Karleen C. Chinen
(Photos courtesy Nisei Veterans Legacy)
“Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future” was the theme of the 11th annual Joint Memorial Service, which was held Sept. 25 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. The service borrowed the theme of this year’s Pearl Harbor 75th anniversary commemoration. A declining number of World War II AJA soldiers, their families and supporters gathered to remember fallen veterans of that war that forever changed so many lives.
The service, which was organized by Nisei Veterans Legacy, honored veterans of the 100th Infantry
Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. Former state Sen. Matt Matsunaga, son the late U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga, who served with the 100th Battalion and the MIS, delivered the memorial address.
The program also featured readings from the letters, poems and essays of veterans Ted Tsukiyama (442/MIS), Richard Okamoto (442), Robert Sato (100th) and Harold Kudo (442) by Sansei and Yonsei descendants of the AJA soldiers — Pauline Sato (daughter of Robert Sato), Sandy Tsukiyama (daughter of Ted Tsukiyama), Lynn Heirakuji and Daniel Akiyama.
The memorial service, which previously was organized by the O‘ahu AJA Veterans Council, is held annually on the Sunday closest to Sept. 29 — the day in 1943 that Sgt. Shigeo “Joe” Takata of the 100th Battalion became the first Japanese American soldier killed in action in World War II.
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