Gregg K. Kakesako
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
Eugene “Gene” Imai, whose military and government career spanned more than three decades, including service in Vietnam and as commander of the Hawai‘i Army National Guard, died Jan. 28 at the Arcadia Retirement Residence after a long illness. He was 72 years old.
According to the Japanese Americans Veterans Association, Imai was one of only 12 Japanese Americans nationwide to have achieved the rank of two-star general in the U.S. Army. He retired in 1999 after 32 years of service.
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Lister, for whom Imai served as chief of staff at Fort Shafter as an Army Reserve colonel from 1988 to 1991, described Imai as a “pragmatic” leader who had “the wisdom to realize that, while having grand plans, sometimes you have to settle for the smaller advances that will just make the situation a bit better.”