STANLEY AKITA / NISEI WWII VETERAN
COURTESY OF BOB JONES
Stanley Akita is shown at Iolani Palace on the day of his enlistment ceremony.
Former POW helped vets get benefits
Stanley Masaharu Akita kept a journal of his World War II experiences, but like many other Hawaii nisei soldiers, he did not talk about the war until recent years.
He joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 1943 and was later transferred to the 100th Infantry Battalion fighting in France and Italy.
"After the 50th anniversary, they realized they have to share their stories," said daughter April Yukitomo. "He did it reluctantly. It was painful for him."
Akita, 84, died Monday in Tripler's Center for Aging. His wife of 59 years, Yukie, died Aug. 12.
Akita's stories included memories of more than six months as a prisoner of war in Germany, clearing rubble in bombed-out Munich.
"The Germans were confused about why a Japanese person was fighting for America," Yukitomo said. When he responded that he was born in America, "A soldier told my dad, 'A cat born in fish market is not a fish.' My dad answered, 'No, but that cat belongs to the fish market.'
"He talked about the German soldiers as being kind, treating him with dignity," she said.
Stanley Akita, shown here with his wife, Yukie, was active with the 100 Battalion Veterans Club, serving three terms as the group's president.
Ironically, his first assignment in the Army was guarding German prisoners working on a peanut farm in Alabama.
Akita worked as a civil engineer with the state Department of Transportation Highways Division for 30 years, retiring in 1977.
He worked as a volunteer at the Veterans Administration office and at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl. Yukitomo said he helped link children of soldiers with veterans who remembered their fathers and could tell about them.
Robert Arakaki, president of the 100 Battalion Veterans Club, said Akita was active with the veterans group, serving three terms as president.
"He was a storyteller. He liked to talk about the old days growing up in a plantation town," Arakaki said. "We really enjoyed life together, participated in a lot of events at Club 100."
Akita was born in Honomu, on the Big Island. He attended Honolulu Vocational School.
He is survived by daughters Cynthia T. Murphy and April S. Yukitomo, brothers Wendell and Burton, sister Helen Yugawa and grandson Andrew Yukitomo.
A funeral service will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Hosoi Mortuary. Friends may call after 3 p.m. An inurnment service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl.