A photo of Russell Shigeru Takashima and his 442nd Regimental Combat Team war buddies hung above a closet in the late veteran's home for at least half a century.
But now that photo, a sentimental memento, is gone.
Takashima's daughter, Faith Minyard, said she and her family discovered that the photo was missing after an estate sale at her late father's home on Niihau Street in Kahului on Saturday.
Russell Takashima of Maui was shown the Congressional Gold Medal minted in honor of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service last November in Washington, D.C. The WWII veteran died Aug. 17 at age 90. His family held an estate sale to dispose of some of his and his wife’s possessions, but someone took an item not for sale — a photo of Takashima and his war buddies that hung above a closet. The family wants it back.
In the frenzy of the sale, in which people just "ransacked" rooms and even stole cigars left as an offering for the late veteran on a religious altar, the family said someone apparently stole the photo.
Minyard said someone at the sale saw a man take the photo off the wall but did not see where the unidentified man had placed the photo. The family searched the home after the sale but could not find it.
"No questions asked, we just want it back," Minyard said Monday. "For them (the thief or thieves), it might be of value. For us, it's sentimental value."
The framed photo depicts Takashima and his fellow World War II soldiers. It is signed by some of the men in the picture from the highly decorated combat team of nisei or second-generation Americans of Japanese descent.
Takashima, who was born in Paia in 1921, died on Aug. 17. He was 90.
The former stevedore, who held a rank equivalent to today's corporal, was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal of Freedom last year along with his fellow nisei warriors of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service. The medal is the nation's highest civilian honor. Takashima, who served with Company K, attended the ceremony in Washington, D.C., in November along with several other war buddies from Maui.
Takashima was deployed to Italy and France and took part in the famous rescue of the "Lost Battalion" in France, where the 100th/442nd suffered heavy casualties to save Texas soldiers trapped by the Germans.
He also received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, Minyard said.
The daughter of the decorated veteran said that the family was holding an estate sale because her father and late mother had accumulated lots of good quality possessions in their home. So instead of having to pack and transport them for donation, they decided to have a sale.
But on Saturday the sale was chaotic. Minyard said 40 to 50 people had gathered outside the home at 6:30 a.m., even though the sale was to begin at 7 a.m.
Minyard, her 24-year-old daughter Delisha and a cousin opened up the doors, and people stormed in at 6:45 a.m.
People ignored signs that said not to enter certain rooms and went into rooms in which doors were closed to keep people out, family members said.
The photo was in one of those rooms that was closed off, although people went in anyway. Minyard said the witness saw the man take the photo off the wall before a family member told them to get out.
Minyard said that an off-duty police officer observed people walking out of the home with items they didn't pay for as well.
Delisha Minyard said she felt sad about people "just taking advantage of the situation."
She said her mother was dealing with enough emotional grief with her grandfather's death and was trying to take care of his old home.
"Saturday was mom's birthday," Delisha Minyard added.
"It was a lack of respect," the daughter said. "We didn't care about the monetary value of anything. The fact that people came in and acted this way. That was the most upsetting."
Delisha Minyard, who had lived with her grandfather previously, said she had left some of her belongings in her grandfather's home and had packed up her stuff and taped up the boxes. People even rummaged through those boxes, she said.
People even took items from a religious shrine in the home. She also saw people picking up the religious shrine and playing with it.
Faith Minyard admitted that they did not have control over the sale and could have handled the situation better. She said the family had held a sale on Sept. 2 but had more family members on hand to watch the customers. Not as many people showed up that day as well, she said.
Because of the incident, the family canceled a sale that was supposed to have happened on Sunday.
The family initially posted the sale on Craigslist and announced its cancellation on the website. They also asked for the photo's return.
The family has not filed a police report and said they just want the photo back.
For information regarding the photo or to turn it in, call (808) 381-2125.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org