Part 2 of nisei exhibit opens Friday

The Rev. Israel Yost, 100th Battalion chaplain during World War II, came to Maui to visit Club 100 veterans in 1947. During the visit, Yost gave his “Step Off the Road and Let the Dead Pass By” sermon at Maui Veterans Cemetery in Makawao. This photo is in the second part of the “One-Puka-Puka: The Purple Heart Battalion” exhibit that opens Friday at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center. Photo courtesy of the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center

The second part of “One Puka-Puka: The Purple Heart Battalion” exhibit, focusing on the 100th Battalion’s exploits from Anzio to Rome in Italy during World War II, will open Friday and run through Dec. 16 at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center in Paukukalo.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), which was composed almost entirely of nisei, or second-generation Japanese-Americans, from Hawaii. The unit was formed six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and included members of the 298th and 299th National Guard Units.

The 100th, which would later be attached to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, was the first unit of Japanese-Americans to see combat in WWII in September 1943. The 3,147 soldiers who served in the battalion earned 4,340 individual medals and awards, including 1,703 Purple Heart medals, awarded to those wounded or killed in military service.

The first part of the exhibit ran from June to late August. The second part of the exhibit will focus on the unit’s fighting from Anzio to the capture of Rome and into Leghorn, or Liverino, where the battalion was officially attached to the 442nd.

Highlighted in the exhibit will be the Battle of Belvedere in Tuscany, where the 100th Battalion defeated a crack German SS battalion spearheading a drive toward Naples, according to the 100th Infantry Battalion Education Center.

The 100th was in combat for 20 months, from Sept. 29, 1943, until Germany surrendered on May 2, 1945. The battalion was awarded three Presidential Unit Citations.

The exhibit is free and open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday. It is funded in part by the county Office of Economic Development.For more information, call the center at 244-6862 or go to the website