Dr. Mitch Maki: “Because of You, Our Nation is What It is Today”
Editor’s note: The following is the text of Dr. Mitchell Maki’s speech to the veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion and their families and friends at the One Puka Puka’s 75th anniversary banquet. The gathering, which was attended by seven 100th Battalion veterans, was held July 23 at Dole Cannery’s Pömaika‘i Ballroom. Maki is the president and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Go For Broke National Education Center, which is committed to perpetuating the legacy of the Nisei soldiers who fought in World War II.
The 100th Infantry Battalion was formed in June 1942, just six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. It was originally made up of 1,432 prewar draftees who had served in the Hawai‘i National Guard. The unit lost its first member, Sgt. Shigeo “Joe” Takata, when he was killed in action on Sept. 29, 1943, just one week after the men entered combat in Italy. Less than an hour after Takata’s death, Pvt. Keichi Tanaka was killed by machine gun fire. In the spring of 1944, the 100th lost many of its men in the bloody battle to wrest the abbey at Monte Cassino from the Nazis — so many that soldiers from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who were just completing training, were sent in as replacements. The One Puka Puka would later become the 1st Battalion of the 442nd, but was allowed to keep its original name. To learn more about the 100th, visit www.100thbattalion.org.