GALLERY OF HEROES
Fort DeRussy to enshrine nisei
The soldiers will join an elite group honored at the museum with portraits and citations
Matsuichi Yogi loved to play baseball.
Larry Tanimoto was the eldest of 11 children from Honomu on the Big Island when he was killed in combat in France while saving his patrol.
Bob "Hoichi" Kubo was proud that his son received a U.S. Naval Academy appointment, despite criticisms from friends who lost their homes and businesses and then were sent to internment camps after the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Irving Akahoshi distinguished himself near the end of the war, capturing German soldiers and valuable information.
All four were nisei, or second-generation Japanese-American soldiers, who were to be honored today when they are inducted into Fort DeRussy's Gallery of Heroes. They were recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, the country's second-highest medal for valor.
Akahoshi, Tanimoto and Yogi were members of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and they fought in Europe. Kubo served as an interpreter in the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific campaign.
Their portraits and accompanying citations will join the 20 Medal of Honor and 43 Distinguished Service Cross recipients already enshrined in the Waikiki U.S. Army Museum. All are deceased and will be represented by family members.
Brig. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, deputy commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division, is scheduled to be the guest speaker.
The Gallery of Heroes was established in 1968. It is on the second floor of Battery Randolph in the U.S. Army Museum. The gallery was established to honor Hawaii citizens who have been awarded the nation's two highest valor awards: the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross or its equivalents, the Navy Cross and the Air Force Cross.
Andrew Ono, spokesman for the 442nd Veterans Club, said he is seeking a similar recognition ceremony for former members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team George Iida, Masaru Suehiro, Itsumi Sasaoka and Kiichi Koda. They earned the DSC, but the veterans organization has not found them or their survivors to induct them into the gallery. Koda is the only one Ono believes was killed in combat.
Retired Navy Capt. Timothy Morita, a former chaplain, said his uncle Technician 3rd Grade Hoichi Kubo "always talked about how proud he was to be an American and to have fought for his country."
Kubo's wife, who was born on the West Coast, and her family lost everything when they were sent to relocation camps.
In 1988, when Kubo's son Larry won an appointment to Annapolis, friends in San Jose who had been sent to relocation camps during the war wondered why he would even consider such an occupation for his son.
Morita said his uncle told him that while this country was not perfect, people learned from their mistakes. And it said a lot that his son, a Japanese American, could compete and win an appointment to the Naval Academy.
Dennis Tanimoto said today's ceremony recognizing the achievements of his uncle Sgt. Larry Tanimoto is "quite a tribute and an honor."
"This is especially true because three of his siblings -- one brother and two sisters -- are still alive," said Tanimoto. His sister, Fujiko Okamura, will unveil her brother's portrait.