Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
On Saturday, March 25, the Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, on behalf of the 442nd Veterans Club and 442nd Legacy Center, will celebrate the formation and service with its 80th Anniversary Annual Banquet. The celebration will take place at the Hale ‘Ikena building at Fort Shafter from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person and 442nd RCT veterans, wives and widows may attend free of charge.
This month, 80 years ago, the nearly all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team was organized, just a little over a year after President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the forced incarceration of over 120,000 individuals of mainly Japanese descent after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The 442nd RCT was comprised mainly of Nisei soldiers and included over 2,500 volunteers from Hawai’i and 1,500 from the Mainland. The unit’s motto was “Go For Broke,” which is Hawai’i slang to risk it all to win big. The 442nd RCT is remembered for their bravery during World War II, fighting for the United States government while combating racism at home. The 442nd RCT, with the 100th Infantry Battalion, remains the most decorated U.S. military unit for its size and length of service in the nation’s history.
The Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was established in 1993 and is a chapter of the 442nd Veterans Club, whose primary function is to provide support to veterans and also is committed to promoting history of the 442nd RCT through education. The Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s mission is to ensure that the dedication, sacrifice and courage of the 442nd RCT soldiers’ legacy lives on and recognizes that through their accomplishments and valor, Japanese Americans can take place as citizens of the United States.
“I’m of the opinion that anyone who has a family member of the 442nd should be a member,” says Juanita Allen, Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team secretary and chairman of the 80th Anniversary Annual Banquet. “Everything they did made our life better today, and I think it’s a way to honor them. Once we’re gone, it’s up to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And if they don’t maintain some tenuous link, then it’s going to be lost in the future. If it hadn’t been for their service, Hawai’i would not be what it is today.”
The Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team membership is open to all persons who wish to support the WWII 442nd Regimental Combat Team veterans and their legacy, and is $25 a year, with additional household members at $15. While the organization encourages membership, you do not have to be a member to attend the 80th Anniversary Annual Banquet.
Ken Inouye, son of late Sen. Daniel Inouye, will be the keynote speaker of the anniversary event. Sen. Inouye is a 442nd RCT veteran who fought in Rome and the Vosges Mountains of southern France. In 1945, Inouye returned to Italy with the 442nd RCT to attack a heavily defended German ridge. There, as Inouye prepared to throw a grenade against German machine guns, an enemy grenade hit his elbow, and he noticed the live grenade still clutched in that hand, which no longer could function. Inouye transferred the grenade to his remaining hand and threw it before he was hit again, this time in the leg. Inouye lost his arm and received the Distinguished Service Cross and was promoted to captain. Inouye went on to become a lawyer and became the first Japanese American to serve in both the U. S. House of Representatives and the Senate. For his heroism under fire, President Bill Clinton awarded Inouye the Medal of Honor 55 years later, during Inouye’s sixth term as a United States Senator. At that White House ceremony, Medals of Honor were awarded to 19 other veterans of the 100th IB and the 442nd RCT, both in person and posthumously.
The 80th anniversary celebration opens at 9:15 a.m. for registration and 442nd RCT souvenir sales, with special 80th anniversary T-shirts in the works to be available for purchase. The celebration banquet will be emceed by Ron Nagasawa from MidWeek, with greetings by 442nd Veterans Club, 100th Infantry Battalion Sons & Daughters and MIS Club and opening remarks by Zita Cup Choy, a historian and ‘Iolani Palace. Entertainment will include a performance by Honpa Hongwanji Taiko Drum Group and also features color guard by Punahou School JROTC cadets. The banquet will also include as a short update about the Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s project to place all 442nd RCT, archives material on its website as well as a 442nd RCT video and veterans slide show. The banquet includes a Hawaiian lü‘au buffet.
Allen says her favorite part of the banquet is the guidon processional, where attendees have the opportunity to march with the pennant representing their veteran’s respective unit/company/battery and attendees may also carry a framed photo of a 442nd RCT veteran in the processional.
This year, while COVID-19 protocols are not required, banquet seating is limited and registration and payment are required by Monday, March 6 to secure a seat.
For more information and to register for the event, please contact Juanita Allen, banquet committee chairman, at 808-840-0627 or email@example.com or visit the Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team website at 442sd.org.