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In the Military

Gregg K. Kakesako

Sunday, October 10, 2004


See also: For Your Benefit


100th Battalion members
have ties to WWII heroes


The deeds of the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II are more than symbolized in the patch soldiers of the Army Reserve's 100th Battalion will wear on their sleeves in Iraq.

They are the legacy of the unit mostly made up of second generation Japanese Americans.

That legacy was there when the 100th Battalion, one of three combat battalions belonging to the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Infantry Brigade, left this week for five months of predeployment training in Texas and Louisiana.

Sgt. Laurens Pieters, a member of Delta Company, said he enlisted in the 100th Battalion in 1995 when he learned about the famed World War II unit, in which his uncle, Hiromu "Mugsie" Morigawa, served and was killed fighting the Germans in France in 1944.

"Until then, my mother, Judy Hiroko Pieters, had a hard time talking about him," said Pieters, 39. "It was too hard for her. He was her favorite brother. He was wounded twice, each time he left the hospital to return to his unit."

Pieters said his middle name, Hiromu, is the same as his uncle's.

Spc. Len Tanaka's grandfather, Asao Tanaka, was a sergeant and an original member of the 100th Battalion which was part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and left World War II as one of the Army's most decorated units.

Milton Tanaka, Len's father, said his father rarely talked about his combat experience in Africa, Italy and France with the 100th Battalion, "except when he got together to play poker with the guys at the 100th Battalion's clubhouse."

"But there were the nightmares," added Milton Tanaka, Len's father. "He would get up screaming in the middle of the night. I could tell he was in a battle."

>>>><<<<

Members of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 117th Public Affairs Detachment have been working to photograph all of the 2,200 National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers with the 29th Infantry Brigade who are preparing to deploy for a year in Iraq beginning in March.

The soldier's photographs, with the American flag as a backdrop, will be sent to the soldier's employer with a letter signed by either Maj. Robert Lee -- commander of the Hawaii National Guard -- or Brig. Gen. John Ma who heads the Army Reserve's 9th Regional Readiness Command. The letters, co-signed by Lt. Gen. John Brown, thank the employers for their support.

>>>><<<<

Guam will get its third nuclear-powered submarine, USS Houston, which will move from Bremerton, Wash., in December. USS Houston will join sister Los Angeles-class, fast-attack submarines USS San Francisco and USS City of Corpus Christi. Submarine Squadron 15 was reactivated as an attack submarine squadron on Guam in February 2001.

>>>><<<<

This weekend's musical production of "Big River," based on Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," at Windward Community College's Paliku Theater featured several members of Hawaii's military and is directed by Ron Bright, a 35-year veteran of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 111th Army Band. Other cast members included Cindy Baker, a Pearl Harbor sailor who played Miss Watson, and Air Force reservist Alison Maldonado, who performed the role of slave Alice.

Rounding out the ensemble are a group of Air Force and Marine Corps dependents, including Summer Dohrman Grathwol, whose husband, Lt. Col. Phil Grathwol, is the director of safety for Marine Forces Pacific and recently returned from Iraq, where he was executive office of a combat helicopter squadron.

The Tony award-winning musical runs Fridays through Sundays through Nov. 7.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

"In the Military" was compiled from wire reports and other
sources by reporter Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for
the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He can be reached can be reached by phone
at 294-4075 or by e-mail at gkakesako@starbulletin.com.

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