IN THE MILITARY
More medals for 1941 duty
UH ROTC cadets qualify for decorations for service on Dec. 7
AN HOUR after Japanese fighters attacked Pearl Harbor, 500 University of Hawaii students reported to their Army ROTC unit -- the first and the only ROTC unit to enter service in World War II.
Those individuals -- and others who served in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 -- are eligible for the Pearl Harbor Commemorative medal. Attorney Ted Tsukiyama, who was an Army ROTC cadet in the UH's Company B, is trying to help those people apply for the award.
"It's the 64th anniversary and the number of these guys are dwindling," said Tsukiyama, 84. "The UH felt it was the time to recognize and honor the students in the ROTC program."
Tsukiyama, who later served in the Army's nisei (Japanese-American) 442nd Regimental Combat Team, will be the keynote speaker at 10 a.m. Wednesday at a ceremony sponsored by the UH ROTC Alumni Association and the UH Foundation to honor cadets like himself.
The ceremony will be held in the UH Army ROTC building in the quarry across from the Les Murakami Baseball Stadium.
Tsukiyama said there will be people there to help these veterans and their families fill out the Department of Defense form to apply for the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal. Applicants also need to present any appropriate discharge documents with their forms.
The Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal, also known as the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Medal, was established by the Congress in 1991. Civilian government employees who were killed or wounded in the attack are also eligible for the award.
After reporting for duty on Dec. 7, 1941, the UH Army ROTC unit was disbanded that afternoon and converted into the Hawaii Territorial Guard and trucked to the National Guard Armory, where the state Capitol now stands.
Tsukiyama, who is the historian for the 442nd Infantry, took photos of his company six weeks later on Jan. 19, 1942, after "we were summoned early in the morning in the 3 or 4 a.m. darkness and told by our commander that orders had been received that all guardsmen of Japanese ancestry would be released.
"If a bomb had exploded in our midst, it couldn't have been more devastating," he said.
Members of Tsukiyama's 1941 ROTC squad of freshmen and sophomore students included Yoshiaki Fujitani, retired bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission; Dr. George Goto, former president of the Hawaii Medical Association; and Hiroshi Kato, former state representative and circuit judge.
At the suggestion of Hung Wai Ching -- then secretary of the University YMCA and a member of the morale committee of the military governor, Lt. Gen. Delos Emmons -- Tsukiyama said 189 of his colleagues signed a petition and sent it to Emmons offering their services as loyal Americans in any capacity.
On Feb. 15, 1942, Emmons accepted the petition and Tsukiyama's group was accepted as noncombat civilian laborers assigned to the 34th Engineers at Schofield Barracks. Their nickname was Varsity Victory Volunteers.
None of the cadets had any uniforms or rank. They all wore dungarees, lived in Army barracks, ate Army chow, and were paid less than $90 a month for nearly a year.
Tsukiyama said the influence and worth of the "Triple V" may have "helped stem the hysteria, panic and prejudices" against Hawaii's Japanese. By June 1942, the War Department formed the 100th Battalion -- the first nisei Army unit -- and sent it to Wisconsin for combat training.
A year later, the War Department sought volunteers for the newly formed 442nd Regimental Combat team. Members of the VVV and 9,000 other nisei in Hawaii signed up.
In 1977, the Pentagon presented a battle streamer to the UH Army ROTC unit.
Those planning to attend Wednesday's ceremony are asked to contact the UH Foundation at 956-8849 or Lt. Col. Bob Takao at 258-4285.