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100th Infantry Battalion kicks off 80th anniversary with challenge for Hawaiʻi students

100th Infantry Battalion members from Maui. Photo: Clockwise from top: Mitsuyoshi Fukuda, Takashi Kitaoka and Stanley Izumigawa. PC: file Nisei Veterans Memorial Center

The 100th Infantry Battalion, composed mostly of World War II Nisei soldiers from Hawai‘i, was formed on June 12, 1942. Organizers of the 100th Infantry Battalion’s 80th Anniversary Commemoration Committee say this come “against a backdrop of distrust and animosity from fellow US soldiers and military and political leaders.”

“Hawai‘i has some of the greatest homegrown heroes. The freedoms we enjoy in Hawai‘i today can be traced in part to the values that drove the decisions and actions of these soldiers and veterans 80 years ago,” said Janice Sakoda, one of the organizers. “Hawai‘i was different in the mid-1940s after the war. Many Hawai‘i residents may not realize that we are all beneficiaries of their trailblazing work to create more equity in our community.”

Sakoda said the younger generation, who are Hawai‘i’s future leaders, may not be aware of the traumatic events that occurred in the past or appreciate how these soldiers responded to adversity.

“We initiated the ‘100th Infantry Battalion Challenge’ to encourage young students to explore their roots and to find lessons that can be applied to today’s challenges,” Sakoda said.

The challenge is designed to encourage research and deep reflection. Students are being asked to identify an important issue or problem facing Hawai‘i and create an innovative solution to address this chal­lenge by applying the values, sacrifices, contributions, and accomplishments of the World War II 100th Infantry Battalion Nisei soldiers and veterans.

“Entries can be presented as a business idea, video, website, art piece; or a poem, story, or play,” Sakoda said. “We want the students to be creative and have fun as they learn.”

After rigorous boot camp training on the mainland, the 100th Infantry Battalion, known affectionately as the “One-Puka-Puka,” was initially deployed to Italy in September 1943, according to organizers.  They bravely navigated landmines in open fields and other challenges, losing many of their fellow soldiers along the way but still forged ahead.

They later became known as the “Purple Heart Battalion” due to the extraordinarily high number of casualties. The training and war record of the 100th helped pave the way for the creation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in February 1943.  

Both the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team have been recognized with numerous citations and commendations, including the Distinguished Unit Citation (later redesignated the Presidential Unit Citation), Medals of Honor, which is the nation’s highest individual award for valor; the Congressional Gold Medal; and many others.

There is a wealth of additional information and resources available on the 100th Infantry Battalion’s website at 100thbattalion.org and on the Nisei Veterans Legacy website at nvlchawaii.org.

A virtual kick-off information session on the Challenge is scheduled for Thursday, March 24, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. Students and others interested in learning more may register at https://kickoff-100th.eventbrite.com. The deadline to register for the Challenge is Tuesday, March 29, 2022.

  • Questions about the Challenge may be directed to Sheila Buyukacar at sbuyukacar@gmail.com.
  • Questions about the 100th Infantry Battalion may be directed to Janice Sakoda at janice.sakoda@aol.com.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/03/14/100th-infantry-battalion-kicks-off-80th-anniversary-with-challenge-for-hawai%ca%bbi-students/

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