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Service to remember the sacrifices of the nisei soldiers of World War II

The annual joint memorial service of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team veterans will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center.

The public is invited to attend this service to remember the sacrifices of the nisei soldiers of World War II.

The NVMC is on Go For Broke Place, off Kahului Beach Road. The service will be in the Oceanview Maui Adult Day Care Center of the campus.

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 Valley Isle observance in 2003.

Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the Nisei Veterans have sponsored and organized the service for several years.

The guest speaker will be Brig. Gen. Keith Y. Tamashiro, assistant adjutant general — Army of the Hawaii National Guard.

As principal adviser to Maj. Gen. Arthur J. Logan, adjutant general, Tamashiro helps formulate, develop and coordinate programs, policies and plans affecting the Hawaii National Guard. Tamashiro also serves as director of the joint staff.

The annual service has some traditions, including the reading of names of the 100th and 442nd soldiers who were killed in action, as well as the names of their comrades who passed away since the previous year’s joint memorial service. The reading is accompanied by a floral tribute.

A historical presentation is another tradition of the service. It will be given by David Fukuda, member of the NVMC board and of Maui’s Sons and Daughters of the Nisei Veterans.

He will talk about an address given 70 years ago by Chaplain Israel Yost when he visited Hawaii and his fellow veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion.

The veterans who attended this service in 1947 were beginning to put their own lives together, looking forward to their futures. But there were also the memories of their comrades who had given their lives.

As he had done in Europe, from foxholes to Sunday services, Yost ministered again to the soldiers in a talk titled “Step Off the Road To Let the Dead Pass By.” The title was inspired by the respect given by a soldier who stepped aside, stopped and took off his helmet as four men carried the body of a fallen comrade away from the battlefield.

The service also will include the presentation of transcripts to families of 100th Battalion soldiers who participated in the oral history project of the Sons and Daughters group. The veterans whose transcripts will be presented are Jack Gushiken, Johnny Miyagawa, Kunio Ogawa and Masao Sato. All of the participants are now deceased. The presentation to their families will be made by Leonard Oka, president of the Sons and Daughters of the Nisei Veterans.

Audio of the oral histories as well as the transcripts are archived at the NVMC Education Center.

The students and staff of Kansha Preschool will offer a tribute to the veterans in attendance. The preschool and the Maui Adult Day Care Centers constitute the Intergenerational Center at NVMC.

The service will include the traditional singing of the 100th Battalion and 442nd fight songs.

Master of ceremonies will be Cummins “Bo” Mahoe, who is active in veterans affairs in Maui County. A retired postmaster of Kaunakakai, Molokai, Mahoe served in Vietnam with the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. Now living on Maui, he works to improve communication among veterans groups in the county; tries to ensure that veterans know about the benefits and services available to them; and does what he can to improve those services, including testifying to Congress about the economic challenges facing Hawaii veterans.

The Rev. Richard Tennes, resident minister of Kahului Hongwanji Mission, will offer a Buddhist aspiration.

Jill Izumigawa Ross is the longtime chairperson of the project for the Sons and Daughters.

The NVMC Education Center will be open after the service concludes. It is featuring the exhibit One Puka-Puka: The Purple Heart Battalion. The exhibit commemorates the 75th anniversary of the formation of the 100th Battalion.

Both the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat team were composed mostly of Americans of Japanese ancestry who served in Europe during World War II. Most were nisei, or the second generation of Japanese in America.

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