Cannon Company

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Stories From My Grandpa

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Stories From My Grandpa
By Kristen Nemoto Jay

Sgt. Wilbert “Sandy” Holck, 442nd RCT Cannon Co.

photo of Sgt. Wilbert “Sandy” Holck, 442nd RCT Cannon Co.

I don’t remember my grandfather. Not personally, anyway. The only memories I have of him consist of a bleak image of a large J.F.K. velvet painting that he loved, which greeted (or scared) folks who’d walk through the front door of my grandmother’s house. That house was burglarized more times than I can remember growing up but not a single one thought to steal Jr. from the wall. I’d like to think it’s because they knew Grandpa would hunt them down, which—from what I also heard growing up—wouldn’t have been too far off from the truth.

No, sadly, I didn’t know him. There were stories about his time spent fighting in WWII and the Purple Heart he received from serving in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. But what especially stuck were tales of his parenting style, and the consensus was: strict. His kids—my mother, her three sisters and two brothers—would reference the Von Trapp family a lot; well before they were singing in the mountains with Maria. But because my grandparents had divorced before I was born, and he remarried to have another life in Arizona soon after, I never got the chance to get to know what he was really like.

It wasn’t until he was on his deathbed in 1999, during my freshman year in high school, when I finally found the courage to write him a letter. I don’t remember what I’d written, but according to my mother, when she flew up to see him and say her goodbyes, Grandpa couldn’t stop crying. “He was very touched,” my mom said to me, and I felt bad that my last and only contact with him made him grieve even more.

After his death, years passed on as if — for me anyway — he didn’t exist. I moved on to college in California, then on to grad school soon after in Chicago. And in the beginning of 2013, I’d landed my dream job as a writer in Honolulu. Coincidentally that same year I pitched and wrote a story about an upcoming trip that my family and I were about to embark on: Honolulu to Bruyères 2013 Tour Sister Cities. A trip that would retrace all the steps that Grandpa, and thousands of other Nisei soldiers, took when they were just young adults themselves.

To be quite honest, when I originally signed up to go, I was more excited for the trip to Europe than to learn about a grandfather I hardly knew. Of course I had some interest to try and comprehend what he and so many young men had to go through during a time of great turmoil, but truthfully, I was in it for the rumored endless supply of wine and buttery Croissants.

But after digging deeper into Grandpa’s particular role in Hawai‘i’s connection to the city of Bruyères, I was intrigued to find that he created the initial bond between the two unlikely friendships. I found out that years after the war, he returned to the city and became friends with resident Gerard Deschaseaux. That handshake would then be the first step in creating a close friendship that would last well into my generation.

Then, by day two of the tour in Europe—when I met up with 50-plus Hawai‘i people who were a part of the tour—I realized this trip was already meaning more than I could possibly imagine. For in the short span of nine days, I had gained memories and lessons that would last a lifetime. These experiences included a tour of the grounds of the Dachau Concentration Camp where our Nisei grandfathers once fought off Nazis soldiers; a meet and greet with families whose fathers and grandfathers helped save those who couldn’t pronounce their own last names and vice versa. I met an elder man in Bruyères who broke down into tears after learning that I was a descendant of a Nisei soldier. I made friends with every French person on the tour bus without knowing a smidgen of their language. I watched our American flag rise proudly within the forest of Biffontaine, where nearby in the Vosges Mountains, 800 Nisei soldiers once fought and died (Editor’s note: this figure is for all 100th/442nd soldiers killed during the war) to save the Lost Battalion of 275 trapped soldiers. I paid my respects to the soldiers who didn’t make it home from the war at the Epinal American Cemetery. And I cried as French children sang, with perfect pronunciation, Hawai‘i’s state song of “Hawai‘i Pono‘i.”

Image of American Cemetery

Image of American Cemetery

After the trip, I’ve been blessed to see a whole new meaning and profound appreciation for my life. My grandfather and his Nisei brothers are the reasons why I’m able to have the life that I live today. The very reason why I was able to go to school and have opportunities to succeed. It’s as if they knew, when they were all fighting in the cold mountains of France, so far from home, that their service would mean so much more than themselves one day. That their sacrifice for freedom and proven loyalty will carry on and be remembered by their children’s children’s children.

The Holck family on the Honolulu to Bruyeres 2013 Tour

The Holck family on the Honolulu to Bruyeres 2013 Tour

Although it’s a bit late in my life, I’m happy to have learned more about my grandpa. And even though I may not have known him personally, I feel as if he has always been with me. His legacy lives on: I just have to pay a bit more attention. During our trip to Bruyères, I did see him. I saw his bravery in the cold cells of the Dachau Concentration Camp. I felt his compassion for the elder man who cried tears of joy for saving his family from Nazi persecution. I saw his love for his family and country in the American flag that rose high within the forest of Biffontaine. I saw his deep sorrow and pain within the thousands of unmarked graves of his brothers who didn’t make it home. I felt his pride when I heard those children sing our state anthem. I even felt his sense of humor in The Sound of Music tour while we were in Austria (my family insisted we attend); and his love for life within our French hosts whom did indeed pour us all endless glasses of French wine throughout our entire nine-day tour. Although my grandfather and I haven’t been formally introduced, I know he has been and always will be with me.
And with that, I want to say this to him:
Thank you, Grandpa. And until we meet again, I’ll always remember you.
(Granddaughter of Sgt. Wilbert “Sandy” Holck)

photo of author, Kristen Nemoto Jay

photo of author, Kristen Nemoto Jay

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69th Anniversary Banquet *Cannon Company*

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The following slide show highlights the veterans of Cannon Company who attended the 442nd Anniversary Banquet held on March 25, 2012. It was created by Geralyn Holck, daughter-in -law of the late Wilbert Sanderson “Sandy” Holck of Cannon Company.


Click here to watch slide show

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442nd Cannon Company Members

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All members of the 442 Cannon Company

Last Name

First Name



Achiu Clarence A. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Akimoto Jackson 442.Can-Co T/Sgt
Andow Eric 442.Can-Co Sgt
Aoki Isamu S. 442.Can-Co 1st Sgt
Aoyama Yoshiharu N. 442.Can Co Cpl
Arakaki Robert S. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Aramaki Hiroshi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Benitez Theodore 442.Can-Co Pvt
Bruce, Jr. Sydney Steward 442.Can-Co 1st Lt
Chagami Henry S. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Chinen Richard K. 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Date Henry Shigeru 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Doi Arthur N. 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Elliott Herbert L. 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Enomoto Masaichi 442.Can-Co T/5
Fujikawa Sam I. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Fujimoto Takashi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Fujioka William Takashi? 442.Can-Co Pfc
Fujitani Masato 442.Can-Co Pvt
Furusho Tom H. 442.Can-Co T/Sgt
Fushimi Sam Shoichi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Ginoza Jerry Shizuo 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Goto Alfred H. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Gustafson Gerald A. 442.Can-Co 1st Lt
Hamada Tetsuo 442.Can Co Pfc
Hanami Takeshi 442.Can-Co Sgt
Hanami Thomas M. 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Hayashi Shuki 442.Can-Co Cpl
Hidaka Frank S. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Hidaka Frank Tsumemoto 442.Can-Co Sgt
Higa Donald S. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Higuchi Matsuo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Hinatsu Shigeru 442.Can-Co Cpl
Hirai Seichi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Hiranaka Charles Toshio 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Holck Wilbert Sanderson 442.Can-Co Sgt
Ibata Utah Utaka 442.Can-Co Cpl
Ichimasa Arnold H. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Imoto Yoshio 442.Can-Co T/Sgt
Inouye Thomas Masaichi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Isara Raymond S. 442.Can-Co Pvt
Iseri Takuo Dan 442.Can-Co Cpl
Ishida Yukio 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Ishikawa Hiroshi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Ito Bill Shoichi 442.Can-Co CWO
Ito Martin Lloyd 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kainuma Chester Takeo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kaisaki Tadao 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Kajiwara Itsuo Edward 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kamada William Yukio 442.Can-Co Cpl
Kamo James Hajime 442.Can-Co T/Sgt
Kanazawa Tooru Joe 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kanda Shiigo 442.Can-Co Pvt
Kaneshiro Harold Kiyoshi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kaneshiro Jusei 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Kaneshiro Shigetoshi S. 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Karikomi Teddy Y. 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Kasai Yoshio 442.Can-Co Pvt
Kashiki Yoshio John 442.Can-Co Sgt
Kawa Alfred Shinobu 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kawakami Keiji 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Kawakami Tadashi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kawamoto Andrew Mitsugi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kaya Shoji 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kazlauskas Joseph Bernard 442.Can-Co 1st Lt
Kealoha, Jr. Edward P. 442.Can-Co Pvt
Kihara Tooru 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kinoshita Fred Mitsuo 442.Can-Co Cpl
Kitagawa Manuel C. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kiyabu Freddy M. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Koike Masaru Dr. 442.Can-Co Cpl
Koizumi George K. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Komoto George 442.Can-Co Pfc
Konishi Tadashi T. 442.Can-Co Pvt
Kono Masuo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kubota Charles Isao 442.Can-Co Sgt
Kudo Kazuyukii 442.Can-Co Sgt
Kuida Hiroshi 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Kunishige Sakae 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kurihara Frank H. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kusatsu Matsuichi Mutt 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kushimaejo Masao 442.Can-Co Pfc
Kushiyama Kazuo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Maeda Harry Sueo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Maeda Shinjiro Licoln 442.Can-Co Pfc
Makabe Yoshito Thomas 442.Can-Co Pfc
Masumoto Tadashi 442.Can-Co Pvt
Masumoto Yoshio 442.Can-Co Sgt
Matsuda James Seiichi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Matsui Everett 442.Can-Co Sgt
Matsui Masanao Herbert 442.Can-Co Cpl
Matsui Masanori 442.Can-Co Pfc
Matsumoto Kiyuichi 442.Can Co Pfc
Matsumoto Takashi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Matsumoto Takeo H. 442.Can-Co Pvt
Matsumoto Tetsuo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Matsumoto Yeichi R. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Matsunaga Robert Isamu 442.Can-Co Pfc
Matsuoka Yutaka T. 442.Can-Co  
Matsuura Norman T. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Mayeda Hideo C. 442.Can-Co T/Sgt
Mikasa Haruo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Misawa Naoki ‘Mac’ 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Miyake Paul S. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Miyake Roy Kenji 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Miyake Shigeso Roy 442.Can-Co Sgt
Miyake Tsutomu F. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Miyamoto George N. 442.Can-Co Pvt
Miyamoto Henry 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Miyasato Frank S. 442.Can-Co Cpl
Miyashiro Tamotsu 442.Can-Co Pfc
Mizote Hisashi E 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Mizukami Takeshi ‘Bolo’ 442.Can-Co Pfc
Morita Mamoru 442.Can-Co SFC
Murai Teruo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Murakami Tsukasa 442.Can-Co Pfc
Muraoka Takashi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Murata Yoshiyuki 442.Can-Co Pvt
Musashi Motomu 442.Can-Co Pfc
Nagamine Teikan 442.Can-Co Pfc
Naguwa Alan M. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Nakada Yoshinao 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Nakamura George E. 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Nakamura Itsuo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Nakano Madzumi 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Nakano Tomoharu 442.Can-Co Pfc
Nakasone Harold S 442.Can-Co 1st Sgt
Nakayama Minoru 442.Can Co T/Sgt
Ninomiya Vincent R. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Nishimoto Harumi N. 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Nishio George Kiichi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Nitta William S. 442.Can-Co Cpl
Noguchi Hideo H. 442.Can-Co T/5
Noguchi Takao Blackie 442.Can-Co 1st Sgt
Noji Takeshi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Noji Takeshi 442.Can-Co Pvt
Nozawa Toru 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Nunotani Wallace Kiyuso 442.Can-Co Sgt
Oda Isami Charles 442.Can-Co Pfc
Ogura Shuichi 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Ohara Masami M. 442.Can-Co Cpl
Okabayashi Tsutomu 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Okamoto Akira 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Okimoto Tokuo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Okino Tamotsu Tom 442.Can-Co Pfc
Osato Timothy 442.Can-Co Cpl
Oshiki Yoshio 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Oshiro Yukisada T. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Otsuka George Katsui 442.Can-Co Sgt
Otsuka Thomas T. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Oura George 442.Can-Co T/5
Saiki Kazutaka 442.Can-Co Sgt
Sakamoto Toyo 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Sakata Tomio Tom 442.Can-Co Cpl
Sato Tadao 442.Can Co Pfc
Sato Norman F. 442.Can-Co T/Sgt
Shigei Isamu 442.Can-Co Pfc
Shintani Tsuyoshi Jamie 442.Can-Co Sgt
Shorey Edwin Robert 442.Can-Co Capt
Soranaka Harry J. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Suehiro Isamu 442.Can-Co S/Sgt
Sugawara Peter Mutsumi 442.Can-Co Sgt
Sugihara Takashi F. 442.Can-Co Sgt
Susumi Arthur Asahi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Suyematsu Toshiro 442.Can-Co T/Sgt
Suzuki Arthur A. 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Suzuki Shiguare S. 442.Can-Co Sgt
Taba Kiyoshi 442.Can-Co Cpl
Taguchi Tooru Tug 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Takahashi Akira 442.Can-Co Pfc
Takahashi Tamotsu 442.Can-Co Pfc
Takai Harry Tamotsu 442.Can-Co Cpl
Takano Kaoru Carl 442.Can-Co Pfc
Taketa Galen Masao 442.Can-Co Pvt
Tamura Hisashi 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Tanigawa Nobuo Fred 442.Can-Co 2nd Lt
Terada Herbert M. 442.Can-Co Pvt
Terashima Yoshio 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Tomita Jack Mamoru 442.Can-Co Sgt
Tonaki George Motohide 442.Can-Co Pfc
Toyota Yoshio 442.Can-Co 1st Sgt
Uchida Frank 442.Can-Co Pvt
Uchiyama Yonetaro 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Ugai Norman Fumio 442.Can-Co Cpl
Umeda Mitsuo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Unten Kameichi R. 442.Can-Co Pfc
Ushijima John Takeji 442.Can-Co Sgt
Wakano Victor Ichiro 442.Can-Co Pvt
Watanabe Kaoru 442.Can-Co Pfc
Yabusaki George Hideo 442.Can-Co Pfc
Yamachika Kiyoshi 442.Can-Co Pvt
Yamagata Gichi 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Yamamura Mike M. 442.Can-Co Tec/5
Yamashiro Akemi 442.Can-Co Pvt
Yamashita George J 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Yamaura Henry Yoshimi 442.Can-Co Pfc
Yanagimachi William Tsutomu 442.Can-Co Tec/4
Yonemura   Hitoshi 442.Can Co 2nd Lt
Yoshida Joe 442.Can-Co Pfc
Yoshida Masamitsu 442.Can-Co Pvt
Yoshihashi Ichiro 442.Can-Co T/Sgt
Yoshinaga Nadao 442.Can-Co Pfc
Yoshizawa Hajime 442.Can-Co Cpl
Yukawa John Junichi 442.Can-Co Cpl
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