On Sunday, June 26, 2011, the Kona Japanese Civic Association held its annual general membership meeting in Kealakekua, Kona. The all day affair featured various cultural exhibits as well as lots of food to eat. Over 400 gathered for this festive event. This year, the KJCA paid tribute to the World War II veterans living in Kona. The exhibits included a display regarding the Congressional Gold Medal Award. Several of the veterans participated in the event.
Here are the names of the remaining WWII veterans living in Kona:
Sunao Kadooka, 100th Infantry Battalion (4th from left in photo above)
Mitsuo Oura, 100th Infantry Battalion (3rd from left in photo above)
Yasunori Deguchi, 442nd RCT (2nd from left in photo above)
Katsutoshi Matsumura, 442nd RCT (1st from left in photo above)
Takeshi Kudo, 442nd RCT
Fumikichi Matsuoka, 442nd RCT
Herbert Okano, 442nd RCT
Hidetaka Sato, 442nd RCT
Mitsugi Inaba, MIS
Sumio Nakashima, MIS
Francis Sogi, MIS
The Washington Post recently printed images of the design finalists, with the final design to be determined later this summer by the US Mint.
In May, the proposed medal designs were reviewed by both the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizen Coinage Advisory Commission. After giving the opportunity to present the two obverse and two reverse design preferences of the NVN, the committee members individually responded to the proposed designs. All were very respectful and many spoke about how special and emotional this medal award is since it will eternally tell the story of a group of American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who overcame adversity and prejudice to prove their loyalty and patriotism to America.
Both commissions recommended a design to the U.S. Mint that was the preferred design of more than ninety percent of 100th, 442nd and MIS veterans nationwide. Their recommendation is as follows:
Obverse design: Color Guards in front, soldiers lined together in front of the American flag. Inscriptions include, “Nisei Soldiers of World War II” and “Go For Broke”.
Reverse design: Three insignias with a ribbon around it that spells out the MIS, 100th, and 442nd, with the inscription of the years of services, “1941-1946”.
This final medal design will be submitted to the Secretary of Treasury this month for approval. When approved, production of the Congressional Gold Medal will begin. For the latest news and information on how families can order their Congressional Gold Medal replica, please visit the National Veterans Network website at www.nationalveteransnetwork.com.
Technical Sergeant Shinyei Rocky Matayoshi, 442nd RCT, Company G, was awarded today the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross at the Hall of Heroes, Pentagon. This is the 29th DSC awarded to the 100th Battalion/442nd RCT.
In addition to the DSC, Matayoshi’s awards include the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Purple Heart Medal, the Distinguished Unit Citation and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii held their 26th Annual Military Recognition Luncheon on May 19th at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The program included a tribute to 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion. Five veterans from the 442nd and five from the 100th were among those honored at this luncheon. Representing the 442nd were Bill Thompson, Robert Uyeda, Joe Oshiro, Ed Yamasaki, and Takashi Shirakata. General David Bramlett, US Army (Ret.), spoke about the 100th/442nd and introduced each veteran.
Additional photos from the event can be found on the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii Facebook page.
Aratani and Terasaki Foundations Donate $50,000 Each
May 9, 2011 The National Veterans Network (NVN) has begun a fundraising campaign to support a two-day celebration event in Washington, DC in late fall 2011. The celebration commemorates and takes place around the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service members from World War II (WWII), three groups composed entirely of Japanese American soldiers. The funds raised during this campaign will. help to underwrite the expenses for both the veterans and the events that will recognize their service at a memorial service and a national gala dinner.
As the May 2011 National Asian Pacific American Heritage Month kicks off, it’s especially important to remember those who served in the US Armed Forces. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. segregated 120,000 Japanese Americans and placed them in internment camps. Yet, even with families and friends living in these camps and suffering under wrongful suspicion, more than 20,000 Japanese Americans served loyally in the U.S. military.
The 442nd RCT Foundation continues to focus its financial resources to supporting the 442nd Veterans Club Archives. Especially in light of the declining contributions in recent years, the Foundation’s board of directors has consciuosly established the 442 Archives and the collection efforts of the 442nd-related documents from the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) by the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) as its top funding priorities.
Their Japanese ancestry caused them to be unwanted, feared, distrusted and even despised. An expected Japanese invasion of Hawaii induced their hasty removal from their beloved island home. The Army didn’t know what to do with them after 14 months of training, even after their dispatch to North Africa. They were the Army’s “orphan outfit,” playing “guinea pig” for Japanese Americans in military service. Finally, after assignment to the 34th Division they gained the opportunity to engage in combat as the first and only segregated, all-Japanese infantry unit.
Soon they earned the reputation as the “Purple Heart Battalion” as the most decorated unit of its size and time in battle in the American Army of World War II. They not only proved the “Americanism is not a matter of race or ancestry” but also won for other Niseis the right to fight for their country.
That is the heart-warming “Cinderella story” of the original 100th Infantry Battalion (separate), proudly identified by the men of the 100th as “The One Puka Puka.”
The true origins of the 100th must trace back to 1909 and 1920 when immigrant Japanese field workers staged a general strike for fair wages and decent working conditions, which erupted into bitter racial hostility and denigrated the entire Japanese population to be treated for the next 20 years as an economic, political, and national security threat to Hawaii. Statehood was denied because of its large Japanese population and the questionable loyalty of even the American-born Japanese youth. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, the question was directed at every Nisei, “Who you going shoot?” and the men of the 100th knew in their hearts that the burden fell upon them to answer this challenge emphatically and for all time, on behalf of every Nisei everywhere.
A nice article on Lt. Col. John D. Porter from the Go For Broke Bulletin (Vol. XLVIII No. 3 – July – September 1997) by Ron Oba.
It’s funny how one reminisces and start to treasure the days of old. As one ages, the urge to recapture youth through the acquaintances you haven’t seen or heard from since. It’s as if that the remembrances of old friends and the telling of your life story with the joy of coupling the stories with the names of soldiers you’ve lived with will somehow keep immortality alive. Maybe that is the reason so many of the veterans are now coming in to the Archives for their oral histories so that their legacy will live forever through the retelling of their stories.
John D. Porter, who volunteered for the 442nd from the 34th Division, is one of them. He was here on Oahu at the Waianae R and R Center with his family. He called to say how he remembered the men of the 2nd platoon, Capt. Akins, Capt. Hill, and others. You couldn’t stop him for relating how proud he is as a veteran of the F Co. 442nd. But let him tell you himself in the following taped resume (shortened for the bulletin) and anecdotes he has sent to F Company and the Archives for posterity.
From the Go For Broke Bulletin Archives, here is an article on a tour of Italy and France taken in 2004 to see former battlefields and remember the the challenges that were faced and honor the memories of the fallen.
Go For Broke Bulletin Volume 55, No. 3 – April – June 2004
The Battlefields Tour: May 2004
By Sadaichi Kubota & Andy Ono
The Italian Phase of the Tour:
I could not resist the K Co sponsored tour – May 18 – June 3 – because I had promised myself I would one day make the pilgrimage to honor our buddies who fell along the way.