Japanese American Vets to be Honored Saturday in Kona | Big Island News Center


Japanese American Vets to be Honored Saturday in Kona

June 14, 2012

By Sherry Bracken

U. S. Army Painting Depicting 442nd

Saturday, June 16, is another opportunity for the community to honor and thank the Japanese American veterans who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Unit.  That’s the most heavily decorated military unit ever to be part of the United States Military, and their honors were all earned as they served in World War II.  All the people in the unit were Japanese American, and had not been allowed to serve in “regular” military units.  Some had even been interned with their families, imprisoned because they were Japanese, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

This Saturday, these veterans will be presented with replicas of the Congressional Medal of Honor at Kona’s Kekuaokalani Gym, which is on Kuakini Highway just north of Kaiwi Street before the Old Airport Soccer Field.  The event starts at 10 a.m, after the Kamehameha Day Parade through downtown Kailua Village.  The event will open with a presentation of the colors by the Hawaii Army National Guard lead by Retired General  Robert E. Lee.  Veterans, as well as families of veterans who have died, will receive lei along with a 3-inch U.S. Mint Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.  The living veterans are well into their 80s or 90s.

Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii’s senior Senator, served in the 442nd.  He’s not expected at Saturday’s event, but is a great example of the bravery of the unit’s members.  He was gravely wounded in Germany–while storming a hill, he was wounded in the abdomen and then was hit in his right arm (which he lost)  by a grenade.  He used his left arm to throw a grenade at the Germans, and managed to capture the Germans before wounds to his thigh brought him down.

Everybody is invited to come recognize these brave men before going on to one of the ho’olaulea in town, at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel and at Hale Halawai.

Japanese American Vets to be Honored Saturday in Kona | Big Island News Center