WWII 100th Infantry Battalion Nisei veterans honored on 80th anniversary
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Today marks the 80th anniversary of the formation of the World War II 100th Infantry Battalion -- it was a segregated army unit comprised of about 1,400 second-generation Japanese American soldiers, mostly from Hawaii.
The unit was later combined with the Army’s 442nd Infantry Regiment -- they fought enemies overseas and distrust and discrimination at home.
According to the Hawaii Herald, there are 12 known survivors of the “One Puka Puka” – Edward Ikuma, Takashi “Taka” Manago, Don Matsuda, Albert M. Matsumoto, Don Miyada, Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, Jack Seitoku Nakamura, Masaharu “Bull” Saito, Kazuto Shimizu, Joe Sugawara, Riki Tsuda, and Tokuji “Toke” Yoshihashi.
Members of the 80th anniversary committee for the 100th Infantry Battalion veterans organization visited the homes of the Nisei heroes and their families today.
“You were dubbed the Purple Heart battalion. And you’re known worldwide for the selfless sacrifice, because you protected your teammates. And you protected their our country, you fought for our freedom,” said Kathi Hayashi, an organizer with the 80th anniversary committee.
Her father was a member of the 100th infantry -- it’s her mission to keep their legacy alive and honor the few still living -- like 98-year-old Takashi Manago. She says it’s important we always remember their sacrifice.
“They were not trusted. And you were treated as second class citizens. Many of them were plantation workers, right second class citizens, just because they looked like the enemy. That was the only reason why they were pulled out of the Hawaii National Guard,” she said.
Hayashi presented Manago with gifts, while Manago’s grandsons Caleb and Luke read excerpts from congratulatory certificates from Governor David Ige, Hawaii’s congressional delegation, and the State Legislature..
Granddaughter Cammile read a special commendation from President Joe Biden.
Manago was overcome by the recognition.
“From the president.. oh I never thought!” he said. “It hits you right here. I feel overwhelmed with all this. I don’t deserve this really.”
Manago was born in Captain Cook on Hawaii island and attended the University of Hawaii before he was drafted in 1944. He and his two older brothers joined the 100th Infantry Battalion’s Company A and served in Italy. He was responsible for cleaning up casualties on the frontlines and processing prisoners of war.
“War is no good, no matter where,” he said.
His daughters Bev and Jenni shared some of his lighter war stories during today’s commemoration.
“I learned that my grandpa was very, like, naughty and rascal, in his earlier years,” said grandson Luke, “and how much of an impact he had on the world.”
“I’ve always heard bits and pieces of the stories but never like in a full chronological order,” said grandson Caleb.
Stories about a very special band of brothers -- memories the Manago ohana hopes will live on in future generations
Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.