Approximately 800 people attended the Hawai‘i United Okinawa Association’s “Uchinanchu of the Year” and installation banquet earlier this year at the Hawaii Okinawa Center. The festivities saw the installation of the HUOA’s youngest president to date, 31-year-old Courtney Takara. She succeeds Vince Watabu as president of the organization made up of nearly 10,000 households.
In his outgoing president’s message, Watabu shared a few special memories that he would take from his year leading HUOA, including the start of construction of the Hawaii Okinawa Plaza commercial venture across the street from the Hawaii Okinawa Center to provide a steady revenue stream to the HUOA. One of his more moving memories was the assistance HUOA provided to two former World War II prisoners of war from Okinawa. They were sent to Hawai‘i and incarcerated at the Sand Island internment camp.