The important role American soldiers of Japanese ancestry played in immediately answering their nation’s call on Dec. 7, 1941 — and throughout World War II — will be saluted during the 75th anniversary commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The surviving veterans, all of whom are in their 90s and who now number only a few hundred, will be honored at a special luncheon set for Monday, Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Coral Ballroom of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The tribute is appropriately themed “Fighting Two Wars: Japanese American Veterans Tribute,” for the Nisei soldiers did indeed fight two wars — against military enemies in the European and Asia/Pacific theaters of war, and against racism in their own country.
Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, will deliver the luncheon’s keynote address. Adm. Harris’ father and uncles served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. His mother was born and raised in Japan, where she met and married Harris’ father — and where the future American admiral was born. Adm. Harris is the top-ranking U.S. defense official in the Pacific and Asia region.
All World War II veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, Military Intelligence Service, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion are encouraged to attend the banquet, which is being organized by the 75th Commemoration of Pearl Harbor Committee in cooperation with the veterans clubs of those units. Each veteran and a companion are being invited to attend, free of charge — advance reservations are required, however. Veterans should contact their respective veterans clubs to make their reservation. Others interested in attending the event will be able to purchase tickets — that information will be available at a later date. Veterans should contact their respective unit:
- 100th Infantry Battalion: Call 946-0272, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Military Intelligence Service: Call Mark Matsunaga at 352-1528, or Annie Inouye 220-5347, or email email@example.com
- 442nd Veterans Club and 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion: Call 949-7997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 75th anniversary commemoration is also a celebration of the civilian survivors who were on O‘ahu on Dec. 7, 1941. All of them have stories that are worth remembering, documenting and sharing with younger generations. — Karleen C. Chinen