Wallace “Wally” Seiko Chinen was born January 18, 1915 in Old Kailua, Maui, the first of eight children born to pineapple farmers who had immigrated to Hawaii from Okinawa. Because of their large family, Seiko was forced to quit school after the eighth grade so he could work and help support his family. He worked on the Haleakala Highway road project, doing hard labor “cracking” rocks, which was turned into gravel, and driving trucks loaded with pineapple along Maui’s northern coast.
He joined the Army on December 8, 1940 at the age of 25, and was assigned to the 299th Infantry Regiment of the Hawaii National Guard. He was stationed at the Lihue Armory on Kauai. His one-year enlistment was due to end on December 8, 1941, but the attack on Pearl Harbor changed that. He was shipped out with the other AJAs from Hawaii in 1942 and eventually was assigned to the 100th Battalion’s Company E, then transferred to Company D as a motor pool driver.
Except for suffering some hearing loss, Chinen made it through the war unscathed and returned to his wife Kiyoko “Kay,” whom he had married less than three months before the Pearl Harbor attack. They began their family, raising four children — three daughters and one son. Chinen retired from Times Supermarket, where he worked as a meatcutter for 25 years, and for many years as a meat department manager.
He was active in Club 100’s Dog Chapter and the Green Thumbs Club, and became an avid orchid grower. Wally Chinen passed away on December 17, 2002 at the age of 87 and is buried at Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific.