Maui resident Harold Kishiba, 84, who fought with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe during World War II, attended the groundbreaking and blessing yesterday of the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center in Wailuku. Seated to the right was Richard Hashi, who also served in the 442nd.

WWII nisei veterans
get memorial site on Maui

The memorial honors Japanese
Americans who fought in WWII

WAILUKU >> Harold Kishiba recalled after more than 2 1/2 years of fighting against the Nazis in Europe in World War II, he returned home to Maui on a military transport at Puunene Airport with no reception.


For more information about the capital campaign, contact the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center office at (808) 244-6862, or visit the NVMC Web site,

"We had to hitch a ride from Puunene Airport," said Kishiba, who fought with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a U.S. Army unit made up mostly of Japanese Americans.

Yesterday, Kishiba and more than a dozen other former members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team attended a groundbreaking ceremony and a reception for the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center.

The center serves as a tribute to Japanese-American soldiers who fought for the United States in World War II, including the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team became the most highly decorated unit of its size in World War II, while Japanese immigrants and Americans of Japanese ancestry were interned in the United States.

The $4.5-million project, along the mauka side of Lower Main Road overlooking Kahului Harbor, will also include a preschool, adult day-care center, and an archive about the nisei soldiers or soldiers belonging to the second generation of Japanese to live in the United States.

Center Executive Director Barbara Watanabe said the project represents the journey of Japanese Americans and the passing on of values of courage and civil rights.

Watanabe said that after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there was a lot of talk about rounding up Arab Americans.

"So we as a community need to educate our children about helping to find that line between civil rights and national security, and that is the value that this center will push forward," she said.

Kishiba, 84, who had been a machinist for Kahului Railroad before World War II, said he fought in E Company, the same unit as U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Inouye, who lost his right arm while leading his platoon to take a ridge in Italy, and 19 other Japanese-American veterans in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Battalion received the Medal of Honor in 2000, after their combat performance was re-evaluated and their medals upgraded.

Kishiba said he himself was wounded in the chest after the battle for Bruyeres in France, two days before the 442nd was ordered to rescue the Texas "Lost Battalion."

Kishiba said he's happy for the recognition but sad that others who fought with him have died.

"I think this should have been done earlier because we're losing too many people already," he said.

Watanabe said the center is trying to raise about $1 million to complete the project.



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