Editor’s note: With Memorial Day just days away and departed loved ones in our thoughts, it is fitting that we share with you Gen. Vincent K. Brooks’ keynote address to the 442nd Veterans Club at its 73rd anniversary banquet on April 10 at the Pacific Beach Hotel. Gen. Brooks commanded the U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter from July 2013 until early this month, when he was named commander of U.S. Forces Korea, United Nations Command and Republic of Korea-United States Combined Forces Command. It is an especially big responsibility given the North Korean government’s increasingly bolder posturing. The 57-year-old Brooks, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, is one of 13 four-star Army generals currently on active duty and only the eighth African American to attain the rank of four-star general in the history of the U.S. Army.

Special thanks to Gen. Brooks and the 442nd Veterans Club for allowing the Herald to share the general’s speech with our readers.

I want to thank Ken (emcee Ken Inouye) for that introduction. I very much appreciate it. I’m not sure how exceptional I was in terms of my achievements, but I do feel that I am absolutely in an exceptional crowd here. I’m honored and humbled to have a chance to address you at this gathering that you have been doing for so many years — how important these gatherings are — I’ll talk about that in just a moment, because it reflects so much on the true spirit of the 442nd. First, let me say thanks for inviting me to come and speak. I was concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to make it, to be honest. I’ve got a potential hearing in the next week or so and thought I would have to leave yesterday, so I had a video prepared. It wasn’t very good . . . so I decided I’d probably better be here in person to try again. And so the good news is that I was able to make it, at least it’s good news now at the start point. Let’s see if it’s good news by the end point!

Veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team gathered for a group photo at the 73rd anniversary banquet in April.
Veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team gathered for a group photo at the 73rd anniversary banquet in April.

I appreciate having so many distinguished leaders of the community present today. Governor and Mrs. Ige, thank you for being here. Congressman Gabbard, thank you for being here. Mayor Caldwell, Mrs. Caldwell, thank you very much for being here. Representative Nishimoto, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate our consular corps for being present. But, most importantly, the family members, and the veterans of the 442nd. What an amazing story.

You know, today I’m supposed to talk about…

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