Question: What happened to Earl Finch of Hattiesburg, Miss., who befriended the Japanese-American soldiers who were stationed in Hattiesburg during World War II? He made the soldiers feel at home when other Americans were turning their backs on them.
Patron saint of nisei
soldiers became outcast
Answer: Finch died in his adopted home of Honolulu in 1965 at age 49.
At his funeral service at Central Union Church, then-Gov. John A. Burns delivered the eulogy before hundreds of mourners, including many veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion.
Finch was a rancher and businessman in Mississippi who became an outcast when he went out of his way to befriend the nisei soldiers in 1943.
He became known as a "one-man USO" (United Service Organization), "the Patron Saint of the Japanese-American GI" and "a citizen of the world."
"Unpopular though it may have been with his neighbors, Earl recognized that those who were willing to make sacrifices in the face of adversity deserved no less than the hand of friendship," Burns eulogized.
In 1946, after the war, many of the soldiers he befriended chipped in to pay his way to Hawaii, where he was given a hero's welcome. At the time of his death, the Star-Bulletin noted that Finch's arrival in Honolulu 55 years ago was "the biggest reception ever accorded a visiting private citizen."
Among Japanese Americans, Finch was so beloved that many parents named their sons after him. Finch eventually made Hawaii his home, running a small trading company and acting as a talent broker.
Seiji Finch Naya, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, was an orphaned college student in Japan who met Finch when the college's boxing team traveled to Hawaii in 1951.
Finch was so impressed with the young man, he sponsored a four-year scholarship to the University of Hawaii for Naya and eventually adopted him.
Finch also adopted another young man from Japan, Hideo Sakamoto.
Windward motorists may be familiar with the huge boulder, with a plaque, sitting on the makai side of Castle Junction.
Finch and Windward Oahu groups erected the memorial in honor of those who died fighting in World War II and, later, the Korean War.
MahaloTo Michael and Marian Lee, who so graciously went out of their way to make a phone call for us on Christmas Day when our car stalled as we drove out of Kaimuki cemetery. Thank you so very much for helping two stranded seniors. May good fortune be with you always. -- E. Say
MahaloTo the gentleman who caught up with me at an intersection to tell me that my purse had fallen out when my car door swung open and that a skateboarder had picked it up. Mahalo to the skateboarder who retrieved my purse and put it in my mailbox. May you both have happiness and good fortune forever! -- No name.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.