Heroes Receive Diplomas

Robert Katayama
Robert Katayama

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- It's another step in honoring some of Hawaii's war heroes.

And this celebration was long overdue.

Over 65 years ago, World War II put an end to the childhood of 18 students from Farrington High School.

As seniors in high school, they made a life-altering decision to prove their honor to the United States. these men enlisted in the 442nd regimental combat team, leaving behind a chance for a high school diploma while facing an uncertain future.

"You must remember we were just 18 year olds," says Robert Katayama, war veteran. "For us, it was more important to just go to war."

Most young men at that time were immediately drafted, but some like Robert Katayama had to set up a petition just to fight in the war.

"Just immediately prior to our volunteering, we were classified as enemy aliens, we couldn't even be drafted," says Katayama.

Katayama, along with the other members of the famed 442nd sacrificed much for their country. Along with the lives lost and injuries received, these men also sacrificed a crowning achievement for teens everywhere -- a diploma.

"We had to prove our loyalty to America because at that time we were under great suspicion," says Katayana.

Sixty-five years later, the four men finally receive this important piece of paper, standing tall as fully fledged high school graduates, and an inspiration to other alumni.

"Gives us a chance to honor men who served our country, and for whom a diploma is very important and they never got it until now," says Catherine Payne, Farrington High School principal.

But even without their high school diplomas, these war heroes didn't let a missing piece of paper slow them down in their academic achievements during their lifetime.

"I've already gone to the University of Hawaii, Yale Law School, and George Washington Law School. So temporarily I'll wait, take a sabbatical," says Katayama.