Veteran children’s book author Graham “Sandy” Salisbury was inducted into the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Club as
an honorary member. Salisbury is best known for his historical novels for school-age youngsters, including a series on the World War II experiences of Japanese Americans. One of those books, “Under the Blood Red Sun,” was produced as a feature length movie that was released last year. Salisbury served as the screenwriter for the film.
“Under the Blood Red Sun,” which was shot and edited in Hawai‘i, was recognized as the Best Feature Narrative at the 2015 DisOrient Film Festival, a social justice film festival dedicated to deconstructing media stereotypes of Asians and Asian Americans. The DisOrient is committed to presenting honest portrayals of the diversity of the collective Asian American and Pacific Islander experiences.
The 2015 Big Island Film Festival also selected “Under the Blood Red Sun” as its festival Best Family Feature Film.
Salisbury was born and raised in Hawai‘i, so he writes with ease from the perspective of a Hawai‘i keiki.
In nominating Salisbury as an honorary member, the 100th’s Baker Chapter cited his “genuine respect and admiration of the AJA veterans and his gratitude for their service.” Salisbury writes specifically about the 100th in his book, “Eyes of the Emperor.”
Salisbury said he was honored to have been selected for induction as an honorary member of the 100th Battalion. “The men sacrificed for future generations,” he said of the 100th Battalion soldiers. “If not for them,” he said, “life would have been a harder struggle for every Japanese American.”
Salisbury said he is “awed” to be able to tell their stories. “I’m telling the stories that they don’t want to tell, and I’m telling it to young people,” Salisbury said.
“The thing is these guys were doing something as a unit, rather than something for themselves … something huge for their families and for their country,” he added.
The induction of 100th Infantry Battalion honorary members dates back to the World War II years. The 100th was in Naples, Italy, in September 1944, just before moving into France, where they would join the costly Vosges campaign. Representatives of each 100th Battalion company met, wrote and approved the battalion’s by-laws. They also elected Capt. Katsumi “Doc” Kometani as their postwar club president and selected three men as the unit’s first honorary members — Charles Hemenway, Joseph Farrington and Leslie Deacon — for their support not just for the 100th, but also for the territory’s Japanese American community.
Other honorary members of the 100th include: Gen. Mark Clark, Misora Hibari and Haruhisa Kawada, the Rev. Hiro Higuchi, Hung Wai Ching, Masayo Umezawa Duus, Lyn Crost Stern, A.A. “Bud Smyser, Gene Castagnetti, Richard Halloran, Gen. David Bramlett, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and Gen. Eric Shinseki, among others.