COURTESY ANITA KORENAGA
Anita Korenaga, as a young girl, is shown in a photo her oldest brother, Shinyei Nakamine, took of her as she waved goodbye while he rode a train carrying Hawaii soldiers going to fight in World War II past Pokai Bay.
Older brother becomes sister’s hero
Anxious to see her oldest brother before he left for war, the little girl of 11 sprinted to Pokai Bay and waved at the departing train, a passing blur of men in brown uniforms.
"I thought, 'Gee, I hope my brother saw me,'" said Anita Korenaga, now 77, a lifetime Waianae resident.
A few months after he left, Korenaga received a photo in the mail from her brother, Shinyei Nakamine -- a photo of her, smiling and waving at the passing train.
That was in 1941.
Sixty-three years after his death in World War II, Korenaga still visits his grave at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific several times a year.
As a ceremony honoring veterans at the cemetery ended yesterday morning, Korenaga and her husband placed a fresh bouquet of flowers next to Nakamine's plot with a little baby blue-colored flag that distinguishes him as a Medal of Honor recipient.
Nakamine, a private with Hawaii's famed 100th Battalion Infantry, was recognized posthumously by President Clinton in 2000.
On June 2, 1944, his platoon was pinned down by intense machine-gun fire in La Torreto, Italy. Nakamine, on his own initiative, destroyed one machine-gun nest and successfully led the attack on another, killing and capturing several soldiers.
Nakamine, 24, was killed by a burst of machine gun fire while trying to destroy a third machine-gun nest.
"I wish my mom and dad were alive to see the honor that was extended to him. It's sad, and yet we shouldn't forget what they did for us," Korenaga said. "I want my grandchildren to continue what we're doing today so that our family never forgets Shinyei."
Korenaga, the only daughter and the youngest of four, remembers picking kiawe beans with her brother and selling them to plantation workers in Waianae. He taught her how to ride a bike. He bought his baby sister her first pair of shoes.
And the money received for his death paid for her tuition at the University of Hawaii, where she earned a teaching degree to later become a teacher at Waianae High School.
"He really took care of me all my life," Korenaga said.