442 RCT/Nisei Veteran Events

75th Anniversary Tour of France, July 2019

Plans for 75th Anniversary Tour of France, July 2019

Brian Yamamoto of Alaska will be leading and organizing stops on a 75th Anniversary Tour of France in July 2019. Brian and his wife Leslie were on the 2009 tour with Lawson Sakai of the 442nd RCT and Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans. Brian led a 2013 tour to Italy with 43 people and a 442nd veteran and also led a 2014 France tour with 65 people and two 442nd veterans. He is working with Nora Di Bievre on planning the 2019 trip. Nora was one of the guides for the 2014 France tour and also led the study group a year later with Stuart Hirai’s group.

Details for the 2019 tour are currently being worked out and the organizers expect an itinerary to be available in the first part of 2018. They are hoping to plan a “short 6 day tour” to encourage any veterans who may be thinking of joining. This shorter tour will only visit the Vosges and the celebrations there around Bastille Day, July 14, 2019. There will be a “long 13-14 day tour” which will visit Sospel and L’Escarene, eventually meeting up with the “short tour” in Bruyeres.

While in the Vosges, the group will visit all of the monuments which will include: 442nd RCT, Lost Battalion, Yohei Sagami Stele, Tomosu Hirahara Square, 3rd Infantry Division, 45th Infantry Division, Robert Booth, and the 405th FS. We will also visit the American Cemeteries at Epinal and Lorraine for wreath laying ceremonies. The group will place leis and flags at grave markers of the 100th/442nd soldiers buried there.

Sospel and L’Escarene are in the French Maritime Alps where the Nisei troops were after the bitter fighting in the Vosges. It became known as the “Champagne Campaign”. The long tour group will place a wreath at the plaque in Sospel where Larry Miura and Kenji Sugiwara were killed. We will spend a day in Sospel visiting with the locals during special ceremonies. The tour will spend a day in L’Escarene which is famous for the Christmas party the Nisei troops held for the children in 1944. When the tour visited in 2014, there were many adults who were children at that party.

The organizers will keep those interested informed of any developments for the tour periodically. They are expecting a large group for this historic occasion, so it would be a good idea to sign up early once the itinerary is available in 2018. There may be a limit for the tour of around 100 people.

If you have further questions, you can contact Brian Yamamoto at brianeyamamotodds@gmail.com or write him at: 2136 Airport Way #2 Fairbanks, AK 99701.

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Fighting Two Wars AJA Veterans Tribute

Nisei Veterans gathered for official photo at AJA tribute luncheonBy Gail Nishimura, S&D

It was a very interesting afternoon.  To see and talk to many veterans and their families was really something that I will remember for a long time. There were so many people who came out to honor the veterans and the slide show that was playing in the background was an additional highlight.  It was nice to see my uncle’s picture when it popped up.  photo of slide show

Most of the veterans posed for the official picture, I think this was a big challenge for the photographers.  But the photo came out really nice!

photo of one of the group pictures

The mistress of ceremonies, Leslie Wilcox, kept the program moving smoothly. I was really impressed with the speakers, starting with Governor David Ige, followed by former Governor George Ariyoshi, and our keynote speaker Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. When I first heard that Gov. Ariyoshi was with the MIS, I was really surprised.  Thought he was too young to be in the war! (Although he didn’t go into the service until 1944 and is about four years younger than my uncle, who was also in the MIS).

I enjoyed the speakers and each brought a slightly different perspective to how the war affected their families and their own lives.  Gov. Ige’s father was part of the 100th Infantry Battalion, already noted was Gov. Ariyoshi’s service in the MIS, and Admiral Harris’ mother was from Japan & he was raised in Tennessee. Seems that Gov. Ariyoshi and my uncle had the similar “notice” from Uncle Sam…one day my uncle was in 522B at Camp Shelby and the next day he was headed to Fort Snelling in Minnesota! Gov. Ariyoshi thought he was getting out of the service but was sent to Fort Snelling instead.  (Note: my uncle now lives in Tennessee!)

One of my tablemates at the tribute was a Leilehua grad like me and we were impressed with the Leilehua High School Honors Chorus – nice to see our alma mater represented! Good job!

Overall, I enjoyed the day, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. The speeches were inspiring and makes me want to try and be a better person and live up to what my parents tried to teach me as a person of Japanese ancestry.

Pearl Harbor 75th Fighting Two Wars luncheon-Dec5-inside photo

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11th Annual Joint Memorial Service

Distinguished guests and Barbara Tanabe, mistress of ceremony for this year's JMS

Distinguished guests and Barbara Tanabe, mistress of ceremony for this year’s JMS

11th Annual Joint Memorial Service – sponsored by the Nisei Veterans Legacy (NVLC)
The 11th Annual Joint Memorial Service (JMS) was held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

The JMS honors the soldiers who served in World War II in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service, and 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. It is held annually on the last Sunday of September to commemorate September 29, 1943, the day that Shigeo “Joe” Takata of the 100th Infantry Battalion became the first AJA killed in action in World War II. This year’s service adopted the theme of the 75th anniversary commemoration of the bombing of Pearl Harbor: Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future.

The keynote speaker was attorney and former State Senator Matt Matsunaga, son of the late U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga who served in both the 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. Matt described his father’s long-time efforts to establish the U.S. Institute of Peace, which was inspired primarily from his wartime experience.

Lynn Heirakuji, whose father Walter Heirakuji served in K Company of the 442nd RCT, was the event Chairperson and Barbara Tanabe, whose father Frank Tanabe served with the MIS, was the emcee. Mahalo to all the hardworking volunteers who made this event possible.

Next year’s JMS will be held on Sunday, September 24 and the NVLC is seeking a chairperson or co-chairpersons. Please contact Wes Deguchi at 722-4728 if you are able to serve and help continue this important legacy event to honor the Nisei soldiers of WWII.

The attendees at the JMS, including Gov. and Mrs. Ige and Admiral Harry Harris.

The attendees at the JMS, including Gov. and Mrs. Ige and Admiral Harry Harris.

To Watch the JMS on Oceanic Ch. 53

The 11th Annual JMS was filmed and will be shown on Oceanic Ch. 53 on these dates.
11/6/2016 at 6:30 pm
11/7/2016 at 08:00 am
11/9/2016 at 10:30 pm
11/13/2016 at 2:30 pm

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11th Annual Joint Memorial Service, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016

Veterans, Sons & Daughters, Granddaughters and Grandsons and Family and Friends –

The 11th Annual Joint Memorial Service (JMS) which is open to the public was held on Sunday, September 25, 2016, at 10 am at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The JMS is held to honor the Japanese American Soldiers who served in WWII, specifically, those in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service, and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. Thirty-three thousand Japanese Americans served in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII and 800 lost their lives fighting for this country, which had initially classified them as “enemy aliens.” The wartime service of the Nisei Veterans was instrumental in helping to shift the racial mood of the country toward Japanese Americans and lay the groundwork for the admission of Hawaii to the Union. Their exemplary service also opened the doors of social, economic and political opportunity for future generations.
Mr. Matt Matsunaga, son of the late Congressman and U.S. Senator, Spark Matsunaga, will be the keynote speaker at this event. The Royal Hawaiian Band will provide musical entertainment.

Thank you to All who joined Us on Sunday, September 25.

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Photos from Memorial Day services, 2016

442nd RCT Veterans and Sons & Daughters of the 442nd RCT took part again this year in Memorial Day services to honor and remember those who sacrificed for our country.

 

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522nd Field Artillery Battalion

522 Exhibit-flyer-081015

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Veterans Day onboard the USS Missouri

USS Tsukiyama

November 11, 2013 – Honolulu, Hawaii. The Battleship Missouri Memorial hosted a ceremony to recognize the 70th Anniversary of the Nisei Veterans of World War II. The event was held on deck of the Missouri and was attended by veterans, families and friends.

Veteran Ted Tsukiyama, 442nd RCT and MIS, gave the following speech:

ANSWERING THE CALL

Pearl Harbor Attack

            7:55 a.m., December 7, 1941, that fateful moment in history when the first Japanese bombs rained down upon Pearl Harbor and drastically transformed the lives of everyone in Hawaii, and most particularly those of Japanese ancestry. No one who was here can ever forget that day. I remember it well.

I couldn’t sleep that unforgettable Sunday morning by the constant rumbling of thunder that would not cease. The sky above Pearl Harbor was black with smoke, punctuated by puffs of white aerial bursts. “They’re sure making this maneuver look real,” I thought. Turning on the radio, I heard the KGU announcer screaming, “Take cover! Get off the streets! We are being attacked by Japanese enemy planes. This is the real McCoy! Take cover!  Those words pierced my very core like a piece of shrapnel.

I heard but could not comprehend. I was assailed by swirling succession of feelings and passions. First I was stunned by utter surprise and shock. I was benumbed with disbelief and then denial….”this is just a bad dream, it can’t be really happening.” There was indignant condemnation…..”You stupid damned fools, don’t you know who you are attacking?”  Then strangely, there was a twinge of guilt and shame for being the same race as the enemy but quickly supplanted by a dark foreboding and concern for innocent people like my parents who had nothing to do with the bombing and for the suffering that was sure to follow. But the final and lasting emotion was anger, outrage and hatred for our attackers and a vow that “I’m going to get you bastards!”, feelings that would last and would not diminish for the rest of the war.

Meanwhile the radio announcer Webley Edwards was frantically calling for all soldiers, sailors and marines to report to their battle stations, when suddenly I heard him say “All members of the University ROTC, report to your campus unit immediately.” I jumped into my ROTC uniform and rushed up to the ROTC armory at the UH campus within the first hour of the attack. The several hundred ROTC cadets arriving on campus were greeted with the sight of ROTC staff Sgt. Ward and Sgt. Hogan feverishly inserting firing pins in the World War I vintage Springfield .03 caliber rifles and issuing us a clip of five bullets. It should be noted that 60% to 75% of the ROTC corps was made up of cadets of Japanese ancestry, yet throughout it all there was no registration or signups, no swearing in nor any kind of formality. No one questioned us. There was absolutely no hesitancy, doubts or distrust in mustering us in. We were ordinary ROTC cadets responding to the call to defend our country, just like any other American soldier or sailor reporting to their battle stations in time of war. I reported to my ROTC unit, Company B, lst Battalion commanded by Captain Nolle Smith, for which I served as First Sergeant.

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Ceremony At Biffontaine

October 19, 2013 – Biffontaine, France

Over 300 gathered, including sons and daughters, family and friends of the 442, to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the town of Biffontaine. The ceremony took place in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, at the place call Terminal 6, where the battle of the Lost Battalion took place.

Mr. Valentin, Deputy Mayor of Biffontaine, gave the follow speech:

Dear officials,  Ladies and Gentlemen, My dear friends,

Today, the town of BIFFONTAINE, surrounded with the committee of Terminal No. 6,  is honored by your visit and thank you warmly. At the dawn of the 70th anniversary of the liberation, we are here to prove that forgetting does not exist between our two countries.

In this little area in the Vosges, humble as we are in front of that stone monument, we all bow before our heroes’ courage, in respect and silence.

Today we’re thinking of those young people who came from a beautiful faraway country and who gave their youth and life to our country. They sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

Remembering that shows to their families and to you all, my friends, that their supreme sacrifice was not vain.

That sacrifice gave France back its place in the world and helped to fight against the murderous madness of Nazism.

In front of that monument, erected on a site where fierce fightings occurred, we must remember that Freedom is never fully achieved. It is still fragile and it is our duty, to all of us, from the youngest to the eldest, to ensure that freedom and peace remain.

Those thousands of dead people, whose memory will remain etched in our hearts, must be recognized as they should be and that memory must hang over our forests.

In order that our descendants can remember, it is up to us to pass on the History and to preach again and again for a lasting peace between all peoples.

A country must remember the past to build the future.

Before we temporarily leave each other, I’d like to pay my last respect to Jean BIANCHETTI who died on August 10th. He was, with George HENRY, the founder of the monument Terminal No. 6. I wish to express here my gratitude to his family.

I wish you all a great day in BIFFONTAINE.

 

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Oahu AJA Veterans Council 8th Annual Joint Memorial Service

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The Oahu AJA Veterans Council 8th Annual Joint Memorial Service was held on Sunday, September 29, 2013 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.  Barbara J. Tanabe served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the event.  The program included Col. Gene Castagnetti, USMC, Ret. Superintendent, NMCP who gave the “Welcome” and Brigadier General James T. Hirai, U.S. Army, Ret. was the Keynote Speaker.  Veterans from the numerous veterans groups were in attendance.

We would like to thank Chairman Byrnes Yamashita for his superb coordination of this event, it was a great success.  Our mahalo to all who assisted in this service.

Click below to view photos of the event…

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Speech on 70th Anniversary of the 100th Infantry Battalion

Thank you to Judge Thomas K. Kaulukukui, Jr. for allowing us to post the speech he gave at the 100th Infantry Battalion’s 70th Anniversary Banquet on July 8, 2012 at the Honolulu Country Club.

Good Morning to All.
I humbly offer all honor and respect to the Great Spirit who has made this day and who has given us a humble part in it; and to the sands of your birth, wherever that may be; to the memory of our ancestors; to the elders who are present; and to the leaders and other guests in attendance; and most of all, I bow in respect to the veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, and to their descendants and other family members here today, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the 100th Battalion.

I was invited to offer my thoughts on the contributions of the 100th Battalion to the community. I was born in 1945, so I am a member of the “baby boomer” generation—the generation after the 100th Battalion veterans. This is the vantage point of my perspective. Most of you already know the specifics of some or most of the contributions of these veterans, but I humbly offer my own brief but broad perspectives on this topic. I have entitled my remarks “The Essence (S-sense) of the 100th Battalion’s Contributions to the Community.”  I say “S-sense” because I will speak of 3 Ss. Read more »

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2011 Joint Memorial Service

The sixth annual Joint Memorial Service was held on Sunday, September 25, 2011, at the National Memorial Cemetery fo the Pacific. The annual event is sponsored by the AJA Veterans Council. It recognizes and honors all four World War II nisei veteran units: The 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. The program was highlighted by Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, who gave the memorial address to a crowd of over 400. 

Click below to view photos taken by Wayne Iha, Clyde Sugimoto, Pat Thompson and Gary Saito.

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Bruyeres + Honolulu Event

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100th Infantry Battalion***Annual Banquet

“Thanks For The Memories” was this year’s theme for the veterans of the 100th as they celebrated their 69th Anniversary Banquet. The event was held on Saturday, July 2, 2011, at the Honolulu Country Club. Approximately 300 veterans, family members and friends participated in the event. The program featured a video presentation on the history of the Club 100 Clubhouse and past memories from the younger generation growing up with the veterans. Dr. Cass Nakasone, a grandson, gave the keynote address.

Congratulations to the 100th’s Banquet Committee for a job well done!

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Community Exhibit Honors the Legacy of the Veterans

Sons, daughters and friends have refreshed the “Honoring the Legacy” Exhibit at Central Pacific Bank in downtown Honolulu.

The AJA Veterans Exhibit Committee include sons, daughters and friends of the veterans from the 100th Infantry Battalion (100th), the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442nd), and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The Exhibit Committee creates exhibits on the four principal AJA units – the 100th, the 442nd, the MIS, and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion (1399th). Alvin Yoshitomi and Eileen Sakai are the 442nd Sons & Daughters on the Exhibit Committee.

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Live with Honor, Die with Dignity

There was a special screening of the documentary film, “Live with Honor, Die with Dignity”, in Honolulu on September 10, 2010. Over 350 veterans, family and friends showed up for the event, sponsored by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. A special guest appearance was made by famed actor George Takei to introduce the film. Jake Shimabukuro, composed and played the song, “Go For Broke” on his ukulele via a video presentation at the beginning of the event.

Here are photos of the event, captured by Ann Kabasawa, Clyde Sugimoto, Wayne Iha and Pat Thompson.

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