As we bid farewell to 2019 and look to what lies ahead in 2020, we’d like to take a moment to look back at what we accomplished in the past year.
In the Spring, the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd awarded our first-ever Okaga Sama De Award to Army JROTC students at the following high schools: Farrington, Kahuku, Kaimuki, Leilehua, McKinley, Mililani, Nanakuli, Punahou, Roosevelt, St. Louis, Waianae, and Waipahu. The Commanding Officer of each of these programs chose a student who best represented the values of the Nisei soldiers of WWII, such as Sense of Duty, Responsibility, Sacrifice, Honor, Loyalty, Persistence, Quiet Endurance, Pride, and Sense of Shame. Each of the award recipients was given a certificate and a medal.
Speaking of medals, with the kind assistance of Jeff Morita, thirteen Nisei veterans were awarded France’s highest honor, the Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor) for their service during WWII. Six of the medals were awarded at a ceremony at the Hawai’i Convention Center on June 1st, and others were presented at private ceremonies and at the annual Christmas party. Award recipients include:
- Yoshiyuki Joel FUJITA (HQ Co. 442)
- Hayao George FURUKAWA (G.Co/442)
- Ace Isao HANDA (Hq.Co, 3rd Bn/442)
- Royce Eiko HIGA (A.Btry/522)
- Hidenobu HIYANE (Hq.Co/100);
- Akiyoshi KURIYAMA (Hq.Co/100)
- Ikito MURAOKA (Med.Det/100)
- Katsuto Richard NAKAMURA (Antitank)
- Takahashi NOMURA (Med 442)
- George Kenichi OIDE (Hq.Btry/522)
- Clinton Ikuzo SHIRAISHI (Hq.Btry/522)
- Koichi TOKUSHIGE (A.Btry/522)
- Paul Sanji WATANABE (232nd Engr Co/442)
Sadly, we also said goodbye to several Nisei heroes in 2019. Among those we lost are:
- Hiroshi ARISUMI (442/232nd engineers)
- Hiroshi KAKU (Anti-tank)
- Noburo KAWAMOTO (HQ)
- Shinkyo KUNIYOSHI (MIS)
- Hajime MIYAMOTO (G Company, Med.Det/442)
- Harold NAKASONE (Cannon Co.)
- George NISHIMURA (MIS)
- Tadayoshi SATO (A Co, 100th)
- Kenny SHIMABUKURO (K Co 442)
- William Yoshio THOMPSON (HQ 442)
- Ralph Yasunobu TOMEI (M Co 442)
- Ted TSUKIYAMA (522/MIS/442)
- Harold T. UEOKA (522)
May they all rest in peace. If anyone was omitted, please contact us and we’ll add them.
Members of the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd participated in a number of remembrance ceremonies throughout the year, including presenting wreaths at the Mayor’s annual ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl and at the Joint Memorial Service at Punchbowl on 9/29/19.
There were also several celebratory events in 2019, including the 76th Anniversary of the 442nd Luncheon that was held at Hale Ikena at Fort Shafter on March 16th, the 100th Battalion Anniversary that was held June 22nd at the 100th Battalion Clubhouse, the Nisei Veterans Summer Special that was held at the 100th Battalion Clubhouse on July 27th, and of course the annual Christmas party held at the 100th Battalion Clubhouse on December 7th. There was also a mini-reunion held at the California Hotel in Las Vegas from September 29th to October 4th.
On April 20th, Mayor Yves Bonjean of Bruyères, France was welcomed along with his family at a luau held at the 100th Battalion Clubhouse. As 2019 was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bruyères and other nearby towns, a reunion tour was undertaken by members of the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd, veteran Lawson Sakai, and others interested in seeing the areas where the Nisei veterans served. From July 5th to 16th, participants traveled through France, from Nice to the Vosges, and were welcomed by the people of Bruyères and Biffontaine for liberation & Bastille Day celebrations.
Members of the Sons & Daughters also attended the Change of Command Ceremony for the Hawai’i National Guard’s 100th Battalion/442nd Infantry Regiment on September 14th at Fort Shafter Flats. At that ceremony, the Command passed from Lt. Col. Matthew L. Cloud to Lt. Col. Mark D. Andrews.
As education is an important part of our mission, Education Committee Chairman Bill Wright gave presentations at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio in Monterey, California, and at the headquarters of the Nike Corporation. Following his presentation at Nike, the company kindly agreed to add the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd to their list of recipients for donations from their employee giving campaign.
Throughout the year, volunteers from the Sons & Daughters have continued working on the digitization project to upload all of the National Archives records pertinent to the Nisei experience to the University of Hawaii’s servers. This will make the records accessible to people worldwide. The first step – scanning all of the documents – is complete. The second step – Optical Character Recognition or OCR – involves converting the image into text that can be searched, or read out loud by screen readers for people with visual impairments. This step is very time-consuming as it frequently requires the volunteers to manually re-type entire documents, which can be hundreds of pages long. This step is about 22% complete (box 8 of 36). The last step is creating metadata from the documents – reading the documents, writing a summary of what’s inside along with the author, date, etc. – and creating a searchable table with this information – is about 28% complete (box 10 of 36). If you’re interested in seeing what’s already uploaded, you may check it out here: https://evols.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10524/58537
As you see, 2019 was a very productive year for us! We look forward to what 2020 has in store for us.