In the Military

Gregg K. Kakesako

See also: For Your Benefit


Hospital could bear
name of honored vet

The state Senate has proposed that the 22-bed state veterans hospital in Hilo be named after Medal of Honor recipient Yukio Okutsu of Hilo, who served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II.

Okutsu, who died last year, earned the country's highest medal on Mount Belvedere, Italy, on April 7, 1945, where he used grenades and his submachine gun to neutralize three German machine gun positions. He was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross which was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 2000.

Last year, the Legislature approved the construction of the hospital on the grounds of the Hilo Medical Center. The Senate concurrent resolution (SCR181) was approved by the Transportation, Military Affairs and Government Operations Committee and sent to the floor for a vote and then transmittal to the state House for action.

Many World War II Medal of Honor recipients with island ties, the majority of them members of the 100th Battalion or the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, already have received similar honors. U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who lost his right arm while fighting with the 442nd in Italy, has a wing named after him at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland.

Last year, the Army Reserve Center in Longare, Italy, was named after Pfc. Sadao Munemori, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously after he fell on a hand grenade while leading his squad through a minefield, destroying two machine guns and wounding two of the German gunners.

Staff Sgt. Robert Kuroda, who was killed in 1944 by a sniper in France while trying to take out a German machine-gun nest, has been both an Army logistic ship and a Fort DeRussy parade field name after him.

Other facilities named after 100th Battalion and 442nd RCT veterans include a Madigan Army Medical Center clinic at Fort Lewis in Washington, named after James Okubo; a federal courthouse in Seattle, bearing the name of William Nakamura; the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Tripler Army Medical Center, honoring former U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga; and a baseball field at Fort Shafter, named after Shigeo "Joe" Takata.

The opening ceremonies of Hawaii military appreciation month will be held April 29 at the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial. On May 1, the traditional twilight tattoo with marching bands, pipe bands and honor guards will begin at 4 p.m. at Kuroda Field at Fort DeRussy. The combined military band concert will be held at 7 p.m. May 15 at the Hawaii Theater.

The annual military recognition luncheon, which will honor the outstanding military person from each service, will be held May 19 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

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


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