Shinkiyo Kuniyoshi was born October 23, 1922 in Kaupakalua, Maui. After his family moved to O’ahu, he grew up in the Mo’ili’ili area, in a house above his parents’ clothing store. He attended McKinley High School On the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack, his home was struck by a stray bomb and caught fire. He watched in horror as his father helped pull an unconscious female customer from the burning building, her legs mangled by the explosion.
He enlisted into the U.S. Army and was assigned to the Military Intelligence Service as a Japanese interpreter. During the invasion of Okinawa, T/5 Kuniyoshi landed with the Marines and helped with interrogating Japanese prisoners, and with reassuring the local people of the Americans’ good intentions. In the process, he located members of his extended family. They had survived the famine there by growing Okinawan sweet potatoes, which could still grow despite the destruction above the ground.
Following the war, he married Fumiko Uehara and adopted two sons. He owned his own business, Kuniyoshi Dry Goods. He died April 28, 2019.