Nisei veterans memorial service to be Sept. 29

WAILUKU – Stacey T. Hayashi, the author of the graphic novel “Journey of Heroes,” will be the guest speaker when veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team hold their annual joint memorial service Sept. 29.

It will be at 2 p.m. at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center in Wailuku. The public is invited.

Also at the service will be the inaugural unfurling of replicas of the colors, or flags, of the 100th and the 442nd, and the guidons of six units, including the Military Intelligence Service and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion.

The service is held each year on the Sunday closest to Sept. 29, the day in 1943 when Sgt. Shigeo “Joe” Takata died in Italy – the first 100th Battalion soldier to be killed in action.

Maui veterans of the 100th Battalion held their first service after returning from World War II. The 442nd veterans joined the observance in 2003.

Both units were composed mostly of Americans of Japanese ancestry who served in Europe during the war. Most were nisei, or the second generation of Japanese in America. The nisei soldier story also includes those who served in the MIS in Asia and the Pacific and the 1399th, which was stationed on Oahu and completed 54 defense-related projects during World War II.

Hayashi and illustrator Damon Wong produced “Journey of Heroes” using the chibi characters of the Japanese style of comic book called manga. Though chibi characters are small and often connote cute, “Journey of Heroes” is a succinct and historically accurate story that follows nisei males from childhood, including in Hawaii’s plantation camps, to the attack on Pearl Harbor, internment, valor and sacrifice on the battlefields of Europe, and their contributions after the war, a news release about the event said.

Hayashi is a Hawaii-based serial entrepreneur and founder of the PainaGirl family of websites, including Hawaiian Wedding Shop.

Her interest in the Japanese American and Hawaii cultures led her to create “Journey of Heroes” to celebrate the heroism and cultural significance of the 100th Battalion and 442nd RCT, the news release said.

It is part of a multimedia project that also includes plans for an eight-part miniseries.

Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the Nisei Veterans has organized the annual service for several years. The service has some traditions, including the singing of the 100th Battalion and 442nd fight songs.

The names of the 100th and 442nd soldiers who were killed in action will be read while bells ring in the background. Those in attendance will build a wreath as a remembrance to the fallen soldiers.

Veterans will receive gifts that are being made by students of Kansha Preschool. The preschool and the Maui Adult Day Care Centers constitute the Intergenerational Center at NVMC.

A historical talk related to the annual observance will be given by David Fukuda, a member of the NVMC board.

The invocation and benediction will be by the Rev. Roland Bunda, pastor of St. Anthony Church; Maui Karaoke will perform prelude music; Alan Maeda, whose late father, Wallace, was a 100th Battalion veteran, will play ukulele for the songs that are sung by audience; and the master of ceremonies will be Floyd Nagoshi, a member of the MSDNV board.

The Nisei Veterans Memorial Center is on Go for Broke Place, near the intersection of Lower Main Street and Waiehu Beach Road.