By Lisa Asato Share Del.icio.us
Master model builder Brad Sekigawa was born 15 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. But that doesn’t stop him from honoring those involved in the fight the best way he knows how - by dedicating his time and skill to craft models of the planes flown on Dec. 7, 1941, and giving them to the airmen on both sides of the war.
“In 2001 I did it for an American pilot, his name was Jim Daniels, and when I gave him his model of his airplane he burst into tears,” Sekigawa recalls. “All he said was, ‘That’s my baby.’ “
The families have been grateful. The daughter of another recipient, Zenji Abe, told Sekigawa that “to this day (her father) looks at it every morning when he gets up.”
This year Sekigawa will honor the fighters, whom he has come to know through his role as resident model builder for the USS Arizona Memorial, by presenting a 9-inch-long model to Japanese airman Takeshi Maeda, who attacked Battleship Row from a Nakajima B5N torpedo plane.
“The torpedo is accurate as far as I can produce,” says Sekigawa, a former model maker for developer Chris Hemmeter. “And it’s the very plane that he flew. It’s been documented. He wasn’t a pilot, but he was a rear gunner. There’s a figure of him standing next to his plane.”
The presentation will be held at a private party for the surviving Japanese pilots on Dec. 6. “The American guys have all passed away,” he says.
The party coincides with the Pearl Harbor 65th Anniversary Symposium Dec. 2 to 5 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Tapa Tower, where another of Sekigawa’s models will be sold at auction at the $250 per person black-tie gala reception, banquet and dance on Dec. 5. The model of the Japanese dive bomber Aichi D3A flown by Abe is signed by Abe and Sekigawa.
Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund to rebuild the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center and Museum. Seating is limited. For more information and tickets, visit www.arizonamemorial.org or call 487-3327.
Sekigawa learned model making when his father gave him a “plastic model kit of a rocket” when he was 5 or 6. It proved too complicated for his father, but not for the young boy. “I think that’s when I fell in love with model-building, putting things together,” says Sekigawa, who’s helping to teach the art to a new generation of model-makers at Aliamanu Middle School. “It covers many things, you name it - math, science, art, history,” he says. “All that comes into play.”
Sekigawa will speak at the Dec. 4 Pearl Harbor in Scale session along with fellow master model builder Don Pruel, whose new model of the USS Arizona will be unveiled at the commemoration.
- Lisa Asato
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