I work with identified an infant girl named Virginia Sunahara, born on August 4, 1961 at Wahiawa Hospital in Wahiawa, Oahu, HI. Due to complications, she was transferred to and later died at Kapiolani Women and Children’s Medical Center (most likely) on August 5, 1961. This happens to coincide with date of birth and birthplace of the Nordyke twins. Assuming that her medical records were also transferred to Kapiolani, the birth certificate likely originated at Kapiolani and was included in the group of birth certificates that contained the Nordyke twins.

a. Born the morning of August 4, 1961 at Wahiawa Hospital, Wahiawa, Oahu, HI.

b. Due to complications, the infant was transferred to hospital in Honolulu. Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children is the most likely; however, Queens Medical Center is also a possibility.

c. Died at Kapiolani the morning of August 5, 1961.

d. Death notice appears in the Honolulu Star Advertiser on August 8, 1961 and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on August 14, 1961 for Tomiyo Sunahara; no birth announcement was published.

e. Interred at National Cemetery of the Pacific, aka Punchbowl in Sept. 1961.

f. One researcher requested verification from the Veterans Administration that Virginia Sunahara was interred in plot U-966F (Sunahara listed as buried here. See: and was informed that there were no records responsive to her request. The gravesite in question was allegedly occupied by James T. Sawamura. I visited Punchbowl on July 21, 2010 to confirm. I went into the office to obtain information about plot number U-966-F. Virginia Sunahara was not listed in the database; the clerk showed me the computer screen. The database indicates that James T. Sawamura is buried there. Born Jul 23 1926; Died Oct 14 1980.

g. The same researcher made a UIPA request from the DoH for an abbreviated, non-certified copy of the Sunahara COLB per the DoH Public Health Regulation Chapter 8B and was informed “no records exist that were responsive to her request,” which is the UIPA equivalent response that this person did or does not exist, according to the DoH. The correct response based on previous requests for other abbreviated, non-certified copies of the COLB, is “denied per HRS 338-18” since the requester “does not have a direct and tangible interest.” PHR Chapter 8B does however allow the release of such information but the DoH thus far refuses to comply.

h. I personally visited the DOH Office in Honolulu on July 21, 2010 and found Virginia Sunahara’s name in both the birth and death indexes spanning 1960-1964.

i. The research team did some footwork and determined the following: The father, Tomio Sunahara, was cremated and interred at the Mililani Memorial Gardens. Born Oct 13 1924; Died Mar 26 1968.

j. I visited the Sunahara birth address of xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. The house was in a relatively poor area, the house was unkempt and was not much more than a shack; there were discarded items and lawn bags full of pop and beer cans scattered everywhere. I approached the door where I could hear Fox News blaring in the background and knocked. A 50ish man in a pair of swim trunks, no shirt, answered the door. From what I could see, the house was extremely unkempt and had not been cleaned in years. There was stuff piled everywhere. The man at the door was Virginia’s brother, xxxxxxx.

k. I asked if xxxxxx, Virginia’s mother was home, and he asked me what the purpose of my visit was. I explained that I was researching infant deaths in 1961 and that I had attempted to visit Virginia’s gravesite at the National Cemetery but I could not locate it. He confirmed his father Tomio was buried at Mililani (which is no more than 5 miles from Wahiawa) and that Virginia was buried with him. I asked again if I could speak with the mother and he took me to a room located behind the carport and knocked on the door. The mother was asleep but awoke and came to the door. The condition of her room was the same as the inside of the house. He left me with the mother and returned to the house. I explained again that I was researching infant deaths and wanted some details regarding the death of Virginia. This is what I got:

i. Tomiyo/Virginia Sunahara was born the morning of Aug 4 1961 at Wahiawa General Hospital.

ii. She was having difficulty breathing and they transferred her to a hospital in Honolulu. Mrs. Sunahara did not remember which one but I assume it was Kapiolani since it is was more likely equipped to handle neonatal complications. She also could not recall where she was taken or who the physician was. You have to keep in mind that she is 83 years old, and this event occurred 50 years ago.

iii. Virginia survived less than a day which likely places the time of death sometime in the early AM of Aug 5 1961.

iv. I asked I could see the birth/death documentation and she said she could not remember if she even had it. Even if she did, given the condition of the house, I seriously doubt that she would have been able locate it.

v. I expressed my condolences to the mother regarding her loss, thanked her for the information and then left.

l. I called a member of the research team and asked them to find out where Mililani Gardens were located. After I left Wahiawa to head back toward Honolulu, I saw an exit for Mililani and exited. I stopped at the public library and obtained driving directions.

m. In the meantime, the research team member contacted the mortuary and confirmed that Virginia was indeed buried there with her father, Tomio as was her brother Stephen who passed away in 2002. According to mortuary, Virginia’s remains were dug up at the National Cemetery October 1968 and placed with her father’s, Tomio Sunahara.

I drove to the cemetery and stopped at the first office I came to and obtained the plot location. I explained that I was researching infant deaths from 1961 and asked if it was possible to view Virginia’s birth and death documentation (which was likely transferred to the mortuary when her remains were transferred). I was informed that I could not see the documentation due to legal and privacy concerns.
I located the gravesite. Again, by all appearances, this has been here for quite some time. There is zero evidence that this grave marker is a recent addition.
During my visit to the DoH office in Honolulu on July 20, 2010. I examined and made images of various index books:

a. The 1955-1959 birth index

b. The 1960-1964 birth index

c. The 1960-1964 death index

d. The 1960-1965 marriage index by Groom

e. The 1966-1970 marriage index by Groom

f. The 1960-1965 marriage index by Bride

All of the index books with the exception of the 1960-1964 birth index included the date range in the header on each page. My analysis is that there is a canned report the Vital Records department can run for the various indexes based on a specified date range and it is one of the parameters included when the report is printed. The fact that the 1960-1964 index lacks the date range in the header is a good indication that a custom report was generated to include Mr. Obama. His name was either somehow inserted or a report was created to include all births registered between the years of 1960-1964 and Mr. Obama. I have no doubt that the DoH has some sort of birth registration for Mr. Obama; however, his birth was likely registered sometime after 1964 or it is either a late/delayed or foreign birth registration.
During my visit I spoke with “Jesse the Vital Records Supervisor” and asked him if the birth indexes included foreign/out-of-state births, Hawaiian Births, and Late/Delayed Registration Births and I was informed no, that they included only the births that met the general birth criteria. I asked to see the aforementioned and I was told they did not exist or were not available. This is in direct conflict with the DoH Specific Records Retention Schedule items VDR-10, VDR-6, VDR-1. The Post & Email was able to obtain pages from the Certificate of Hawaiian Birth Index from Ms. Okubo, so its existence has already been confirmed. I asked if I could obtain a copy of a specific person’s index data and I was informed no, that it would contain too much information. I asked if I could obtain a redacted copy that included only information that appears in the index books (vital event, name and gender), and again, I was informed no.


The VA cemetery records were most likely computerized sometime in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. Virginia’s data was erroneously entered into the database at that point and time.
According a fellow researcher, an audit of the burial records was to have been performed around 2003. Either Punchbowl cemetery neglected to perform the audit, or it at least failed to verify Virginia’s records. In or after 2006, Virginia’s burial record was removed from the VA database.
None of the databases that have been offered as evidence e.g. Find A Grave, Burial Internment, are the actual VA database. They are just a snapshot of what the VA had on record at a particular point and time. It is not clear how long it takes for these auxiliary databases to self-correct or if they ever do.
Also, I believe that there was no official name change from Tomiyo to Virginia. According HRS 338, death certificates must be received by the DoH within three days. The Sunaharas probably had not selected a name for the baby prior to her death. The timeframe for submittal for a birth certificate is not as stringent (seven days). By the time the birth certificate was submitted, they decided on the name Virginia and the DoH updated its records accordingly for the death certificate. It is rare the issuance of a death certificate precedes a birth registration so the DoH likely retroactively updated its death record in regard to the first name.
If Virginia’s certificate number is 151-1961-010641, it was likely processed at the DoH on the 11th and no later than the 14th, based on the Nordyke twins’ certificate numbers (010637 and 010638) and the date they were processed, which was the 11th. We know that the DoH assigns a numerically sequential certificate number when it is received and accepted/filed. In other words, it is not pre-printed on a form that is distributed to all the HI hospitals. It is only way it can control the sequential numbering of the births otherwise the certificate numbers would be all over the place.
The delay of the internment at the National Cemetery that is assumed to have occurred on Sept 28, 1961 (based on the VA database snapshots in 2006) most likely had to with how long it took the Sunaharas to obtain approval from the VA to bury Virginia’s remains there. She was either embalmed, then held in cold storage at the mortuary that handled the remains, or she was cremated and the Sunaharas held her remains until such time that she could be interned at the National Cemetery. The latter makes the most sense, and cremation is a common method of handling remains in Asian culture.

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