Legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team Celebrates 74 Years Since Its Formation in the Heat of War

Photo of Akira Otani and retired Circuit Judge Frank Takao.
Akira Otani and retired Circuit Judge Frank Takao both volunteered for the 442nd RCT. After training at Camp Shelby, Miss., both were transferred to the Military Intelligence Service.

Gov. David Ige
Published with Permission

Editor’s note: Close to 450 people turned out to honor and celebrate the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team at its 74th anniversary banquet on March 26 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. Of the roughly 442 people in attendance, 47 were World War II Japanese American veterans, all of whom are now in their 90s. For the second year in a row, the program was emceed by Ken “Kenny” Inouye, son of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who served in the 442nd. Another 442nd son, Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige, delivered the keynote address. The Herald thanks Gov. Ige for sharing the text of his speech with our readers.

There is always a certain amount of intimidation in speaking before this audience. I think as the son of a 442nd veteran, the legacy and the legend, surely, is very intimidating. I was glad to see that Kenny was going to be the master of ceremonies because that’s something we definitely have in common, both being the sons of veterans.

This is a very, very special occasion for me. I wanted to thank the 442nd Veterans Club for inviting me to speak here today. It truly is an honor to be surrounded by such a legendary group of heroes, truly the greatest generation and, especially, all your families and friends who supported them in all of their endeavors.

Photo of Moriso Teraoka, who volunteered for the 442nd and was assigned to D Company, 100th Infantry Battalion, as an early replacement.
Moriso Teraoka, volunteered for the 442nd and was assigned to D Company, 100th Infantry Battalion, as an early replacement. He is one of the few veterans, if not the only surviving member, of D Company.

You know, as governor of the state of Hawai‘i, I continue to be inspired in your presence. I stand on your shoulders — the shoulders of giants. I know that I would not be governor today if not for your actions, your courage and your commitment to this great nation that started more than 74 years ago and continues until this very day.

There has been much written and said about how you all individually and collectively changed America and changed Hawai‘i. I just returned a few weeks ago from Washington, D.C. As you know, we have a new president in the White House. I was able to meet him and meet a couple of the cabinet members and also able to meet with the leadership in the Congress.

As I was thinking about what I would say this afternoon, I really feel compelled to talk a little bit about the other part of your story — the story that often goes unspoken, part of your legacy that really is pertinent and really needs to be told today . . . . Watching (the video) Senator Inouye a little while ago just reconfirmed why it’s important that we tell this side of the story.

As you know, on the morning of December 7, 1941, when bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Hawai‘i and the world were changed forever.

More than 50 years of racism against Asian Americans reared its ugly head that day. You — all of the veterans here and their families — were reminded that your faces were not like other Americans: You had the face of the enemy and all that it represented.

There were people calling for the removal and imprisonment of the Japanese community in California and Hawai‘i. These voices of intolerance and bigotry were heard in the halls of Congress and in the White House. The U.S. Army and even the president of the United States, fell victim to the irrational and unjust cries for evacuation, segregation, and internment of Japanese Americans from the West Coast and even here in Hawai‘i.

Photo of William Thompson, who will serve another term as president of the 442nd Veterans Club.
William Thompson will serve another term as president of the 442nd Veterans Club.

On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of any and all people from military areas as deemed necessary and desirable. By June, more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, including more than 1,300 here in Hawai‘i — most of them American citizens — lost their property and were relocated to internment camps built by the U.S. military scattered across the country.

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