Honoring A History Of Service

Wednesday - November 02, 2011
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By John Dean
President & CEO, Central Pacific Bank

Today our World War II Nisei veterans are being honored with a Congressional Gold Medal for their bravery, valor and decorated service at a ceremony held in Washington, D.C. It’s the nation’s highest civilian award bestowed collectively on the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) for their extraordinary accomplishments at a time when the nation questioned JapaneseAmerican loyalties.

The troops of the 442nd RCT and 100th Infantry fought bravely throughout Italy, France and Germany. They suffered significant casualties and endured tremendous challenges. Because of their outstanding bravery and the heavy combat duty they faced, the 100th and 442nd are the most highly decorated units in the history of the U.S. military. Together about 14,000 men served, ultimately earning more than 18,000 individual decorations for bravery, including 9,486 Purple Hearts, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, eight Distinguished Unit Citations and 21 Medals of Honor.

CPB is honoring 100/442/MIS vets. Photo courtesy John Dean

Thousands of Japanese Americans also served in the MIS during World War II. MIS linguists served as interpreters on the front line, interrogated prisoners, flushed caves, cared for civilians and served as combat infantrymen. And their contributions extended beyond the war, as thousands of MIS linguists played a vital role in forging an alliance between Japan and the U.S. that endures to this day.

Central Pacific Bank joins our nation in honoring our war heroes and thanks them for their sacrifice and service to our country during the war, and for opening the doors of opportunity for the Asian-American community in Hawaii and elsewhere in the U.S. Some may know, CPB was founded by World War II veterans, with the support of Hawaii’s hard-working immigrant plantation laborers, who struggled to create better lives for their families. Upon discovering that hard work just wasn’t enough after numerous failed attempts to obtain financing to start a business or buy a home, a group of young Nisei World War II veterans of the 442nd, 100th Battalion and MIS started a grassroots effort to raise capital and create a bank that would provide financial equality.

Overcoming many obstacles, Central Pacific Bank opened for business Feb. 15, 1954. In honor of the great soldiers who not only served our country, but fought for equality within our own community, CPB has an ongoing exhibit dedicated to our World War II veterans at its main branch, located at 220 S. King St. The exhibit currently houses memorabilia and educational material of the100th Infantry Battalion. On Monday, Nov. 7, we are proud to introduce a new exhibit featuring the MIS. Open to the public through October 2012, the exhibit will include historic photographs and mementos, a katana (sword), a captured Japanese flag and sash obtained by MIS veterans and supporters. It also will include personal items from the collection of the late Honolulu businessman Kazuo Yamane, an MIS linguist who scored a major intelligence coup during World War II. As we prepare to observe Veterans Day (Nov. 11), we honor and remember our military veterans and those in uniform today. Their unwavering dedication and courageous sacrifice secures the safety and liberty of our country. We salute you and your families!

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