The Oahu AJA Veterans Council will honor fallen World War II Japanese American soldiers and veterans at its seventh annual Joint Memorial Service at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.
The keynote speaker will be Maj. Gen. Darryll D.M. Wong, adjutant general of the state of Hawaii. Major General Darryll D. M. Wong became adjutant general in January 2011, overseeing the training and readiness of soldiers and airmen of the Hawaii National Guard. He also serves as state civil defense director, provides direct support to the Office of Veterans Services, and is the Homeland Security Advisor to the governor.
General Wong was commissioned in May 1972 as a distinguished graduate from the University of Hawaii Air Force ROTC program. On active duty, he flew C-141s during the final years of the Vietnam War, the closing of United States bases in Thailand, and the baby and refugee airlift as a member of the 53rd Military Airlift Squadron, Norton Air Force Base, California. He joined the Hawaii Air National Guard in 1984 and served in a variety of positions, including chief of staff and commander of the Hawaii Air National Guard. He is a command pilot and instructor pilot with more than 3,000 hours flying the C-17, KC-135R, C-141A, T-38 and T-37.
The inaugural Joint Memorial Service in 2006 was the product of a decision by the Oahu AJA Veterans Council to honor together fallen members of all four principal Japanese American units in World War II: the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service and 1399 Engineer Construction Battalion. Racially segregated by the federal government, these Americans of Japanese ancestry answered suspicion and prejudice with heroic and honorable service in every theater of World War II.
World War II veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd RCT and the MIS last year received the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award, for their service to the nation.
The Joint Memorial Service is held at Punchbowl on the last Sunday of September, to mark the anniversary of the date the first American of Japanese ancestry was killed in action in World War II, Shigeo “Joe” Takata of the 100th Battalion. Takata, of Waialua, was mortally wounded attacking a German position near Salerno, Italy, on Sept. 29, 1943.
The Military Intelligence Service Veterans Club is hosting this year’s service, with Lawrence Enomoto serving as chairman and master of ceremony. Enomoto is a retired Air Force major whose father, the late Gulstan N.T. Enomoto, served in the MIS in World War II.
Army reservists now serving in the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and Roosevelt High School cadets are providing support for the service. Music will be provided by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin Choir and Alan Miyamura and Primasita Seery of the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii.
The public is invited to attend the Joint Memorial Service, not only to honor the fallen warriors of that great generation, but to preserve their memory.
Recently, I watched “The War,” a seven-episode program by Ken Burns on DVD. (It originally aired a decade ago on PBS.) The program made it clear that America is truly a country made up of people from all over the world – all desiring to live a life of freedom. We owe our freedom to those WWII veterans who were willing to fight to keep freedom intact for future generations of Americans.
I was born and raised in post-WWII Japan. During and immediately after the war, for the victor to show mercy to the vanquished was a foreign concept to the Japanese military. Consequently, when the war ended, compassion shown by American soldiers to the Japanese was beyond their comprehension. This is the reason people of my parents’ generation hold America to the highest pedestal – as I still do today. My 2-minute video message of gratitude on YouTube at http://www.ThankYouVeterans.net was created for WWII veterans, who fought and helped liberate the Pacific region. I would appreciate it very much if you would please watch and share the video with all the veterans that you know. Thank you.
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