The insignia of the 29th Infantry Brigade, left, will be worn by members of the 100th Battalion instead of the battalion's own insignia, despite some soldiers' requests to wear both.

100th ordered
to remove patch

Brig. Gen. Chaves says the unit
must wear the 29th insignia

The Hawaii Army National Guard general, who commands the 3,000-member 29th Infantry Brigade, says his order stands: Members of the 100th Battalion must remove their treasured shoulder patch.

Brig. Gen. Joseph Chaves yesterday rejected suggestions by 100th Battalion World War II veterans to allow the current members of the unit to wear its insignia on their right sleeve and the insignia of the 29th Brigade on the other shoulder.

Chaves told the Star-Bulletin: "We're a brigade, and we are going to follow Army regulations. ... You wear the shoulder insignia of the higher headquarters, which in this case is the 29th Infantry Brigade (Separate), on your left sleeve.

"After you've been in a combat zone for at least for 90 days, you can transfer it to your right sleeve."

Chaves said he endorses the idea proposed by Lt. Col. Alan Ostermiller, commander of the 100th Battalion, that soldiers carry their 100th Battalion patch in the their right jacket pocket "because it is close to the heart."

Denis Teraoka, president of Club 100, and retired federal Magistrate Bert Tokairin had suggested wearing the patch on the right sleeve. Tokairin commanded the 100th Battalion when it was last activated for Vietnam War combat duty in 1968 with other units of the 29th Brigade.

On Aug. 16 the 29th Brigade and its subordinate units, including 100th Battalion, were placed on active duty and are now having pre-deployment training in anticipation of a year of combat duty in Iraq.

Whether they can wear the patch has become an emotional issue with some soldiers and veterans of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry.

Earlier this week, several 100th Battalion soldiers told Lt. Gen. James Helmly, chief of the Army Reserve, that they want to continue to wear the shoulder torch patch, which represents their historical link to the famed World War II unit, which was composed mainly of Japanese Americans and won more combat medals, including 20 Medals of Honor, than any other unit.

Helmly said he backs the soldiers' request. "They're a proud unit. They have a storied history -- the most highly decorated unit in World War II."

Tokairin, 78, said the late Brig. Gen. Frederick Schaefer, who headed the 29th Brigade in 1968, gave him the same order to replace the 100th Battalion patch with the 29th Brigade insignia, and he resisted.

Tokairin, a veteran of three wars, said it was Congress that gave the 100th Battalion both the authorization to have its own shoulder patch and a unit flag. "Generally, only larger-size Army units, such as a brigade, are authorized to have a flag," Tokairin said. In the entire Army, the 100th Battalion is the only battalion-size unit to have its own unique shoulder patch, Tokairin added.

He asked the late state Sen. Sakae Takahashi, one of the original members of the 100th Battalion who later became its commander, for help. Tokairin said he believes the late Gov. John Burns may have intervened, because for the six months the 100th Battalion trained at Schofield with the 29th Brigade, his soldiers were allowed to wear the 100th Battalion patch. "As long as the 100th is kept as a unit, it should be allowed to wear its patch," Tokairin said.

In his letter, Teraoka told Chaves that "in September 1944, the 100th Infantry became the 1st Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. From then on, the 100th Infantry troops wore the 442nd torch patch on their left shoulder and the 34th Division Red Bull patch on their right shoulder, thereby being identified with both groups."

Tokairin added: "I am surprised and chagrined that this has become an issue. It's not that these soldiers don't want to be part of the 29th Brigade, because it is a great unit. However, the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry has a history and a tradition."

Hawaii Army National Guard


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